Saturday, March 6, 2010

Miracleman v.2 notes pt.I


One of my favorite podcasts is the CGS (Comic Geek Speak) one. Mainly a mainstream comic-cast, it delves into indie and classic comics and has provided interviews with a multitude of great artists and writers. Well, thanks to one of their listeners, they are finally tackling one of my all-time favorite comics, Miracleman (originally Marvelman). Their first episode, covering the first trade collection, ran in late December, and the plan was to follow with each subsequent collection roughly every two months. In preparation for this, I pulled down my second MM trade - The Red King Syndrome - and re-read it, jotting down notes for each chapter. I offered them up at the CGS forums, and now I offer them here for posterity (or until we decide to let the domain name lapse, which isn't happening any time soon).

the notes became copious, so I'll be splitting them up into three posts, roughly 1000 words apiece. Here, for your reading pleasure, is part one. Enjoy:

- Prelude: Red King Syndrome pt.1
o Did they use John Ridgway because Alan Davis needed to catch up? Whether yes or no, having a different artist for this flashback works well to separate from the story proper, while giving us some background.
o I love Gargunza’s characterization. He’s a genius – smug and unable to suffer fools, even if those fools are working with him.
o Interesting concept of having Mickey Moran heap bizarre and far-fetched ideas on top of one another to shock his brain out of the dream-sleep they have been subject to.

- Chapter 1: Catgames –
o I like how Moore uses the metaphor of the leopard to accentuate the main thrust of the narrative, which reintroduces us to all of the main characters
o Though this really is a chapter in which Moore is catching readers up to speed with the various characters, it doesn’t fall into the expositional pitfalls so many other comics seem to.
o Liz and Mike’s argument foreshadows what comes later in this book. Her remark that Mike changing to Miracleman in order to continue the conversation is “running away” helps to accentuate the reality of his character, and is an interesting – and, if not new, at least little used trope – of the “secret identity.”
o Sir Dennis’s idea of how Miracleman must think of “us,” of humans is novel, especially for this time, and will be played out in Moore’s story. A nice bit of foreshadowing – only one panel – that may not resonate on a first read, but has far more resonance upon re-reading. It also reiterates the point made by Liz two pages prior, regarding Mike’s vulnerability and the vast difference between his two alter-egos.
o Johnny Bates and Kid Miracleman within Johnny’s mind is a great bit of character play – well conceived artistically, as well – and sets up the possibility of KM returning. Again, Moore laying the groundwork for what is to come.
o The caption boxes once Mike Moran changes to Miracleman is Moore being flowery, unlike some of the prose from the first volume, this adds little and feels a bit over-wrought.
o Final page of this chapter: what the hell took out that leopard? We’ll find out soon.

- Chapter 2: One of Those Quiet Moments –
o I really enjoyed this 6-page chapter. It gives us a bit more characterization of Miracleman/Mike Moran (he revels in showing off his strength to Jason, showing that Mike is still within the mind of MM).
o The remarks about “gays” and “fairies” firmly ground it in its time – the early eighties – and feel out of place in our more educated, PC world. But they do capture the feelings of a large sector of the population at the time, and it doesn’t feel so much prejudicial as ill-advised or statements made from a lack of education/experience, which certainly does not feel out of place for a story written in 1982-83.
o I really like how Moore utilized the quiet/innocent interaction between MM and Jason to accentuate that final page. It really gives more weight to what MM finds back home than if the entire chapter had revolved around his Liz’s abduction. This way, the reader is also in MM’s shoes – we don’t know what has happened to her any more than he does. Really adds tension.
o Neil Gaiman wrote a short story that played off the event of this one (the first 5 pages), which basically was he and Mark Buckingham’s “tryout” before taking over the title after Moore was finished.

- Chapter 3: Nightmares –
o Page 2, as Liz is waking up and we get the various computer readouts of her body is impressive from an artistic standpoint, and these, with the voiceover captions, keeps the mystery alive of where she is and who has her.
o The lines (on page 2): “Wait a minute. Is that something around the womb area?” and “. . . pulse and respiration normal again. That’s very sudden isn’t it?” are important to the larger context of Moore’s story. Panel 6 gives readers more foreshadowing, if they are reading carefully/slowly, and is a nice example of the words and images juxtaposing with one another to give a different understanding of the scene.
o Gargunza. He is just creepy.

- Interlude: Red King Syndrome pt. 2 –
o Was this broken up in the original Warrior serialization? It picks up directly from the prelude and feels like it could have been one chapter initially.
o The psychological battle between Miracleman and Dr. Gargunza is nicely done. And, though simple, the “and they woke up from a dream” scenario is inspired, especially the way that Moore wrote this chapter. And everything is all right – except that MM’s costume has changed, as it did in their “dream.” This is not good for Dr. G.

1 comment:

Dan Fleming said...

You do realize I hate you for owning these.