You wanna see it? Really?
Ok. You were warned. Hit the jump.
The first issue of Marvel’s reprint of Miracleman, drawn by Garry Leach and written by someone Marvel is referring to as “The Original Writer” in order to avoid litigation, but who we will refer to as “The Cranky Old Bastard,” will be released on January 15th, 2014, which, purely by coincidence, will be the same day that my original Eclipse Comics copy of Miracleman #1 plummets to a value where it will be less expensive to use as attic insulation than fiberglass.
While I have been excited for these reprints, it has only been in that they are precursors for Neil Gaiman’s and Mark Buckingham’s completion of their The Silver Age and The Dark Age stories that were scuttled in the 1990s when Eclipse went under. After all, I do own the complete original Eclipse run (including Miracleman: Apocrypha, Miracleman 3D and one or two of the trade paperback reprints of the original issues), so it’s not like I need the reprints for the story. And sure, Marvel has announced that they’re completely digitally remastering the artwork, but really: how much of a difference could that make?
A reasonable amount, it turns out. Marvel has released a few pages from that first issue to show off some of that remastered original Leach art… and it’s looking pretty good. And you can check them out after the jump.
They say that you should never meet your heroes, and I am okay with that proposition. Because they also say that you must separate the artist from the art, and I have been forced to do that for my entire adult life. Not only ephemerally – I could read Hunter Thompson all day long, but there is no doubt he was a violent, drugsucking monstrosity, and I could enjoy reading Harlan Ellison stories for a thousand years without having to hear the man calling me a dullard – but professionally. I have worked with comedians – comedians you have heard of – who were the worst kind of arrogant and selfish scumbags, and people in the music industry who would pretend you never even existed if it meant another case of comp’ed CDs to sell to local record stores at a discount, like a common mafioso.
So while I consider several comics writers from the 1980s to be heroes of mine, I am okay if I never meet them. The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One are a couple of the greatest comic stories I’ve ever read, I think I can go to my grave without having Frank Miller chase me around while shrieking, “hippie!” and trying to cut my ponytail off with a replica switchblade from the set of Sin City. Miller’s political beliefs or behavior doesn’t take away a word or line of Dark Knight, but I don’t think it’s something I want to witness firsthand.
And then there’s Alan Moore. My copies of Miracleman are amongst my most prized possessions, and I have both Watchmen and V For Vendetta as not only the original issues, but as the big ol’ Absolute hardcover editions. Those stories taught me, as a teenager, that the superhero stories I loved as a child didn’t need to be put aside, but could be enjoyed as I moved into adulthood. The man basically invented the idea of the superhero written maturely for adults.
And once again, Moore has gone on record saying that he hates the idea of the superhero written maturely for adults.
There are hazards, when you run a comics blog, to making the decision to fuck off to central New Hampshire to play classic video games during the weekend when the New York Comic Con is occuring. We knew when we made the call that we would miss some news, but we figured that that wouldn’t be all that big a deal, as there would be half a dozen comics blogs with budgets bigger than ours (read: almost all of them) who would have boots on the ground and be better able to cover it than we would even if we spent the weekend parked at the Crisis On Infinite Midlives Home Office Information Center (read: the couch with a first-generation Transformer tablet tuned to our “comics news” RSS feed).
So we knew that we would be late with some news… we just didn’t anticipate that some of that news would entail several hundred dollars worth of direct impending loss of value to our personal comic collection!
To wit: Marvel announced at New York Comic Con that they would be reprinting Neil Gaiman’s and Mark Buckingham’s late-80s / early-90s run on Miracleman… and that they would be finishing the three-part storyline that was aborted after Miracleman #25, the first part of the middle The Silver Age storyline, after Eclipse Comics went under.
