Timeless # 1 promised “the future of the Marvel universe – revealed!” But the last few pages of the comic may have given readers even more than they expected, with a surprising and meaningful new addition to the Marvel Hall of Fame – from outside the Marvel Universe itself.
[Ed. Note: This post contains spoilers for Timeless #1.]
the Timeless one-shot – by writer Jed MacKay and artists Kev Walker, Mark Bagley and Greg Land – is framed around Anatoly Petrov, an aging historian recruited by Kang the Conqueror as some sort of sidekick / mortal spirit for himself marvel at the great works of the Conqueror. Kang is Marvel’s resident time-traveling villain, known to appear by a number of alternate code names at various points in his life (Egyptian Pharaoh Rama-Tut in his prime, founding Young Avenger Iron Lad at the adolescence and the ubiquitous windbag Immortus in his retreat, to name a few). It has recently become even more in the limelight due to its introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Anyway, in Timeless, Kang takes Petrov on a journey through time and space to confront Doctor Doom from a “pirate” timeline, and along the way, he gives the historian intriguing glimpses of the events (i.e. tell Marvel scenarios) to come. But they’re all pale compared to the last unexpected bombshell in the book.
On the last page of the comic, Petrov rereads his travel diary telling us, “But what I have left most are the visions of potential futures that we saw on Oracle Base. […] why is it this a particular vision imprinted on my mind? And on the newspaper in front of him we see, unequivocally, the logo of the hero Miracleman.
Who is Miracleman?
Created by British writer and artist Mick Anglo in 1954, Miracleman (originally named wonderman, a name which was later changed, ironically, to avoid friction with Marvel Comics) was a creative attempt by the British editors to Fawcett’s Captain Marvel (a name which was later changed to Shazam, to avoid friction with Marvel Comics ) to continue posting on Captain Marvel-esque stories after Fawcett stopped posting. So, the new character originally looked like his American counterpart in just about everything except his name, hair color, and no cape. [Ed. note: As for why there are two Captain Marvels, it’s a whole thing.]
Young reporter Micky Moran met an astrophysicist who granted him extraordinary powers every time he said the word “Kimota!” (ie “atomic” spelled backwards, with a K), transforming him into a superhero known as Miracleman. Like his inspiration speaking Shazam, Micky quickly reunited his own family of adventurers with the same ability, including Young Marvelman Dicky Dauntless and Johnny Bates, the prepubescent Marvelman Kid.
Marvelman / Miracleman owes its enduring fame not to these atomic age adventures, but to its historic 1980s rebirth from the pen of a promising writer named Alan Moore. In no time, Moore revealed that everything we, and poor Micky, knew about Miracleman was totally wrong.
Rather than a brave journalist with incredible powers, Moran was actually the victim of an underground government program that had fused him and his young henchmen into super-powerful alien bodies. her head. Innocent little Johnny Bates, meanwhile, had been totally subsumed by his power-hungry alien alter ego. In the brutal and infamous climax of the race, Miracleman confronts and kills Bates, in a battle that destroys London, and the world is rebuilt in Miracleman’s likeness.
Working alongside a series of artists (including frequent future collaborators Alan Davis, Rick Veitch, and John Totleben), Moore’s run was an early and foundational exercise in superhero deconstruction. The writer left the series after that Battle of London, leaving his handpicked successor, a promising Neil Gaiman, to flesh out Miracleman’s brave new world in a series of shorter stories with artist Mark Buckingham.
By that time, however, the book had already bounced between a series of smaller publishers, and in 1994 it finally shut down publication altogether amid a confused mess of property disputes. The standoff only ended when, following a lawsuit, Gaimain secured the rights to Miracleman and ceded them to Marvel Comics, which also acquired full ownership of the character from its original creator, the screenwriter. British Mick Anglo. This all brings us to the final twist of this week in the Miracleman Tale.
What’s the problem ?
This isn’t the first time Miracleman has appeared in a comic book released by Marvel since the company took control of the character. In 2014, Marvel launched a series of reprints of classic Miracleman documents, including that of Moore (with his name deleted on request, as did the writer’s policy on work he wrote but didn’t. has no rights). In 2019, Gaiman and Buckingham announced that they had returned to work on their aborted race. But this is the first time Miracleman has been explicitly incorporated into a story alongside characters from Marvel’s core universe.
It is important because Miracle man, Like Watchmen, has become one of the touchstones of modern day superhero comics. For the best or for the worst, Miracle man was the first in an era of dark subversions of superhero tropes that spilled over into the 1980s and beyond. His success established Moore’s knack for deconstructing superhero lore when he presented the comic book that ultimately became Watchmen at DC Comics. He’s managed to soak up the creative DNA of writers from Frank Miller to Mark Millar to Donny Cates. This influence may not always have been appreciated, but it is impossible to overstate the role Miracle man has helped shape the contemporary superhero landscape.
Marvel’s move is somewhat inevitably reminiscent of DC’s much-hyped maxiseries End of the world clock, which ran from 2017 to 2019 and also tried to adapt to the Watchmen alongside more conventional superhero characters. Plagued by delays, and met by a reaction from fans and critics to say the least lukewarm, End of the world clock ended with more of a moan than a bang.
It remains to be seen how Marvel plans to bring Miracleman on board and what impact it will have on the future of their line. Will he, like Conan and Angela before him, join the Avengers? Will the fans approve? Will he finally be able to call himself Marvelman again? As Kang the Conqueror might say: only time will tell.