As I briefly mentioned the other day, and I’m sure you’ve already had your fill of news about, Miracleman is finally returning to print next year, eventually culminating in unpublished and new work by Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham, who are going to continue from where they left off. The initial reports were a bit vague on what exactly was going to be reprinted, resulting in some necessary clarification: they are going to start the reprints with Alan Moore and Garry Leach’s initial revival of the character from the early issues of Warrior, as reprinted by Eclipse in the 1980s.
That of course means those of us who’ve been waiting…hold on, let me look it up…oh Good Lord, since mid-1993 for a follow-up to that bit of a cliffhanger Neil ‘n’ Mark left us on in #24 are going to have to wait a little while longer to see how that all plays out.
Despite my wishful thinking on the Twitterers:
…it looks like we’re getting these Miracleman comics doled out to us on a periodical basis, each issue containing some kind of new content so sad old MM completists like me will probably buy them all despite already having the originals because we’re suckers. And hopefully it’ll sell well enough from the get-go to eventually make it to the promised new material, as I suspect there may be some cases of newcomers to the work going “pfffft THIS is what all the excitement’s about?” because they’ve been reading ripoffs and retreads of these stories for the last twenty years and now it’s all old hat to them.
On the other hand, maybe it won’t take that long to get through all the old stuff to reach the new stuff since, as I noted at the end of this post, Marvel ain’t shy about turning the faucets open all the way and flooding the shelves as quickly as they’re able with successive issues of any given series. So, 24 reprint issues before getting new Miracleman? Eh, ten, eleven months, tops.
Okay, technically 23 issues, since Eclipse’s #8 was a reprint issue, though with some new pin-ups and a brief framing sequence drawn by Chuck Austen (AKA Chuck Beckum). But then again, they could speed up the process by printing more stories per issue…the first seven issues of the Miracleman series featured stories told in 6 to 8 page chapters, mostly reprinted from the UK magazine Warrior (though some of the later chapters were drawn new from scripts that never made it into that magazine). And some of the follow-up “full-length” installments were only 16 pages long. I don’t know how economically feasible it is to put out a regular series of 48-pagers in order to squeeze in more material, nor do I think readers are going to want to pay the inevitable $4.99 to $6.99 per issue in order to subsidize the printing costs simply because I, your pal Mike, wants to get his filthy, filthy mitts on new Miracleman comics right this very second. I’ve seen it mentioned that the first issue includes material from Alan Davis, who didn’t start on the feature ’til its sixth chapter (which was reprinted in Eclipse MM #2) so maybe we are getting more miraclebang per buck in each issue. We’ll see.
Most likely Marvel will stretch things out best as they’re able, and there are a handful of shorter Miracleman-related stories to round out any 32-page format comics containing just one 16-page main story. Maybe we’ll even get that bit of business from Warrior #4 that never made it to the States. And of course there’s that “new material” and interviews and such that Marvel noted in their press releases that will probably fill up any shortfall in any given issue. They also mention “the stories are being completely relettered to meet today’s standards,” which gives me the twitchy eyeball, as I recall certain other publishers relettering some high-profile reprint projects and introducing a whole new world of lovely typos and spelling errors into some classic material. Here’s hoping there’s no editing-by-spellcheck goin’ on this time.
I do like the idea that they’re keeping the “Miracleman” name for this particular story started by Moore and (presumably) to be ended by Gaiman. I had assumed that the name change (originally necessitated by a U.S. publisher that wasn’t Marvel Comics reprinting the material) would be reversed now that Marvel does have the work under its banner, but it looks like they’re keeping the Miracleman name for this project, and “Marvelman” for when he’s in the actual Marvel Universe and joins the Thunderbolts or whatever. And I think that’s fine. It was pretty well known at the time that Eclipse had to change the character’s name to keep Marvel happy, but I came to know the feature as Miracleman, and it would feel strange to pick up the story again with his name changed back. Just one of those funny fanboy quirks, I know. Hey, I’m allowed one or two of those.
Of course, the Miracleman name could be a problem, too, if the publisher of this comic ever turns up with some ceasing-and-desisting.