Miracleman Question Marks

Much has been made in the past week of a statement by Marvel Comics’ editor-in-chief Axel Alonso about Marvelman. Speaking to Albert Ching on Newsarama.com on Monday the 8th of April, there was this exchange:

Newsarama: Axel, not sure how much you can speak to this right now, but given the recent Angela news, fans are naturally wondering about another character in a seemingly similar situation, Marvelman — is there any progress involving that character?

Axel Alonso: There has been progress. Considerable progress. And we’ll be making an announcement soon.

I’m a huge fan of Marvelman. I’m very excited about seeing him being published by Marvel.

On the face of it, this sounds hopeful. However, this is not the first time a representative of Marvel has said that ‘Marvelman is coming soon.’ In January 2012 I compiled this list of all the times they had said so, since the announced they had bought the property back in July 2009. I’ve got sixteen different instances there, with answers ranging from the ubiquitous ‘Marvelman is coming soon’ to the more interesting ‘As for Marvelman, one fan’s various questions about the property were evaded for legal reasons, with Quesada simply assuring the audience that “it is coming.”‘ in May 2012. So, is this just one more instance of Marvel’s man talking about Marvelman? Possibly.

But it really does look like things are happening now. Marvel have covered a lot of ground since that initial announcement in July 2009. I speculated a few weeks ago about what they might now own, and it does look as if they’re finally close to having everything they need to proceed. So, if they really do start to publish the 1980s Alan Moore and Garry Leach created version of Marvelman, what can we actually expect to see from them? There are three things we can expect, it seems to me.

Firstly, we can expect to see them reprint the Moore-penned stories that were originally published in Warrior and subsequently re-published and continued by Eclipse in their lamentably titled Miracleman title. Alan Moore has stated publicly a few times now that he has signed over publication rights on these to Marvel, on the understanding that they don’t use his name. There are going to be some difficulties encountered by because his run had five different artists on it – Garry Leach, Alan Davis, Chuck Beckum, Rick Veitch, and John Totleben – but I believe that Marvel are working their way through these, and I don’t think there’s any doubt that they will inevitably get what they want. And, somewhat reluctantly, I think this will be a good thing. At least all the rights will be in one place, for the first time in a very long time. Whether Marvel will have any or all of these redrawn by a single artist, or simply relettered and recoloured, remains to be seen. For myself, I’d like to see the original work re-presented, with the possible exception of Chuck Beckum’s work, which didn’t really sit well with the rest. And that’s me being tactful…

After that, there’s the much more straightforward task of republishing Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham’s stories, and they possibly slightly less straightforward task of having these stories finished. In theory issue #25 is written and drawn and more or less ready to go, leaving three more issues of The Silver Age to be written, before the six-issues of The Dark Age. In George Khoury’s Kimota! The Miracleman Companion, Gaiman said,

The idea of The Dark Age is that it would have been set another 300 or 400 years on, maybe even as much as a thousand years on, and a lot of things changed. The children have gone. All the Miraclechildren grew up one day and left. You would have somebody who was claiming to be Mike Moran, who may or may not be, who has turned up a thousand years later. And then things get from bad to worse when Bates comes in. It’s strange; I know generally how The Dark Age would have gone exactly, how the very last episode would go. The way I figured out writing Miracleman was that I knew the point I was heading to from the very, very beginning, which was going to be the very final episode called “Two Voices.” And it’s two people having a conversation on a fairly ruined planet while they wait for the last sun to come up.

The thing is, after all the money they’ve spent, and all the time and the heartache we’ve all gone through, are Marvel going to want to let that happen? Again, we shall have to wait and see.

The third thing I think is going to happen is that Marvel are going to want to create new stories involving Marvelman. There’s actually plenty of precedent for this. Early on in his run in Warrior – probably in September 1982 – he sent this letter to Dez Skinn, which is worth quoting in full:

>Dear Dez…

Here’s the invoice I said I’d send. I made it out for £180, but since Warrior didn’t arrive in the post this morning* [footnote: *you cunt] I didn’t get a chance to count up and see just how many pages I had in No. 5….. I know there was that four pager and I think there were fourteen pages total of V and Marvelman but I might be wrong. If it is wrong, if there is only seventeen pages or something total, then please adjust the invoice accordingly.

If you could get this in the post to me by next Tuesday (the 24th) at the latest, bank account permitting, I’d be very grateful.

