THE TURNAROUND BLOG

Graphic Novel Spotlight – Miracleman By Gaiman & Buckingham Book 1: The Golden Age

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Miracleman is highly regarded as one of the best comic books to come out of the 1980s and helped launch the careers of several high profile comic creators including Alan Moore, Alan Davis, Garry Leach, Rick Veitch and John Tottleben. It was also part of future superstar author Neil Gaiman’s early body of work alongside his 1989 landmark Sandman series for DC Comics as well as one of Mark Buckingham’s earliest gigs who went on to achieve acclaim for his work on Fables, Peter Parker: Spider-Man and much more. Unfortunately, bankruptcy and later legal issues would see Gaiman and Buckingham’s run unfinished and stuck in limbo for years with the entire Miracleman series out of print. Fortunately, Marvel has since resumed publication of the series, having returned it to print, and have now reached Gaiman and Buckingham’s run which will finally see its conclusion. This month marks the release of the first collection of their run.

“Atop Olympus, Miracleman presides over a brave new world forged from London’s destruction. It is a world free of war, of famine, of poverty. A world of countless wonders. A world where pilgrims scale Olympus’ peak to petition their living god while, miles below, the dead return in fantastic android bodies. It is an Age of Miracles – but is mankind ready for it? Do we even want it? Is there a place for humanity in a world of gods?”

At the end of the run preceding Gaiman and Buckingham’s, following his defeat of Kid Miracleman, Miracleman (alongside recently emerged superhumans) essentially take over the world. Miracleman is turned away by his wife Liz as she feels he has abandoned his human side (Michael Moran) and his new utopia could have dire consequences for the rest of humanity. Miracleman is left  reflecting on his entire life and questioning whether forming his utopia was the right course of action. The first chapter of Gaiman and Buckingham’s run examines humanity’s reaction to this new utopia with no inner monologue from Miracleman this time round. As a result, we are left entirely to the thoughts and opinions of the human residents of the new utopia, which are split down the middle.

Though we don’t yet get the benefit of hearing his inner thoughts, Gaiman creates an interesting picture of Miracleman as he appears to be becoming more aloof and is now of the belief he has transcended humanity in every way. There is a great demonstration of this in the very first issue as the citizens of his utopia make the pilgrimage to Olympus to seek an audience with their ruler. Whilst Miracleman is receptive of requests for more art to be available, his response to a father hoping to save his brain damaged daughter who suffered her injury in Miracleman’s battle with Kid Miracleman is shocking to say the least. But more fascinating is the varied reactions humanity has to their new surroundings, whether it be a mother of a superhuman daughter coming to terms with humanity’s increasing irrelevance or when a normal man falls in love with Miraclewoman. But the true highpoint is a great chapter focusing on one of several resurrected Andy Warhol duplicates helping adjust Miracleman’s former nemesis Emil Gargunza to the new world following his resurrection. Despite being brought back to life and exposed to god-like entities, this Warhol duplicate finds greater fulfilment conversing with someone like Garzuna who he feels he has more in common with than his mass-produced duplicates and is not even convinced that Miracleman is the be-all end-all (he still prays every Sunday).

Mark Buckingham’s art is wonderfully varied throughout this first volume, adapting several different styles to fit the tone of each story, whether it be a dark moody style for the spy story in issue 5, the Beanoesque and Pythonesque sequences looking at Johnny Bates (Kid Miracleman), or the collage of different styles that go from traditional superhero to chalk drawing to photorealism in the Warhol story. The wonderfully ornate covers are also something to behold and are the icing on the cake of a great showcase of Buckingham’s art.

Marvel will soon be approaching the previously unreleased material which will finally see Gaiman and Buckingham’s run concluded. This is not only an obvious a must-buy for any Miracleman or Neil Gaiman fans but also for anyone looking at a true masterclass in how creative comics can be.

Miracleman By Gaiman & Buckingham Book 1: The Golden Age is published 10 March by Marvel

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Post by Leo

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