The Comic Speculator Back Issue Roundup – The Crazy, Hazy Origin of Mircleman
Marvelman made his first appearance in Marvelman #25 (L. Miller and Son, Feb. 1954). This issue is nearly impossible to find in any condition, mainly due to the small print run in another country.
The Comic Speculator is a blog written by WorthPoint Comic Book “Worthologist” Matt Baum that takes a look at each week’s hot new comics and back issues and the comic market place in general. Prices discussed here are taken from the Overstreet Guide to Comics (OVST), Comicspriceguide.com (CPG) and current online auction sales. Sales numbers and rankings are courtesy of ICV2.com. Lists of new comics are courtesy of Previews World and Comics List. Make sure and click on the links to learn more about the titles and creators discussed here. The codes under the prices of new titles discussed are Diamond Comics order codes that can be used to help your local comic retailer in ordering the issues discussed. If you want to hear what this nerd sounds like you can catch him on his podcast, the Two-Headed Nerd Comicast, where he and his friend Joe discuss the latest comic news, review some new comics, and answer your questions.
The Back Issue Roundup
It’s not too often I talk about comics from across the pond, but with the announcement of Miracleman’s return to comics, you can bet there’s some jolly-olde-English with his appearances that are going to see some serious bidding wars soon.
Comic book history can be hazy at best, but when it comes to the history of British comics, you may as well be researching ancient Sumerian knock-knock jokes. Take Miracle Man, for example. Not “The” Miracle Man—a Fantastic Four villain that first appeared in FF #3 (Marvel, 1962)—but plain-old-MiracleMan, as made famous by famous comic-writer-and-crazy-person-extraordinaire Alan Moore. It all starts in the early ’50s.
Gold and Silver Oldies:
Miracleman’s history is a nutty one and it’s mainly because he made his first appearance in a very small-print-run Brittish comic magazines. Ask comic nerds and nine out 10 will probably tell you Miracleman was created by Alan Moore.
Before doing this research, I probably would have told you the same thing. In a sense, Moore did create the modern version of the character. But way back in 1954 artist Mick Anglo was hired to re-work the character Captain Marvel into a new character after DC Comics won a lawsuit with Marvel for the name Captain Marvel. Rather than start from the ground up, and afraid of losing readers, Anglo created Marvelman. I know… you’re thinking, “I thought we were talking about Miracleman!”
Stay with me.
Young Marvelman #25 (L. Miller and Son, 1954?)
Marvelman was like Captain Marvel in every way with subtle differences: Instead of getting his powers from a wizard, Miracleman got his from an astrophysicist; instead of saying “Shazam!” to activate his powers, Marvelman said “Kimota!” (which is “atomic” pronounced phonetically backwards); Marvelman even had a boy and girl side-kick, just like Captain Marvel, but no Tawny, the talking tiger (nope, not making that up).
Marvelman made his first appearance in Marvelman #25 (L. Miller and Son, Feb. 1954). This issue is nearly impossible to find in any condition, mainly due to the small print run in another country. Currently, the issue guides at $700 in 9.8 (Near Mint/Mint) condition, but I’m saying that is massively under-valued. In fact, calling this comic “scarce” might be an understatement. Currently the CGC Census list none of these comics in any condition. Zilch. Zero. Nada. Search eBay and you won’t find anything. Call your local comic shop and they might ask you what you’re talking about. Marvelman #25 seems to be the Bigfoot of silver-age comics.
The only thing I could find even close was Young Marvelman #25 (L. Miller and Son, 1954?) which was also the first issue for Marvelman’s side kick. This is another insanely rare comic that guides for far less than it should: $360 in 9.8 (Near Mint/Mint) condition. I found one copy that turned out to be a reprint sold on eBay for $70. Again, none of these comics appear in the CGC Census, either, making this the Bigfoot Junior of the Silver Age.
Marvelman, Young Marvelman would run for 346 issues with all but the last 36 (monthly reprints of the first stories) issues published weekly. Both series and the Monthly Marvelman family series—which was printed monthly and featured the whole Marvel-fam—ran until 1963. I have never, in my 30-plus years of collecting and comic shopping, seen a single issue of any of these series. To put it in perspective, during my 30-plus year-comic-nerd-tenure, I have held two copies of Action Comics #1 and personally seen several copies of Detective Comics #27.
