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Miracleman, Book Two: The Red King Syndrome

(Miracleman #2)

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4.33  ·  Rating details ·  2,190 ratings  ·  104 reviews
Michael Moran has rediscovered the power of Miracleman, but unbeknownst to him, Dr. Emil Gargunza, the man behind Project Zarathustra, has set in motion plans decades in the making. In The Red King Syndrome, Gargunza's intentions for Miracleman's wife and unborn child set the stage for a confrontati on between creator and creation. The origins of Gargunza and Zarathustra w ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published November 4th 2014 by Marvel Comics (first published June 1990)
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Average rating 4.33  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,190 ratings  ·  104 reviews


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Alejandro
Jan 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The saga of Miracleman continues!


This TPB collects the second storyarc known as “The Red King Syndrome” featuring issues #5-10 of “Miracleman”, plus additional stories “Young Miracleman: 1957” & “The Guerneville Flood”, along with a “Behind-of-Scenes” section with sketches, pin-ups, cover variants, etc…


Warning: This TPB contains “Mature Content”


Creative Team:

Writer: Alan Moore (despicted as “The Original Writer”, based on characters created by Mick Anglo) & Cat Yronwode (for the short story “T/>Creative/>Warning:
...more
Dan Schwent
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, comics, 2016-comics
When his pregnant wife is kidnapped by Dr. Gargunza, Miracleman and Evelyn Cream go looking for her. But what is the sinister connection between Gargunza and Miracleman and what plans does Gargunza have for his wife?

The Red King Syndrome collections issues 5-10 of Miracleman, some of which I have vague recollections of reading at some point.

Book Two further deconstructs Miracleman's origins as Captain Marvel's bastard son of sorts. In this case, Doctor Sivana is a short M
...more
mark monday
Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: comicon
Shazam! brilliant Alan Moore's saga of a Captain Marvel template being thrust into the real world continues. Shazam! even a magic word can't transform my irritation with this lackluster collection into something more positive, despite how much I admire the author. Shazam! the mishmash of unappealing art could also use a magical transformation. Shazam! an offensively clichéd black character who is self-aware of his clichés does not equal those clichés being transformed into something interesting or challenging. Shazam! apparently ...more
Sesana
Sep 15, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: superhumans, comics
I really liked the first volume of Miracleman. It was essentially everything I'd been promised for so very long. The second volume was, almost inevitably, somewhat disappointing.

It's not that Moore has run out of ideas. There's still some very interesting things happening. But it just isn't as tightly written. I think this might be the mark of a younger and less experienced writer. He might write the same story today, but he would do it in a different way. And then there's the weirdness with Cr
...more
Sam Quixote
Michael Moran can transform into the superhero, Miracleman, by simply uttering the word “KIMOTA!” (“atomic” backwards and misspelled!). Michael’s wife, Liz, is pregnant with Miracleman’s baby which is bothering him, not least because they couldn’t conceive until he transformed into his alter ego.

But he’s not going to have long to moon about it because the evil Dr Emil Gargunza kidnaps Liz away to South America where he believes he will learn the secret of eternal life in Miracleman’s
...more
Nicolo Yu
This is it. This collection contains the infamous childbirth issue. I must admit; although I have a normally iron constitution, that panel of an infant's scalp protruding from the birth canal gave me pause. Not even the magic of modern computer coloring could improve the experience of a childbirth on a two-dimensional page. The graphic nature of the story was not the only reason I set the book aside to be continued later; I was reading it in a public venue and I had second thoughts of inflicting ...more
Gavin
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
Yawn. The pretentious English twat (original writer) Alan Moore...ugh. ripoff Captain Marvel often? Also, calling it childish tripe in your book isn't a backhanded compliment or acknowledgement of the creators, it's just you being a right cunt.

I haven't read the first volume. So I might not be qualified to comment, but this did pretty much nothing for me...

I just hope the geniuses of today don't disappear up their own assholes like Moore and Miller...

Yawn. The pretentious English twat (original writer) Alan Moore...ugh. ripoff Captain Marvel often? Also, calling it childish tripe in your book isn't a backhanded compliment or acknowledgement of the creators, it's just you being a right cunt.

