Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Miracleman v.2 notes pt.II

Here's the middle third of my notes (covering, not surprisingly, the middle third of this tale, the middle third of Moore's overall narrative). Read along at home; it will probably make more sense.

- Chapter 4: The Approaching Light –
o This chapter is all about waking or wakefulness:
• Title: “The Approaching Light” which can signify the dawn, the waking of the day, time to wake up.
• Evelyn Cream’s inability to sleep because of what he can see “coming down the track.” He’s unsure of what might happen with Moran’s wife having been taken by Gargunza. It is unsettling.
• Gargunza’s inability to sleep because of what he saw in the fiber cameras while observing the fetus in Liz’s womb.
• The “waking” to consciousness of the fetus, when it opens its eyes and stares into the camera, right into Gargunza’s eyes.
• The “waking” of the “monster,” i.e. Miracleman. Now that he knows who has Liz, he is ready to kill.
o Although not as subtle as some of his later work, I like how Moore juxtaposes the two narratives in this chapter, playing them off each other to show the parallels between what is happening with Miracleman and what is happening with Gargunza. It also highlights the father/son relationship between these two, and the new father/son relationship that Gargunza hopes to achieve through MM’s baby.
o Alan Davis’s art really shines here. He gives Liz a disturbing, yet appropriate, vacant look while creating this Adonis-like being in the ungarbed Miracleman.
o The unease that Cream is having with the situation – manifested in his sarcastic remarks about what he is doing, following this white god – feels very real. He is torn between befriending MM for his own goals, while feeling that following this “unbermensch” is nothing but a huge step back with regard to how far Africans have come at this point. It makes Cream a more real character, and one for which I have more sympathy.
o It should be obvious now that the calm Liz is feeling through this whole ordeal – a calm we hadn’t seen before – is a byproduct of the superhuman gestating in her belly. If we allow ourselves to consider the full ramifications of this, it is overwhelming.

- Chapter 5: I Heard Woodrow Wilson’s Guns
o Alan Davis’s work, particularly the subtle emotion on the faces, is fantastic in this chapter. Of particular note – Gargunza’s face on the final panel (with the title heading) of the first page, and page 2, panel 3 of this chapter, after Liz Moran tells him she wants to hear his story.
o Moore’s use of a “talking heads” chapter works well to punctuate the climax of this part of the story. It’s a very quiet, slow narrative, and with the final page-turn we are given a big piece of the puzzle, and the full page image is used nicely in contrast to the quiet, multi-panel pages that preceded it.
o Gargunza’s description of Hitler is a very human, and more realistic characterization – especially from a person like Gargunza – than we usually see. A mature writing choice on Moore’s part.

- Chapter 6: A Little Piece of Heaven
o Moore’s writing combined with Davis’s art manage to create something that feels alien, unlike a lot of traditional science fiction, which – for whatever reasons – give us human looking aliens in unimaginative spaceships.
o This chapter is layered with multiple “fire/burning” symbols (Icarus and Prometheus are both mentioned, and we watch as a moth is lured to its death in a flame on Gargunza’s porch). Maybe a bit overdone, but combined with Gargunza’s tale of how he created the Marvel family (and you can almost hear the glee in his voice, which is accentuated again by Alan Davis’s brilliant visuals on the final page of this chapter), we can see that his creation of the Marvel family, meant to be his chance at immortality, is being foreshadowed as that which will bring his downfall.
o I like the way Moore throws in the true inspiration for the Marvelman/Miracleman comic through Gargunza’s realization of how to manipulate these beings when he sees a Captain Marvel comic.
o And, keep an eye on the pooch in Gargunza’s lap.
o Who are Rebbeck and Lear?

- Chapter 7: …And Every Dog Its Day
o Abraxas – Beautiful storytelling. The first time you read this, you don’t see that coming. But when it happens, it does not feel forced at all. And now, what the hell will Mike Moran do?
o Miracledog – Another brilliant page-turn, and the ante is upped once more
o AND CONSIDER, this is the point where Marvelman’s publication in Warrior magazine was discontinued. Anyone who was reading this in Warrior, had to wait five years to find out what the hell happened.

- Chapter 8: All Heads Turn as the Hunt Goes By
o Chuck Beckum (Austen) art. The only blemish on this entire series.
o The 3-minute headstart is another problem – one I’d forgotten about until re-reading. It’s typical supervillain fare, but for a character that has been well fleshed out by Moore – and shown to be highly intelligent – this just seems out of place. It certainly makes for a more dramatic narrative, but isn’t true to the character, I don’t think.
o Having Cream narrate this chapter is interesting, and obviously Moore is playing with comics as a visual medium (controlling what we, the reader, can see) in order to give us a surprise twist. But, having grounded so much of this story in “reality,” the final eye movement to look down and see that he is now a severed head, did not work for me.
o I like the way Cream takes charge now that Miracleman is not around, and the way he talks to Moran when he is feeling pity for his predicament rang very true.
o I also appreciated Cream’s internal monologue remarking how the pursuit of the “white miracle” he and his ancestors have sought isn’t a pursuit of whiteness, but a pursuit of death.
o And the final page: “It spits. Spits blood and sapphires.” Brilliant.

- Chapter 9: Bodies
o The resolution to the Miracledog issue is, again, simple in its execution, but unlike earlier points in this story, it almost feels too simple.
o Moran’s dispatching of the little dog once it changes back is a bit of foreshadowing – though whether intentional or not, I don’t know.
o And again, consider that this was written just around the time that Watchmen was coming out. Moran killing that dog in cold blood was something not typically encountered in comic books. Heroes were supposed to have higher ideals, not take the path of least resistance. This was another signal that this was a different kind of superhero comic, and Moore was a different type of writer.

- Chapter 10: The Wish I Wish Tonight
o Chuck Beckum’s art is so static. It adds nothing to the story, and takes away from the impact of this climax, especially considering how spoiled we, as readers, had become after having Garry Leach and Alan Davis prior.
o Moore’s prose gives us another look into the psyche of Miracleman/Marvelman. His monologue on the brittle trees and paper world really hit home his reality, while the red jewels crawling down his arms and across his face give us insight into how he is reveling in the killing spree upon which he’s embarked.
o And when Marvelman/Miracleman goes on about the scale on which he exists, it’s a nice piece of writing that accentuates his reality as a god on earth.

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