Jul 9, 2012

Back Issue Ben: Micronauts: A Mini-Retrospective, Part 3

Back Issue Ben is a column written by Ben Smith for the Comics Cube! See his archives here.

Micronauts: A Mini-Retrospective
Part 3: They Came from Inner Space

by Ben Smith

Click here for part 1.
Click here for part 2. 

If you haven't been keeping up at this point, then you're just way behind. Don't worry, we'll wait for you to catch up.

Good? All right, let's continue. I have been covering the action-packed, epic opening storyline to the forgotten classic comic book series, THE MICRONAUTS. As we learned in the first two parts, the heroic Micronauts struggle to free the Microverse from the evil Baron Karza. Bill Mantlo is on writing duties, while Michael Golden and his various inkers provide wonderful action-packed artwork. Last time, our heroes finished their time on Earth, and brought the battle back to the Microverse itself. Through the separate efforts of Acroyear and his people, and Argon and his rebellion, Baron Karza's forces have been decimated. Unfortunately, Bug has fallen in battle, and Commander Rann and Marionette have been captured by Karza. So close and yet so far from ending Karza's rule, will the heroes be able to succeed and save the Microverse? Read on, true believers!

#11. Baron Karza returns to Homeworld to find it in flames. Force Commander and his rebel forces have beaten Karza's forces and retaken control of their city. The Shadow Priests reveal their allegiance with the rebellion.

Baron Karza reveals that everything that has happened has gone all according to plan, and he readies himself for battle.

Force Commander and Baron Karza clash...

…with Force Commander losing yet again.

The Shadow Priests make their final play, revealing themselves as the Enigma Force.

The Enigma Force revealed as Commander Rann's life force born again and again during his thousand year journey across the Microverse.

Commander Rann, powered by the Enigma Force, and Baron Karza battle for the final fate of the galaxy.

"We are the light you sought to banish to eternal darkness."

Recognizing he cannot win, Baron Karza prepares his final gambit, a mindshock that will destroy them all.
But his mindshock only succeeds in destroying himself.

The Acroyears arrive to finish off Karza's remaining forces, and end the war.

His mission completed, the Enigma Force leaves Commander Arcturus Rann.

Finally "there will be peace at last."

My brain thoughts: An action-packed finale to this opening storyline, which sees the Micronauts broken but triumphant, and Baron Karza defeated. They dropped hints along the way, but the Enigma Force was finally revealed to have come from Commander Rann himself. It's only a shame that this issue wasn't longer. This final panel is especially poignant to me.

#12. It's all over but the clean-up. Commander Rann and the rebels celebrate their victory.

Rann is informed for the first time of Bug's death during the final battles. Acroyear announces that he must return to Spartak, to help rebuild his home and his people.

Back on Spartak, the judgement of Shaitan begins. Acroyear lays down the history of his people, and the charges against his brother.

Shaitan makes his final move, challenging Acroyear to a blood feud, which Acroyear accepts.

Meeting on the shattered plains, the brothers battle each other to the death. Acroyear pleads with his brother to yield, causing Shaitan to mock the emotions his brother has developed in his time with the Micronauts.

Eventually, Acroyear accidentally wins the bout in the most decisive way possible.

The issue ends with a glimmer of hope, as it appears that Bug is alive.

My brain thoughts: I've always been a sucker for a good family duel. Whether it be brother against brother, sister against brother, father against son, it doesn't matter. It always hits me right here in the chest area. Plus, Bug is alive!

#13. Bug is alive and miraculously finds himself back on his home planet of Kaliklak.

Running into an old friend, he is updated on the current status of his old crew of thieves. Seeking to rectify the wrongs that have happened, Bug returns to the Robber's Roost where his old comrades hide out.

Finding his friends under the rule of the evil Wartstaff, who also happens to be Bug's estranged father, Bug battles to re-take control of the group.

Aided by his former love Jasmine, Bug takes down Wartstaff's supporters…

…and then Wartstaff himself.

His place at the head of his crew re-established, Bug intends to move on to his next goal, to take out Karza's colonial leadership there on his home planet.

