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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the_original_b_dog said:

Despite Callahan's description, Miracleman did not kill any of the terrorists with his "thunderclap" in Chapter 1. We learn that from Cream's narration in Chapter 6. "Only the terrorists and the pressmen were in the station when it happened. And all the terrorists are either in hospital or police custody now." But he is right that Moore followed the thunderclap with a narrative captain, "And then there is silence ... deathly silence." I wonder if Moore changed his mind here? There's no question, though, that MM was shown killing several times, usually without mercy or remorse.

...Yes he does, and that's part of his character. I fear that Marvel may decide to change all that when they introduce 'Marvelman' to their shared continuity (which I believe is only a matter of time). But come to think of it, the vast changes that MM and his fellow demigods brought to their world (such as ending world hunger) would never fit the MU's house style... so it will probably be incorporated as one of those "parallel realities" that the Exiles are always spending their weekends on. All those superheroes who advocate that selective "no interference" policy would go berserk when they saw MM's "superpowers to everyone" program.
I said ealrier that I may be pessimistic - or cynical (take your pick!), but I'd say we are a long way from

a)the Mick Anglo Marvelman collections. Surely it would be a massive task to collect the best of them, never mind all of them? English comics were treasured even less than American comics when these were published and then the character had been almost completely forgotten for a long time, decreasing interest in them.

And its a huge 'front end' expensive undertaking to put together the first few collections. The costs won't be made back for years.

b) reprinting the Moore/Gaiman books so far or printing the ending of them. I don't see how all those legal problems could have been smoothed out. I've seen 'workarounds' mooted like new artists working off Moore's scripts or whatever. They'd still need the Bearded One to agree to that.

I can see them having Marvelman meeting our MU denizens somehow, but that'll be a watered down version on all fronts. (Nice observation of the old symbol btw B_Dogg) Whichever character's comic he appears in, well that character gets to eventually beat him because that's how superhero comics work!

The Sentry will get a big - probably fatal - beat-down, as he doesn't have his own comic and he's a cheeky duplicate of Marvelman anyway.

Gladiator will probably get a swipe at him along the way too...
Ugh. I just don't know if I like the idea of Marvelman in the main Marvel Universe -- even if it's a totally rebooted Marvelman, which I suspect would be the case. The problem is, Marvelman is a Superman archetype; he'd instantly be Earth's most powerful hero. One of the things I like about Marvel is that it doesn't have a Superman.

I just want to see Gaiman be able to complete his trilogy.
the_original_b_dog said:
The problem is, Marvelman is a Superman archetype; he'd instantly be Earth's most powerful hero. One of the things I like about Marvel is that it doesn't have a Superman.

I just want to see Gaiman be able to complete his trilogy.

But they do have one nowadays... the Sentry. Like him or not, he's Marvel's Superman. A schizophrenic Superman, in the Mighty Marvel Manner!
Any Marvelman that appeared in the MU would by definition be a completely different character.

One with a cool outfit, but still...

Maybe they could do a one-off prestige mini-series by top-drawer creators that would make his interaction with the MU ambiguous.

Like they did with the Sentry.

No, wait...

(The Sentry is much more a rip-off of Marvelman btw, than Superman.)
Regarding the point Figs made about Mick Anglo Marvelman collections, I just don’t know. I’ve been operating under the premise of something I read in one of the articles following the press releases, but I’m looking forward to whatever it is they are able to release, complete or not.

Regarding reprinting the Eclipse run, it would be nice, but I somehow doubt it’s in the cards. A single volume HC of Moore’s trilogy, a two-volume slipcase of Moore’s and Gaiman’s (once completed, if ever), and a single-volume omnibus of both are all things I would like to see.

And if Todd Mac Farlane owns the Eclipse MM logo, more power to ‘im, I say. I mean, it’s cool and all (it's even one of the few superhero t-shirts I own, although I've never actually worn it), but logos can easily be redesigned and likely would be anyway.

