Friday, October 12, 2012

What I Read This Week– Oct 12

I had a story to tell but I got really wordy in reviews so I'm just jumping right in. 

This week The Twelve and Miracleman.  Read on!

The Twelve - Volumes 1 and 2
Each 144 pages, collecting issues 1-12 of the series.
(w) J. Michael Straczynski  (a/c) Chris Weston
Ok, let's start by reviewing the troubled history of this series.  The first issue was published March '08 and the eighth issue 8 was published in Dec '08.  At that point this series became part of the infamous lost series club with other members like Kevin Smith's Daredevil stuff.  It looked like we would never see the end of the story.  But then, issue 9 was published in April '12 and the last issue in June '12.  I am gonna say that by the time the conclusion was done no one, except me and 3 others, cared.  But I am here to say all's well that ends well.

Basically, 12 heroes are placed in suspended animation at the end of WWII.  They awake in 2008 to find a radically different world than the one they lived in.  How do they handle it?  Not all that well.  But, if they were well adjusted we wouldn't have a story either.

The obvious question is why did this series exist?  I think Straczynski was trying to introduce new characters into the Marvel U by modernizing some really silly GA characters.  Marvel has been fairly stagnant over the past 5 or more years so it was a good idea. 

In terms of execution, Straczynski  sets it up well by weaving the man-outta-time plot and telling an origin of each character into each issue.  It works and by the end of the series the characters have been updated and are interesting enough.  There's more than enough for another writer to pick them up and move them all forward, or work them into the greater Marvel U. 

Weston's art is highly detailed and entertaining.  But after 12 issues it's easy to see when he has problems with perspective and anatomy.  Actually I can't take credit for noticing it the first time.  I was talking with Ian Gibson and he noted it to me, and he was right.

Even though it took years to get it, this was a fun series that was actually quite good.  It's too bad that nothing will ever be done with it.

Mircleman #1-9, August '85- July '86
Written by Alan Moore, Art by Garry Leach, Alan Davis, and Chuck Austen (Yes, that Chuck Austen)

Sheesh, this feels like history week.  So, another quick back story, Miracleman was originally published by Warrior magazine in the UK from '82-84.  It was picked up by Eclipse, who republished the original stories and then started new stories with issue #7, '86.

This was an early deconstruction of a superhero.  The first 7 issues have Miracleman rediscover his powers after having lost them.  It includes a brief, yet brutal encounter with his former sidekick who had since gone bad.  Then Moore rounded out the first arc with MM's updated origin. Issue 8 is a filler and fun if you like reading British GA stories but a pass otherwise. Issue 9... is... wow 9 is.  Umm, 9 is the birth issue.  If you've never seen a birthing picture well look no further because it's shown in all it's glory here.  It contains a highly graphic birth scene, based on medical illustrations of the process and carried a parental warning on the cover.

This is Alan Moore at his peak and it doesn't get any better than this.  You can make an argument that Alan Moore's output from 82-86 is one of the greatest, if not the greatest by a writer ever.  During this time, Moore wrote MM, V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing which started February of '84, and Watchmen which started in September of '86.  These are series, and characters, that we still talk about 25 yrs later.  The only other person who even remotely comes this close to sustained greatness is Stan Lee at Marvel from '61-'64.  But you can argue the artists were as much the writers as Lee was. 

MM is pure superhero deconstruction goodness.  It is just great!  It's kinda forgotten these days because it's caught up in litigation but it's worth hunting down the back issues.  I highly recommend it.

That's all for this week. 


  1. Still have the original Eclipse issues of Miracleman, right up through when Gaiman took over at the end of the run. Maybe it's better it was and is caught up in litigation. No one's been allowed to mess with it. Just think how much more we'd like X-Men if it had stopped somewhere around 150.

  2. Your remark about Moore is interesting because while we are still talking about some of his stories years later they are all based on work by other writers. You mention Stan Lee, but names like Gardner Fox and Robert Kanigher never get the due that they deserve as the characters they wrote are still the basis for DC Comics. Moore and Frank Miller are credited with making comics darker and more adult, but I think their importance is overstated. Heck I would say Neal Adams had as big an influence on comics as anyone else and his impact was more wide ranging then Moore.

  3. I think you're comparing too many things. It's like saying the Beatles were great but Elvis was just ok. They were both great and were huge influences at different times.

    Same here. Stan is huge because he changed the way comics were done. Neal Adams is huge because he made a monumental shift in how artists worked. Moore is huge because he changed how we look at heroes.

    All huge, all from different times.