“Sit down. I’ll make some coffee.”
For a good long while you would have been able to consider Miracleman a lost masterpiece.
Tied up in defunct publishers and rights issues, you had to scour back issue bins and online auction sites for issues. The original Warrior chapters can fetch a pretty penny, but the Eclipse series (aside from #15 in my experience) could be had at a price most collectors of Alan Moore‘s work wouldn’t balk at. Though it would leave out the average person who just wanted to read the story. Thankfully deals were worked out, a lawsuit was spawned, rights were assigned, and an amicable solution was reached with Marvel republishing the old comics and giving a space for Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham to finish their work on the series.
You may have heard of the graphic birth issue. You’ve probably been informed of the “Olympus” arc and what happens when deranged beings with superpowers really lay waste to society. Before all that, it began, though, with a reimagining of Captain Marvel with the serial numbers filed off in Miracleman – Book One: A Dream of Flying by Alan Moore, Garry Leach, Alan Davis, Steve Oliff, Chris Eliopoulos, and Joe Caramagna (with a prologue of the original Marvelman stories by Mick Anglo and Don Lawrence).
The story follows a similar track as what Moore uses in Swamp Thing and Watchmen. At one turn revealing a radically different core to the truth of the character and interpreting four-colour superheroic fantasy through a “realistic” lens. The latter through a nightmarish filter even more than the ridiculousness of Watchmen. Mike Moran comes to realization in the early ’80s that he was ’50s hero Miracleman, finds out everything that he knew was wrong, and that one of his kid sidekicks became a murderous, completely unhinged, businessman.
The artwork is stunning as you’d expect from Garry Leach and Alan Davis. Leach sadly passed away earlier this year. I think it’s a shame that he didn’t receive more accolades among a larger group of people. His style is in the same vein as Dave Gibbons and Alan Davis, with perhaps a greater sense of realism and a beautiful touch of hatching and cross-hatching that adds great depth to his work. He’s perhaps more known for his inking, particularly over John McCrea on Hitman and Chris Weston on The Twelve, which makes some of the middle chapters of this, where he inks over Alan Davis, particularly interesting to see. It’s a nice blend of the two artists’ styles and a great transition for when Davis takes over full line art duties. Davis’ art being the gorgeous, rounded exaggerations full of verve and energy that you’d expect, tempered with a bit of darkness suiting the more grim tone of this series.
The recolouring and re-lettering for the Marvel editions is very well done for these early issues. Steve Oliff very nicely updates the colours for modern paper and printing processes. There was a lot of yellow and purple in Ron Courtney’s original colours that has been changed here to more modern hues and tones. I think that in terms of preservation of the original look it ignores that, but I’d argue it makes the overall artwork more palatable to modern audiences reading it for the first time. Oliff’s colours are also a wee bit more consistent across all chapters, but I think that originally also might have just been printing and aging concerns (my copy of the Eclipse issue #3 is rather muddy and washed out, but I think that’s just age).
Likewise Chris Eliopoulos and Joe Caramagna update, but mostly conserve, the feel and design of G. George’s letters from the original. There’s been colour added to some of the dialogue boxes in early chapters, but it keeps it consistent with what came in later ones. Overall, it maintains the layout and design of the original.
Miracleman – Book One: A Dream of Flying from Moore, Leach, Davis, Oliff, Eliopoulos, and Caramagna (with Anglo & Lawrence) is an interesting contemporary companion to Moore’s ’80s work. It plays with the same themes of superheroes gone wrong, government overreach, and searching for the truth in faded nostalgia as much of his work of that era. I think it’s wonderful that new editions exist so that new audiences can find this work.
CLASSIC COMIC COMPENDIUM: Miracleman Book One
Miracleman – Book One: A Dream of Flying
Writers: The Original Writer (Alan Moore) & Mick Anglo
Artists: Garry Leach, Alan Davis, & Don Lawrence
Colourist: Steve Oliff
Letterers: Chris Eliopoulos & Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics
KIMOTA! With one magic word, a long-forgotten legend lives again! Freelance reporter Michael Moran always knew he was meant for something more-now, an unexpected series of events leads him to reclaim his destiny as Miracleman! The groundbreaking graphic novel that heralded a literary revolution begins here in A DREAM OF FLYING. After nearly two decades away, Miracleman uncovers his origins and their connection to the British military’s “Project Zarathustra” – while his alter ego, Michael Moran, must reconcile his life as the lesser half of a god.
Release Date: October 25, 2022 (omnibus edition)
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