Religion teaches us that God is supreme and all knowing. He represents a grace, a purity that no one can understand or attain. We can strive towards it, but even the thought of climbing to that plateau is blasphemous. This assumption is challenged brilliantly in Alan Moore’s masterpiece, Miracleman. Miracleman poses some interesting questions about man’s role in the grand scheme of things, all be it in a manner that may not be apparent at first. All will be explained in due time, but for now lets get to the series itself.
Comic books have never been the most original medium, specifically in their early days. Marvelman was a British superhero who ran through the fifties and was quite frankly a pitiful and blatant rip-off of a popular hero named Captain Marvel. A sixteen year old Mike Moran is granted the ability to become an adult superhero with the simple utterance of the word “Kimota”. He was later joined by two older kids, Young Marvelman and Kid Marvelman. After a series of rather uninspired stories in the fifties and sixties, the character eventually faded into obscurity. Marvelman would lay dormant until 1982. Cue Alan Moore.
Moore was a young unknown in those days. No one would have predicted that critically acclaimed books like Watchmen and V for Vendetta would make him one of the most respected and critically acclaimed comic writers of all time, but his talent was just as evident then as it is now. At this point, Moore had already recognized the ridiculous nature of superheroes and saw that they could be deconstructed and examined when transplanted into real world situations. This, and a childhood concept of a superhero who forgets his magic word, forged the basis of the reincarnation of the long forgotten Marvelman. In 1982, Moore teamed with artists Gary Leache and Alan Davis to produce a series of strips in a British magazine called Warrior. After a hiatus, the series was reprinted in the US and Moore continued the story after the original strips had all been reprinted (Now renamed Miracleman upon legal threats from Marvel Comics). Miracleman was a dangerous and revolutionary take on superheroes and comics in general.
Its 1981 and a middle aged Mike Moran lives with his wife and seems to know nothing about superheroes or their colorful adventures. But he does have a dream, a haunting dream of flying, of snow, and blinding death by light and heat. And when he wakes, there is a word, one that is buried deep in his psyche but is always unreachable. But in one perilous moment, with a whisper of “Kimota”, he is Miracleman once more. He regains his memories and tells his wife his “origin”. As Miracleman, he battled supposed evil for seven years until he and his cohorts were trapped and seemingly destroyed. But Mike survived. The only flaw in his story is that superheroes don’t exist and never have existed. Mike has lived a comic book fantasy.
There’s and explanation to this, and its quite startling. Miracleman’s true origin is one of the best and is a perfect example of Moore’s perversion and destruction of innocent childish superheroes. In reality, Miracleman has been manipulated and lied to his whole life. The true nature of his “transformation” and proceeding ability is also troubling and strange, and it creates a lot of huge conflicts within Mike over his identity.
Moore’s tale culminates with a storyline titled “Olympus” which chronicles Miracleman’s transformation from hero to God. He confronts absolute horror and transcendent joy. The highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows. He battles his Lucifer, his Ragnorak: Kid Miracleman. Its one of the most violent, disturbing, and frighteningly eloquent battles every rendered. All of “Olympus” is beautifully written, but the final issue stands out. Miracleman essentially “fixes” the world. He rebuilds it in his own image and makes his childhood fantasies a reality. He quite literally becomes God.
He goes from Man to God in just five years. He is God, and yet he is different. He laughs, he cries. In his final monologue, he explains how he feels about mankind’s attitudes towards the concept of God: “Lift up your heads! You were not made to gaze at gutters, mud and puddles all your lives, but have not dared to raise your sights in case the thing you longed for was not there. Look up and see it now, the shape that’s haunted human dreams and legends since we first peered from the jungles long ago and wondered what might dwell on those blue and distant hills, upon those mountains there…Oh, Earth, look up.”
Is it possible that those grand wonders we imagine have been inside of us all along? Is it possible that all the imperfections that we detest are actually what make us incredible? Is it possible that that glory that we dreamed of stares back at us in the mirror every day?
Alan Moore’s run on Miracleman ends on a single resonating note. Miracleman sits at a garden terrace, looking down at the lights of London from his grand Olympus. He looks out across his world and does something we never expect God to do. Something we should all do a little bit more of: “Sometimes…Sometimes, I just wonder.”