We’re finally here at the long awaited childbirth issue of Miracleman which 30 years ago, caused an almighty fuss when originally published by Eclipse Comics . If there’s a single mainstream comic that shows how some comics fans are seriously fucked up in regards sex and women then I’m sure experts can look to this single issue as an example of not only the fear some fans have of the female body, but the fact they only view female bodyparts as sexual, or they’re scared of them.
Before I get too into this, a wee recap of where the story is at. Miracleman/Marvelman has killed Gargunza and is now rescuing his heavily pregnant wife Liz from Gargunza’s compound in the South American jungle. Chuck Beckham/Austen is no longer the artist as I explained last time he was asked to leave/quit (depending on whatever story you read) from the comic, which meant a frantic search for a replacement.
I remember Eclipse at either the end of 1985 or early 1986 announcing that John Totleben would be the regular artist for Alan Moore’s final six issues of the Eclipse run from #11-16, but for issues 9 and 10 the artist would be Rick Veitch who was very much a safe pair of hands and used to working with Moore due to their work on DC Comics Swamp Thing. Although Veitch’s work is rushed at times, it’s not bad but it’s rougher than any previous Marvelman artist, though it bridges the space between what’s come, and what will come with Totleben’s spectacular if at times, extraordinary violent work. Seeing it reprinted 30 years later with a new colouring job from Steve Oliff is odd, and this Bleeding Cool article explains that Marvel never picked up the original script request in regards the colour. This makes the story a bit jarring for readers like myself used to the original colouring, but how new readers will be affected is unknown but I’m willing to guess most won’t care as it’s all about the vaginas.
Miracleman #9 features some good solid art from Veitch and a story where Miracleman and Liz reunite and their baby is born.
Most of this issue is a celebration of life after all the death, misery and gloom of previous issues. It should have been a glorious celebration but the prudes managed to damn this comic because it showed something that’s happened to all of us, or at least, those of us who didn’t have a Cesarean section. It’s a natural vaginal birth, and if I remember right, it was inspired by Moore being present at the birth of one of his daughters so cut free of all the censorship bollocks it’s a fine little story with a sting to set up the final issues of Moore’s run. It’s an issue I never really appreciated 30 years ago as it felt like treading water, especially after the painfully long waits between issues that used to happen when Eclipse published it. Now I see it better though the added wisdom (hah!) of those 30 years. It’s a lovely issue but some didn’t see that at the time.
How anyone could fail to be moved by the little touches is beyond me. This scene as Miracleman and Liz fly to a safe location for the baby’s birth for example is beautiful.
There is a little aside with Johnny Bates that won’t make sense to anyone who hasn’t read the Warpsmith stories reprinted earlier in Marvel’s run, but after this is right into the birth, and I seem to remember that it was the below panel which sent those censors mental especially.
If I’m putting my psychologists hat on here, I’d posit that some people weren’t used to seeing women in that position without it being sexualised, so this was scary to them. Or simply I’d just call them arseholes because as is shown here in this blog, some of the reaction from shops and distributors were insane. It wasn’t just in the US where there was this reaction but here in the UK. I was in retail at the time and about 18 months away from working for Neptune Distributors but I know both they and Titan had words with customs officials about this one comic which in previous issues featured outrageous scenes of violence. It’s worth reading Steve Bissette’s in-depth blogs about the censorship of the time and the place the Eclipse Comics version of Miracleman #9 has in that debate 30 years ago which shaped how mainstream comics ended up as they are today.
As for the rest of the 2014 Miracleman #9. there’s some original pencils including the cover of the Eclipse #9.
The issue is filled out with a couple of Mick Anglo Marvelman reprints which aren’t very good, and this leaves us with one more issue before Marvel gets into the final Moore Miracleman stories and the controversies they had.
As for this issue, Marvel haven’t put a warning about childbirth on the cover but they are putting the hard copies now in polybags which is either an improvement or regressive that in 2014 scenes of childbirth in a comic meant for adults is still considered somewhat controversial, but the scenes of violence, including sexualised violence, is still considered normal.
Next issue is the last of the Rick Veitch issues in his brief run and very much sets up the final Moore/Totleben issues.