This final issue of “The Golden Age” story is a beautiful, reflective piece. For those who have read Miracleman, it is a poetic closure.
Do not be mistaken, though. Anyone walking into this “fresh” will not be able to appreciate exactly what is happening and may find it an uninteresting, meandering affair.
Following the apocalyptic climax of Miracleman #15 (we use specificity here to emphasize if you have not read it, you should), Miracleman decided to take over the world in order to save it. Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham’s run, titled “Book Four: The Golden Age”, explores the world he created. Nine years later, the series has followed different characters to explore where mankind fits into this new world and how life has changed.
This issue, “Carnival”, revisits each of the characters from the previous issues as they attend the remembrance ceremony in London, 1994. Though reflective, Gaiman continues to expand the nuances of this world that make it such a different world from that in which we live. Open and diverse sexuality, the reintegration of extinct species, flying babies and talking animals, London has come a long way. It may seem like whimsical indulgence to a new reader, but for those who have read from the beginning, the world has emerged from the darkness of the “Olympus” storyline and truly become a place of miracles.
One of the best scene features the “spaceman”, a pharmaceutically-powered oracle. Here we see our characters looking back at their losses and see what hope they have for the future. The spaceman, a character so perfectly typical of Gaiman that you could look at a single panel and know who was writing it, provides abstract feedback that prevents the reader from feeling like they are being spoon-fed a “and they all lived happily ever after” conclusion. Instead it promotes thoughtful consideration by both the characters and the reader, making Carnival come to life all the more.
Even Miracleman attends, though it’s only apparent from his color scheme, to seek advice. This story, which has always viewed Miracleman from a reverent distance, revisits his own humanity and uncertainty. This god-like entity, who long ago shed his mortal form, is humanized by Gaiman’s choice to not only admit doubt but seek validation. In the same page, he maintains his superiority as he is the only one who understands the oracle’s abstraction and walks away with clarity. By doing so, Gaiman proves the core elements of Alan Moore’s Miracleman are still present, a chance we have not yet had as the character has been so rarely seen.
Perfectly balanced, reminding us there are always bad apples in society who will long for darkness, the issue is a complete image of the new world. Connecting not only to the violence of “Olympus” as characters still wander the old killing fields, but to the optimism of happy endings discussed in the opening, the last few pages are lovely and healing in their imagery.
Story: Neil Gaiman Art: Mark Buckingham
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy