Mister Miracle, the son of Highfather of the New Gods who was raised on Apokolips and found love with one of Granny Goodness's Female Furies, is the center of the story; in the first issue, he attempts suicide.
As the greatest escape artist in the universe, Scott Free later explains to the media that it was all part of a misguided attempt to "escape death," and there is not much time to deal with the ramifications of his actions before he and his wife Big Barda are called to action in a war on Darkseid and the hordes of Apokolips.
Darkseid has finally obtained the Anti-Life Equation, and used it to murder Highfather; with Scott gone, it is Darkseid's son Orion, who was raised by Highfather, who is elevated to the role of Highfather and takes over as leader of the New Gods amid the crisis.
Today's issue brings Scott and Barda to Apokolips, where they battle their way through 20 pages of nine-panel grids, with some especially disturbing and surprising imagery throughout.
So...what the hell is Tom King doing to the New Gods?
Scott and Barda
Fans of the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League likely did not get much of a sense for Scott's personality in his short time as a featured member of the team -- but one thing certainly stuck out: as much as any couple in comics, Scott Free and Big Barda were warm, loving, and happy together.
In Mister Miracle, Barda and Scott's relationship is cold. Regardless of what Scott says to justify it, he attempted suicide in the first issue...and his wife's response to that has been to be largely nonplussed as they go about their business of superheroing.
Since Big Barda was based in part on Jack Kirby's real-life wife, particularly the interplay between Scott and Barda, so in the years since Kirby stopped being the primary/only author allowed to touch the New Gods characters, few have dared to fundamentally alter that chemistry.
Whatever is going on between the pair has not been made totally clear, but it seems like the relationship has grown cold and distant. While Barda, significantly more powerful than Scott and always ready for a fight, has rarely shied away from her duty to Highfather, there have been some scenes in the King/Gerads series that make one wonder: is she more invested in the war than her relationship? And if so, is that just the way King and Gerads perceive her, or is it something more?
At least 7 dead...
In today's issue, the war is more real than a "war" between New Genesis and Apokolips is usually depicted.
Interestingly enough, it feels a bit like Kirby's depiction of Ragnarok, pictured in New Gods #2, which has been frequently reprinted as it carries the portentious caption "There came a time when the old gods died."
The haze of war is felt throughout Mister Miracle #2. Not only are the heroes constantly filthy, covered in blood, and exhausted, but the art and colors have done their best to make it feel like a war movie where the camera has been flecked with mud and blood, like the audience is watching through a filter.
So it really comes as a surprise only to the perennially-cheerful Scott when he learns that along with thousands of soldiers, seven New Gods have died.
They are never named, so it is possible they are not "important" characters to the audience, especially because of what we learned next.
...some in brutal, uncomfortable ways.
The issue opens with Mister Miracle brutally battling a horde of Parademons, ending up covered in their blood after finding one feasting on a corpse.
The first Parademon's head simply evaporates when it's blasted, and that is a mercy, because this war is not pretty.
At one point in the issue, Scott and Barda are sent to Apokolips to broker an armistice with Granny Goodness -- and while there, the readers are introduced to Stormforge, a member of the New Gods (as far as we can tell, Stormforge was created for Mister Miracle #2 and has never previously appeared).
A prisoner of war, Stormforge was stripped and chained to a chair, then forced to sit at the table, apparently for quite some time now, while everyone eats around him. Slowly, he is being starved to death, for Granny Goodness's entertainment and no other reason.
While clearly uncomfortable and shocked by this, Scott and Barda make no effort to save him -- not even after Barda brutally bashes Granny's skull in and leaves her for dead.
Orion is Highfather, but acting like Darkseid
The central conflict for Orion has often been juggling the nature vs. nurture debate.
The child of a monster, raised by a saint, Orion feels a constant, nagging need to act out his aggression but also has empathy and a moral compass. Usually, that aggression can be channeled in an appropriate direction, and more often than not he will reluctantly express geunine concern and affection for his fellow New Gods.
He has been a member of the Justice League.
So when he sends Scott and Barda on a wildly dangerous mission to murder their adoptive "mother" in cold blood, that's one thing. It is depicted as a calculated military maneuver, and one that he does not relish, and tried to avoid as long as possible.
It is quickly revealed, though, that he sold Scott and Barda out to Granny Goodness. When they attempt to kill her in her sleep, they discover her wide awake and anticipating the attack. She claims to have been an informant to Highfather the whole time, and the implication seems to be that there are those within Apokolips who want peace but that Orion's warlike demeanor has pushed New Genesis into an aggressive posture.