Sunday, February 01, 2009

In Praise Of: The Miracleman Saga

The Miracleman saga never ends. At least not if you're Neil Gaiman. Maybe not even if you're Alan Moore. Certainly not if you're the original creator.

Here, unless you've missed this, is the short version. Todd McFarlane is suing Gaiman for his share of the rights to Miracleman, rights that were given to Neil by Alan Moore, who was given them by Dez Skinn back in the Warrior days. Alan wanted Neil to have a stake in the character that he was taking over, so he handed his rights over. Once Eclipse Comics went under, McFarlane bought the rights to everything, thinking that he would get Miracleman. What wasn't apparent until now is that all this right being handed back and forth is all for naught. Mick Anglo, the original creator, is alive and should retain all the rights to the character.

So Dez Skinn was wrong. And lied about Miracleman to Moore. Among other things should anyone care to do so digging about Dez.

What stands out, however, is the work, ad the fact that it is likely that the Miracleman saga will never be reprinted with all the horrible rights being thus entangled, and that is more of shame than can be imagined.

For those who have never read the whole thing, or just heard about it, it is, with all its early bumps and bruises and false starts, the furthest imagining of what a superman character would actually do to the world. And it is, in a few words, alternately horrifying, stunning, beautiful, and beyond shocking.

Here is reality, if we can call it that: this series will shatter any myth that you might have had over the Fantastic Four or the Avengers as being in the "real world". That's bullshit. The day that a real superman shows up in our world, it will destroy our world to its very foundation. He will change things so much, that we will not recognize the world that he will leave behind. As his first daughter asks non-chelantly, "You decided to leave the sky that color?"

And he will bring, because this is Alan Moore, the evil that will destroy London and the world, eating life and shitting skulls, along the way. And the architect, the human/god that will create all this and then believe that he can control it, Gargunza. All the archetypes are represented, but without a Marvel or DC universe status quo to return to, Moore is free to reimagine just how devastated that world would be, and take those archetypes to their furthest places. A superhero battle? New York wouldn't survive. Not once. Neither would Metropolis. And London doesn't. I've already blogged once about Miracleman #15 being the most brutal comic that i've ever read. And I don't expect that to change.

Gaiman was able to further, as is his want, someof the more interesting tangendental ideas, ideas that we mentioned or hinted at in first "book", and take the time to explore the side roads: Miraclewomen as the Aphrodite/Love/Sex goddess of the world, both unattainable and attainable at the same time; Evelyn Cream, the connsumate intelligence professional given over to being "Number 1", the most brilliant pastice of The Prisoner that i've ever seen; Andy Warhol and whole concept of Pop Art is turned on its head given the artist as our introduction to the artificial underworld that Miracleman creates. Given his head, Miracleman becomes God in all ways, in reshaping the world, repopulating it with his progeny, creating an Olympus for the gods as well as an underworld for the dead to live in.

Its a shame that the series is in true developmental hell; it can't be reprinted nor will it even ever be finished, as the well researched book on the subject, Kimota, from Twomorrows Press, shows us. Gaiman has only one more issue to go, and it, honestly, didn't sound like it would do a lot to resolve many of the questions that Alan and Neil had raised.

Is it worth the time and money to track down the issues? Absolutely. Are they out there? I would suppose so, although I bought the series as it came out, and haven't had to look for the issues. Kimota may be out of print, however, and that is why Ebay was invented. And comic cons.

Go. Discover the ubermench saga the way it was meant to be read. Find the issues and read it.

Illustrations by the magnificent John Totleben and Alex Ross.


RedMaigo said...

Yes! While comic fanboys scream and jibber over Watchmen being the penultimate legacy of Alan Moore's genius it seems that Miracleman languishes as a footnote in comic book history.

It's sad because I am one of the blasphemers who never thought Watchman was that great. Maybe it was because I did not read Watchman until nearly a decade after its release and everything that it brought to comics, both good and bad, had already been imitated, rip-offed and recycled to death.

This was also during the time I had started to pick up Western comics again for a brief time back in the mid-to-late 90s.

I found out about Miracle Man purely by chance when I was browsing the net during those years and found excerpts from the the book Kimota. After that I just had to read the books. Once I found them I realized that Miracle Man was the real deal and Watchman was only a polished, water-downed, re-imagined Miracle Man with different characters.

Yeah, I know I am stretching it here but the point is that the Miracle Man saga did what Watchman didn't: blow me the f*** away!

To me, Miracle Man was everything Alan Moore was trying to do with the superhero genre at the time that actually seemed to get it right. I didn't get that "superhero decadence/deviance" vibe - yes I mean it with all of the negative, derisive connotations that embodies this catchphrase -- that permeates most of superhero comics in the AW era (After Watchmen).

Yes, its sad that this masterpiece will never be finished. It's even sadder that the Miracle Man saga can only be found on Ebay or Amazon Marketplace and not sold alongside its younger and more popular sibling Watchmen in your local Books-by-the-Ton in the graphics-novel section.

I really feel that Miracle Man is the Racer X to Watchmen's Speed Racer, the cooler more experienced older brother who everyone has forgotten and looks on from the shadows as his younger brother gets all the glory.

Jonathan Baylis said...

If Mick Anglo (not Angelo, right?) is the owner of Miracleman, why does this have to be such a mess? Is there a possibility that he or his estate can reprint the books if he has the rights to the character?

Is Dez putting up any kind of a fight? And Todd doesn't seem to have any leg to stand on.

Dan said...

Yeah, I agree about Watchmen vs. Miracleman - while Watchmen was very, very clever, Miracleman was completely amazing.

I'm really glad I bought 'em as they came out... taking a look on ebay, I see that a near-mintish #15 goes for $200-$350, and someone's selling the whole set for $500. Wow.

Kit said...

Gaiman has only one more issue to go, and it, honestly, didn't sound like it would do a lot to resolve many of the questions that Alan and Neil had raised.

He has ten issues to go; he only has one of those completed.

Anonymous said...

Or, y'know, you could just download the CBRs with BitTorrent.