Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Monday, July 9, 2018

MICRONAUTS MONDAY: X-MEN AND THE MICRONAUTS NO.2 - INTO THE ABYSS!


The X-Men and the Micronauts vol.1 No.2
Writer: Bill Mantlo/Chris Claremont
Artist: Butch Guice / Bob Wiacek & Kelley Jones
Letterer: Michael Higgins
Colorist: Julianna Ferriter
Editor: Bob Budiansky
EIC: Jim Shooter

Mantlo's 11-and-one-half pages of scripting launches this issue, with the Micronauts awakening into a "realm of nightmare." Excepting Karza and Bioship -- who had escaped to Earth in the previous issue -- the remaining Micronauts find themselves subjected to torments created by the seemingly all-powerful Entity, who is evil Professor X even though they haven't said as much yet. I've admittedly read ahead, but it wasn't exactly subtle ...

"No -- not cucking!"
In the "realm of nightmare," the 'Nauts are being put through a reality-bending wringer. Bug is transformed into an actual bug-like creature which, for all I know, is actually good for his people. That might be what they're hoping for. "Even MORE of a bug? I'll TAKE it!" Acroyear discovers that the child carried by his former lover Cilicia was actually fathered by his albino usurper brother Shaitan (in the hallucination, anyway). I kind of think it's heavily implied that Fireflyte is raped by zombies (!!), Huntarr just cries about it, and Marionette is turned into a real marionette except a person, like how Kim Cattrall was a mannequin in that one movie, Porky's. Oh, and Rann just fails everyone again which is a harsh thing to say but I'm right.

The Micronauts bow and break under the pressure, becoming the Entity's devoted servants. Of course, he has all the power in the universe, so he could have just made them do that at first. I guess he had evil Professor X stuff to do before all of that.

(Speaking of which -- and I suppose I'll have a better opportunity to discuss this with the next issue, since I read ahead even though I know I'm not supposed to do that -- but Professor X has some deeeeeeeeply disturbing proclivities lurking around the cesspools of his mind. I know the contrivance in comics is that EVERYONE harbors ALL the evils known to mankind in the backs of their skulls but, here's a counter-argument: Maybe actually not? Maybe it's insane to suggest that, had they access to all the power in the universe, that one would destroy lives and planets for amusement? Maybe Professor X needs to step down, is what I'm saying, in favor of another leader who doesn't want to do what the Entity tries to do to Kitty Pryde next issue or so ...)

Not that picky, all things being equal ...
The Entity decks his enslaved Micronauts out in X-Men uniforms, and they'll come back around to fight Karza and the X-Men in a few pages. In the interim, this unhappy alliance has arrived on Homeworld, where the X-Men somehow just begin to figure out that Karza's a steel-plated shitheel.

Nonetheless, they Dr.Doom around with him, as you have to do when you're a superhero in the Marvel Universe. Yes, all of the bad guys are insanely bad and evil, but also we have to compromise our ethics and work with them. We gotta hang out with Magneto here, grab-ass with Namor there, mom says we gotta take Loki with us to the mall, etc etc.

Karza is perhaps a little over the edge, because the character from the git-go was a venal, power-mad brute who has literally ended worlds' worth of populations, and recently he'd dedicated himself to the very creed embraced by The Entity -- cruelty for the sake of proving that you have the power to be cruel. Perhaps I'm over-influenced by the current political climate, but it's hard to get around the scene where the X-Men reluctantly align with Karza. Surely there'd be a natural boundary of ideology too onerous to cross -- they don't team up with the Hate Monger, do they?

Anyway, Karza is still trapped in Kitty Pryde's body and Pryde in Karza's, although she's mentally dominated while she's trapped in his armor. Karza makes a play for the X-Men to leave Kitty behind, which is exactly the point I'm trying to make about how he's too evil to team up with -- "Tell you what, you've just learned that I took this universe by force and killed millions, how about you leave your fourteen year-old pal with me while you're in another dimension, okay?"

Keeping up appearances, Karza must teleport his body and armor back to his stronghold on Homeworld. You might think this would have led to Kitty Pryde having cool adventures as death-emperor of a twilight universe, but Karza uses his mental powers to make her shut up and stay still. So that's fun.

I forgot to mention that Bioship died. Heroically.
Bioship brings the X-Men to the Entity's realm, where they discover a recreation of their home at the School for Gifted Youngsters -- only much bigger! So, inside, it becomes a fight between the large Micronauts dressed as X-Men and tiny X-Men dressed as themselves. They naturally lose to the Entity, leading Butch to drop a masterful splash page outta nowhere, and Karza is shocked back to his body and armor - or is he!? He is not, I don't know why I led you on like that -- but it appears that he has, anyway.

