Marvelman

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"Miracleman" redirects here. For other uses, see Miracle Man (disambiguation).
"Marvel Man" and "Marvel Man (comics)" redirect here. For the Marvel Comics super hero formerly known as Marvel Man, see Quasar (Wendell Vaughn).
Marvelman
Miracle3.png
Cover to Miracleman #3. Art by Howard Chaykin.
Publication information
Publisher L. Miller & Son (UK)
Quality Communications (UK)
Eclipse Comics (USA)
Marvel Comics (USA)
First appearance Marvelman #25 (Feb. 1954)
Created by Mick Anglo
In-story information
Alter ego Michael Moran
Partnerships Miraclewoman
Warpsmiths
Kid Marvelman
Young Marvelman
Notable aliases Micky
Miracleman
Abilities Flight
Super-strength
Invulnerability

Marvelman, also known as Miracleman for trademark reasons in his American reprints and story continuation, is a fictional comic book superhero created in 1954 by writer-artist Mick Anglo for publisher L. Miller & Son. Originally a United Kingdom home-grown substitute for the American character Captain Marvel, the series ran until 1963. He was revived in 1982 in a dark, post-modern deconstructionist series by writer Alan Moore, with later contributions by Neil Gaiman.

Publication history[edit]

Marvelman: The Mick Anglo years[edit]

In 1953, the American company Fawcett Comics, which was the U.S. publisher of Captain Marvel, discontinued the title because of a lawsuit from DC Comics.[1][2] Len Miller and his company L. Miller & Son, Ltd. had been publishing black and white reprints of the series, along with other Fawcett titles, in the UK, and rather than stopping he turned to comic packager Mick Anglo for help continuing or replacing the comic.[3] They transformed Captain Marvel to Marvelman while Miller continued his other Fawcett reprint titles and used logos and trademarks that looked significantly like Fawcett's.[citation needed] This added to the appearance that the Fawcett line was continuing, and that Marvelman was still Captain Marvel, in order to retain the audience.[original research?]

Marvelman was very similar to Captain Marvel: a young reporter named Micky Moran encounters an astrophysicist, instead of a wizard, who gives him superpowers based on atomic energy instead of magic. To transform into Marvelman, he speaks the word "Kimota", which is phonetically "atomic" backwards, rather than "Shazam". Instead of Captain Marvel Jr. and Mary Marvel, Marvelman was joined by Dicky Dauntless, a teenage messenger boy who became Young Marvelman, and young Johnny Bates, who became Kid Marvelman; both of their magic words were "Marvelman".

Captain Marvel #19 and Captain Marvel, Jr. #19 announced the forthcoming replacement of these heroes, and with issue number 25 of each title, both cover-dated 3 February 1954, they were retitled as Marvelman and Young Marvelman.[3] Marvelman Family was added to the lineup two years later. Among the studio artists Anglo assembled to produce the comics were Denis Gifford and Don Lawrence.[3] Marvelman and Young Marvelman each had 346 issues (#25-370), being published weekly except for the last 36 issues, which were monthly, reprinting old stories. Marvelman Family was a monthly which usually featured Marvelman, Young Marvelman and Kid Marvelman together, from October 1956 to November 1959. A variety of Marvelman and Young Marvelman albums were printed annually from 1954 to 1963.

Mick Anglo's association with Len Miller ended in 1960. A disgruntled Anglo then recycled some of his Marvelman stories as Captain Miracle, published under his Anglo Comics imprint, which folded in 1961. Anglo always claimed ownership of Marvelman and although creator's rights were almost unheard of in the British comics industry of the 1950s and 1960s, at least some of Anglo's Marvelman stories do have a tiny "© Mick Anglo" in the margins, lending a measure of credibility to Anglo's claim.[4]

At the height of their success, the British "Marvels" saw a series of Italian reprints. Gordon and Gotch, one of Australia's largest comics publishers, also published reprint editions. In Brazil, British Marvelman stories were reprinted in the same titles as Fawcett's original Captain Marvel. However, in Brazil, Marvelman became Jack Marvel.[5]

Though the Marvelman titles were very successful for a considerable time, this changed abruptly in 1959 when changes in British law allowed the importing of comics from the USA. The black-and-white Marvelman books were unable to compete with the full color imports, forcing Miller to cancel Marvelman Family, downgrade the other two titles to monthly status, and use reprinted adventures for their content.[3] The two series managed to survive until 1963, when Miller ceased publication and filed for bankruptcy.[3]

Marvelman/Miracleman: The Alan Moore years[edit]

