I think all of the jokes Moore gives Svetlana X–proud Russian science hero who has an interesting way of saying things (Moore gives her the cursing, only with accurate if misunderstood translation)–just primes for the big finish. He ends the story arc involving the giant space ants with a great cheap joke. There’s a lot of humor throughout, but the finish is an easy, wonderful joke.
Sprouse gets three big moments this issue. He’s an illustrating intergalactic battle and the script builds to each reveal. Sprouse has to make each bigger than the last. Given the first one involves a solar flare from the sun, it’s an accomplishment he’s able to properly amp up the others.
There’s good stuff with the supporting cast and Tom finally gets himself back in joint. He and Svetlana are hilarious together (he’s too polite to correct her).
As usual, Strong is reliable.
The Last Roundup ; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inker, Karl Story; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.
Moore’s subplot for this issue is Tesla and her fire monster boyfriend, Val. Mostly with her mom trying to keep the progress of their relationship quiet in front of Tom. It never gets a full resolution but Moore foreshadows one nicely.
The main plot is the preparation for the space battle against the giant ants. Giant space ants. Moore is kind of doing fifties sci-fi with the ants, but not exactly–Sprouse gets to mix sci-fi elements. It’s simultaneously retro and mainstream modern. Moore and Sprouse fit a lot into Tom Strong, they never let it get too much into one genre or another.
The only dragging scene is Tom going and visiting the intelligence on Venus or whatever planet. It’s a talking heads scene with a rock. It’s not bad, it’s just pointless.
Great subplot with the Strongmen too. Moore certainly appears to love writing for them.
Ant Fugue!; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inker, Karl Story; colorist, Alex Sinclair; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Neal Pozner, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.
Moore has a bunch of fun this issue. He enlists the Strongmen of America and they even get to sleepover with the Strong’s. The way he handles the absurdity of these kids getting to sleep over at a superhero’s is great and all, but having Dhalua call their mothers’ to get permission is even better.
And then there’s Tesla’s little fire monster boyfriend who Tom doesn’t like. That subplot’s wonderful because Moore shows it a little from Tom’s perspective–his daughter’s moon-eyed and he doesn’t approve–but Moore’s really showing it from Tesla’s. And she knows what she’s doing.
The main plot has to do with an alien invasion–it’s actually a little Cowboys vs. Aliens (I’m sure Moore was fine not getting credit for that movie) as the guest star is an intergalactic cowboy. Great details from Moore on that back story and some wonderful art.
Some Call Him the Space Cowboy; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inker, Karl Story; colorist, Alex Sinclair; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Neal Pozner, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.
Moore plots out the issue precisely, not just how he uses the action, but also how he uses Tesla. The issue is just as much hers as Tom’s… or maybe even a little bit more.
The issue opens with her disappearing under extreme circumstances. Tom, Dhalua and Solomon have to go rescue her. Moore gets his expository dialogue about Tesla’s history exploring volcanos done while he’s talking about the protective suits everyone is wearing. It’s a little thing, but brilliantly executed.
The issue then has some exploration before Moore brings Tesla into it. A lot of the issue is spent with Tom not thinking and Tesla thinking. The characters figure things out–Moore doesn’t pause to let the reader figure them out, the reader’s going to hear about them, Moore needs the characters to do it.
It’s an interesting form of action.
Excellent art from Sprouse and Karl Story too.
Ring of Fire!; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inker, Karl Story; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Neal Pozner, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.
Moore bites off a lot for this final issue to the arc. It isn’t enough Miracleman and company will turn the world into a utopia, Moore has to sell it. He uses great detail–like the Warpsmiths liking the Inuit language the most–to make things process. He also throws in a lot of personality. Heavy metal gangs turning Kid Miracleman into a sensation; it’s unnecessary but perfect.
And Liz. How Moore deals with Liz is crazy good. Winter comes back, but she’s kind of comic relief. Liz figures in differently. One has to wonder if Moore always had this plan for her.
There’s a bit of joking at Thatcher’s expense. Moore is having a good time, after all.
Miracleman is not a superhero comic. Maybe Moore never intended it to be one, just let it pretend like on Gargunza’s tapes.
Fabulous work from Totleben too. The art is breathtaking.
