Alan Moore

Miracleman 16 (December 1988)

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.

A+ 

CREDITS

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.

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Miracleman 15 (November 1988)

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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.

A 

CREDITS

Olympus, Chapter Five: Nemesis; writer, Alan Moore; artist, John Totleben; colorist, Sam Parsons; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Letitia Glozer; publisher, Eclipse.

Miracleman 14 (April 1988)

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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.

A- 

CREDITS

Olympus, Chapter Four: Pantheon; writer, Alan Moore; artist, John Totleben; colorist, Sam Parsons; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Letitia Glozer; publisher, Eclipse.

Miracleman 13 (November 1987)

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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.

A 

CREDITS

Olympus, Chapter Three: Hermes; writer, Alan Moore; artist, John Totleben; colorist, Sam Parsons; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Letitia Glozer; publisher, Eclipse.

Miracleman 12 (September 1987)

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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.

A- 

CREDITS

Olympus, Chapter Two: Aphrodite; writer, Alan Moore; artist, John Totleben; colorist, Sam Parsons; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Letitia Glozer; publisher, Eclipse.

Miracleman 11 (May 1987)

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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.

A

CREDITS

Olympus, Chapter One: Cronos; writer, Alan Moore; artist, John Totleben; colorist, Sam Parsons; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Cat Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.

Miracleman 10 (December 1986)

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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.

B 

CREDITS

Mindgames; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Rick Veitch; inker, John Ridgway; colorist, Ron Courtney; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Cat Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.

Miracleman 9 (July 1986)

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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.

B 

CREDITS

Scenes from the Nativity; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Rick Veitch; inker, Rick Bryant; colorist, Ron Courtney; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Cat Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.

Miracleman 7 (April 1986)

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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.

C+ 

CREDITS

Bodies; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Chuck Austen; colorist, Ron Courtney; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Cartherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.

Miracleman 6 (February 1986)

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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.

B- 

CREDITS

…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.

Miracleman 5 (January 1986)

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Really, the art’s Alan Davis? Mostly, I mean–John Ridgeway’s back to finish the flashback story–but Davis does the art on most of the issue. And it’s not good. It’s really rushed, really loose with detail. There’s definitely some decent composition, but I just thought whoever came on the art had good composition and not good detail ability.

The story mostly concerns Gargunza revealing Miracleman’s past to Liz. It’s during these parts Davis fails the script the most–Moore clearly wants Liz to have gravitas (even when she doesn’t have any real lines), but Davis doesn’t sell it. It’s too bad.

The writing gets it through. Moore’s a lot more successful with the Gargunza and Liz scenes than with Evelyn Cream. Cream’s supposed to offer a human take on Miracleman (who doesn’t do anything this issue) but Moore’s trying too hard.

It’s a bridging issue. The awesome’s just subdued.

B 

CREDITS

The Approaching Light; writer, Alan Moore; artists, Alan Davis and John Ridgway; colorist, Ron Courtney; letterer, G. George; editors, Dez Skinn and Cartherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.

Miracleman 4 (December 1985)

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And here’s the first mention of Miracleman as a superhero. He’s hanging out in a park, runs across a kid who’s terrified of a nuclear attack, they bond. Great scene from Moore.

Alan Davis does most of the art this issue. It’s very well composed at times, but his figures feel a little two dimensional. John Ridgeway does one of the chapters (these are still Warrior reprints) and it’s a little more effective. It might just be the content–giant magical kingdoms and vampire legions and so on.

The story moves forward a little, but Moore seems a lot more concentrated on the chapter form. Mike Moran only shows up long enough to change into Miracleman. Even Liz has more scenes without Miracleman (or Mike) than with.

It’s still fantastic stuff. It’s just Moore’s writer fingerprints are showing up. He’s artificial with the plotting and pacing. It isn’t organically growing.

A- 

CREDITS

Catgames; writer, Alan Moore; artists, Alan Davis and John Ridgway; colorist, Ron Courtney; letterer, G. George; editors, Dez Skinn and Cartherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.

Detective Comics - Doug Moench

Detective Comics 550 (May 1985)

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Moench goes a little too high concept for this one, especially since Broderick isn’t really the artist to do a protracted chase sequence.

A small-time thug runs across the rooftops, Batman in close pursuit, and Moench flashes back to all the things in his life to bring the thug to this point. It’s a little contrived, but it’s definitely ambitious. So when Moench actually brings damnation into the picture–the guy, it turns out, has robbed a church and attacked a nun–it’s just too much.

It doesn’t help Broderick eventually gives up and is practically drawing this story comical. There are a couple Batman cowl shots I was surprised Smith didn’t fix, but maybe he’d given up too.

Then the Green Arrow resolution is odd. Moore doesn’t write too much (or enough). It’s a decent enough action story, with lots of mood from Janson but not good detail.

D 

CREDITS

The Spider’s Ninth Leg!; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Workman. Green Arrow, Night Olympics, Part Two; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Klaus Janson; letterer, Todd Klein. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Miracleman 3 (November 1985)

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It’s a nice issue, sort of finishing out the main questions about Miracleman–how can a fifties-type superhero actually have existed in the modern world Moore operates the series in. The answer is predictable, but Moore’s presentation of the explanation is good.

The setup for the reveal, including a fight with another super-powered individual, cuts between the cast members. Even though Liz doesn’t get any scenes with Mike (or Miracleman), she does get one of the interludes. Moore isn’t forgetting anyone and he’s working to get into as many of the characters’ heads as possible. It’s a nice little moment and a surprise success as the characters aren’t definitively established yet.

Then Moore tells the reveal from the villain’s (narrating) perspective. Moore does raise a couple question he doesn’t answer yet–calling Miracleman a “monster,” for example–but it’s a big success.

Even if Davis is no Leach.

B+ 

CREDITS

Out of the Dark; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Alan Davis; colorist, Ron Courtney; letterer, G. George; editors, Dez Skinn and Cartherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.