Marvel on Tuesday released the first preview of its remastered Miracleman #1, dividing fans with its modern coloring. Some of the comments come from newer comics readers still wondering what the big deal is about this series; surely, the “mehs” are already being prepared for the issue’s Jan. 15. debut.
Despite the updated coloring, it probably isn’t fair or even realistic to hold the series up against contemporary comics, despite Miracleman‘s significant influence on a good deal of them. Instead, it’s best to view these stories in the context of the times, which makes it easier to see why Miracleman (or Marvelman, if you prefer) is the natural stepping stone to Watchmen, and established many of the themes Alan Moore and many creators that followed him would explore in subsequent works up through the present day.
Among the relatively few fans who have read these stories, Miracleman is often held in the same regard as seminal works like Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. Both of those revered miniseries debuted in 1986 and caused a seismic shift in how superhero comics, and mainstream comics in general, were created and received. It’s worth noting then that a good amount of what Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns later touched upon and accomplished had been done four years earlier with Marvelman. If it weren’t for the legendary rights quagmire that prevented those stories from being reprinted, Miracleman would almost surely be just as celebrated and commercially successful as its successors.
Following the release this morning of the preview of Marvel’s remastered Miracleman #1, CBR News Editor Kiel Phegley dug into his archives for the original 1982 color issue, by Alan Moore and Garry Leach, so we can compare and contrast (the story first appeared in black and white in 1982′s Warrior #1).
While some traditionalists may argue for the original, we can probably all agree that Miracleman’s recolored, non-purple face on the right is a great improvement. You can compare the other preview pages below.
The remastered Miracleman #1, featuring a new cover by Joe Quesada, goes on sale Jan. 15.
Marvel recently debuted Paolo Rivera and Mike Deodato Jr.’s covers for the long-promised return of Miracleman, and while no one was looking, Jim Cheung unveiled a glimpse of his own take on the character. “Thrilled to be working on this!” the artist wrote on his blog.
The publisher, which announced in 2009 that it had acquired the rights to the British hero, will begin reprinting Marvelman stories in January. New material by Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham likely won’t appear until 2016.
“I know that it seems like a long way away, but the material is finally going to see the light of day and will remain in print, and I think for that, we can all be grateful,” Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada told CBR earlier this month. “To me, it’s a travesty that there are readers who have not only not been exposed to the original stories, but don’t even had a way to easily access them.”
“After much thought and internal discussion, we felt that between the two, ‘Miracleman’ was the coolest name for the project. I wish I had a more scientific answer for you, but that’s kind of how it went down. A bunch of us sat around at the editorial meeting and talked about it. We all remember it fondly as ‘Miracleman’ and just felt that the name was by far better than Marvelman. That’s not to say that the name Marvelman isn’t in play for something else down the line some day, but when asked to choose between the two, well …”
– Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, in an interview with Comic Book Resources, explaining why the company chose to go with the name “Miracleman” over the original “Marvelman”
Because this space is normally reserved for DC Comics and its stable of characters, you might think a post on Miracleman goes a little outside the lines. However, Miracleman was based on Captain Marvel, who is a DC character in the same way that Miracleman is now a Marvel character: the wonderful world of intellectual-property rights. That’s just one of several traits the two features share, so today I’ll be comparing and contrasting. I’ll also consider whether Marvel’s upcoming Miracleman revival could affect DC’s latest version.
Miracleman (under its original name of Marvelman, but you knew that already) started out as a way to hold onto British readers of Captain Marvel when the latter closed up shop in the mid-1950s. In that form, the series lasted until 1963. In 1982, writer Alan Moore headed up a revival that started by updating familiar elements, but ended up going off in a decidedly different direction. As reprinted, renamed, and subsequently completed in the United States, Moore’s Miracleman (from Eclipse Comics) filled 16 issues, give or take some reprints, and came out over the course of about four and a half years (cover-dated August 1985 to December 1989). Moore’s artistic collaborators included Garry Leach, Alan Davis, Chuck Austen (under the name Chuck Beckum), Rick Veitch, and John Totleben. From June 1990 to June 1993, Eclipse published eight more issues, written by Neil Gaiman and drawn by Mark Buckingham, and an anthology miniseries (Miracleman Apocrypha) came out from November 1991 to February 1992. For various reasons, though, no new Miracleman has seen the light of day for over twenty years.
That’s all about to change, starting with January’s reprints from Marvel. It remains to be seen whether today’s readers will be interested in 20- to 30-year-old stories from a writer whose popularity isn’t what it once was, and which will apparently be reprinted initially in a somewhat-pricey format. Additionally, Miracleman has turned into much more of an “Alan Moore book,” as opposed to a Captain Marvel parody. Therefore, its return doesn’t strike me as the sort of thing which will automatically generate more interest in Captain Marvel; but their similarities (and even some of their differences) can be instructive.
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Graphic novels | France 24 examines the Thursday release of Asterix and the Picts — the first album by new creative team Jean Yves-Ferri and Didier Conrad — from a political perspective, noting that the story, in which Asterix and Obelix journey from ancient Gaul to Iron Age Scotland, has already become part of the current debate about Scottish independence. [France 24]
Creators | Chinese cartoonist Wang Liming, who spent a night in police custody last week on charges of “suspicion of causing a disturbance,” spoke to the press this week. Liming, who has more than 300,000 followers on his microblog account, first ran into trouble two years ago for one of his cartoons, but police told him that China has freedom of speech and he could continue drawing. Nonetheless, another of his cartoons, depicting Winnie the Pooh (a frequent cartoon stand-in for Chinese President Xi Jinping) kicking a football was deleted and suppressed by censors. “For them, drawing leaders in cartoon form is a big taboo,” the cartoonist said. “I think the controls on the Internet are too harsh. They have no sense of humor. They can’t accept any ridicule.” [Reuters]
In “By the Numbers,” ROBOT 6 takes a look back at the events of the past five days … in numbers.
With Thursday’s announcement that Neil Gaiman is returning to the Marvel Universe and bringing with him Angela, the character at the center of his eight-year legal battle with Todd McFarlane, we’re left to wonder about the whereabouts of Marvelman. We also look at the surprise departures at DC Comics, and what the right price is when you name your own.
Marvel’s turning over a new leaf, so to speak, as it enters the Marvel NOW! era. But in that amid the flurry of new titles, new line-ups and new creators, we’re finding some notable absences — notable to us at least. While some missed heroes like Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Mockingbird have popped up in cameos here and there, there are still a significant number of popular players waiting to be brought onto the field. In this installment of “Six by 6,” we suss out six such characters and zero in on their last whereabouts, and where some of them might show up next.
This is going to be another “we liked it the old way” type of post. I take no particular pleasure in these, because there are only so many ways to rail against change, especially changes involving decades-old characters and concepts.
Nevertheless, the latest charges of Crimes Against Tradition are against the new Earth 2 and “Shazam!” features. The original Earth-Two came to represent generations of superheroes active since the late 1930s, but the current one is apparently “five years of supers, give or take”; and the new don’t-say-the-M-word “Shazam” is apparently also something called the Third Sinner. So yes, DC, I try to be open-minded, I will give these things reasonable chances to win me over, and no one has destroyed my treasured old comics — but wow, you don’t make it easy.
Therefore, today I want to look at why the old versions might still matter, but just as importantly why they still matter to fogeys like me.
Legal | An Egyptian court on Saturday officially banned Metro, considered that country’s first graphic novel, and found author Magdy al Shafee and publisher Mohammed al Sharqawi guilty of printing and distributing a publication infringing public decency. The two were fined the equivalent of about $916; they could have received up to two years in prison. Shafee has vowed to fight the ruling.
Shafee and Sharqawi were arrested in April 2008 after police raided the publisher’s offices and confiscated all copies of Metro, which centers on a young software designer in a modern and corrupt Cairo who turns to bank robbery to repay underworld loan sharks. Retailers were immediately ordered to remove the book from their shelves. You can read a translated excerpt of Metro here. [Zawya]
Legal | President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines last week signed into law the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009, which bans real and “virtual” child pornography, including comic-book depictions. [Anime News Network]
While currently this is nothing more than pure conjecture, a quick Google search has led this part-time blogger to believe that the much-hyped, super-secret, forthcoming Mark Millar/Steve McNiven project for Marvel is in fact a Marvelman series.
Millar announced Friday that he and McNiven – his collaborator on Civil War and “Old Man Logan” – are joining forces on Nemesis for the House of Ideas with an expected launch date of March 2010.
“Nemesis” just so happens to be the subtitle of Miracleman #15 , written by Alan Moore and penciled by John T. Totleben.
Considered by many to be the most “shocking,” “disturbing” and “sought-after” appearance of the Mick Anglo creation, the issue features an epic battle between Miracleman and his “nemesis” Kid Miracleman.
