Monday, February 19, 2018


Micronauts vol.1 No. 44
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Gil Kane & Danny Bulandi, Carl Potts and Al Milgrom
Letterer: Jim Novak
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Al Milgrom
EIC: Jim Shooter

Wow, what happened to Bulandi? They had to pull in two editors to ink the penciled pages, that feels like an emergency. It's a pretty good exchange, though -- Milgrom's got that same heavy hand as Bulandi but he knows when to lay off the brush, and Carl Potts is just terrific. His clear line suits Kane's dynamism more than I would expect.

And speaking of Kane's dynamism, here is this amazing cover. It's got to have been based, in one way or the other, on Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People. The elevation of Mari to the head of the rebellion suits her placement on the cover. And, with that being said, it's nice for Marionette to have the cover focus in the first place.

Of the covers which feature one Micronaut prominently over the others, most of them feature Acroyear. This makes a lot of sense because he's a powerful and boldly designed character, and he's the fighter! Rann takes the second spot and, with all of one appearance under her futuristic unitard, Mari's in third. Bug got nothing, which is garbage because Bug's great.

Anyway, while the interior spends two-thirds of its time on the Earth-bound Micronauts in Florida battling Prometheus and Computrex, the cover and the strength of the single Homeworld segment imply a focus on the historical core of the series. The Microverse, after all, was effectively abandoned after the defeat of Karza, allowing a seemingly benevolent transitional government to establish itself and use the infrastructure and resources of the previous government to lock the place down into a military dictatorship. Seems like there's more than enough meat at tiny-size than all the adventure in Florida.

So, chapter one puts the Earth-bound Micronauts in conflict with Computrex and Prometheus, and it's going poorly. Nanotron and Microtron are trapped on not just a powerful magnet, but a spinning powerful magnet, which seems to be Computrex's way of delivering unto them a powerful "fuck you."

Devil's been fighting his savage side again, engaging in a personal battle which entertains no one. In throes of fury, he's calmed by the memory of long-lost companion sprite Fireflyte, who tells him to be himself and not this terrible beast. Devil complies and becomes a fat cat tramp who won't shut up about himself. Wait a minute ... is Devil supposed to be a riff on Snagglepuss? Holy crap. That's canon. I declare that to be canon.

The big pink idiot goes savage again and starts clawing at the dead parts of the cyborg Prometheus, causing it terrible pain. He also uses his catchphrase, which causes Prometheus even more pain, I'm sure of it. If there's a good part here, it's that Computrex turns the catchphrase around on him ("You call yourself the Devil? Then burn in H.E.L.L.!") and then lights him on fire and Devil falls into the Prometheus Pit. He got off easy, in my opinion.

The Mr.Bean of the Microverse.

In chapter two, Bug, Mari and Acroyear go to one of Homeworld's misery-spreading gambling churches, where the faithful can play their hard-earned cash on machines against the slim chance to gain life credits which will allow themselves to survive injury and illness, or to live even a short time beyond the human lifespan. Those who lose everything are thrown into the Body Banks as spare parts for the rich. Medicare for All.

Uncloaking themselves, Mari and crew disrupt the crowds as they stand on the steps to the church. A confrontation grows between the priests and the rebel icons, which brings the soldiers. As our heroic trio battle the soldiers, the people are inspired, and a full-on fuck-you Bill-Mantlo-class riot breaks out. Remember that Mantlo does not sugarcoat the riots and wars the way he's required to bowdlerize one-on-one violence, as per The Code. People are getting shot in the face, soldiers are being clawed at and battered, and Aegyptia's representative among the rebels, Captain Margrace, weeps for the memory of his desert homeland and cries, riding to war, "We'll just have to do our dyin' in the darkness!"

The battle ends with Margrace uniting his forces with Mari's, while the women inside the castle are starting to stir too. Belladonna realizes that her plan to marry and co-opt the rule of Argon is unfeasible, so she commits herself to betrayal. In the dungeons, Slug -- wearing Belladonna's aged frame -- lashes out at her guard and escapes, vengeance in her sights. Give me Mari, Slug and Belladonna on an adventure for a few issues, I could handle that.

Carl Potts inking Kane. Look at this.

Back in chapter three, the fight at H.E.L.L. is wrapping up. Turns out the Prometheus Pit is full of water, which is good news for Devil and bad new about him: he survived! His fur's been burned black and now he's full-time savage, which is fine. It wasn't the going-wild storyline that bugged me, it was the dithering and the meaninglessness. Now maybe we can do something proactive with his arc.

Computrex also uses this time to explain his plan, since he finally has a motivation -- he wants to conquer the Microverse and use their roboid technology to give him a conquering roboid form of his own. Devil kills him and Prometheus, so he's good for something. The end, see you next week!

Well, thanks for wasting our time?

Thursday, February 15, 2018


The Unhumans
(w/a John Ushler)

Dell/Disney artist John Ushler pops up with a bit of a Body Snatcher story around the middle of the tabloid. Mike bates is a Public Relations Man for Dane Chemical Company, but he's noticed some unusual changes lately. For one thing, his best pal Carl has been avoiding him for weeks -- and he's even forgotten about their favorite restaurant, Excello's! We should go there, it sounds excellent.

Even Carl's wife and child have noticed something different, and the family dog tried to bite him! Listen, I know this from watching far too many movies and reading far too many comics: Light Carl on fire now and save yourself the headache.

Mike begins to investigate on his own, but this snooping leads him back to the office where a secret, late-night meeting is in full effect. Pretty much every other high-ranking member of the company is there, and they hush up as soon as Mike shows up. I know what this is, they're planning a surprise party!

