What is on my nightstand this week: Miracleman and Wise Man’s Fear
Miracleman (aka Marvelman) by “The Original Writer” (aka Alan Moore) and others
I have read Marvelman before, though never in printed version. The series had been out of print for a long, long time. The saga of why a series started by Alan Moore and continued by Neil Gaiman, with art by Alan Davis among others, just shows how complex publishing rights are to sort out. Especially give how influential Marvelman has been on comics since the 80s.
Marvelman never got the broad exposure that Watchman or some of the other celebrated works of Alan Moore has, but it really should have. The history of the character, the influence of this comic, and just the comic itself all make this book deserving more than life as a footnote or a curiosity.
Marvelman, published in the US as Miracleman, was a British version of Captain Marvel, complete with a family of superheroes and disturbingly racist caricatures as villains. Or at least it was until Alan Moore was given a chance to reinterpret the character in the 80s. Instead of childish and silly stories the prototype for “gritty, and dark” re-imagining that continue to today.
One of the first and darkest reimaginings Miracleman can been seen in comics that are still being published today. Watchman (by Moore as well), Marvels, Kingdom Come, and even recent “events” like the Avengers vs. X-Men of a few years back all tread some of the same fertile ground that Miracleman did first. What would superheroes be like in the real world is an interesting question, but Miracleman sets itself apart in plumbing the depths of the question what would it be like being a superhero in the real world.
The first arc is all about Miracleman, his rediscovery of how he is a superhero, and his struggle to reconcile that with his human life. That question, how do you stay human when you are now a god, gets answered in a much different way than almost any other time it has been explored. There is no turning away from his powers, or requirement to keep the status quo of the comic related to the real world. No, we see in unflinching, graphic terms, what it would be like to have gods walk among us. The edges pushed by this comic are not as controversial as they once were, Marvel still polybags the comic to avoid any such problems. The birth of Miracleman’s child and the destruction wrought by the adversary are still powerful, even if they are not as shocking as they might have been originally.
The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
I nearly missed my train stop on multiple occasions while reading this book. There is a big concern I have about this book, which is that at the pace it is going, there is no satisfactory way he can conclude the story in one more book, even if that book is well over 2k pages in length. So, instead I hope that the next book will conclude the first portion of Kvothe’s story, and set up another trilogy or two, so that the author has the space to conclude the story to his satisfaction and ours.