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In response to yesterday’s post, Earl asked:
“Out of curiosity, regarding Doom, do you have a favorite version of him from the various Marvel animated series?”
And to be honest…aside from my memories of watching a whole lot of the 1960s Spider-man cartoon, and some random installments of various series here and there over the decades, I really wasn’t much of a Marvel cartoon watcher. I have a vague memory of watching some animated version of Doom who spoke with a heavy accent, but I’m not sure what cartoon that may have been from, assuming I didn’t just cook that up myself in this aging brain of mine. The end result is that I don’t really recall enough about any of these cartoons to be able to pick out a fave Doom.
Earl suggested the Dr. Doom from the 1960s Fantastic Four cartoon [EDIT: um, Earl actually said the Doom from the 1970s FF cartoon – oops, my brain apparently needs new batteries], and having taken a brief look at a sample:
…why, he’s adorable
! That’s some voice he’s got, so watch enough of the video I linked there to experience it yourself.
Other comments from yesterday: esteemed longtime reader G23 suggests that maybe they should just stop trying to do a live action FF altogether, and while I understand the frustration, I’d hate to not see one at all. Now, I realize a live action FF wouldn’t add anything to the comics, wouldn’t improve the overall state of culture, wouldn’t cure the common cold, etc. and so on, but boy I’d like to see one anyway, and I don’t think it’s so insurmountable a task that it can’t be done. I know it’s fanboyish wishful thinking, but it’s so fundamentally a part of the artform I’ve devoted most of my life to, I’d hate that the world at large wouldn’t get to experience at least some portion as to why we all like the FF so much. In fairness, though there was a lot they didn’t get right, at least those two previous Fantastic Four movies managed to do a good job with Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew. The Thing, as I have noted before, is one of those creations that is so strong on its own that its basic essence can survive even the worst circumstances, though I understand the new film puts even that to the test.
Anyway, I think a good FF film isn’t impossible. It’ll probably just take a little more understanding about what made the original comics work, and a little less fixing it ’til it’s broken.
Another longtime commenter Jer notes that the problem with getting a Dr. Doom that’s like the Dr. Doom in the comics comes down to basic Hollywood blockbuster film-making. Everything’s gotta tie together, that gun in Act One better shoot something in Act Three, an’ all that. The trend — and Jer lists several examples — is that the villain is inextricably tied to the hero’s origin. And, in a way, the Doom of the comics is tied to the heroes…specifically, to his old college roommate Reed Richards, who tried to warn him about his experiments, and, well, you get the picture. But that’s probably not dynamic enough for a Big Moving Talkie, so we get the Doom who’s caught in the same accident as the rest of the FF and thus also gets superpowers.
Now arguably, one could say that there’s no such connection between the film versions of Superman and Lex Luthor, or between Nolan’s version of Batman and the Joker. But even without an origin/plot connection, there’s a thematic connection: brain versus brawn, order versus chaos. I suppose Reed Vs. Doom could be “science for good vs. science for evil,” but that’s not quite as basic a thematic struggle on which to hang your superhero movie, I guess.
At any rate, we’re probably some ways away from the next attempt at the World’s Greatest Comics Magazine That Hasn’t Quite Managed A Great Movie Yet, but I hear tell the final battle in the new film actually approaches the FF we know. Maybe, on the very slim chance the planned sequel actually happens, we can get past this rough set-up and get down to the business of punching Galactus and tangling with the Impossible Man, as God, and Stan and Jack, intended.
• • •
In other news, someone asked Neil Gaiman on the Twitterers
how many new issues he and Mark Buckingham were going to produce to wrap up his Miracleman story, and the answer was “about nine.” The reprints for the previously-issued Gaiman and Buckingham comics are about to start up, so we’re that much closer to seeing some decades-old plot threads finally getting resolved. Barring any more production errors
, of course.
UPDATE TO THE UPDATE TO THE UPDATE (1/9/15): Newsarama just ran an article on the situation that cites me, including the extra bit of info that I didn’t mention here, that the missing text will be sent to retailers, somehow. (I talked about that on my Twitter account, but wasn’t yet clear on how the text was going to be distributed.)
