Saturday, 6 June 2015

Miracleman Book 2: Red King Syndrome (#5-10) NSFW

NSFW:  Warning!  Contains very graphic images of childbirth that leave nothing to the imagination!

"Is this it Gargunza?  Is this what all those years were for?" - Miracleman

OK, so this sucks.  I'm doing another Brit comics month and I was supposed to be doing The Complete Ballad Of Halo Jones as my Alan Moore comic.  But those cocksuckers in the UK postal service are obviously too busy gargling each others cum to ensure I get my post, and it's lost somewhere in limbo.  So I'm doing the second Marvel Miracleman reprint collection which I think was originally still mostly published in the UK first.  Fuck I don't know, wikipedia is not helping me.  But as it's the only Alan Moore comic I can at least tenuously link to the UK I've have to hand so it'll have to fucking do OK?  Fuck.

Hrmm, I think two months looking at Garth Ennis's stuff has had a deleterious effect on my usual prim and ladylike manner of speech.  Let's start again.

Miracleman (or Marvelman as it was originally known) was an old Silver Age British knock-off of Captain Marvel.  Miracleman, Young Miracleman and Kid Miracleman all had magic words they could say to turn from normal humans into powerful superbeings.  By the early 1980's the series hadn't been published in a long time so writing for Warrior comic, Alan Moore revived and rebooted the series as one of the first deconstructionist takes on the superhero archetype, as middle-aged schlub Mike Moran remembers his long forgotten magic word and transforms into Miracleman, gets his wife pregnant, fights the now evil Kid Miracleman and then finds out all his memories of his old adventures were simply beamed into his brain via a virtual reality machine. I looked at Book One here and here.  The first Book of Miracleman ended with him departing the govenment bunker where his past had been manufactured in the company of one Evelyn Cream a government agent who was meant to kill him, but who betrayed the UK government to team up with Miracleman for his own reasons.
Miracleman and Liz
The book begins with Liz and Mike Moran arguing.  She says that although Miracleman can't be hurt, Mike can.  Mike says it's not his fault Miracleman was done to him and if Liz wants reassurance she can talk to him and he changes into Miracleman in the next room.  We then get a look at what's happening to Johnny Bates, the teenage vessel for the evil Kid Miracleman.  He is in a vegetative state externally through the sheer effort of fighting Kid Miracleman's persuasion to get him to change.

Evelyn Cream is meeting with his ostensible boss, Sir Dennis Archer.  Cream wants Miracleman left alone and Project Zarathustra suspended immediately.  Sir Dennis asks if he realises just how powerful Miracleman is?

Evelyn Cream: "You made it an enemy.  I made it an ally.  There is a difference."

Sir Dennis: "Not at all Mr. Cream.  It has made you it's pet!"

Miracleman appears naked to Liz and they start to embrace and make love.  She realises that with his power there is no reason to be scared and yet:

Narration: "So why does she feel so vulnerable? And Afraid?"

Later Miracleman is sitting on a rock in a wooded area somewhere.  There is a boy who is hiding stuff that he will need post-nuclear war.  He spots Miracleman and asks him "Are you a pouf [UK slag for a homosexual]? Or are you a superhero?" A surprised Miracleman introduces himself as Miracleman, superhero.  The boy says he is called Jason.

Jason is a little dubious about Miracleman's claims, so Miracleman destroys the big rock he was sat on.  Satisfied, Jason asks him if he could stop a nuclear war happening.  Miracleman says he'd doe his best.  They part and when Miracleman gets home he comes across the living room all smashed up and Liz (who is now heavily pregnant with Miracleman's kid) has been abducted.
Cream woken from a prophetic dream.
In the midst of a nightmare, Cream is wakened by a panicked phoncall from Miracleman. We briefly see Liz in a comfortable bedroom while two voices off screen scan her and note her total lack of panic at what has happened to her.  Back with Miracleman, Cream denies all knowledge of what happens.  They figure out it must be someone who knows Miraclemans secret identity.  First they phone the hospital Johnny Bates is in, but he hasn't gone anywhere. 

Then Cream phones Sir Dennis and tells him Miracleman will destroy one city an hour until he gets Liz back.  Desperately Sir Dennis says he hasn't got her, but he knows who might have her. We then return to Liz and a man called Gargunza, who was behind Project Zarathustra and he says to her, regarding Miracleman:

Gargunza: "I created him.  He is almost my son.  And shortly Mrs Moran, very shortly.. he will be my father."
The real Gargunza
Later Cream is preparing to fly to where they have been told Gargunza is hiding out.  They are going by plane as it would be to cold for Miracleman to fly Cream under his own steam.  On the plane he ponders meeting Gargunza who is holed up in South America, and finding out his secrets to use for "his own ends".

