Having taken over movies, television and animation, comics have
never been cooler. Now, Wired.co.uk picks out the best and worst of
the week’s titles for your reading pleasure.
This week, a long-lost hero is found, adorable sidekicks step
into their own, and an old man goes fishing for rubbish.
Miracleman Book One: A Dream of Flying,
Initially shipping last week, this hardback collection of the
first five issues of the nigh-legendary Miracleman is a
much-needed collection of one the absolute classics of the medium,
available after a 20 year absence caused by contentious rights
issues surrounding the character.
Credited to “The Original Writer” (Alan Moore, who’s washed his
hands of involvement) and with art by Garry Leach and Alan Davis,
the series is a reinvention of 1950s superhero Marvelman, taking
him from a twist on the original Captain
Marvel to a total deconstruction of the concept of the
superhuman. It’s more spy thriller than superhero action, centred
on a decades-old conspiracy formed by the British government. Once
able to transform from idealistic teenager into the mighty
Miracleman by crying ‘Kimota!’, Mike Moran is now an overweight,
middle-aged freelance reporter haunted by dreams of explosions,
death, and a golden glowing figure, and no memory of his youth.
Fast forward to a terrorist situation Moran covers at a nuclear
plant and a conveniently placed ‘Atomic’ sign (read it
backwards….) and Miracleman is reborn.
As Miracleman and Moran learn the truth of their origins and the
cruel experiments behind them, the series deals with themes of
duality, power, and freedom, touching in on corrupted former
sidekicks, mutated secret agents, and alien contact along the way.
Moore and company build a framework to explore the impact a single
enhanced human would have in the real world, delivering truly
mature content that still feels progressive so many years after its
first publication. However, a few sticking points detract from this
being the perfect collection the material deserves.
In one of the chapters (originally published in defunct British
comic anthology Warrior)
Moore bookended a reprint of a campy 50s Miracleman tale by creator
Mick Anglo, with unsuspecting labourers cleaning out a government
bunker connected to Miracleman’s past. It served as a way to
contrast the more innocent version of the character with his darker
take, but that original strip is absent in this collection. The
chapter now reads abruptly, without adding much to the
More controversial is Marvel censoring ‘the N word’, used by an
erudite black character in a scathing commentary on society’s
application of the term, and contrasted with his own antithetical
behaviour. Given the issue was first published by Eclipse Comics in
the 1980s, it seems off that such language — used in a considered
and deliberately striking way rather than as a racist screed, and
in a comic clearly labelled as and intended for mature readers –
should be omitted now. If comics can be viewed as literature, and
they most certainly can, shouldn’t they also be protected in the
same way the likes of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is?
On a production level, A Dream of Flying is excellent
though, presented in a sturdy hardback (albeit without dustjacket)
and on good quality paperstock. The bonus material is also
fantastic, including the related Warpsmith
stories, cover art and character sketches by from the
Warrior issues, and assorted other behind-the-scenes
content. The only improvement would be a completely uncensored
release, something Marvel will hopefully consider in future.
Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse #1, DC
For 50 issues, DC’s Tiny Titans was one of the best
titles published. Ostensibly a kids’ comic starring the Teen Titans
with the emphasis on comedy antics more than superheroic action,
the creative team of Art Baltazar and Franco made it just as
readable to long-time fans thanks to character in jokes and the
occasional continuity-heavy references. This issue — the first of
six — marks the return of the cartoony cast, along with their
assortment of bat-bunnies, omnipresent penguins, and deranged sense
of humour. Unlike the original run though, there’s a slightly
stronger sense of story here, with the team’s treehouse base stolen
by bad-guys-in-training, setting the main plot for the mini-series.
However, it’s still as accessible as ever, with the events split
into several short stories perfect for younger readers. Baltazar’s
art remains as charming as ever, packing in plenty of visual humour
and background references that older fans will get. It’s also
refreshing to see DC characters being cheerful for once, rather
than the endless stream of gritted teeth and severed limbs of the
mainstream line. A simple, lovely, little comic.
The Superannuated Man #1, Image
Without doubt, this is the strangest comic of the week. Set in
an undated future, humanity has become all but extinct, replaced by
mutated animal-people. A nameless old man may be the last human
alive, decked out in a wetsuit and living on whatever he can
salvage from the wastes of human industry. He also scare off the
mutant teenagers who see him as the boogeyman — which, believe it
or not, is one of the less outlandish elements of this comic. This
is a world filled with fish-people and hyena-dwarfs, where a shanty
town constructed of pirate ships is the closest thing to
civilisation, and a monstrous rhinoceros creature chows down on
passersby in a dark alley. It’s a bit strange, it has to be said.
This debut issue is essentially bait, reeling readers in with its
assault of weird ideas and obscure hints of what happened to the
world, but explaining very little about either the setting or the
nameless hero. While McKeever’s story is sparse, its his art that
makes this worthy of your time, a creepy but charismatic portrayal
of a broken world. The bizarre settings and characters are
striking, and the ramshackle environments are as captivating as
they are disturbing. A gruesome final few pages and the overall
mystery of what the hell is actually happening make a return for
issue two a must.
7 June 2014 | 9:25 am – Source: wired.co.uk