In the world of comics, there are lot of ‘lost’ projects, and even moreso in the world of Alan Moore. The (Big) number(s) of Moore comics that have been unfinished, or mired in controversy is as long as his beard, and the crown jewel of that beard is Miracleman/Marvelman. I won’t go into any detail about it here, better people than me have explained in detail, but basically, Miracleman is like Moore’s Magnificent Ambersons, a classic that has been lost and unable to be read legally. However, what once was lost has now been found. Marvel sorted out all of the legal brouhahas, and this lost classic can be read again, and for people like me, who were too young or not even born to be able read it at the time (and I don’t like to torrent stuff), can be read for the first time. I’m a big Alan Moore fan, so I was very exicted to finally read this seminal story, and I was not disappointed. This first issue was very enjoyable indeed, and although there is a big problem with the pricing, it was well worth the wait.
The issue begins with a classic Miracleman story from his creator, Mick Anglo, a simple tale of our hero and his family taking on a group of evil invaders from the future, with appealingly old-fashioned art. This story then segues, thanks to a Nietzsche quote, into Moore’s story. Of course, Alan Moore’s name doesn’t actually appear anywhere in this comic, again, there’s that controversy. It is weird to read a credit of ‘The Original Writer’, but the words in the bubbles haven’t changed. This is still Alan Moore, and it’s still damn good comics. I don’t really know if I should bother doing my usual plot recapping thing with these comics, given that these stories originally appeared over 30 years ago and most of you will already know what happens. But basically, Moore immediately moves away from the whimsical world of the opening story, and into a dark, realistic depiction of 1980s Britain.
Michael Moran has forgotten he is Miracleman, but has been having dreams about it that cause him terrible pain. It’s not until he goes to cover a Nuclear Protest in his job as a journalist that the truth comes back to him. This protest is interrupted by some terrorists, which leads to Moran remembering the magic word ‘Kimota’ and becoming Miracleman once more. He defeats the badguys, and heads home to his wife to explain his secret past as superhero. The issue ends with a mysterious figure finding out that Miracleman is back, and reacting badly. I think I know who it is, but I’m not sure.
It’s clear from these first 2 stories that the reputation this series has is deserved, as it is everything that’s so good about Alan Moore. The dialogue is excellent, and the deconstruction of the superhero genre is spot-on, so much cleverer than what stories like this and Watchmen would inspire. Plus, I know that the best is yet to come.
The artwork from Garry Leach is also fantastic, perfect for the realistic tone of the story, and the restored colouring looks great. I’m glad I chose to read the story in this form, rather than badly coloured scans on a computer.
But as I said, this isn’t all brilliant, as the issue is definitely over-priced, it’s $5.99 for only 16 pages of Moore’s story, and the rest is a load of filler material and Mick Anglo stories. Let’s face it here, Moore and Gaiman’s stories are the only Miracleman anybody wants to read. Mick Anglo deserves credit for creating the character, but he was no comic book genius, and whilst his silly stories do show just how deep Moore’s deconstruction was, I don’t really want to read them. He was told to rip-off Captain Marvel, and he did, it’s hardly worth more page-space than the actually good comics he inspired. This all sounds very harsh towards Anglo, and it probably is, but still, it’s too much to pay for poor man’s Captain Marvel stories in black and white. In future, I want all-Moore, all the time. Sorry, all-The Original Writer, all the time.
But anyway, it’s great to have this lost classic back and freely available, I can’t wait to read the rest, and eventually, to have Neil Gaiman finish it all off. If you’ve never read Miracleman, now’s the time to start, and if you have, hey, read it again, the colours actually look good now. Just maybe wait until it’s a bit cheaper.