Speaking of a watered down version of MM in another superhero universe, I do plan to cover Total Eclipse during the course of this discussion (between “Olympus” and “The Golden Age”; what I have to say won’t take long) and Miracleman: Apocrypha, as well. I will have a specific recommendation to make at that point, but you’ll have to wait for it.

Marvelman is a Superman archetype twice removed; Sentry thrice.

Earlier in this discussion I commented that I didn’t read Miracleman from the beginning, nor did I recall when it was that I caught up to the new issues, but during the course of re-reading it all came back to me. Last week I commented that scheduling problems began almost immediately upon the U.S. publication of new material, but that is not exactly the case; it was more like when I started reading it.

I decided to read Miracleman sometime between the release of issues #12 and #13. Consequently, #13 was the first issue I read off the shelves, but by that time I had already read #1-12. Look at these (cover) dates of release:

#13 Nov ‘87 (My first new issue, two months after #12)
#14 Apr ’88 (Five months after #13)
#15 Nov ’88 (Seven months after #14)
#16 Dec ’89 (Thirteen months after #15!)

Backissues and tpbs are the way to go, folks!

CONTINUING BOOK THREE: OLYMPUS

CHAPTER THREE

SUMMARY: Miracleman observes a miniaturized, unearthly life form contained within something akin to a fishbowl somewhere inside his mammoth home. The life forms are just starting to ponder the nature of their existence and question whether any other life exists outside of their world. It reminds Miracleman of his first encounter with extraterrestrial life. But before resuming our tale, he visits the upper reaches of his home, where a park honors the memory of one of the first Warpsmith aliens he met, Aza Chorn. In the past, the Warpsmiths have teleported Miracleman and Miraclewoman to the homeworld of the Qys, the originators of the multiple-body technology. Although the Warpsmiths and Qys are enemies, they are meeting concerning the presence of higher life on Earth; namely, Winter Moran. Representing the Warpsmiths, a race that can move incredibly fast (so fast that they often appear to be standing still), are Aza Chorn and one other. Representing the Qys is its supreme kingqueen, a being whose mind has been placed in a perfected body.* The Qys agent gives its report: We learn that the ship that crashed in England had been sent there on something called a “firedrake sweep.” The agent and his partner found six cuckoos — beings created using the technology Gargunza pilfered. Three are dead (Young Miracleman, Young Nastyman and Miracledog); two are with him (Miracleman and Miraclewoman), and the final one, Johnny Bates, is in a harmless trance. (We briefly cut away and are reminded of the ongoing battle to win control of Johnny’s mind.) The question at hand concerns who will control Earth because it will break a stalemate between the two sides. Miraclewoman shockingly suggests they “have sex,” but what she means is they should forge an alliance. They agree to do so by jointly monitoring Earth during its change period. Miracleman, overwhelmed by the proceedings, is stunned by Miraclewoman’s forthrightness and wonders in the present if this is when he began to love her. The two are appointed the Qys representatives to monitor Earth; Aza Chorn and a new Warpsmith, Phon Mooda, join them. Then, in a blink, Miracleman is sent back to the Morans’ apartment. Liz is unimpressed with his outer-space adventure; she tells him that she is leaving for a few days to get away from the madness. After she departs, a voice comes from the bassinette, “Father? I think it’s time we discussed Mother, don’t you?” In the present, Miracleman narrates, “Five years ago now. Five short years since first I walked on other worlds or heard the voice of Winter. Five short years that have seen more change than have the last five centuries.” He thinks about that in his garden of wonders among the clouds.