I haven't read the first volume. So I might not be qualified to comment, but this did pretty much nothing for me...

I just hope the geniuses of today don't disappear up their own assholes like Moore and Miller...

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...more
Issa
May 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Miracle man! Some may have heard of this character many others haven't. If you haven't do yourself a favour and find out for yourself why this character is so influential and why it's so imitated but never ever supplanted. You will see the basis of this character in such Hollywood films like Hancock and The Matrix films. Plus you get to see Alan Moore at the peak of his writing game.
Peter Derk
May 04, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm not even going to talk about this because what's left to say? But I am going to complain about some dum-dum.

Some dum-dum commented on an article I wrote speculating on the next possible Marvel movies. Actually, two dum-dums. One dum-dum complained that I put Squirrel Girl towards the end of the article, because I guess that's inequitable. To that person, I would just like to say, "You, madam, are a racist if you think Squirrel Girl should be before Ms. Marvel. I might be unwittin
...more
Andrew
Nov 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: comics, superheroes
The first volume of Miracleman reminded me so much of Watchmen in terms of form, content, and quality. What a shame, then, that the second volume reminds me of the slew of terrible Watchmen knockoffs that messed up the superhero industry in the late 80's. Gratuitous rape and murder? Check. Grim atmosphere papering over a thin and nonsensical plot? Check. A female character that exists only to fuel the male hero's angst? Check. Terrible Chuck Austen art? Check. Making matters worse, Moore doubles ...more
James DeSantis
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this might be my favorite story from Alan Moore.

So we have the simple story of Miracleman doing superhero things. One issue he even just comes to chit-chat with a little kid. But things take a turn when his wife is kidnapped. We then learn the original plans for Miracleman and why he was created in the first place. The next arc is the birth of Miracleman's daughter and then of course dealing with fatherhood. On top of that we get plenty of foreshadowing of the final evil to rise.

Good:
...more
Stewart Tame
Dec 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's so nice to have this classic series back in print. Still not sure why Alan Moore's name doesn't actually appear anywhere--they refer, cryptically, to "The Original Writer" when they refer to him at all. I'm sure there's a story there ... This volume is a bit of a let-down after the first, mainly due to its being padded out with sketches and looks at the original artwork. Don't get me wrong: I like this sort of thing, and it can be fascinating to see how the artwork evolves from the first ro ...more
Jared Millet
Holy Macaroni, if that wasn't the single most appropriate use of a "Parental Advisory" warning I've ever seen in my life. If you've read it, you'll know exactly what scene I'm talking about. I'd have never guessed that the "edgy" Alan Moore of Watchmen and V for Vendetta was really a watered-down version of the bat$#!t bloody Alan Moore of his early career.

Moore, sorry, "The Original Author" is sure sticking with his 'supermen as monsters' thesis, but he also lets Michael Moran's humanity show throu
...more
Timothy Boyd
Jun 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
The dark history of Miracleman's origin is told. Nice art and excellent writing make this a very interesting read. Very recommended if you want to try a different comic read.
Otavio Venturoli
Jul 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: quadrinhos
Those people that are complaining, have not seen where Alam Moore can arrive with the character. And after him Neil Gaiman. Geniuses
Blindzider
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
Hell hath no fury like a superhero scorned! This is what you get when you mess around with the mind of something far more powerful than you. This also contains one of the most graphic (but non-violent) scenes I think I've ever read in a regular comic.

Closer to 3.5 stars for me, but continues the story naturally from the previous volume.
D.M.
Aug 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: comic geeks par excellence
This continues Moore's reconstruction of 1950s UK superhero Marvelman, and indeed the way we came to look at superheroes in general.
In this book, we find Miracleman's human counterpart Mike Moran's wife, Liz, pregnant with her & Miracleman's (potentially super) baby, as well as witnessing the current whereabouts of MM's mysterious 'father' Emil Gargunza...and his nefarious plans for the future young Moran. We also are introduced to some pivotal new characters, toward the end of the boo
...more
Steve
We learn more about the origin of Miracleman and the Miracleman family and Dr. Gargunza's personal motivations while working for the British on Project Zarathustra. While that chapter of the story is wrapped up new questions arise in the form of two mysterious agents traveling to find the "Miracles" on earth, both those we know about and those we don't yet know. The super being as monster to be feared take on Miracleman and the other super powered beings in this book was more original at the tim ...more
Drown Hollum
The bummer is that the Miracleman hardcover reprints are needlessly bloated with insignificant supplemental content, hoping to justify the meaty price tag. The good news is that the story is every bit as incredible as you've been led to believe.