Gargunza performs various check-ups on Liz, who takes it all in her stride.  When he tells her sheis having a girl, she simply replies "I know".  Later that night Gargunza has a nightmare where the Miracle foetus stares him down, and knowing he won't be able to go back to sleep he remembers his time with Project Zarathustra.  Cue flashback.

He and his assistant, Fabian are overseeing the three Miraclemen being given false memories as dream programmes.  Then one day he turns off the "somatic inducers" and the Miraclemen keep on dreaming independantly.

We then travel into the gorgous dreamworld of the Miraclemen.  Miracleman comments that it doesn't feel real and he has felt like he is in a dream for a while now.  They are presented by a city with "Sleepytown" written up the side and they go in to investigate.  Outside Garguza notes that their subconciousness are trying to tell them things aren't real.  The Miraclemen come across three huge slumbering figures which look exactly like them to their discomfort.

Gargunza: "Their subconcious minds are trying to overload on absurdity to shock the brain into wakefulness by crossing the threshold of disbelief".

Gargunza says he anticipated this might happen and installed failsafes.  A dampner field will drain the power of their minds and allow them to rein in the warnings from their minds.  Inside their dream the Miraclemen come across vampires and start fighting them as Fabian says the dampner fields aren't working.  As the Miraclemen fight, Gargunza muses:

Gargunza: "Tell me Fabian, have you ever read Alice in Wonderland?  You have? Do you remember the Red King?  He slept and dream and no-one dared wake him.  They were afraid you see, that they were all part of his dream. And if he were to wake the whole of existence would vanish".

Fabian says that existence wouldn't end if the Miraclemen wake up.  Gargunza replies "It will for us."  And then we return to him in the present.
The Miraclemen's shared dreamworld.
He is sat with Liz as they drink coffee together.  She asks him who he is and where he comes from.  he says he is an old man, close to death and he comes from vera Cruz.  Liz expresses an interest in hearing his life story so he obliges.  He says he was around six when the Mexican government fell and US troops were sent to keep the peace, it was 1911.  When he was nine, his father died and he and his mother lived in poverty in Rio.

He joined up with a local gang and because he was small and intelligent, the head gangster Aurelio adopted him as a mascot.  One day though Aurelio tried to sexually abuse him and when Gargunza resisted he was badly beaten.  However Gargunza's intelligence and earning power had bought him the loyalty of the rest of the gang and one night he had Aurelio dragged from his bed.  Gargunza then raped his girlfriend in front of him and beat him to death with a baseball bat. He was fourteen.

By the time he was eighteen he was rich enough to keep his mother in comfort and he left for Europe and began to study science.  His reputation spread and one day he met Hitler and was offered a position in the Reich to study genetics.  In 1941 he realised the war was unwinnable for Germany and defected to England where he started working under Sir Dennis Archer.  After the death of his mother in 1947 he realised he did not want to die.
The mystery spaceship that helped start it all.
One night he was summoned to the site of a poison gas leak, which turned out to be a cover story for the landing of an alien spacecraft.  He and a few others entered it and could hardly comprehend what they were seeing.  Further into the ship they discovered the alien body that Gargunza spent a long time puzzling over.

It was the same being but had two bodies fused together, it was one mind but with two bodies.  Garguza theorised that the ship had crashed after the alien had suddenly and catstrophically had both bodies occupy the same space at the same time.  Gargunza believed he could create humans who could switch bodies in the same way and experimented on three orphans, he also makes a passing mention of two who came later, "Rebbeck and Lear".

When they had been physically altered, he went to work on a way of controlling them via their minds.  He hit on using the superhero narrative after seeing a comic one day (and that comic is shown to be Captain Marvel) and used technology created using what they had found in the alien spacecraft.
The Miracle family are created.
Liz asks why he did all this  Gargunza says he wants to live for ever.  He thought about wiping Miracleman's mind and transferring his conciousness into him, but that wouldn't have worked.  A baby on the other hand, that had inherited Miracleman's abilities naturally, well that would be a different matter altogether.  And finally Liz is shaken by what he is implying.

We return to the flashback the night in 1961 when the Miracle family started to wake up. The dampner fields overload and the Miraclemen start creating their own dreamworld.  Miracleman is still uneasy, saying something is wrong and nothing feels real.  His mind is creating absurdities upon absurdities in an attempt to wake himself up.

Miracleman: "No!  This is wrong!  Don't you see?  We're being seduced.  They're trying to stop us thinking!"