Mike follows the group to their next destination, which is a spooky meeting with Lovecraftian elements. When Mike is detected, he's attacked by a dog with no mouth. How does he smell? Just fine, his nose is fine, there is nothing wrong with his nose. Also, he explodes when he misses attacking Mike and accidentally jumps in the window, killing all the weird employees.

Turns out that the whole thing is a plan by the race of aliens called The Chiron, who are replacing prominent Earthlings with androids. The lead Chiron is hiding as the butler of the owner of the chemical plant, and it is genuinely hilarious when he says "Now I'm Roy." Haha, okay alien dude, very intimidating.

Mike throws an Arnold Palmer or something on Roy, which causes him to melt because "it is acid to a Chiron!" Me too, man, four years sober last December. Plus at the end an FBI agent shows up, exceptionally too late for the party. The end.

The Stellar Apes
(w/a Dennis Ellefson)

I feel like there's a joke with the name for this one, but I cannot decipher it. If you have any ideas, write them down on the back on an envelope which you've already addressed and stamped for sending to someone else, then let them deal with it.

Like, I get how these are the stellar apes, that much I got.

The story involves a crew of galactic explorers landing on a strange, seemingly-uninhabited moon. Further explorations reveal a race of gliding gorillas who live on a sort-of honeycomb of mucus. Also, they are tremendously vicious and murder a bunch of the astronauts.

Despite counting a bunch of "APNERS" (That's Anti-Personal [sic] Nuclear Energy Ray Rifles) among their arsenal, the surviving astronauts end up hiding out in a cave until a better plan occurs to them. Turns out that the stellar apes are hypnotized by one astronaut's harmonica playing, are fooled by old-fashioned tape recorders mimicking human voices, and are easily blinded by the flash of a camera. When did these guys go to space, exactly, uh ... 1967? Yes, apparently. Either that or they raided a Rite-Aid in the modern day (I swear, some Rite-Aids still carry blank audio cassettes. It's a miracle).

Anyway, the twist is that harmonicas are better than nuclear guns, no matter how anti-personal they may be.

I think he's just amazed at how shitty you are at it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


With superhero television programs blowing up in the last few years, recaps of superhero television shows have become all the internet rage. Other sites, however, are hobbled by the need to cover shows which have been "recently broadcast" or which are "any good at all." But who covers the uncoverable? That's why Gone&Forgotten chooses to cover the 1991-1993 USA Network live-action Swamp Thing television series in a feature I used to like to call a dumb pun kind of title, but I've run out of those, so I just call it ...

The USA network's 1990-1993 Swamp Thing television series sure went a long way before trying their luck with a bottle episode. But it works, even if it requires Mark Lindsay Chapman to deliver the most bizarre, unhinged performance of the series. I mean, "especially because it requires Mark Lindsay Chapman to deliver the most bizarre, unhinged performance of the series"...

Arcane is searching for a "hybrid swamp lily," cultivated and jealously guarded by an ancient, long-dead and lost civilization. He knows he's on the right track when he finds a bunch of the tribe's traditional ceremonial masks! Just lying on top of a golf course or something! They could not have seeded the hill with less competence. For a civiliation that is long dead and undiscovered, all of their possessions look brand new and nothing's grown over them. It looks like someone upended a wheelbarrow full of Collegeville costumes.

And look, a cattle skull! He's found the remains of a prehistoric Bowlin's!

The masks lead Arcane to a cave. Swamp Thing (in a slightly new costume, interestingly enough) follows him in, and proceeds to morally judge him so hard that the whole things caves in. Now they're trapped together -- an already-weakened Swamp Thing dying in the dark, a manic Arcane trapped without light and a quickly dwindling supply of fresh air. With Graham unreachable through the radio-proof walls, it looks like the end for our intrepid pair!

What follows is a genuine masterclass by Mark Lindsay Chapman in how to perform like Mark Lindsay Chapman. Unmoored from the need to communicate with another actor in anything resembling a dialogue, he's launched into a monologue about his person, his ambitions, his self-esteem and his existential dread. He embarks on tirades, some of which I believe were quoted wholesale from works of literature and theater but I'm too dumb to know which were from where, and challenges God to prove His worth in the face of Arcane.

This show is so cheap that it sometimes feels like it's on purpose.

He also has his downsides.

In the course of his antics, Arcane ends up confiding his deepest fears and insecurities -- alternating with bravado and menace -- to Swamp Thing's unmoving corpse. That's where things get interesting, because we are now officially inside Arcane's head now, complete with reflected lantern light bouncing off a wall suddenly becoming a bona fide spotlight (complete with "klung" sound effect) just as Arcane has something upon which to wax poetic.

If there's a downside to the episode, it's when the hallucinations from oxygen deprivation take over, and it becomes a mindfuck episode, a la PayDay, with hallucinations and smoky, dark sets. Arcane goes full red-rubber-band-schizo, perceives his corpse as an anatomy lesson for his living self, sees himself as a judging figure of God condemning the corpse, sees his worthless skeleton abused for the sake of the so-called science whose cruelties he once performed. I mean, that was all great, it's just that this era of Swamp Thing gets really invested in the mindfuck, and it's tedious.

"Oh hey, I didn't notice you there. Boy, my family, eh? What a bunch of characters..."

In the end, Swamp Thing revives, ironically fed life-giving carbon dioxide via Arcane's incessant yattering. Now they're lung-buddies. The big potted plant does that thing where he grows his dick really long and sticks it out into the sun for strength (which, to be fair, the vine looked a lot less like a dick this time, perhaps by studio edict), and frees them both.

If there's any takeaway from the episode, let is be this obtuse and indeterminate thing Swamp Thing intones as he descends into the healing swamp water ... "Cheating the swamp is a debt that will be repaid ... eventually"

"Is this, uh ... is this me? Is this supposed to be me?"

