The legendary series returns from Marvel Comics, but what has changed in 30 years? Your Major Spoilers review of Miracleman #1 awaits!
Writer: Alan Moore/Mick Anglo
Artist: Don Lawrence/Garry Leach/Mick Anglo
Colorist: Steve Oliff
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Cory Sedelmeier
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $5.99
Previously in Miracleman: A little more than three decades ago, a small British publisher called Quality Comics revived a hero from the 1950s (himself an ersatz version of the original Fawcett Comics Captain Marvel.) Dubbed Marvelman, his adventures were among the earliest of a wave of “realism” in 80s comic books, taking the wish-fullfillment fantasy of transforming into a superhuman and repositioning it for a new audience. The book was a hit, and eventually made its way to American shores, where it was redubbed Miracleman, thanks to the existence of Marvel Comics. That series was never completed, and due to ongoing litigation, it seemed that we’d never get to see how Miracleman/Marvelman wrapped up…
ANOTHER DREAM OF FLYING.
As an old dude, I still remember when Eclipse Comics relaunched this book back in the 1980s, even going through a mail-order service for the first time to get the early issues of the title. As I’ve aged, I managed to complete my Miracleman collection, as well as tracking down the much-less common original issues of ‘Warrior’ magazine, where the Marvelman story originally appeared. Owning as I do two copies of this story, I was interested to see what Marvel might bring to the table. We open with a flashback to the original 1950s Marvelman tales, with simulated aging effects to make it feel like a vintage comic. To be honest, I didn’t recognize those until the story transitions into Moore’s official first chapter “A Dream Of Flying,’ which looks utterly phenomenal after restoration. Mike Moran awakes from another nightmare, dreams in which he floats over the landscape, but always seem to end in fire… It’s still an impressive couple of pages of storytelling, as he makes his way to work as a reporter, covering the opening of a nuclear plant. Things predictably go poorly, and Mike ends up at the mercy of terrorists who want to steal the plant’s plutonium. (It’s important to note that the 1982 sections of the story still take place in 1982, which allows for a drab Cold War Thatcherite Britain to maintain its place in the story.) Mike sees a word reflected backwards in the glass of the facility, a word that somehow feels familiar, a word he has to speak out loud. “Kimota.” Boom, bang, Bob’s your uncle and such, and Miracleman is once again free in the world! He makes short work of a few men with guns, and joyously flies into the outer atmosphere to announce his return. It’s a good story, and the next chapter, wherein he flies home to explain to Mike’s wife what has happened, is even more engaging, even if it has a problem with metaphorical lampshade-hanging, trying a bit too hard to justify the sillier aspects of the old Marvelman tales.
NOT JUST THE REPRINTS…
Marvel has really stacked the deck for this first issue, including production materials from both Warrior and from the Eclipse Comics version of Miracleman, as well as a short history of how Captain Marvel became Marvelman back in the 50s and a couple of Mick Anglo Marvelman stories. (It’s kind of funny that a character who was created because of litigation from DC Comics became the focus of litigation by Marvel Comics in the 80s, then was saved from obscurity by that self-same Marvel to compete with DC. The tangled webs of comics, indeed.) There’s a lot of material here, more than 60 pages worth all told, making the $5.99 price point feel just about right for the package. I’m not sure if upcoming issues are going to be priced the same or contain the same amount of material, but I’m satisfied with this book nonetheless. The coloring and restoration are excellent, even improving on Eclipse’s presentation of the material, but one important things has to be said: The Joe Quesada cover is really unpleasant to look at. With a block rendition of the hero that doesn’t jibe with the interiors, a boring Photoshop star field background and an odd perspective, I would not be surprised to see people passing up the book because of it. That would actually be a shame, as this issue sets in motion the story that literally changed the comics world forever, and still mostly holds up as a narrative. Garry Leach’s art in particular works as well as it ever did, especially in his wonderfully expressive faces…
THE BOTTOM LINE: THAT IS ONE *UGLY* COVER.
I am fully prepared for a volley of reviews and internet comments snarking that this book doesn’t live up to the hype, but it’s a strong issue nonetheless. Though the first chapters of this story have to do some heavy-lifting in terms of exposition and explanation, and young Alan Moore wasn’t quite the writer that he’d later become, but I still find a lot to like here. Miracleman #1 is the third version of these stories that I’ve purchased in my comic book collecting history, but even at $5.99 I’m okay with paying to see it re-presented in a deluxe format and pleased to see the story holding up and earning 4 out of 5 stars overall. I’m excited to realize that in a few months, we may finally get to see how the whole thing was supposed to have wrapped up decades ago, and pleased to see that the book isn’t the relic that I worried it might be in the post-irony age…