This is one of my favorite comics covers, from Miracleman #24. The image is borrowed from the website of the artist, Barry Windsor-Smith, because when the book was originally printed, the cover was so low-res you could make out the individual dots from the printer with the naked eye. I have a copy, but I’d rather you saw the painting in its full glory.

I know everyone loves to complain that Miracleman is ZOMG EXPENSIVE and why are there only 24 or 25 pages of story in a 48 page book and who cares about the Silver Age reprints that get thrown in as filler, and Book 1 didn’t even have 120 pages of story in it, etc. All I can figure is that none of these people have ever seen more than an issue or two of the original series, which, starting with issue 7, ran to no more than 17 pages of story per issue with some of the ugliest coloring on record (until Sam Parsons came on board, anyway) right up to the double-sized finale story in issue 16. Miracleman #8 didn’t have a single page of Alan Moore script in it—it was all reprints. A Dream of Flying, the first collection, was 79 pages long and didn’t include the prelude chapter. Fully four crucial eight-page strips from various anthologies were entirely left out of the American series, including the collected editions. They’re all in the new Marvel ADOF.

The entire Moore run is 327 pages long, soup to nuts. Watchmen takes up more than 400 pages, all told, and that book shipped in 12 issues, no tie-in shorts, no promo strips, no nothing. Miracleman 16 shipped 13 months late. The publisher filed for bankruptcy in the middle of a Neil Gaiman story. It does not get much worse for a comics fan than the original Miracleman publishing scheme.

Look, I know $5 for a monthly comic book is incredibly expensive, and there ARE problems with the way Marvel has gone about its work—Axel Alonso’s explanation for the censorship of one naughty word is frankly horrific and I’m glad he’s not my publisher (“you have to consider changing sensitivities and the impact — and context — of certain words” in a restoration project, apparently, so look forward to a new, more racially sensitive Huckleberry Finn in a bookstore near you). But Steve Oliff has done a magnificent job recoloring the pages, the editors have done the nearly impossible in tracking down all the original art and bringing it back to life, and sometime next year we may finally, *finally* get to read at least the next chapter or two in what, for my money, is some of the best comics work Gaiman ever did. And a whole new generation will get to read the Andy Warhol issue, and John Totleben will wow people who’ve never seen his art before, and much more will be right with the world than was before.

Here’s a fabulous two-page spread from the <em>Daredevil</em> annual in that story, in fact—Davis crams pretty much every major story in the DD canon into this gorgeous illustration of the character’s life flashing before his eyes as he slips off a fire escape. Highly recommended reading.

A lovely Kevin Nowlan page from his currently running Man-Thing story, based on Steve Gerber’s last script for the character and tying back into an old Gerber story. I’ll be picking this one up in trade, believe me. Marvel is really putting out some good work these days—I bought a Wolverine comic for the first time in I don’t know how long, largely because it was part of a three-annual Alan Davis story, and all three were available at the store at the same time.

Mike Allred’s cover to a recent Daredevil issue. He’s another one I’m just crazy about–where a lot of his contemporaries are influenced by Art Nouveau, he’s clearly riffing on Pop Art in a really great way; some of his Madman pages could be Roy Lichtenstein paintings.

Last one for the evening: a Fantastic Four/Iron Man cover by the late, great Seth Fisher. Fisher died under really tragic circumstances a few years ago; he was unquestionably one of the finest artists of the younger generation and there are only a few examples of his beautiful, utterly strange work, but they are to be treasured.