COMMENTS: I’m surprised how well Moore forecasted the Internet in the opening narration. “Computer and telecommunication webs make Earth a place where distance is irrelevant. … No cities, concentrating jobs and lives into one crammed environment, when screens can take the office into every home. No borders in the electronic state, where jokes in Aberdeen raise laughter in Japan.” In the late ’80s, we had Usenet, but it wasn’t widely used. Moore is connecting the Warpsmiths to Hermes in the pantheon he is building. In ancient times, Hermes was a messenger. In the 1980s, an interconnected world was the stuff of the gods! (By my count, people from four continents have posted on this thread.) Before I totally forget, I should touch on the artwork of John Totleben. He was a godsend for this book after the hit-and-miss quality of the art in Book Two. The art has consistency again, and Totleben has great range, going from the homeworld of the Qys to the apartment of the Morans. This might not have been all of Totleben’s doing, but note the great contrast between the wide-open, brightly colored two-page spread showing the aftermath of the conference and the tight confines of the Morans’ apartment and the gray drabness in that scene. Finally, it’s worth noting that the Warpsmiths have a publication history outside of Miracleman that delves more into their culture, but I’m largely unfamiliar with it. I think there are also separate copyright issues involved with them. Better open that checkbook, Marvel!

* — “Perfected body” meaning the oversized offspring of the Kree Supreme Intelligence and a Star Trek horta.

The “alienness” of this, my “first” issue, really blew my mind! The art, the words, the colors… the whole package! You’ve already mentioned the transition of the multi-colored Qys homeworld in contrast to the drab grayness of the Moran home (except for Miracleman in his bright blue costume, that is), which conveys as much information concerning the difference between Liz’s world and her husband’s as do the art (including panel arrangement) and words. I was going to mention it if you hadn’t. The colorist is Sam Parsons.

As I mentioned earlier in this discussion, John Totleben deserves much of the credit in making Book III the success it is. In June of 1986, Totleben was diagnosed with Atypical Retinus Pignentosa (RP), a non-hereditary progressive degenerative retinal condition causing severe nightblindness and loss of peripheral vision. What he really has (according to a Summer 2000 interview) is something called Usher Syndrome Type II (US II). According to Totleben, “While I can still see well enough to keep drawing, all this has had the effect of slowing me down a little.” Personally, I’m glad Eclipse decided to wait rather than assign another artist to finish book three.

How do you pronounce “Qys” by the way? Back in the ‘80s I used to think it was something like “kiss” but now I think it might be “keys”. Knowing Moore’s writing, I’m sure he chose the word quite deliberately to convey the dual meaning of both pronunciations.

You already hit on one bit of memorable dialogue (“Father? I think it’s time we discussed mother, don’t you?”), but I also like the binary thought patterns of the miniature And/Oroid (what a great name!) Miracleman observes at the beginning and end of this chapter/issue (giving it its own little beginning, middle and end, a story within a story), which Moore then translates phonetically to give it an additional layer of meaning: “[11010000]: The And/Oroids use this term to denote the sorrow that is felt on realizing sorrow is a thing one can no longer feel.

“One one, oh one, oh oh, oh oh.”

This scene immediately following the flashback between Miracleman and Liz. Speaking of which, if this story has a victim, I think it’s Liz Moran. From this point on she becomes almost unrecognizable in comparison to the strong, confident young professional woman of Book 1.
Yes, Liz is a victim here. I hinted at this in discussing Book One, when Miracleman just left Johnny Bates in the middle of the street crying, and said Miracleman has a tendency to abandon those closest to him. Perhaps it's better to say he has a problem with empathy toward humans because he no longer is one. Miracleman did make a halfhearted to get Liz to join him at Olympus in a later chapter, but his motives came across as selfish.

On the pronunciation: For years, I looked at "Qys" and automatically inserted a "u" for something like, quiss. This time, I realized that probably wasn't right and heard it as kiss. That made a little sense to me considering the sexual nature of the Qys that we hear of several times, from our Mysterious Couple at the end of Book Two, to the description of the kingqueen in this chapter, to Winter's description of various change bodies later on.

And on the earlier discussion of Marvel's Sentry: I am pretty unfamiliar with him, but I still stick by my original thought: The Marvel Universe is better off for not having a Superman archetype who is Earth's most powerful superhero.
the_original_b_dog said:
And on the earlier discussion of Marvel's Sentry: I am pretty unfamiliar with him, but I still stick by my original thought: The Marvel Universe is better off for not having a Superman archetype who is Earth's most powerful superhero.

Oh, I absolutely agree that it's a bad idea. I long for the day when we'll be rid of Sentry, just let him have his heroic death already.
Regarding Liz and Miracleman - wasn't their passionate session in the first chapter proper of Book Two - Catgames a kind of betrayal of Mike Moran?

Ok, on their first night together neither really knew what was going on and they just let themselves get carried away, but in the above episode she seemed to go for Miracleman above Mike. I can see that it's the same guy with a different 'point of view' and an expanded consciousness, but I don't think its so clear cut for them. Later choices they all make seem to show that they believe Mike and his alter ego are two different people.

The way she brings up his love for Miraclewoman as the reason she can't be near him might show something. Might it be a kind of guilt over this betrayal of Mike that is making Liz push them all away?

Totleben is extraordinary here. Look at the pointilist technique he uses in the quieter moments. Miraclewoman and the octopus for example. Then the total horror of Johnny's rampage.

Interesting theory on Miraclewoman's sexual attitudes. It's always seemed strange to me that Moore glossed over that aspect of her captivity so breezily.

Flippant comment for this post follows:

If this story has a victim, it's Margaret Thatcher. <== Haw haw!

 

CONTINUING BOOK THREE: OLYMPUS

CHAPTER FOUR

SUMMARY: Miracleman does an interpretive dance for his fellow deities of Earth. We recognize Miraclewoman and that there are two Warpsmiths, but most of their identities are unknown. Fortunately for us, the dance begins where the story had left off. Miracleman has a bizarre conversation with Winter; he basically stammers as she enlightens him. She had been controlling Liz’s mind at times but found the control difficult to maintain. She already can read minds, using the ability to learn German and Spanish from Gargunza, she knows how to manipulate the minds of humans, and she had chosen her own name. Later, Miracleman meets up with Miraclewoman and the Warpsmiths behind the moon. Hidden there, they are constructing a monitoring station for Earth. It contains a real-time hologram of the planet’s happenings. Phon Mooda explains the reasoning behind their mission: “It’s the law of extraordinary beings: Introduce one to a culture and soon there’ll be dozens.” Aza Chorn continues that they will gather all “existing talent and assemble it. … Your world enters a new and glorious age. We must all work as one to ease its transformation.” The major missing piece is the firedrake, the original reason the Qys came to Earth years earlier. He is Huey Moon, a junkyard refugee in Philadelphia who has the ability to control fire because of a genetic quirk. The five of them forge a passive pantheon, observing Earth without interfering. The following year, Miracleman receives distressing news when Liz decides to leave him (and Mike) and Winter decides to depart for the Qys homeworld under her own power. With his ties to humanity dwindling, Mike Moran sees no reason for his continued existence. He climbs high into the Scottish mountains and commits suicide by uttering one word: “Kimota.” When Miracleman appears, he reads the note Moran left behind: “Michael Joseph Moran, 1952-1983, Rest in Peace.” Miracleman honors his request. Then, two years later, it begins. In a boys’ home bathroom, bullies beat up Johnny Bates again, but this time one goes to rape him. Crying and snotting, Johnny whispers, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Miracleman.” In a blinding explosion, Kid Miracleman is released. The rapist takes the brunt of the change effect. Bates beheads a second boy who had been pinning him down and then kills a third who was watching the door. Next, Bates encounters a nurse who had shown him kindness. He slays her, too. Their deaths were only the beginning. “Atrocity, murder, torsos, pierced heads […] the bloody corpse-soaked Thames. […] Horror’s bastard, pimp of charnel houses … Bates got out.”

COMMENTS: You have to love Winter. I don’t think I have seen another character before or since that reminds me of her. Winter’s name appears to represent the new era (season) of humanity that her presence ushers in. I also must point out that because she was born in October, she was conceived the previous winter and might have gained self-cognizance then. And, of course, the return of Bates. I’m getting queasy thinking about the next chapter…

 

 

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