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July 24, 2009 4:35 PM   Subscribe

Thanks to a combination of publishers going out of business and rights disputes Miracleman is probably the best superhero comic you never got the chance to read (previously on the blue). That looks set to change as today at SDCC, Marvel comics has announced that they now own the rights to the title.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm (55 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ooh, baby. I've been waiting for this since the Prisoners of Gravity episode(s) where "Commander Rick" and Moore discuss it.

In fact, I think I have that videotape around here somewhere still. Nancy?
*slaps giant wrist-computer button*

posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:38 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


My friend just texted me this. Biggest superhero comic news in years.

Love to see who they bring in to write. Maybe even Gaiman to finish his series?

Probably not. I'd love to see a left field pick. Even a newbie.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 4:39 PM on July 24, 2009


In all seriousness, despite the name, Marvel Comics is the last place I ever expected to see the rights to Marvelman/Miracleman to go to.
posted by Donnie VandenBos at 4:40 PM on July 24, 2009


Do they truly have the rights to the character, or are they just the most recent claimants? I seem to remember that the problem wasn't simply that previous publishers had gone under, but that there were more claimants to the copyright/publishing right than there were actual issues of the comic.

If it is true, I'm filled with joy that we may finally see reprints, and dread that Marvel will take the awesome creative work and use it as a pedestal to place a steaming turd upon.
posted by lekvar at 4:53 PM on July 24, 2009


Wait, so what happened to the claim Gaiman himself had over the rights? If Marvel bought them from Mick Anglo entirely, does that mean they're just ignoring the whole Gaiman/McFarlane fracas?
posted by FatherDagon at 4:55 PM on July 24, 2009


In all seriousness, despite the name, Marvel Comics is the last place I ever expected to see the rights to Marvelman/Miracleman to go to.

Oh, you think this is over? This ain't over! Wait until DC hears about it...

Seriously, though, this is cool, provided it works out. I don't myself have any interest in new material beyond Gaiman and Buckingham finishing their run (I'm not sure there'd even be a book beyond that point), but I'd be overjoyed to see new printings of the old stuff.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:01 PM on July 24, 2009


I just checked Gaiman's blog; he hasn't said anything about it. I'm sure that will change in the very near future.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:03 PM on July 24, 2009


Possibly the best comics news in years, if it means the original Moore and Gaiman stuff will get reprinted. It's such a tease leaving off with the Silver Age where it was, and deserves to be finished in the best way possible. (For those of you out of the loop, Marvelman/Miracleman is the seminal deconstructionist superhero series you never got to read because it got tied up in horrific ownership fights following Eclipse's bankruptcy in 1993. Issue #15, the single hardest issue to find, is perhaps the most terrifying and amazing superhero fight I've ever read.)

I haven't been hot on Marvel lately at all, but considering what this property has been through so far, it deserves a sound home.
posted by graymouser at 5:09 PM on July 24, 2009


Ladies and gentlemen, Mike Mongo!
posted by Mike Mongo at 5:10 PM on July 24, 2009


This ain't over. This ain't even in the same ballpark as over.
posted by Bonzai at 5:12 PM on July 24, 2009


This may not have any implications for the Moore/Gaiman work on Miracleman, and, from the wording of this, I think it doesn't.

As twisted as the Eclipse/Gaiman/McFarlane dealings were, here's the really complicated wrinkle: the entity that sold the rights to Eclipse in the first place may never have really had them to sell -- it seems to have been done without an actual contract from the creator, Mick Anglo.

Given how this announcement leans on it being a contract with him, I think all this means is that Marvel owns the rights to the character Marvelman, and can publish their own stories using that name, image, and, I presume, the contents of Anglo's stories.

I don't think it means we'll finally see the conclusion of Gaiman's arc on Miracleman or a reprint of the Moore/Gaiman comics, unless they independently work out some arcane deal with Gaiman, McFarlane, and maybe others... I've lost track.
posted by Zed at 5:12 PM on July 24, 2009


From what I remember Moore and co passed on their rights to Gaiman and Buckingham when they started the Golden Age. Then Eclipse went under and McFarlane bought it out and stated that whole brouhaha. Gaiman then teamed up with Marvel against McFarlane to get Gaiman's rights sorted out (in exchange Gaiman came back to comics and wrote 1602). But at the end of that Anglo showed up and said that he still had the rights. Marvel paying off Anglo means they're in the clear for the original stuff, and I'd assume that Gaiman is still on board for the modern stuff (Alan Moore and beyond).
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:17 PM on July 24, 2009


I don't myself have any interest in new material beyond Gaiman and Buckingham finishing their run (I'm not sure there'd even be a book beyond that point), but I'd be overjoyed to see new printings of the old stuff.

I agree. I think that would be the most appropriate use of the rights to the character: first and foremost, putting collections back in print for the general comic audience. If Gaiman would like the opportunity to finish it, I would also support that. But beyond that, I can't imagine doing anything more with Miracleman (though it's not unprecedented).
posted by Donnie VandenBos at 5:17 PM on July 24, 2009


This is all great news ...

Right until they announce the inevitable Venom vs. Miracleman Marvelman limited series. It will be called "House of MM," I'm sure.
posted by grabbingsand at 5:18 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Even more complicated. Mick Anglo may not have had the rights he thought he had. He was working for a small publisher that mostly did reprints and he may have signed a work-for-hire contract, however he did put (c) Mike Anglo on some of the pages so he may own it after all. Does a (c) notification trump a work-for-hire contract?

But it's even MORE complicated. Marvelman was a direct ripoff of Captain Marvel (now owned by D.C.) and it's so close in structure that D.C. might have a legitimate claim to copyright infringement, however since they didn't pursue such a claim during the Warrior/Eclipse days they may not.

This will end in court.

Again.
posted by Bonzai at 5:20 PM on July 24, 2009


I will beleive it when it's in my hands and not before. Still, encouraging.
posted by Artw at 5:22 PM on July 24, 2009


This will end in court.

This will never end.
posted by lekvar at 5:39 PM on July 24, 2009


Given how this announcement leans on it being a contract with him, I think all this means is that Marvel owns the rights to the character Marvelman, and can publish their own stories using that name, image, and, I presume, the contents of Anglo's stories.

I don't think it means we'll finally see the conclusion of Gaiman's arc on Miracleman or a reprint of the Moore/Gaiman comics, unless they independently work out some arcane deal with Gaiman, McFarlane, and maybe others... I've lost track.


I don't think there's a huge amount of interest in Marvelman/Miracleman as a character. That is, independent of the '80s comics. He's really just a Captain Marvel clone. The only reason anyone (other than Todd McFarlane) would pursue the copyright is so that they could have the opportunity to reprint those books.

That said, while Moore and Davis gave their rights to...someone vis a vis the character, I'm relatively sure that everyone involved owns the rights to their own work. So Gaiman and Buckingham (presuming Marvel gave them a good deal) are almost certainly definites to have their work reprinted, and maybe concluded with new stories..right? You'd think so, but: Would Gaiman and Buckingham's work would be work-for-hire, or some special deal, or what? I think the answer to that would make a big difference in terms of them allowing the work to be republished, and certainly in terms of them concluding their series. In other words: Marvel, goddammit, don't get greedy and fuck this up.

The real problem is the Moore run. If Alan Moore still owns his work on the series, then republication would require his go-ahead. Um...well, yeah. ....Yeah.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:48 PM on July 24, 2009


in other restoration news from 1982 :P (via waxy!)
posted by kliuless at 6:08 PM on July 24, 2009


Gaiman's Twitter on the topic.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 6:12 PM on July 24, 2009


Meh. It's been available online for years.

Or so I've heard.

Guys talk. You hear things.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:20 PM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'd wager that online is how most people have read Miracleman as it is pretty hard to get individual issues, let alone the whole series. The one physical Miracleman comic I have, The Golden Age TPB, was purchased from a used bookstore while on vacation in Islamabad, Pakistan (which even back in '97 was not a country where I expected to be able to purchase a Miracleman comic).
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 6:35 PM on July 24, 2009


Re Marvelman: I think it's great news that Mick Anglo's creations is going to be seen again, and hopeful that my work & Bucky's will be backabout

1 hour ago

neilhimself


Um... no one really gives a shit about anything other than the Alan Moore bits.
posted by Artw at 6:38 PM on July 24, 2009


This is why (very) long-term copyright is bad, folks.