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Monday, February 12, 2018


Micronauts vol.1 No. 43
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Gil Kane and Danny Bulandi
Letterer: Jim Novak
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Al Milgrom
EIC: Jim Shooter

Mari, Bug and Acroyear are shrinking back to the Microverse, owing to the high-tech weaponry of Doctor Nemesis. The Doctor is also shrinking down to the Microverse, but faster than our heroes, which he mentions in abject panic. "Help me!" he screams, "I'm shrinking faster than you!" to which Bug snaps back, basically, shut up stupid you're going to die and we don't care. Bug is my favorite.

Actually, we're here with my three favorite Micronauts, all things considered. Rann has fallen into some measure of disuse since the first year of the story, and the death of Biotron left him devoid of a traveling companion. Right now, these three have the best potential for richer stories, more closely tied to the central conceit of the book.

As the trio descend on Homeworld, their physical forms begin to materialize on the physical world. Bug asks a pertinent question as to how it is they happened to land right on Homeworld, and Mari suggests that she has a theory that Microversians have homing instincts which bring them home at the right scale. Why Bug didn't end up on Kallikliak and Acroyear didn't end up dead in the vacuum of space where Spartak once stood, I dunno. But at least Marionette having put that much thought into a facet of the book AND elucidating a useful point of fact from it is a step towards expanding her character.

I'm excited, in fact, that Mari is stranded on Homeworld away from her romantic subplot. I'm interested to see where it ends up, even as Rann is stuck in a leadership position with the saddest supporting team in history.

While we're on Homeworld, we catch up with Force Commander (Marionette's tyrannical brother Argon) and his betrothed Slug (former rebellion leader whose body currently houses the cruel Mistress Belladonna). There's not much to catch up on, so let's check in with the other guys.

The Wasp hooks the Micronauts up with the Avengers in order to help them get back to the Microverse, and it is legitimately and unintentionally the funniest scene in the book's history. The quartet of earth-bound Micros are arranged on a table around which Captain America, Iron Man and Thor are seated, looking for all the world like they're playing Heroclix. Also, Iron Man -- who is supposed to be an engineering genius -- is clearly faking his way through the entire meeting. Here's everything he says in the course of the conversation:

"It sounds plausible. Yes, it could be."
"But how will you return home?"
(when asked to build a ship to replace the Endeavor) "My, er, employer, Tony Stark could design one."
"That could do it all right."

I have been in meetings with a thousand guys like that. He has no idea what everyone's talking about, I guarantee it.

"How would you say that this encourages the vertical of our narrative?" 

The Avengers do ferry Rann and crew down to Florida, so they can look for any signs of a functioning Prometheus Pit in the old H.E.L.L. headquarters. While the Homeworld-based contingent of the team reconnoiters with the resistance movement against Argon, the Earth-based heroes unfortunately come up against Phillip Prometheus and Computrex again. The most boring Micronauts versus the most boring Micronauts villains.  

On the other hand ... wow.

The fight goes on for about half of the issue, leaving these Micronauts trapped between the dripping, rotting cyborg corpse of Prometheus and the wall of malevolent computer parts that make up Computrex. For the record, Devil -- going savage -- really wants to eat the rotting parts of Prometheus' body, but Rann dissuades him, and I don't know why. That honestly seems like killing two birds with one stone -- Devil can work out his savage impulses and Prometheus walks with a limp. Works for me.

In the lettercol, one reader pleads for the return of Pat Broderick, and gets burned in return.

Thursday, February 8, 2018


Galaxo, Cosmic Agent
(w/a Marvin Stein)

Galaxo almost achieves the promised 1,500 "action panels" of Wham-O Giant Comics all by its lonesome. At three pages, it's probably the most densely-packed of the stories in the tabloid. It also stuffs a lot of sci-fi mumbo-jumbo in there, just to keep us on our feet.

Ronny Drake is an unassuming young man living on a bucolic island chain. A day of fishing yields little more than boredom and an empty line, so Ronny takes the boat out for a little bird-watching. This sounds like a euphemism, and given that Ronny appears to be newly-pubescent, I suspect I know what it's a euphemism for. Enjoy whacking off under the seagulls, Ronny! You're a hero!

Actually, Ronny is a dope and he falls into the water, stirring up some damn mean shark. Luckily, here comes Galaxo, Cosmic Agent! Technically, rescuing Ronny from a shark is the last thing on Galaxo's to-do list, inasmuch as he's here to fight "saboteurs of civilization," but they can arrest anybody on any trumped up charge. They probably put that shark up on RICO.

Galaxo represents a law-making body from thousands of worlds who write the laws for the entire universe, but primarily they make up dumb names for science. Galaxo's own powers -- a sort-of old Volto from Mars package, capable of using magnetic powers to repel and attract objects -- are "Bio-Metabolic," which is what I thought was metabolism in the first place, but I can stand to be corrected. Then there's an Ultr-Sonic Whistle, a Computo-Translator, an Energy Polarizer Gun, and something called Tentacle Twine. Run.

Told you to run.

Saving Ronny wasn't a waste of Galaxo's time, it turns out, because a would-be world conqueror named Dr.Null abducts Ronny's island and the others in the chain, gently connecting them so that they make the first conquest of his worldwide plan. He starts small. Why not just conquer Cape Cod or something?

Galaxo makes short work of Null and prepares to return to his greater mission, but not without promising Ronny his eternal friendship. "All over the universe," he stiffly explains, "The affinity between a man and a boy occurs ... even from different worlds! To put it in plain Earth talk ... we're pals, Ronny!" Run.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018


With superhero television programs blowing up in the last few years, recaps of superhero television shows have become all the internet rage. Other sites, however, are hobbled by the need to cover shows which have been "recently broadcast" or which are "any good at all." But who covers the uncoverable? That's why Gone&Forgotten chooses to cover the 1991-1993 USA Network live-action Swamp Thing television series in a feature I used to like to call a dumb pun kind of title, but I've run out of those, so I just call it ...

We're only moments into this episode when viewers are confronted suddenly with the hyperventilating, sweat-polished, scene-chewing face of Dr.Alec Holland, dashing at panicked, deer-like speed through the glades -- sort of. If you're a Swamp Thing fan with a long memory, anyway, you'll recognize this actor on sight as Ray Wise, formerly Dr.Alec Holland in the 1982 Wes Craven-directed debut of Swamp Thing on the big screen! Crossover! Maybe! I hope! (I will be disappointed).

(Just as an aside, I'd like to point out that the fandom for USA Network's 1990-1993 Swamp Thing television series is so negligent and apathetic that Wise's dual roles aren't even mentioned in the Trivia section. Nothing's mentioned in the trivia section. There is no trivia for this episode of USA Network's Swamp Thing, the one episode which most deserves some got-dang trivia. Do better, fandom of USA Network's 1990-1993 Swamp Thing TV series, of which I believe I might constitute the entirety)

My mind was blown, you guys.

(Wise appearing on this episode got me thinking about the phenomenon of actors who'd played a character on film showing up on the TV show of the same franchise, as a different character -- and I can't think of many! Reeve and Kidder were on Smallville, of course, and Helen Slater is presently on Supergirl -- with Dean Cain and Linda Carter, but those were actors who already played TV incarnations, and they're from the wrong franchises. I know Collyer and West voices their characters in cartoons, but those weren't film-to-TV.

ANYWAY, that's a lot of riders to say that I think this might have been the first case of the guy who played the title character (sort-of) in a superhero movie playing a different guest role in a later TV series of the same franchise. Unless this definition includes Dick Durock. I ... I need to assemble an advisory council on this)


Ray Wise (playing an apparent escaped lunatic named "Guthrie") dashes through the swamps of Houma, eventually landing on the doorstep of the Kipp clan and waking them with incessant pounding. "Incessant pounding" might've actually been the theme of the night, because Will and Tressa emerge from their individual bedrooms at the top of the staircase with the cadence and proximity of lovers just alerted, but not awakened, from their beds. By which I mean they're fuckin'. This is canon as far as I'm concerned, they make beautiful receptacles for each others' vibrant lack of chemistry.

Guthrie busts his way into the Kipp house, ranting and raving about Aliens! Coming to get him! But he got the leader! The big alien! He ran him down with his car! He's dead! Congrats to Will for piecing together these exclaimed fragments in such a way as to correctly realize that Ray Wise just ran over Swamp Thing with his car.

Since "The Return of LaRoche," Swamp Thing has seemed badly depowered, which appears to be one of the very few nods to continuity that this show has ever maintained -- remember, for instance, they aired all of the episodes featuring Swamp Thing's girlfriend Dr.Ann Fisk out of order, so they broke up first and flirted later. I bet that's how Millennials do it. "Millennials are Killing First Dates!" or something moronic like that. Someone ask the New York Times.

"Well, this gives me an opportunity to really review my decisions."

In this case, Swamp Thing isn't fast enough to dodge a car, strong enough to get out for under it, or smart enough to look both ways before crossing the street.  The car genuinely kicks his ass. Besides knocking him down and pinning his arm under a tire, the car just collapses for no reason right on the trapped arm, just crushing Swamp Thing's whole shoulder. This is good TV.

Eventually, Swampy pulls his own arm off and wanders into the swamp to heal, leaving a trail of Totally Radical Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ooze behind him. He's also doing that thing where they hide the actor's "severed" arm inside their shirt -- or a lettuce wrap, in Swamp Thing's case -- but Durock is so overwhelmingly broad that it looks ridiculous. He looks like a kudzu-claimed billboard.

"He's BROAD!"
It was a bad decision for Swamp Thing to wander, because Will has been driving around looking for the poor pumpkin-head. Relating the information to Tressa that he's found Swamp Thing's, uh, spoor. As with all of his other radio communications, Will oscillates pointlessly between speaking like a human being and screaming in outrage. "Hey Tressa, come in" is followed by "DAMMIT TRESSA PICK UP ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?" and then "Hey Tressa, I'm picking up Popeye's for lunch, you want anything" and so on ...

As for Tressa, she's staying back at the house with the maddened Ray Wise, which has not worked out with her in any fashion whatsoever. In fact, it's been a grimly amusing trend in this episode that, as soon as Tressa says that she'll be fine, don't worry, she can handle herself -- Ray Wise jumps up and slams her against a wall or slugs her or something. It's not funny funny, but it's nauseatingly absurd...

"Don't worry, Will, no one will violently strangle me the moment I finish this senten--"
Guthrie's story, meanwhile has evolved: He's escaped from an asylum, thinks he's an alien, and now has a gun trained on Tressa. And for the first time ever, Tressa uses her power of barking awkward lines unconvincingly for good, as she aggressively questions Guthrie on the specifics of his planet. "You got nations? States? You got kids? How many?" She fake-geeked him, and it was great, except I think it earned her a choking or something else inappropriate.

The end of the episode finds all four players at the site of Swamp Thing's inevitable death, dying armless under a tree while Guthrie rants and raves. "You broke the law" he shouts at Swamp Thing, still believing him to be some sort of alien, "You came here looking for answers! You found a planet where animals run wild! Animals! What kind of answer is that for our world??" This is literally the kind of thing a guy in a Twilight Zone episode would say, only from the perspective of the weird aliens from the surprise reveal. This is what it must have felt like for all those doctors with the weird faces when that one patient with the weird face freaked out because her face was weird.