Which is excellent news (well, it’s excellent news for anyone who didn’t spend the first two years of the 21st Century hunting down those original Eclipse issues), but that original announcement only referenced Gaiman’s and Buckingham’s issues, which didn’t start until Miracleman #17. Miracleman #1 through #16 were written by Alan Moore, and include the infamous 15th issue, Nemesis, writh art by John Totleben and featuring the complete decimation of London in the battle between Miracleman and Kid Miracleman. If you’ve never read it, it’s a classic, that is well worth the fat cash I dropped on it during a drunken bidding war on eBay in 2002.
And it looks like that is fat cash that I will never see again, because today Marvel made it official: they will be reprinting the entire Eclipse Comics run, starting with Alan Moore’s Miracleman #1, starting in January.
But Marvel’s still not using Moore’s name anyplace.
And here we are: our final article covering San Diego Comic-Con 2013 (except for a bunch of video that my high-toned, dedicated video camera seems to have mangled, unless my actual computer here at the Crisis On Infinite Midlives Home Office can do anything to salvage them), five days after the convention ended and more than a week after the actual panel occurred. But what the hell; given my crippling hangover and intestinal issues born from the fried chicken sandwich and fries I washed down with five black IPAs at a bar last night, it feels like I’m still at SDCC. So let’s just plow ahead, shall we?
The Avatar Press panel on Thursday morning, July 18th, with Avatar Founder and Editor-In-Chief William Christensen and World War Z and Extinction Parade writer Max Brooks, was the first panel we hit during SDCC 2013, and in some ways it set the tone for the whole convention. The room wasn’t full, but there was a healthy crowd for a comic book related panel on the most off day of the convention. Not that there are any off days at SDCC anymore, but if there is a day that qualifies, it’s this mid-week opening to the full-blown festivities. Unlike Preview Night, the whole convention center is open, and cosplayers are more plentiful, all of which draws people off the floor and makes it at least tolerable to move around; there’s nothing like a set of jugs in a spandex Power Girl suit to peel off the rubes so you can get where you’re going.
But where we were going was a panel, and we were going there later than we should. Which meant we could get a seat up front and to the side… right in front of the projector many panels use to put up new art for display. Which meant that, as a six foot tall gentleman, I spent the panel hunched over like Frankenstein’s delivery boy to stay out of the projector light, scribbling notes almost on my side as if trying to write “I am having a stroke” for the paramedics, just in case Christensen and Brooks put some new art up on the screen.
Which they did not. Every table at every panel at Comic-Con has a posted sign for presenters, reminding them that members of the crowd might be younger than 18. And every fan of Avatar comics knows that there is very little art that they could project that would be appropriate for children. There is very little Avatar art that would not make children long for the sweet release of death, or at least blindness, to tell you the truth. Avatar books are for adults, and that is on purpose.
“I just do books I want to read,” Christensen said. “It will always be intense work for adults.”
It can’t be this easy. And make no mistake, it won’t be… but as of a week or so ago, Marvel Comics now seems to have the rights to the trademarks of Marvelman and Miracleman, putting them under the same roof for the first time in… well, considering Dez Skinn started publishing Marvelman stories in Warrior back in the 80s without necessarily paying Mick Anglo, the character’s creator know, maybe ever.
So here’s how it apparently plays out… and let’s all keep in mind that I am not a lawyer, I am not privy to nearly 30 years of discussions and legal paperwork, and I am quite hung over: Neil Gaiman settled the main part of his lawsuit against Todd McFarlane over the rights to the Spawn characters Gaiman created for McFarlane back in January of this year. But apparently there was still an outstanding issue: McFarlane had filed a trademark for the Miracleman character after he bought out Eclipse Comics in the early 2000′s, and Gaiman had, in turn, filed an opposition to that trademark. And that trademark has remained in dispute since then, even after the disposition of the original lawsuit, meaning that even though Marvel bought the rights to the Marvelman trademark from Anglo back in 2009, the trademark for Miracleman – which includes all the Eclipse-printed Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman stories form the 80s, which are the only ones anyone gives a fuck about – was still up in the air.
Well, whether as part of the terms of the settlement, or via sheer laziness or forgetfulness, it seems McFarlane has legally abandoned his claim to the Miracleman trademark. And on September 5th, Marvel Comics filed their own notice of trademark on the name.
