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July 30, 2010

From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays: Marvelman and Ninja Turtles!

WWWWWHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! And with that Jungle Girl-esque cry, we return to the column known to readers across the cyber planes as From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! Howdy ya’ll. This week, we have a duo of swankness with Marvel Comics finally releasing the awesome classic fun of Marvelman and a very trippy take on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Out On Stands Now: Marvelman: Family’s Finest Issue #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Story and Art: Various

Our frequent readers of this column know I’m a huge Shazam! fan. Well, in 1954 after Fawcett Comics bowed to DC Comics to stop printing Shazam, after the much famed lawsuit that compared Captain Marvel to Superman, over in the U.K he actually continued in a sort of way. Publisher Len Miller in Britain was publishing black and white versions of Fawcett Comics and didn’t want to stop their success, so he altered the character names and looks slightly of several Fawcett titles to continue. Captain Marvel would now become Marvelman, who in everyday life was young newspaper reporter Mickey Moran, who when he shouted out the magic words “Kimota,” was granted the powers of the universe and transformed into Marvelman to save the day! Marvelman would continue to grow much fandom over the pond.

In the 80s he was given a radical dark re-visioning by Watchman’s Alan Moore (with later contributions from Neil Gaiman). These 80s versions were published here under Eclipse Comics, re-titled Miracleman to avoid any lawsuits from Marvel comics who now owned the rights to the name “Captain Marvel” (which as we know, is in no relation to the Fawcett/DC Captain Marvel, who they began pushing as Shazam! to avoid lawsuits when they finally started publishing again…jeez all this legal mumbo-jumbo of names, someone get Phoenix Wright in here). For years still after though, there were still lawsuits and arguments from various creators over who exactly owned Marvelman/Miracleman, with everyone under the sun, including Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, stepping up to the plate claiming rights, which made reprints of both original and 80s Miracleman-versions almost impossible to find. Finally, after years of messy debate it was officially announced at the 2009 Comic-Con that Marvel Comics now officially owned all rights to Marvelman.

A year after their announcement, Marvel Comics has begun to release Marvelman finally, and to much enjoyment and excitement, it all around rocks and is what we expected. Marvelman Family’s Finest issue #1 is the first of a six issue mini-series that will be re-publishing never before seen stories State-side from the 1950s Marvelman comic book. The art and story telling is 100 percent in the vein of the classic Fawcett Shazam! Captain Marvel comics, and is pure untamed enjoyment to read! A majority of the stories and art are done by British comic book artist Mick Angelo, who makes the shift from reading a classic Captain Marvel comic to a Marvelman comic flawless. In the first issues we are treated to a handful of adventures with the characters from the Marvelman family, which include Marvelman, Young Marvelman, and Kid Marvelman. From Mad Scientists, evil space invaders, gangsters, to even an evil king from a vegetable kingdom, we get all the fun and excitement of a 50s Fawcett comic, without being a Fawcett comic oddly enough.

This is a must read for everyone. If you’re just plain curious about this character: go for it. If you love Golden Age comics: totally go for it. And if you need all around just a good time you and everyone in your household can read in comics: it’s a no-brainer. It is a treasure, blessing, and miracle that Marvel Comics has rode in to save the day and finally give us reprints of this fondly loved superhero, who some have been waiting for years here in the states, to finally read.

Collection of Awesomeness: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Soul’s Winter
Publisher: Mirage
Story and Art: Michael Zulli
Script: Murphy and Zulli

Only a mere three years after the Ninja Turtles were birthed in the 80s, did Eastman and Laird already allow other artists to start taking their own stabs and swipes at re-imagining their creation in other worlds and universes, starting with the 1987 one-shot Turtle Soup. Out of all the strange visions a handful of new artists and writers provided, Michael Zulli’s has provided us with what happens to be the most unusual in my book.

Zulli’s main take on the mutant brothers, plus a few shorts, are all collected by Mirage in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Soul’s Winter – The Collected TMNT Works of Michael Zulli. The first story arc collected is from the 1st series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #31, 35, and 36, which takes the turtles and places them in a very trippy dream-like world, that morphs from ancient Japan to modern NYC, to a very peyote-driven Nevada desert landscape. The story is more than just a typical battle, which has plenty of dismemberment, but also a semi-philosophical look at life and death. The three other shorts included by Zulli also deal with dreams, life, and death in a more philosophical tone.

Zulli’s art is gritty and the more realistic looking drawings of the Turtles you are going to find on the page, as well as packed with bizarre imagery and tone. His stories, combined with the writing of Murphy on the project, give the Turtles a more Sandman-like feeling, and places our ninjas in a Vertigo Comics-esque realm. The collection is an engrossing look at an acid-dream, yet still somehow with a realism based quality, of the Ninja Turtles, through arguably the eyes of the most unusual re-inventor of them. Make note, due to the strange nature and graphic violence, I just want to give parents who read this column looking for titles for their kids, that you shouldn’t give this to your kid unless they’re 13 or above, it’s truly a teenager/adult title.

That’s it for the ball game this week! See you in two folks!

Drew McCabe



  1. A friend of mine wayyyy back had these TMNT stories and I don’t remember all of them but if they’re collected in one volume then it looks like I’ll have to pick it up.

    I’m not that versed in Marvelman which I have been told is a “no no” lol

  2. drew

    I really loved Marvelman, it was cool. It is 100 percent Captain marvel with different names, so its like watching a Bollywood version of a Hollywood film, where its the same thing yet foreign (but of course there’s no musical numbers in Marvelman). Basically if you love classic Shazam, there is no reason why you shouldn’t pick up this comic

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Comic Attack, Comic Attack. Comic Attack said: From Friendly Ghosts to Gamma Rays: MARVELMAN + the TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES! http://tinyurl.com/24fllya #comics #TMNT #marvel […]

  4. Billy

    Marvelman looks cool but I’ve never been a Turtles guy.

  5. drew

    The Marvelman comics were way past cool. Classic fun, and there was this really weird tale with the King of a vegetable world gone wrong, and he’s made up of all these vegetables and plants, had a weird ‘Wizard of Oz’ gone wrong feel to the character. Looking forward tor est of the mini and the Marvelman Classics hardcover they’re coming out with in a few weeks

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