Marvelman (in Warrior)[edit]

In March 1982, a new British monthly black-and-white anthology comic was launched called Warrior. Editor/publisher Dez Skinn had decided from the beginning to revive Marvelman as one of these features, explaining, "It was always going to be Marvelman. I knew the character’s history: I’d had a few Annuals as a kid and those cheap and nasty little comics. Wasn’t particularly thrilled with them, outside of occasional stunning art, but I’d always had a soft spot for Mick Anglo ... So, given the difference between a brand-new character who would sell no more copies, or a somewhat forgotten character who might sell about a dozen more, I opted to follow the similar relaunch I’d done with Captain Britain — tease at first, then, as a bonus, surprise those who actually cared. If it failed, it was only six pages out of 52—the beauty of the anthology approach."[3] Skinn's first two choices to write Marvelman were Steve Parkhouse and Steve Moore. Both expressed a lack of interest, and when Moore told Skinn that his friend Alan Moore (no relation to Steve) would "give his eye teeth" to write Marvelman, Skinn agreed to let him submit a pitch for the series.[3] Skinn's first picks for artist were Dave Gibbons and Brian Bolland, but again both declined, leaving Skinn to reluctantly give the assignment to Garry Leach, the one artist he could find with interest in the project.[3] Leach used actor Paul Newman as the model for his rendition of Miracleman.[3]

The Marvelman Special, cover art by Mick Austin.

Warrior featured a new, darker version of Marvelman, written by Alan Moore, illustrated by Garry Leach (soon replaced by Alan Davis when Leach's laborious and perfectionist approach made it hard for him to meet deadlines[3]), and lettered by Annie Parkhouse. In the first issue of Warrior, Michael Moran is presented as married, plagued by migraines, having dreams of flying, and unable to remember a word that had such significance in his dreams. In his initial run of Marvelman stories, Moore touches on many themes of his later work, including the superhero as a source of terror, the sympathetic villain, and exploring the mythology of an established fictional character.

Warrior also published a Marvelman Special collecting Mick Anglo stories within a frame story by Moore. The former Atlas Comics, having changed their name to Marvel Comics shortly before the original Marvelman was cancelled, objected to the use of the world Marvel in the series title. This was used as the publisher's official explanation for why Marvelman ended on a cliffhanger with Warrior #21 (August 1984) while the anthology itself went on for another five issues, but the actual reason was a series of bitter financial arguments between Skinn and Moore.[3] With the series discontinued, Skinn licensed the material to American publishers, first to Pacific Comics, and after Pacific's collapse, to Eclipse Comics.

Name change to Miracleman[edit]

In August 1985, Eclipse began reprinting the Marvelman stories from Warrior, coloured, and re-sized. They were renamed and re-lettered throughout as Miracleman to avoid further problems with Marvel Comics.[3] Issues 1-6 reprinted all the Warrior content, after which Eclipse began publishing new Miracleman stories from Moore and new artist Chuck Beckum (now better known as Chuck Austen), soon replaced by Rick Veitch and then John Totleben. Eclipse split the rights to the character, with 2/3 going to Eclipse and 1/3 split between the current writer and artist of the series.[6] Moore wrote the series until issue 16.

Miracleman #15, art by John Totleben.

A glimpse of how Moore originally meant the story to continue is presented in Warrior issue 4 (also called the Warrior Summer Special), which features Marvelman and Aza Chorn gathering energy for the final battle with Kid Marvelman.

Miracleman: The Neil Gaiman years[edit]

Miracleman #23, art by Barry Windsor-Smith.

Writer Neil Gaiman picked up the series at #17 and developed it 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, "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. Gaiman's focus in "The Golden Age" is less the heroes themselves than the people who live in this new world, including a lonely man who becomes one of Miraclewoman's lovers, a former spy (whose tale recalls J.G. Ballard's short story War Fever), and a robot duplicate of Andy Warhol.

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 Silver Age" appeared, but Eclipse went bankrupt in 1994, ceasing publication of Miracleman with issue #24. Issue #25 was completed, but never printed.[7] Gaiman had also approved a spin off series called Miracleman: Triumphant which was written by Fred Burke and penciled by Mike Deodato Jr and inked by Jason Temujin Minor. Most of the first issue of Miracleman: Triumphant was complete and ready for printing, and the second was scripted, but like Miracleman #25 the two issues would remain in publishing limbo after the collapse of Eclipse.[citation needed] #23 and #24 saw the resurrection of Young Miracleman and described the beginnings of trouble in Miracleman's idyllic world. A few pages of issue #25 were leaked to various websites, and appeared in George Khoury's book Kimota! The Miracleman Companion. "The Dark Age" would have seen the full return of Kid Miracleman and completed the story.