Alan Moore’s run on Supreme, back when it was part of Rob Liefeld’s Awesome Comics imprint in the mid-90s, was a classic of the superhero genre in an era that brought us The Spider-Man Clone Saga, the death of Superman, and nearly every other comic book that wasn’t Starman, Hitman, Preacher or Channel Zero (my pull list was a lot shorter and cheaper between, say, 1995 and 2000). It was a simple concept: examine the character of Superman using a pastiche character, using versions of Superman’s Silver and Bronze age history as canon, while placing that character in the modern world of the 1990s, all about fifteen or so years before All-Star Superman was a glimmer in Grant Morrison’s baggie of peyote.
What with Liefeld resurrecting the comics under his Awesome imprint under the Image proper label, bringing back Supreme was a gimme, especially considering Alan Moore’s script for issue 63 had been written, but never produced, what with Awesome folding back in 2000. Moore’s final issue dropped a couple of months back, with Image partner Erik Larsen taking over writing and art in the subsequent issue. And Larsen is no Alan Moore. No one is… but in Supreme #66, he gets the broad tones and feelings right while updating Supreme for the 2010s. The question is: is that enough?
The answer is: kinda.
After all, this is Comic-Con. It is packed to the gills with rabid fanboys and fangirls, many of whom were swirlied in junior high school (Hi, Paul Jameson! I make a comfortable living in the software industry now! How’s that A in woodshop treating you, fucker?) and now that they have strength in numbers, are itching for a fight. This convention has fundraisers for Jack Kirby, panels dedicated to pointing out the injustice of Bill Finger not getting enough credit for co-creating Batman, and a panel called The Most Dangerous Women in Comics. It is a place where a lone nut in a Batgirl suit can change the course of an entire comics company, and come back the next year bearing gifts for the creators and none for the thousand or so paying customers whose convention experience she fucked with last year in order to further a personal agenda. In short: this is Angry Fanboy Central, and if there was a place for them to show their colors, it was this panel.
But that didn’t happen. Sure, the panel started a little bit late, and the whole Quentin Tarantino announcement smack in the middle sucked up some question time, so maybe the slavering, angry, “You fucked Alan Moore!” guy just didn’t get his turn at the microphone. The people who did get a turn were generally really enthusiastic about the whole Before Watchmen project; one fan flat-out said that he was one of those “keyboard commandos” who ranted against the whole project, but wound up really getting sucked into it. Hell, the entire Alan Moore elephant in the room was only addressed once by anyone in the crowd… and it was a guy who was hoping that DC could get Moore to work on a Watchmen sequel.
How’d that turn out? Well, let’s watch!
With Rob and Amanda waist deep in nerd sweat out at San Diego Comic-Con, I’m left to my own thoughts and that’s not usually a good thing.
In an earlier post, Rob alluded to my very subtle unhappiness with what DC, and in particular Rob Liefeld, did to a couple of my favorite New 52 characters. I was very disappointed with what happened with Voodoo when Ron Marz was relieved of duty. But when Liefeld took over Grifter, I nearly ripped the book in half. I’ve tried writing a couple reviews of the recent iterations of these books, but I find myself digressing into a raving ball of spit and bile. And after some soul searching, I had an epiphany….
I don’t like superheroes…
This past weekend, DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee attended the Los Angeles Festival of Books. Why attend a straight book festival when the perfectly good Boston Comic Con was occurring on the same weekend? I’m guessing because if you’re gonna be forced to answer difficult and uncomfortable questions about the upcoming Before Watchmen, it’s probably easier to do it when they’re not being asked by, say, Fat Hispanic Superman.
And, at the DC Entertainment Presents: Watchmen – It’s Not The End, It’s The Beginning panel, difficult questions were asked, specifically related to the commonly held perception that the stack of prequel miniseries were personally and intimately screwing Alan Moore in a way that makes American prison showers so inviting. Specifically, one panelist asked Lee how he reconciled Moore’s issues with the prequels:
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