The Biggest Superhero Films That Didn't Happen, Part 2
Comic Books, Film
Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Alan Davis, and the story is “Fallen Angels, Forgotten Thunder” from Warrior #6, which was published by Quality Communications and is cover dated October 1982. This scan is from Miracleman Book One: A Dream of Flying, which was published by Eclipse in 1988. Enjoy!
So a year after Alan Davis started working on his first comics, he was drawing the Marvelman strip with Alan Moore. Moore, obviously, wasn’t “Alan Moore” yet, but he was still gaining a reputation for his work, and the fact that a neophyte like Davis was working with him was pretty keen. This is Davis’s first chapter on the strip, and while I think it came out before our next post, I’m not sure if it did. Oh well. I should also note that these pages weren’t originally in color, but my trade paperback was reproduced from the reprinted Miracleman #2 in 1985, color was added. Sorry it’s not the original!
Here’s the first scene from the chapter:
Garry Leach, who drew the first few chapters of Marvelman, inked Davis on this chapter, so it’s not quite as distinctive as some of Davis’s work, but we can still see some of the features of a Davis page. Liz’s eyes in Panels 2, 3, and 5 are similar to the way Davis draws eyes, wider than most artists and more … empathetic, I guess? I don’t know, but back in the day when I bought this comic and didn’t even know Davis’s art that much, I could instantly see that this was a different artist from the previous page (the trade doesn’t have chapter breaks, so the page facing this one is Leach’s pencil work). Johnny’s face in Panel 6 isn’t quite as distinctive, but we’ll see his face again, and it will be clear that it’s Davis. Davis really builds tension nicely in these panels, with tilted views, extreme close-ups, and cut-off portions to imply that everything is bigger than Liz can handle. It’s well done. And that Alan Moore can write a cool script, can’t he?
I love this panel. In the foreground, Johnny stands triumphant, about to kill Liz. Davis shades his face along the vertical axis to imply his eeeevilness, and he’s not snooty enough to disdain motion lines, as we see surprise both in Johnny’s eyes and in the starburst by his left eye. In the background, Mike Moran, whom Johnny had pummeled in the previous chapter, rises from the wreckage, rage in his eye. Davis knows that the effect of shrouding him in shadow will be very impressive, so we just get him in silhouette, a fist raised and only one eye visible (because the other is swollen from the beating he took). Davis draws just enough of his shredded costume to imply how badly he was beaten, so even if you missed the previous chapter, you can see that something horrible has already happened to him. It’s a simple panel, but it’s still devastating.
Moore cleverly uses the third-person rant against Johnny, as he accidentally says “Miracleman” (or, you know, “Marvelman”) and changes back to his human form, which is still a child. What I want to focus on in this sequence is Johnny in Panel 4. This is a true “Alan Davis” face, very early in his career. Davis’s artwork is more cartoonish than Garry Leach’s more realistic stylings, but we don’t really see that in this chapter (it’s partly because Leach inks this, but in the next chapter, also inked by Leach, we see it more clearly, and even in subsequent chapters that Davis inked, it’s still not completely evident). Where we do see it is in Johnny’ face, which is broader and rounder than Leach drew faces, with wider eyes and more deeply emotional expression. If we contrast that with Mike Moran’s face in Panel 3, which is a bit different because he’s been beaten so badly, but it still is a bit more angular than what we generally associate with Davis. The evolution continues!!!
By the time this post goes up, we’ll have already seen how Marvel plans to recolor these stories. (It’s actually completely coincidental that this goes up two days before the next “issue” of Marvel’s Miracleman comes out, which might (?) reprint this part. I’m not sure if it will be in this part or issue #3, but it’s coming!) This recoloring, from 1988, is actually not bad, although it would have been nice if Eclipse had reprinted these in black and white. Here’s an article in which that last sequence is shown in black and white. It’s pretty neat. Oh well.
Tomorrow: Another Davis story that was published at about the same time as this one. How will it look? You’ll have to stop by to check it out! And be sure to check out the archives!
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