He spends the whole episode threatening to tear his shirt, and he never gets around to it.

Swampy convinces Will and Tressa to leave, so that he may conserve his energy and try to save his life. He's bluffing, but Guthrie stays with him. Also it turns out Guthrie really is an alien, and a plant alien t'boot, and he's so sad to find that Earth is a planet of living meat that he surrenders his life force to repair Swamp Thing's arm and save his life.

I have to admit, I'd hoped this was going to be Swamp Thing of Two Worlds or a totally meta Moore/Veitch-esque story wherein Swamp Thing had to help make the next Swamp Thing by helping this Alec Holland burn, you know. Something lighthearted.

"He better not have gotten chlorophyll on my new finish!"

Monday, February 5, 2018


Micronauts vol.1 No. 42
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Gil Kane and Danny Bulandi
Letterer: Albers and Liefermann
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor:Al Milgrom
EIC: Jim Shooter Jim Shooter

Knave, Thy Name is Nemesis is a fantastic title for a comic which possesses one of my favorite covers of all time -- Micronauts wrecking a high-society cocktail party. I like the Class Warfare priorities of most superheroes. If they ever interrupt a party, it's usually a pretty high-class affair. You never seen Spider-Man and the Juggernaut blow through a church bake sale or barbecue on a Brooklyn apartment balcony. Eat the rich, you guys.

The Death Squad hasn't shown up for
months but they keep getting cameos...
Inside the book, it appears that we're intending to go all in on this business of having Devil wrestle with an increasingly savage nature. He runs through the dense, over-sized foliage of our world, looking to eat birds. The thing is -- Birds sing! And music makes Devil calm down again! So ... congratulations, birds, you are safe from what is plainly becoming a housecat that someone left outside too much. Birds will live forever!

I am enjoying how Kane has given up on trying to make the previous Devil design work, and has just made a magenta tiger-man out of him. This is as opposed to that fat, awkward, big-headed thing that had a face like the way that one vampire had a face when he was a cat in What We Do In The Shadows. Was that a sufficiently incoherent description of Devil's earlier design? Yes? Good, or I don't care, either way, really. I don't like this character.

In fact, we're in one of the cool-down scenes between crises, a rewarding pause in the book's often-frantic pace which I typically enjoy immensely. I don't know if Devil introducing the segment puts me in a sour mood, or if something really is missing in this one, but it played flat.

Arcturus Rann and Mari are at the core of the problem. Despite having been united as allies and lovers over the course of the last 41 issues, their relationship has not only failed to grow but to descend into insipid simplicity. Here's the entirety of their conversation as they play among the roses:

"Marionette, I do love you!"
"And I you, Arcturus!"
"I've longed to hold you -- feel your heart beating against mine!"
"No, Arcturus! Don't!"
"It's not right -- not now!"
"Stop gliding away from me! What's not right?!"
"To be in love -- to be so happy --"
This is the only romance less robust than Mari and Rann's.
I assume you know who said which line. These two characters should be at a point where their relationship is beginning to pay dividends, but nothing doing. If nothing else, the last three-and-a-half years of world-building has revealed to them new and challenging realizations -- Rann is, indeed, part-divine as well as distantly related to Marionette through their shared royal lineage. Marionette is increasingly driven towards the liberation of Homeworld not for the cause of freedom as much as to avenge a great betrayal on the part of her brother. This is stuff that should be explored, but the love affair has stalled narratively. Disappointing.

Anyway, speaking of love, Acroyear reflects of Cilicia and all he has lost with the destruction of Spartak, and Bug ponders the long-lost Jasmine -- and Janet Van Dyne? Yep, images of Janet Van Dyne -- an "insectivorid-type" mind, according to Bug -- plague Bug and instill in him a warning of terrible danger. And, believe it or not, this makes Rann jealous because he thought HE was the only guy on the team with telepathic powers.

"Sproing" indeed
The issue never really steps into overdrive, with the Micronauts eventually rushing to the aid of Van Dyne at her nearby garden party, which has been interrupted by the villainous Doctor Nemesis. I remember this character, I owned the comic he was in when I was a kid, and I remember the vague details about him which were covered in the comic. He is, nonetheless, unremarkable and kind of forgettable. I think I only remembered him because his costume is awful. I dunno, you can look the guy up, we got an internet for this stuff.

Wasp flies around for most of the adventure with her clothes off, which is a thing I think happened fairly often with the character, and I don't feel like blaming Mantlo for it. Kane's naked women never seem exploitative (to my eyes, anyway), since they look so much like figure studies. He draws women like great painters have painted them (We'll come around to that again with issue 44). PS Bug gets an erection and we see it. 

Wasp does a solid five on dressing in a napkin.

Doctor Nemesis' stolen adamantium shrinking suit (don't care, won't explain) goes haywire and sends him shrinking into the Microverse -- taking all the cool Micronauts with him! Marionette, Bug and Acroyear vanish before the eyes of Arcturus Rann, who is caught between the shock that his oldest friends and the woman he loves have seemingly been destroyed, and the dread realization that he's gonna hafta bunk with Nanotron and Devil for the rest of the arc.
Lettercol! One writer complains that the new Direct Market plan makes it impossible for him to keep up on Micronauts (and he does it in precisely the same petulant "ho hum I guess you don't want my money oh well" attitude you hear on modern message boards, which is interesting), which leads to the hasty inclusion of a dashed-off subscription coupon in the book. Don't miss out!

Thursday, February 1, 2018


Kaleidoscope of Fear
(w/a Ernie Colon)

How absolutely terrific to come across a piece of Ernie Colon art which I hadn't seen before. It's odd that, despite The Grim Ghost and Amethyst, plus a healthy portfolio of assorted adventure and horror stories which leaked from his pen, he's still most closely associated with the Harvey Comics stable. Colon's Richie Rich popped, that's for sure, but it's hard to argue that the man found his stride in other genres.

