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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A page of original art from Miracleman: Triumphant! has turned up at my LCS. It's definetly Deodato's work and features Gargunza, wearing a "futuristic" fishbowl space helmet and petting Miracledog in the large central panel, while Winter floats in the background looking on. Oddly (and perhaps a bit confusingly), it's drawn on a piece of art board stamped with the "Innovation Comics" logo, but I suspect Deodato was simply using whatever materials he had at hand. I'd love to own that piece but I don't even know if it's for sale. Well, everything's for sale, but I doubt very much if it's within my price range.
You have to at least ask.
Good luck in getting it. Post a picture if you do!
He's asking $700.00 (not unreasonable, but well out of my price range).

If you guys would care to take up a collection on my behalf, though, I wouldn't refuse. :P
Marvelman Classic, a hardcover collection of Marvelman #25 (the first issue) through #34 has been solicited for July 28 release. It will be released with a choice of covers: 1) the Joe Quesada pose discussed above, or 2) a variant Mick Anglo edition. Under normal circumstances, this decision would be a no-brainer for me (I almost always choose the cover artist featured on the interior pages), but in this case I'm most familiar with the "Miracleman" version of the character, and the Quesada covers seems to represent an invitation to the reader to sample the fantasy world force fed to the "Miracle Family" by Gargunza. Decisions, decisions...

That volume is $35. For the more economically minded, there will also be a six-issue Marvelman Family's Finest @ $4. Both are in black and white. For my own part, I guess I'm going to have to get used to thnking of him as Marvel Man!
For my own part, I guess I'm going to have to get used to thnking of him as Marvel Man!

Word.

When's the 6 issue mniseries start?
Yesterday!

I had time to read only one comic book yesterday (and I actually crapped out after reading only the first story), but that comic was Marvelman Family’s Finest #1, which reprints…

Marvelman #222 (Nov 1957)
Young Marvelman #57 (Sep 1954)
Marvelman #102 (Jul 1955)
Marvelman Family #3 (Feb 1957)
Marvelman #72 (Jan 1955)

At first I wondered about the selection process and why the stories chosen skipped around so much, but a quick flip-through answers that Young Marvelman is the first appearance of Young Nastyman and that Marvelman #102 introduces Kid Marvelman, so there’s one story featuring each separately, followed by one “Family” story and part one of a “Marvelman Serial” which will presumably run every issue. Regarding the one story I have actually read so far, it was a bit surprising to me.

“Marvelman and the Acid Vapour” features Dr. Gargunza’s plot rid mankind of mountains. Reasoning that “mountains are a curse to mankind in most cases,” he sets out to “find a means of erasing mountains and all will benefit—especially I, the greatest genius of the century.” In this story, Gargunza hopes to help mankind (in his own misguided way), and is shown to be more mischievous than evil.

The first test of his acid vapour, though, backfires, destroying not only the mountain but continuing to eat to the center of the Earth. When molten lava begins spewing from the hole, Gargunza himself notifies the Daily Bugle to contact Marvelman. Marvelman succeeds in creating suction to draw the vapour into space, but that backfires, too, as it eats a hole though the Moon, an error in judgment which he must also then correct. The story ends with the moral “It shows how careless scientific experiments can endanger the world,” a lesson that still has some relevance today, I might add.

NEXT: “Young Marvelman Meets Young Nastyman!”
I wondered about the selection process too. I think they chose some strips drawn by Don Lawrence on purpose. He would go on to be a world-class comics illustrator. His apex might have been Trigan Empire, where he had to draw just two pages or so per week (or maybe per fortnight) for a magazine which had a huge readership, so he could put his all into the work.

Check out the collection covers here, and some of his strip illustration here.

Reprinting the early work of someone like that is always worthwhile, although there is a huge difference in quality between the Marvelman strips and his later work. Obviously Marvelman was done under quite restrictive conditions (to say the least!), and it was fantastic that some corners of the comics universe developed that allowed great artists like Lawrence to show what they could really do.

I was amused too, that Gargunza wasn't an out-and-out villain here. His big motivation is 'money, money, money', which isn't such a sin in our post Thatcher/Reagan world.

I'm loving the whimsey and surealism of Gargunza's crusade against mountains. Wait til you get to the Giant Marrow story. British comics still have lots of Lewis Carroll and Jonathan Swift in their DNA. Although the comics are (surprisingly) set in the US, and following the US superhero template quite closely, I'm seeing a lot here of the children's comics I grew up on: the Beano and the Dandy, Whizzer and Beezer. There's the humour, and the child's logic.

There's also something that's not as healthy. Miracleman obviously represents the big strong soccer-playing kids and Gargunza represents the nebbish little 'softies' who read books and have ideas above their station. This was a common set-up in those comics I mentioned above. In fact, readers of the English 'Dennis the Menace', the Beano's most popular character, were expected to side with the bully Dennis against Walter and his gang of poetry-reading, cookery savvy 'softies'. There's more of this in the Young Nastyman story, where YN is obviously a no-goodnik because he doesn't take part in manly sports.

No wonder that Alan Moore's take on the dynamic between Marvelman and Gargunza turned the tables somewhat in showing Gargunza's motivations in a very sympathetic light, and ultimately showing Marvelman as the quintessential schoolyard bully, laying down how things are going to be run in his little fiefdom.

