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Marvelman (also known as Captain Miracle and Miracleman) is a superhero character created by Mick Anglo in 1954 who has had two distinct incarnations. Comics historian James Chapman has cited Marvelman as the first significant British superhero.[1]

Original incarnationEdit

Marvelman started life as a cheap knock-off of the US superhero Captain Marvel. He was created as a replacement for the Captain Marvel reprints published in Britain by L. Miller & Son, after an American lawsuit meant there was no more material to reprint.

Marvelman was a young reporter called Mickey Moran, who transforms into Marvelman when he says his magic word, "Kimota!". He had two sidekicks, Dicky Dauntless aka Young Marvelman, and Johnny Bates, aka Kid Marvelman, and an archenemy, Dr Gargunza. Two weeklies, Marvelman (1954-63) and Young Marvelman (1954-1963), and a monthly, Marvelman Family (1956-59) were published, along with Marvelman and Young Marvelman annuals, produced by Anglo and his studio, including Don Lawrence, James Bleach, Roy Castle and Denis Gifford. Anglo and Miller parted company in 1960, and from then on older stories were reprinted. During the sixties Anglo maintained an imprint entitled Anglo Comics, which reprinted Marvelman stories for a short period under the name of Captain Miracle.[2]

RevivalEdit

The character was unexpectedly revived in 1982 in Warrior, written by Alan Moore and drawn initially by Garry Leach, later by Alan Davis.

Moore has recalled that, at the age of eleven, he read the Mad Magazine parody of Superman, "Superduperman", and hit on the idea of a Marvelman parody in which the character forgot his magic word "Kimota".[3] The adult Moore would return to this idea in his revival of the character, but the result was less frivolous and focused more on the psychology of the characters: it was Moore's first sustained effort at a revisionist superhero story.

Middle-aged, married journalist Mike Moran suddenly remembers his magic word, and Marvelman returns - although nobody can remember him existing before. It turns out that Marvelman and his companions were created by a secret government agency, led by Dr Gargunza, using technology scavenged from a crashed alien spaceship, and their adventures had been simulations. Eventually Gargunza had destroyed his creations in a nuclear explosion - or so he thought. Marvelman had survived in his human identity, but Kid Marvelman had survived in his superhuman identity and had become evil in the intervening years.

The story was interrupted, partly because Marvel Comics had objected to the publication of a Marvelman Special reprinting old stories on trademark grounds, but mostly because Alan Moore and Alan Davis had fallen out over an unrelated matter and were no longer producing the episodes, a few months before Warrior folded. The story was continued and completed, renamed "Miracleman" and with new artists, in a series published by Eclipse Comics in the USA, in which, after a final battle between Miracleman and Kid Miracleman that destroys most of London with great bloodshed, Miracleman and his companions bring down all human governments and institute an uneasy utopia. There were a few more post-utopia stories written by Neil Gaiman and drawn by Mark Buckingham before Eclipse went out of business.

Marvel ComicsEdit

After years of wrangling over copyright, it was finally decided that the rights to the character still belonged to Mick Anglo, who sold them to Marvel Comics in 2009. Marvel published a hardback collection of fifties Marvelman stories the following year, and there has been speculation that the character may be revived a second time, this time as part of the established Marvel Universe.

ReferencesEdit

  1. James Chapman, British Comics: A Cultural History, Reaktion Books, 2011; p.175
  2. James Chapman, British Comics: A Cultural History, Reaktion Books, 2011; p.178
  3. http://comicsbeat.com/alan-moore-and-superfolks-part-2-the-case-for-the-defence/

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