FROM MOORE TO GAIMAN
Like me, perhaps you read “Olympus” wondering what it would be like to live in Miracleman’s world. If so, we weren’t alone. Neil Gaiman, one of my favorite authors and a huge Alan Moore fan, must have wondered, too. That became the premise of “The Golden Age.” It’s a series of short stories exploring life in Miracleman’s world. As Gaiman did in Sandman, when Morpheus sometimes exited the action, we rarely see Miracleman in these stories. After three books with him on nearly every page, he probably appears on fewer than 20 of the 155 pages of Book Four. The stories are a little different, too. It’s less about a continuing narrative and more about the experiences of the characters. Less text, more subtext, I guess you could say. Because this is Gaiman cherry-picking from Moore’s work, with each chapter I will include a line from an earlier story that I think might have been its inspiration.
We’ll begin in the morning!
BEGINNING BOOK FOUR: THE GOLDEN AGE
By Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham
INTRODUCTION AND CHAPTER ONE
“Sometimes, toy citizens clamber up here asking favors […] They wear helmets for the thin air […] funny little bubble-heads.” — Olympus, Chapter One
SUMMARY: We open with a six-page introduction, in which we learn “It was the best of times […] God was in his heaven … all was right with the world.” Then we are introduced to four people (one of whom is our unnamed narrator) who plan to climb Olympus to petition Miracleman. The journey takes several days, so many that the narrator loses count. “Perhaps in some way our ordeal was purifying us,” he wonders. Hundreds of stories up, one of the four loses his mind and jumps from to his death. He was there to pray for an illness that had struck his village. The remaining three finally make it to Aza Chorn’s memorial garden, where they find Miracleman. "What have you come to me for?” On seeing him, one man spits out a single work, “death,” then he pulls out a pistol and fires at Miracleman’s head at point-blank range. When the bullet ricochets off, the man turns the gun on himself. “And are your prayers also this abrupt?” Miracleman asks. A woman, Gwen, asks if she can become an artist. The reply is yes. Next is our narrator, who lost his wife in Bates’ attack. Their only daughter, Hope, was wounded, too, and is being kept alive by life support. He asks Miracleman to heal her. He says no and flies away. The man is left aghast, but his appeals are not heard. The couple start to plan their descent. It’s a long way down.
COMMENTS: In response to our narrator’s unanswered prayer, Gwen says, “What’s important changes from where you’re looking,” and that’s a theme to this book. It’s about the struggles everyday people still face in this supposedly perfect world. There are illnesses, people injured beyond medicine’s ability to heal them, people who are mentally unstable, and people who are unkind to others. For this book, we’re going to leave Olympus for a while and meet some of them.
I think the copyright is in dispute. :P
I think "The Golden Age" shows that Miracleman looks at society, not at individuals.