His subconcious projection is so powerful it even changes the logo on his real life costume.  Gargunza desperately looks for a way to reassert control as Fabian says Miracleman is moving.  Gargunza finally hits on having them wake up inside the simulation with all the crazy stuff as just being all a dream.  This appears to work, although Miracleman's costume logo is still changed. 
Gargunza reasserts control... maybe.
Back in the present, Liz is accosted by Cream who tells her that her husband is coming for her.  Miracleman comes raging through the compound destroying everything in his path.  He tells Gargunza that he is going to kill him.  Gargunza laughs and says the word "Abraxas" which turns Miracleman back into Mike Moran.  Mike says his magic word but nothing happens.  Gargunza has activated a mental failsafe that will keep Mike from transforming into Miracleman for another hour.  Then he places his dog on the ground and says "Steppenwolf" which transforms the dog into a huge, vicious "Miracledog!"

Cream arrives on the scene with Liz.  Liz and Mike hug and Gargunza says Mike and Cream have three minutes to make their getaway before he sets Miracledog on them.  He says now Liz is pregnant, Mike has outlived his usefulness.  Cream and Mike leave, but soon Mike collapses in despair saying he is too fat and old to run.
Miracledog.  Not a very friendly guy.
Cream says that inside Mike is a God who must be protected.  He gives Mike his gun then leaves him to try and draw Miracledog away and buy Mike some time.  He remembers his nightmare and realises the "whiteness" he reached for was not the "the hot whiteness of steel.  Or of sanctity.  It is the whiteness of bone.  It is death."  Miracledog catches up with him and cuts his head clean off, thus ending Cream's involvement in the story.

Miracledog then catchs up with Mike and when Mike points his gun at it, snaps the gun up taking two of Mike's fingers with it.  Mike tries to figure out how to defeat an opponent whose magic word it can't even say.  Then he realises that the magic word could be said by someone else besides Gargunza.  He tries  it and Miracledog changes back into a harmless animal.  Mike beats it's brains out with a rock then sits and waits.

Gargunza's men are out looking for Mike and Cream's bodies.  They find Cream and Miracledog, but then Mike transforms back into Miracleman and kills all of them.  He then speeds back to Gargunza's compounds and smashes his way down to where Gargunza is.  Before Gargunza can say the counterword, Miracleman grabs him by the throat.  Then he flies him up above the Earth.

Miracleman: "Can you see the planet?  How big it is?  Can you see the scale I live on?  Gargunza, can you see how small you have always been?"

He kisses Gargunza farewell, then hurls him back down towards the Earth.  Gargunza burns up in the atmosphere and only a small amount of bone makes it back down to the surface.
Sucks yo be you now, Gargunza.
(I've got a feeling that this was the point Miracleman ceased being published in Warrior, as the rest of the book is made up of much longer chapters, which makes me think this was when the strip went over to US publisher Eclipse in full.)

Back with Liz, her contractions start.  She struggles outside to seek help to find the place wrecked.  Then Miracleman appears angelically in front of her.  She gets a bit hysterical but he holds her and says it's "all gone away".  She doesn't want to have her baby where they are now, so Miracleman puts her in a nearby truck and then flies her inside it to find a quiet place she can give birth.

There is a brief interlude with two strange humanoid characters who gain entrance to the facility where Johnny Bates is being treated.  They enter his mind as try and talk to him about his "Change-self".  When Johnny refuses to respond they withdraw and Kid Miracleman pops up wondering "what they hell were they?"

There is now an extensive birth scene rendered in extremely graphic detail with a series of beautiful and life affirming captions.  It's not easily summed up and is really the emotional heart of the entire book, so here are some images from it to give you some idea how lovely it is.
Behold!  Miraclebaby!
Finally with their daughter safely delivered, Liz says over and over, "is she alright?".  To which Miracleman responds "Yes. Yes she's all right."  And just as they breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy the fact their world is finally safe and sane, their newborn baby girl says "Ma-ma".

The action then cuts back to the strange humanoids who are keeping an eye on all the beings like Mike/Miracleman who can change, whether alive or dead.  Their speech is odd and hard to follow and very elliptical, but one thing they do reveal, that there is a Miraclewoman out there as well.

Returning to the new family, they are back at the Moran home.  Liz is unable to keep up Miraclebaby's need for sustenance.  Miracleman changes back into Mike and is still missing two fingers, overwhelmed by all the stress he has been under he passes out.

