Delays are nothing new to comic books. In the 90s, readers of From Hell quickly grew accustomed to waiting several months for the next installment of Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s historical opus. It took two years for the epilogue to surface. Less drastic, though still irregular was the final year of Sandman, during which I treated the release of a new issue as an unpredictable surprise. Neil Gaiman once observed that it took him three weeks to script a single issue of Sandman, which did leave me wondering how he had much time for the myriad other projects he was pursuing. (Still wish that Sweeny Todd adaptation he was planning with Michael Zulli had happened). Miracleman had already seen delays during the final Alan Moore arc Olympus, and this continued with Gaiman’s The Golden Age. One reader even wrote in saying that the series must be the “slowest comic ever”; editorial deflected by suggesting that Moore’s Big Numbers or “any Brian Bolland project” were much more protracted). However, as readers today also know, delays are often worth the wait. Olympus and The Golden Age are both outstanding storylines which rank amongst Moore and Gaiman’s best work. Also publisher Eclipse’s financial difficulties (bankruptcy would jarringly cut short Gaiman’s second arc The Silver Age after only two issues) should be taken into account as well. Regardless, Eclipse decided to put out a limited series that would help tide over fans between The Golden and Silver Age.
“I still don’t know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild . . .”
-David Bowie , “Changes”
In 1982 a young British writer by the name of Alan Moore was tasked with revitalizing the dormant Marvelman property (now known as Miracleman). Over the course of the next several years, Moore would revamp Miracleman for contemporary times, explore the drive for survival and elevate the hero to the status of divinity. Coinciding with his iconic DC work of Swamp Thing, Watchmen and The Killing Joke, Miracleman remains one of Moore’s signature achievements. Moore departed the series on a breathtaking high note, in which Miracleman has become, for all intents and purpose, a god lording over humanity. And unlike Dr. Manhattan’s Enlightenment clockmaker deity, Miracleman had no qualms about employing a heavy hand to guide civilization. Truly, a new age had dawned.
If the Miracleman saga had ended there, it would have been deeply satisfying. Yet, publisher Eclipse preferred to continue the title. Once again, the series was given to an up-and-coming British scribe: Neil Gaiman. Teaming with artist Mark Buckingham, Gaiman began a six issue arc entitled The Golden Age. Despite the daunting task of following in the footsteps of Alan Moore at the height of his powers, Gaiman and Buckingham more than justify the continuation of the series. The Golden Age is a rich, deeply human take on the world. Most importantly it honors what Moore built, while still allowing Gaiman’s own voice to shine.
From the beginning, Alan Moore’s Miracleman was about the consequences of super-powered beings. It began on a personal scale, as everyman reporter Michael Moran struggled to comprehend how to make sense of the rediscovery of his immense abilities. It uprooted his understanding of self and relationship with his wife Liz. At the same time, Miracleman was pushed further and further into the outside world, first by his former sidekick Kid Miracleman, then by his creator Dr. Emil Gargunza. Each confrontation left Miracleman more assertive, Michael feebler. Similar to Bruce Banner and the Hulk, Miracleman and Michael share the same body but not the same mind, or more precisely the same personality. Increasingly, Michael finds himself sidelined in his own existence, as Miracleman has usurped all the initiative. All Michael can do is react until not even that ceases to hold any meaning. It is a feeling to which the whole world will soon be able to relate.
Continue reading Miracleman & The Loneliness of Olympus
In the 1940s and 50s, young comics readers could join publisher-run fan clubs that provided membership cards and secret codes from their favorite superhero characters. Last week, Nothing But Comics! cracked the secret code of superhero the Green Lama. This week, we crack the secret code of British superhero Marvelman and decode the secret messages printed in early comics issues that featured the character.
Light pull list but full playlist this week. We have classic metal, classic rock, classic purple royalty, classic indie and after the trap rap fill were going back real lyrical lyricism hip hop yo. That and more Danny Brown. If you only learn one thing from me let that be that you can always have more Danny Brown in your life.
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.
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