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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Jeff of Earth-J said:
Figs said: I'm trying to figure out your point here. Are we being deep? Obviously not. So your inference is that we think we are being deep?

That was just my way of providing feedback to b-dog to let him know that even though I haven’t had much to say so far I am following along. No sarcastic inference intended. I’ve been considering re-reading Miracleman for some time now, and the one-two punch of this discussion combined with the announcement that Marvel will soon begin reprinting the classic 1950s Marvelman has convinced me that this may be the time. I’ve pulled all my individual issues and trades but haven’t started re reading them yet. When I do I’ll probably start with the reprinted material, but I hope to be caught up with the discussion by the end of the week.

Ahh! Sorry for being so sensitive! When I was at college I had some friends who were very intelligent and read Joyce and Yeats, but hated to appear so in conversation. It really annoyed me. Perhaps its an Ulster thing! The tall poppy syndrome. And discussion isn't that thick and fast on this board, so I reacted to what I saw as setting parameters on it.

I knew you weren't being malicious but I just felt I had to say my bit.

It might be a sore spot with me. Completely Photobucket now, but this might tie into a conversation I had with my cousin in Ireland at the weekend. (I just got Skype!) He advised me that if I was having trouble with the baby, then I should just explain to her all the metaphors in superhero comics and she'd fall asleep straight away. My wife overheard and seemed to think it was very funny.

I'll try not to be so long-winded in this thread.

Anyway... Miracleman! I discovered I'd packed away my Miracleman books in a box helpfully marked 'MOORE' but tucked away in a corner, so I'm good to go again.

I've read up to the end of the first battle with Johnny Bates.

Tim Callahan might carp on all day long about the important of close reading, but he's way off the mark with the terrorists in the first chapter. Marvelman DOES incapacitate them with the classic Hulk handclap. It even mentions the sound of thunder! What a doofus!

B_dog said 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.

Photobucket

I didn't really think of it like this before, but you're right. Also, he resents his alter ego. His perfection and largeness of spirit. That it takes Marvelman to impregnate his wife is another sore spot. Moran feels close up, what the narrator and the reader felt in watching the Johnny/Marvelman fight earlier - that these superpeople have passions and drives that belittle us timid mortals.

I'm glad that we've all made up ... and discovered where the smilies are!












(Seriously, what am I supposed to do with that?)

CONCLUDING BOOK ONE: A DREAM OF FLYING

CHAPTER 10

SUMMARY: Miracleman concentrates his search on video journals that remain about the creation of the Miracleman family. Mike Moran and his two protégés were chosen because they were young orphans with no families, so their disappearances would not be noticed. Their bodies were not merely cloned, but evolved, then placed into something called “infra-space,” where the bodies swapped places upon use of the trigger word. They have enormous power, able to outrace jets and fly through titanium, making them potentially more valuable than the nuclear weapons that were being developed by other countries at the same time. The advanced technology at use baffles Miracleman. “What … is a para-reality programming process? Or an infra-spatial brain implant for that matter? Or a cellular replicate? … In the early ’50s we hadn’t even developed polio vaccine.” Their comic-book memories were implanted over the course of several years, but Miracleman never gets to find out why. Instead, he learns who the human genius behind the project is. It’s Doctor Gargunza, his arch-enemy from his comic-book past. Miracleman goes into a berserker rage — “GAAARRRGUNZAAAAAA!” — destroying some equipment in the bunker before Cream calms him down. They depart, leaving Archer and his team with quite a mess on their hands.

COMMENTS: A classic EYKIW, as we have discussed many times over the years in the Comics Cave: Everything You Know Is Wrong. My, how far we have come in 10 chapters! And the final part raises more questions than it answers, perfectly setting up Book Two.

