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Gaiman Writing For Marvel! Gaiman Writing For Marvel!

Joe Quesada, Bill Jemas, and Neil Gaiman held a joint press conference yesterday to announce that the man behind The Sandman will write a 6-issue mini-series for Marvel.

In Gaiman's words, he's "…going to write as many characters as (he) can without doing a Secret Wars kind of thing." The book will leave open what he refers to as "…fertile ground" for other writers to come in and pick up the threads, much as Gaiman feels his 75-issue run on The Sandman did for the DC Universe. (And if you have any doubt of his impact on the DCU, look no further than this month's Green Arrow.)

The big kicker is that the book's profits will not technically be going to Marvel. Instead, all the money will be poured into a legal fund. The purpose of the fund? Get all the rights to Marvelman/Miracleman in the hands of Gaiman, so that the book can be reprinted and his near-legendary run be finished. He hinted that he had at least nine more issues to go before publishing house Eclipse Comics imploded a decade ago.

For those not familiar with the character, here's the convoluted history: Miracleman had been a British continuation of Fawcett's Captain Marvel. When Fawcett stopped publishing Captain Marvel in 1953, the British house reprinting it changed the name to Marvelman, changed Mary Marvel to Young Marvelman (they were boys' comics, after all), and ran adventures for several more years. A young maniac by the name of Alan Moore revived the character in the '80's for a British magazine called Warrior.

After that magazine's collapse, Eclipse Comics began reprinting Marvelman under the title Miracleman, since a certain major company had, um, issues with it. With Eclipse, Moore was able to finish the storyline he had begun in England, before handing over the writing chores to Gaiman. An already intense book under Moore, Gaiman took it to further heights, being one of the first to explore the question of just what would happen to an Earth that had a whole family of supermen, supermen determined to leave the place better than they found it.

The story never finished, as Eclipse went belly-up.

A few years ago, a little-known entrepeneur by the name of Todd McFarlane bought most of Eclipse's assets, including its characters, and even went so far as to release an action figure of The Heap, who had appeared in Eclipse's Airboy. But the big question remained: did Eclipse really own Miracleman? The publisher of Warrior, Dez Skinn, disagreed, and so did Alan Moore, though both of them really just wanted to see Gaiman finish the book.

Sharp readers of HellSpawn: The Way I Would Have Done The Book If I Weren't Trading Off My Spider-Man Fame At The Time will notice that McFarlane had begun laying the groundwork for Miracleman's return to the Spawniverse, despite his not necessarily owning the rights. Gaiman and McFarlane have been playing a game of He Said, He Said for several years over this issue.

If McFarlane chooses not to fight and instead voluntarily hands over his share of the rights (as Gaiman alleges he promised to do in exchange for the creation of Angela), the profits will go into the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a floating entity that helps comics creators defend their properties, rights, and in a few cases, their freedoms.

As a result, it's astounding and pleasing to say that everybody wins: Marvel, Gaiman, Miracleman (who Marvel is even willing to let revert back to being Marvelman), and most importantly, fans.

Okay, so DC doesn't necessarily win, but they've still got The Dark Knight Strikes Back!. (But they don't have a Harry Potter adaptation coming, despite being a sister company to Warner Brothers - Quesada is working on making that happen. Hmmm.)

Derek McCaw

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