Also, I don't really understand why this is a big deal at all. It's just one more character out of, like, thousands in the marvel universe. People come up with new characters all the time. Why would people feel a nostalgic attraction to things that ceased being published before they were born?
posted by delmoi at 6:47 PM on July 24, 2009


Man, who cares about Miracleman? I'm waiting for Johnny Bates to come back. He's going to return one day, just like Jesus, you mark my words.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:49 PM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


i have an incomplete run of miracleman, although i read all of it way back when. that's some awesome comicsness right there.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:49 PM on July 24, 2009


YES! It's on my pull list now baby. I'm a huge comics nerd for most of my life and have never gotten to read Miracleman.
posted by autodidact at 7:02 PM on July 24, 2009


.. and we need a Prisoners of Gravity thread. That was one of the best shows ever put on television. Certainly the best show about science fiction writing.
posted by autodidact at 7:05 PM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


I am so happy now that I can stop lending out my Eclipse hardcovers of MIRACLEMAN... I've probably enlightened 25 people to this series with them, but they are getting rather worn. Bring me an "Absolute"-style hardcover compendium, Marvel!
posted by Ron Thanagar at 7:35 PM on July 24, 2009


I dunno, he's got kind of a Stardust the Super Wizard thing going on.

(Warning: fortunecity site that firefox doesn't think very well of.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:42 PM on July 24, 2009


Um... no one really gives a shit about anything other than the Alan Moore bits.

Are you joking? Neil Gaiman's run was great.
posted by Bonzai at 9:02 PM on July 24, 2009


no one really gives a shit about anything other than the Alan Moore bits.

No, the Gaiman stuff is quite good too.

I happen to have (reprints) of the Moore issues (squee!), but I have read the whole series online. It's good, well worth reading.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:02 PM on July 24, 2009


Why would people feel a nostalgic attraction to things that ceased being published before they were born?

It has little to do with the original character, and much to do with Alan Moore's relaunch of the character in the eighties, and Neil Gaiman's never-finished continuation, some of which was never reprinted, and all of which has been out of print for a long time.

no one really gives a shit about anything other than the Alan Moore bits.

I gotta join the chorus of protests. The Gaiman run in general was good, and the Prisoner-esque issue ranks among my favorite single-issue stories in all of comicdom.
posted by Zed at 9:18 PM on July 24, 2009


I eBay-ed my 4 tpbs of Miracleman to finance a small vacation about 4 years ago, so I would welcome reprints of any kind. This story doesn't seem to indicate such a thing at this point, though.
posted by joelhunt at 9:19 PM on July 24, 2009


joelhunt: What?! Why would you do that? Who needs ONE vacation when the books could take you away to a magical land of imagination ANYTIME?!?!
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:23 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


According to comics rumor-master Rich Johnston, Marvel is in the process of contacting everyone involved in the Moore & Gaiman runs to try and come to an agreement about reprinting that material.

It will be interesting to see how Moore responds, as he swore never again to work for Marvel after they blocked him from using the Marvelman name (even though Marvelman actually predated Marvel Comics).
posted by Awkward Philip at 9:58 PM on July 24, 2009


It will be interesting to see how Moore responds, as he swore never again to work for Marvel after they blocked him from using the Marvelman name (even though Marvelman actually predated Marvel Comics).

I think it was actually earlier than that. Something about Captain Britain. The marvelman/miracleman thing was just fuel for the fire.

But, yeah, good luck trying to get permission to reprint those issues.

That guy is a fucking nutcase.
posted by Bonzai at 10:10 PM on July 24, 2009


Um... no one really gives a shit about anything other than the Alan Moore bits.

Sorry, but you're way off base on this. If you've never actually read Gaiman's (truncated) run on the title, you've no idea what you're missing. Particularly the Andy Warhol issue.
posted by graymouser at 3:13 AM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've been holding onto my 4 tpbs forever, actually hoping they'd republish, because I'd like to loan these out, but experience with even less rare, less costly collections (like Mage) has indicated that would be a very bad idea.
posted by kalessin at 3:17 AM on July 25, 2009


I'd wager that online is how most people have read Miracleman as it is pretty hard to get individual issues, let alone the whole series.

Assuming this actually leads to reprints, on the down side, the complete run a friend gave me will be worth less. On the up side, more people can share the goodness. On balance, I consider this good.

Um... no one really gives a shit about anything other than the Alan Moore bits.

You're wrong.

This is why (very) long-term copyright is bad, folks.

Because the artists who are living should lose their copyright? Do you actually know anything about this series, or did you just rush here in your desperation to spurt?

Also, I don't really understand why this is a big deal at all. It's just one more character out of, like, thousands in the marvel universe.