Things continue here in "Red King Syndrome" as we get the back story behind Emil Gargunza, and the birth of Micky Moran's child. Some incredible stuff happens, with gorgeously remastered art and a timeless story of superhumanity. Some really challenging
...more
Joe
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
A strong second act in the "Miracleman" series. This volume delves more into his origin and how/why he was created. MM's creator has grand designs on MM's unborn daughter.

I'm a sucker for alien stories/Frankenstein stories/Project Manhattan-like creation stories and I tell you what, this had all three.

Word of warning: Don't be fooled by the old-fashioned look of the artwork; there are some extremely graphic scenes of child-birth, people being ripped in half, and there's e
...more
Michael
There was controversy when this comic was first published as it had detailed drawings of one of the characters giving birth, which Moore and Davis sourced from a book on childbirth to ensure its accuracy. These same detractors didn't seem to mind the graphic violence and sexual content, but "Oh, my God! A comic showing a vagina with a baby coming out of it! Won't somebody think of the children! It must be banned!!"

I was not shocked to see a detailed depiction of a woman giving birth
...more
Doyle
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grim-n-gritty
I liked this volume more than the last, which apparently isn't a very popular opinion from what I gather reading through the reviews here. The writing is still just a bit rough, and yes, the Mr. Sapphire character is a horrible cliche, but this is practically the first thing Moore ever had published so I can overlook a few rookie mistakes. What I liked most about this story was that I could see Moore toying with a few superhero story elements that he would later perfect in Supreme.
Travis
Jul 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comic-books
In book two of Alan Moore's brilliant super heroes in the real world saga we get more answers as to how the Miracle Family got to the real world and things go bad as we discover that the evil mad scientist didn't just exist in the comic books.

More of same great mix of real world ideas and problems balanced with big cosmic feeling moments.
An example how how you can do comics that are 'modern' and 'real' without all that crap and baggage that most writers think is really clever.
...more
Mike
Aug 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Alan Moore's (i.e. The Original Writer) body of work certainly didn't sustain this level of creativity and innovation but, when one reads these stories, which hit the shelves just a few short years before Watchmen and V for Vendetta, they are witnessing a writer in top form and on the cusp of excellence.

This groundbreaking series has been unavailable for so long that it is such a pleasure to revisit (well, sans the creepy dog and detailed childbirth).
Jamie Connolly
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
This is a good story. I’m gonna finish it and read gaimans stuff too. Also in this one, like six whole pages are dedicated exclusively to a baby popping out of a vagina. Very well detailed. I think I even learned a few things. Anyway. 4 stars.
Jamie Sigal
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
God damn, this series is good, and the resonance of its influence to this day forty years later is obvious.
Ben Brewski
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novel
okay, things are getting a little weird...
Steven
Miracleman Book 1: A Dream of Flying set the stage for Alan's Moore's run on the character. It gave us his backstory - which his wife laughed at. It gave us the dynamic between Mick Moran and Miracleman - who got his wife pregnant where he failed to do so. It gave the introduction of Johnny Bates, AKA Kid Miracleman - who turned out to be a psychotic monster who had never turned back into Johnny Bates.
So yeah.....a great place to start the next book from.

Miracleman Book 1: A Dream of Flying set the stage for Alan's Moore's run on the character. It gave us his backstory - which his wife laughed at. It gave us the dynamic between Mick Moran and Miracleman - who got his wife pregnant where he failed to do so. It gave the introduction of Johnny Bates, AKA Kid Miracleman - who turned out to be a psychotic monster who had never turned back into Johnny Bates.
So yeah.....a great place to start the next book from.



