Writer: Michael David McCarthy
Artists: Alonso Molina Gonzales, Ichsan Ansori
Scout Comics 2023
HERE FROM THE BEGINNING here to the end, angels dwell near us. Inner voices whisper what you want to do, and be, and say at just the right moment; or lead you astray, or bicker, or banter with a beat if you happen to be a poet. That we inhabit a world of stirring voices is one very old observation, conventionalized in classic tv cartoons with a haloed angel whispering at one ear, and a pitchforked little devil ranting at the other. May your angels go with you.
The angel in MIRACLE KINGDOM (2023) by Michael David McCarthy, now in its second of five issues, is found in an upstairs office of an old midtown building where the elevator does not work. He wears a vest and slacks, and glasses he does not need to complete the disguise. A mother trudges the stairs to find him, seeking help to save her son, whom she says has been brainwashed by a faith healer.
Neither we nor she know the guy is an angel at this point. Little things add up: using a divine-o-meter gadget that registers the manifestation of miracles on a needle dial that he keeps referring to; getting directions from a white pigeon, the iconic dove of peace, in the park; passing through a hidden door in a tunnel, like a lord of dreams. Finally, he takes off the glasses and beams up, and we know for sure.
The figurative artwork by Alonso Molina Gonzales is well defined and attractive. Perspectives are particularly well done. Clean lines vault attention inward into the planed interiors. Story and art are both simple, straightforward, and familiar, with a special shine. Colors by Ichsan Ansori finish the affect. Scenes are bathed in cheerful hues and clean details, subtly softened by graduated shades limning all the right edges. Considerable care is evident by all, and a passion for perfection.
Issue 2 opens with a glimpse at the vastness of space, where heaven lies somewhere beyond. Whispers of voices are visible, waves of prayers that stream toward heaven like a vapor “calling out to the heavens every moment, invisible signals, cosmic white noise,” amidst the all-pervasive currents of light and gravity that embody all of our supposedly empty outer space.
This part is a good trip, better when we arrive with our angel, now with wings, at the Department of Divine Intervention in Heaven, Incorporated, where naturally, the place operates like a burgeoning bureaucracy, given the billions of souls and eons of time to manage. Nice to see animals occupy responsible positions as well as humans. Diversity helps. The place hums with tight rules and procedures, and as for all here, a passion for perfection.
Order on a massive scale makes sense. It was a crude imagination that envisioned an ancient guy at the heavenly portal with a big book that tallies naughty and nice in a clear sum to settle each individual’s fate. There you go. Next! Add to this decisive moment some sprouts of intelligence and effort to compose the tallies and weights of the deeds recorded in the big book; and then, to investigate, follow-up, evaluate, counsel, manage, and enforce the mission for each and all. Such components of good government are vastly more challenging, and require more skills than people generally imagine or possess.
The theme of good governance is a hinge in the unfolding drama. Who is the one responsible to catch and correct systemic errors? Only the Divine One itself? Partly so. The Divine One is the whole agency. Its agent, a skeptical detective accountant angel, is the one who takes the case. Investigating disturbances inside and outside the heavenly order makes it a kind of interdimensional crime drama.
The nice touch in this angelic plot is the focus on something other than worry over some individual’s perilous fate, where angels usually meddle. Instead, our angel worries about the appearance of unauthorized miracles. Imagine among your host of bobbing angelic voices, you gradually recognize one of them is not your own. This queer riddle, an impossible contradiction, is left to unfold in the next issues now the stage of action is set, and our benign hero is prompted to act. The cosmic interplay of human lives and angel lives, and whatever it is that lies out there beyond, is fun to watch; and as rendered here, perfectly appealing.