OK, so this is either parody, or you don't have a fucking clue.
posted by rodgerd at 3:19 AM on July 25, 2009


*mourns Flex Mentallo*
posted by mediareport at 6:33 AM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


For interested parties, iFanboy did a video podcast recently summing up the whole Miracle/Marvelman thing.

Do I regret selling those tpbs? Yeah, sometimes. Honestly, I really just expected them to have been reprinted by now. I do still have my copy of Kimota! The Miracleman Companion, which appears to also be out of print.
posted by joelhunt at 6:36 AM on July 25, 2009


*mourns Flex Mentallo*

Zenith, Big Dave, Zoids...
posted by Artw at 7:22 AM on July 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


I just read the entire Eclipse run of Miracleman, thanks to the wonders of torrents. (There are three very healthy torrents on TPB, if you want to fill in the gaps, or never touched it the first time around).

I dunno how well it holds up. Never read it when it came out, I've read Watchman and that was enough deconstruction of the Comic-Book Hero for me; I really don't have much interest in them aside from the occasional trip through Kirby's wild visions. I really felt like the story became less compelling once it shifted into "Miracleman sits in his giant Miraclepalace and has a seven-issue-ling flashback that tells you how he and the aliens and Miraclewoman brought about Utopia". When he dedicated a single page to "And then we abolished money and everything was awesome" it just felt... naive. Beautifully drawn and well-written, but the rapid skimming of events felt like a five-year-old telling me about their trip to a water-park. Although in Moore's defense, how else was he going to get to Utopia if that's where he felt it was inevitably going to go? Over the course of a decade, detailing every single event? I dunno. It felt rushed and glossed-over.

The Gaiman issues were lovely little character pieces with some beautiful art by diverse hands, but they really felt like he was just wandering around in the world Moore left him, looking at it from various angles and plucking at some loose ends while he tried to figure out where he was going to go. Presumably the wordless backup bits about a corpse being retrieved from the Interdimensional Body Closet were going to build into narrative soon but we'll never know unless it does resume and Gaiman returns to writing it or hands his plot notes to whoever gets that gig.
posted by egypturnash at 8:27 AM on July 25, 2009


Presumably the wordless backup bits about a corpse being retrieved from the Interdimensional Body Closet were going to build into narrative soon but we'll never know unless it does resume and Gaiman returns to writing it or hands his plot notes to whoever gets that gig.

I don't know whether it's all right to spoil something that (a) is about twenty years old and (b) may (still) never again see the light of day, so I'll just say that your torrent probably didn't include the Silver Age, two or three issues of which were published before Eclipse imploded. The corpse retrieval is the major plot driver of that story. And actually it seemed like it would be a pretty strong story, and -- of course -- it was miscarried by the whims of fate just when it was getting good.

I really felt like the story became less compelling once it shifted into "Miracleman sits in his giant Miraclepalace and has a seven-issue-ling flashback that tells you how he and the aliens and Miraclewoman brought about Utopia". When he dedicated a single page to "And then we abolished money and everything was awesome" it just felt... naive. Beautifully drawn and well-written, but the rapid skimming of events felt like a five-year-old telling me about their trip to a water-park. Although in Moore's defense, how else was he going to get to Utopia if that's where he felt it was inevitably going to go? Over the course of a decade, detailing every single event? I dunno. It felt rushed and glossed-over.

Heh. No way that isn't funny to anyone who read Miracleman in its original publication -- I think there was about a year between the last two issues of Moore and Totleben's run. (If I'm not mistaken, that -- and the short page-count per issue -- had more to do with John Totleben's sadly deteriorating eyesight than anything else, however.) Re: naivete, though, I think a closer reading of the issues might show you that Moore is saying things are really not as awesome as Miracleman would like to believe from his lofty perch; Liz's last conversation with him certainly underscores the idea that Miracleman is carrying around a whole metric fuckton of hubris. Gaiman runs with this idea in The Silver Age, where what look to be the seeds of Miracleman's downfall are sown (except, you know, Eclipse's own downfall seeds got there first).

Worth noting, I think, that the big narrative transition in Moore's run probably came about in no small part because the book went on extended vacation for several years someplace in the middle of it. In that time, Moore went from being an obscure writer to being, well, ALAN MOORE, so change was probably inevitable. Given that, if Gaiman returns to work on Miracleman -- picking up where he left off back in the early '90s -- I can't even guess how different the new stuff will be from what preceded it.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:51 AM on July 25, 2009


I'm excited about this, and I really hope that Marvel can figure out how to rightly compensate Moore, Gaiman, et al for some solid reprints.

