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Comic Book: Miracleman
Miracleman (originally Marvelman... it has reverted to its old title) refers to two separate and related creations, the second based on the first.

Version One

A 1950s homegrown British Captain Ersatz version of superhero Captain Marvel (himself an Expy of Superman, though different in many ways), created by Mick Anglo. Michael Moran, Johnny Bates and Dicky Dauntless were three young boys who on saying a particular "magic word" became Marvelman, Kid Marvelman and Young Marvelman respectively. Like Captain Marvel, they had a series of adventures with often fantastic and absurd settings with Dr. Gargunza being their arch-enemy(Gargunza is an Expy of Dr. Sivana, Captain Marvel's recurring arch-enemy).

These books were published by, L. Miller & Son, Ltd., had the rights to make reprints of American Comic Book Captain Marvel for the UK. However, when Fawcett Comics, publishers and right-owners of Captain Marvel in America, had to cease when DC Comics threatened to sue due to similarities to Superman, L. Miller was faced with the reprint material drying up. So, ironically, he had one of his writers, Mick Angelo, created Captain Ersatz versions of the character and his supporting cast. Marvelman's adventures lasted from 1954 to 1963, for about 350 weekly issues. The books were popular as young men's reading material, its bright colour adventures were considered refreshing in England in The Fifties.

Version 2

The Alan Moore version, from the 1980s, later continued by Neil Gaiman.

A young Alan Moore was one of the readers of the original Mick Anglo run and in one of his first interviews, he stated a desire to write the long discontinued title, hoping to do a fresh spin for modern audiences. Word of Moore's intentions reached Dez Skinn, publisher of Warrior magazine. Skinn had somehow gained rights to Marvelman and had entertained ideas to bring it back into print. It was with Marvelman that Moore started what became part of his Signature Style. Take a previously known character that had become obscure and rewrite and Retcon its origins and submit the entire premise to a Genre Deconstruction. His work with Marvelman attracted a great deal of attention and this later led to work with DC on titles like Swamp Thing which also radically changed the character from the ground-up. Moore's run on Marvelman essentially covers three separate long story arcs.

The first arc is largely an "origin" story dealing with a grown-up, Happily Married Michael Moran who works as a reporter and has dreams of life as a "superhero" but has forgotten his magic word. He rediscovers it("Kimota") at an Atomic power plant and becomes a superhero in the grim 80s of Thatcher's Britain. The Driving Question of the first story is the circumstances of Michael Moran's existence, the tension in his marriage caused by having two different identities in a single body and his reunion with childhood acquaintances, Johnny Bates("Kid Miracleman") as well Dr. Emil Gargunza. The second arc dealt with him meeting Miraclewoman, a Distaff Counterpart and takes the series into a cosmic direction as Miracleman goes to outer space and meets aliens with similar powers and abilities as him.

Sadly, Warrior stopped publication about one-third through his run; the series would have remained lost and unfinished if not for Eclipse Comics, who offered to buy the US rights to the property and let Moore finish the series. Unfortunately, Marvel Comics was not thrilled with Moore and the fact that his character was called Marvelman. So the character was changed to Miracleman. Miracleman debuted in 1984 to rave reviews, though there would many problems: Eclipse Comics had its corporate headquarters destroyed in a flood and Alan Davis (the original artist for the series) left over the fact that Moore's antagonistic relationship with Marvel Comics threatened to get Alan Davis blacklisted from working stateside.

Several artists were called in to draw the rest of Moore's run (along with an issue that reprinted classic Miracleman stories, something that the book's editor replied was only being done because of the aforementioned flood), among them Steve Bissette and Rick Veitch of Swamp Thing fame and Chuck Austen (yes, THAT Chuck Austen). The third part of the series, called "Olympus" had the series undertake a Genre Shift into Cosmic Horror and science fiction as Moore started to explore Miracleman's drift from humanity. He ended his run with the memorable final two issues of 15 and 16, memorable for the hitherto unseen levels of violence depicted in superhero comics. Alan Moore's run would be followed by Neil Gaiman, who sought to write a trilogy of story arcs beginning with The Golden Age continuing on with The Silver Age and ending with The Dark Age. These would have explored Miracleman's new order and its ultimate downfall. Though The Golden Age arc concluded, the book was cancelled again shortly after the commencement of The Silver Age with the collapse of Eclipse Comics. Gaiman's story has remained unfinished to this day.