During this period, Miracleman was a featured character in the mini-series Total Eclipse. A short story by Gaiman and Mark Buckingham (entitled "Screaming") appeared in Total Eclipse #4, making it Gaiman's first published Miracleman story. This story was reprinted in issue #21 and in "The Golden Age" trade paperback.

Ownership battle[edit]

In 1996, Todd McFarlane purchased Eclipse's creative assets, including the purported Miracleman rights, for a total of $25,000.[6]

In 2001, McFarlane said that he owned all rights related to Miracleman, dismissing Neil Gaiman's claims of co-ownership, and announced that the character would be appearing in Hellspawn.[8] McFarlane introduced Mike Moran (Miracleman's alter ego) in Hellspawn #6, with the alleged intention of returning Miracleman himself in Hellspawn #13. McFarlane also included Miracleman in his section of what was then the long-delayed Image 10th Anniversary Book. He also released a Miracleman cold-cast statue as well as a 4-inch (10 cm) scale action figure that was partnered with Spawn in a San Diego Comicon exclusive two-pack. It had been McFarlane's intention to use the character in his core title.[citation needed] Since the Hardcover story became a direct tie-in to the events of Spawn #150 and beyond, Miracleman was changed into a mysterious new character known as the Man of Miracles. His appearance as Miracleman is explained by Man of Miracles' ability to shape-shift and the fact that people see him as they wish during the time.

In 2001, Gaiman formed Marvels and Miracles LLC, a company whose goal was to clear up the ownership of Miracleman long-term.[9] In 2002 Gaiman sued McFarlane over his unauthorised use of Miracleman and the characters he had created for Spawn.[10] According to Gaiman, the evidence presented in the course of the lawsuit revealed that the rights for Miracleman were not included in McFarlane's purchase of the Eclipse Comics assets.[11]

In 2002, Gaiman wrote the 1602 series for Marvel. Gaiman's profits from this series went to Marvels and Miracles LLC to aid his legal fight over Miracleman.[12] Gaiman's dedication in the collected editions of 1602 reads, in part, "To Todd, for making it necessary". It later emerged that Dez Skinn and Quality Communications had neglected to purchase the rights to Marvelman from the beginning, meaning that the sale of those rights to Eclipse and subsequently to McFarlane was illegitimate in any case.[3][13]

Marvel Comic's Miracleman #1, art by Joe Quesada.

At the San Diego Comic Con in 2009, Marvel Comics announced they had purchased the rights to Marvelman, "one of the most important comic book characters in decades", from original creator Mick Anglo.[14] In June 2010, a "Marvelman Classic Primer" one-shot was published, featuring new art and interviews with Mick Anglo and others involved in Marvelman's history. In July 2010, a new ongoing series called Marvelman Family’s Finest launched reprinting "Marvelman’s greatest adventures." A hardcover reprint edition, Marvelman Classic Vol. 1, was released in August 2010.[15] These reprints contain only early material. Alan Moore has stated that he would donate some of his royalties from any Marvel reprints of his Marvelman stories to Mick Anglo.[16]

At New York Comic Con 2013, Marvel announced that they had solidified their rights to Miracleman and that Neil Gaiman would finish the story he had started 25 years earlier.[17][18] The series is being reprinted in a giant-sized format, with each issue containing a reprint of the corresponding issue of the Eclipse Comics series, reprints of select Mick Anglo Marvelman stories, and non-fiction material such as essays, photos, and Marvelman design sketches.[citation needed] The first issue, reprinting the recolored and relettered stories from Warrior #1 & 2/Miracleman #1, was released on January 15, 2014.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Michael Moran is working as a freelance reporter when he gets caught up in a terrorist raid on a newly built atomic power plant. Seeing the word "atomic" backwards ("cimota") when being carried past a door with the word written on glass, he remembers the word "Kimota"; Marvelman is reborn and saves the day.[19] As Marvelman, Moran remembers his early life as a superhero, and explains to his wife Liz that he lost his memories when all of the Marvelman Family were caught in an atomic explosion.[20] Marvelman's reappearance catches the attention of Johnny Bates (Kid Marvelman), who not only also survived, but lived on with his memories and superpowers intact. Bates, however, was corrupted by his power and is now a sociopath.[21] After a brutal confrontation, Kid Marvelman says his magic word ("Marvelman") by mistake and reverts to his alter-ego, the 13-year-old Johnny Bates. The boy, innocent but aware of the evil he committed as Kid Marvelman, mentally recoils in shock and reverts into a catatonic state.

