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!
CHAPTERS 8 AND 9
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.