Many, many, many years ago a young Neil Gaiman and an even younger Mark Buckingham had the task of following Alan Moore on Miracleman, published then by Eclipse Comics. Their run was never completed as Eclipse went bankrupt so the last issue of their run was #24, though #25 was completed (I saw photocopies of the pages back in the 90’s at a UKCAC) it never got published. So for 20 years or so the title has been in limbo and the story stuck at a crucial point which would lead to an firm and definite end, which I won’t reveal but for those of a certain age involved in British comics fandom who was told about it in a bar at a convention know that it’d be hard for anyone to follow what Gaiman intended back then.
Gaiman’s story picks up a couple of years (the issue is set in 1987) after Moore’s final issues and the final battle with Kid Miracleman. London is home to the Miracleman Family, and the world is living in a golden age, hence the title of this first arc, The Golden Age. In total there’s three arcs Gaiman had planned; The Golden Age, The Silver Age and The Dark Age. It was halfway through The Silver Age Eclipse went bust.
I’ll make a confession here. I’ve only read these issues once when they came out at the time, and frankly, they never made much of an impression upon me. Sure, I liked the Barry Smith covers and Mark Buckingham’s art is lovely but I found the stories tedious and dull. I am now, sadly, 20-25 years older and what seemed tedious and dull in my 20’s now reads much better and I’m ashamed to say I should have gotten the stories Gaiman was trying to tell (The Golden Age is made up of short stories about the new world the Miracleman Family has created) about the world, which was then the world of the 1980’s.
The main story in this issue is that of a man and fellow acolytes climbing the stairs of Miracleman’s house/temple/palace to pray to him as they see him, rightfully, as a god.
Each of the followers find their own prayers answered or indeed, not, but this is a story detailing Miracleman’s new world and how humanity is dealing with the realities of it as best they can. It’s a nice little story that doesn’t propel whatever Gaiman’s main story is going to be as at this stage Gaiman is really worldbuilding after having the baton passed to him by Moore. There are small hints something else is happening with one of the short stories but this is meant to be slow burning as we need to understand this Golden Age and what it means to us ordinary people.
As for Marvel’s reprinting of this it’s simply lovely. D’Israelli’s colours and lush and the additional material includes one of Buckingham’s UKCAC pieces and Gaiman’s script for this issue not to mention more original art. Overall it’s a nice package but in reality the main even is to come next year but I hope new readers come to this because it’s a piece of comics history most of us thought would never, ever be completed and here we are eight or nine months away from the first all-new issue.