Miracleman – Needless Character Analysis
Almost everyone remembers Miracleman from his 1980s stories by Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman. Because no analysis of the character is complete without an overview of the character’s rocky publication history, that is integrated here.
Miracleman, first known as Marvelman, was first published in Britain in 1954. He was created as a British analogue Captain Marvel, due to Fawcett ceasing to publish the American hero. Marvelman was given a backstory and supporting cast similar to his American predecessor.
Micky Moran was a young reporter that gained great powers from an astrophysicist. Whenever he spoke the word “Kimota” (“atomic” spelled backwards) he transformed into Marvelman. His sidekicks were Young Marvelman, a messenger named Dickie Dauntless, and Kid Miracleman, a boy named Johnny Bates. Creator Mick Anglo guided the character until 1960 when he split with publisher Len Miller. Anglo claimed ownership of Marvelman even putting “© Mick Anglo” in the margins of some stories. Marvelman stories continued until 1963 when increased competition from imported American comics lowered the sales of Marvelman titles to the point where Len Miller filed for bankruptcy.
In 1982, Dez Skinn launched a new British comics anthology, Warrior, and Marvelman was one of the characters revived for the title. Through recommendations, Alan Moore was chosen to write the hero, which was redefined by the author. He made the story much darker with Michael Moran married, suffering from migraines and strange dreams of flying. When he is caught in the middle of a terrorist raid on an opening nuclear power plant, he sees the word Atomic from the back side of a glass window on a door. Saying the word “Kimota” he discovers his dual identity of Marvelman. Marvelman also discovers that his former sidekick Johnnybates has grown up as Kid Miracleman and is a sadistic sociopath.
When threatened legal action from Marvel Comics and disagreements between Dez Skinn and Alan Moore began to plague the publisher, he licensed the character to American publisher Pacific, and later Eclipse Comics. Moore continued the stories under the title Miracleman (as the character was now known in all American publications to avoid confusion and potential legal issues with Marvel Comics). Alan Moore crafted stories that had Miracleman develop into an almost god-like being due to his immense power. A son was born that inherited Miracleman’s powers and transcended Earthly matters. A female counterpart was introduced in Miraclewoman who eventually became a lover to Miracleman. It also introduced alien technology to Earth, which later writer Neil Gaiman would use to transform the series.
Neil Gaiman took over writing Miracleman with a proposed trilogy of storylines, “The Golden Age”, “The Silver Age”, and “The Dark Age.” Due to Eclipse folding as publisher in 1994, Miracleman stories stopped in the middle of “The Silver Age.” Neil Gaiman’s stories saw the world transformed by alien technology into a utopia ruled by Miracleman. This world was further developed by other writers. “The Silver Age” was never finished and plans for a “Dark Age” return of Johnny Bates never happened.
When Todd McFarlane bought Eclipse Comics assets in 1996, he assumed and claimed that he owned Miracleman outright. Neil Gaiman disputed this, since the Eclipse agreement gave him 1/6 ownership of the character. He sued Todd McFarlane, using money made from his Marvel project 1602 to pay his legal fees. In 2009 it was learned that Eclipse had never owned the rights to the character as they had remained with creator Mick Anglo, who sold them to Marvel Comics in 2009. This helped settle the legal dispute over the character and paved the way for Marvel reprints of the Eclipse stories, starting in 2014.