UPDATE TO THE UPDATE (1/8/15): Apparently there was a miscommunication somewhere, as replacements aren’t on their way, since Marvel has opted not to replace this issue with a corrected edition. Digital copies have apparently been fixed, however, and it will be corrected in the eventual hardcover/paperback collections. …Well, it was nice selling the print editions of the individual comics while it lasted.
UPDATE: I’ve been informed by Diamond that replacement copies are on the way, with the error corrected.
(ORIGINAL POST FROM 1/7/15 FOLLOWS:)
Well, hopefully Marvel will be going back to print on Miracleman #14 to release corrected editions, because certain word balloons on page 15 that originally looked like this in the original 1988 Eclipse comic:
…now look like this in the Marvel reprint out this week:
…though you can read the dialogue from those balloons on the original artwork pages in the comic’s backmatter:
It wasn’t just that panel; all the black word balloons on that page lost their lettering. Well, not “lost,” exactly…at first glance I thought the balloons were entirely
black, but upon looking at the scans I can see the lettering is there, just miscolored to the point of illegibility.
Now, mistakes happen, I know, and I realize 1) it’s going to cost a lot, and 2) it’ll suck for everyone involved to bite the bullet on this, but I really do hope Marvel does fix this error with a new printing of the comic. After going through all this trouble to get this material back into the marketplace, it would be a shame to have something like this mar the rerelease. Maybe they can save a few cents by not polybagging the corrected version.
So reader Chris asked in response to Wednesday’s post:
“I’ve found myself doing double takes recently a couple of times in local comics shops, not so much because I think that certain items shouldn’t be sold, but because I question how they are shelved/displayed in a way that seems to draw kids’ attention. Once was on Free Comic Book Day when a copy of a ‘Hentai Hotties’ anime DVD was on display right behind the artists doing sketches for kids. Ahem. The other was when I saw the Image ‘Sex’ title shelved on a low shelf (eye-level for 6-7 year olds, probably), adjacent to all the superhero shenanigans books, with no signage or indication that you might be veering into less family-friendly waters. Just seemed to be inviting trouble, somehow, or at least some unexpected conversations for an unwitting parent.
Which makes me wonder, Mike–how *do* you display the more adult-themed titles you sell? Am I being overly cautious in my concerns?”
A while back I did briefly discuss new comics racking, but I didn’t specifically address what we did with the more explicit, very adults-only titles.
For the adult-y titles like Image’s Sex, or Marvel and DC’s adult imprints Icon and Vertigo, I keep those on the top shelf, out of the reach of the yung’uns, with tags on the shelf stating “hey, this is the 18+ section.” In the indie books section (again, see this post for a brief description of our screwy but still operable set-up), where the subject matter generally skews a little higher, the more adult-ish titles will be racked alphabetically with the rest. If the content is a bit much to where I really wouldn’t want any younger patrons to be exposed to it (like, say, Tarot) we’ll bag up the comic with an “18+” sticker on the front cover. Not so sealed that an adult-type person couldn’t pop it open and briefly browse it for a purchasing decision (ideally), but sealed enough that we’ll notice if someone’s breaking the seal. And, hopefully, sealed enough so that any concerned citizens worried about this material can see we’re making some attempt at controlling access. (‘Course, if they’re really that concerned, just having anything naughty in the shop is enough to bring out the torches and pitchfolks, but that’s a discussion for another day.)
There are some instance where the covers on the comics are just a little much, and not something I’d particularly want on display to shock the sensibilities for the overly sensitive and the youthfully impressionable. I don’t use these very often, but occasionally I’ll need to bust out the “privacy bags” that Diamond has available, that black out most of the cover while keeping the logo visible, to protect the casual customer from the hideous filth and carnality presented for all to see:
Now, for the titles that are just straight-up porn, I’ve got the secret naughty box that I keep on a counter with all those comics, sealed in the privacy bags and monitored. Not that “straight-up porn” comics are quite the deal they were back in the ’90s, when smutty funnybooks were all the rage, but there are still a few being unleashed on the market once in a while and I need a place to put them that isn’t next to Wolverine
, or even Tarot
• • •
That Caleb guy asks:
“How different is [the birth of Miraclebaby] than the image of Prince Robot’s son being born in a recent issue of SAGA (other than being a human birth, instead of a gray-skinned, blue-fluid-filled royal robot birth, of course)…?”
