I have to say that the cover to the latest of Marvel’s reprints of the Eclipse Comics Miracleman stories by Alan Moore and John Totleben is probably my favourite of any of the Marvel reprints so far, and that includes the variant covers which have been on the whole, pish.
As for the contents we’re at the stage where all the planning Moore made since reviving Marvelman in Warrior is about to come to a head as he throws out answers to questions readers had been asking since 1982. It’s hard to explain to a generation used to fairly instant gratification with the patience of a gnat that waiting from 1982 to 1987 back then in those pre-internet days was agony. Not knowing when a new issue was coming out was the very definition of pain and at the time I was hotwired into the British comics scene so I knew that I was hardly alone in thinking the same.
I mention the days before the internet because the opening monologue from Miracleman mentions something which sounds very much like the web, not to mention social media.
Of course this is science fiction as there’s nothing funny about Aberdeen.
It’s a great opening and one which tells the reader right away that Miracleman’s new Warpsmith companion meets an awful end five years earlier. As to how Aza Chorn dies we won’t find out for another couple of issues if you’re reading this for the first time, but even reading this again for probably only the third or fourth time since 1987 it’s still a shock that the Warpsmith Moore spent years building up as a character in his own right is to meet death so quickly after being introduced proper into the story.
As for the story, we resume as Miracleman and Miraclewoman are taken to the Qys, the alien homeworld of the beings who crashed in Wiltshire in the 1950’s and who Gargunza managed to extrapolate their technology so he could use to it build the bodies for Miracleman and the others. At this point Moore takes us on a vast, sweeping space opera as Miracleman and Miraclewoman have been dropped into the middle of an intergalactic war.
There’s been a long,long war between the shape shifting Qys, and the Warpsmiths who can move as fast as a thought. Much of this issue is a discussion between the Warpsmiths, Qys and Miracleman and Miraclewoman as to what to do with them. It turns out the Qys were searching the Earth for ‘Firedrakes’ and came across the products of Gargunza’s work. Miraclewoman comes up with a perfect solution which results in two Warpsmiths joining the Miracle duo on Earth to monitor Earth in regards it’s possible entry into ‘Intelligent Space’.
When Moore tried to start writing comics he worked on a massive space opera which he never completed and it’s not a massive push to think that a lot of that survives here in Marvelman/Miracleman. These are huge universe spanning concepts in an issue which is enormous but ultimately hinges on the final scenes with Liz and Miracleman and the decision Liz makes to leave him.
This really is an impressive issue. Moore easily goes from the massive concepts on display to a scene of a few pages which ends Liz’s story, while setting up the next issue perfectly in a lovely little tease. As for the art, it’s simply wonderful stuff from Totleben. I also have to praise again the colouring of Steve Oliff who manages to make Qys this amazingly vibrant place while making 1987 London look grey, cold and miserable, which of course it was.
As for the rest of the issue, it’s more original art from Totleben, some old Eclipse house ads, including this one featuring a design which would have become a T-Shirt.
There’s another poor Mick Anglo Marvelman story filling out the issue and that’s it. Next issue is one which along with #15 pretty much changed how modern superhero comics were made. New readers will have seen second or third generations ‘homages’ to these issues all the bloody time, but these issues were, are, still shocking. December sees the publication of not only Marvel’s reprint of issue 14, but the Miracleman Annual featuring that Grant Morrison Kid Marvelman story. It’s a big month for Miracleman next month as this is the first new Miracleman material for over twenty years, whether it’ll be any good is still to be seen but I’m glad Marvel are at least trying to get everything related to Marvelman out before diving into the Neil Gaiman material.
It’s quite amazing that there’s only three more Moore issues then we’re into the Gaiman stuff. It hardly feels like it’s been a year.