Such as sci-fi, particularly sci-fi which features dumb-as-hell space-FBI men from the future!

Young Jason Jones is testing his new radio-controlled toy airplane down by the power lines. I write that sentence hoping that the inherently unwise decision would be obvious on the face of things, but there's always gonna be some guy who says "Power lines? Listen, in my day, we played around the power lines all day and it didn't do me a lick of harm. I am magnetic and can attract metal objects from a thousand feet away at bullet-like speed, but I'm fine. And speaking of which, whatever happened to Lawn Darts? Nothing wrong with a lawn dart! I haven't seen one of those since I had my pancreas badly punctured by one. Didn't do me a lick of harm! Damn our PC culture..."

N ... no, obviously not, Jason.

Anyway, Jason drives his RC Plane right into the power lines, causing an explosion which allows the glassine and vicious Kaleids into our universe. Dedicated to the destruction of mankind, the Kaleids have come back in time to kill important human beings before they achieve their greatness. Luckily, in hot pursuit are the frankly-not-that-bright Evard and Nor, agents of the futuristic equivalent of the FBI. They have super-strength and laser guns, two things I personally would rather that the FBI did not have. What they do not have is a working time ship, since theirs crashed when it landed on our Earth. And it needs some sort of copper wire to effect repairs. OH WHOA WHERE CAN WE GET COPPER WI oh what's that Jason, you know where there's a Hobby Lobby? We're saved!

During his errand, Jason is nearly shot by a sniper. The bullet claims the life of Officer Kelly, while Jason is saved by a futuristic device loaned to him by Nor and Evard: The Time-Static Inducer! I know, it means nothing to me, either.

The "gag" was he just fired a rifle at him.
Much of the subsequent thousand panels of this strip (the Wham-O series tended for density) is spent re-writing time and space in order to save Kelly, only to find out that Kelly wasn't actually all that important in the grand scheme of things and easn't likely the Kaleids' target! Who is? Probably the only other human being in the strip, but Nor and Evard take some time before Future Googling "Jason Jones," and finding out that he was destined to be an important astronaut. I mean, not so important that Nor and Evard recognized his name, but important enough I guess ...

The last caption promises great things for young Jason. "More great days are in store for Jason Jones -- chosen by fate to play a major part in the future of the world -- and beyond!" Still waitin', Jason, put your foot on it.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


With superhero television programs blowing up in the last few years, recaps of superhero television shows have become all the internet rage. Other sites, however, are hobbled by the need to cover shows which have been "recently broadcast" or which are "any good at all." But who covers the uncoverable? That's why Gone&Forgotten chooses to cover the 1991-1993 USA Network live-action Swamp Thing television series in a feature I used to like to call a dumb pun kind of title, but I've run out of those, so I just call it ...

This episode of Swamp Thing turns out to be something of an endurance test, on account of how we spend most of the episode watching a pair of shrill, pampered Mean Girls fail to die in the depths of the swamp. Oh, and also Will learns a lesson about coddling up to the rich and powerful.

We're introduced to Hillary Matthews (Kimberly Stephenson) and Ashley-Dane Lansbury (Christie Lynn Smith), two characters who could change names with their performers and no one would even think twice about it. I have no idea what the quantitative difference is between a Hillary Matthews and a Kimberly Stephenson, either one of those could be the fictional character. This is some Black Mirror material we're onto here, folks, keep a hold of your hats ...

Settle down, ladies!
The young women in question are on a field trip with the rest of their academy of perpetually uncomfortable looking girls. They're on a trip to the scenic mud-waller of Houma as a reward for doing very well in a contest about Walden, I believe. Maybe "Wall-E." I heard "Walden," but it's a crapshoot. Anyway, what a prize!

The evening before they leave for their trip, Ashley climbs a muddy cliff in the dark so as to steal naturally-growing diarrhea daisies which she intends to stuff into the breakfast meal of their chaperone, Miss Bartholamew [sic] (Annabelle Weenick), and knock her down with a case of the green apple splatters. This causes Miss Bartholamew [sic] to become [sick], leaving the girls on their own. Most of the class bails on the exciting boat tour of Louisiana toilet plateaus, but Ashley and Hillary still want to go -- they have a SECRET!

Swamp Blossoms
The secret is that they're stealing into the swamp so as to perform a magical ritual called something like the Test of ... A Ball? Test of Shuballba. Shebulba. She-Bop. Kabong. Something like that. The ritual -- which has to be performed in the middle of a got-dang swamp for some reason that I'm sure these privileged suburban kids know -- grants the users their greatest desires. Hillary wants Jason Preistly, Ashley wants a Fulbright Scholarship. Well, start concentrating your education towards the promotion of international good will through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture, and science, young lady! And as for you, Hillary ... look, we all want Jason Priestly. But does Jason Priestly want us?

At some point in the episode, Swamp Thing decides that he'd like to pull some pranks on these spoiled brats, so as to teach them about how you shouldn't trust a swamp monster or whatever. It seems that the young ladies are products of wealthy, influential homes. Hillary's dad is a Senator who gleefully takes advantage of the Unions. Unsurprisingly, they spend whatever time they don't spend complaining about the swamp insulting Will instead for being redneck trash. Yeah, well, The truth is, they could use a good scaring -- may I suggest a close-up view of a guillotine?

But Swampy is as much interested in teaching Will a lesson as the girls. He explains that the young women are the daughters of influential people, and will one day inherit those privileges, so they must be guided and shaped into responsible adults. "Terrifying them in the swamp" appears to be the primary pedagogical tool in hand, but he also keeps trying to get Will on board his tres Bougie after-school special.

