Friday, July 24, 2009

It is good news and strange news that Marvel Comics now has the rights to Marvelman

It’s weird because I was thinking the other day “what ever happened to Marvel Comics' strong push to get the rights to Marvel Man (Miracle Man),” and now here we are. Honestly, from a comic book standpoint this is the biggest and most important news to come out of Comic Con. I just don’t see anything else as earthshaking being announced. (see here)

Marvel Man has a long history and it doesn’t behoove me to try to get through the whole thing here, so check the Wikipedia page out for more detail. The article is actually quite detailed. Simply put, one of the main reasons that Marvel Man is important is because it showcases work by Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman (and some great artists too). This is Moore before Swamp Thing, Watchmen, and V for Vendetta; and Gaiman before Sandman (sorta).

Marvelman was originally a British knockoff of Captain Marvel and essentially the UK’s first superhero. His adventures were good, silly fun in the tradition of the big red cheese. Marvelman had a nine-year run from 1954 to 1963.

Alan Moore reinvented the dormant character in the 1980s and all the notions of modern comics that we associate with Watchmen were actually first explored in Marvelman. The irony of ironies, is that Marvelman had to be renamed Miracleman in the US as Marvel Comics was not interested in buying this strange adult character (unlike what DC did with V for Vendetta) and was none to pleased that another comic company (Eclipse) could publish MM’s stories using their company’s name. It’s my understanding that the birth scene really freaked them out. It was a big missed opportunity by Marvel at the time, but obviously Marvel has come to realize how important MM is and that they really need more Alan Moore comics in their intellectual property inventory to make gads of cash like DC does.

Anyhoo, Gaiman picked MM after Moore was done but only got about one third of the way into his storyline before Eclipse went bankrupt and MM was abruptly cancelled. The rights were tangled up badly for almost two decades with everybody claming to own all or part of the character and it was beginning to look like Marvelman would never see the light of day again. But now we have Quesada’s announcement that MM is back and Marvel has him and what’s even better is that they have worked out the rights with the original creator, Mick Angelo too.

What this all means (hopefully) is that Alan Moore’s run on the title will be collected and published again; Neil Gaiman will finally be able to finish his MM storyline; and the original 1950s-1960s stories will be collected for the first time as well.

What is maybe not so good is that it sounds like Marvel will bring MM into regular Marvel continuity somehow. That might not work out so well but we’ll wait and see I guess. An alternate MM is kinda already a part of the Marvel Multiverse via Moore’s work on Captain Britain. That might possibly be the way to do it but I’m not holding my breath.

I could go on about how important the Marvelman is to me personally. I was a teen when MM was published by Eclipse Comics. It blew my mind. I had never read anything so adult and so deep in comic book form before and when it comes to supervillians I got two words for you, Kid Marvelman. Never has a bad guy done so much, to so many, in quite such a horrific way. It was so delicious that my folks thought I was engaged in some light kidde stuff when in reality I was exploring the dark side of the superhero soul. This is what could have and maybe what should have happened to characters like Superman and Captain Marvel but obviously will never happen.

If you are a fan of Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Atomic Age superheroes, or are interested in the development of the “modern” superhero,” Marvelman is one of the true blues that changed the comic industry forever. Once you read MM, you’ll see how it has been ripped off and imitated countless times since it was created. I’m looking at you Sentry!

Make Mine Marvelman.

PS. I’m not saying MM is perfect but I am saying it’s very important. Plus it’ll be very funny if MM does become a top tier, mainstream Marvel Comics character because a very British Superhero will now carry the Marvel identity… now that is ironic and random strange.

Oh and one last thing... if you like comics and superheroes and don't think this is an big deal then tah hell with ya! :)!



Arkonbey said...

I will only get this if Alan Davis draws it. 'nuff said.

ladybug said...

Well, we'll see. I hope all goes "well"...when the biggies are involved...some times it all goes in the crapper. But the ability to republish the old work, plus hopefully Gaiman finishing his should be good.

I always think of Firefly when corporate shills are making the decisions...

Steve said...

sure hope they got the rights to all the early stuff so we can see some trades come out again.
loved MM and your description of Kid MM is spot on

Doc Atomic said...

Amazing news. I'm not overly optimistic regarding modern MM stories, but being able to bring the originals back into print -- and possibly getting to read the rest of Gaiman's story -- is just great.

It'll be really interesting to see how this pans out.

Dean Wormer said...

I must read MM now!

Swinebread said...

arky, I know what you mean... I don't hold any hope for Alan though.

LB - it's tough but I think reprinting the old stuff will be good.

Steve - Thanks KM was always what a psycho with with powers would really do but it was still so shocking.

DC - I too am more interested in the older stuff. we will just have to see how it goes.

dean - indeed you do!

The Moody Minstrel said...

I thought I was MM! ;-)

Swinebread said...

vic - thanks!

moody - you are... in THIS universe...