I know Moore has some distaste for Marvel, but considering how much more Moore has against DC now, and considering that DC might not be thrilled about this, I could see Moore backing Marvel just to spite DC. Plus, with Moore's original reason for hating Marvel (the Marvelman/Miracleman thing) being resolved because of Marvel's involvement, maybe he'll get over himself.
Yeah, right.
posted by sleeping bear at 1:50 PM on July 25, 2009


I found the Alan Moore Miracleman comics on the good old interwebs and have been stuck in front of my computer ever since, entranced. They are so good I can't even describe them. I encourage all you on the blue to search them out, too.
posted by festivemanb at 5:24 PM on July 25, 2009


In honor of this, I started re-reading the series (first read it about 5 years ago). I'm up through issue #3.

As in much of Moore's early work (including Swamp Thing, V for Vendetta, and even Watchmen, his prose here has the tendency to get a little purple at times; some of the really grandiloquent passages and metaphorical conceits can be really clunky and embarrassing. I think the early issues display this tendency at its worst. I think that he's mostly managed to make this work in his later work, taming his verbosity and using poetic flourishes only when appropriate. I also find that at times the big ideas get in the way of the plot, but again, I think he's mostly managed to make narrative and concept work a lot better.

What I've been most surprised about in rereading these issues are the number of spelling and other errors; at least once or twice, I've noticed that the text in some speech balloons have been switched into the wrong order. I've also found that sometimes the art is a bit confusing -- in the first battle between Moran and Bates, for example, they seem to be switching locations every panel.

Still, I find myself compelled by the story, and while it is a "deconstruction of the superhero," I find it different enough from the more tightly written Watchmen that it is worth reading. I hope that if/when they reprint it, they fix the lettering errors and recolor it. I'd love to see this get the "Absolute" treatment, even though I can never afford those damn things.
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:26 PM on July 25, 2009


The series really was so incredibly influential. The whole scene of destruction that accompanied the "Dragon" was unheard of in its day. The stories later in Apocrypha (the stuff Gaiman did) about social/cultural processing of the changes wrought by the new gods are so deeply influential that there are folks alive now who do not know when those stories were original.

I know there may be bits that don't "hold up" to today's standards where this kind of depth is par for the course, but please try to read and digest the series in the context of the time when this kind of depth and darkness was very rare and quite controversial.
posted by kalessin at 6:37 PM on July 25, 2009


kalessin is absolutely right. Much of the stuff in MIRACLEMAN was incredibly shocking for the time. I remember as a retailer dealing with the whole kerfluffle about the graphic depiction of childbirth (!), and the way Miracleman dealt with Dr. Gargunza (like we always wanted Superman to deal with Lex Luthor), and the horrific fight with Kid Miracleman (possibly the first time a fight between super-powered beings was shown to cause enormous civilian casualties), and other things that had never been done before. All those plot elements blew our minds back in 1985. Maybe the whole "deconstruction of the superhero mythos" thing is old hat now, but MIRACLEMAN changed how we perceived comic books as much as SWAMP THING and BRAT PACK, etc. did for similar reasons.

MIRACLEMAN deserves to be read.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 9:31 PM on July 25, 2009


Next up The Elementals.
posted by wobh at 10:21 PM on July 25, 2009


The Gaiman issues were lovely little character pieces with some beautiful art by diverse hands, but they really felt like he was just wandering around in the world Moore left him, looking at it from various angles and plucking at some loose ends while he tried to figure out where he was going to go.

Basically how I felt about them. I'm actually kind of suprised at the level of enthusiasm for them expressed here.
posted by Artw at 10:37 PM on July 25, 2009


I bought a bunch of these comics back in the 80s, due to the Alan Moore writing... I think I was too young to really appreciate them. I should go back and re-read them (and check to see if I have issue 15).
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 12:14 PM on July 26, 2009


A friend has the original issues. It's been a while since I read them, but I remember them as being jaw-droppingly awesome.

I thought Flex Mentallo was finally getting collected.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:59 PM on July 26, 2009


wobh: The Elementals were the first "adult" comic book I ever owned/read. They blew my mind back in the late 80s when I started collecting them (around 8th grade, I think). I have just about every issue, including almost all of the various spin-off and Elementals-related comics, except for 1 or 2 of the "Sex Specials" I think. I still weep that Willingham never got to finish this series, or his 3-issue series Coventry.
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:50 PM on July 26, 2009


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