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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So, the Oakey story in "The Golden Age" trade is just lifted from Total Eclipse?

That I don’t know. I could check publication dates of the respective comics, but even that wouldn’t answer the question for certain. I suspect Gaiman wrote it with both series in mind, but aside from Jason’s off-hand reference to a “total eclipse,” it certainly fits better in Miracleman than it does in Total Eclipse.

(Ah, I now see that you posted in that thread.)

I had forgotten about that discussion. Thanks for reminding me! I wasn’t in the mood to re-read the series along with ‘Tec at the time, but I may revisit that discussion soon. The Captain Britain Omnibus contains the entire Alan Moore and Jaime Delano runs, plus the character’s next chronological appearances from American X-Men and Captain America comics with Alan Davis art throughout. I’ve got to admit I was a little disappointed that this volume collects “only” the British comics of Moore, Delano and Davis; judging from the cover (the main character in his original costume which he does not wear inside except for a panel or two), I had hoped the Dave Thorpe issues would be included as well (and perhaps even the Claremont/Trimpe origin, produced in America for a British audience, reprinted in the U.S. in Marvel Tales #131-133).

If anyone reading this is interested in the Captain Britain mini-series (reprinting the Moore/Davis material) or the trade paperback (collecting the Delano/Davis material), let me know and perhaps we can arrange a trade of some sort.

Moore asks us to believe that the people in Miracleman’s world have somehow changed their entire psychological make-up and values in only 5 years.

That’s true, but after a single generation, our psychological make-up as a race would (likely) be changed.
That Omnibus sounds mint!

There are Panini reprints of Cap Britain's earliest adventures, possibly not available in the US.

I've pawed them fondly in the shop, but they are quite steeply priced.

There are two volumes so far but they don't seem to have reached the Black Knight/Otherworld stories that preceded Moore's run.

How many issues did Moore write before his 'Rag, a Bone, a hank of hair' reboot? This is another example of Moore rebooting his own series in the middle, although perhaps its more like Swamp Thing where he cleared the deck before starting afresh. It depends how many he wrote before the 'Rag a Bone' episode.

I do remember that a lot of letter writers to Warrior in the early days of the strip thought that a team-up between the twop heroes could be arranged. The editor tried to let them down gently.
There are Panini reprints of Cap Britain's earliest adventures, possibly not available in the US.

Oh, I did not know that! I’ve been buying Panini Doctor Who reprints which, while not unavailable in the U.S. can be difficult to find. Now I have something new to search for!

I've pawed them fondly in the shop, but they are quite steeply priced.

As are the Doctor Who collections.

There are two volumes so far but they don't seem to have reached the Black Knight/Otherworld stories that preceded Moore's run.

From the introductory essays in the omnibus (written by Alan Davis and Alan Moore in 2001 for an earlier collected edition), the Thorpe stories sound interesting to me, very political.

How many issues did Moore write before his 'Rag, a Bone, a hank of hair' reboot?

That I couldn’t tell you. In fact, in Moore’s introduction, he refers to his stories not so much as a trip down memory lane as “a stumble down amnesia alley” is I think how he put it. He didn’t remember much about the stories he himself had written some 20 years earlier, in other words, until he re-read them. That’s pretty much the same for me; I’ve read his run just once but don’t remember much about it. Moore enjoyed reading his own stories, though, and hoped others such as myself as well as those actually reading them for the first time would, too.

This is another example of Moore rebooting his own series in the middle, although perhaps it’s more like Swamp Thing where he cleared the deck before starting afresh.

Moore did mention in his introduction that he got rid of Thorpe’s political trappings as soon as possible, modestly claiming not to have understood a lot of it.
The Rag, Bone, Hank of Hair bit was Moore's third chapter. Really, the early issues were all part of the reboot. Moore also killed off a sidekick rather quickly.
I made a factual error yesterday in my discussion of the the contents of the Captain Britain Omnibus.* It includes Dave Thorpe's stories as well as those written by Alan Moore and Jaime Delano. I would still like to read the character's earlier adventures, however.

*Not a day goes by that I don't miss the ability to edit previous posts. :(
Figserello said:
There are Panini reprints of Cap Britain's earliest adventures, possibly not available in the US.

Three volumes are available through Amazon.co.uk with a fourth on the way (although that might begin the Moore era). Volumes 2 and 3 are listed "in stock" and the first three together would set me back 36 GBP (about $59). That works out to about 20 bucks apiece, which is okay if I really want them and the first volume really is available.

Decisions, decisions...
Just a couple of final things before we move on from Alan Moore's trilogy. Hope its not stating (repeating) the obvious, but thought I'd get it down.

Moore's genius here is that just about all the characters, even Gargunza, are fully fleshed out and convincing in their motivations. Some are sympathetically portrayed even when they aren't making good choices - Marvelman himself, as B_dog has pointed out several times. However I've found Johnny Bates to be the least satisfying this time around.

What's his motivation? What's he after? What does he want? Why does he do the things he does?

