Rating: 3.5/5 – Solid Stories But I Was Hoping For More.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.
The first of the two stories in this annual was written by Grant Morrison back in 1984 for Warrior magazine in the UK, the original home of Alan Moore’s Marvelman revival. The script was never illustrated or published due to Warrior ceasing publication and apparently didn’t surface when Eclipse was doing the republication/revival of the character under the name Miracleman in the US from 1985-1993. For this issue the script is illustrated by Marvel’s CCO Joe Quesada. The second story is all new from 2014 written by Peter Milligan and illustrated by Mike Allred.
Morrison’s story was a great 6-page filler that will hopefully work for current readers following Marvel’s reprint series better than it did for me having read these stories originally in 1988, re-reading them maybe 10 years ago. It features Johnny Bates before he made his way to London for the legendary Miracleman #15 (the reprint of which should be coming out next month). My main problem was Joe Quesada’s artistic choice in drawing Bates to look more like Grant Morrison circa 1984 than the adult version of Johnny Bates as created by John Totleben that readers will see in issue #15. The original story was so impactful that I can still see Totleben’s version in my Mind’s Eye even after all those years, which caused some major cognitive dissonance when seeing all of the facial close-ups by Quesada in this story that just didn’t look quite right.
Milligan/Allred’s story was fun, especially for fans of Mick Anglo’s original Marvelman tales. They certainly captured the look and feel of those old stories, which could be real fun for people following and enjoying the reprints of some of those stories that Marvel has been putting out for the past couple of years.
This issue suffered from a case of “I had high expectations” that were possibly unrealistic and weren’t met by what I actually got, especially with a $4.99 price tag. One 6-page filler from 1984 stretched to 11 pages and a cute 10-page homage to the Golden Age Marvelman family just didn’t make me feel like this was $4.99 well-spent. Marvel is fond of tossing “behind the scenes” material into a book and jacking up the price. That’s great for process junkies, but is not something that everyone wants to pay the extra buck for. The bottom line for this issue is a real case of YMMV. If either of these stories strike you as excellent or you really dig seeing the script pages and tiny original art reproductions, you may find this issue to be a great deal. For me, I was left wishing I’d have waiting to rescue this from a $1 bin in a few months time. Nothing here needed to be read this week.
Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
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