Bronze Age and Beyond:
It wasn’t until 1982 that Marvelman would return to comics in a British anthology comic magazine called Warrior, which ran for 26 issues from 1982-85 and featured some of Alan Moore’s earliest work, including his “V for Vendetta” story.
Warrior #1 (Quality Comics, March, 1982) featured seven stories, the first of which was titled “Marvelman: A dream of flying,” by the aforementioned-lunatic Alan Moore (I can’t stress how nutty the guy is). Again, this one is massively under-valued guiding at $28 in 9.8 (Near Mint/Mint) condition. Yup, you read that right, TWENTY-EIGHT-BUCKS! Not only is this the first appearance of Moore’s Marvelman, but it’s also the first chapter of his “V for Vendetta” story. Warrior #1 is a little easier to find than the Gold/Silver Age Marvel Man titles, but not much. Collectors are taking notice of the low guide prices on this one and scooping up copies in any condition. Recently, a copy of Warrior #1 in 9.0 (Very-Fine/Near Mint) condition sold for $255 on eBay with 10 bids. Which is 10 times what this issue guides for and it was still, probably, a steal. The CGC Census lists a whopping four copies with the highest graded copy in 9.2 (Near Mint) condition. Again, stupid-rare.
Warrior #1 included the first chapter of the “V for Vendetta” story.
Miracleman #1 (Eclipse, August, 1985)
Here’s where we get to the Miracleman part, and, thank you for your patience. In 1985, Eclipse comics started reprinting Alan Moore’s Marvelman from the pages of Warrior. But, under some pressure from Marvel Comics, they changed the name of the character to Miracleman. U.S. audiences didn’t seem to mind because, for most, this was their first exposure to the character.
Miracleman #1 (Eclipse, August, 1985) currently guides for $24 in 9.8 (Near Mint/Mint) condition. Which is nothing. I want to tell you that this series had a huge print run, hence the low price and the 533 copies in the CGC Census (174 of which are in 9.8), but that’s not the case. According to RecalledComics, the print run for issue #1 was just over 135,000, which is not huge for 1985. The only conclusion I can come to is that even back in 1985, collectors realized how different, dark and important Miracleman was and they took really good care of their runs. Still, $24 is ridiculous. A copy in CGC 9.6 (Near Mint) condition sold for $80 on eBay. I’m guessing that price is probably low, as well.
As each issue followed, the print-run continued to drop, but the lowest printed was the Miracleman 3D special that was printed in regular black and white because the EIC of Eclipse at the time—Cat Yronwode—suffered from an eye condition that did not allow her to see 3D images. The “2D” variant was only available through mail-order and had a print run of only 100. Yronwode numbered the issues as being of an edition of 100 but in September 2013 one issue sold for $671 with 12 bids and the description says nothing about a signature. This could mean that there were more than 100 issues printed or, who knows? Maybe Cat missed a couple. Currently, the 2D variant guides for $60 in 9.8 (Near Mint/Mint) condition, which is insanely low.
The Miracleman 2D special.
The final issue, Miracleman #24.
By the final issue, #24, the print run had fallen below 40k. When Alan Moore left the title, with issue #16, a little-known writer named Neil Gaiman took over and sales dropped steadily. The series was not canceled, but in 1993, Eclipse Comics filed for bankruptcy and thus ended the story of Miracleman. Currently #24 guides for $56 in 9.8 (Near Mint/Mint) condition and $224 in the same CGC condition. Again, insanely low.
The good news is Gaiman will be returning to finish his story and, as we get closer to the Miracleman relaunch, you can bet prices on the entire Marvelman/Miracleman run.
My advice: BUY THEM NOW!
Matt Baum is WorthPoint’s comic book Worthologist. If you have any questions about these books or anything else in the comic book world feel free to contact Matt or post your question below in the Comic Book Forum in the WorthPoint Forums, located in the Community tab. You can also reply to this article in the “leave a reply” box below. If you need more comic-nerd in your life, you can follow Matt on Twitter, where he’s always screaming about something nerd-related. Thanks to all Matt’s new followers and keep the comments coming!
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