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Miracleman # 5 - Alan Moore Alan Davis

Written by Arion on Monday, January 07 2013 and posted in Reviews

Miracleman # 5 - Alan Moore Alan Davis
Paul Gulacy

What is the source of villainy? It’s hard to tell, but what remains clear is that a superhero is only as captivating as his nemesis. Villains are the one factor that can never be removed from superhero comics, and Alan Moore is well aware of that in “The Approaching Light”, and he reinforces an already dark and dangerous figure: Doctor Gargunza.

Although in the 50s, Doctor Gargunza was merely a facsimile of Captain Marvel’s Doctor Sivana, Alan Moore recreates him in a much menacing manner. You see, for an archenemy to succeed there must be a confluence of at least two factors: the first one implies how threatening a villain can be, and the second one entails their secret origins.

The most remarkable villains present a combination of these two elements: we have a lethal Joker fighting against Batman, and his origin is revealed in “The Killing Joke” (and in “The Dark Knight” film, the constant hints and contradictions about what turned him into the Joker makes him even more mysterious); we have a treacherous Lex Luthor struggling against Superman, and his origin is revealed in a fascinating Unauthorized Biography; and we have Magneto, a formidable rival of the X-Men, his past in a concentration camp gives him an unprecedented level of complexity.

Miracleman # 5 - Alan Moore Alan Davis
Miracleman & Mr. Cream

Since Doctor Gar-gunza is the scientist who actually trans-formed Michael Moran into Mira-cleman, he also knows how to destroy him. No one else in the world has more know-ledge about super-men, and that makes him very powerful indeed. Kidna-pping Moran’s wife is Gargunza’s first step towards a plan we can’t deduce at first, but his true motivations are made transparent when he remembers his past in “I heard Woodrow Wilson’s Guns”.

At an early age, Doctor Gargunza took advantage of his 190 IQ to control a criminal group in Rio de Janeiro, at 13 he was already making a lot of money, and when one year later his former boss tries to rape him (“he tried to interfere with me, sexually. I resisted. I was beaten”), he kills him in revenge. After this unpleasant experience he travels to Europe, he meets philosopher Martin Heidegger and in 1934 he meets Germany’s chancellor and future leader of the Nazis, Adolf Hitler. Although his scientific mind is very keen on human experiments he never forgets the more mundane aspect of reality, and thus, in 1941 he realizes that the Germans will lose WWII, and so he defects to England and there he’s hired by the British government.

Miracleman # 5 - Alan Moore Alan Davis
Dr. Gargunza... victim of sexual abuse at age 14 /
Dr. Gargunza... víctima de abuso sexual a los 14 años

And it is in England where an extra-terrestrial transport lands. He’s one of the first scientists to arrive to the landing spot, and the first man to enter into the space-ship. In most comic books we usually get very tradi-tional depic-tions of aliens, they are very huma-noid, and even their technology is very unimaginative. Alan Moore, however, envisions this space-ship in such a way that we know it could never be replicated by human science. Of course, the extraordinary pencils and inks of Alan Davis are a key factor here. The artist designs a sleek ship, of oval proportions, and the inside is so strange and unique that Gargunza and his men can barely make sense of it: “We found a machine that had intestines. We found circuitry that seemed to be made of water”. Moore’s description of the alien vessel is so vivid that as readers we actually imagine ourselves inside of it. I remember an old Alan Moore’s story published in 2000AD, a man becomes the most successful sci-fi writer of the world, his descriptions of alien civilizations and otherworldly technology fascinate his readership, until an investigator realizes that no one can have such a wild imagination, and so this man can’t be human, he must be an alien that has adopted human form. And oddly enough Moore reminds me of that fictitious writer, because in fact he has the wildest imagination.

In Miracleman Alan Davis does one of the best works of his long career, just looking at his alien leaves me in awe, there are so many strange elements that somehow work in perfect combination, and the idea that ‘it’ used to drive the ship by having pieces of machinery skewering his body seems brilliant to me, and also a good example of why no human could operate the ship… because humans wouldn’t survive the blood loss. 

Miracleman # 5 - Alan Moore Alan Davis
Inside the alien ship / dentro de la nave alienígena

Of course, Gargunza imme-diately analyzes the alien’s corpse, and in this strange biology he finds a way to create a super-human. Before bes-towing unli-mited power upon a mere mortal, he must first control the mind of said mortal. But he doesn’t know how… until one day in the canteen he finds a Captain Marvel comic book with a plot so idiotic and characters so cheesy that he laughs out loudly; but he also understands that if he captures orphans and places in their head a false reality, a reality that resembles the simple and naïve world of Shazam then he will have absolute dominion over their minds. And that’s why Miracleman, Young Miracleman and Kid Miracleman are based in Captain Marvel, Marvel Jr. and Mary Marvel. In this brilliant explanation, Moore brings into fiction elements of reality, because the truth is that Miracleman (originally published as Marvelman) was a rip-off of Captain Marvel, but thanks to Moore’s narrative it all makes sense perfectly. 

In this issue we also have the conclusion of “The Red King Syndrome”, a story that takes place in the heads of Miracleman, Young Miracleman and Kid Miracleman. Miracleman is struggling to wake up, and suddenly the simple world in which they live seems false and unreal to him, and he makes Young Miracleman and Kid Miracleman realize that there is something really weird going on. Doctor Gargunza tries over and over again to get their minds reprogrammed, but Miracleman’s subconscious continues rejecting the dream. The artist is, again, John Ridgway, and he makes such a fantastic work in the oneiric sequences, his ability to bend reality and illustrate the craziest characters makes the dream solid enough for us. There are also some very interesting elements of repressed sexuality, as several gorgeous women try to touch Miracleman in a very provocative manner which instantly makes the hero snap at them. 

Miracleman # 5 - Alan Moore Alan Davis
Captain Marvel comic on panel 4 / cómic del Captain Marvel en la viñeta 4

¿De dónde vienen los villanos? Es difícil saberlo, pero resulta claro que un súper-héroe es sólo tan cautiva-dor como su némesis. Los villanos son el único factor que nunca puede sustraer-se de los cómics de súper-héroes, y Alan Moore es conscien-te de esto en “La luz que se apro-xima”, donde refuerza una figura ya de por sí oscura y peligrosa: el doctor Gargunza.

Aunque en los años 50, el doctor Gargunza era un burdo remedo del doctor Sivana de Captain Marvel, Alan Moore lo recrea de una manera amenazadora. Verán, para que un archienemigo destaque debe haber una confluencia de al menos dos factores: el primero implica qué tan amenazante puede ser un villano, y el segundo se refiere a sus orígenes secretos.

Los villanos más formidables presentan una combinación de estos dos elementos: tenemos a un letal Joker peleando contra Batman, y su origen es revelado en “The Killing Joke” (y en la película “The Dark Knight” las constantes pistas y contradicciones sobre lo que lo convirtieron en el Joker lo vuelven aún más misterioso); tenemos a un artero Lex Luthor luchando contra Superman, y su origen es revelado en una fascinante "Biografía no autorizada"; y tenemos a Magneto, el invencible rival de los X-Men, su pasado en un campo de concentración le da un nivel de complejidad sin precedentes.

El doctor Gargunza es el científico que transformó a Michael Moran en Miracleman, y por lo tanto también sabe cómo destruirlo. Nadie en el mundo tiene tantos conocimientos sobre los superhombres, y en ello reside su poder. Secuestrar a la esposa de Moran es el primer paso de un plan que no podemos deducir al principio, pero las verdaderas motivaciones del doctor se hacen transparentes cuando recuerda su pasado en "Yo oí las pistolas de Woodrow Wilson".

Miracleman # 5 - Alan Moore Alan Davis
Sexual tension / tensión sexual

A tempra-na edad, el doctor Gargunza aprove-chó su coe-ficiente inte-lectual de 190 para controlar un grupo criminal en Río de Janeiro, a los 13 años ya había amasado una gran fortuna y cuando un año después su antiguo jefe intenta violarlo ("trató de interferir conmigo, sexual-mente. Me resistí. Fui golpeado") él se venga matándolo. Después de esta desagradable experiencia se va de viaje a Europa, allí conoce al filósofo Martin Heidegger y en 1934 conoce al canciller de Alemania y al futuro líder de los nazis, Adolf Hitler. Aunque su mente científica se ve atraída por los experimentos humanos nunca olvida los aspectos mundanos de la realidad, y por lo tanto, en 1941 comprueba que los alemanes perderán la Segunda Guerra Mundial, así que se va como desertor a Inglaterra en donde es contratado por el gobierno británico.

