The Enigma of Miracleman

Alex_Ross_Miracleman_5_VariantThe name Alan Moore holds a lot of weight in the comic book community, even those with only a passing interest in the subject, have come across some of his work, most likely the highly rated and critically acclaimed Watchmen and V for Vendetta. Some may have even immersed themselves in the likes of From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the fact of the matter being that Alan Moore is celebrated for a reason. During a conversation several weeks ago, I had a number of comic recommendations given to me. This one conversation included titles such as Grant Morrison’s Zenith, Jess Nevins’ League companion Heroes & Monsters, and an Alan Moore title I had never come across before. Miracleman.

As any research junkie would do, I asked around in my local store and hit the internet in an attempt to discover just why I had never heard of it before. Upon finally getting my hands on the first two books, I noticed a quote from Time magazine printed on the cover to ‘Miracleman Book One: A Dream of Flying’. “A must-read for scholars of the genre, and of the comic book medium as a whole.” [McMillan. 2013]. The only conclusion I could discern from both the original recommendation and the internet wide praise, This book is a big deal.

comics-alan-moore-fashion-beastHaving finally sank my teeth into the first book, I can concur that the praise is in no way misleading. Miracleman is an intense exploration of the superhero genre in itself, pre-dating what many consider Moore’s ultimate deconstruction of the superhero, Watchmen. Dream of Flying takes the original camp notion that superheroes had been known for since the 60’s and ultimately treats it for what it is, even acknowledging the absurdity of magical origins in its own pages, while simultaneously taking discussing the corruption that can come from possessing god-like abilities, personal sense of place and life, and even the validity of your own memories. Taking what was essentially a mythology and origin based on magic, redefining it through science fiction and finally ripping it inside out. While a full review is at some point necessary, granted when all three books have been thoroughly poured over and absorbed, I came out of ‘Dream of Flying’ with a lot of questions. Most of which concerning the mysterious lack of reprints and the history of the character its self.

When discussing Miracleman, the conversation usually starts with the aforementioned 1982 Alan Moore run in the pages of British independent anthology, Warrior. However the character dates back even further, to 1954 and the British publication L. Miller & Sons, Ltd. A company intended primarily to reprint American comic strips for the British market, primarily reprinting comics from Fawcett Publications. Fawcett Publications is now mostly remembered for the creation of Captain Marvel, now more famously known as the DC character, Shazam. While Fawcett comics would eventually come under fire from National (DC comics) and eventually have to discontinue all lines of Captain Marvel comics, L. Miller & Sons would need to replace these in Britain with their own creations.

Miracleman_2_Davis_VariantMiracleman, originally named Marvelman, was created by artist and writer Mick Anglo, as a knock of Fawcett’s Captain Marvel, with similarities to the two including the utterance of a magic word as well as an extended Marvel family. With Captain Marvel being considered a rip off himself, this just adds more fuel to the notion that all modern Heroes can trace their origins back to Superman. Introduced to the public just as Captain Marvel books disappeared, it managed to survive until 1963 with the bankruptcy of L. Miller & Sons. Marvel man did not appear again until 1982 in the now highly regarded Moore run.

During the Moore run, the character however was still referred to as Marvelman rather than his current title. It was only due to Marvel Comics need to snap up and copyright uses of the word Marvel (for obvious reasons I’m sure you’ll see) that Eclipse Comics, the then publisher, pushed to have the name changed to Miracleman and avoid any more controversy over such matters.

Copyright and ownership is a problem that has long plagued the character ever since those early days,  including the ‘Marvels and Miracles, LLC’ Vs. ‘Todd McFarlane Productions’ case of 2002. But by 2013, all rights were finally settled and held squarely with Marvel Comics (the same company who, ironically enough, had caused Miracleman’s original name change).

Miracleman_1_Preview_3This only leaves one looming question. Why is Moore credited as ‘The Original Writer’? Surely having a name like Alan Moore on a book that few new readers would know, was a no brainer. This decision at the end of the day, came from Moore himself. In an interview in The Hollywood Reporter, Moore stated that at the time of his original work on Miracleman, he was unaware that Mike Anglo had no rights to the character and was making nothing from it. “if I’d known that, I would have never taken the job.” [McMillan. 2013]. Due to the belief that he had been part of cheating the original creator out of what was rightfully his, Moore decided to leave his name off the reprints. “by the time that Marvel Comics were involved I just thought, No, let it go, give all the money to Mick Anglo” [McMillan. 2013]

Miracleman, in both story and history, is incredibly rich. With so much to take away from it and with two books still ahead of me. I am so glad I took up the recommendation and I hope that anyone who has read this, thinks about checking it out.


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Silk: The Life and Times of Cindy Moon – Review

ResourceLoaderPortletServletWith the recent events of Spider-verse, the need for more spider based characters has been frequently questioned. In regards to female counterparts to the webslinger, there have been a few before, both in continuity and what if including Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew) and Spider-Girl (May-day Parker). Even with the recently released Spider Gwen (an alternate universe Gwen Stacy, bitten by the radioactive spider in place of Peter Parker), most are simply re-skinnings of the original Spider-Man with a few details changed and the obvious gender switch. What makes Silk stand out from the rest, and why should you care?

While the antics of Spider-man, and his numerous clones, focus heavily on the rouges gallery, jumping from monster of the week ordeals to long multi issue showdowns.  Silk uses the crime fighting aspects as more of a backdrop and a way to establish her existence in the Marvel universe, with the major struggle of the series being her own mindset and the situation forced upon her. The driving force behind her heroism is her determination to find what she left behind. Creating a unique look at a female counterpart to the web-head.

Cindy Moon, brought to life in the pages of The Amazing Spider-man, provides a stark contrast to Peter, as one embraced their powers, while the other hide away from the world in order to protect the ones she loved from her seemingly uncontrollable powers. Having been set free 10 years later, Cindy has to face the world alone, unsure of how to proceed other than the example set forth by Peter and her memories of better times.

Silk-2015-002-013The use of pop culture references are usually a means of dating a work, however Thompson uses this to his advantage in showing just how behind the times Cindy really is. Making references to the Pokemon franchise, in its first few pages to only question if that’s still a thing, and highlighting her preference for paper and pen to the modern day tablet or phone. The inclusion of Cindy’s natural eidetic memory is a breath of fresh air, feeling that she has been “adjusting to powers” her whole life, bringing up just how painful this kind of ability can be especially when you lose something, or in this case people, you love. Combining her natural abilities with her spider powers, creates a new look at the spider based heroes. While Peter puts more focus into being Spider-Man out of a sense of responsibility, frequently forgetting his obligations as Peter Parker. Cindy is unable to forget her driving force, with finding her family being the top priority for both identities. The notion of Cindy working as an intern at a news site may appear as attempts to simply mimic the early career of Peter Parker, however, it makes a lot of sense for her character. Cindy’s need to readjust herself with the modern world as well as find leads to the overarching detective work of the series, plays out beautifully and even leads to some fascinating scenes between both Cindy and Jameson.

Good-TalkThe artwork by Lee is delightfully stylised, with the elegant ability to show both the fast sweeping action of battle scenes , and to slow down seamlessly for the sombre and isolated moments down in the bunker. The use of colour throughout , while not especially focus on delicate shading, is vibrant with a somewhat minimalistic approach. Knowing when to burst with colour and when to fade through the memories. Characters are easily distinguishable and visually striking.

Silk: The Life and Times of Cindy Moon, contains all 7 issues and while some prior knowledge of the events in Amazing Spider-Man (especially the Spider-Island and Spider-Verse events) may prove helpful, they are completely non compulsory to enjoy this largely self contained tale.