Marvel Comics now owns Marvelman.
Marvel big cheese Joe Quesada gave up the goods on his “giant announcement that would shake the Internet” at his panel at Comic-Con.
That’s the big announcement. Bleeding Cool reports that it's just the original stuff, not the Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman issues from the 1980s that we actually want.
Mark Buckingham drew some of those issues, and he found out at the con. He said "It would be wonderful" if he could finish the story. Neil Gaiman twittered "Hopefully my work and Bucky's will be back."
Marvelman came to fame in 1982 with writer Alan Moore (Swamp Thing, Watchmen) and artists Garry Leach and Alan Davis. They developed one of the best examples of character and genre deconstruction to hit comics. Moore’s Marvelman was printed in the Warrior series, and re-published in the U.S. by the now defunct Eclipse.
The Eclipse version was titled Miracleman because of U.S. copyright concerns with Marvel. That further confused the issue of rights to the character. When Alan Moore was asked to write new stories for the character after the Warrior reprints died out, he declined, but sold the rights to the character to Neil Gaiman, who continued the series for another year or so.
Gaiman moved on, and Eclipse had trouble keeping the book on schedule, so it died a quiet death. Eclipse filed for bankruptcy and ended as well, leaving the rights further buried.
Since that time, Marvelman has been the comics character everyone wanted, but no one could get.
The original rights were partially owned by the original creator, Mick Anglo (who created it in 1954). The rights to the Moore material were shared by Dez Skinn, the Warrior publisher, Moore and artist Alan Davis. Over the years, even these guys didn’t agree over who owned it.
After Gaiman took Moore’s share, it confused the issue more. Eventually, Spawn's Todd McFarlane bought the Eclipse backstock in hopes of using the character, and was quickly sued by Neil Gaiman. The comics industry considered the character untouchable. Or so we thought.
Flash forward to the panel, and Marvel editor in chief Joe Quesada says Marvel bought the rights to the character. Quesada says he contacted Alan Moore, but there is a better chance of monkeys flying out of my butt than Moore writing new material for Marvel.
Alan Davis is under contract to Marvel, so he may be involved in a new series, if there is one, but I have a feeling this will be a project that will be slow to start.
The revered Gaiman and Moore issues have not been collected or widely available since the early 1990s. The panel revealed no other news about collections, or a new series, or anything else. Will there be challenges to Marvel’s legal claim?
Is this something fans will go nuts for? It's always nice to see rights issues untangled. But the original material seems rather dated today, after 14 years of other comic book writers ripping it off.