Around 30 years ago Grant Morrison wrote a Kid Marvelman strip for Dez Skinn to appear in Warrior. It never got published and for years was thought long lost, until earlier this year when Marvel Comics editor-in-chief announced he’d spoken to Morrison and that Marvel were going to publish it along with the first all-new Miracleman material from Mike Allred and Pete Milligan for 20 years.
Now it’d be impossible to review this without mentioning that Alan Moore interview or indeed, the accusations (some true, some tenuous) of how Morrison hasn’t just followed in Moore’s footsteps, but has actively copied his style. These allegations simply are not going to go away nor will they after reading this story as it really does read like mid-80’s Alan Moore, though Joe Quesada (who has liberally adapted the script to spin out for longer than originally written, and I do like the Steranko-esque splash page) has tried to somehow tone that down, it still reads like Morrison doing Moore.
The story itself is set in 1966 and is a conversation between a priest and Kid Marvelman, who by this point has not turned back into Johnny Bates for three years and is in the process of generally becoming a total bastard. Also, Quesada draws Kid Marvelman to look like Grant Morrison and that’s a wee bit odd.
Essentially Kid Marvelman returns to the place he landed after the British government tried to kill the Marvelman Family in 1963, and in this story, to the priest who saw him survive the blast to clean up some loose ends and panels that have captions that read like it’s 1986.
It’s only a short story padded out by some nice storytelling from Quesada, but it’s not a terrible story, rather than an oddity brought back to life. It’s not going to add to the overall story as opposed to reading as it probably was which was to see if Morrison could ape Moore’s style enough to get himself a job writing Marvelman. On this evidence, he did a very good job copying Moore’s style.
As for the new story by Milligan and Allred, it’s a charming little story done int he style of the 1950’s stories, but again, it’s slight for the first new Miracleman material for over 20 years.
We do get to see Marvelman fighting some dolphins though.
It’s got a nice Mick Anglo feel and a nice comment upon the trend for dark comics, but it’s fun and nothing more than that. It’s also telling Marvel haven’t used the Alan Moore updated version of Marvelman in this new story which does add to suspicion that perhaps there’s plans for that version after they finish the Neil Gaiman run,
As for the rest of the annual it’s made up of Morrison’s original script (rusty staples and all) and a comparison with what Quesada has done in padding the story out.
It also becomes clear from the script that it’s not Quesada who decided to draw Kid Marvelman as Grant Morrison, but he’s only following Morrison’s instructions in the script and from a photo reference of Morrison himself from 1984.
I’m sure they’ll be those putting a lot into Morrison dropping himself into a Kid Marvelman story, but creators have done it before where they drop themselves into a story, so it’s really not a huge issue even if it is odd in this case in retrospect. As for the annual, it’s thin picking for three quids worth of comics but it’s about worth it mainly because the Morrison story isn’t all bad even if it’s a Happy Shopper Alan Moore script, and the Milligan story is fun. Just don’t expect anything too revelatory on display here.