Book 2: The Red King Syndrome has something of a changeup in its art department some ways through. Gary Leach apparently was something of a staunch perfectionist and as a result they fired his arse around issue 4 and brought in Alan Davis. Davis's art is....okay in my opinion. Like Leach, Davis has a good use of light and shadows spotted throughout the artwork. There's a decent use of different panel layouts to keep the reader's eyes constantly moving and some of the design work is excellent. The difference between tubby old Mick Moran and Aryan superhunk Miracleman is a very different and often makes for some at times unsettling imagery. On that note, all of the character designs are well done and distinctive, with all of them being unique and easily identifiable.
However sometimes, Davis's designs look a little off. More in a design way. Look at Miracleman in this shot for example:


And no, I'm not talking about Miracleman's junk.....
.....stare at it. It compels you.....


That just looks awkward, not to mention that in shots like this, his face looks off in all the wrong ways. Miracleman is supposed to look like a bronzed Adonis in tight spandex, not like he's been chiselled from soap. It also doesn't help that some of the later facial designs look very flat with eyes like dead fish.

And then we get to Issue 6 with artist Chuck Beckum. Oh boy, this is a massive step down. Flat colours, flat shadows, static character designs, uninteresting backgrounds and boring setpieces. Definitely the worst of the rotating artists for this series.
And then there's Rick Veitch who did the art for issues 9-10. Veitch's work is definitely a step up from Beckum. Lighting, shadows, colour palette. All varied and well done. Although some of the facial designs are a bit....suspect.


What is up with those nurses' faces?!

The writing is as per usual for Alan Moore top notch. Poetic, beautiful flowery prose that melts off the page like warm honey dribbling in your ear. But like warm honey when its overdone it starts to feel sticky and is a mess to clean out of your pubes afterwards. I've said it before in previous reviews but it always bares repeating for newbies and the forgetful. I believe that the best of a writer's work can highlight their best qualities while the worst can reveal their flaws and failings as a writer and I'd say around The Red King Syndrome that we start to see snippets of that. The backstory of one particular character is practically spelled out to us in a single issue, over a flashback sequence that is basically a novella in all but name.

Issue 8 also reveals one of Moore's weaknesses as a writer in his sometimes tendency to faff about with needless sidestories that don't do much to add to the main narrative except pad it out. Patricia Briggs and her Mercy Thompson series also did this in a recent read of Blood Bound, Alan Moore did this with Tales of the Black Freighter in Watchmen and here he does it with issue 8 of Miracleman. Now bare in mind, its not necessarily a bad thing. The writing is still top notch, with era-appropriate artwork by Mick Anglo himself but the whole "retro-50's side-story with a side of self-meta awareness" doesn't really sit right with me. The issue starts with a woman explaining the issue is a result of flooding at the Eclipse Comics office at the time so they're running the reprint to buy some time and allow the reader a moment after a key incident in the previous issue. But.....



I'm not sure I buy that. Remember this is Moore we're talking about here. I'm kind of inclined to think this was intentional.

As for the characters, well its Moore level of characterization here, although my one issue with Evelyn Cream. Maybe it's just me, but I really didn't know what to make of him as a character. He betrays Project Zarathustra and sides with Miracleman but throughout has a crisis on conscience, linking back to some white man/primitive savage mental quandary?



Beyond that, there's not a lot I can say at this point without spoilers so as before....

Decent art although mixed quality, good writing although spotted with textbox syndrome, good characterization limited by some poor writing decisions. 3.5 stars if you need a score.

And as before......



4......



3....




2...



1..




Okay let's talk why being a superhero would suck even more.