Y es en Inglaterra donde aterriza un transporte extraterrestre. Él es uno de los primeros científicos en llegar al punto de aterrizaje, y el primer hombre en entrar en la nave. En la mayoría de los cómics usualmente vemos a los alienígenas retratados de modo muy tradicional, son humanoides y su tecnología es poco imaginativa. Alan Moore, sin embargo, nos entrega un bajel espacial que nunca podría ser replicado por la ciencia humana. Por supuesto, los extraordinarios lápices y tintas de Alan Davis son el factor clave aquí. El artista diseña una nave lisa, ovalada, y el interior es tan extraño y único que Gargunza y sus hombres apenas comprenden lo que ven: "encontramos una máquina que tenía intestinos. Encontramos circuitos que parecían estar hechos de agua". La descripción de Moore de la nave es tan vívida que los lectores nos podemos imaginar cómo es por dentro. Recuerdo un viejo relato de Alan Moore publicado en 2000AD en el que un hombre se convierte en el escritor de ciencia ficción más exitoso del mundo, sus descripciones de civilizaciones alienígenas y de tecnologías de otros mundos fascinan a su público, hasta que un investigador descubre que nadie puede tener una imaginación tan desbocada, y que este hombre es en realidad un alien que ha adoptado forma humana. Es extraño, pero Moore me recuerda a ese escritor ficticio, porque él, de hecho, tiene la más desbocada imaginación.

En Miracleman, Alan Davis hace uno de los mejores trabajos de su larga carrera, ver a su alien nos deja sorprendidos, hay tantos elementos extraños que de algún modo se combinan a la perfección, y me parece brillante la idea de que este ser solía manejar la nave con piezas de maquinaria clavadas en su cuerpo, y también es un buen ejemplo de por qué ningún humano podría operar la nave... porque los humanos no sobrevivirían la pérdida de sangre.

Miracleman # 5 - Alan Moore Alan Davis
John Ridgway

Por supuesto, Gargunza inmedia-tamente analiza el cadáver del alien, y en esta extraña biología encuen-tra la forma de crear súper-humanos. Antes de conceder poder ilimitado a un simple mortal, primero debe controlar esa mente. Pero no sabe cómo... hasta que un día en la cantina encuen-tra un cómic de Captain Marvel con un guión tan idiota y personajes tan cursis que se ríe a carcajadas; pero también entiende que si captura huérfanos y coloca en sus cabezas un falso sentido de realidad que se asemeje al mundo bobalicón e ingenuo de Shazam entonces tendrá un dominio absoluto sobre sus mentes. Y es por eso que Miracleman, Young Miracleman y Kid Miracleman se basan en Captain Marvel, Marvel Jr. y Mary Marvel. Con esta brillante explicación, Moore integra a la ficción elementos de la realidad, porque lo cierto es que Miracleman (originalmente publicado como Marvelman) era una copia barata del Capitán Marvel, pero gracias a la narrativa de Moore todo al fin tiene sentido.

En este ejemplar también tenemos la conclusión de “The Red King Syndrome”, una historia que ocurre en las cabezas de Miracleman, Young Miracleman y Kid Miracleman. Miracleman lucha para despertar, y repentinamente el mundo simplón en el que viven se ve falso e irreal, y logra que sus aliados también perciban que algo extraño sucede. El doctor Gargunza trata una y otra vez de reprogramar sus mentes, pero el inconsciente de Miracleman continúa rechazando el sueño. El artista es, de nuevo, John Ridgway, y hace un magnífico trabajo en las secuencias oníricas, su habilidad para retorcer la realidad e ilustrar a los personajes más desquiciados hacen que el sueño sea tangible para nosotros. Hay también algunos elementos muy interesantes de sexualidad reprimida; por ejemplo, cuando algunas atractivas mujeres intentan tocar a Miracleman de manera provocadora, el héroe instantáneamente las empuja.


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About the Author - Arion

Arion, who is either from Chile or New York (it’s not really clear) writes a blog that the Outhouse steals on a regular basis.  Arion is by far the nicest of all the staff writers and the most well behaved only having been banned from one country.  One thing we really appreciate about Aroin is that he writes his reviews in English and Spanish and we hope someday he’ll translate this blurb for us.  We’re not so good at languages, just look at how well we write in English if you need proof.  You should bookmark Arion’s blog - – and actually look at it.  There will be a quiz at the end of every month.


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