Well, that’s probably the main difference…I haven’t seen the Saga sequence, so I don’t know if it was as anatomically explicit as the Miracleman scene, and having that extra…layer of separation, I guess, of being in a sci-fi setting with non-humans? That might have been enough. Plus, this wasn’t out of character for Saga as far as I know, whereas Miracleman up to that point had been a slightly more violent than average superhero comic with no distributor-disturbing gynecological details. And then there’s the fact that the threat of “LOOK AT WHAT YOUR KIDS ARE READING!” news stories doesn’t loom quite as large over the industry’s consciousness now as it did back then, so folks aren’t quite as uptight over content as they used to be.
Like I said in my last post, there’s still some worry out there, otherwise Marvel wouldn’t have started bagging Miracleman months ago in preparation for this issue.• • •
Alan writes about the seeming lack of coverage over Marvel’s rerelease of Miracleman, which does seem a bit peculiar at least from the perspective of old fans of this material (like Alan and myself). In my head, I’m thinking “hey, this is Miracleman! It’s been out of print for ages! This is where all the ‘dark ‘n’ serious’ superhero comics you’re reading now come from! YOU SHOULD BE BUYING THIS!”
Part of the problem is the botched release of this material, coming out in dribs and drabs in an overpriced package stuffed with extra material most readers don’t care about, and in some cases (cough the classic Marvelman stories cough) openly resent. Yes, the hardcover collections are nice, but their sales aren’t a patch on the single issues. That may very well have turned off any folks who were likely to have discussed this series.
There’s also the fact that this project is maybe just a little too late…Alan Moore isn’t the red-hot comics star he once was (yes, his name’s not on the current comic anyway, but everyone who cares knows he wrote these), Miracleman is a forgotten obscurity, and a lot of people who were reading comics back when it was coming out are likely no longer buying comics. It’s a lot smaller marketplace now than in the ’80s and early ’90s, it should go without saying.
I suspect that as we approach the release of new Miracleman material, especially given that it’ll be written by Neil Gaiman, who arguably still has more cachet in the current industry than Moore, we’ll see increased discussion of this project. Or maybe when we get to the John Totleben-illustrated run that wraps up Moore’s tenure, which is gorgeous and I hope for good things with its reprinting, people’s minds will be sufficiently blown to ramp up interest.
Of course, it may be as simple as no one having much more to say “oh, hey, another Miracleman reprint is out,” which is a shame. Maybe once it’s complete, assuming it will be completed, we’ll see more new discussion about its overall impact on comics. Maybe I should be discussing it more, outside of retailing concerns. I am not unaware that I’m part of the problem. Outside of some facile, jokey commentary I don’t do a whole lot of comics reviewing or essaying in regards to content. I’m generally more focused on the business side of things, when I decide to peer more closely at something in my meanderings here. For a while there I was attempting semi-regular reviews of selected weekly releases, though I’ve fallen out of the habit. I should fall back in, I think, and include Miracleman in those overviews. It really is an excellent comic, and deserving of your attention, despite those formatting barriers seemingly designed to keep you away.
Quite a while ago I came across a couple of mid-1980s distributor memos to retailers in regards to the release of Miracleman #9, a comic that contained explicit scenes of childbirth. Given that today is the release of Marvel’s reprint of said comic, I thought I’d present them here, in slightly redacted form, to give you a bit of a historical perspective on this comic’s initial release. Some very telling details in here about the sort of things the industry was worried about at the time, and an interesting footnote in the then-raging debate about comics content-labeling and ratings systems:
Clearly this didn’t sit well with certain concerned parties, resulting in this follow-up memo:
Of course, this particular distributor wasn’t alone, in that Diamond Comics also had some objections
to the book.
