ALL-NEW MIRACLEMAN ANNUAL #1
Written by Grant Morrison and Peter Milligan
Art by Joe Quesada, Mike Allred, Richard Isanove, and Laura Allred
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: December 31, 2014
I know what you’re thinking. You have this book in your hand (or are looking at the page count online) and you’re like, “$5? For this flimsy thing?” Don’t be fooled. There’s magic in these hills.
The All-New Miracleman Annual #1 definitely doesn’t feel like an Annual should when you grab it off the shelf, but there’s no question this is a special comic book. No ads. 13 pages of “Behind the Scenes” material. And yes, only 21 pages of story. But every one of those 21 pages could be framed on your wall. Honestly, this may be one of the most beautiful comic books of 2014, late edition and all.
The worry, of course, in resurrecting a Grant Morrison script from 1984 and pairing it with a mature Joe Quesada on pencils and inks, is that the story would feel both irrelevant and disjointed. If anything, Quesada’s illustration elevates this short Kid Miracleman story far beyond what could have been had Morrison been able to publish in the pages of Warrior magazine during Miracleman’s original run.
This is a somewhat light tale (although the aforementioned behind-the-scenes material does help it along — thanks, Marvel, for thinking to include that) made epic by its artist, with exceptional attention being given to mood and setting in an otherwise subtle telling. Much is made of shadow and cropping, so as rarely to give a full sense of Kid Miracleman’s body except when he goes to act. Both players here are rendered with beautiful detail of expression, so you can actually feel the evil and the fear wafting up off the page.
The new, second story by Peter Milligan isn’t overwhelmingly original in concept, particularly for Miracleman, but anytime you get to read about dolphins sitting upright, plotting the demise of humans, I’m in. The characterizations are necessarily bland for the context of the story, but the real knock-down happy bits of the story comes in the form of pure Allred goodness.
Mike Allred is probably the king of the retro style where not everything is quite what it seems, having a rare talent for making characters appear simultaneously wholesome and on edge. Miracleman is clearly worried without the trope of a creased brow (because Miracleman could never have less than perfectly smooth skin) and his smile is so painfully gleeful, it’s hard not to force a smile in return. And Laura Allred’s colors, contrasting the bright costumes of the Miracleman family with fairly dingy — but still classical four-color looking — surroundings is just magnificent.
You might be tempted to pass All-New Miracleman Annual #1 up when you hit the comic shop today. Sure, it’s an exceedingly light week (only 9 books?) and it feels pretty flimsy for an Annual. Don’t. Just buy it. You won’t be sorry. Every page is a treat for the eyes worth the price of admission and more. And if you figured there wasn’t any good reason to head into the shop one last time before 2014 ends, think again. This is the book to have this week.
The Verdict: 9.5/10