The Marvel reprints of Alan Moore’s Marvelman/Miracleman stories hit issue 8, and we no longer have average Alan Davis covers, but now have an average John Romita Jr. cover for it’s standard cover. In fact, the more I look at it, the worse it becomes so lets move swiftly on…
These are reprints of the final two Chuck Beckum/Austen stories published originally by Eclipse Comics and they’re, well, still pretty infuriating some 30 years later in that a good set of scripts were wasted in such a way by Eclipse. I don’t blame Austen. He was a young man and frankly, he’d have been mad to have turned down the job but I do blame his editors. This said, Steve Oliff’s colouring makes the artwork better than it was originally which is a reminder of just how essential a good colourist can be to comics.
The story resumes a few seconds after Miracledog has killed Cream and is facing Mike Moran who is trapped in human form thanks to Gargunza’s keyword, which means that for an hour he cannot return to being Marvelman, so he’s in a wee bit of a pickle.
Of course Moran remembers the keyword which results in a panel even 30 years later is still awful.
For anyone reading this review today who aren’t aware of just how bad the reaction to Austen’s work was, then this panel gives you an idea as to why there was such a bad reaction. It’s simply dreadful. To explain further why people got annoyed, Austen could turn out decent work which make people think he simply wasn’t trying/was lazy or anything else to explain away the quality of art on display.
Austen only drew three episodes but it should have been clear his work wasn’t up to the standard set by Alan Davis, Garry Leach, John Ridgeway and the other Marvelman artists in Warrior, but as I said previously, Austen seems to have been a fit for an Eclipse style rather than a style which fitted Moore’s scripts. It’s a pity as that splash page for his final episode is great but it could have been better with someone more suited to the story, which although it does borrow quite liberally from Blade Runner, does manage to be more than just a pale shadow of that film.
With Austen’s final story that should be the end of his work, but Marvel weren’t kidding when they said this would be a complete reprint of everything Marvelman/Miracleman related as they print the two page strip from Eclipse Comics Miracleman #8, the only issue of the Eclipse run you’ll find in 50p boxes at marts and conventions.
The two-page story written by Cat Yronwode was to explain that Miracleman was behind schedule and that she and Eclipse were too honest to palm off a reprint issue upon the readership without some sort of explanation, but now we know a little more of the background of Eclipse, it’s worth betting this was bollocks.
As for the rest of this issue, it’s given over to more from the Eclipse #8 of Miracleman, including this edited bit of dialogue from one of Austen’s pin-ups.
Note how the name ‘Alan Moore’ is now edited to ‘The Original Writer’ in Yronwode’s word balloon here in order to keep Marvel’s side of the deal with Moore. As for the rest of this issue it’s more original Austen pencils, plus the last few bits and bobs of Miracleman art he did for Eclipse which brings his part in this long story to a close.
Next issue sees the birth of Liz and Mike/Miracleman’s child. Now in 1986 this issue caused merry hell to such a degree that shops were threatened with prosecution for obscenity because it showed childbirth which meant showing an actual human vagina. People at the time pointed out that Miracleman had featured scenes of extreme violence, but no, something as natural as childbirth was obscene and you certainly couldn’t show a scary vagina!!! The entire thing was ridiculous, but it did lead to shops in the US having police knock on their doors, while distributors got itchy feet on this side of the Atlantic in case customs decided that a comic showing something that’s happened to all of us, not to mention showing a bodypart around 50% of humanity has is so terrible that it must never be shown!
Of course the fuss died down and when Eclipse put the issue out in the second trade paperback there was barely a fuss on either side of the Atlantic, and on this side customs looked at it and decided it was perfectly fine (I was working for Neptune Distributors at this point in around 1988) though here we are in 2014 worrying about the reaction to image of childbirth and vaginas that Marvel have stuck the rest of the series into polybags so no slippery vaginas can escape into the wild.
So next issue; childbirth! Babies! Vaginas!