For the first time in 20 years, we're getting new Miracleman stories.
It's been a rough couple of decades for the iconic superhero formerly known as Marvelman. After years of classic stories by comic book greats like Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, the character fell into legal turmoil in 1994, when the then-publisher of Miracleman -- Eclipse Comics -- went bankrupt. The rights to Miracleman were finally sorted out five years ago when Marvel purchased them, but even after the House of Ideas gained control of the character, new stories didn't seem to be following. Marvel started reprinting the classic Alan Moore run earlier this year, giving new readers a chance to see what all the fuss was about, but longtime fans of the character wanted more. Now we're finally getting it.
Marvel announced today that Miracleman Annual #1, set to be published on New Year's Eve this year, will feature two never-before-seen Miracleman stories, including a long-lost Kid Miracleman tale written in the mid-1980s by the now-legendary Grant Morrison. Morrison, then a rising star in U.K. comics, sent the story as a spec script to Dez Skinn, the publisher of Warrior (the anthology magazine publishing Miracleman comics in those days). Unfortunately, Moore -- who'd been writing the character for two years -- wasn't too keen on another writer stepping onto his turf. Even after Moore left Miracleman over disagreements with Skinn, he didn't want Morrison taking over scripting duties. In the documentary Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods, Morrison described writing a letter asking Moore's permission to continue work on the character, and getting a rather harsh reply (via The Beat).
"I didn’t want to do it without Moore’s permission, and I wrote to him and said, ‘They’ve asked me to do this, but obviously I really respect you work, and I wouldn’t want to mess anything up, but I don’t want anyone else to do it, and mess it up.’ And he sent me back this really weird letter, and I remember the opening of it, it said, ‘I don’t want this to sound like the softly hissed tones of a mafia hitman, but back off.’ And the letter was all, ‘but you can’t do this,’ you know, ‘we’re much more popular than you, and if you do this, your career will be over,’ and it was really quite threatening, you know, so I didn’t do it, but I ended up doing some little bit of work for Warrior."
The lost Morrison Kid Miracleman script has become something of a legend among comics fans, and when Marvel Chief Creative Officer (and fan-favorite artist) Joe Quesada heard Morrison talking about it a few years ago, he jumped at the chance to finally get it printed at Marvel.
"[In the interview,] Grant said something like, 'I'm sure I have the script somewhere, maybe I'll dig it up and just post it online for the fans, just for the fun of it,'" Quesada recalled. "Several things came to mind. One was, Oh my God, this actually happened. Another was, Oh my God, he may have the actual script. Another was, Please don't put it out for free yet!"
Morrison eventually agreed to give the script to Marvel, but only if Quesada himself drew it, and that's exactly what we'll see in Miracleman Annual #1. The issue will also feature a new story by writer Peter Milligan and artist Mike Allred, which will pay homage to the stories told in the 1950s by Miracleman's original creator, Mick Anglo.
"We're doing a story that, if you like, looks at the Mick Anglo years, what might be seen on the outside as the innocent, old-fashioned years," Milligan said. "There's a scintilla of self-awareness, with Marvelman being — I don't want to give too much away, but the story is not without some awareness that it's all going to change very quickly. It's an homage. All the guys are there, all the craziness."
So, before the year ends, we'll have two new Miracleman tales to read for the first time since 1994, but that's not all. Marvel told Vulture's Abraham Riesman that they also still plan to allow Gaiman to complete the story he was telling when Miracleman abruptly ceased publication 20 years ago. Miracleman's back, and it looks like he'll stay awhile.
Check out some of Quesada's pencils for Miracleman Annual #1, along with two covers for the issue, in the gallery below.