Marvel Comics' Miracleman Plans For 2022 Take Shape
Bleeding Cool gets the word that Mark Buckingham has completed four new issues of Miracleman, written by Neil Gaiman, taking them up to the conclusion of the Miracleman: The Silver Age storyline and beyond into Miracleman: The Dark Age. And that is why Marvel Comics are confident enough to begin republication of the series in 2022, even though Buckingham is also busy on new Fables comic books with Bill Willingham, and Neil Gaiman has two television series on the go, with Sandman and Good Omens.
But as yesterday's Timeless #1 teaser revealed, Marvel Comics has more plans than just publishing the conclusion of the original plans for the series, when it was first published by Quality Communications in the eighties and then Eclipse Comics in the eighties and nineties. Miracleman will play a wider role in the Marvel Universe as a whole. This is not the first time this kind of thing happened, Miracleman also appeared in the Total Eclipse crossover series alongside everyone from Airboy to the cast of Beanworld. But there are two things we can draw from this.
The first is that, obviously, whatever new Miracleman that Marvel Comics publishes, Donny Cates will be writing it. He has made that desire of his very well known and may well be the reason he is still working for Marvel Comics, even as his creator-owned series gain huge traction at Image Comics, with TV and movies spinning off his work, and Substack funding much of it. Of late he has paid out huge sums of money for what he thought was original Miracleman work, and thrown references to Miracleman into his Crossover comic books.
The second is that someone, somewhere, is considering a movie. With the Marvel Studios splintering with the Multiverse, there is greater scope for Marvel Comics to tell stories separate from their usual line of continuity. And an adaptation of the original Alan Moore/Garry Leach/Alan Davis/Chuck Austen/Rick Veitch/John Totleben Marvelman/Miracleman run seems to be on the cards. Just cards for now, but the possibility is very real right now. And the people who need to sign off such a project are… let's say, they are thinking about it. A superhero story that changes the world, far more than any has ever been told on the screen before, the closest example may be something like Dollhouse, which has one small change in technology utterly remake the world around it into something so very different and unrecognisable. Maybe forty years after the comic was first published, that story may now be retold on a bigger screen that has only ever told smaller stories.
Miracleman, originally known as Marvelman, was a superhero comic book created by Mick Anglo for publisher L. Miller & Son in the UK in 1954, when they ran out of Captain Marvel strips to publish, when DC Comics won their legal case against Fawcett over trademark similarities to Superman. The series ran until 1963 and was revived by Dez Skinn's Warrior Magazine from Quality Communications in 1982, written by Alan Moore and initially drawn by Garry Leach and then Alan Davis. That story was then reprinted and continued by Eclipse Comics in the USA, renamed Miracleman, with artists Chuck Austen, Rick Veitch, and John Totleben, then continued further past its conclusion by Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham until Eclipse folded. What rights to Miracleman and Marvelman were in dispute and Todd McFarlane, who bought the assets of Eclipse planned to publish Miracleman comic books, which ended up in the courts. Marvel Comics was meant to have bought all possible rights, reprinted the previously published stories as well as classic stories from the fifties. Now, thirteen years after that purchase, Marvel will finally be finishing the story that began forty years ago.
Marvelman was originally a young reporter named Micky Moran who encounters an astrophysicist, who gives him superpowers based on atomic energy instead of magic. To transform into Marvelman, he speaks the word "Kimota", and was later joined by Dicky Dauntless, a teenage messenger boy who became Young Marvelman, and young Johnny Bates, who became Kid Marvelman; both of their magic words were "Marvelman".
In the first issue of Warrior Magazine, Michael Moran is presented as married, plagued by migraines, having dreams of flying, and unable to remember a word that had such significance in his dreams. In his initial run of Marvelman stories, Moore touches on many themes of his later work, including the superhero as a source of terror, the sympathetic villain, and exploring the mythology of an established fictional character. The earlier Marvelman stories were revealed to have been a fiction created by Dr Garguanza, to explain to Mike Moran why he had gained super powers, rather than the genetic experimentation inspired by alien contact. Eventually, the alien contact becomes the central plot of the series, after superhero battles of such a destructive nature that had never been seen in such stories before, and the world is remade as a result of such contact.
In August 1985, Eclipse began reprinting the Marvelman stories from Warrior, coloured, and re-sized. Gaiman and Buckingham picked up the series at #17, which was published in June 1990. Three volumes were planned, consisting of six issues each: The Golden Age, The Silver Age and The Dark Age. The Golden Age showed the world some years later: a utopia gradually being transformed by alien technologies, and benignly ruled by Miracleman and other parahumans, though he has nagging doubts about whether he has done the right thing by taking power. Gaiman's focus in The Golden Age is less the heroes themselves than the people who live in this new world, including a lonely man who becomes one of Miraclewoman's lovers, a former spy (whose tale recalls J.G. Ballard's short story War Fever), and several duplicates of Andy Warhol. Two issues of The Silver Age appeared, that sees Young Miracleman brought back to life, but Eclipse went bankrupt in 1994, ceasing publication of Miracleman with issue #24. Issue #25 was completed but never published.
Looks like 2022 will finally bring that, and the rest of Miracleman, to publication.