After I heard that Marvel had acquired the rights to the Marvelman/Miracleman franchise, it sent me scrambling to find my back issues published by Eclipse. I had read the Alan Moore run in TPB form shortly after its U.S. publication and most of the Neil Gaiman/Mark Buckingham issues as they were published. (I originally wrote “monthly issues,” but this book was rarely on schedule —Marvelman might be an eternally cursed property.)

I gave up reading comics in late 1993, roughly the same time that Eclipse went bankrupt and the Gaiman-Buckingham run was suspended. They were about halfway through the second of three six-issue arcs. When I returned to comics this decade, I became aware of the legal wrangling to gain control of Miracleman and the resulting lawsuit between Gaiman and Todd McFarlane. I also learned that many of today’s comics fans had not read Moore’s run, one of his classic works, or even the Gaiman issues because the series had been out of print since Eclipse folded. I never suspected that Miracleman would become the rarest, and probably most valuable, piece in my comics collection.

In this thread, my goal is go through the Moore and Gaiman issues, a chapter or two at a time, with story summaries and comments. There will be spoilers, undoubtedly, so that may keep away some people who wish to wait for republication. But, the series is on my mind now, so I’m starting this thread just the same.

Ready? We’ll begin in the morning!

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One of the best comics series of all time!!! Looking forward to your thoughts. I might try to read along.

I remember reading an early chapter in the UK Warrior monthly in the newsagents. Which would have been in 1982, almost 3 decades ago. It really hit me between the eyes. The last panel of the (1st?) chapter with the news reporter on tv saying "...looked like a flying person but some experts are suggesting was some debris from the explosion caused by...." - and then we see Kid Marvelman smashing his expensive executive desk and shouting "Marvelman!!".

Come to think of it, wouldn't he have changed into little Johnny Bates at that point? Hmmmm!

It would be 10 more years before I got to read the rest of Moore's run.

Worth waiting for, as the old Carlsberg ads used to say...
Miracleman (as I think of it) is a series I'm continually on the verge of re-reading but never seem to get around to doing so. When I heard the news I thought I might read the republication, but if you're in the mood to read it now, I'll certainly follow along. who knows? You may even inspire me to re-read it myself in order to better keep up!
You're remembering the end of Chapter 2, Figs, and your memory is pretty good. As I know so little about the UK publication, your perspective is welcome. Also, you're probably more familiar with some of the early artists than I am.

You, and Jeff, and anyone else are welcome to read along. I'm almost ready to post my summary and comments for Chapter 1.

STARTING BOOK ONE: A DREAM OF FLYING

By Alan Moore with Alan Davis and Garry Leach

 

CHAPTER ONE

SUMMARY: We are introduced to Mike Moran via his recurring nightmare. He is a superman who can fly, but when he and his two partners get too close to a mysterious aircraft, it explodes, and Mike begins to fall. He awakes to his normal life. He is a middle-aged free-lance journalist and married to an illustrator. (No wonder they have problems making ends meet.) Mike is assigned that day to cover the opening of a nuclear power plant, but terrorists intervene with plans to hijack the plutonium and sell it to the highest bidder. They round up the journalists, including Mike, for the purpose of free advertising. Suddenly, Mike suffers a crippling headache. As he is dragged out of the room, he chances upon a word in reverse on a glass door, “CIMOTA,” and he remembers the word that triggers his superpowers, “Kimota.” Mike turns into Miracleman*, quickly defeats the Bad Guys and flies into outer space, proclaiming, “I’m Miracleman … I’m back!!”

 

COMMENTS: The 1980s revival of Miracleman started as an eight-page feature in a black-and-white anthology magazine. (The reprints were colored.) Basically, this is the same format as early Thor, Iron Man and Doctor Strange stories. I love this format; it forces compacted, efficient storytelling, and Moore gets the most out of his eight pages.

 

Moore’s run begins as a ground-level story that gives no indication of where it will end up. But even here, Moore plays with the notion of “his eyes have seen the glory” as a comeuppance for one Bad Guy. The full line, from Battle Hymn of the Republic, is “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” Perhaps Moore already knew that Miracleman would become a god.

 

* — Yes, I will call him Miracleman based on the editions I am reading.

Eclipse's Miracleman #1 began with an actual 1950s Marvelman story, the ending of which was embellished with a close-up zooming into Miracleman’s eye and a quote from Friedrich Nietzshe’s Also Sprach Zarathustra (“I teach you the superman”). When the story was collected in tpb, the 1950s into story was omitted. I think the collection suffered because if it.
Wow. I didn't know about that. There has been amazing stories told with this character, but also so much discontinuity in how the stories have been published and presented.
There was also a 'Summer Special' or two of reprints from the 50's era published during the 'Warrior' heyday in the early 80s, perhaps with 'Big Ben' strips thrown in there too. I had it in my hands in 1990 or so in a comic shop in London, but didn't buy it. Tsk!