Next issue: I am somewhat despairing of how this series is going. Let's see what the next issue does for me! And here's Guice killin' it ...

Damn, Butch...


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Monday, July 2, 2018

MICRONAUTS MONDAY: X-MEN AND THE MICRONAUTS NO.1 - FIRST ENCOUNTER


The X-Men and the Micronauts vol.1 No.1
Writer: Bill Mantlo/Chris Claremont
Artist: Butch Guice / Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Michael Higgins
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Bob Budiansky
EIC: Jim Shooter

Briefly sidelining the final three issues of the original run of The Micronauts, the crossover limited series with one of Marvel's premiere teams (and, let's say for argument and acknowledging the era, THE premiere superhero team of the day) debuts. The X-Men and the Micronauts will run four issues, be scripted in a tag-team fashion by the powerhouse team of Chris Claremont and Bill Mantlo, and be okay but kind of disappointing.

One of the elements which
Mantlo was sure to keep
was the blunt depiction
of the casualties
of conflict ...
The oddest quality of the series is that it adopts something of a lighthearted, anything-goes type of tone, while the actual events of the book are skeeeeeeeeevy as a motherfucker. And motherfuckers are, indeed, the skeeviest known creatures to have ever trod the Earth. So you know how skeevy that must be, then. Mantlo and Claremont literally scripting eleven-and-a-half pages of each issue makes for an interesting experiment but it lacks the permissive but disciplined guiding hand of either creator.

This is also the story which introduced me to the Micronauts, by way of the Marvel UK reprint tabloids I lucked upon as a weeyin. I've been waiting most of my life to fill in the blanks...

The book opens with a scenario so unlikely, given the assorted arcs of the Micronauts series so far, that it even becomes difficult to accept given Karza's abandonment of his plans for godhood. Instead, he and the Micronauts have teamed up to battle a mysterious entity named "The Entity," because whoever named characters that day was out with a stomach virus. The Entity lives for destruction and has been shredding the Microverse and its many worlds, or so we're informed amidst Karza sending Homeworld's legions against The Entity and the Micronauts directing the strategic aspect of the fight. It's hard to buy.

They also don't do a great job. The Entity possesses power on an unimaginable scale, and he defeats the invading force of Micronauts, disabling most of the team for the first issue. Karza and Bioship escape, choosing to flee into the Macroverse from which they've detected the Entity first emerged. Also, I think at this point we already saw Xavier, in an older issue of The X-Men, wearing this armor? So, you know ... most of us can see where this is going.

"Hi, my name is Some Evil Personality Escaped From Charles Xavier's Mind."
Nonetheless, Bioship and Karza arrive at the Xavier School, promptly scuffling with several New Mutants (Cannonball, Wolfsbane, Magik and Mirage) and, more importantly, the X-Men who will ultimately be joining the series (Colossus, Kitty Pryde, Nightcrawler, Storm and Wolverine). One of the odd aspects of the comic is that Wolverine is pushed to the background, despite already being one of Marvel's new rising stars. Kitty Pryde gets much more attention... 

And pants.
Speaking of whom: It's Kitty who defeats Karza, the tyrant having just mangled the New Mutants and held off the X-Men with aplomb, despite their greater skills. Kitty -- still going by the codename "Ariel" if that happens to send you back to the tarpits of nostalgia -- phases through Karza, intending to disrupt his armor. Instead, she switches minds with him, trapped in the despot's armor and psionically kept mute by a shocked and frantically planning Karza. Also, half of this is written by Claremont, so I hate to see where Kitty's going to end up in this scenario ...

I wanted to make sure to post this hilarious
panel of Sunspot getting his ass kicked by
a surprisingly large hand.
It's unusual to see the Micronauts written as straightforward superheroes, but that's what the series requires of them (and, in fact, is a better excuse for not doing the crossover in the main series than the one given, being a matter of scheduling. Imagine the Micronauts acting like Spider-Man and Thor in the pages of their own book). Instead of having ideological motives in defeating a conqueror, the Micronauts are sorts-of saviors of the universe, protecting it from harm. It's a bit of an extrapolation.