Y’know that wordless Young Miracleman story I mentioned last week? It was in Eclipse Comics’ Miracleman #7 and was written by Alan Moore. When I first read it I thought it was the modern story it is, but I have a memory of being surprised to learn it was actually a tale from the 50s. That memory is false. I could tell by looking at it that was of modern vintage, even if it hadn’t been credited to Alan Moore and John Ridgway. Maybe I read somewhere that it was among Alan Moore’s favorite stories of his own work…? (Now’s when I miss that ability to edit posts.)

I also found the letter’s page discussion about Johnny saying “Miracleman” and not changing, but it wasn’t as informative as I had hoped. Evidently, Moore plotted the story very close to the vest and even his editor and artists didn’t know in advance in which direction the plot was headed until he turned it in. there’s a pin-up in issue #7 by Chuck Beckum (I think) who has drawn himself into it sitting at the drawing board and lamenting, “I work with the guy, for crying out loud! He can tell me who Rebbeck and Lear are!”

Speaking of issue #8, the Eclipse office in Guernville, CA were hard hit by a flood in 1986 which wiped out their backissue stock and threw the production of Miracleman (among others) off schedule. If anyone reading this has never read Miracleman in (U.S.) periodical form, Miracleman pauses to reflect between chapters. At the bottom of the splash page, editor cat yronwode enters, breaking the fourth wall and shouting, “NO! I can’t go through with it!” She spends the next page explaining (in comics form) how much she hated when Marvel would try to pretend a filler issue was intended to be an in-story “flashback” and explains the situation before running some 1950s reprints.

I started reading what few reprints I have yesterday, but them something came up and I didn’t get quite finished. For those interested in sampling Mick Anglo’s original Marvelman, reprints can be found in the following Eclipse issues:

#8: “Miracleman Combats the Electric Terror”
#8: “Miracleman and theSpanish Armada”
#13: “Young Miracleman and the Mad Mogul”
#13: “Young Miracleman in The Blitzkrieg Mystery”
#15: “Miracleman and the Rock of Eternity”

I think that’s it. Those are in addition to the reprint from issue #1 (almost verbatim, IIRC) and the two-issue Miracleman Family all-reprint series. Eclipse also issued a Miracleman 3-D one-shot (of reprints with a framing sequence, IIRC) but I have it filed with my (few) other 3-D comics in who-knows-which-box. B-dog, are you planning to cover Miracleman: The Apocrypha in this thread?
I had forgotten about that Eclipse flood. Honestly, I think I prefer Moore's story without the "intrusions" from the American reprints. But I am a little curious to see some of the '50s stories.

I've not pulled out my copies of Apocrypha. I remember being meh toward it, but I don't think I've looked it at in years. I'm trying to remember when it fell. Was it between "Olympus" and "The Golden Age" or between "Golden" and "Silver"?
Oh, those features I mentioned were definitely intrusions. I was just trying to provide a little "color commentary" to your "play by play" until I get caught up. The first 10 or so Eclipse issues were all reprint, but as soon as the title shifted to new material the title fell behind schedule almost immediately. Maybe not "immediately"... I didn't read Miracleman from the very first... but certainly by the early teen issues. I heard a lot about Alan Moore before I actually read any Alan Moore. I remember the first Alan Moore i ever read was a serialized back-up story in a title I already read: American Flagg! It didn't impress me much, but eventually I picked up an issue of Swamp Thing (#34 was my first but it was a backissue at the time). Once I discovered how good his stories really were, I quickly filled in the backissues of both Swamp Thing and Miracleman I had missed.

I have the same feeling toward Apocrypha you do; I've read it only once and I remember it as distinctly "meh," too. I thought I might give it another read, though, in conjunction with the regular series as see how it reads. "The Golden Age" was such a departure from "Olympus" (I think), that Apocrypha fits best between the two (even though I think it was released a bit later than that).