Painstakingly capped at the moment of pretend vomit.

Will just can't see past his jealousy of the nice life those wealthy girls have and, in its way, isn't that just as much an injustice as ::literally opens any copy of any newspaper from the last twenty years to absolutely any page and randomly points to a lone paragraph which inevitably underlines a significantly and objectively greater injustice::, ne pas?

The means for scaring these nitwits straight is to taunt them with the story of a loose maniac named Bill Jo Tillman and a lot of wind, which I still maintain is Swamp Thing farting. They also do some grade-A Christian Haunted House gags, like dragging Will into the swamp by his feet and rustling bushes, probably to underline the dangers of, uh, hip-hop music or something. I am drifting off at this point.

Occult campfires!

Oh, I should mention that I think the actresses are fine, by the way. The script is a deep-fried turd wrapped in poop-flavored panko, but they're doing all right. Kid actors, you know, they do all right. As good as anyone else on this show.

So, after dragging Will through the shrubs and farting on them, Swamp Thing mostly just hovers in the bushes as the girls grow increasingly despairing and bedraggled. This might be a turn on for the perverted old turnip, now as I think about it. Maybe this is how Swamp Thing gets off. Will shouldn't have to get lectured by a kinky succulent.

The girls do eventually grow so disconsolate and forlorn in the swamp that they give voice to their greatest regrets. Ashley learns about not taking shortcuts and promises not to keep stealing vodka from the freezer and filling it back up with water which is a thing you cannot do because it will cause the contents to freeze solid. This is why we need to bring back Drunk Mentorships in America's high schools. Put an end to rookie mistakes like that. OH, and Ashley said something about hugging her brothers and sisters more often so, hats off, Swamp Thing, these kids are ready to run the nation!

Heather is such a huge idiot that she originally tried to use one of those trees as a weapon. 

Still, Swampy is really short-shrifting these girls. The last group of swamp wanderers he wanted to teach a lesson, he had holograms and time travel! These girls get gas and leeches. And when you think about the return on investment ... I mean, Ryson was still a killer, but these girls develop survival skills because they became maybe three percent less selfish? A hologram might've knocked 'em over to five percent!

Actually, we ultimately know that the girls have learned the lesson because, when Swampy and Will are making it seem like Billy Jo Tillman is approaching them from behind a bush, Ashley knows to use a branch on the ground as a bludgeon instead of ripping a branch off a live tree and using that as a bludgeon. Passed with flying colors!

I dunno. Will reveals it was all a gag, Ashley finds an opportunity to mention that her hero is Florence Henderson (???), then the episode ends with Swamp Thing deciding that Will didn't learn the lesson he was supposed to learn, so he starts using the Billy Jo Tillman laugh and the swamp farts on Will, cut to credits.

On the plus side, Will was doing his comedy sidekick routine with Durock's Swamp Thing, and that's been pretty welcome since "Dead & Married." And I guess this episode said something important about the Upper Class, which is "they don't learn much and who cares if they did anyway?"

"Alec, is that you? I can smell you."

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Monday, January 29, 2018


Micronauts vol.1 No.41 (Apr 1982)
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artists: Gil Kane and Danny Bulandi
Letterer: Novak & Albers
Colorist: Sharen & Warfield
Editor: Al Milgrom
EIC: Jim Shooter

I admit it; that cover gives me an erection. I don’t know if I realized that I harbored such a desire to see Acroyear is sword-on-sword combat with the powerhouses of the Marvel Universe amidst a flaming background of dramatic Gil Kane-drawn heads, but I do. Also, please notice that even Kane has no idea what Devil’s design is supposed to be so he just gives him a much better one and moves on with his life …

The Micronauts check in with The Endeavor, hidden in the sewers beneath the Baxter Building, only to find it imperiled by torrential rainwater! In fact, the subsequent flooding claims the Micronaut’s ship. As it takes on water, Bug and Microtron hurry to load the crew’s essential supplies into the compact Astrostation. A sudden swell floods the hatch, Microtron is drawn underwater and it’s Bug who promptly leaps to the roboid’s rescue. After tense minutes, however, Microtron surfaces, bearing the waterlogged and unconscious – but otherwise healthy -- Bug.

I described the above without any gags or exaggeration for a reason, but hold on a second …

Meanwhile, why am I delaying the good stuff? The Endeavor is swept under the waves, the final reminder of Arcturus Rann’s life as an explorer for the glory of Homeworld. This leaves the tight confines of the Astrostation to transport our heroes to Castle Doom, the place which Ben Grimm of the Fantastic Four had suggested as an incredibly irresponsible solution to the Micronauts’ problem. Yes, Ben, perhaps they should seek some sort of assistance from your greatest enemy who lives in an impenetrable castle halfway around the world in the loose hope that he might be working on some sort of device to send the Micronauts home anyway? Don’t you have Hank Pym’s number?

Back on Homeworld, Duchess Belladonna wiggles her borrowed body into the throneroom of Force Commander, the now-whackadoo Prince Argon. The newly-re-minted Duchess literally proposes a cunning plan to Argon – get hitched and rule the Microverse together! Argon agrees, but boy is he a terrible jackass about it.

For the most part he’s willing to go through with it, if only because he feels that the sight of Slug (the former resistance leader whose body now houses Belladonna) wed to the tyrant of Homeworld will shatter the Resistance’s morale. The other reason he’s laffin’ about it is HE IS NOW PINK SLUSHIE. Argon is pure energy now, whose dreams of power go far beyond human comprehension. He will still take time to belittle you, though, that kind of petty managerial power never goes out of style.

