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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"Super breath...?" :P
B_dog said: “Some of this stuff’s better than you’d expect, but most of it’s crap.” I love that line. Not that it necessarily applies to comics — although it certainly does — but I also think of it for television shows, books and movies, too.

I think I first heard about Sturgeon's Law sometime after I read Liz's line, so it sticks out in my memory better!
The line about washing the dishes is the one that has stuck in my mind.

I read it long before I had any idea what a long term romantic relationship with someone might involve.
Almost included that line in my summary.

Like I said, these were two transitional chapters but, like with Jeff's "super-breath" line above, it's amazing how many memorable lines and character moments are packed into them.
I've never seen it mentioned before that the chapters following the battle with Johnny Bates were slow moving etc.

Moore was really trying to push the envelope with Marvelman. As if he was trying to explore the humdrum mundane truth of our everyday lives as human beings and still write a story about superpeople?

I think he admited later that he reached the limits. If you are going to write a story about superpeople, then the preposterousness of the set-up means that you have to jam in as many preposterous things as you can into the story. (Its sometimes hard to see where the boundary between Moore's hatred of the industry that has produced superhero comics shades into a contempt for the contents of the comics that industtry produces.)

World threatening vilains, colourful characters, cosmos-spanning adventures. That's where his superhero work went after Marvelman.

I'm paraphrasing and exaggerating, but that's more or less his take on serious superheroes. He believes that Watchmen, Marvelman and Killiing Joke all led to some degree down a blind alley.

For me, reading those interviews were a kind of betrayal, as I was of that generation in the 80s who believed that superheroes were worthy of just the serious treatment that Moore gave them in Marvelman. But practically everyone who has worked on them since has tended to agree with Moore.

I think one of my favorite precepts in comics is the twist on the Hal Jordan story. When Hal was, by chance, bestowed with the Green Lantern's ring, he was the perfect choice for it. He was noble, forthright and disciplined. The ideal candidate regardless. But I like it when the amazing power goes to the person who really doesn't know what to do with it. It's probably a reason I so enjoyed Jim Shooter's abbreviated run on Star Brand, where the power went to underachieving, womanizing Ken Connell, and it's also a reason I like Miracleman. Moran doesn't know what to do with the power. He really doesn't do anything with it. He lives his life and only responds as Miracleman when provoked. He doesn't fight crime; in fact, he goes months without changing bodies because he finds assuming the power to be so intimidating. It is a very different take from the traditional superhero story model.

Moore was playing here with the idea of what would happen if a superhuman suddenly appeared in the real world. He did the same in Watchmen with Dr. Manhattan, and others have tried the same tact. I remember John Byrne's attempt in the (unfinished) Next Men. With any writer who tries it, you get it filtered through their lens. With Byrne, superhumans appearing in the real world was tied into time travel, and Byrne writes wonderful time-travel paradoxes. With Moore, it's tied into a government conspiracy. And Moore's work from this time is filled with conspiracies, usually government ones. He did eventually grow out of this "dark" phase, but you're right, Figs. Many writers just picked up on what they thought Moore was saying at this time (superheroes can't be trusted -- missing the point that he was applying it to all types of authority) and ran with it as though it were gospel.  But I don't think it's the only philosophy, or even necessarily the best one.

This weekend, I'm going to rebuild my cushion on these chapter summaries. At the rate we're going, we'll finish up "A Dream of Flying" next week and start "The Red King Syndrome." Lots more fun ahead!

You guys are so deep! I just think Miracleman's way cool!

Jeff of Earth-J said:
You guys are so deep! I just think Miracleman's way cool!

I'm trying to figure out your point here. Are we being deep? Obviously not. So your inference is that we think we are being deep?

Hard to figure out these things on the net sometimes...

Peace Photobucket


SUMMARY: Cream has kidnapped Mike; the bullets were merely tranquilizer darts. He had been hired to kill Moran and thus end the threat of Miracleman returning, but based upon what little he has pieced together of the Zarathustra project, Cream thinks he’s better off allying himself with Miracleman. Cream leads Miracleman to a remote bunker where the government experiments on him took place. There, Archer’s agents attempt to assault Miracleman, fire rocket launchers at him and explode a bomb under his feet. Nothing slows him. Next he encounters Big Ben, another Zarathustra creation clumsily made under Archer’s direction after the project’s creator vanished. Miracleman easily dispatches him, too, and then he and Cream enter the bunker.

COMMENTS: Moore abandons linear storytelling for these two chapters (and also in Chapter 10, which ends this book), effectively shuffling the order of events and then filtering them through the perspective of different characters. I tend to stay linear in my summaries, but, my, am I leaving out a lot! In Chapter 9, Moore opens with four text-heavy pages, told from the perspectives of Cream, Big Ben, Liz (back at home having not heard from Mike) and, finally, Miracleman. It’s set off nicely by the fifth page, which has seven panels, but only three words. Miracleman appears much more aloof than in his fight with Bates. Learning that a government experiment might be behind his creation has given him a singular drive. He kills the soldiers who confront him at the bunker without remorse and earlier tells Cream, “You’re not talking to Mike Moran now, you know.” Their personality split is becoming more defined.

Figs said: I'm trying to figure out your point here. Are we being deep? Obviously not. So your inference is that we think we are being deep?

That was just my way of providing feedback to b-dog to let him know that even though I haven’t had much to say so far I am following along. No sarcastic inference intended. I’ve been considering re-reading Miracleman for some time now, and the one-two punch of this discussion combined with the announcement that Marvel will soon begin reprinting the classic 1950s Marvelman has convinced me that this may be the time. I’ve pulled all my individual issues and trades but haven’t started re reading them yet. When I do I’ll probably start with the reprinted material, but I hope to be caught up with the discussion by the end of the week.

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