Of course it turned out that whoever published that didn't have the rights to, so in the end no-one was able to translate the success of Moore's Marvelman into sales of Marvelman's fondly remembered back catalogue. Apparently they were quite good in a Weisinger Superman, Beck Captain Marvel kind of way. That they were set in the UK would give them added interest for me, as well.
CONTINUING BOOK ONE: A DREAM OF FLYING
CHAPTER TWO


SUMMARY: Mike flies home to greet his wife, Liz, as Miracleman. She comes to accept that the man before her, even though he isn’t the same height or build as her husband, and appears to be several years younger, is actually Mike. He relates his comic-booky origin story, of working as a copy boy at a newspaper in the 1950s and encountering Guntag Barghelt, who bestows upon him his magic word. Miracleman has many adventures, fighting characters such as Young Nastyman and Doctor Gargunza, sometimes with two junior partners at his side, Young Miracleman and Kid Miracleman. Mike also recalls his nightmare, that the three of them flew up and encountered a ship with an atomic warhead onboard. Its detonation 18 years ago caused Mike to black out and forget his superhero past. Liz, however, can’t accept a word of it and points out that no one has ever heard of a real-life superhero. We’re left with this mystery when the scene shifts and we end with an Unnerving Cliffhanger: “It has begun … and may the Lord have mercy upon us all.”

COMMENTS: Steve Gerber, one of my favorite comics writers, who died last year, wrote the introduction to the collection I am reading. I’ll let him do the talking. “There is … a scene in this book that’s stayed with me since I first read it almost seven years ago, and a line in that scene that’s equally unforgettable. Mike Moran, having recently rediscovered his superhuman abilities, is placed in the awkward position of having to explain to his wife, Liz, that he is, in effect, a living cartoon. … When Liz reacts the only way any reasonable human being would, with involuntary giggles, you can hear those, too. The voices are real, and so are the emotions. Poor Mike can barely believe the words he’s speaking; poor Liz doesn’t want to snicker, but can’t help herself. Finally, overcome with embarrassment and frustration, Mike explodes: ‘Damn you, Liz, you’re laughing at my life!!’ When I read that bit of dialogue, I knew Alan Moore was about to become one of the most important writers in comics.”
I did not know until this morning that Big Ben is not an original Alan Moore character. Regarding Eclipse's two-issue reprint series, I have it and they're great (as Figs said, "in a Weisinger Superman, Beck Captain Marvel kind of way"). One in particular stands out in my mind (a favorite of Alan Moore's as well), a wordless tale of Young Miracle Man flying to Venus to pick ice flowers to impress a pretty girl. Unfortunately, by the time he gets back, the flowers have melted. (My poor description does not do the story justice.) I'm very eager for Marvel to begin reprinting these 1950s tales.

I'm sure I used that, "Damn you, Liz, you’re laughing at my life!" line in "Place That Prose" once back on the old board.
The 50s Marvelman stories I've seen were pretty dire. They wholly lacked the charm of the better Fawcett stuff.

CONTINUING BOOK ONE: A DREAM OF FLYING

CHAPTER THREE

 

SUMMARY: Liz wakes the next morning and recalls a, uh, Miracle-tryst.* Her thoughts are interrupted by a phone call for Mike. It’s Jonathan Bates, the former Kid Miracleman! Meeting in person at a skyscraper, the all-grown-up “Johnny” Bates relays that the airship’s explosion stripped him of his superpowers, and he has since lived as an average person. He became an electronics whiz and today runs a highly successful cybernetics company. But interspersed with their conversation are shots of an approaching storm: “It’s coming this way, and it’s a monster…” Mike confronts Bates with his own theory, that Bates has been Kid Miracleman all this time, a being with an all-powerful body but the untempered mind of an adolescent. “You could become remorseless, unstoppable … and totally corrupt.” When Bates protests, Mike pushes him off a high balcony, and Bates just floats there, smiling.

 

COMMENTS: Moore’s storm metaphor is a bit over the top, but considering the true evil we see from Kid Miracleman over the course of his run, it might be justified. One thing I haven’t commented upon yet is Garry Leach’s pencils. They’re phenomenal, incredibly detailed and sophisticated, matching the sophistication of Moore’s writing. It’s a great pairing.

 

* Thankfully off-camera, unlike in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Grrrrr, Moore!

That was a chilling scene... Bates just floating there with that demoniacal look on his face. BRR!

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