Olympus, Chapter Six: Olympus; writer, Alan Moore; pencillers, John Totleben and Thomas Yeates; inker, Totleben; colorist, Sam Parsons; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Letitia Glozer; publisher, Eclipse.
What’s incredible–and possibly singular–about how Moore approaches Miracleman is his distance. There are moments this issue where another writer might wink at superhero comics. Moore doesn’t. Even in those moments, he’s only writing this one. More so, he’s only writing this moment, even though it’s technically a flashback.
London is destroyed, decimated. There is no happiness. Moore pulls Miracleman away from humanity even more; tellingly, Totleben doesn’t do any of his “beauty of Miracleman” panels. The visual poetry is violence and blood. Even in the small panels.
Moore caps it off with Miracleman’s final shedding of his human self, possibly through the most humane act possible. It’s so sad it makes one despondent. Not the act or event itself, but how Moore and Totleben tell it.
I think there are slow parts to the issue. Maybe too much time spent on filler. But it doesn’t matter… it’s amazing.
Olympus, Chapter Five: Nemesis; writer, Alan Moore; artist, John Totleben; colorist, Sam Parsons; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Letitia Glozer; publisher, Eclipse.
As far as the art goes, it’s near perfect. Moore’s script (presumably with panel arrangement), Totleben’s art, it’s outstanding.
And most of the issue is excellent too. The stuff with the Moran family, the stuff with Miracleman and the other super-powered beings setting up their club… well, actually that decision is Moore’s second most questionable this issue. Miracleman, Miraclewoman, the other aliens, they set up a superhero club, something apparently all worlds with superheroes do. It feels too obvious.
The real problem is with how much abuse Moore throws at Billy Bates. He’s been being tortured by other kids for a number of issues now, always resisting the urge to turn into Kid Miracleman. Moore goes too far with it; it’s too much torture. Moore’s practically martyring the kid.
The bookends flow throughout the issue; during one recollection, Miracleman dances. It’s crazy, fantastic; easily makes up for the bumps.
Olympus, Chapter Four: Pantheon; writer, Alan Moore; artist, John Totleben; colorist, Sam Parsons; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Letitia Glozer; publisher, Eclipse.
It’s an awesome issue. Not just in the flashback plotting and reveals, but with how Moore structures Miracleman’s narration from the present. Even though the present day stuff is all static and all summary, Moore manages to get in an amazing finish for this issue. Moore doesn’t try to frustrate the reader with foreshadowing, he instead overwhelms.
Miracleman and Miraclewoman go to the galactic council or whatever it’s called and there’s a bunch of political stuff set to Totleben’s trippy alien designs. Miracleman often has smaller panels, so it’s impressive how much Totleben’s designs resonate even if they don’t get close-ups.
But there’s also stuff with Billy and Liz and how it will all shake out to get the story to the future bookends. Moore juggles the otherworldly and the human; he brings them together in the soft cliffhanger.
It’s an outstanding issue. Definitely the best with Totleben’s art.
Olympus, Chapter Three: Hermes; writer, Alan Moore; artist, John Totleben; colorist, Sam Parsons; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Letitia Glozer; publisher, Eclipse.
More hints at what’s to come–both in the bookends and in the present action. Moore’s pretty slick with one of the reveals–so quiet maybe it’s a typo–but the other, revealed on the last page but suggested much earlier… Well, things might just get really dramatic here in a bit.
This issue reveals Miraclewoman’s back story. It involves the evil scientist, of course, which sadly reminds one of Chuck Austen’s terrible conclusion to that story arc. This issue continues with Totleben, who does quite well. He’s really getting the idea of Miracleman as an Adonis, not just a regular superhero.
There are the surprises, some great panels–big and tiny, Moore’s got Totleben doing these practical thumbnails with great composition–and some really odd, nice moments with the supporting cast. The insect people are interesting, but Moore’s clearly saving more for later.
Excellent comic, though it ends abruptly.
Olympus, Chapter Two: Aphrodite; writer, Alan Moore; artist, John Totleben; colorist, Sam Parsons; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Letitia Glozer; publisher, Eclipse.
Wow. Even with Moore’s overcooked prose–it’s from Miracleman’s memoirs–wow.
It opens five years later, with Miracleman somewhere above the Earth in a floating castle. I think (about the location, not the time).
