Saturday, April 19, 2014

Miraclemen!

Alan Davis
I knew absolutely nothing about Marvelman when I stumbled across Warrior magazine back in those halcyon days of the 1980's. The British superhero, a necessary adaptation of the successful Captain Marvel character after the latter was dropped from publication, was a total cipher to me. So that said, I lacked some of the pure joy which fans must've had when he showed up unannounced in the debut issue of Dez Skinn's old black and white magazine.

Garry Leach
Marvelman didn't make the cover until the second issue, but by then it was clear that Alan Moore and Garry Leach were creating something quite different. These days of course the deconstructed superhero is all to common, but then in those pre-Watchmen days it was a downright fresh notion. Here was a superhero who wasn't all that heroic really, not as you'd expect. He had sex for one thing, with his wife sort of admittedly, but sex nonetheless. It was a novel notion in a medium which wiped that aspect of life away save in the most obscure and sometimes titillating ways. Here was a superhero who was violent, truly violent in that he damaged mere human beings and even not-so mere human beings with the snap of his finger. Here was a guy who was Superman made carnate.

Mick Austin
This was rollicking stuff, but soon I lost track of the plot a bit and drifted out of independent comics and onto other matters. Over the years I read about the impossible tangle the Marvelman / Miracleman franchise had become, and like many fans I had such a high regard for my long-ago-traded-away Warrior magazines that I hoped it would resolve itself. But even then, I was pleasantly surprised how completely effective these stories still are after all this time. The seriousness of the storytelling is evident and compelling. This is significant stuff, not just a quaint superhero adventure, but something with import and resonance.

Mick Austin
Marvel has at long last republished these trapped gems. Like his inspiration "The Big Red Cheese", Marvelman / Miracleman has at long last escaped the limbo of the unpublished and returned to the stands with significant pomp and proper circumstance. Always exceedingly cantankerous in these matters, Alan Moore is merely "The Original Writer", but Garry Leach gets his props as does Alan Davis who quickly too over for Leach when the latter proved too meticulous for the grind of deadlines. Marvel has now published four issues, which reprint Book One of the saga. Most all of these I'd seen before, glimmering in the embers of my imagination. What comes next will be new to me. I look forward to it.





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2 comments:

  1. You haven't read past the Warrior stuff? Oh, man... Let's just say you're in for a treat - especially if you've somehow managed to avoid what happens later on in this legendary run.

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    1. I have one issue of the later Neil Gaiman stuff with Mark Buckingham, but I don't have much of a memory of it to be honest. It didn't click with me the way these did in the day. I'm eager now to see what happens.

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