Even though it took 6 issues to tell and filled over 100 pages, Miracleman, Book Two: The Red King Syndrome really isn’t about much. The gist of the plot is this: Dr. Gargunza (Miracleman’s arch enemy from the 50s and 60s) has kidnapped Mike Moran’s wife Liz and Miracleman must save her. That’s it. Six issues. A hundred pages. Right there.
There is more to it, of course, there’s Dr. Gargunza’s origin, how he came to the position he held, how he created Miracleman after studying a downed spacecraft and its dead pilot, how his only hope in creating this legend was that it might breed and Dr. Gargunza could use that child, imprint his consciousness on it and live forever. It’s about five months since the end of Book One and Miracleman and Mike Moran are slowly growing apart (“I don’t trust Moran in a crisis” Miracleman says at one point) as the hero is slowly becoming more godlike in his powers and behavior.
Liz gives birth to Miracleman’s daughter in what’s probably the most graphically rendered birthing scene ever to appear in a comic book. And two mysterious beings appear toward the end of the book in search of . . . well, I’m not really sure WHAT they were searching for. No, that’s not true, I do know what they were looking for, but there’s no way to explain it without giving you the entire history on how Dr. Gargunza created Miracleman, and that would take some time. Suffice it to say, Mike Moran and Miracleman ARE two different beings even though, genetically, they share the same DNA and memories.
The title of Book Two, “The Red King Syndrome”, is taken from Alice in Wonderland. Dr. Gargunza asks his assistant one day when it seems the Miracles are about to wake up from their hypnotic slumber, “Tell me, Dr. Fabian…have you ever read ‘Alice in Wonderland’? You have? Do you remember the Red King? He slept and dreamed, and no-one dared wake him. They were afraid, you see, that they were all part of his dream, and that were he to wake the whole of existence would simply vanish.” If you remember from Book One, Miracleman’s entire history was nothing more than a computer-generated dream he and the other two heroes, Young Miracleman and Kid Miracleman, were having, created by Dr. Gargunza in the Project Zarathustra labs and Gargunza realizes one day that if these three were to wake up, considering they’re the most powerful creatures on the planet, things could get very bad for him.
Alan Moore’s writing is still, in Book Two, just as poetic and beautiful as in Book One, funny in places, terrifying in others. The art is split once again, Alan Davis in the beginning, then taken over by Chuck Austen, then Rick Veitch. I found none of them to be particularly dazzling, even though I’ve always like Alan Davis. His work in here just seemed kind of average, considering how good I know he is. But Miracleman was originally published in the early 80s, so maybe he just hadn’t reached his peak yet. The way the stories are told, the layouts of each issue, seemed very purposeful and I’d be willing to bet that had a lot to do with Moore’s script; I love his attention to that kind of detail at times.
Considering the character development as well as what’s happened in the plot–especially the birth of Winter who, at only a few weeks old, doesn’t cry, but said “Ma-ma” five minutes after being born and has a full set of teeth and eats four tins of solid food at a time–I can’t wait to get into Book Three and see what happens next.
Miracleman is just what I’d hoped it would be, amazing. I read these stories originally 25 years ago, probably longer, and was just hoping they were still as great as I’d remembered. They’re even better. I was right all those years when I said Miracleman was the best comic book ever created.
Alan Moore is often imitated but never duplicated and Miracleman was written at the peak of his skills. This should be required reading for comic book fans.
5 out of 5 stars