My brain thoughts: Howard Chaykin takes over for Golden as penciller with this issue. While not as impressive as Golden's pages, Chaykin does a more than capable on the artwork in this issue. It's nice to see Bug back in action, but I think he works best as a supporting character playing off of others.

#14. Bug and his crew attack the Colonial Air Terminus, seeking to take control of the aircraft there. Their mission successful, they make their way to the Central Nest. On Homeworld, Commander Rann and the remaining members of the Micronauts prepare to leave, preferring adventure to adoration.

While on Spartak, Acroyear comes to a similar decision.

Bug and Jasmine fight their way to the Colonial Governor himself…

…when Bug gets his revenge.

The remaining soldiers pledge no loyalty to the fallen Governor, informing Bug of Karza's fall back on Homeworld. Acroyear and Cilicia rendezvous with Rann and the Endeavor.

All that remains is for Bug to reunite with the team.

My brain thoughts: This was the "band getting back together" issue. Tying up some loose ends back on their home worlds, the team is now prepared to reunite for more adventures throughout Earth and the Microverse. The additions of Cilicia and Jasmine to the team are welcome.

My final brain thoughts: There you have it. A hidden gem you may not have ever read or even known about before. If the pages and recaps I gave you here interest you at all, then I suggest you try and find any back issues of the series that you can. At the very least, they should be cheap. Bill Mantlo and Michael Golden were at their very best on these issues, and that's saying a lot for those two. Baron Karza was a legitimate threat and an engaging villain. Acroyear and Bug were fun characters that still continue to be favorites of mine to this day.

The original Micronauts series would go on to run for 59 issues and 2 annuals, before being re-launched in a second volume as The New Voyages for another 20 issues. There was also a four issue mini-series crossing over the Micronauts with the X-Men. (This is probably where I became aware of the book originally). Team members would come and go, and Baron Karza would (Spoiler Alert!) eventually make his malevolent return, and much joy was had for all.

Marvel still has the rights to the characters they created without any inspiration whatsoever from the toy line, and, just like with Rom, they have begun to creep back in to stories as of late.

Bug got this fun little one-shot all to himself in 1997. I love covers that use classic comic book covers as their backdrop, and that is no different here.

Bug next appeared alongside Commander Rann and Marionette for a couple issues during the fourth volume of Captain Marvel.

Image Comics and then Devil's Due tried separate attempts to relaunch The Micronauts series, but with some of the best characters still owned by Marvel, the magic or the interest just wasn't there.

Commander Rann and Marionette next appeared in the Incredible Hulks: Enigma Force mini-series in 2010.

Bug received his biggest revival as part of the Annihilation: Conquest mini-series event.

Following that, he was eventually inducted into the follow-up series Guardians of the Galaxy, where he clawed his way back into my heart after so many years away. (Seriously, read Guardians of the Galaxy already).

Like always, I hope to have inspired at least one person to go and check out this series for themselves. At the very least, you were able to enjoy the story through my caveman words and subpar scanning abilities. I encourage you to consider adopting a poor homeless Micronaut comic into your collection. Your home and the world will be a better place for it.

That's it for this time, but I'll be back to bother you again. Like a groin injury you just can't get rid of. Like a greasy stain on your favorite shirt. Like the ghost of that stripper you killed that won't leave you alone. I'll be there…always.

Ben wraps up his ROM: SPACEKNIGHT Retrospective next week!


Anonymous said...

Do a spot a Red Sonja tribute on page19?

Peter / Conch Republican

Shlomo Ben Hungstien said...

too say that Chaykin's work on The Micronauts was not as impressive as Golden's is quite an understatement but this was an all around good round up review. and i do agree with you that Bug works better as a supporting character then then he does as being the featured one. that Bug one shot was a good example of that. one of the many things that marvel has done that always pissed me off was not to ever give ass a reason how Bug became part of the Cosmic Marvel Universe as a normal sized character. we all know that marvel was trying to capitalize on this character they owned but it seems they didn't even bother to come up with any sort of plausible reasoning for how he came to be a normal sized character in a Kree prison from his years of being a Microverse inhabitant. here's a holiday greeting card from ROM and The MIcronauts for ya http://csuhsux.deviantart.com/art/Happy-Holidays-from-ROM-and-The-Micronauts-498939716

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