The first issue of the limited series acts as an introduction to the Micronauts for X-Men readers. The X-Men/New Mutants who show up are multitude, but they bypass introduction because it's obviously presumed that the readers will know them on sight. I'm curious as to why they would try to make the two markets meet, since the Micronauts is one of Marvel's Direct Market titles, and the X-Men are still newsstand. If a kid liked the Micronauts, he couldn't find 'em at Safeway.

The story ends with the X-Men joining a remote-controlled Karza and the BioShip as they shrink to itsy-bitsy size to find and rescue the Micronauts, and defeat the Entity, who is clearly some evil projection of Charles Xavier's mind. I mean, I may as well mention that, right? It'll be the big reveal around issue three or so, I presume...

God, I wish Wolfsbane didn't talk.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Monday, June 25, 2018

MICRONAUTS MONDAY: MARVEL AGE NO.7


Marvel Age vol.1 No. 7
"A look at the creation of a Limited Series by Sandy Hausler"
Writer: Sandy Hausler
Artist: Butch Guice & Bob Wiacek, Paul Smith, Kelley Jones, plus inkers, colorists and so on...
Editor: Jim Salicrup
EIC: Jim Shooter

Here's a little diversion as we step away from the mainstream Micronauts title for a few entries. The X-Men/Micronauts cross-over limited series hits the stands around this time, right after the status quo has changed for the Micronauts crew. After a mirth-devoid Assistant Editor's Month, Rann has rejoined the active members of the crew, Karza has abandoned his plans for godhood and chooses instead mortal cruelty, and Mari and Bug are fucking.

It's a decent time to throw a massive crossover into the works, and it doesn't hurt that it's with the top-selling Marvel property of the time. The early X-Men crossovers were weird -- they worked up to butting heads with The Fantastic Four and the Avengers, and started off with Alpha Flight, the Micronauts and Crazy Magazine's Obnoxio the Clown. That was less than a year after Wolverine had been in his much-acclaimed miniseries, if you can believe it.

Before the miniseries, though, Marvel's in-house hype mag Marvel Age gave the impending crossover a three-page article, and some of the content is interesting. For instance, apparently the story had originally been planned as a crossover in the main books ...


Plotting for the series was literally split between the two writers -- Mantlo scripted 11.5 pages of the story, while Claremont would script the other half of the book, and they'd switch halves for each subsequent issue. That sounds like an immensely fun way to write a book, but ... well, I've read it and ... we'll get to that, I suppose.

Editor Bob Budiansky was making major contributions to the book at the end of the scripting back-and-forth, and Guice was challenged with making it all work visually. This is hard work even for the artist whom Mantlo asserts in the interview is "Another Michael Golden." That's high praise and not exactly accurate, but it's nice of Bill to say so.

Guice makes some comparisons between each books' characters which says a lot more about the uniformity of superhero silhouettes than it does these specific figures:



Bill reveals his mantra and his goal as an author, which is charming as hell:



Following that is a brief reference to some upcoming additional Mantlo/Claremont collaborations which, predictably enough, won't materialize as planned. Claremont is about to become the sole author of two monthly titles and an alternating collection of limited series and graphic novels which will make him probably the biggest writer of an entire decade. Mantlo, meanwhile, is launching a genuine labor of love by way of Swords of the Swashbucklers, in addition to Spectacular Spider-Man, the yet-upcoming Cloak and Dagger, Hulk and, of course, RON: SPACEKNIGHT



They do make a reference to a Magneto Limited Series on which the pair of writers had been working, which didn't come together. I do believe elements of it, at the very least, must have eventually ended up in Mantlo's Vision and the Scarlet Witch, one of my absolute favorite stories in Marvel history. 

The article ends with Bill talking about how much he loves working for Marvel, which is the way these articles tend to end, but which is also very sweet. Also covered in this issue of Marvel Age, by the way: The New Defenders, upcoming new Spaceknights and the ROM annual, Barry Windsor-Smith's Machine Man series, the Falcon, Marvel Tails, and some professional inkers giving life to some amateur sample pencils. Helluva time for Marvel comics, really, helluva time ...

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Monday, June 4, 2018

MICRONAUTS MONDAY: 56 - THE CONQUEST OF KALIKLAK!



Micronauts vol.1 No.56
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Butch Guice / Kelly Jones & Sam Grainger
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Bob Harras
EIC: Jim Shooter

It;s Assistant Editor Month, which means that the whackiest shit is gonna happen! Except in this book, not accounting for a fumetti comic in which Bob Harras accidentally destroys by way of an an atomic accident. I can't remember if we're supposed to care if Bob Harras explodes or if instead there are ::waves indistinctly:: issues and we're good with him exploding. I forget which editors groped who or pretended to be what other ethnicity or what-ever-else gross thing they apparently did to deserve being exploded, I guess is what I'm trying to say. I think I just didn't like the new 52 or something? Anyway, I checked, it doesn't appear that he groped anyone. Why the hell am I talking so much about groping all of sudden? I can't believe this entry went off the rails in the first paragraph.

