I have a confession to make.

I’ve only ever been properly afraid—like, really, honestly, genuinely scared—of one super-villain in my entire life. I know, I know. There are so many villains and so many of them are horrifying, sure, but only one of them actually makes me lose sleep if I think about them too much. It’s not the Joker or Lex Luthor, or even someone designed to terrify like Scarecrow. It’s not Zoom, though he could easily hop back in time and erase my whole existence, and it’s not Sinestro who would literally be powered by my fear.

The only super-villain who really scares me is Granny Goodness.

Her name isn’t intimidating. It’s actually kind of silly, really, if you just hear it written out like that out of context. And she doesn’t look like much more than an old woman in armor most of the time. But that’s exactly why she’s so terrifying.

Beneath all the surface-level harmlessness, she’s a master sadist, drill sergeant and torturer who operates under the idea that the way to unlock absolute loyalty in a person is to mentally and physically destroy them, again and again and again. Worse yet? This is her idea of what love is—her own unique spin on the doting, kind-hearted grandmother trope—and she does it all with a smile.

That’s what makes her so scary, really. At the end of the day, after all the blood and gore and trauma, you can’t help but be left genuinely wondering if this actually is what Granny believes is the best and most effective way to express love and affection to her “children.” You wonder if she’s somehow convinced herself that she actually is doing what’s best for them.

And if that’s the case, is it possible that her children really do come to love her in return?

That’s the problem Scott finds himself grappling with now, as the real scope of the twisted and terrible New Gods family tree really zooms into focus. Granny’s “love” is what shaped Scott’s childhood as he suffered in one of her “orphanages” (read: torture chambers) year after year. She was, by all accounts, the only real parental figure Scott had growing up. Darkseid, Scott’s adoptive father as he might have been, wouldn’t deign to give his political prisoner too much attention, after all.

It’d be convenient if the answers were simple, if Scott could look back at his childhood with Granny and fully understand that she was a monster who never loved him, no questions asked. But that’s not what happens. Scott does what most people do when confronted with traumatic memories. He looks back trying to find the parts that make it seem less painful.

Did Granny torture and abuse him? Absolutely. Barda is quick to confirm that one. She went through the same grueling childhood on Apokolips that Scott did, after all. But did Granny also, sometimes, show mercy? Maybe. It certainly makes it easier to stomach the reality of the whole situation if you believe that she did.

...Or does it?

That’s the heart of problem. Scott isn’t sure.

Scott...isn’t sure about a lot of things these days.

And there doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of that particular tunnel coming any time soon.

To recap what we know so far in this series: Highfather has been killed and Orion, biological son of Darkseid, but adoptive son of Highfather, has now stepped into the role. Apokolips and New Genesis are once again at war. Orion has sent Scott and Barda to meet with Granny Goodness, who has proven to be one of Darkseid’s most successful field commanders, with the ultimate goal of assassinating her. But before they can complete this goal, Granny confides in Scott and tells him that Orion is manipulating him. That he actually sent Barda and Scott to her so that she would kill them. Granny goes on to explain that she’s secretly been loyal to Highfather—the real Highfather—and that there is a prophecy at work, behind this war.

The prophecy says Darkseid can only be killed at the hands of his own son—who, we can only assume, would be his biological son, Orion. But Granny has other thoughts on the matter. After all, only one boy was actually raised in Apokolips as Darkseid’s heir.

And where does Metron, the New God scientist who is an outsider to both Apokolips and New Genesis, come into play?

Like I said, no simple answers. We’ll see you next month.

MISTER MIRACLE #2 by Tom King and Mitch Gerads is now available in print and as a digital download.

Meg Downey writes about Rebirth for DCComics.com and covers DC’s Legends of Tomorrow for the #DCTV Couch Club. Look for her on Twitter at @rustypolished.