I’m writing this still reeling in shock from the announcement that Marvel Comics bought the rights to Marvelman. For those of you not familiar with the character, Marvelman (called “Miracleman” in the US because Marvel Comics felt their comics empire would collapse if the word “Marvel” was used to describe anything that wasn’t theirs) was a British ripoff of Captain Marvel back in the 1950s-60s. The stories were cute and fun and good solid entertainment for kids. Then Alan Moore got a hold of the comic, and comics were never the same again. Before the Dark Knight, before Watchmen, this was the series that asked the question “What if superheroes lived in the real world?” for the first time. And it was AMAZING. Well-written, with gorgeous artwork by a variety of artists (including some of the best artwork of John Totleben’s career, and that’s saying a lot). I won’t spoil the ending of Moore’s run, but when he finished, it took Neil Gaiman to come in and keep the series alive. And did I mention gorgeous artwork? This is where I first read Mark Buckingham’s pages, and realized that here was an artist who could draw in any style, from cartoony to Warhol, and do it WELL. To date, the “Andy Warhol” issue by Gaiman & Buckingham remains one of my all-time favorite single issues of any series. Legal issues prevented the comic from continuing, and it’s remained one of the great unfinished stories ever.
How they got the rights to it, I don’t know. But the thought of Marvelman by Marvel Comics makes me physically ill. One would hope that they will reprint all the Moore & Gaiman issues, and then follow-up by finishing that run with Gaiman’s unpublished scripts. After all, Gaiman wrote a final ending to it all; he just never had a chance to wrap his run. This would be the story that fans have been clamoring for years for; a story that would remain in print indefinitely as it’s such a milestone series by the top talents of the field. Or, Marvel could do a Hulk vs. Marvelman miniseries. I really want to be optimistic about this, but…
Please, Marvel. Neil Gaiman — NEIL GAIMAN!!! — has scripts already in the bag to wrap this all up. Pleasepleaseplease do the smart thing, the financially profitable thing, and USE HIS SCRIPTS!!!! Because we don’t need another strong guy in tights beating up another strong guy in tights story.