Monday, February 17, 2014

I Reads You Review: Marvel's MIRACLEMAN #1


STORY: The Original Writer (Alan Moore)
ART: Garry Leach
COLOR: Steve Oliff
LETTERS: Chris Eliopoulos
COVER: Joe Quesada with Richard Isanove
64pp, Color, $5.99 U.S. (March 2014)

Miracleman Book One: A Dream of Flying

Prologue by Mick Anglo (plot) and Don Lawrence (art)

Essay “Kimota! The Secret Origin of Mick Anglo’s Marvelman” by Mike Conroy
    Marvelman is a British superhero character created in 1954 by writer-artist Mick Anglo for British publisher, L. Miller & Son.  The character was originally created as a substitute for the American character, Captain Marvel (Fawcett Comics), in the U.K.  Marvelman comic books were published until 1963, but the character was revived in 1982 by writer Alan Moore, who offered a darker, post-modern take on the character.  Author Neil Gaiman (The Sandman) wrote the series after Moore.

    In March 1982, Warrior, a British monthly, black-and-white anthology comics magazine, was launched by editor and publisher Dez Skinn, who decided to revive Marvelman.  Warrior published the new and darker version of Marvelman, written by Alan Moore and initially illustrated by Garry Leach and later by Alan Davis.  In August 1985, Eclipse Comics began reprinting the Marvelman stories from Warrior (in color) in a comic book entitled, “Miracleman” (to avoid legal problems with Marvel Comics).

    Miracleman issues #1-6 reprinted all the Warrior content, and then, Eclipse began publishing new Miracleman stories written by Alan Moore and drawn initially by artist Chuck Beckum and later by Rick Veitch and then John Totleben.  Moore wrote the series until issue #16; Neil Gaiman took over with issue #17.  Gaiman continued to write the series, but Miracleman ceased publication with issue #24 when Eclipse closed due to financial difficulties.

    Now, Marvel Comics is bringing Eclipse Comics’ Miracleman series back into print, but in a special edition with extras.  This reprint also means that Neil Gaiman will get to finally finish his Miracleman story arc, more than two decades after it began.

    Miracleman #1 begins with a reprint of an old Mick Anglo story, entitled for this story as “Prologue: 1956 – The Invaders from the Future.”  The main body of the story, “…A Dream of Flying.” opens in Great Britain in 1982.  It introduces Michael Moran, a 41-year-old freelance journalist, who has been having a bad time lately.  The strange dreams that have plagued him for years are worse, and he suffers from migraine headaches.  If only he could remember “the damn word” that is at the edge of his dreams/nightmares.

    Moran travels to Larksmere for the opening of a nuclear power plant, and that’s where it all changes.  Later, Mike Moran will have a great story to tell his wife of 16 years, Liz Sullivan, but will she believe it?  Can Mike believe it?

    It has been so many years (so so so many) since I first read the Miracleman #1 published by Eclipse Comics that I don’t remember exactly what I thought about it.  I know that I really liked it, but my memory is telling me (or lying to me) that I liked this series even more as it progressed.  Reading this #1 issue again, now, I enjoyed it, but I’m not overly impressed with Alan Moore’s story, although I do like it.  I get the feeling that once upon a time, I was more in awe of Miracleman #1.  After all, it was like nothing I had read up to that point.  Like I said, I think I liked Miracleman more in the later issues.

    What impresses me now is the fantastic art by Garry Leach.  A delicate line is meshed into intricate line work.  Supple forms and advanced draftsmanship yield impressive compositions.  Did Leach know that he was just drawing a comic book?  I gotta find more Garry Leach.

    Extras in this new Miracleman include an essay and an interview.  Mike Conroy’s two-page essay, “Kimota! The Secret Origin of Mick Anglo’s Marvelman,” is a quickie piece on Marvelman’s origins.  “Mick on Mick,” Joe Quesada’s interview of Marvelman creator, Mick Anglo, is short, but gives a nice look at Anglo as a bit of a rascal.

    There are also reprints of three black and white stories taken from Marvelman #25 (February 3, 1954) and #32 (March 24, 1954).  The best of the extras is a six-page section that offers examples of Garry Leach’s original art, sketches, and developmental art for Marvelman, including his logo for Miracleman.  Once again, Leach makes Miracleman #1 worth having.


    Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

    The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

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