In my particular case, I was still at the time just barely a minor, but “just barely” is still “not old enough,” given that the local funnybook store did indeed restrict sales of Miracleman #9 to adults. But, unlike as is implied in the first memo, my dad did come with me to buy comics, so I was able to purchase said issue. Actually, I had to come back with my dad, since I wasn’t allowed to buy it during my first visit that week. Imagine having to wait so long for a new issue of Miracleman to come out, particularly since the previous issue was a fill-in containing 1950s reprints, only to be told “sorry, kid, gotta be this tall to get on the ride.”
Not complaining, mind you. There was a feeling of “they’re coming to get us!” prevalent at the time, as the industry’s rising visibility from high-profile projects like Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns eventually increased the number of “do you know what your kids are reading?” exposés from people eager to blame problems on easy targets (cf. rock ‘n’ roll, video games, short skirts, fire, the wheel) and folks were just straight up afraid. A little precaution, such as the shop restricting sales on MM #9 to adults, wasn’t out of line. I still do so at the shop if necessary now that I’m the dude making the decisions, though to be honest it’s rarely a problem. Kids aren’t looking for Avatar books, by and large, so I’m not bagging and tagging them “ADULTS ONLY” and pasting them to the wall. (Though, frankly, most issues of Crossed make that birth issue of Miracleman look like Richie Rich.)
The Avatar comparison isn’t exactly analogous, of course. It’s not like all the previous issues of Crossed were all ages or rated Teen Plus or whatever and then suddenly here’s an issue with pages of close-ups of [REDACTED] being jammed into [REDACTED] while cascades of [REDACTED] pour out of [REDACTED]. It’s more like, I don’t know, here’s a new run of Spider-Man and then suddenly issue #10 is the all Topless Mary Jane issue. Or something. You know what I mean. But it’s funny, and certainly clichéd to point out, that the violence in the previous issues didn’t warrant all this fretting, but the non-violent birth scenes did. The contrast of that violence with this birth is the very point of the story:
And yes, it’s easy in hindsight to sort of mock the reactions (or overreactions) from distributors at the time, especially since, as far as I can recall, there wasn’t much or any (or at least any widespread) objection to Miracleman
#9 from “the real world” back then. Of course, there’s still some
worry, now as then, otherwise Marvel wouldn’t have started polybagging their reprints months ago to keep this specific issue from standing out as anything special, no need to look, nothing to see here, officer. But if this were a perfect world, a comic book legal defense fund
wouldn’t need to exist.
So basically I just went ahead and did Marvel’s job for them, trying to at least try
to get new readers to give this Miracleman
release a shot, by offering the ridiculously-priced $5.99
debut issue at a significant discount at our shop. We’re not going to sell future issues if we can’t get people to at least pick up this first one, so it’s in our interest to get customers looking at this book any way we can. I’ve written before
about how a six-freaking-dollar first issue is a hurdle too high for casual readers who might have a slight interest in this 25-year-old comic book story they’d heard about, starring a character they don’t know. As it was, even with
the discounting, it’s been a bit of an uphill battle to move copies.
It’s only been a day or so since it’s come out, so I suppose it’s really too soon to judge for sure, but sales out of the gate have been…okay, not great, with some purchases of the book only coming after extended discussions attempting to explain the history and significance of the comics. And emphasizing the discounted price!
…And, of course, mentioning the writers. “The Original Writer” sobriquet that replaces Alan Moore’s credit in the advertising and the solicitation information does appear in the book, on the inside front cover, despite my initial impression it wasn’t there at all, that Marvel just eschewed creator credits altogether. But nope, there it is, white on black, right there next to “ARTIST: GARRY LEACH.” Yeah, it looks dumb, but what can you do. I suppose “WRITER: A.M.” or “MR. M.” or “JILL DE RAY” were out of the question.