One of the things I didn't go over in the first review was Miracleman's origins. Partially because I read the series in one fell swoop and also because his origins play more of a role in the second Book than the first. Moore didn't sugarcoat his run on Miracleman with fluffy idealistic bullshit. He wanted the reader to know that this wasn't just some typical comic fantasy. In issue 1 all the way back, Miracleman reveals his origin story to Liz....
And she laughs.
She doesn't pull a Lois Lane and swoon romantically. She laughs because his origins are so kooky and ridiculous that in the real world Mick Moran would've been locked up in a psych ward for schizophrenia or dissociative identity disorder. Which begs the question:

Why would a superhero have such a ridiculous origin story in the first place? And why would his transformation being something like SHAZAM the key harmonic of the universe, which just so happens to be ATOMIC spelled backwards with a K?

The answer is simple: because it was a lie. It never happened. Miracleman wasn't given these powers by a mystical physicist from the 5th dimension. He was literally picked off the street as an war orphan and used in a government superweapon project AKA Project Zarathustra. His transformation word is just an activation phrase, something of which there are other floating around. His adventures against supervillains and monsters? Combat training simulations installed into his brain using old comics as a base template.

And his nemesis Dr Gargunza? The man who was his eternal foe in the fight for justice, love and peace?



His creator, the project head behind Zarathustra. And why did he do it?
Because of his own mortality complex.

But what about Miracleman himself? What exactly is he? Is he a magical transformed version of Mick Moran ALA Shazam? Is he a superhero identity like Superman with Clark Kent being the alter-ego.

No.

He's a separate entity all together, constructed from alien tech, salvaged from a crashed ship.


Like what even is this?!

Technology that allows a sentient being to support two physical entities in the same space in reality, all by keeping one of them in a trans-dimensional pocket plane in hibernation. By saying the transformation word, the two entities switch places. Mick Moran is nothing more than a government science project/superweapon gone rogue, his superhero self isn't even human and his entire life if a lie.

And then we get to Winter Moran. For those of you who've read the comic, you know what follows and probably how big your eyeballs were when you got to this scene in Issue 9. Winter is Moore's answer to the children of superheroes, in particular superheroes who have alien origins. After a particularly worrisome and OMGTHEBABY'SCROWNINGANDICANSEEEVERYTHING birth sequence (I'm not kidding, it's very graphic and the first time I read it, my eyebrows jumped off my head and took a trip to Honolulu) Winter is born. Gross, covered in slime, looking like a shaved chimpanzee but alive and healthy.
And then she opens her mouth....


This baby is less than thirty seconds old....and she just spoke....

If this doesn't give you ideas of what is to come, then you're not that far down the rabbit hole yet.

Miracleman Book 2: The Red King Syndrome is a mixed bag overall. There's some genuinely good writing let down by Moore's tendency to waffle on in beautiful but needless prose, good characters let down a little by infodumping backstories and some outright bizarre mental gymnastics, good artwork let down by bad artwork which makes the whole thing in conclusion a bit of a creative if wonky mess.

Still worth reading but its around here where the wheels start to fall off the wagon.
...more
Britton Summers

(Minor Spoilers)

Moore continues strong with the second volume of his first major superhero deconstruction Miracleman, where he took a British Captain Marvel/Shazam knock off and turned him into a postmodern reflection on the state of the superhero and how a superhuman would be viewed in a real credible world, and how they ascend into being a god. I could even argue that it rivals its spiritual sequel Watchmen in sense of power and scope that Moore brings to the table, now I'll be the first to a
...more
Cale
Mar 19, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a strange book. Considering almost half of its length is supplemental material, it comes across more as an archive of the series than a book in and of itself. But couple that with the limitations placed by contract disputes or trials making it so the authors' names aren't actually included anywhere (replaced by 'the original author'), it kind of fails on the historical document approach.

The story itself is interesting, overall not nearly as transgressive as it was when it fir
...more
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Alan Moore is an English writer most famous for his influential work in comics, including the acclaimed graphic novels Watchmen, V for Vendetta and From Hell. He has also written a novel, Voice of the Fire, and performs "workings" (one-off performance art/spoken word pieces) with The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels, some of which have been released on CD.

As a comics writer, Moore is n
...more

Other books in the series

Miracleman (4 books)
  • Miracleman, Book One: A Dream of Flying
  • Miracleman, Book Three: Olympus
  • Miracleman, Book One: The Golden Age
“Star light, star bright,
The first star I see tonight;
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.”
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