With the aid of renegade British Secret Service agent Evelyn Cream, and after a short fight with a new British superhero called Big Ben, Marvelman makes his way to a top secret military bunker. There he discovers remains of an alien spacecraft, and two non-human skeletons fused together. Marvelman views a file that reveals his entire experience as a superhero was a simulation as part of a military research project, codename "Project Zarathustra", attempting to enhance the human body using the 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. As their enhanced minds fought the enforced dreaming, those administrating the project grew fearful of what would happen if they awoke. As a result, it was decided that the project was to be terminated, and so were Marvelman and his two companions: 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. In the meantime, it is revealed that Liz has conceived a child with Marvelman, which has the potential of being the first naturally-born superhuman on Earth.

In issue #21 of Warrior, just after Moran meets his dream-world nemesis Dr. Gargunza (loosely based on Dr. Sivana). In "reality" Gargunza was the scientific genius behind the experiment that created Marvelman. Gargunza, after working as a geneticist for the Nazis, had been recruited by the British after World War II. Unable to keep pace with the U.S. and Soviet nuclear arms race, the British had backed Gargunza to use genetics to develop a new superweapon. By coincidence, an alien spacecraft crashed in the UK in 1947 and Gargunza was able to reverse-engineer enough technology to create the first Marvelmen. The alien technology, and thus the Marvelman project, consisted of giving someone a second body, which was stored in an extradimensional pocket of space when not in use; when a special word was spoken the two bodies switched place in space, and the mind was transferred as well. After the cancellation of the project, Gargunza escaped to South America where he developed bio-technology weapons such as "Marveldog". It is revealed that Gargunza has a deeper purpose: after the death of his mother, he has a mortality complex, and intends that the child of Marvelman will act as the host of his own consciousness.

Moran's daughter is born in Miracleman #9 (which became somewhat controversial due to a highly graphic birth scene, based on medical illustrations of the process);[citation needed] two races of aliens, one called Warpsmiths, the other called Qys (who were behind the original body-swapping technology) come to Earth; Miraclewoman emerges; and certain native super-humans are revealed to already be living on Earth, such as Firedrake.

Now out of his catatonia, the small, spindly Kid Miracleman is repeatedly beaten by several older bullies at his group home. When one of them goes so far as to try to rape him, Johnny transforms into Kid Miracleman and unleashes a murderous holocaust on London. When the Miracles discover what is happening, they and their alien allies collectively challenge Bates. One of the Warpsmiths, Aza Chorn, realises that they cannot go through Bates' personal force field, and instead teleports some wreckage into his body, forcing him to transform back to his mortal form. His rampage is stopped, but Bates kills Aza Chorn as his last act. Unwilling to risk another chance for repeating this horror, Miracleman quietly kills Johnny Bates, knowing that it is the only way to be certain it will never happen again. The heart of London, however, has been destroyed, 40,000 people are dead, the Warpsmith Aza Chorn lies dead, and the world now knows that gods walk among them.

Moore's last issue, number 16 ("Olympus") ends with an depiction of Miracleman's apotheosis, as he and his superhuman allies bring the entire planet under their totalitarian control. Miracleman and his companions, explicitly compared to gods, now rule the planet as they see fit, though they are ineffectively opposed by groups such as an alliance of Christian and Islamic fundamentalists. The "age of miracles" is ostensibly benevolent, but in scenes such as the final conversation between Miracleman and Liz, Moore suggests that Miracleman has lost his humanity and that his utopia is ultimately harmful to humankind.

Alternative versions[edit]

An alternative version of Marvelman is seen in the British comic The Daredevils #7 (1983) (owned by Marvel UK) in the Captain Britain story. Actually called Miracleman (the first time the name was attached to the character), he is killed by the Fury.[22] His junior partner, named 'Rick' and never explicitly identified as Young Miracleman, is married to that world's Captain UK. Rick is seen to be killed by the Fury, but is rescued by Roma.

In late 2004 the A1 Sketchbook was released by Atomeka Press, in part including art from original Miracleman artist Garry Leach. It contained four Miracleman-related pin-ups (although the pin-ups were not labelled as Miracleman, likely to avoid further legal entanglements). A variant of the sketchbook was also produced, with a "Miracleman" front cover and "Kid Miracleman" back cover by Leach.

