Darkseid is one of the Justice League’s most persistent and dangerous threat, and that is in part due to his quest for mastery over the Anti-Life Equation. This mathematical formula allows anyone who knows it to dominate the will of others, but there is at least one hero in DC Comics who has earned immunity from the equation: Mister Miracle.
Many different heroes have gone by the name of Mister Miracle. The original was Thaddeus Brown, an escape artist so renowned that he even taught Batman. The second was Scott Free, son of the New Genesis leader, Highfather. He escaped Apokolips and took over the mantle of Mister Miracle after the murder of Brown. The last to use the name was Shilo Norman. As a child who grew up dreaming of escaping foster care. He eventually did run away and become an unofficial apprentice to Brown and even helped avenge his murder. Placed in the care of Scott and Big Barda he eventually grew up and majored in physics at NYU before becoming warden at the Slab —a prison for super villains. Being unsatisfied in that profession he chose to take on the role of Mister Miracle, a celebrity escape artist. In this new guise he gained money and fame but also developed anxiety and depression, and his stunts began to border on suicidal.
One of Mister Miracle’s most ambitious escape attempts came in the Seven Soldiers of Victory series, written by Grant Morrison. Shilo attempted to escape from a black hole, only to find himself cast into a war between the New Gods of Apokolips and New Genesis who were trapped in human bodies. While taken prisoner by Boss Dark Side, he had the Anti-Life Equation whispered into his ear, and almost gave into despair and hopelessness. However, he resisted thanks to a reminder by that there also existed a Life Equation. It is then confirmed by Morrison in Final Crisis: Secret Files that this act of resistance by Shilo made him, “one of the few living beings immune to its influence.”
The Anti-Life Equation proves with mathematical certainty that all life is meaningless. This effect causes all who know it to give up their will to live, and allow themselves to become dominated and controlled by Darkseid. Shilo Norman, who was already suffering from anxiety and depression, has to find a way to resist the temptation of giving up and giving in. Much like millions of people who suffer depression each day and moment can be a struggle, and saps a person’s will to find meaning and light in that darkness. However, like Shilo, sometimes all people need is a reminder that there is also a Life Equation –a mathematical proof that life is worth living– and that challenging notions of despair can help us overcome them and grow stronger. Anti-Life is like a virus that can infect the mind with dark thought, but even in the bleakest moments people can find the strength and will to resist the darkness of despair and depression. It is not easy, but sometimes all it takes is a reminder than there is hope and meaning in the world.
Defeating the Anti-Life Equation is a very rare ability. Mister Miracle is not one of the Justice League’s most well known members, but by proving himself immune to Darkseid’s ultimate weapon he has proved key to combating their most dangerous foe.
Next: Darkseid Reveals One Villain Who Can Control Anti-Life (It’s Not Him)