We then cut to Johnny Bates, inside his head, Kid Miracleman has managed to trick Johnny into coming out of his vegative state that had trapped them both.  He knows Johnny won't say the magic word and free him easily, but that it's more likely to happen if Johnny is concious and mixing with the other kids in the group home.
Kid Miracleman plots....
Back with the Morans, Liz is feeding the baby formula to keep up with her hunger.  Liz confesses that when she was pregnant, the baby, who she names "Winter" kept her stress down and made her calm.  But now she's given birth she feels like she doesn't matter and she is depressed.  Then oddly her mood changes and she feels happy again.  As this conversation was being shown from Winter's perspective, the implication is that she used her powers to make her mum happy again.

We then return to the odd humans, they are in a doctor's office, the receptionist speaks to the female doctor and says they have asked for her using the wrong name, "Lear" and seem to be foreign.  Then the receptionist, still speaking to the female doctor over the phone says "Kim who?" and the side of the building shatters as Miraclewoman says the magic word "Kimota" and makes a quick getaway.
Back with the Morans, Liz has started feeding Winter solid food to satisfy her.  When Mike queries this, Liz says something told her it was the right thing to do - "mother's instinct". Mike goes to check on the baby and is overhwelmed by love for her.

Mike: "How can anything so wonderfully complex be made so small, so flawless in every details.  Her perfect little fingers.  Her perfect little eyes.  Her perfect little ears.  Her perfect little mouth... with it's... perfect... little... teeth".

The book concludes with the mysterious couple in South America inspecting the body of Miracledog.  Their next target is Mike who they are detirmined not to allow to escape them like Miraclewoman did.  They travel back to England in a burst of light.
The mystery humanoids... aliens perhaps?
And that concludes Book Two of Miracleman.  After the impact the first Book had at the time, added into the fact this book was being put out during the final period of Warrior magazine and then transferred over to US publisher Eclipse, this middle book suffers a little from feeling like it's acting mainly to tie off loose ends from Book One (Evelyn Cream and Gargunza) while setting up plotlines for the epic events of Book Three (the introduction of Miraclewoman, Johnny Bates coming out of his fugue state, the odd humanoid aliens, Winter's fast development and powers).  However it's still a fantastic read in it's own right, the birth sequence alone is some of the finest, most heartfelt writing I have ever read by Alan Moore and showing the birth in all it's unsanitised detail keeps the premise of Miracleman as a superhero book grounded in gritty reality alive. This reprint package as a whole is just as lavish as the previous one, there are two extra stories, a short fun little one starring Young Miracleman trying to impress a lady, and a fourth wall breaking framing sequence for some reprints after the Eclipse publishing offices got flooded. Add in all the covers, promo art, as well as other artistic treats, all bound together in hardback and you have a fantastic package any lover of comics must have in their collection.


  1. I'm sure the Royal Mail are trying their best :-(

    Also, are you okay? You're swearing a lot.

    I see Miracleman did the whole 'woman has sex with a glittering demigod' before Twilight did.

    Inspired by you I have asked Tony's permission to change Emil Gargunza's profile picture on the wiki from the hideously racist version we currently have.

    Yes, death is white.

    Wow, what an amazing death for Gargunza.

  2. I'm totes blaming Garth Ennis for my bad language, it should be wearing off soon :D I'm just annoyed that Halo Jones is the third item this year that's gone missing in the post, not to mention all the bills and bank statements they've posted to the wrong address. Grrr.

    Hah, I like the Twilight analogy it does fit doesn't it? Thankfully Miracleman isn't as annoying as the Twilight vampires.

    Gargunza did get a pretty cool death I agree. Being thrown at a planet isn't something that happens to just anyone.

  3. woah! that really was sum graphic imagery, you werent kidding! creepy how the baby already has teeth and can talk though.

  4. Yes, the abilities and fast growth of Miraclebaby lend the last chapter a sinister undercurrent that I am interested in seeing pay off in the final volume, which I don't have yet.

  5. Hey, it's no more graphic than what you'd get in a medical textbook, and I've seen much more graphic things in comics.

  6. Yes, agreed, I felt I had to place a strong warning because for some reason seeing genitals is considered somehow much more offensive than seeing someone being decapitated or disemboweled etc even if those genitals aren't being shown in a sexual context. It's a weird double standard but there we go.

  7. Yes, it is weird. The image obviously isn't sexual, on account of how it contains a newborn baby. And from what I gather, childbirth is one of the least sexy experiences possible. It's about as sexy as filling in a tax return while having a dislocated shoulder put back in without anaesthetic. (The shoulder not pertaining to the hand you write with, obviously. I wouldn't use a speech-to-text program to fill in a tax return. They hear worse than Beethoven.)

  8. From what I have heard at the precise moments you're giving birth you don't want to ever have sex again!