Moore opens with these grandiose images and then brings things down again. New–and lovely–artist John Tolteben can do both fantastical and mundane with ease. The story Miracleman is telling is the continuation from the previous issue. This issue he has a run-in with the space aliens and Moore has a big reveal of a new character.
Except these are relatively small. The battle with the aliens is just a fight scene, Liz in danger is just a thriller scene. Totleben doesn’t let the visuals get too big, so as the bookends work better. He and Moore are off to a great start together.
Moore’s isn’t rigidly constrained; he might even be having fun.
Olympus, Chapter One: Cronos; writer, Alan Moore; artist, John Totleben; colorist, Sam Parsons; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Cat Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.
John Ridgway returns to ink Veitch and it works out nicely. Veitch has fine composition, with the Ridgway inks the panels all have a lot of personality. I love how Mike looks so ancient and tired.
Most of the issue is spent with two aliens who have come to Earth to check on the miracle-people. Turns out there are more of them than Moore previously revealed (at least one more) and the aliens use the alternate universe in a similar way.
The stuff with the baby, while beautifully rendered, gets a little tiresome. Moore amps up the pressure on the characters only to immediately release it when a scene is winding up. The baby’s also not visually around a lot and sometimes when Liz and Mike talk about her, it sounds like there’s a monster in the crib.
Moore uses some lovely storytelling devices here too. Really lovely ones.
Mindgames; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Rick Veitch; inker, John Ridgway; colorist, Ron Courtney; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Cat Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.
That is one ugly baby.
Sorry, getting ahead of myself.
This issue features Moore’s returns after a reprints issue and fresh artists. Rick Veitch pencils, Rick Bryant inks. It’s a major improvement over Austen–the panel compositions are once again ambitious–but it’s not particularly great art. Veitch and Bryant do a little Mick Anglo homage and things of that nature, but it’s too broad. Miracleman thrives on visual realism.
The story, which has Liz giving birth to her miracle baby, is pretty good. She goes into labor the first page, then Moore resolves the last of the story arc (more like clean-up) while getting the delivery done. It’s a cute narrative, with Miracleman thinking about the beautiful of life and his place in the universe. Moore manages to sell it too. He’s got an amazing amount of rope on Miracleman.
Oddly, the last panel is the best drawn.
Scenes from the Nativity; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Rick Veitch; inker, Rick Bryant; colorist, Ron Courtney; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Cat Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.
I wonder how Alan Moore felt about seeing these finished pages. He turned in a great script, sent it off, got back these Chuck Austen pages. It’s a shock he didn’t quit comics then.
Oddly enough, Austen is better this issue than last. He’s still terrible though. He can’t do a subplot about some former Nazi youth being excited at the arrival of the Aryan Miracleman. Austen hasn’t got an ounce of subtlety. It’s shocking.
He must have been cheap.
The issue finishes up Miracleman’s encounter with his creator. Moore comes up with what should be a beautiful sequence for that particular finale and Austen drops the ball on it. Moore’s trying to go between childlike wonder and visceral violence. Austen doesn’t exhibit the ability for either.
It’s very odd to read a story in a visual medium and be left recalling it more vividly than the artist rendered it.
Bodies; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Chuck Austen; colorist, Ron Courtney; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Cartherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.
And here we have the first appearance of Chuck Austen on the art. And wow. Wow. I complained about Alan Davis–who does the first chapter–I complained about his work on faces. But he got the mythic quality of the story. He got how people, even if they aren’t beautifully drawn, do look different.
Austen doesn’t get anything. It’s bad. It’s worse than I… it’s bad.
The story’s good though. Moore neatly ties all the jungle scenery to the finale (or the cliffhanger). Austen butchers it. It should be great stuff but nope. It looks like a crappy eighties cartoon.
Anyway, there are some other really good moments in the modern day story. The art’s not good, but there are good moments.
Then there’s Young Miracleman story with Ridgeway art. It’s more cute than anything else, but it’s good. Moore shows some whimsy, which the main feature doesn’t have.
…And Every Dog Its Day!; writer, Alan Moore; artists, Alan Davis, Chuck Austen and John Ridgway; colorist, Ron Courtney; letterer, Wayne Truman; editors, Dez Skinn and Cartherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.