Regarding those three page/four page ideas… I haven’t had much time to think about them yet, but I did have a couple of ideas:

VIGNETTES”… these would be stories set in the London of 1997 which would not involve V at all… they may involve the supporting characters perhaps, but basically I see them as being little Eisneresque stories about ordinary people living in a very tough world. You remember all those Spirit stories like “Barbering” and “Ten Minutes”….. that’s the sort of thing I’m after.

Untold Tales of the Marvelman Family….. not the real title, obviously. These could deal with the various blank areas in the Marvelman legend. Maybe one tale could feature a story of Johnny Bates in 1965, when he was just starting to begin his ruthless climb to stardom. Another could deal with Mike Moran in the years immediately following the blow up of ’63. If we wanted to go really over the top we could do a story about Gargunza… maybe one describing how he came to build the FATE computer. Speaking of which….

Me and Steve have worked out a chronology for fate that stretches millions of years into the future and details lots of interesting periods in the history of the universe. The Warpsmith takeover of Earth, the Rebellion against the Warpsmiths and their subsequent destruction, the Golden Age of Earth, the Superhero purges, the Exodus of the Marvelmen, the war between FATE and the Rhordru Makers and so on and so on. Many of these stories probably won’t get told in the regular strips since they’re so far out of the time frame. Tales of FATE would plug some interesting holes.

Tales of the Warpsmiths, in which we can run individual stories and maybe also short little info pieces… the building of the artificial planet Hod, the war with the Chronarchy (back in 1700 our time) tales of the black Warpsmiths etc. etc. etc.

Later on we can run things like schematics of Warpsmith’s orbiting spacehome, diagrams of Marvelman’s Citadel of Silence and so on.

Best-Untold Tales of the Bojeffries…. how Jobremus invented civilisation when he thought he was inventing Monopoly, how Jobremus caused the explosion at Tungunska [sic] while repairing his bicycle (he turned over two pages at one in his repair manual and accidentally transformed it into a cyclotron.) How Podlasp Bojeffries was the first lifeform up onto the dry land… you get the drift.

Pressbutton: The Wilderness Years. In this we could cover some of the period in Pressbutton’s life which hasn’t been dealt with in either ‘Stars’ or ‘Laser Eraser’. Namely, what did he do in the five years or so between parting company with Mysta and joining the Space Marines on Zutzbaa. This one’s Steve’s, I figure, although since I do have an interest in the character I wouldn’t mind an odd fill in job myself.

The[n] of course we get down to the real good stuff… Father Shandor’s conjuring tricks, the ‘V’ Home Terrorism course (how to make a Molotov and so on), What is Zirk doing to Lemanya? Join the Dots and See! I’m sure you get the idea. The possibilities are endless.

Anyway, that’s enough to be getting on with. I gotta go and do some work.
See you soon.

As well as this, Eclipse Comics had an idea of their own for at least one new Miracleman title. They announced a title called Miracleman Triumphant, which was to be written by Eclipse editor Fred Burke, and illustrated by Mike Deodata Jr, which never actually appeared – although a certain amount of the work from issue #1 can be seen on the excellent Miracleman.info website.

It seems likely that we will see something similar coming from Marvel. The other important question, then, is who is likely to be doing the writin’ and drawin’? Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham are likely to be kept busy for the next while finishing their own work on the primary title, but it shouldn’t be hard to figure out who else are top of the list to want to do this. In fact, it does look like there is a certain amount of positioning being done at Marvel, so that it’ll all be in place when the time comes to make the announcement. We’ve already heard the news that the now-wholly-owned-by-Gaiman Angela is due to make her entrance in Age of Ultron #10, and that Gaiman himself will be attached to this as a writer. Also attached to this are two top Marvel creators: writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Joe Quesada. And Age of Ultron #10 is due in June this year, which brings it almost exactly up to this year’s San Diego Comic Convention on Thursday the 18th of July to Sunday the 21st of July, four years almost to the day after their original announcement that they owned Marvelman there back in 2009.

So, will we see a panel of Axel Alonso, Neil Gaiman, Mark Buckingham, Brian Michael Bendis and Joe Quesada at SDCC finally announce that Marvelman is ready to go? I really don’t know, but I’ll be eagerly waiting for news to come across the Atlantic to me…

Pádraig Ó Méalóid is a middle-aged Irishman who spends far too many of his waking hours speculating on Marvelman. Witness his ongoing Poisoned Chalice series on this very site, m’lud.


  1. I just want them to release the trades again of MM. Oh, and PLEASE lord…if Marvel does start using MM, puhleese do not let Bendis write him.

