Marvel Comics has had the Miracleman property for a couple of years now, and have been remastering and representing the original Miracleman/Marvelman stories from the 80s. Now, it’s time for the House of Ideas to earn their “All-New” prefix. Your Major Spoilers review of All-New Miracleman Annual #1 awaits!
ALL-NEW MIRACLEMAN ANNUAL #1
Writer: Grant Morrison/Peter Milligan
Artist: Joe Quesada/Mike Allred
Colorist: Richard Isanove/Laura Allred
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos/Travis Lanham
Editor: Nick Lowe/Cory Sedelmeier
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Previously in Miracleman: Back in the 1960s, young Micky Moran was given the ability to transform into a super-powered form known as Miracleman, thanks to manipulation by a villain known as Doctor Gargunza. Decades later, having written off his memories of super-adventures, a grown-up Mike Moran accidentally triggers his transformation once more, and proceeds to completely reshape his entire world. Somewhere along the line, his sidekick Kid Miracleman grew up into a super-powered psychopath, and destroyed London single-handedly in a gruesome fashion. Everything else will be revealed as we go…
MORRISON’S LOST MIRACLEMAN STORY
Some 30 years ago, a young Scottish writer put together a script for the then-current Warrior Magazine version of ‘Marvelman’, for which he tried to get the approval of the writer who revived the project, only to be told, reputedly, to “back off”. Original writer Alan Moore later left Miracleman (by then renamed and under the publishing auspices of Eclipse Comics) in the hands of other creators, but eventually the company and the character rights fell into a decades-long spiral of non-existence, and young Grant Morrison’s script was thought forever lost. That’s why I was so excited to read this issue’s lead story, which that young writer agreed to sell to Marvel Comic as long as editor-in-chief Joe Quesada drew it. After hearing rumblings of this tale for many years, I finally get to read it and…
…Holy crap is it good. Set in 1966, three years or so after the battle that took out Mike Moran, young Johnny Bates (aka Kid Miracleman) returns to the site where he and his compatriots were nearly destroyed by a nuclear weapon. It’s a story with teeth, and one that (while short and to the point), is an excellent character study of Johnny Bates.
NEVER ENOUGH MIKE ALLRED
The second story of the issue is a retro-flashbacky tale set during the original goofy Marvelman stories of the 1950s (or, alternately, according to the primary continuity, during the time when Miracleman and his chums were kept in suspended animation and fed pleasant four-color fantasies to keep their horrible superhuman powers in check), wherein Miracleman has to stop the plots of wicked Dr. Gargunza. Starting with a hypnotic ray that causes people to deposit their life savings in Gargunza’s savings account through an encounter with irradiated dolphins and beyond, it’s a fun retro tale made more so by Mike Allred’s Silver Age-stylings. Peter Milligan is a writer who understands dream logic and dream imagery, with a couple of complex moments that are quickly glossed over by the logic of Miracleman’s sleeping mind. While I’m not entirely sure how all of this will play for fans who aren’t fans of Miracleman already, but as someone who enjoys this world and its characters already, this story hits all the right notes for me.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A FUN BALANCE OF STORIES
Interestingly, the bleak Morrison iconography makes for a perfect match with Milligan & Allred’s consequence-free bright and shiny retro world, giving the issue a nice balance of ultra-violence and inexplicable comic-book silliness (which would also serve as a metaphor for Miracleman’s greater universe.) It is a $4.99 pricetag for 30 pages of story, though, and roughly 8 pages of that consists of supplementary material, script, pencils and a description of the events that brought this lost script to light, but at least it’s commensurate with the price of other books of roughly the same size. All-New Miracleman Annual #1 is a good’n, with stylish art in both stories, and massively different but very enjoyable stories in both halves of the issue, earning an impressive 4 out of 5 stars overall. If you’ve never read Miracleman before, there’s no better time to start…