Miracleman, Chapter 10:

The Secret Origin of Miracleman, Part 2

We’ve begun discussing chapter ten, the conclusion of Book One (parts one, two, and three), of Alan Moore’s Miracleman, illustrated by Alan Davis. Today, we continue our exploration of that chapter.

(We’ve also previously introduced Miracleman and discussed chapters onetwothreefourfive, six, seven, eight, and nine, as well as the interlude “The Yesterday Gambit.”)

With a superhuman built, the video describes the “infra-spacial trigger devices,” which refers not to the Miracleman Family’s “magic words” but what makes these words work. This distinction is made clear later on this page, when the video explicitly states, “The trigger device is activated by the speaking of a post-hypnotic key word.”

We’re told that these trigger devices are implanted “into the brain” of both the superhuman and his alter ego. This seems to imply that something physical has been implanted, and the image of surgeons standing over the unconscious bodies of Young Miracleman and Dicky Dauntless reinforces this interpretation. This too doesn’t strictly make sense, either in terms of 1950s science or even through reverse-engineering extraterrestrial science. It does, however, carry interesting implications.

The reason why these devices are implanted into the brain, as opposed to somewhere else in the body, is so that they can be activated linguistically. The trigger device is physical, but what activates it is mental.

Because the “key word” has been implanted through Zarathustra’s “post-hypnotic” techniques, the transformation is involuntary, a fact consistent with old Marvelman stories. Hypnosis has its own logistical problems, because its effects don’t last forever – at least as we practice it. But we’ll soon see the Miracleman Family’s “para-reality programming” (referenced on the first page of this chapter), which can do a lot more than implant a trigger word, and if we buy that, we ought to buy this.

But there’s also no reason why the trigger word would need to be the same for both bodies. The video explicitly states that the project implants “two identical” devices. This may be done for simplicity’s sake, given that these are humans trying to adapt extraterrestrial technology. But it opens the possibility of different trigger words for each body, or even different trigger words for more than two bodies – a possibility we’ll see later, when we meet the aliens who inspired the Zarathustra process.

Indeed, there’s no reason why one body need even have a trigger device at all. Such a transformation could, in theory, be a one-time thing. With some transformations (like those Miracleman applies to the super-hero genre), there’s no going back. This might lead to interesting narrative possibilities, but those won’t be explored.

The depiction here also opens the possibility of a trigger word that someone else could activate. There’s no reason, if these devices are implanted, that the trigger needs to be (or be limited to) something said by one of these bodies. We will see the idea of a trigger world spoken by someone else in Book Two.

What activates the trigger device need not be verbal at all. Theoretically, seeing the color red could act as a trigger. The possibilities in this regard are endless, although most won’t be explored.

As the video continues, we see “the displacement of the replicate into infra-space,” accompanied by an image of an unconscious Young Miracleman tumbling down a cylindrical tube. Here again, Moore is careful not to use the term “clone,” employing instead the word “replicate.” This “infra-space” isn’t explained here, although it will be explored in later stories. (The concept is similar to Star Trek’s subspace.) The panel’s image looks cool, but it doesn’t explain how this tube works. Creating a super-powered clone strains credibility, but creating a machine capable of sending something into this previously unknown area of space is just as incredible.

All of this isn’t as realistic as the standard Miracleman has otherwise set. Perhaps it can’t be so, given that it’s only a single page. Some suspension of disbelief is always required with super-hero origins, and this one still makes more sense than a convenient wizard.

In any case, the end result of this process is clear: a human and a superhuman. At any one time, one of these two bodies is in this infra-space and the other of whom is in regular space. A trigger word, spoken by either, activates a device, present in the brains of both bodies. At this point, the two bodies to switch places.

When Mike Moran says “Kimota,” he’s sending himself to infra-space, to be replaced by this artificial, grown, near-perfect body called Miracleman.

In this page’s final panel, the video states that “the consciousness” transfers from one body to the other. Earlier, the second panel stated that the cloned body “does not[,] however, possess its own independent consciousness.” Later, we’ll actually be shown that bodies in infra-space are unconscious.

Both bodies do, however, possess independent brains. That same second panel explicitly states that the clone’s “brain” is also “almost perfectly evolved.” This might be seen to explain how Mike Moran and Miracleman could possess the same memories, yet have different thought patterns and mental faculties.

It might also explain how Kid Miracleman seemed to have some limited telepathic powers, to cloud Mike Moran’s brain or to summon storm clouds, since the explanation provided here leaves open the possibility that the “almost perfectly evolved” superhuman brain could have super-powers much as its body does.