  2. Re: Chuck Beckum. With the possible exception of giving the Warrior strips a more sympathetic colouring job (and fixing the botched lettering in the first strip in #18), I’m not sure that tampering with any of the existing MM pages for a reprint would be that great an idea. The Eclipse run has several patches of shonkiness and if you’re going to fix things for quality then why stop with Beckum?

    Of course, they are going to have to redo all the lettering for instances of ‘Miracleman’, etc. though this might cause a few hiccups in Gaiman’s run where the name has become a natural part of the furniture instead of the earlier nudge-nudge-wink-wink-don’t-tell-Jim-Shooter game…

  3. I’ll believe it when I see it.

    As per Kate’s comments, it’s absolutely true. Book 2 is very inconsistent artistically. We’ve got Chuck Beckum/Austen jumping in mid run to take over the departing Alan Davis, and then Rick Veitch jumps in to finish off the book for two issues that I seem to recall Rick saying were rushed for deadline reasons. Ironic in retrospect. Also in there (although I don’t think it’s included in the trades) was issue 8 which featured more “classic” Marvelman reprints with a Beckum drawn framing sequence.

    Thankfully Books 1, 3 and 4 are artistically wonderful.

  4. …and of course Eclipse did have another title where they used Miracleman, which is Total Eclipse. That featured Miracleman in a crossover of characters as diverse as Airboy and the Beanworld gang. It also featured a new Miracleman short story written by Neil Gaiman in issue 4, January 1989, a year and a half before Neil’s first issue of the main series (although I don’t know if Neil was already planned to be taking over the main story at that time, raising the question of whether this is an intentional foreshadowing of the writing of the main series, or if we view it more as a Miracleman Triumphant situation.)

    I doubt Marvel will worry much about the main Total Eclipse tale in terms of their continuity. For a long time, I’ve argued that it’s the least-reprintable comic series ever, between the tangled Miracleman rights, the various other rights involved, and at least one creator who would rather it just disappeared from history… although at least it post-dates the Eclipse flood, so the films may exist somewhere.

  5. At this point who cares. It’s been over 20 years. The attention span of a comic fan is what… 5 minutes.

    Lets move on. I have my complete set. Only reason Marvel picked it up was for the title. Do you really think Disney cares except for copyright reasons.

  6. “Lets move on. I have my complete set.”

    Cool. Could you post scans of the ultra rare #25-34 to the internet so that the rest of us can have a complete set too?

  7. Ha! Kate Halprin, I love you.

    eallen: Obviously, in a free and democratic world, you’re free to move on, and under no obligation to read any more of these posts. And those of us who do care about all of this are free to continue to write and read about it, despite your best efforts to talk us out of it. Also, has the question-mark key on your keyboard ceased to function?

  8. Funny to see Alonso state I’m a huge fan of Marvelman. Editors, of all people, should be detached enough to know that any imaginable character, handled by a poor writer, will be a character in a poor story. A character is great only because a writer has something great to say about him, her, or it.


  9. Yes, good point. I wonder how many of the ‘huge fans’ at Marvel have read all those old Miller/Anglo era stories, for instance? Or is that not the Marvelman they’re talking about?

  10. Only reason Marvel picked it up was for the title. Do you really think Disney cares except for copyright reasons.

    The Marvel part of Disney purchased this so that they could have their own Watchmen, their own Alan Moore revered super-hero story to keep in print forever and keep making money off of.

    They might end up using the character in the current universe, but the Alan Moore stuff is all anyone really cares about. Maybe the Gaiman stuff as well to a lesser extent (found it overrated personally).

    Now a freebie for you comics journalists: have any of you guys asked Jonathan Hickman if his new Hyperion in Avengers was originally supposed to be Marvelman/Miracleman?

  11. Padraig, clearly you know way more than probably anyone in the world on Marvelman and the state of the legal rights, but I’m curious if you know more than you’re actually saying. There hasn’t been much pointing to Marvel/Disney owning anything other than reprint rights to the Anglo comics, so I’m very intrigued that you seem to think they may be close to finally owning the rights to the Marvelman character.

    I’m going to stay skeptical until I actually see a comic. I don’t mean that as a slight to you; I’ve just had my heart broken too often.

  12. Chris: No, no slight taken, I assure you. I’ve tried all along to base everything I write on verifiable facts, and to show the sources for those facts. There has been far too much speculation about Marvelman over the past many years, and one of the reasons I started writing all this was to try to sort the facts from the bullshit. However, I do speculate in this post about what Marvel may actually own. Like yourself, though, I’ll believe what I see when I see it, and no sooner.

  13. anyone know how Eclipse handled the Apochrypha? Some big names told some fun “golden age” MM stories. not sure how, or even if, the copyrights on those tales were sorted out. would be nice to see that reprinted at some point as well, though it is the most easily attained TPB, via ebay, amazon and the like.

    amazing to me that the TPB of “Olympus” is going for minimum $350+. thats a lot of pent up demand. considering how easy digital distribution would be it’s almost criminal to leave that much cash on the table. but thats what makes this such a fascinating story, right?

  14. All the stories in the Apocrypha are copyright to their individual writers and artists, according to the indicia in the TPB, which I’ve just pulled down off the shelf. So that’ll be a fun project for someone to try to sort out!

  15. Hey, I won’t bag hard on Total Eclipse – if it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t have the one page of Miracleman-featuring art I’ve got, a nice Bo Hampton splash.

  16. “The Marvel part of Disney purchased this so that they could have their own Watchmen, their own Alan Moore revered super-hero story to keep in print forever and keep making money off of.”

    *cough* Captain Britain *cough*

    (OK, that’s no Watchmen, but I’m not sure that Moore’s MM is in the same class as Watchmen either.)

    “They might end up using the character in the current universe, but the Alan Moore stuff is all anyone really cares about. Maybe the Gaiman stuff as well to a lesser extent (found it overrated personally).”

    Gaiman’s at least a big a draw as Moore, who might be revered in the comics world but doesn’t have the wider name recognition that Gaiman does. Plus, if anything his work on MM has been underrated by the received wisdom. ‘The Golden Age’ is among his best comics work and deserves rediscovery.

  17. >> For a long time, I’ve argued that it’s the least-reprintable comic series ever, >>

    Although you’ve reprinted a tie-in to it!

    >> All the stories in the Apocrypha are copyright to their individual writers and artists, according to the indicia in the TPB, which I’ve just pulled down off the shelf.>>

    I’d forgotten that. Hmm. I wonder if Chris Schenck and I could change our story slightly, make it about someone else? It was “apocrypha” to begin with, and as I recall doesn’t feature the Miracleman characters in terribly large roles…


  18. @Kurt Busiek A message board comment isn’t legal advice, of course, but the general situation when the author/artist team retains the copyright to original material can be likened to that of, say, Marveling licensing Neil Gaiman’s Angela character for an Avengers story that Marvel otherwise wholly owns. If Joss Whedon loves the story but the scope of the original Angela license doesn’t include movie rights, the story could arguably be adapted for Avengers 3 with a different character playing the Angela role so long as that character were not derived from Angela herself. Depending on terms of the license, the same could go for a re-purposing of the comic, assuming the new character was not evidently the core Angela character with a different name. It’d be tricky, but Marvel could theoretically make it work.

    A bad example on this score is 50 Shades of Grey, which reportedly just renamed the Edward & Bella characters from a Twilight fanfic. There but for the grace of Stephanie Meyer a lawsuit could have gone.

  19. Hello, Padraig. I’ve been following POISONED CHALICE and other of your writings with great interest. I’d just like to say I’m a Brazilian fan and that I have access to Mike Deodato – if you’d like to interview him about Miracleman Triumphant, just send me the questions and I’ll handle the translation. My email is ericoassis [at] gmail.com

  20. “… because his run had five different artists on it ”

    Actually more than five (not counting the cover artworks), as far as I can count:

  21. I was only counting the artists on the actual primary Marvelman/Miracleman title, which is what I was referring to as ‘his run,’ which gives us these five: Garry Leach, Alan Davis, Chuck Beckum, Rick Veitch, and John Totleben. If we counted all the cover artists, and the artists on various offshoots then, yes, more than five, obviously. Sadly, I wasn’t!

  22. I respectfully disagree, Paddy. Tom Yeats did some inks on #16. I’m using Khoury’s Kimota as reference (pages 48, 49 and 91).

  23. “Although you’ve reprinted a tie-in to it!”

    Indeed I’ve reprinted a Total Eclipse tie-in (and yes, everyone, the trade paperback of Kurt Busiek and James Fry’s The Liberty Project, including Total Eclipse: The Seraphim Objective, is still in print, albeit hard to find)… but the reference to Miracleman in the original story was replaced with a reference to another character.

    So perhaps we’ll see your story back in The Revenant Apocrypha?

  24. @Flavio – Oh, yeah, I’d forgotten about Yeates. His section is the infamous Superhero sex sequence in issue 16, and if I recall it was more than just inks. Beautiful stuff. I wonder if Tottleben and Yeates have done other collaborations?

