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June 23, 2012


Comics I Read In Series Form In The 1980s: Miracleman

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I have a hard time remembering much of what happened in Miracleman, the transplanted-from-England Alan Moore-written superhero story, in the sense of there being an extended narrative. I couldn't tell you what the thing was about, other than the fact that like most of its ilk it was about superheroes, too. I can sure recall any number of individual moments in these comics. There's a birth. There's the way the character initially puts together his "magic word." There's a scene where they're reading comics for clues. There's a man with scary teeth. There's one where they talk about sex education as something that should involve having sex as part of that education. There's a bunch of stuff with the creepy Kid Miracleman character, a wonderful bad guy. There's the arch-villain that looks like the late Joe Paterno. And then there's the single issue with all the killing, which I remember mostly in terms of its visual texture, one giant smear of pain. That was one of the actually rare comic books of its day, incidentally; I had two or three interns at TCJ that asked to read the office copy the day they arrived.

Did the story even end? I get the sense that it didn't, that it transferred over to Neil Gaiman and the artists with whom he was working and then kind of went away after one or maybe two issues. There was a big lawsuit and multiple claims of ownership and finally the character found purchase at I think Marvel Comics, although who the hell knows, really. I like to imagine him out there as a threat of rolling back into comics existence maybe more than I'll like whatever comic book of theirs he inhabits. He's a curious 'tweener, in a way, kind of perfectly suited to this specific story but also a character that could be used over and over again much like its source character, Captain Marvel.

Miracleman was well-executed, at least to my just-indicted memory. Because the story is about this (mortal) guy being this other (superhuman) guy, Moore's allowed to get into how that might feel or seem to those on the ground -- fast and terrifying, mostly. For all of Moore's ambitions as a writer and as much as a lot of his work is held in esteem, and as much as it can be an awesome thing to behold the way he structures his books, he's also really good at pop problem solving and always has been.

I haven't even looked at these comics since the day I bought my last of them, and if you had asked me at the time I would have thought I'd have read them a half-dozen additional times by now. A lot of comics are like that, instant friends of the dormitory hallway variety and then suddenly you're both decades older and you haven't spoken in years and years.
 
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