The others get a full background, but when we meet Johnny he is a sauve, collected Sir Clive SInclair/Sir Richard Branson businessman type. (He'd have been only a few years away from a knighthood himself. Royalty loves money!) Then he trips some psychological switch when he meets Mike Moran again and turns into a walking charnel house. What are we to make of it?

When you think of how much self-control and understanding of us everyday humans that he'd have to possess to build up his business empire, his behaviour after Mike finds him doesn't make much sense. I will admit that "He's back! Back to Spoil everything!" doesn't really sound like the utterance of a mature grown man.

It could be as someone said earlier about Mike abandoning him after their first reunion, that there'd be no story without these sudden tangents.

Certainly he goes into his final rampage without knowing that he's up against Marvelman's terrestrial and extra-terrestrial allies. So that explains the mad abandon with which he throws himself into his final showdown with Marvelman.

Yes, poor Johnny was serially abandoned and mistreated from a young age and then found himself let loose in the world without any constraints whatsoever, but it's a pity we don't get much more in-story than the assumption than 'he's mad, bad and dangerous to know.'

But then one of the gloomy tenets behind the whole series is that power like that will ultimately remove the recipients completely from humanity and corrupt them.

Miracleman isn't so bad because he managed to spend most of his life as a schmuck like us. He had to become like us and learn humility and humanity before he rose again as Marvelman.

Sounds ‘heavy’?

Well, Book 3 foregrounds the theological aspects of this fable. The first chapter is named after Cronus, the father of the gods that Zeus had to kill to become the leader of a new pantheon and a new ‘world order’. (This is why the bust of Gargunza is so deliberately shown.) The care and skill that went into the plot, setting and characterisation up to now makes us read it realistically and distracts from a more symbolic reading of the three books.

It's a superhero creation myth with Johnny as the serpent there at the very beginning. That's why Johnny’s motivation is lacking.

Why does the serpent do what he does?

Because he’s eeeevil!

Staying on the symbolic level, perhaps we are seeing the truism acted out in this story that any attempt to better our own world has to overcome the very worst in us to succeed.
"The actual Marvelman story is such a grim and ugly one that I would probably rather that the work was published without my name on it, and that all of the money went to Mick [Anglo]."

Moore in this very recent comprehensive interview from Mania.com.

He just wants his name taken off everything...

(The comments section is a display of stupidity and ignorance for about the first 2 pages though...)

All looks good for reprints. Maybe even a Pixar/Marvel movie!
Thanks, Figs. I'll read the interview a bit later, though. Regarding the motivation of Johnny Bates, I think you pretty much summed it up yourself when you said the reappearance of Mike Moran tripped some sort of psychological switch... not because he's eeeevil, but because he's mentally unbalanced. (How could he be anything but, really?)

BTW, right this second my wife is reading "The Golden Age" and I will re-read it when she's done.
I'll read the interview later when I have some extra time, but I loved your excellent analysis, Figs.

Wow! Very interesting interview!

It sounds as if Moore won't stand in Marvel's way of reprinting his run, but he wants his name stripped off it.* He also agrees that Mick Anglo was the copyright-holder all along, and told Gaiman and Buckingham that that might have been the case before they took over. If the hurdle with Moore has been cleared, then Marvel will need to go to the artists, including Garry Leach, who, I believe, has the rights to the Warpsmiths.

I can't wait to see this interview continued. I enjoyed Moore's reasoning behind the early part of the story, but I wonder what he was thinking with the latter half, especially the radical turn at "Olympus."


* -- Much like the Watchmen movie and other film adaptations of his work. I understand not wanting to be associated with the movies, because his stories are designed specifically for a comic-book format. But really, why bother with Marvel/Miracleman? I know he gave a reason, but the answer didn't strike me as complete. Maybe I'm too much of a skeptic.

Much like the Watchmen movie and other film adaptations of his work. I understand not wanting to be associated with the movies, because his stories are designed specifically for a comic-book format. But really, why bother with Marvel/Miracleman? I know he gave a reason, but the answer didn't strike me as complete. Maybe I'm too much of a skeptic.

He's miffed that as poorly as they treated him when he was an up and coming hack, both large companies now put his name up in big big letters on anything they can, and make huge profits from his name. He's saying that they may (alas!) own the work, but they don't own his name. (They don't, surely?)

He probably wasn't paid properly even for Watchmen. Len Wein on the DVD, an editor at DC at the time, said that Moore produced 130 page scripts for each issue. That's way above and beyond. He did it willingly and that's not his gripe, but I suppose he thought that putting in so much care and attention to detail would be rewarded with some respect down the road.

I wonder what he was thinking with the latter half, especially the radical turn at "Olympus."

He does mention that the arrival of Totleben directed him towards a certain approach for the final book. When he says the actual story was 'grim and ugly' he's probably reffering to the climactic showdown with KM more than anything else, so perhaps he's not too proud of the finale at this remove.

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