Auto Ads by Adsense

Monday, February 04, 2019

Reread: Alan Moore's Miracleman

I rarely re-read books, and comic books, in particular, don't age well, with very few exceptions. The most notable of all exceptions, of course, is anything written by Alan Moore. Boen recently saw my old issues of Miracleman, and asked me to read them to him. I was happy to oblige, though I noted that he quickly drifted away after I started. The themes might be a bit too mature for him. In the years since my precious copies were bagged, the legal issues surrounding the book appear to have been resolved, and you can now buy them on the Kindle or on paper. You need to buy and read them in the following order:

  1. A Dream of Flying
  2. The Red King Syndrome
  3. Olympus
  4. The Golden Age (by Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham)
Re-reading them as an adult, these are stunning. A Dream of Flying, for instance, does a massive ret-con on the original Marvelman Family series. (For those who don't know, Marvelman was a rip-off of the Shazam series, complete with Young Marvelman saying the word "Marvelman" as his transformation mantra) In 5 short issues, we get a full explanation of where those powers really come from, what those chintzy stories from the 50s really meant, and no, it wasn't really just "all a dream."

From here on, you get an unrolling of the implications of what a world full of superheroes is like. And sure, Watchmen might be more nuanced and full of symbology and all sorts of English-major goodness, but Miracleman really tells the story of what a true, honest-to-goodness superman type superhero would actually do to the planet, and shows the true devastation inherent in an honest-to-goodness superhero brawl in a metropolitan area like London would be. The images are unlike anything you've seen anywhere else, and they put other comic books to shame.

Other, lesser writers and artists have tried to retread the same themes, most notably The Authority. But for literacy, a sweeping introduction of alien races, etc. in just a few pages, Alan Moore is the master of the medium, and these comic books, written at the height of his maturity in the later issues are amazing. Sure, there are a few plot holes (though Gaiman backfills some of them), for instance,
Dr. Gargunza's plot to take over Winter's body couldn't have worked and he would have realized that once Winter's eyes opened to look at him from the womb.  Furthermore, why didn't they try the safety override word that Dr. Gargunza use on Kid Miracleman?

But those are minor nitpicks. This is a stunningly great series, and well worth the time I spent to re-read them, and the money spent buying the issues that were missing from my collection to read. Highly recommended. If you don't read any other comic books, read the ones by Alan Moore!

No comments: