You know how for the last 25 years you’ve read superhero comics full of baddies ripping people apart and heroes being dark and grim? You know how 99.9% of these comics felt like they owed a huge debt to something else even though many pretended they were pushing new ground? Well, this is the comic they’re all trying to rip off (or is the word ‘homage’?) to make themselves seem ‘adult’. This frankly, is still one of the most brilliantly horrific comics you’ll read as the story of Miracleman and his former pal, Kid Miracleman (now a vicious psychopath and possibly the most powerful creature on Earth) gets let loose upon 1980’s London. By the time you get to the rain of severed hands and feet you realise Moore and Totleben are not fucking around.
This is essentially the last big fight scene in Moore’s Marvelman/Miracleman story and it does not flinch from showing you what an insanely powerful psychopath can do to humans in order to flush out Miracleman not to mention give himself a bit of fun in the meantime.
This isn’t a traditional superhero comic fight with baddies smashing through buildings and nobody getting hurt, but this is a battle that clearly shows the damage to a villain that is seemingly impossible to hurt, regardless of what our heroes do.
It’s around now in the middle of a story where people are dying horribly that Marvel yet again censor the word ‘nigger’ from the comic in an action that jars you from the story.
It’s a nonsensical decision by Marvel. It’s not being offensive for it’s own sake, rather than using the sort of language an insane murderer might well use when confronted by a black person, albeit one that can turn suns supernova.
As for getting back to the story it cleverly deals with the story in the Warrior Summer Special that until last year had never been reprinted, while setting up the Warpsmith Aza Chorn as the martyr that saves the planet from Kid Miracleman.
Then there’s that double page spread by Totleben. I’m not going to stick it here as the impact needs to be as raw as possible but it looks fantastic in this Marvel version which thanks to Steve Oliff’s recolouring, looks sharper and more horrible than before.
Miracleman #15 is not just an important comic in terms of it’s far reaching influence, but in how it’s executed. Moore and Totleben are on prime form here spinning the ultimate superhero tale of horror with Moore’s writing inspiring Totleben to outdo himself on the horror, which is dreadful, but the eye is still drawn into looking at the panels of skulls impaled on spikes or babies being thrown out of cars and thinking there’s no depths that Johnny Bates/Kid Miracleman actually knows. This truly is an achievement of a comic.
Next issue is the last Alan Moore issue before Marvel start reprinting the Neil Gaiman/Mark Buckingham material from Eclipse Comics. It’s a definite & logical end to Moore’s story that made me disregard the Gaiman material first time round to the extent that I found it ok, but it’s not got the power of Moore’s run. I do however await rereading the Gaiman material to see what I think again as I’ve only ever read it the once.
As for this issue, it’s rounded out with more original art and a nasty little sketch by Totleben of Kid Miracleman.
There’s also some original art of Totleben’s original layout he ditched, including the original layout for that double page spread. It’s actually the sort of bonus material that’s incredibly interesting rather than just padding the issue out to justify it’s price tag, and in fact, this is one the best packages of the Marvel reprints.
Next issue it’s the end of the Moore material, and if you’ve been reading these stories new you may rightly think how this issue can be topped. Well, it isn’t but that doesn’t mean it’s not a fantastic comic full of clever ideas. It just means there’s not page after page of horror as Moore wraps up the story that took eight years for him to complete.