Still, Moore seems here to believe that consciousness is separate from the brain, an idea for which there’s no scientific evidence. This is compounded by locating memory within the consciousness, despite that we understand that memories are encoded within the physical brain. Certainly, consciousness is experienced as something separate from the physical brain, but anyone who’s had a serious head injury knows how this affects consciousness and memory. These traumatic experiences are often frightening because we think of consciousness as somehow separate from our bodies, including our brains. In the shadow of René Descartes (and his 1637 pronouncement, “cognito ergo sum,” Latin for “I think, therefore I am”), concussions are an existential business.

Humans have spent a good amount of time trying to figure out why they experience consciousness, which it’s clear at least some animal experience too. The best explanation may simply be that the sensation of consciousness, in the decision-making portion of the brain, evolved to serve an evolutionary advantage. The brain takes in, parses, and even alters a great deal of data of which our consciousness is not aware. And there’s some experimental evidence suggesting, based on electronic activity occurring within the brain prior to someone consciously coming to a decision, that even decisions are often made outside of the consciousness and only conveyed to the consciousness after the fact, whereupon the consciousness interprets them as its own. This certainly helps explain automatic “fight or flight” responses, as well as the phenomenon of mob mentality, both of which involve complex actions normally associated with the consciousness apparently being involuntary.

In any case, there is no scientific theory of consciousness which would jibe with what’s presented in the Zarathustra video – except, perhaps, that the body in infra-space is unconscious (i.e. in a state similar to sleep). Moore seems to be drawing a distinction closer to that between the body and the soul, once this belief adapted to scientific discoveries about the brain. Thus, certain aspects of one’s personality might be inherited (and thus present in one’s brain), yet some “essential” being that duplicates many of the brain’s functions (such as decision-making) is said to be present nonetheless. This model has never explained how memory, being a product of the biological brain, might have a corollary in the soul (which might, in theory, persist after the body’s death). Moore seems to repeat this error by locating memories within the consciousness, rather than the brain, and the whole business is rather confused.

In fairness, while such a complex matter is fodder for some wonderful Miracleman stories, it’s beyond the scope of this single page, on which Moore outlines the Zarathustra process. None of it may not make sense, when you think about it, but it sketches out the process just enough to give readers a basic operating idea of how Zarathustra works and what Miracleman really is. And while it may be psudo-scientific, at least it aspires to be scientific, rather than casually tossing out nonsense based on the notion that the reader’s too dumb to notice or to care.

It may not make complete sense, or really anything resembling it, but it makes a damn lot more sense than a creepy old wizard in a magical subway with goofy statues of sins invented by Medieval Catholics, which he can’t even get right.

Miracleman’s reaction, at the end of this third page, is simply to cringe an mutter “Oh, God…” What immediately precedes this is the video mentioning his own name as Young Miracleman’s “key word.” The video earlier revealed that this subject was Young Miracleman, and Miracleman surely remembers Young Miracleman’s magic word, so it’s not clear what specifically he’s reacting to. It may be the reference to his own name, implying that he himself was a product of this same process. Or it may simply be a reaction to the amassed total of all he’s seen and heard.

It’s not much of a reaction, but there’s not much room after all this page has had to explain. And this chapter has four more pages before its epilogue. There’s more than enough room for Miracleman to build up to his violent explosion.

To be continued.

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In 1996, while still an undergraduate, Dr. Julian Darius founded what would become Sequart Organization. After graduating magna cum laude from Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisconsin), he obtained his M.A. in English, authoring a thesis on John Milton and utopianism. In 2002, he moved to Waikiki, teaching college while obtaining an M.A. in French (high honors) and a Ph.D. in English. In 2011, he founded Martian Lit, which publishes creative work, including his comic book Martian Comics. He currently lives in Illinois.

See more, including free online content, on .

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1 Comment

  1. I wonder how Mike Moran would have reacted to seeing these tapes and if it would be any different than Miracleman’s reaction. Unfortunately for Mike, he has become as much an accessory in his own life as Liz has become in hers.

    As to those “interesting narrative possibilities” that “won’t be explored” well, I hope Neil Gaiman is reading these posts. I felt that his (currently) unfinished story “The Silver Age” was set to deal with some of these concepts. Gaiman extracted Young Miracleman from infra-space, which opens the door to all sorts of possibilities.

    Seriuosly though, is there a way, Julian, that you can send Gaiman this article? As he is currently set up to finish his Miracleman stories with the new Marvel publication, I think these are points he should consider.

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