Rating: 4/5 – Great to finally read this important and storied character.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Shawn Hoklas.
I’m happy to see that someone has been able to finally clear up the legal mess that was the publishing of Mircaleman. Although Marvel announced that they had acquired the rights to this long time character a couple years back, they’ve just started to reprint the material everyone’s been clamoring for. The Miracleman stories originally written by Alan Moore are finally seeing print again (albeit without Moore’s name officially attached, he is billed here simply as “the Original Writer”) and this, just like many other fans, is my first introduction to the character. Only two issues in and I can already see why this series is held in such high regard.
This 1982 re-introduction to Miracleman tells the story of reporter Mike Moran, who after a tragic accident eighteen years ago that wiped all memory of who he was as a superhero, just remembered that he gains superpowers after saying the word Kimota, or atomik spelled backwards. His origins are similar to those of Captain Marvel, although Miracleman’s are more based on science, which you can read about in this issue’s back material reprinting his 1954 origin. In the main story though, Mike and his wife Liz go to meet Kid Miracleman, who was thought to have lost his powers during the same above mentioned accident, that also claimed the life of Young Miracleman. Kid Miracleman is not quite what he seems and in just twelve pages, Alan Moore is able to tell a dark, yet rich story all drawn beautifully by artist Gary Leach.
The publishing history of the character is interesting also. The revival of 1950’s Captain Marvel knockoff Marvelman was 1st seen by fans in the UK’s Warrior #2, a B&W magazine, in 1982 and continued until issue #21 in 1984 (the story was never completed in Warrior). In 1985 the series was brought to the US and reprinted in color in the pages of a comic from Eclipse renamed Miracleman (ironically renamed from the character’s original Marvelman name because of threatened legal action from Marvel Comics). All the content from Warrior Magazine was reprinted in issues #1-6 of the Eclipse series and then Alan Moore continued on writing original issues for Eclipse until #16. Te series was then picked up by writer Neil Gaiman who wrote until the series concluded until the collapse of Eclipse at #24. Much more about the character and the legal battles can be found on the Miracleman wikipedia page, but suffice to say, Marvel now has the rights to re-publish comics that have been barred from reprint for decades.
Gary Leach’s art seems as dark as the story, with his pronounced and heavy line. Much like this character, I’m unfamiliar with Gary’s work and that’s unfortunate, as his art is a joy to look at. His panel layouts tell the story effectively, and he pushes the violence to a point where it actually seems real and scary. Not only that, but the modern restoration of coloring on this book serves his art well. I don’t have the original books to compare, but the colors here still have a dated feel, while being clean and modern. Within this issue is also a story with art by Alan Davis and Paul Neary, a behind the scenes look into Gary Leach’s artwork, and two 1950’s tales of Marvelman that dives into the character’s rich, yet a bit corny history. I think I’d be happier with just a reprint of the Alan Moore stories for a cheaper price, but Marvel is doing a service to the character by giving us so much more.
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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