  25. Firstly, I wasn’t counting inkers. Secondly, my name is Pádraig, not Paddy. Do try to remember that.

  26. I may be in the minority here, but I’d like to see the Alan Moore-scripted incarnation of the character stick with the “Miracleman” name. He’s not exactly an “all-ages” character, and I wouldn’t rush to put “Marvel” in a character’s name if his stories have anything that you wouldn’t put into a “Captain Marvel” story.

  27. @Jeremy
    Yes. The ideal scenario would be a book with all MM stories written by Moore, including the Neary/Dillon and the other Warpsmith stories.

    Sorry. No offense intended.
    In any case, I still think John Ridgway should be on your list.

    I do prefer “Miracleman” just because I’m used to this name and I second you but “he isn’t really called Miracleman at all”.

  28. A couple good points made in the comments for once…

    Reprinting of Moore and Gaimans work, sure to be a money maker.

    But how could Marvel not want to re-introduce the all new Marvelman? Sure to sell better than a Captain Marvel book, right?

    And, the mature readers theme of Moore’s work as a representation of Marvel is sure to get some attention. So it’s a quandry, but a money making quandry for sure.

  29. Of course I FINALLY break down and buy all the trades and the final floppy issues and boom…there suddenly is talk of them being reprinted! LOL! Still they’re awesome so I’m good! PRAY that they run issue 25 and get Neil G. to wrap it all up! Fingers crossed!

  30. To clarify once more about the five artists I named: These artists – and only these artists, to the best of my knowledge – were not only artists on the Marvelman stories, but were also co-creators of those stories. That is to say, they have rights in those stories above and beyond just their artwork. Certainly there were other artists who worked on stories in various capacities, but these five are the crucial ones, the ones that Marvel need to deal with.

  31. My compliments on an excellent series of articles.

    One question I have is DC’s legal position in all this. Not only is MM a blatent and self confessed copy of DC’s Shazam (Captain Marvel) but also ultimately the big red S himself.

    Can DC let their biggest competitor publish some of the best Superman/Captain Marvel ever written?

  32. Hi Padraig. Enjoying your blogs very much. Just been rereading my original Warrior copies and the Marvelman stories this morning. So good in black & white A4 format. Also read the Warpsmith story and I’ve always felt there were more stories to be told regarding them either standalone or in relation to Marvelman. I also have a copy of A1 in my attic somewhere which had a Warpsmith story called Ghost Dance I think. In it are references to a threat called The Silence. So I was quite intrigued to see from the Vignettes post from Alan to Dez going on about further stories. All this talk of the making of Hod, war with the Chronarchy, and then all this business about the takeover of earth and subsequent rebellion & exodos of the Marvelmen etc. When I think about these ideas and what you mentioned about Garry Leach selling his 50% interest I keep thinking that the Warpsmith property itself it just as valuable as the Marvelman property. There must be easily enough potential material with these ideas to cover 12 issues whether as standalone or integrated with The Marvelman continuity. Just think about the Warpsmith takeover: We know from the Cold War Cold Warrior story that Qys cannot replicate the warpsmith derma circuitary to warp. So its a standoff: Warp ability cancels multiple bodies ability of the Qys and of course their bastard offspring of the Marvelman family. But of course Winter only has to go and learn how to replicate the Warpsmiths abililties later on. I always knew that wouldn’t go down well especially with The Black Warpsmiths who from Cold War, Cold Warrior we know are very manipulative. That got me thinking that this could possibly be in the Dark Ages book. Ultimately Marvelman and Earth are betrayed by the Warpsmiths concerned by the threat to the balance of power as there are no longer the exclusive warping race!

  33. “They might end up using the character in the current universe, but the Alan Moore stuff is all anyone really cares about. Maybe the Gaiman stuff as well to a lesser extent (found it overrated personally).”

    Gaiman would be valuable to them because he is hugely famous and personally invested in the project, so he would push his fans to buy it.

  34. “amazing to me that the TPB of “Olympus” is going for minimum $350+. ”

    Don’t go by searches for open auctions on Ebay, or what people are trying to sell it for on Amazon. Go into Ebay, search for “Completed listings” and limit it to “Sold Items Only”. It’s very very rare that the trade actually sells for more than $200.

  35. What shall we see?
    Mick Anglo redraw the Marvelman stories with new names for the central characters – Marvelman Universe?
    The Alan Moore run included the Big Ben and Warpsmith characters, owned by other people.
    Todd McFarlane linked Marvelman with Spawn and Angela.
    And is his Miracleman alter-ego floating around in limbo somewhere?

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