‘Miracleman’ at Marvel: How Not to Ruin It
While a lot of announcements trickling forth from San Diego raised my eyebrow, only one really had the juice to elicit a "Twilight"-esque squeal of glee, like an actor off-camera had playfully poked at my doughy white tummy: the long-overdue return of "Miracleman."
"Miracleman" was a pivotal point in my comics-appreciating career. I had become bored and disillusioned with "The X-Men," "Spawn," Rob Liefeld, spinoffs, chromium covers, crossovers and trading cards. It was all suddenly so tiresome, and I knew there had to be something better out there. And when my junior high art teacher lent me "The Golden Age," suddenly there was. It was similar to the moment when you finally get fed up with modern Top 40 and start looking through music history for something that can enlighten you. In a way, "Miracleman" is my "Pet Sounds."
One of the reasons "Miracleman" has gained such a reputation for greatness is its scarcity – being flatly unavailable for most who wanted to read it lifted the book to "mythic" status, and it hovered there on its ornate pillar, unmarred, untouched, incomplete for twenty years, totally incapable of lowering expectations.
Now that there is a distinct possibility of new "Miracleman" stories, there's also a distinct possibility of bad "Miracleman" stories. What if Eclipse Comics had never failed, and if Gaiman's run had been wrapped up and handed over to another creative team? What if Todd McFarlane had actually gotten his slender Canadian fingers on this property? Mediocrity, that's what.
We now stand on the precipice of that very possibility, and in my stupid opinion, this is what Marvel needs to do to keep the "Miracleman" property as intact and gleaming as it currently stands. After all, nobody wants to hear Blink-182 redo "Pet Sounds."
Give the reprints -- if you get the rights to them -- the Deluxe treatment: hardbacks, dustcovers, additional material, the "compleat" Alan Moore edition – but release the paperbacks concurrently. People aren't going to shell out a hundred bucks for something that's they've only heard is supposed to be great. Well, most people won't. Everybody else is doing something known in Psychology as "hoarding." These are damaged people, and one can't build an entire audience on damaged people. You're Marvel, not Brian Pulido.
Change the name back to "Marvelman." Yes, it was the original name, yes, when Moore was writing those first magical scripts, he was writing "Panel One: Marvelman does such-and-such" and then six more pages of description. Doesn't matter. First of all, Miracleman, hands down, is a cooler name. Secondly, Marvel already has enough characters named Marvel something, and having even one character named after your company is about as cool as wearing a Wilco shirt to a Wilco concert. People are staring, fer chrissakes.
Beg and plead and threaten and harangue Neil Gaiman to finish his story. Gaiman has a Newbery medal to go along with his World Fantasy Award, Hugo, and nineteen Eisners. So, you know, he's expensive, but he has expressed interest over the years.
Try to replace Mark Buckingham with a better-known, hotter artist. Buckingham remains one of the medium's most-skilled draftsmen, and his stellar work on layout and design was a perfect match to Gaiman's wondrous tone, and it's hard to imagine that Gaiman would be okay with dropping somebody he's known for two decades.
Throw Miracleman into the Marvel Universe. Just... don't. He doesn't belong. It would be like cramming the world's greatest, most prized square peg into a round hole. Every time Wolverine refers to Miracleman as "bub," a baby clown explodes. Keep Miracleman out of 616! That's bush league, Marvel. Bush league.
Censor anything. "Miracleman" had some pretty graphic scenes, which were certainly more controversial twenty years ago than they are today. I write, of course, of the birth scene. If you haven't read it, imagine that scene in "Knocked Up." Now imagine it bigger, puffier, and in slow motion. While Marvel has been content to keep F-bombs and nudity in their Max and Icon titles, it's hard to think of any instances of frank depictions of female genitalia. In general, that's a good thing, but in this case Marvel can't, um, wuss out.