While Argon screws his helmet back on, we pan down to the dungeons. There, we find Prince Pharoid and the body of Duchess Belladonna, imprisoned. But wait – that’s Slug in Belladonna’s body! Why?! I would have thought they’d just kill the body donor, or kill the old body, or whatever. It’s a clear security breach.

Getting into Castle Doom is, naturally, a bit of a plastic hassle. They get in after Acroyear proves his bona fides by headbutting a wall into not existing, definitively. From here on out, the book is mostly a sequel to an episode from John Byrne’s impressive run on Fantastic Four, specifically issue No.236. We’re in a town of tiny robot duplicates of a bunch of a people, built by Phillip “Puppet-Master” Masters, previously used by Doom to kill his foes AS HE WILL, thanks for sending the Micronauts here, Ben.

I have limited interest in the sequel elements of the story, because they really don’t belong to the Micronauts in any substantive way. This story is a battle between Puppet Master and Doctor Doom for control of Liddelville, a prize which I suppose is worth having … if you’re really into H/O scale trainsets and such, you know. God, I hope Doom is into trainsets.

The Micronauts largely serve as handy receptacles for exposition, and to draw fire whenever Doom gets fancy. Among the many instruments of warfare launched at the Micronauts by Doom, I have to admit some fondness for the “Surface-to-Air Doombots,” which is lovely phrasing. I hope Mantlo came up with that one.

It's a playset.
The cover teased a fight between my man Ayo and the baddest mother in the Marvel Universe, and it delivers – if briefly. I can’t help but imagine that a version of this same story now, in the age of uncompressed storytelling, this fight would talk more than a full issue to resolve As it is we get about four pages and, rather than gas on about it – you wanna see?

That's pretty much the end. I almost changed allegiance when Doom burned Devil, especially after he called him out for that dumb catchphrase. Doom’s got his good qualities too, you know.

Speaking of Devil, the big pink Tropican who’s been awkwardly failing to fit into the team for the last several months, ends up asking an interesting question: “What is there for a poor Devil to do among the Micronauts!”

Well, buddy, let me tell you.

The answer is nothing. Devil has been around for nine issues at this point, and it’s impossible to say what role he fills on the team. He’s a physical powerhouse, but Acroyear already fills that role. He’s mechanically inclined (for some reason), but that’s what Microtron’s here for. He’s a sexist jerk to Marionette, which is nobody’s job but it’s just gross, plus he always calls her “my lady,” so that’s another point in the “L” column. Oh, and the text refuses to refer to him as anything except a jester, despite the fact that he never says or does anything funny.

And, of course, the Micronauts already have a jester who is funny, unpredictable, physically comedic and a good and loyal fighter to boot – Bug! Some work had previously been done to create tension in the team by having Devil and Acroyear grow closer as Bug felt more shut-out. I would bet that the reason it hasn’t manifested as a full plot device at this point is that it makes no sense – particularly after a previous issue regaled the reader with the story of Bug’s and Acroyear’s battle-bred bond.

Devil’s personality has two settings: complaining and boring everyone while he rattles on about his own abilities. He is the Ignatius J.Reilly of the Microverse. Which could also work, but he’s not a comedic character – his appearance alone is so intimidating that the comedy options are limited.

Gosh, yeah, what could any guy
possibly want with her?
And let’s talk about that look: The magenta is of a whole different palette than the other Micronauts, his loincloth is absolutely nonsensical, and there’s an uncanny valley element to his face which is just never addressed.

But the absolutely galling thing about Devil is that he had a perfectly scripted exit just sitting there. When his eternal partner, Fireflyte, whose soft music could quell Devil’s raging animal nature, was reunited with the Enigma Force – that was when Devil should’ve fucked off, narratively speaking. He contained no mystery for the readers to unravel, at that point – it’s not a matter of asking “will he revert to his savage nature without the soothing influence of Fireflyte,” because we already know that the answer is “Yes, he will, we just said as much.”

That would have also been a perfect arc for Devil, whose race – when we first met him -- had devolved into a culture obsessed with play and deliberately kept in an infantile state of unearned contentment. When Fireflyte leaves, Devil and his entire race must now contend with an uncertain future and an existence in which happiness must be earned, and the darkness in one’s soul must be contended with instead of avoided.

Instead, he’s hanging out here, sleeping on the Endeavor’s couch and eating Acroyear’s leftover hoagie from the fridge while standing over the sink. Up above, I described a scene where Bug tries to save Microtron from drowning but is saved instead. That scene works because it plays around with all sorts of irony and tension; Bug is a cynical wiseass who acts unconcerned and lackadaisical. But when one of his teammates is in danger, he leaps to the rescue despite having to submerge himself in water, which his race despises. At some point, he loses consciousness and is himself rescued, tagging the conclusion to that scene not only with relief but with humor, to reassure the readership that the status quo hasn’t been changed and Bug had enough dignity stripped away so as to continue being a cynical sass-pants.

That scene wouldn’t work with Devil because there’d be nothing to build from. He already jumped into a raging torrent to save Bug, we know he’d help Microtron. If Microtron ended up saving Devil, it wouldn’t be a funny scene, because Devil wouldn’t have preceded the danger with flippancy. There wouldn’t be a satisfying symmetry in the conclusion.

You can try that out with any really good scene in this series – put Devil into one of the roles and see if it plays the same way, if the necessary elements are even conceivably there. Can you imagine Devil fighting Doom up there, complaining the whole time about how he used to just sleep all day on Tropica? Where would be the tension and the anticipation? What are his character traits and how do they shine in conflict? Man, I’m sorry, I love this book, but Devil is uniformly awful.

Also his catchphrase is so stupid.

ANYway. Puppet Master uses the confusion and fire to take control of Doom’s tiny robot body, during which time the Micronauts, quickly and without comment, fuck right off because not one whit of that was their bees-wax. Good fight, though!

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