When the Scourge of the Underworld set out to rid the world of its criminal element, he sure picked some easy targets. Low-level bad guys like the Miracle Man were trotted out after years -- sometimes even decades -- of disuse, for the sole purpose of getting whacked before an audience of drooling fanboys. They were cannon fodder, like the stars of an Irwin Allen film. ("Look, honey! Jennifer Jones! My lands, I haven't seen her up on the big screen in -- oh, she's dead.")
Was the Miracle Man lame? I don't think he had to be. He made for a heck of a menace in "Fantastic Four" #3. Unfortunately, the big twist ending of the story required him to be a fraud. He didn't really have astounding reality-bending powers. He was just a remarkably talented mass-hypnotist. And when a story pits the Fantastic Freaking Four against a hypnotist, who do you think will win? I think that kind of ruined him for a lot of comic writers.
If you ask me, he just needed a change of venue -- from comics where the heroes save the entire planet on a monthly basis to one where they're more prone to punching out gangsters. The Miracle Man could have had a field day in that setting. With his power of instant hypnosis, which you have to admit is still damned impressive, he could have set himself up as a crime boss or a cult leader or something. He could send anybody who crossed him into a nightmare world of self-destruction ("A free corndog? For me? Thanks!" *blam!*) It worked for Doctor Psycho. And Spellbinder, on the "Batman Beyond" cartoon. I don't see why the Miracle Man couldn't have made a go of things.
And he could definitely have used a new look. That old-timey vaudeville magician get-up was looking cheesy even back in the early sixties. Here's an idea for styling the old guy:
I call this look "The Archbishop Desmond Nosferatu."
The Miracle Man was already kind of old, with a thin frame and prominent cheekbones. I figure I could have put him on a strict, Moby-esque diet, shaved him completely bald (all over), made him look even more skeletal and startling with the judicious application of makeup, and slipped him into some clerical robes. That way attention is drawn to his eyes, but he's still dressed in something mysterious and memorable -- but not so much that it takes attention away from his eyes! That's why I went with all-white. At first I thought about just putting him in a nice three-piece suit, maybe accessorize it with a cape and a sword-cane or sumpin' but it just seemed too mundane. Plus the churchy garb goes nicely with his name.
Tomorrow: a desperate plea from Blockade Boy!