With the collapse of Eclipse Comics, the rights to the series fell into legal limbo hell, made worse with Todd McFarlane buying up ownership of Eclipse Comics assets when the company went down. McFarlane drew much controversy in his desire to incorporate Miracleman into the Spawn universe and holding usage of the character and the chance to finish his story, as blackmail material to force Neil Gaiman (who, thanks to Alan Moore, had partial legal ownership claim to the character) in exchange for Neil giving up his long-standing legal fight over ownership of popular Spawn character Angela and claims to royalties that were being withheld from by Todd. However, it would be for naught as it was revealed that the real rights were held by Mick Anglo, who due to a various number of loopholes with the British copyright system, had never signed away his rights to the characters and that the deal with Alan Moore for usage of the character for Warrior and Eclipse Comics was invalid. This allowed, ironically, for Marvel Comics to cut a deal to buy the rights to the entire franchise from Anglo (as well as the scripts to the 80s comic series, as the artwork has to be renegotiated since Gaiman still owned the rights to the Miracleman scripts).

The series remains in limbo to this day, though as part of their deal and as a means to help out Anglo (who never saw a dime for his character in the years after Moore revitalized him and was terminally ill), Marvel republished several trade paperbacks of the original 1950s Miracleman series (now Marvelman again) in hardcover and mini-series format. This in turn brought back into the spotlight many characters that Anglo created that were abandoned by Moore in his revival, most notably Nastyman and Young Nastyman, a pair of Black Adam Expies. Marvel also is said to have a verbal commitment with Neil Gaiman to let him complete his Miracleman story once the artwork rights issues are resolved. Thanks to the myriad copyright controversies, physical copies of Marvelman/Miracleman are extremely hard to find. An online archive of all the Moore/Gaiman stories, however, can be found here. It was revealed at NYCC in October, 2013 that Marvel had fully acquired the rights to Miracleman and, beginning in January 2014, Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman's volumes would be reprinted and reissued, in addition to allowing Gaiman to complete the story left unfinished twenty-five years ago.

Tropes included:

  • All Just a Dream: In just the first few issues of the Alan Moore run it's revealed that the entire 1950's-60's run of Miracleman was just an elaborate dream induced simulation created by Miracleman's government handlers. Invoked in-story, too, by Gargunza in order to cleverly stop the Miracleman family from waking up in the real world.
  • Anti-Villain: Evelyn Cream.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Originally, Marvelman transformed by saying a formula for the "key harmonic of the universe," whatever that might mean, that just happened to be "atomic" spelled backwards and with a K.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me - Subverted horribly by Kid Miracleman. Upon his escape from the hospital, he spares the only nurse who was kind to him during his stay. Then returns and obliterates her head while she is still smiling in relief at being spared.
  • Benevolent Alien Invasion
  • Beware the Superman
  • Black and Gray Morality - Though self-evidently much more "good" than his antagonist, Miracleman neither acts according to merely human ethics or morality nor gives lip services to it.
  • Bus Full of Innocents - Quite literally, but subverted in that Miracleman himself throws it.
  • Canon Discontinuity - The earlier Marvelman adventures happened only in a kind of Lotus-Eater Machine.
  • City of Spies - Features in a short story later in the series.
  • Completely Missing the Point - As Miracleman disconnects from humanity more and more, he starts to do this in regards to people's reactions.
  • Continuity Reboot - The modern version.
  • Darker and Edgier - Moore's interpretation.
  • Deconstruction - Moore developed a lot of the themes of Watchmen first in his run of Miracleman and indeed the latter was described by him as the end of his series tackling with superhero myths. In Miracleman he tackles the conflict between boring civilian identity and the superhero identity, the wider social effect superheroes can have on the world and the Ascended Fridge Horror of a superhero-supervillain dust-up.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him - magnificently subverted with the death of Gargunza. "I threw him at a planet."
  • Enemy Mine - The threat of Miracleman overseeing the planet as a "god" is enough that both Christian and Muslim fundamentalists join together in its wake. However, there's not really much they can do about it.
  • Eye Beams: Johnny Bates has this ability, while Miracleman and others like him do not. Something which is not explained, though perhaps these are meant to be focused telekinesis.
  • Flying Brick - Miracleman, Young Miracleman, Kid Miracleman, etc., in both versions.
  • Gender Flip - If Miracleman is Captain Marvel and Kid Miracleman is Captain Marvel Jr., that means Young Miracleman must be based on Mary Marvel.
  • Genetic Engineering is the New Nuke: Miracleman's body is the product of genetic engineering, and the U.K. is mentioned as having developed the technology as a counter to the larger powers' nuclear weapons.
  • Imported Alien Phlebotinum - Responsible for the creation of the superhumans in the modern version (but not the original).
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Marvel has not (and it seems will not soon) reprint the 1980s and later stories. So they remain inaccessible to readers, at least legally.
    • Will finally be averted when, starting in January 2014, Marvel will be reprinted Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman's volumes of the story.
  • Mad Scientist - Dr. Gargunza, in both the '50s comics and the Alan Moore version.
  • Mistaken for Granite - The doors to the room housing the kingqueen of the Qys is guarded by two guards whom Miracleman/Marvelman mistakes for statues, due to their immobility and size.
  • Otherworldly And Sexually Ambiguous: The alien Warpsmiths are multi-dimensional, and ultimately genderless beings, who have sex in ways that defy anything resembling biology on Earth.
  • Psychopathic Manchild - Kid Miracleman and Young Nastyman.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless - Both played straight and later inverted as much as possible. On the one hand, Gargunza, Miracleman's creator, strangely, never capitalizes on his biotechnological brilliance. After Kid Miracleman destroys London, however, Miracleman and his friends "go public," which changes every human society on every level.
  • Refusing Paradise: Liz Moran in her final meeting with Miracleman does this. She refuses Miracleman's "everyone's-a-super" offer of acquiring powers and chooses to simply be herself.
  • Re Vision - The modern version.
  • Serial Escalation: One suspects that Kid Miracleman has the power to make up superpowers as he goes along like the Silver Age Superman, except instead of super-ventrilquism and super-knitting he invents things like super-horriblemurder or super-evil. Example of just how hard he went: while not fully shown or detailed how he acomplished this somehow Kid Miracleman manages (once his darker alter-ego is fully unleashed) to elaborately mutilate, torture, rape, kill and arrange into morbidly artistic ornaments half the population of London in one or two hours.
  • Stable Time Loop - In one of the original Warrior comics, and hinted at in issue #15, Miracleman and a Warpsmith travel back in time twice to battle his earlier self in order to steal kinetic force from their blows. After each battle, the Warpsmith erases his earlier double's memory.
  • Super Family Team
  • Superhero Speciation - The superhumans created by Gargunza have the same Flying Brick power set.
    • Apparently, they all have Psychic Powers, that's just how they manifested.
    • Also, the Warpsmiths are all teleporters, and Firedrakes are pyrokinetic.
  • Take That - After Miracleman effectively takes over the world, there is no power structure anymore. All the former tyrants of the world meet in group therapy to deal with the reversal. One of the members is a gray-haired white guy who tells the rest he got aroused from a dream where he ordered soldiers to kill rabbits and give him money. The group's therapist then thanks "George" for his trust. It's pretty obvious it's George H.W. Bush, who became President the year the issue came out.
    • Similarly, when Miracleman announces that the old ways are over, and the world will be remade, Margaret Thatcher insists the world's leaders will not allow it. Miracleman looks at her nonchalantly and responds, "'Allow?'"
  • What Measure Is a Non-Super?: A persistent theme in the books, is what is the worth of Michael Moran in comparison to his superhero alterego. Moore gives the unfashionable answer of "not much at all" and Moran's identity is totally erased and Miracleman takes over for good.
    • The final issue asks this of humanity as a whole. In a world where everyone's either a super or has the choice and capacity to be one, and all human problems and vices are solved overnight, what value does everyday humanity have or why would some people choose to remain human even when they have the choice of being gods?
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds - Young Nastyman and the human alter ego of Kid Miracleman.
  • You Are Already Dead: The final fate of Evelyn Cream.

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alternative title(s): Marvelman; Miracleman
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