Sunday, January 25, 2015

I Reads You Review: ALL-NEW MIRACLEMAN Annual #1


WRITERS: Grant Morrison, Peter Milligan
ART: Joe Quesada, Mike Allred
COLORS: Richard Isanove, Laura Allred
LETTERS: Chris Eliopoulos, Travis Lanham
COVER: Gabriele Dell'Otto
36pp, Color, $4.99 U.S. (February 2015)

Mature Content – Parental Advisory for Strong Language & Content

Miracleman (Marvelman) created by Mick Anglo

All-New Miracleman Annual #1 is a one-shot comic book published on New Year's Eve 2014 (Wednesday, December 31, 2014).  It contains two stories set in the world of Alan Moore and Gary Leach's revived and re-imagined version of Marvelman, the 1950s and early 1960s British superhero character created by British comic book writer-artist, Mick Anglo.

When Alan Moore's Marvelman was brought to America and reprinted by the late Eclipse Comics, it was renamed Miracleman.  After acquiring the rights to the Marvelman characters, Marvel Comics is currently reprinting the material produced by Warrior and reprinted by Eclipse and also, Eclipse's own Miracleman comics that it began publishing in the mid-1980s.

The first story in All-New Miracleman Annual #1 is The Priest and the Dragon: “October Incident: 1966.”  It is a Marvelman-related story written by Grant Morrison for the British comic magazine, Warrior, the home of Moore's Marvelman revival.  No art was produced for the story after it was originally written, and it was put on hiatus when Warrior ceased publication (according to the “Behind the Scenes” section of All-New Miracleman Annual #1).

The story finally sees light with art by former Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada (now Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Worldwide, Inc.).  The story centers on an elderly priest who had an encounter, three years before this story begins, with Johnny Bates a.k.a. Kid Miracleman.  The story, really, is a vignette, but it is the kind of vignette that can be very powerful and effective with the right artist.  Joe Quesada is an effective graphical storyteller, so this story allows us to see Quesada working as a storytelling comic book artist, which he has not been for much of the last decade and a half.  Even the lettering by Chris Eliopoulos for this story is potent.

The second story features the Miracleman Family (the Marvelman Family):  Miracleman, Young Miracleman, and Kid Miracleman.  The story, entitled “Seriously Miraculous,” is written by Peter Milligan and is drawn by Mike Allred with colors by Laura Allred and letters by Travis Lanham.  I think that this is an entirely new story.

The story pits the Miracleman Family against the Dictator of Boromania and his hired gun, Gargunza, a Miracleman adversary.  While constantly foiling assorted diabolical, but weird plots, Miracleman notices something strange about the places where he and his family have fought.

“Seriously Miraculous” is a hugely enjoyable story.  Peter Milligan's name is not often mentioned among the great British comic book writers who started producing work for U.S. comic book publishers in the 1980s and 90s, but it should be.  I don't think that I have ever read something by him that was not interesting or inventive or both.  He may not have created a Watchmen or a Sandman, but he is never ordinary.

In “Seriously Miraculous,” he has written a story that perfectly plays to Mike Allred's retro-modern style, but not just in terms of style.  Milligan and Allred come together for a story that pays homage to Mick Anglo's old Marvelman comics, but also hints at Alan Moore and Gary Leach's revival, while allowing Allred to add his ironic and surreal touches.

Milligan and Allred are a good team, and Quesada brings Morrison's decades-old story to life with the kind of power that it might not have had it been drawn when it was originally intended.  All-New Miracleman Annual #1 is a must-have in this second revival of Marvelman/Miracleman.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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