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Miracleman

From Academic Kids

Template:Superherobox Miracleman (originally Marvelman) was a British-authored superhero comic, first published on February 3, 1954.

Contents

Marvelman: The Mick Anglo years

The character's origins were in black and white reprints of the American Captain Marvel comics, by a London publisher, L. Miller & Son. When the US publishers of Captain Marvel, Fawcett Comics, were forced to stop publication of the title after a lawsuit from DC Comics, Miller was faced with the supply of Captain Marvel material being cut off. He turned to a British comic writer, Mick Anglo, for help, and launched the new "Marvelman" comic.

Missing image
Young_marvelman_annual.png
Cover of Young Marvelman Annual, 1960

Marvelman's origin was based loosely on that of Captain Marvel: a young reporter named Micky Moran encounters an astrophysicist who gives him his super powers, based on atomic energy. To transform into Marvelman, he has to speak the word "Kimota" ("atomic" backwards). Marvelman was joined by Dicky Dauntless, a teenage messenger boy who became Young Marvelman on speaking the name "Marvelman", and young Johnny Bates (Kid Marvelman, magic word "Marvelman").

They had fairly typical, unsophisticated superhero adventures, and the comics ran until February 1963. The titles published were Marvelman, Young Marvelman, and Marvelman Family which usually featured Marvelman, Young Marvelman and Kid Marvelman together. Marvelman and Young Marvelman each had 346 issues, being published weekly except for the last 36 issues, which were monthly, reprinting old stories. Marvelman Family was a monthly, from October 1956 to November 1959. A variety of Marvelman and Young Marvelman albums were printed annually from 1954 to 1963.

Miracleman: The Alan Moore years

In March 1982, a new British monthly black and white comic was launched called Warrior. From the first issue until issue 21 it featured a new, darker version of Marvelman, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Garry Leach and Alan Davis. Moore had been fascinated by the notion of a grown up Micky Moran, unable to remember the magic word, and this was the Moran presented in the first issue; married, plagued by migraines, having dreams of flying, and unable to remember the word that had such significance in his dreams.

Moran, of course, eventually remembers the word, and the series, like many of Moore's other works, exploded the existing history. The adult Moran gradually remembers his early life as a superhero, only to find the entire experience was a simulation as part of a military research project attempting to enhance the human body with alien technology. Moran and the other subjects had been kept unconscious, their minds fed with stories and villains plucked from comic books by the researchers, for fear of what they could do if they awoke. When the project was terminated, so were Miracleman and his two sidekicks: in a final, real adventure they were sent into a trap where a nuclear device was meant to annihilate them. Moran survived, his memory erased, and Young Miracleman died. Moran discovers that Kid Miracleman not only survived, but lived on with his superpowers intact only to eventually become a murderous psychopath.

The series stopped (but was not complete) in issue 21 of Warrior, just before Moran meets his arch-nemesis Dr Gargunza. After a hiatus of some years, it was reprinted in colour (beginning at Issue 6) by an American publisher, Eclipse Comics, and the series carried to a conclusion, with art by Rick Veitch, John Totleben, and "Chuck Beckum" (the pseudonym of Chuck Austen). For this printing, to avoid a trademark conflict with Marvel Comics, Marvelman became "Miracleman". Warrior was printed on a larger paper dimension, thus giving the artwork a very detailed effect when it was resized to suit the books published by Eclipse Comics. Many readers, unaware that Miracleman was a British comic published years ago, were confused with the sudden "decline" in quality when Moore continued his story with Beckum/Austen's artwork.

As dark as the stories were during the Warrior years, Miracleman's tale became progressively darker when Moore went back to writing it again. Moran's daughter was born (with explicit artwork in the ninth issue), the aliens behind the technology came to Earth, and Kid Miracleman returns with disastrous results. Moore's run ended with a controversial view on "What Superman should have done with his powers" - making the world a better place through totalitarian rule.

Miracleman: The Neil Gaiman years

Writer Neil Gaiman developed the series further in the 1990s, working with artist Mark Buckingham. He planned three books, consisting of six issues each; they would be titled The Golden Age, The Silver Age and The Dark Age.

The first part Miracleman: The Golden Age showed the world some years later: a utopia gradually being transformed by alien technologies, and benignly ruled by Miracleman and other parahumans, though he has nagging doubts about whether he has done the right thing by taking power.

Eclipse followed up The Golden Age by publishing the standalone, three-issue mini-series Miracleman: Apocrypha, written and illustrated by a variety of other creators, with framing pages by Gaiman and Buckingham. These stories did not form part of the main narrative, but instead further fleshed out the world of The Golden Age.

Two issues of the second part The Silver Age appeared, but issue #24 was the last to see print. Gaiman has reported that #25 was essentially finished, but the shutdown of Eclipse prevented its publication.

The future of Miracleman

Following the bankruptcy of Eclipse, ownership and publishing rights to Miracleman are unclear, with some degree of ownership currently claimed by various parties, including Dez Skinn (publisher of Warrior), Todd McFarlane (who purchased Eclipse's assets), Gaiman and Buckingham, and even Mick Anglo. (Moore had transferred his share of the rights to Gaiman, who shared them with Buckingham. Davis sold his share to Eclipse.) A key question is whether certain transfers of ownership were legally sound and/or whether rights reverted to earlier owners at some point.

In 2001, McFarlane used the Miracleman character in a number of issues in his comic Hellspawn, subtly by having a character named Michael Moran making phone calls and with appearances of the phrase Kimota. He was scheduled to appear in full Miracleman form in the twelth issue, but Gaiman intervened and the character's reappearance was dropped, although the cover artwork by Ashley Wood was leaked to the Internet.

Gaiman has established a corporation called Marvels & Miracles LLC which is acting to settle these questions, with the goal of publishing the existing material and then permitting Gaiman to finish the series. In 2002, Gaiman filed a lawsuit against Todd McFarlane about supporting characters Gaiman had created for McFarlane's Spawn, which tangentially touched on the rights to Miracleman, but the court's ruling did not address ownership of that material.

In 2004, Gaiman wrote for Marvel Comics a miniseries called 1602; the profit which went to the Marvels & Miracles LLC corporation. It is unconfirmed if Marvel did agree to publish Miracleman, but there were rumours that Gaiman had struck a deal to write a few more books for them in order for Miracleman to be continued (and with its name reverted to its original Marvelman).

Miracleman Trade Paperbacks

  • Miracleman Book One: A Dream of Flying, by Alan Moore, Garry Leach, Alan Davis. Collects issues 1-3.
  • Miracleman Book Two: The Red King Syndrome, by Alan Moore, Alan Davis, Chuck Beckum, Rick Veitch. Collects issues 4-7,9. (#8 was a reprint)
  • Miracleman Book Three: Olympus, by Alan Moore, John Totleben, Rick Veitch. Collects issues 10-16.
  • Miracleman Book Four: The Golden Age, by Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham. Collects issues 17-22.
  • Miracleman: Apocrypha, by various.

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