Collected editions[edit]

Cover to the collected Miracleman Book 3. Art by John Totleben.

As of August 2010, Marvel has started reprinting the original Mick Anglo Marvelman stories, beginning with the character's first appearance in issue #25.

  • Marvelman Classic Hardcover Vol. 1, by Mick Anglo. Collects Marvelman (Vol. 1, 1954) issues 25, 27-34.

The Miracleman comics published by Eclipse were collected into a number of individual volumes in the 1990s. All of these books are currently out of print.

  • Miracleman Book One: A Dream of Flying, by Alan Moore, Garry Leach, Alan Davis. Collects Miracleman issues 1-3, (which in turn reprinted stories from Warrior issues 1-11).
  • Miracleman Book Two: The Red King Syndrome, by Alan Moore, Alan Davis, John Ridgeway, Chuck Beckum, Rick Veitch. Collects Miracleman issues 4-6, (which in turn reprinted stories from Warrior issues 12-21) and Miracleman issues 7, 9, and 10. [Issue 8 was omitted, containing 1950s reprint material].
  • Miracleman Book Three: Olympus, by Alan Moore and John Totleben. Collects issues 11-16.
  • Miracleman Book Four: The Golden Age, by Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham. Collects issues 17-22, but does not contain the "Retrieval" storyline published in those issues.
  • Miracleman: Apocrypha, by various.

Marvel has begun collecting their recolored reprints of the Miracleman comics originally published by Eclipse. The first hardcover edition, A Dream of Flying, has been released in May, 2014 with the second volume, The Red King Syndrome, schedule to be published later that same year.[23]

  • Miracleman Book One: A Dream of Flying, by The Original Writer,[24] Mick Anglo, Garry Leach, Alan Davis, Steve Dillon. Collects Miracleman issues 1-4.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gore, Matthew H. (June 24, 2001). The Origins of Marvelman. Wayback Machine. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  2. ^ Ingersoll, Bob, "The Law is a Ass" Installment # 66, World Famous Comics (Originally printed in Comics Buyer's Guide), archived from the original on 2000-10-24, retrieved 16 January 2014 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Harvey, Allan (June 2009). "Blood and Sapphires: The Rise and Demise of Marvelman". Back Issue (34) (TwoMorrows Publishing). pp. 69–76. 
  4. ^ Matthew H. Gore, The Origin of Marvelman, (Ellendale, Tennessee: Boardman Books, 2006), 24.
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ a b Best, Daniel (2011-09-03). "20th Century Danny Boy: Miracleman: Neil Gaiman's Writer's Agreement". Ohdannyboy.blogspot.com.au. Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  7. ^ Kimota!: The Miracleman Companion - George Khoury, Alan Moore, John Totleben, Alan Davis, Neil Gaiman, Mark Buckingham - Google Books. Books.google.co.uk. p. 49. Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  8. ^ "The Devil You Know…: An interview with Todd McFarlane". Comic Book Resources. 2001-06-15. Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  9. ^ "Neil Gaiman returns to comics with Marvel project". Comic Book Resources. 2001-10-24. Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  10. ^ "Miracleman Heads to Court". ICv2. 2002-01-27. Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  11. ^ "Neil Gaiman's Journal: Last Legal Post for a long time". Journal.neilgaiman.com. 2004-02-25. Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  12. ^ "Sequart Research & Literacy Organization | advancing comics as art". Sequart.com. Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  13. ^ "McFarlane Responds to Marvelman News". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  14. ^ "CCI: Cup O Joe - Marvelman at Marvel". Comic Book Resources. 2009-07-24. Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  15. ^ "Marvelman Returns In June". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  16. ^ Gordon, Joe (2009-05-08). "The Mighty Moore Marathon - part three of Pádraig's talk with Alan Moore - Forbidden Planet Blog". Forbiddenplanet.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  17. ^ 3 DAYS (2011-11-17). "NYCC: Marvel to Reprint Classic Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman 'Miracleman'". Hollywoodreporter.com. Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  18. ^ "NYCC: Cup O' Joe Announces Miracleman's Return". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  19. ^ Warrior #1
  20. ^ Warrior #2
  21. ^ Warrior #3
  22. ^ "Miracleman (Earth-238)". Marvunapp.com. Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  23. ^ http://marvel.com/comics/collection/50518/miracleman_book_1_a_dream_of_flying_hardcover
  24. ^ http://www.bleedingcool.com/2013/10/17/the-original-writer-formerly-known-as-alan-moore/

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]