Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Marvelman returns today

No mate. You're Marvelman. Welcome back though.
As back stories go, Marvelman tops the lot. It's a Miracle he's back in print!

Marvelman was created in the 1950s for UK publisher Len Miller to replace their top selling Captain Marvel reprints (which had ceased in the USA due to legal hassles from National Periodicals who said CM was too similar to Superman). Marvelman ran until 1963, was revived in 1982 for Warrior comic, and had its name changed to Miracleman for its American reprint (due to more legal hassles from Marvel Comics who objected to the name). After Warrior folded, Miracleman continued in the USA with new stories but from what I understand, it never concluded. I dunno. I'd given up on it long before then. More legal twists and turns occurred between creators and, to be honest, I was too preoccupied with my own life to follow the proceedings too closely.

A few years ago, Marvel proudly announced that they had bought the rights from Marvelman's creator Mick Anglo and would be bringing the character back in print. They published a few reprints of the 1950s material which, let's be blunt, were not exactly highlights in UK comics history. Which brings us to today, and the commencement of Marvel's monthly reprint series of the really good stuff; the strips from Warrior by Alan Moore and Garry Leach (soon to feature the work of Alan Davis). Except that Alan Moore is not credited by his own request (not wishing to have anything to do with Marvel). Marvel have instead dubbed him 'The Original Writer' as though it was his wrestler name or something.

Oh, and Marvel, who were so insistent in the 1980s that no one but them could publish a hero named 'Marvelman'have chosen to call the series Miracleman. But that's the name most American readers will know him as anyway, so that's  understandable. But y'know, for readers this side of the Atlantic, the name's a bit of a nuisance. He's Marvelman to us.

Anyway, is the revived comic any good? It costs a bit more than a 6d copy of Marvelman would have set you back 60 years ago that's for sure. Expect to pay around £3.50 to £3.99 for this first bumper issue. Newly coloured by the excellent Steve Oliff and re-lettered by Chris Eliopoulos, Miracleman No.1 starts off with a Mick Anglo/Don Lawrence short story from 1955, then moves on to the first two chapters by Ala.. the Original Writer and Garry Leach. Even though this is one of the strips that started the whole darker, grittier mood of superhero comics it still comes across as modern due to the high quality of the script and art.

The cover of the paper version carries a 'Parential Advisory' but the digital version (which I bought) does not. The digital version states that it is edited, but the only edit I noticed was that Liz Moran was memorably nude in one panel of the original Warrior printing but someone has drawn purple pants on her for this version. Obviously people who buy Marvel digital comics are unaware of bottoms and the sight of naked bum cheeks could bring about the downfall of western civilisation. Let's risk it and show both versions here...

Expensive as it is, Miracleman No.1 is worth the money because it also features a fair amount of bonus material. There's a behind-the-scenes look at some of Garry Leach's original artwork and preliminary sketches, a brief article on Marvelman by Mike Conroy, snippets from an interview with Mick Anglo, and reprints of the very first Marvelman strips from 1954. And yes, in the case of the historical material, he is still called Marvelman, thankfully.

If you've never seen these stories before, there's no better place to start. Miracleman No.1 is in comic speciality stores today, or available to purchase as a digital comic via the Marvel Comics or ComiXology apps.   

8 comments:

Clark Gwent said...

The new print version has no exposed bum either:- so what happens when they get to the full on depiction of as many ladyparts (as germaine to the plot as you like) during the birth of Winter Moran huh?

Lew Stringer said...

I think they'll redraw it to suit Marvelman's 1950s roots by showing Mike Moran pacing nervously in a hospital waiting room while his wife gives birth off panel. :)

Twitter @MLPasterisk said...

There must be two print versions as the one I have has the parental advisory (and mild nudity).

$6 is a hefty price tag for just two of the Warrior strips. Marvel are obviously keen to stretch the Original Writer stuff out as much as possible to get their moneys worth.

Richard Williams said...

Great to have you back Lew, really missed your blog - always very informative & full of nostalgia!

John Pitt said...

I missed out on the Eclipse series, so I've been eagerly awaiting these! Hope they reprint the Quality MM Special as well. For me this is the best work Alan Moore did!

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks Richard. John, I'm sure they'll squeeze every drop of The Original Writer's work out of the old comics that they can lay their hands on. :)

Clark Gwent said...

I saw a bum-out (parental advisory) version now. Is that the only difference? Sheesh!

Oh yeah I was forgetting they have the slight matter of anal rape attempt to cope with as well.

How will they parental advisory that?

Digi Marabese said...

Next they will put pants on Watchmen's Dr Manhattan

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