Friday, 12 August 2011

Miracleman, No.1

Written by - Alan Moore
Art by - Gary Leach

In 1939, writer Bill Parker and Artist C. C. Beck created the character Captain Marvel; he made his first appearance in Whiz Comics #2 (1940). Captain Marvel is the alter ego of Billy Batson, a young radio news reporter who was chosen by the wizard 'Shazam' to be a champion of good. By speaking the wizard's name, Billy is instantly changed into Captain Marvel by a bolt of lightning which gives him the power of six legendary figures. In Grant Morrison's book 'Supergods', Morrison states that, "If Superman was science fiction, and Batman was crime, Captain Marvel planted his flag in the wider territory of pure fantasy." he continues, "His origin story detailed an out-and-out shamanic experience of a kind familiar to any witch doctor, ritual magician, anthropologist, or alien abductee." (p.31)

Based on sales figures, Captain Marvel was the biggest selling superhero comic of the 1940's, out selling the likes of Superman and Batman by quite a margin. It was only in 1953 that publication ceased due to a copyright infringement suit by DC comics that Captain Marvel was in fact an illegal infringement of Superman. It is from this point onwards that the history of the original Captain Marvel became embroiled in lawsuits and litigation. 

Originally Len Miller & Son had been publishing reprints of the original Captain Marvel series in the UK. When the run came to an end following the first legal battle, they turned to Mick Anglo to continue the series in which he created the character Marvelman, which ran from 1954 until 1963.

Next to step up to the plate was Alan Moore in March 1982 which was published in Warrior magazine; a collection of stories by various authors which also featured Moore's 'V For Vendetta'. Marvelman continued up until issue #21, August 1984. Eclipse Comics then picked up the title in August 1985, reprinting just the Marvelman stories over 6 issues. However, the 'Marvel' trademark was now owned by 'Marvel Comics' and so when it came to reprinting said issues, the name had to be changed once again to Miracleman; each story having all it's titles and references changed to read correctly.

Following the reprints in issue #6, Moore wrote 10 further issues up to issue #16. Towards the end of the run the story heads into very dark territory, arguably some of Moore's darkest work. Following Alan Moore came Neil Gaiman's run which later fell into further legal disputes over ownership which went on for many years.

In the first issue of Alan Moore's Miracleman there are four stories entitled; 
Chapter 1: 1956, 
Chapter 2: 1982 Prologue - A Dream of Flying, 
Chapter 3,
Chapter 4: When Johnny Comes Marching Home

The first chapter is a retelling of an old story that features the Science Gestapo who travel back in time from the year 1981 to wreak havoc on the earth, and so Miracleman and Young Miracleman head into the future to the point just before the Science Gestapo travel back to stop them. The final page of this story features a quotation from "Thus Spake Zarathustra" by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche which reads "Behold, I teach you the Superman: He is this lightning. He is this madness.", which is placed over an ominous zoom in to Miracleman's eye.

Chapter 2 starts in 1982 and Michael Moran no longer remembers who he once was but keeps having severe migraines and reoccurring dreams that frighten him but doesn't know what they mean. Whilst reporting on the opening of a new power-station in the Lake District, it is sabotaged by terrorists trying to steal plutonium. Michael's migraine worsens and is doubled-up on the floor; just then he sees the word atomic reflected in glass which reads 'cimota' (or kimota). It this word that brings it all back to him, he says it out loud and is instantly transformed into Miracleman.

Chapter 3 deals with Michael coming to terms with his forgotten history and trying to convince his girlfriend Liz that he's telling the truth.

In chapter 4, Michael realises that his old friend and sidekick Johnny Bates is still alive. They meet up and discuss the past, Michael finds it hard to believe how Johnny lost his powers and tests him which reveals Johnny was lying and he is still Kid Miracleman.

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