I remember thinking that Alan Moore brought his story to a perfect conclusion and would have been content if it had stopped at the point. I really couldn't imagine where another writer... any writer other than Moore... might take the story. "Unneccessary," I thought. I'm pretty sure Miracleman was my first exposure to the work of Neil Gaiman, too. I think he would have been writing Sandman by this time, and although I was certainly aware of the critical acclaim of the early issues, I didn't start reading that series until later ("Seasons of Mist"), either.
Does anyone have a back issue with Chapter Two in it? I'm really curious now whether Bates spoke or thought the word Miracleman. I wonder if they corrected it for the TPB.

I can't believe we're done with Book One! Of course, it was the shortest book.

In the morning, we'll start Book Two!

STARTING BOOK TWO: THE RED KING SYNDROME

By Alan Moore with Alan Davis, John Ridgway, Chuck Austen*, Rick Veitch and Rick Bryant

PRELUDE

SUMMARY: It’s 1961, and the Zarathustra project is in full swing. Dr. Gargunza is attempting to feed the Miracleman family a dream scenario (one of their comic-book adventures), but it’s not working. As soon as Gargunza gives up, a scenario starts up on its own! The Miracleman family finds itself in a strange, un-Earth-like place and on the edge of a massive “Sleepytown.” (“It looks like something out of a crazy dream,” Miracleman says. “Or a nightmare!” says Young Miracleman.) Gargunza believes that the Miracleman family has subconsciously realized its dream existence and that they are trying to wake up. “Have you ever read Alice in Wonderland?” he asks his assistant. “Do you remember the Red King? He slept, and he dreamed, and no-one dared wake him. They were afraid, you see, that they were part of his dream, and that were he to wake the whole of existence would simply vanish.” Gargunza knows that if his “brutes,” as he calls the Miracleman family, finally awake, his existence will vanish.

COMMENTS: This is a delightful play away from expectations into a part of the story that hasn’t really been explored. And we only see enough to want to see more. Also in this story, we change artists. Alan Davis is replaced by John Ridgway, whose work is more eerie and moody, effectively moving between the unreal dream scenario and Gargunza’s world of unbelievable technology. Davis returns as the artist on the main run.

* — Credited as Chuck Beckum but commonly known to today’s readers by the other name

John Ridgway and Chuck Beckum are the same person? I didn't know that. I'll be off the board for the rest of the week, but when I return Monday I hope to be caught up to where you are. I'll try to remember to check chapter two for Bates' spoken or thought "Miracleman" and report back.
Jeff of Earth-J said:
John Ridgway and Chuck Beckum are the same person? I didn't know that. I'll be off the board for the rest of the week, but when I return Monday I hope to be caught up to where you are. I'll try to remember to check chapter two for Bates' spoken or thought "Miracleman" and report back.

I think he means Chuck Austen is the same person,
Oh, I didn't notice where that asterisk was coming from.

Nevermind.

CHAPTER ONE

SUMMARY: We move back to the modern day (1982) and catch up with each of the main characters. Mike and Liz are fighting. She is afraid someone else will target him, like Cream did, but then he changes to Miracleman, and she finds comfort — and more — in his arms. Cream confronts Archer and warns him not to come after Mike or Miracleman again, but Archer says Cream will come to regret his alliance. “This monster […] destroys people. People like me. People like you.” Johnny Bates is still in a hospital and nonresponsive, but inside his mind, Kid Miracleman is harassing him to be let out again. A rare show of defiance by Johnny only encourages his alter ego. And we meet up with Dr. Gargunza, who, it seems, has a very dangerous pet.

COMMENTS: Moore introduces the theme of the hunter and the hunted, which he returns to throughout the book. Like with Johnny and the nurse, many times the hunted doesn’t even know she (or he) is a target. We see that with Miracleman in later chapters. And sometimes the hunted decides to turn and face its hunter, like the jaguar did, only to be slaughtered. We see that later, too. Moore also splices his scenes together wonderfully, moving from Gargunza, to Mike and Liz, to Johnny, to Cream, then back to Miracleman and Liz, and ending with Gargunza, all the while returning to the jaguar on each page. It’s another example of how effective short-form storytelling (only six pages here) can be.

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