Anyway, I had to handsell the books using Alan Moore’s name on my own, since Marvel wasn’t permitted to identify him properly, though most folks at the shop already seemed to realize that Moore was involved with this particular project. Not so well known, apparently, was the fact that Neil Gaiman stories would eventually appear in the series, culminating in never-before-published new installments by Gaiman and artist Mark Buckingham. That particular tidbit appeared to tip over a number of people to the side of forking over a few dollars to try out this oddball comic.
I’ve also been hearing here and there that some digital editions of this comic feature some mild editing: a fairly innocuous bare bottom is covered up, Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking-style. All I can tell you is that when the “birth” story comes around, those digital funnybook sellers are going to have to blank out whole panels on several pages. Good luck with that! (The print comic, at least this first issue, is not similarly censored. The butts run free!)
As to the comic itself: the remastering of the original pages was done quite nicely, I have to admit. The coloring is very bright and clear, certainly better than the somewhat murky reproduction in the Eclipse Comics editions. (The glossy white pages help!) The new lettering is well done, too, and I haven’t noticed any egregious typos just yet, which frequently has been a problem in other reprint projects requiring relettering. I hope the quality in that particular area stays high, because nothing really takes me out of the reading experience like a misused “it’s.”
There’s an enormous amount of padding, filling out the book from what should have been a more reasonable $3.99 32-page experience to a $5.99 64-pager containing material that you may or may not have any interest in, and could have easily been spaced out as back-ups in subsequent issues. All the first issue really needed was that history of Marvelman textpiece, and, okay, maybe the pullquotes from that interview with MM creator Mick Anglo, only squeezed down to a couple of pages.
The black and white reprints of three “classic” MM stories from the 1950s are excessive, given that we already have the redialogued “Invaders from the Future” story from about the same time period serving as the contrasting prologue for Moore ‘n’ Leach’s Miracleman story. The original MM stories presented here are…well, rough going for modern readers, to put it kindly, and eating up pages with these adventures isn’t exactly adding to the book’s perceived value. There are some good — well, at least good-ish — classic MM stories, but boy, these three aren’t it.
Future issues appear to contain more Miracleman content and less other stuff, and at the slightly cheaper but still not-great price of $4.99, so hopefully the price/content ratio will be more favorable to sales. Assuming, of course, enough people give the first issue a try.
Again, to repeat a point I’ve made on this site, I want this project to be a success. Not just out of the selfish desire to finally read the conclusion to this story I’ve been anticipating for decades — well, okay, mostly that — but because it is a great comic and one of the recent seemingly-lost treasures of the industry. It’s a comic series that deserves to be available and in print, even if the eventual collected editions are in the hands of the ever-mercurial Marvel graphic novel department. At the very least we’ll get a new run of trades reprinting Miracleman that, once they fall out of print, may go for slightly less on eBay versus the sometimes-crazypants prices the Eclipse volumes command. But perhaps I’m being cynical.
• • •
Slightly related: Employee Aaron brought in a V for Vendetta action figure, still in the package, that he said he purchased at our shop years ago. I absolutely cannot, for the life of me, remember selling these figures. I may learn a lesson from that, should I mistakenly think about it too closely.
And lo, there were solicits for the Miracleman revival:
MIRACLEMAN #1 & 2
THE ORIGINAL WRITER & MICK ANGLO (W)
GARRY LEACH, ALAN DAVIS, PAUL NEARY, STEVE DILLON & MICK ANGLO (A)
ISSUE #1 – COVER BY JOE QUESADA
Variant COVER BY JOHN CASSADAY
Variant COVER BY MARK BUCKINGHAM
Variant COVER BY JEROME OPENA
Variant COVER BY LEINIL FRANCIS YU
Sketch VARIANT BY JOE QUESADA
YOUNG VARIANT BY SKOTTIE YOUNG
CLASSIC VARIANT BY GARRY LEACH
ISSUE #2 – COVER BY ALAN DAVIS
Variant COVER BY ARTHUR ADAMS
Variant COVER BY MIKE PERKINS
Variant COVER BY MIKE MCKONE
Sketch VARIANT BY ALAN DAVIS
• KIMOTA! With one magic word, a long-forgotten legend lives again!
