Comic Vine Review

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Miracleman #1 - Book One: A Dream of Flying Review

4

After literal decades of legal battles, this wildly influential tale is reprinted with a bevy of extras.

The Good

Marvelman (rechristened Miracleman for complex, borderline absurd legal reasons that I won’t get into here, but are gone in-depth in the absolutely essential Comic Book History of Comics) was a golden-age British version of Captain Marvel (now better known as Shazam) created after DC Comics won the rights to Billy Batson. That is the extraordinarily abbreviated, simplified version, a longer tale of which is available in this issue as part of the extras and I bring it up only to say that if certain parts of Miracleman sound an awful lot like Capt. Marvel it’s, well, because they ARE. This issue, retailing for six dollars, reprints a story from character creator Mick Angelo that sets up the modern story as well as two parts from artist Garry Leach and the mysterious Original Writer, who apparently requested his name be stricken from the title and not used to promote it as he has no interest in receiving royalties. Sorry for the long preamble, but there’s an AWFUL lot of strangeness surrounding this book, which hasn’t been reprinted in this country in over a decade due to all this stuff and which I, until today, hadn’t even read, though I’d certainly heard of it.

The modern tale begins with a reporter awakening from a dream that leads directly out of the strange, dark prologue and going off to his job, covering the opening of a nuclear power plant. When terrorists attack, the nightmares return to our hero and he suddenly finds a strange, nonsense word on his lips. A word that brings about a startling transformation.

These scenes were communicated through the Writer when he was at the seat of his greatest power: in the mid-80s. A time that he wrote well enough that the dialog and characterizations don’t seem dated in the least, this story could have easily been written thirty days ago as easily as thirty years. The characters are amazingly well-realized, especially given the fact that we’re only really with them for less than twenty pages (not counting the prologue), I feel like we get to the heart of the matter with incredible economy.

The art, again on the core title, is handled by Garry Leach and his work, like his partner’s, remains refreshingly contemporary. There’s a dark realism, think Sam Kieth with more real-world proportions, to his characters and settings that make this tale strangely and starkly realistic, particularly with the murky, moody colors by Steve Oliff. The emotions on the characters’ faces are nearly photo-realistic and each and every one is drawn with individual features and looks. The stories have, apparently, been recolored and they look absolutely gorgeous, still as dark and complex as ever while being sharp and distinct.

The Bad

The credits for this issue are a COMPLETE mess. Between extras, interviews, actual Golden Age stories and a FAKE Golden Age story (the prologue, which is actually dated as having come out AFTER the first chapter...), and one writer’s refusal to be named, it’s not the easiest thing in the world tracking who did what. The pricetag is $5.99 in the US and that’s a good price for what you get in this package, but if you don’t care about the behind-the-scenes workings nor the actual Golden Age stories, then you may come away feeling ripped off. The actual first chapter is a mere 14 pages with a 12 page prologue by different creators and half the book dedicated to the 1950s stories. The Golden Age stories are well and good for nostalgia’s sake, and all credit to Mick Anglo for handling both art and writing as well as a great run at the plot on the prologue, but if you’re JUST into the modern interpretation, you’re going to have some baggage.

The Verdict

This issue really defines a “mixed bag” in terms of what you get. On the one hand, it’s very cool to see the original stories and, for me, very, very fascinating peering behind the curtain at exactly what went on behind the scenes with this character (the interview with Anglo by Joe Quesada is especially interesting, especially since very little of it focuses on the comic and a great deal focuses on the man himself) but I could see someone who couldn’t care less feeling like they’re paying extra for nothing. Buyer beware, in that case, but the core story here is as rock solid and resonant now as it was thirty years ago.

20 Comments
Edited by SandMan_

Wonder how long is it gonna take until MARVELman joins the mainstream universe?

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

@saren said:

@sandman_ said:

Wonder how long is it gonna take until MARVELman joins the mainstream universe?

Probably the second they're absolutely sure Alan Moore is not in the proximity of any firearms.

Putting him in the universe would render the character completely pointless

Posted by dondave

Is this a reprint of the original series or new story?

Posted by AllStarSuperman

@dondave said:

Is this a reprint of the original series or new story?

I believe its a reprint, but with updated colors and inks and stuff.

Posted by Billy Batson

@dondave said:

Is this a reprint of the original series or new story?

Reprint of an old series but it's going to conclude Gaiman's run that didn't finish.

BB

Posted by SandMan_
Posted by Jonny_Anonymous
Posted by Stormultt

@sandman_ said:

Wonder how long is it gonna take until MARVELman joins the mainstream universe?

Probably not long knowing how Marvel works

Edited by gor724

Just can't wait to see your guys faces after issue #15

If you not going to read it and you really really want to know click down here.

It's a long story but the shocking part is when Miracleman crushes in the skull of innocent 13 year old boy because there was no other option.

Posted by johnny_spam

After Flex Mentallo's release and now this I guess anything lost can find it's way back in print. Looks like a weird format and it is strange that there is a censored version online.

Posted by longbowhunter

Still got issues #1-5 of the original in a long box. I'll wait till these remastered reprints get collected in trade.

Posted by Novemberx2

so alan moore wrote this

Posted by MadeinBangladesh

THis will also be my first experience with MIRACLEMAN!

Posted by manwithoutshame

I've never read MM before but after this issue I'm really excited for more. Also I skimmed through a lot of the bonus features, maybe I'll read them another time.

Posted by PrioritySeven

so alan moore wrote this

Yeah, I saw "Original Writer" in the credits and got confused. That's a very Alan Moore thing to do, and kind of weird Marvel would've bothered at all including that.

Edited by Hit_Monkey

Might pick this up. Heard this Original Writer kid knows his s**t or somethin.

Posted by lykopis

Holy Macaroni! (sorry, I had to)

As someone with bare bones knowledge of this character, I enjoyed this book. I liked the Golden Age stories (including the "new" one) and considering the history behind this superhero, that in itself is worth staying interested. Although, seriously, was there really a hero called Dicky Dauntless? o.o

The interview at the end could easily be my favourite part. That kind of candidness we'll never get from creators today.

Posted by WilliamYates8

So I see that part of this is from Warrior #1, but I noticed on Marvel's website that there is more from Warrior #1 in the second issue. So did they split it? I'm kinda confused. Because after it says on Marvel's site that #2 has material from Warrior #1-5, and issue #3 has material from Warrior #6-10. Can anyone clarify for me? :/