Marvelman

Tagged: Comics

UK reprints of the US character Captain Marvel published by L Miller were successful enough to warrant continued independent publication under a new name after the original character was deemed a copy of Superman and the courts forbade any further publication. The character was revised and changed just enough to avoid copyright issues, and re-dubbed Marvelman (346 issues, 1954-1963) in the process. Drawn by Mick Anglo Studios, the hero had a new look and a new magic word, "Kimota!" ("Atomik!" backwards) – as opposed to the American character's "Shazam!" – which transformed him from human to superhuman. Artists working under Anglo included Don Lawrence, Ron Embleton and George Stokes.

The character was resurrected and recreated by Alan Moore in March 1982 in the launch issue of Warrior magazine, with an modern, adult script drawing heavily on the themes of Identity, Identity Exchange, Identity Transfer and other Dimensions. The sequence continued until Warrior 21 in August 1984, ceasing to appear as a result of a legal threat from Marvel Comics which was published in issue 25 (December 1984). After Warrior's demise at issue 26 (February 1985), the series was reprinted and continued in the US by Eclipse Comics under the name Miracleman – a change thought necessary due to the dominant role of Marvel Comics in the US marketplace and the company's litigious attitude as indicated above. Moore wrote the series through issue 16, followed by Neil Gaiman, who continued until Eclipse Comics failed in bankruptcy.

Though the series won numerous awards and is highly regarded as a classic in the genre, the modern incarnation remains out of print owing to a long line of copyright issues far too confusing and complicated to go into here. In 2009, Marvel Comics announced they had acquired the rights to the character from Mick Anglo, who maintains that L Miller never held the copyright to the stories. Marvel has since produced several hardcover reprints of Anglo's stories (returning to the "Marvelman" moniker), although the Moore and Gaiman stories remain in the vault, where they may remain until the magic word of "lawsuit" is spoken for the final time. [JP]

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