There's a lot here that adds even more to the richness of Moore and co's later work. I'm looking forward to the rest of this series.
I think they chose some strips drawn by Don Lawrence on purpose. He would go on to be a world-class comics illustrator.

I’m unfamiliar with the work of Don Lawrence. His line work on the main characters and children is very simple, but his rendering of adult faces is very polished. His work reminds me a bit of that of Mac Raboy. Thanks for those links!

Wait til you get to the Giant Marrow story.

I had to look “marrow” up in the dictionary to discover its “primarily British” definition!

British comics still have lots of Lewis Carroll and Jonathan Swift in their DNA.

I’d say that story has as much to do with L. Frank Baum!

There's also something that's not as healthy. Miracleman obviously represents the big strong soccer-playing kids and Gargunza represents the nebbish little 'softies' who read books and have ideas above their station.

You’re not wrong there.

There's a lot here that adds even more to the richness of Moore and co's later work.

Agreed.

I'm looking forward to the rest of this series.

Me, too. I hope there’s not too much duplication with the hardcover series, because I’ll be buying those, too!

“YOUNG MARVELMAN MEETS YOUNG NASTYMAN”: The visual motif of Young Nastyman leaving his victims hanging from lamp posts was a little chilling in light of Johnny Bates’ rampage in the Moore series. Brrr…!

“INTRODUCING KID MARVELMAN”: I was a little surprised to discover that Kid MM/Johnny Bates was given virtually no origin whatsoever, just: “Johnny Bates is a new member of the Marvelman family. He has been appointed by Marvelman himself to help in the great fight against evil, injustice and inhumanity.” That’s it, just a caption!

“MARVELMAN FAMILY AND THE GIANT MARROW’: Now I know how British readers of the early Captain Britain stories must have felt! I’ll accept “Balahoo City, U.S.A.,” but “Hogsworthy” would have been better named “Hog Hollow” (just down the road a piece from Dogpatch, don’tcha know). Likewise I’m pretty sure the words “Shan’t be sorry to take a rest” were never uttered in the United States.

“THE GREAT GARGUNZA MYSTERY”: “Money, money, money! I must have money! Tons of it. I must think of a way to make some.” Four pages of the serial isn’t really enough to form an opinion, but I’m looking forward to the remaining chapters.
Marvelman Primer


Between the reprints of covers and comics pages that we've seen elsewhere or will see elsewhere, there wasn't a whole lot in this that was new. I thought I'd read that there was going to be an interview with Gaiman in here, which might have influenced my decision to buy it.
In any case this little collection of articles and other materials was of note for one reason.

RESPECT!


I was impressed that the Editor-In-Cheif of Marvel Comics went to interview the old guy who'd created Marvelman in the 50s. That looks like pulling out the stops to me. There's nothing half-hearted about Marvel's commitment to Marvelman.


Respect was being shown in another way too, albeit more subtly. In all the column inches about Marvel UK and Marvelman's publishing history, Alan Moore's name was very conspicuous by its absence. Because Moore's name was left out, Gaiman's, Davis and Neary's was too, so that the omission wouldn't be so obvious.
The manouvring here is like some elaborately coded courting dance performed by exotic birds in the wild. Fun to watch for the rest of us, too.

I think Quesada's trip to the UK was as much about impressing Moore as Anglo.
All this tells me that Moore has agreed to Marvel reprinting his Marvelman series, but doesn't want his name attached to it. Kudos to Marvel for respecting his wishes, but I don't think it'll mean the start of a new working relationship with Moore or anything, Moore being how he is. 



Of course, being respectful to creators is worthwhile in itself, so it's all good.



Anglo may still be insisting that his character wasn't inspired by Captain Marvel, as he says that he got the name from a powdered milk product. We used to have tins of Marvel milk in the cupboard at home -a comedown from having an actual milking cow a few years previously, I realise now. Also the advertising jingle from the naff 70s ad - in the way of these things - has never left my head. (I wasn't the only one so afflicted, as it's the first line of the article linked to above.)

Cheap red wine seems to have been part of the Marvelman recipe too, according to Anglo!
My questions are:

When new material finally gets created, is Marvel going go with a new version based on the Angelo stuff, or will they continue the Moore/Gaiman version? The primer makes no mention of the revamped versions of the characters.

Can they continue the Moore/Gaiman version?

If they can, who will they get to write it? I'm not sure I'm ready for Marvelman to be uttering, "--the hell?" when he's momentarily taken aback.
I'm not sure I'm ready for Marvelman to be uttering, "--the hell?" when he's momentarily taken aback.

And if he ends up in the MU proper, will he be pwned by the Hood?

Gaiman seems to have a good working relationship with Marvel and Quesada. Everything would seem to be in place for him to complete the 6 issues of the Silver Age and go on to complete his story with The Dark Age.

As I understand it, Moore is allowing Marvel to reprint his section of Marvelman so long as the royalties go to Mick Anglo, hence the sense of rapprachement I'm getting from the Primer.

Once Gaiman's tale is told, it will be another question whether someone called Marvelman, not dissimilar to Anglo's creation would appear in the MU. Marvel's being very respectful regarding the character so far, promoting glossy hardback collections, and educating the readership to his importance etc., but they'll probably be trying to turn a buck at the end of the day.

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