Thursday, March 22, 2012

Miracleman Book One - A Dream of Flying Trade Paperback Review

Miracleman Vol. 1 - A Dream of Flying
Eclipse Comics
Softcover Trade Paperback
80 pages
$9.95 (1990)
$29.95 (1990) Hardcover
ISBN 9780913035610

Contributors: Alan Moore, Alan Davis, Garry Leach, and Ron Courtney

Reprints: Miracleman #1-3

Synopsis: Michael Moran is a 40-something reporter stuck in a rut.  He suffers from recurring nightmares and migraine headaches.  During a terrorist incident at a nuclear power facility Moran collapses and is taken aside by one of the terrorists.  He suddenly remembers a secret word which transforms him into the god-like being Miracleman. 

He begins to recall his past and put the pieces of his shattered life back together, but they don't quite fit.  His origin and adventures sound like they're straight out of a comic book.  He begins to uncover the truth about himself and his two former partners - Young Miracleman and Kid Miracleman.  The horrific reality of his life may be too much for him to bear as a far-sweeping plot involving aliens, extra-dimensional space, mad scientists, and evil sidekicks is revealed.  Hang on to your seat for this dark ride!

Pros: Legendary writing by Moore, highly detailed artwork by Leach and Davis, plausible resurrection of marginal knockoff U.K. character originally based on Captain Marvel (aka Shazam!), set in the 'real' world without a bunch of superheroes in tights running around

Cons: Very expensive and difficult to lay hands on a copy, collected edition is missing the first few pages of the first story ('50s-style time travel story which ends with zoom in on Miracleman's eye), Evelyn Cream's sapphire teeth are a bit campy (too James Bond villainy)

Mike Tells It Straight: Moore's Miracleman is a cult classic which deconstructs the traditional superhero into the modern world.  It revives the Marvelman character originally created by Mick Anglo in the '50s as a replacement for U.K. reprints of Captain Marvel (Shazam!) from Fawcett Publications.  The character's name was changed to avoid copyright issues with Marvel Comics in the States.

This first arc remains one of Moore's earliest and best superhero stories.  At the time of publication he broke new ground in the superhero genre and cut his teeth for masterpieces to follow (Watchmen, Swamp Thing).  The deconstructionist era began in the '80s with Moore's work here, Rick Veitch's The One, Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, and Moore again with Watchmen

Despite the modern twist the story still has a few campy bits which remind me of bad '70s movies - mostly espionage agents with gimmicks.  If you can't pick up the collection then get the individual issues - there's no telling when the material will be reprinted due to a morass of legal battles over the rights (including Mick Anglo, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Todd McFarlane, and a host of others).  Marvel even faked a claim for the rights of the character in the last few years, but they merely secured rights from Mick Anglo to publish old black and white stories from the '50s/'60s. 

This book is quality and part of the sordid history of modern comics - it elevates the comic book medium and is an absolute must-read.

TO BUY and Recommendations: