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Marvelman

Marvelman (later to become Miracleman) was a British-authored superhero comic, first published on February 3, 1954.

Its origins were in black and white reprints of the American Captain Marvel comics, by a London publisher, L. Miller & Son. When the US publishers of Captain Marvel, Fawcett[?], were forced to stop publication of the title after a lawsuit from DC comics, Miller was faced with the supply of Captain Marvel material being cut off. He turned to a British comic writer, Sidney Anglo[?], for help, and launched the new "Marvelman" comic.

Marvelman's origin was based loosely on that of Captain Marvel: a young reporter named Micky Moran encounters an astrophysicist who gives him his super powers, based on atomic energy. To transform into Marvelman, he has to speak the word "Kimota" ("atomic" backwards). Marvelman was joined by Dicky Dauntless, a messenger boy who became Young Marvelman on speaking the name "Marvelman", and young Johnny Bates (Kid Marvelman, magic word "Marvelman")

They had the standard superhero adventures, and the comics ran until February 1963. The titles published were Marvelman, Kid Marvelman, and Marvelman Family, which usually featured Marvelman, Young Marvelman and Kid Marvelman together. Marvelman and Young Marvelman each had 346 issues, being published weekly except for the last 36 issues, which were monthly, reprinting old stories. Marvelman Family was a monthly, from October 1956 to November 1959. A variety of Marvelman and Young Marvelman albums were printed annually from 1954 to 1963.

Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers

In March 1982, a new British monthly black and white comic was launched called Warrior[?]. From the first issue until issue 21 it featured a new, darker version of Marvelman, written by Alan Moore. Moore had been fascinated by the notion of a grown up Micky Moran, unable to remember the magic word, and this was the Moran presented in the first issue; married, plagued by migraines, having dreams of flying, and unable to remember the word that had such significance in his dreams.

Moran, of course, eventually remembers the word, and the series, like many of Moore's other works, exploded the existing history. The adult Moran gradually remembers his early life as a superhero, only to find the entire experience was a simulation as part of a military research project attempting to enhance the human body with alien technology. Moran and the other subjects had been kept unconscious, their minds fed with stories and villains plucked from comic books by the researchers, for fear of what they could do if they awoke. When the project was terminated, so were Miracleman and his two sidekicks: in a final, real adventure they were sent into a trap where a nuclear device was meant to annihilate them. Moran survived, his memory erased, and Young Miracleman died. Moran discovers that Kid Miracleman not only survived, but lived on with his superpowers intact only to eventually become a murderous psychopath.

The series stopped (but was not complete) in issue 21 of Warror, just before the birth of Marvelman's child: after a hiatus of some years, it was reprinted in colour by an American publisher, Eclipse Comics[?], and the series carried to a conclusion. For this printing, to avoid trademark and copyright problems, Marvelman became "Miracleman".

Writer Neil Gaiman developed the series further in the 1990s. The first part Miracleman: The Golden Age showed the world some years later, a utopia gradually being transformed by alien technologies, and benignly ruled by Miracleman and other parahumans, though he has nagging doubts about whether he has done the right thing by taking power.

A couple of episodes of the second part, The Age of Silver, appeared, but this appears to be on hold at present. The ownership and publishing rights to Miracleman are currently held by Todd McFarlane, and representatives for Gaiman had been engaged in slow, plodding negotations with McFarlane's company to allow the series to continue. In October 2000, the prospect of Gaiman completing his Miracleman story was greatly improved, when Gaiman's court case with McFarlane was decided, in favour of Gaiman on all counts.

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