May 13, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 78: Miracleman #1, March 2014

(I know I'm waffling about, not sticking to any particular order, but that's the nature of the beast at the moment, I guess.)

What can I say about Miracleman that hasn't been said already? I remember hearing about the title, having vague impressions of what it was about, what the main character looked like, but it was published by Eclipse in 1985, which was before I'd discovered comic stores and anything that wasn't published by Marvel.

And then it went out of print.

And then it became a contested property, and the reprints became prohibitively expensive, and I figured one day it would all get resolved and I'd be able to read it. But maybe not.

And then a year and a bit ago, Marvel got the rights sorted out and started reprinting what has been touted as one of the seminal superhero stories of all time, one of Alan Moore's earliest deconstructions of the genre, one of Neil Gaiman's earliest forays into comics, one of Alan Davis' earliest works. It's legendary.

So why did I buy the first three issues of the series and then lose interest?

I think that, perhaps, the deconstruction of the superhero is just too overdone for even this early version of it to be intriguing. It's one of the reasons I avoid most of Mark Millar's superhero stuff. He seems intent on reproducing the grittiness of the 80s superhero revision, a revision that's come and gone and been replaced by something more fundamental to the genre, I think. The deconstructed superhero has been folded in as a trope now, having been an under (and over) current in the genre for almost 40 years now. Instead we have heroes who are aware of the problems of their status and writers who demonstrate how such characters deal with deconstructedness, rather than simply heroes that fall apart under the strain. And so Miracleman looks just slightly dated in comparison to the very sophisticated parsings of the superhero in even the most mainstream of comics these days. By way of example, look at the way The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl deconstructs the genre, the medium, includes metafictional commentary on virtually every page, yet manages to do so under the guise of a friendly, exciting, and funny comic. We don't need to be so grim in order to understand the problematics of the genre.

(So, I'm handing my major field exam essays in today, and I think my analytical brain is overheated, because that last paragraph just wandered all over the place. I'm going to leave it as a testament to what an exhausted academic brain produces, for the sake of posterity.)

That said, I did pick up a couple of the later issues in a dollar bin yesterday, and I discovered that one of the few issues of the original run that I have actually has the stories in it that I'm missing (I don't have #4 yet), so I'm going to read it because I feel like, as someone who studies this genre, that it would be negligent for me to not have it under my belt. So, perhaps, more Miracleman tomorrow.

See you then.

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