Graphic Novel Review: Miracleman: The Red King Syndrome

Miracleman: The Red King Syndromec

Miracleman: The Red King Syndromec - Credit: Archant

Continuing the long-overdue reprinting of the seminal superhero saga

(Panini Books)

A simple word transforms a middle-aged local reporter into a superpowered being with near godlike powers. This is the stuff that legends are made of…

The renaissance of Captain Marvel pastiche Miracleman continues in this collection of the second part of Alan Moore’s acclaimed deconstruction of the superhero myth, out-of-print for decades but now remastered and republished for a new generation.

Having established Mike Moran, his wife Liz and the alter ego of Miracleman, the secrets behind his transformation are revealed here, as we meet Dr Emil Gargunza, the man behind Project Zarathustra, a covert operation which gave Mike and his sidekicks their otherworldly powers using retro-engineered alien technology.

But Gargunza has his own, personal objective for creating his version of Nietzsche’s “Superman”, and these reasons will be revealed deep within the jungles of Paraguay, as Mike and Liz find themselves coming to terms with the fact that their lives will never be the same again.

In exploring the origins of Miracleman, we start to learn more about the source of his powers, including the race of Warpsmiths behind them, but also the motivations of Gargunza, and why he has made Moran and his peers the subject of his life’s work.

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After fruitlessly trying to maintain control over his body and psyche, Mike soon realises that it is better off for all concerned if he remains as Miracleman, as not only is he a higher stage of human evolution, gifted with remarkable abilities which set him above his fellow humans, but somehow his alter ego is capable of giving his wife the child they always wanted…

And that is the story at the very heart of this collection – the nativity of Liz and MM’s daughter Winter, in a very graphic birth scene which holds nothing back in representing the miracle (pun intended) of new life. Kudos to all concerned for tackling this head-on instead of off-panel.

The artwork fluctuates from superior material by Alan Davis and Rick Veitch, to sub-par work from Chuck Beckum, later to gain notoriety as one of the worst comics writers of all-time under his pen name of Austen, but here merely proving he also can’t draw.

A critical study of the superhero genre, which neatly sets up events for Moore’s epic finale in the next book, Olympus, in which we see the culmination of his thesis on the nature of man vs superman, and what would really happen if these godlike beings walked among us.