• Freelance reporter Michael Moran always knew he was meant for something more — now, a strange series of events leads him to reclaim his destiny!
• Relive the ground-breaking eighties adventures that captured lightning in a bottle — or experience them for the first time — in these digitally restored, fully relettered editions!
• Issue 1 includes material originally presented in WARRIOR #1 and MIRACLEMAN #1, plus the MARVELMAN PRIMER. Issue #2 includes material originally presented in WARRIOR #1-5, plus bonus material.
ISSUE #1 – 64 PGS./Parental Advisory…$5.99
ISSUE #2 – 48 PGS./Parental Advisory…$4.99
First off…holy crow, that’s a lotta variants.
Second, since Steve Dillon is mentioned as one of the included contributors, I think that means we are getting that previously-unreprinted story from Warrior #4.
Third, “The Original Writer” is what they’ll be calling Alan Moore on this, since Marvel is following Moore’s wishes not to associate his name with the work, I guess. There goes a major selling point to the uninitiated (though I imagine any comic fans with interest in this material pretty much already know).
Fourth…well, it looks like Marvel is depending on the reputation of the material to sell the books, what with a $5.99 debut issue that, if I’m interpreting things correctly, includes the redialogued classic Marvelman story that began the Eclipse Comics MM #1, the initial 8-page installment of Moore and Leach’s revival from Warrior, and your second chance to not read all that stuff from the Miracleman Primer you didn’t read in the first place. So, like, 18 pages of comics, and 46 pages of other stuff if, again, I’m understanding correctly. And I’m guessing the “material from Warrior #1” business in issue #2 is a typo, since there ain’t that much MM stuff in Warrior #1 to begin with, unless they’re splitting an 8-page story across two issues of reprints.
At a $5.99 price point, that’s basically telling the reader who may have a casual interest to not bother. Modern comic fans aren’t necessarily going to dive into this long-unavailable comic simply because the names Moore and Gaiman are attached. (Well, not attached, in Moore’s case, but no media coverage of this comic is not going to mention him.) No matter how special and in how high of regard old fanboys like me who originally bought these comics way back when hold them, it’s still reprints of decades-old comics starring a superhero nobody’s heard of and featuring storytelling tropes that everyone’s seen by now and really why should I, a young, hip comic book reader who follows all two dozen Avengers titles done in the cool modern styles of today, bother to read this old thing just because Grandpa read it and liked it?
I exaggerate, but only a bit. I’ve already seen people expressing disinterest, folks who once enjoyed Moore’s and Gaiman’s work, now no longer so enthused about their output for whatever reasons. And I’ve seen people who might have tried out the comic decide to pass at the proffered price points, particularly since it seems these will be coming out at a more-than-monthly pace given the dual solicitation in a single month’s catalog. I would have loved to see an introductory issue at the promotional $1.00 price point — just comics, with maybe a minimal historical text piece, all killer, no filler — that could have grabbed a much larger base readership. A base that, having been exposed to the material, may be far more willing to follow along with the series at $3.99 per subsequent installment.
But instead we have $5.99 on #1, effectively capping the potential audience. There are the completists who’ll buy it regardless. There are the people who have genuine desire to finally own this material after hearing about it all these years. And there may even be some people who, despite Marvel’s best efforts to dissuade them, will pick up the first issue anyway out of curiosity. And those initial sales numbers will dwindle as the series progresses, until finally bumping up again as the new material finally appears in the series and all the original old Miracleman fans return to the book after previously having given up on rebuying comics they already owned.
I hope I’m wrong. I hope they do sell well. I love the old Eclipse Miracleman comics. I reread them every once in a while and they’re still as entertaining and fascinating to me now as they were when I first experienced them. And I’m really, genuinely happy that Miracleman will soon be available again for everyone to read. I’m simply hoping the strength and beauty, the joy and wonder, of the material can overcome the initial hobbling of its presentation.
Anyway, I’m sure these will eventually make a nice series of hardcovers. Assuming they don’t blow this “relettering” they keep ballyhooing.
