Alan Moore’s infamous take on Marvelman (later dubbed Miracleman after Marvel objected) ran in the 1980s and is largely considered to be his most seminal work next to Watchmen. In fact, the book explored many of the themes and ideas that later made Watchmen so important and influential; the (potentially) terrifying nature of superheroes, superheroes in the real world, superheroes as gods, superheroism as totalitarianism, the sympathetic supervillain, etc. Miracleman was then continued in the 1990s by Neil Gaiman, who planned three books of six issues each – The Golden Age, The Silver Age, and The Dark Age – but only Golden and part of Silver ever saw the light of day.
After the company that published the books went out of business, the series fell out of print and the rights to the property were up in the air, to say the least (Todd McFarlane and Gaiman are, to this day, mortal enemies as a result). Then, in 2009, Marvel Comics announced at SDCC that they had purchased the rights to the character from Mick Anglo, the original writer/artist. Which was nice and all, but the question still remained – would we ever see Alan Moore’s run back in print? Would we ever see Neil Gaiman’s run back in print? As charming as the original stories by Anglo were, the real reason to own the rights to the titular character was Moore and Gaiman’s work.
Well, good news everybody – Marvel has announced at the Cup o’ Joe New York Comic Con panel that it has finally sorted out the Miracleman rights and will be reprinting the aforementioned runs by Moore and Gaiman. Not only that, but Gaiman was on hand – by way of video – to announce that he would be finishing the work he started on the character almost twenty years ago.
A brief rundown of Marvelman/Miracleman for those not familiar: He’s basically a blond Captain Marvel (DC Captain Marvel, not Marvel Captain Marvel) without a cape. And like Captain Marvel, Marvelman started out his comic book existence as a young boy who said a magic word that transformed him into a super strong superhero with flight powers. Marvelman was commissioned by Fawcett Comics in the 1950s after DC Comics sued them for their depiction of Captain Marvel – a Fawcett character at the time – as a Superman-esque strongman. So Fawcett needed a replacement that was virtually identical to Captain Marvel in concept but not in visuals, and thus Marvelman was born.
In the 1980s, Alan Moore became fascinated by the idea of a Marvelman – a.k.a. Mike Moran – that grew up but had forgotten all about his adventures. He suffered from migraines and had dreams of being able to fly. And there was a word that he couldn’t quite remember – but he knew it held incredible significance.
Of course, he eventually remembered the word and transformed into the superpowered Marvelman once again. This kickstarted a number of new developments in the world, not the least of which was the reappearance of his former sidekick, Kid Marvelman – a.k.a. Johnny Bates – who had become a powerful CEO. Unbeknownst to Marvelman, though, Bates hadn’t forgotten his word – in fact, he’d been living inside the body of Kid Marvelman ever since they parted ways. Kid Marvelman had been corrupted by his powers and was basically an unstoppable pychopathic monster at this point (Geoff Johns was almost certainly inspired by Bates when he created the psychopathic version of Superboy Prime).
Marvelman and his former sidekick fought, but Kid Marvelman proved to be too powerful – he’d been inside his body for so long – and only lost the fight when he accidentally said his own magic word. Before Marvelman had the chance to end Bates’ life, he realized that he was just a little boy, one who had been trapped inside a superpowered monster’s body for decades.
Alan Moore’s run – which, again, eventually became known as Miracleman - has some truly gruesome moments, including a graphic birth scene and the most violently destructive superhero battle in comic book history (it makes Man of Steel look like Thomas the Tank Engine). But they’re earned. Each and every grotesque moment is emotionally powerful and painfully realistic. Hopefully, in the reprint, Marvel doesn’t alter any of it for ‘the sake of the children.’
It’ll be interesting to see where Gaiman goes with the continuing adventures of Miracleman. After all, it’s been twenty years since he worked on the character. The type of writer he was then is not precisely the type of writer he is today – never mind the fact that the story may have greatly changed inside his head. One wonders if the introduction of Angela (created and formerly owned by Gaiman) to the Marvel Universe has anything to do with the reprint/continuation finally becoming a reality. Will this all lead to Miracleman’s introduction to the Marvel Universe proper, not unlike Angela? Golly, let’s hope not.
I would say that I’m looking forward to the possibility of Moore’s run eventually being adapted as film now that the rights are sorted out, but frankly, I really doubt that any studio would pony up the necessary $$$ without taking out everything that makes it so special.
What say you, Screen Ranters? Are you looking forward to the return of Miracleman? Are you looking forward to seeing Gaiman’s continuation of the character? Drop us a line in the comments.
The Miracleman reprint will start hitting shelves in June 2014.
Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.