Did Millar land the ultimate gig to be the man responsible for folding the classic British hero into the Marvel Universe?
Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada has apparently been listening to pitches since the publisher announced at Comic-Con International that it had purchased the rights to the property. Who better than the Glaswegian scribe to reintroduce Marvelman?
Again, nothing but a late-night musing here, but what do you think?
In an interview with Kurt Amacker for Mania, Alan Moore discussed in detail his feelings towards Marvel’s purchase of the Marvelman character and the chance of ever seeing his own version of the character in print again. In a nutshell: He’s fine with it all as long as his name is kept off the credits and the character’s original creator, Mick Anglo, gets to keep all the money:
After being initially informed by Neil’s lawyer, I had to think about it for a couple of days. I decided that while I’m very happy for this book to get published—because that means money will finally go to Marvelman’s creator, Mick Anglo, and to his wife. Mick is very, very old, and his wife, I believe, is suffering from Alzheimer’s. The actual Marvelman story is such a grim and ugly one that I would probably rather that the work was published without my name on it, and that all of the money went to Mick. The decision about my name was largely based upon my history with Marvel—my desire to really have nothing to do with them, and my increasing desire to have nothing to do with the American comics industry. I mean, they’re probably are enough books out there with my name on them to keep the comics industry afloat for a little bit longer. I left a message to that effect with Neil. I’ve since heard back from the lawyer upon another issue, and he said that he was certain that would be the case—that Marvel would accede to my request. That looks like the way it will be emerging. And, Neil will be able to finish his Marvelman story because he has a completely different relationship with Marvel than I have with them—or rather, don’t have. The main thing is that I will feel happy to know that Mick Anglo is finally getting the recompense he so richly deserves. And, I will have distanced myself from a lot of the deceit and ugliness that surrounded the relaunching of Marvelman as a character.
Moore also has a few nasty words for former Warrior editor Dez Skinn and Eclipse Comics, and goes into great detail about how he came up with his own unique take on the character. Go read the whole thing.
We’ve noticed some confusion surrounding Marvel’s big announcement about its acquisition of Marvelman. Namely, some are wondering why this is big news, or asking who this Marvelman is anyway.
Fear not, we can help. After the break you’ll find a guide to the whys and wherefores of Marvelman and why this really, truly is a really, really big deal.
Note: Parts of this article originally appeared here, as part of the “Collect This Now!”feature. It’s been refurbished quite a bit, though.
Of course, as with Flex Mentallo, there’s little chance this series will ever see print, at least for the nonce. Neil Gaiman, Todd McFarlane and a host of other lesser mortals have been arguing in court and other areas over who owns the character for over a decade now, and resolution seems as distant as the Orion belt.
The fact that the original Eclipse Comics trades and pamphlets are either a) tough to find or b) very expensive only makes the absence of a new collection only more irksome, as Miracleman still holds up remarkably well, despite having to constantly live in the shadow of its bigger and more popular brother, Watchmen.
After almost 20 years, it looked like the first two issues of Big Numbers were the only issues we’d ever see. But last week the third issue miraculously surfaced on the internet.
Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz’s aborted epic is one of those series that, even 20 years later, still gets people talking and wondering about what might have been. On his blog, Eddie Campbell remembers talking to Kevin Eastman about why the third issue was never published, even though it was finished: “I recall asking publisher Kevin Eastman at the time why, even though the 12-issue series was abandoned, he couldn’t put out the existing third issue,” Campbell writes. “He looked at me as though I was daft. Who would want a third issue if they knew there wouldn’t be any after that?”
Big Numbers is far from the only series that ever fell into comic limbo. In honor of Pádraig O Méalóid’s eBay purchase, here are six other comics that I’d like to see more of. Note that for the purpose of this list, I avoided titles that were officially canceled for sales reasons (like Blue Beetle, Aztek or Chase … that’s another list for another day) and instead focused on comics that we expected to see one day, but for some reason or another, they were never published (at least not yet, anyway). Books where I feel I could use some closure. Like last week, I received a little help from my fellow Robot 6 bloggers, so thanks to Kevin Melrose, Tim O’Shea and Michael May for their suggestions.
1. Miracleman: I would consider three comic titles the “holy trinity” of stories lost to comic book limbo — three books that were created but never saw print for one reason or another. One would be the previously mentioned Big Numbers #3, while another would be Miracleman #25. Written by Neil Gaiman and drawn by Mark Buckingham, the 25th issue of this epic series was never published.