Some Musings on Miracleman
By John Burkle
I dreamed of Miracleman as a twelve-year-old boy.
I loved the concept. As a young comic book fan who at the time was a little chubby and awkward, the idea that I could say Kimota and be transformed into the most powerful being in the world was my fantasy. I know as an American I should’ve used the word Shazam and become Captain Marvel but when I was twelve there wasn’t a Captain Marvel comic. There was Miracleman.
I found Miracleman on the indie rack of my then comic shop. The cover to Miracleman #3 drew me in. I bought that issue along with #1 and #2 since what comic fan could just start with the third issue? I read them and my pre-pubescent mind didn’t quite grasp what the book was but I loved the look and the feel of it.
I was shockingly allowed to buy every issue, as my parents didn’t think to censor a comic and the shop owner wanted the sale. I enjoyed it on a superficial level and dutifully bagged and boarded each issue and added it to my long boxes. I was in my twenties when the controversy began. Who owned the property? Who could and could not publish the books? A cultish following began of people who wanted to read the book but were unable to. The price of the books skyrocketed. I eventually dug my books out with the intent of reading them again, and then they disappeared. I found out later what befell them and I was irate but they were gone, sold by an ex on Ebay. I then joined the legion of those who wanted the book back.
Finally Marvel announced they had obtained the rights. It took a few years but finally the Alan Moore–sorry, the Original Writer’s stories were going to be reprinted. I got excited. I even excused the outrageous price tag, as I knew it probably cost a pretty penny to pay the legal fees to untangle the mess over who owned the rights. I gleefully read the books and came to a sad realization: new readers would think that Miracleman was predictable superhero book.
The problem with Miracleman is that it has become forgettable. Many of the themes and concepts presented in the pages of Miracleman that were groundbreaking are now borrowed upon heavily. What had been original in 1986 (1982 in England) now seems part of the super god trop present in so many comics of today, such as the idea of governments creating super beings as military assets and post humans fighting with graphic casualties and mass destruction are now commonplace. Superheroes assuming control of the world then struggling to create a utopia is the entire theme for some writers resumes. Miracleman was borrowed from so heavily that to new readers today the once progressive and controversial story themes are just the par for the course. I fear that Miracleman’s lasting legacy will be the legal fight over the ownership of the character and creator rights rather then the game changing story that it was when originally published.
Sadly it seems Marvel has pulled the plug on the series. The sales have been low, the book is too expensive, the hardbacks are overpriced nor been put into trades, and apparently interest in the book has disappeared. I hold out hope that we will have a conclusion but at least I have the Moore books again and I can always walk down memory lane and understand it this time.
– John Burkle
***[Editor’s Note: For more Miracleman, be sure to check out the latest episode of Legendary Runs here on Talking Comics!]