The release of Marvel’s June solicitations for brings with it the announcement that Marvelman will finally be returning to the page for the first time in a couple of decades. Three releases – Marvelman Classic Primer #1, which is apparently some kind of “handbook” for the character, featuring new art by some of Marvel’s artists. Then in July, “Marvelman Family’s Finest #1”, a new ongoing series which reprints Marvelman’s “greatest adventures”. No word on what that means, particularly. Finally, Marvelman Classic Vol.1 Premiere Hardcover, reprinting the character’s stories in chronological order.
You have to hand it to Marvel. Despite the fact that what people REALLY care about is “Miracleman”, as written by Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore, it’s having a fair old stab at drumming up interest in the Mick Anglo version of the character that was essentially the Fawcett Captain Marvel with the serial numbers filed off.
It’s not hard to see, logically, why the first Marvelman publication in decades turns out to be reprints of old, British-only stories which are largely only interesting for their historial value. From the look of it, Marvel is trying to capitalise on their ownership of the character by re-publishing the older works first, while interest is at its height, after which point they can publish Miracleman and exploit a new wave of enthusiasm. After all, no amount of disappointment or disinterest in Marvelman is going to dent the sales of Miracleman, whereas if they were published the other way around, people’s appetites would already be sated and there’d probably be far less of an audience for the Anglo comics.
Of course, Marvel have remained fairly coy (read: evasive) about whether they have the rights to publish the Gaiman/Moore incarnation of the character at all – and if not, their handling of the character risks skipping straight from foreplay to post-coital hugs. As much as we all want to see Marvel’s finest creators write new Marvelman stories (actually we don’t, really – fake ed) it’s only the Gaiman/Moore stuff that’s made Marvelman such an interesting and hotly-contested property in the first place. And as much as I believe that a good writer can make any character worth using, I’m skeptical that there are any stories that can be told about Marvelman that can match – let alone eclipse* – Miracleman.
* the author would like to assert that this pun was not intentional.