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.
image from Warrior #9 (January 1983) by Alan Moore and Alan Davis
images from Abbott & Costello #3 (1968) & Miracleman #1 (1985)
This black and white British magazine fits early into Alan Moore’s Marvelman/Miracleman continuity, after the events in “Zarathustra” (from Warrior
#11, reprinted in Miracleman
#3). A four page wraparound story, by Moore and Alan Davis, shows a two-man clean-up crew moving in to tidy up a secret government installation devastated by some Marvelman-created mayhem, and discovering a library of videotapes:
We then get a handful of original 1950s Marvelman stories from Mick Anglo’s studio, including “Invaders from the Future,” a rescripted version of which was used in Eclipse Comics’ Miracleman
#1 (providing an innocent contrast to the grim ‘n’ gritty revamp that followed, as well as simply introducing the character to an audience that may not have been familiar with it). In the context of the Moore’s modernization of the character, these are some of the falsified adventures used as “programming” for Marvelman and his superpowered compatriots.
Rounding out the mag is a story starring the more-lighthearted Big Ben character, which is also presented as a video being watched by the cleaning crew.
Eclipse Comics did reprint this special (sans the Big Ben story) as the Miracleman 3-D Special in 1985.
I acquired this particular magazine shortly after the launch of Eclipse’s Miracleman comic, as it had been sitting on the shelf at the comic store for several months and, being quite taken with the comic and character, finally decided I needed to have it. It’s been 25 years, so I don’t remember the exact timing, but I think I may have bought and read the magazine before the Eclipse reprints reached that point in continuity. It must have been a tantalizing glimpse of events yet to come, if in fact that was when I bought it. I do remember that owning this magazine is the reason I never bought the Miracleman 3-D Special, since, hey, I already had it, and didn’t need to wear the special glasses to read it.
Speaking of glimpses of things yet to come:
#4 contains the story “The Yesterday Gambit,” which is unique in that it’s the only Alan Moore Marvelman
story not (yet?) reprinted in the U.S. Also, it takes place much
later in Marvelman continuity, hinting at events that wouldn’t arrive in the Marvelman storyline for a few years to come. In fact, the original Marvelman
run in Warrior
would never reach that point…it wouldn’t until Eclipse Comics finished reprinting UK-published material and started running first run work created by Moore and his collaborators. Specifically, “The Yesterday Gambit” takes place during the events of issue #15, published in 1988. However, instead of reprinting the original story, Moore and artist John Totleben take a handful of panels to essentially retell that adventure’s events.
The story itself is about Marvelman and a Warpsmith (a teleporting alien) traveling through time and trying to find sufficient energy and power for their final battle against a reawakened and totally evil Kid Marvelman. This is where the “tantalizing glimpse” aspect of the story comes in, because if I’ve figured the timing right, this story basically interrupted the adventure in progress from previous issues of Warrior…which just happened to be Marvelman’s first clash with the corrupt Kid Marvelman.
In essence, Marvelman clashes with past versions of himself, which allows the Warpsmith to gather the energy from those battles to bring back with them to the Kid Marvelman battle in the future. You know, writing it all out like this sounds completely convoluted and just a little nuts, but it all works in context, I swear. Anyhoo, one battle is drawn by Paul Neary, the other by Alan Davis (his initial work on the character), and the framing sequence for the whole thing is by Steve Dillon. Here’s a panel from the end of the story by Dillon, where Marvelman and the Warpsmith have returned to their own time to resume the Kid Marvelman battle:
And the story ends right after that, leaving the fans hanging for six years. And you folks who read Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk
thought you had it bad
. Well, you did
, but not for reasons of delay. Er, anyway.
I didn’t buy Warrior #4 in the shop…I wasn’t even aware* that there was an unreprinted Moore Marvelman story until relatively recently, so I had to depend on the eBay to bring it to me. And I’m not bothering with the usual Amazon links on this, since I didn’t find Warrior after spending, oh, a whole 30 seconds looking for it, and the Special is under a handful of different names at prices ranging from $35 to (egads) $90. I paid $2 for mine, which is probably about right. And if you have to have the story, the U.S. 3D version should be relatively inexpensive. Oh, and I paid around $9, including shipping, for the Warrior mag, in case you’re wondering. And I know you are!
