Review of Miracle Man #1

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By Mick Anglo, Don Lawrence, Alan Moore, Gary Leach

So this is a couple golden aged stories written in the 1950’s with an extended history lesson and interview with Miracle Man/Marvel Man’s creator (which was a Shazam rip off anyway) but the real meat of this and what really matters here is the Alan Moore work and let me tell you it is something. Miracle Man which was written in 1981 predates Moore’s seminal DC work on Batman, Superman, Swamp Thing and of course The Watchmen. What’s so striking about this comic is despite coming before all of that work this still feels like he’s fully formed doing all the things that made his writing great. There’s the fall from grace of the golden age superhero as a symbol for the decay of the “great society“, the constant paranoia of nuclear holocaust and apocalypse in the cold war, the wonderful narrative devices and Moore’s underrated strong dialogue that carry’s his work and engages the reader to the characters. Forget all that cash grabbing prequal nonsense from 2013; this is the real Before Watchmen and over thirty years later it still feels as vital and full of life and wonder as if it was created today.

Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Great, Excellent

7 thoughts on “Review of Miracle Man #1”

  1. I’m glad this is back in print, and I’m excited that Neal Gaiman and Mark Buckingham are committed to finishing their uncompleted run with Eclipse. I like that Marvel reprints some of the original British Marvel Man strips; I don’t think the strips are of great quality, but I find them fascinating none the less.

  2. Well, Patrick, I have to say that I’m pleased that you seemed to enjoy this. Although somewhat disappointed to see you only rated it great rather than excellent.

    This is truly Alan Moore at his best and combined with the absolutely gorgeous artwork of Garry Leach makes this a truly stand out story.

    Marvel have really presented this reprint well. It’s been beautifully restored and coloured. My only complaint (apart from the name change) is that Marvel really padded this issue out with all the old 1950’s Marvelman/Marvelman Family reprints rather than getting right on with this and making this issue really something special.

    Two chapters of Moore/Leach Marvelman really just isn’t enough. But then it’s only a couple of weeks until issue #2 thanks to double shipping this month.

    Issue #2 should be something great. From what I can tell from the solicits it’s going to include the never re-printed story from Warrior #4/Summer Special. Set in the future of the Marvelman strip it shows a really interesting tale that was never followed up on. I can only assume that this was the direction the strip would have taken but for whatever reason Moore went off in another less super-hero direction. The story from Warrior #4 is a lot closer to Moore’s work on Captain Britain and I would have loved to have seen this play out later on.

    It also showcases the guest art of Steve Dillon, Paul Neary and the very first appearance of Alan Davis’ Marvelman, before he took over the strip from Garry Leach. Again, his take on the character is more in line with the style he used for Captain Britain, Harry 20 on the High Rock and D.R. and Quinch.

    But we still have a handful of Garry Leach penciled pages to go yet and they are a thing of beauty. As much as I love Alan Davis and was grateful that he took over from Garry (Leach inked Davis for awhile), these early chapters are the Gold standard when it comes to Marvelman art. The painstaking attention to detail not to mention all the design work Garry put in is second to none.

    When this strip debuted there really was nothing else like it. Moore and Leach and Davis created something truly unique and special. It’s a shame everything fell apart so soon and the cracks started to appear because this is truly a masterpiece of comic book story telling.

    Once Marvel ceased publication in Warrior things were never to be the same again. Although Moore’s story was completed, subsequent new chapters in Eclipse Miracleman series can’t hold a torch to the original chapters. Marvelman was not just a triumph for Moore but also for Garry Leach and Alan Davis. Without them Marvelman would never shine so bright again.

    Can’t wait to get my hands on that hardcover collection in May.

    1. Haha you know I actually meant to write excellent but must have put great by mistake. This was truly excellent. I was gonna just wait for the collection at first, then I was just going to buy this issue and wait for it after that and now I think I’m in for the long haul. You seem to now like any of the stuff after Moore left. Does that mean you aren’t into the Neil Gaiman stuff?

      1. No, I don’t really have a problem with the Gaiman stuff as such, although his writing isn’t really for me. Too full of fairies and fantasy for my tastes. At least with his tales we got some good art from Mark Buckingham.

        It’s just the same kind of problem that I have with Morrison’s Animal Man. There is a definite end to Moore’s Marvelman. There’s nowhere to take it from where he ends it. Unlike Captain Britain that is more firmly set in the Marvel Universe being an already established character before Moore comes long, Marvelman is Moore’s creation from the start, the same way his Watchmen is self contained or V for Vendeatta.

        The other problem I have is that feeling of wasted potential. All of Moore’s classic books have a single artist to unify the whole thing and he had some great artists to bring his stories to life. Alan Davis, Garry Leach, Dave Gibbons and David Lloyd. Ian Gibson on Halo Jones, Alan Davis again on D.R. & Quinch…

        Marvelman really suffers because of changes in artist. You start out with Garry Leach and replace him with Alan Davis and they’re similar enough artists and there’s no real change in feel or tone. But then along comes Chuck Beachum and well, the quality nose dives. Next up we have Rick Veitch who draws some ugly Marvelman and Liz Moran and that’s the infamous childbirth issue and it’s not a pretty sight.

        Then finally it’s John Totleben, who I know you’re gonna tell me you love from his Swamp Thing days with Moore, but his art doesn’t work for a super-Hero story. Especially one that started out with the beautiful art of Garry Leach and Alan Davis. It brings more of a horror style element too it that wasn’t there originally.

        It’s been a long while since I sat and read Marvelman and while it’s tempting to dash off and do so now I’m gonna just wait and read each new issue as it comes out along with everyone else. I am keen to get to the new stuff at last and see where Gaiman takes it and the state of play when it finishes.

        But yeah, for me Marvelman really lost something once Leach and Davis were off the strip and it never recaptured that magic again.

        I’m glad that you thought it was excellent though and I hope this’ll give you that last push that you need to go off and read the Moore/Davis Captain Britain run which to my mind is actually superior to this. And Watchmen. And Swamp Thing and…

        (Well, it’s Captain Britain and Alan Davis. Two of my favourite things in the world. I’m just a tiny bit biased.)

        1. You know it’s funny that you mention Swap Thing because a lot of Leach’s work actually reminded me of Bissette’s pages on Swamp Thing strangely. Is his Captain Britain run still in print?

          1. Oh, not sure. I hadn’t thought of that. It might still be available from Amazon or something. From one of those re-sellers.

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