Friday, July 24, 2009

Marvelman / Miracleman - woot, woot!!

So this morning over on a comic rumor site mention was made that today Marvel would be making a big announcement today at one of their panels at the San Diego Comic Con and I read some speculation over on Bendis' forum that this announcement would involve Miracleman. Well sure enough, the big Marvel announcement was that Marvel had bought the rights to the character from Mick Anglo (who until fairly recently most people didn't know that he was still alive - he's like 93 years old, but from this interview I read on him he's still in great form )! This is not just the big Marvel news of the convention, I'd say it'll be the biggest news story coming out of the whole convention. Here's some background for those of you reading this unfamiliar with what became of this legendary character:

Marvelman was a British superhero character created in the 1950's when England, for some reason, could no longer receive the Captain Marvel (most people from the 1970's on knew this character by the title Shazam when DC later published this character and because of Marvel couldn't have the title "Captain Marvel" on the cover of their comics) comic, so they created their own version of the character because it was such a huge selling title. I haven't read much of the original Marvelman comics from the 1950's but the ones I've read (and from what I know from reading about the genesis of the character in England), it was a total copy of Fawcett's Captain Marvel (Fawcett was the name of the company that published Captain Marvel until DC somehow won a lawsuit that established that their character was an infringement of their tent pole character, Superman). So Marvelman of the 1950's was a solid superhero comic, basically a good Captain Marvel comic until...

Sometime in the late 1950's the British Marvelman comic stopped being published and just vanished until the early 1980's when Alan Moore came on the scene and revived the character in the British comic anthology Warrior (the same comic magazine in which Moore first wrote V For Vendetta). Moore had done some smaller comic work before Marvelman and V For Vendetta in Warrior, but it wasn't until those strips appeared that he started raising eyebrows and landing the Swamp Thing writing gig, which was followed shortly thereafter by Watchmen. As Alan Moore is a genius (and I'm not saying this lightly), as he later did with Swamp Thing, he took the character of Marvelman to an entirely new level that raised the bar for the kind of stories that super hero comics could tell (while at the same time not just discarding everything about Marvelman's past stories). Then one day Warrior folded and we didn't see Marvelman again until...

...1985, when Eclipse became the new publisher of Marvelman. Except Marvel decreed that Eclipse couldn't call the character Marvelman anymore (even though the character was called that since about 1954 and Timely didn't become Marvel Comics until 1961) so they retitled the character Miracleman and Alan Moore even made the new name for the character make more sense for the character. Alan Moore wrote sixteen issues of Marvelman / Miracleman which have long been impossible to find in back issue bins (there was three trades collecting the Moore run, but those are even harder to find). After Eclipse (the comic company) folded, Miracleman once again lingered in publishing limbo and because several people claimed ownership (lots of reeeeeaaallly convoluted legalese), it looked like no one would ever again be able to have (or read) Moore's legendary Miracleman treatment until...

...today, when Marvel made the announcement that things have somehow been ironed out and now they will be publishing the character and he'll be called Marvelman again (as to how this is going to play with th way Moore reworked the character's name). I'm sure Alan Moore isn't super happy with the idea of Marvel publishing some of his work because he had some run-ins with previous managements after which he promised that he'd never work for Marvel, but I'm just glad that whole new generations of people will be able to read this amazing comic (and Moore will be paid, not that that is his primary beef). Seriously anyone who has read what Alan Moore did with Marvelman / Miracleman (especially book three, Olympus, with art master John Totleben) has never looked at superhero comics the same way - THEY ARE THAT GOOD! The above cover is from the ultra rare Miracleman #15 (art by John Totleben). I'm going to guess that by the end of this year or early 2010 we'll see Marvel's Marvelman and then new readers will see what all of the fuss over this seminal comic is about. Snoopy Dance time!

3 comments:

Fad23 said...

I was wondering whether Marvel would be more interested in reprinting the Moore run than making new stories. As I remember it, Moore didn't like the idea of re-dubbing the character Miracleman for American audiences. That said, I also imagine that he won't be particularly enthused.

For my part, I'll be glad to see new editions of the classic Moore run. I own and have read it all as singles, but I never found a TPB copy of Olympus that I could afford. If anything, that a new generation of readers may be able to get their hands on these books, and the conversations I can have afterward are a pleasant consideration.

Ralph Mathieu said...

Nobody in their right mind, whether they know it or not, would want new MM stories before reading the Moore stories.

Have a great weekend Ron and Bev!

Rick Tucker said...

Ralph, you ARE the eternal optimist. That's one of the reasons I like you so much.
I've read little from Marvel over the last 35 years that would give me any reason to get this right. Yes. I am a cynic.

Happy New Comics Wednesday 12/13/17 - Mister Miracle, Wonder Woman, Coyotes, Port of Earth, Star Wars, Fighting American, Daredevil edition!

 Mister Miracle & Wonder Woman are especially good this week!! Looking forward to reading the second issues of Coyotes and Port of ear...