* Or perhaps forgotten, because now that I think about it, it may have come up in the letters page at some point, and I’d just forgotten about it as the years passed and Miracleman remained a defunct title out of sight, out of mind.
Just thinking about that for some reason.
So, anyway, some bits of business from San Diego:
- As you’ve probably heard, Marvel Comics has acquired the publishing rights to Marvelman, which is kind of a big deal considering the convoluted ownership history of the character. Steve Bissette has a great run-down of just how much of a mess that history is. As Steve says, and as Alan Doane noted in that post of his I linked yesterday, this deal may not necessarily guarantee the release of what everyone actually wants: the Marvelman revival material from the ’80s (released as Miracleman by Eclipse Comics). Mark Buckingham, the series’ last artist, seems pretty upbeat about it, so we’ll see. I’m presuming Marvel didn’t go through the trouble just to have more 1950s material to put into expensive hardcover editions. Now wouldn’t that be a bit of ironic repeating of history? It would be like what happened with Miracleman #8 (where we waited what seemed like forever for the next chapter of the story, and got reprints instead), writ large.
Anyway, what I wanted to mention was some of the online reaction to the news, a lot of which was along the lines of “so what?” “Who cares?” Or my favorite, “Yawn.” I don’t know, I think the possibility of the return to print of early comics work by Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman is kind of a big deal. Particularly a work as influential and as highly-regarded as Marvelman (which, I swear to God, I still keep calling Miracleman when I talk about this news at the shop, and keep wanting to type that name here as well). And, as Mr. Bissette mentioned, that John Totleben’s artistic tour-de-force that accompanied Moore’s final storyline is out of print is a damned shame.
Should also note that Marvel wasted no time, in that they’re already selling the “MM” t-shirts in their online store, and soliciting orders for a Joe Quesada-drawn poster.
- DC Comics has apparently nailed down the publishing rights to the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, which had its own ownership rights issues throughout the ’80s, when it seemed like a half-dozen different companies all tried to claim the property. Kind of curious how the current audience will respond to these characters. Marvelman, at least the ’80s version, features Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, which would help sell those comics to a modern audience. The appeal of the original T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents is that they were of outstanding quality, with work by many an amazing artist (Wally Wood, Russ Heath, Steve Ditko, many more). And it didn’t hurt that there weren’t too many ofthem, so they were relatively easy to collect. For most fans today (unless they’re old enough to have nostalgia for the originals, or they’ve picked up on the characters via back issue collecting, or they encountered them during the various ’80s revivals), introducing these characters outside of the context of those original comics would just mean “hey, look, more guys in costumes.”
I suspect DC already realizes that (given that they plan to reintroduce the characters in other DC Universe books) but I’m still curious how it’ll play out.
- The biggest news from the convention, however, is Fantagraphics announcing the Complete Bushmiller NANCY reprint project. Judging by the number of people who’ve left comments about it on my site, e-mailed me, or even linked to me in their own announcements about the project, folks are assuming that I would be happy about this turn of events.
My response was pretty much exactly like that, only I was wearing a shorter skirt.
- A couple more collections of Flickr pics from San Diego: Kevin Church brings the black and white, and pal Dana is cosplay ahoy! in her photos: here she is totally ready to exterminate you.
- So enough about the San Diego convention…it’s now all about Bully Con 2009!
In more commercial news, that new Green Lantern: First Flight
animated DVD is out today, and if you plan on buying it, how ’bout using one of these links:
Green Lantern: First Flight (Two-Disc Special Edition)
Green Lantern: First Flight (+ Digital Copy) [Blu-ray]
Green Lantern: First Flight (Single-Disc Edition)
…and help a pal out? I’ll get a smidgen of coinage from each purchase via those links, and every little bit helps. Thanks! (I should be viewing a copy soon, so hopefully I’ll have some kind of review up eventually.)