Anyway, he blew up.


Everyone who reads this blog is old enough to remember the Maine so I don't think I have to explain Assistant Editors Month. If I do, here it is: The editors all went to San Diego together, leaving the assistants in charge. Most books took this opportunity to do some funny (or "funny") or inventive, but Micronauts has stories to tell! Let's go!

Bug suggests that the Micronauts -- currently operating without a home base -- set their sights on Kaliklak, his home world. Although Karza's forces had killed his people's previous queen, her successor is about to be born! This is a chance for rallying the Kaliklakians around a cause, and to give the rebellion an army as well as a headquarter.

I heard it's raining men.
PS, the issue before last they liberated Prisonworld from Karza's forces and unleashed a planet full of political prisoners on the universe. I have no idea where those guys are or why they can't -- or wouldn't! -- use Prisonworld as their new HQ. They have an army, they have access to Karza's armory. They don't have very long memories, I guess. Anyway. I'm no Bob Harras or anything, but it seems to me that they missed an opportunity. Or Prisonworld was stupid and Mantlo's trying to help us forget it.

On Kaliklak, they find the planet under the assault of Karza's "Bug Bombs" -- giant all-consuming beetle monsters about the size of a Labrador. They also invade BioShip, pitting the Micronauts against creepy insects -- Rann and Fireflyte absolutely destroy any they come into contact with. Huntarr forgets to do any fighting. Why do they always have to have one team member I can't stand?

Acroyear, Huntarr, Bug and Mari go planetside, visiting Bug's gang's old hideout. There, they're ambushed by Bug's old pals, and they meet Mattressback (I mean "Treehopper"), the younger sister of Bug's deceased girlfriend Jasmine who just starts making out with him without actually being sure that she recognized him. I guess she was carrying a torch.

This causes problems for Mari. The character they insist on calling "Warrior Woman" (that does not have legs) had planned to keep intimately close to Bug on this trip in order to stick it to Rann, who is still on the ship. How he woulda known, I don't know, because he is currently meditating as a post-collegiate level.

Rann is back in the Time Temple, pleading his case one more time to the Time Travelers. Karza is also begging them for the power to put the Microverse in "order" of some sort.  Now. At this moment,had you been reading this book as it came out originally, I am confident that this next scene would have exposed to you the reality that Mantlo is leaving. The next scene should have been at least a full issue, but Bill's clearly emptying out the idea drawer before it's time to hand the book off.

It's just a reskin, settle down.

Pledging impartiality but not inaction, the Time Travelers gift both Rann and Karza with the ultimate power -- the power of the Enigma Force, and of Captain Universe! I still think the "Captain Universe" portion of the Enigma Force is unnecessary, but it's exciting to see the different visuals. Karza's black armor turns opalescent, and Rann gets the version of the Captain Universe costume that doesn't have a mouth-and-nose hole, which is the better version by far.

Transformed, they come to realize that Enigma/Godhood would only place them above conflicts and questions of morality. For Rann, abandoning his humanity for godhood would be an abomination. For Karza, the abandonment of the desire for conquest is too high a price to pay for ultimate power. This ends with Rann getting ready to punch Karza, although by my reckoning he probably should have held on to his power long enough to curb Karza.

It should have been an arc of its own, but at least this confrontation establishes the next step for Karza's motivation: He gives up his quest for ultimate power and instead simply dedicates himself to evil brutality. He kicks the priests out of his palace and reveals that he's all human again under the armor...



For the rest of the book, we return to Kaliklak where Bug is leading the combined forces on a mission to save the new queen. The battle takes the alliance and the Battle-Beetles right to the hatching chamber of the new Queen, where the good guys unequivocally save the day. That's new for this book.



Even better, the Micronauts return to Bioship to find that Rann has rejoined them as Commander! Let's see where that goes! I think Marionette's social calendar is suddenly free.

On the way out, Guice gets to insert himself into a short comic in which he brags about killing Nanotron, among other things. Good for you, Butch, I'm on your side.


Lastly, in one scene of this issue, Karza was wearing a dressing gown and it must be captured for posterity.

"...but a nice dressing gown makes it seem so much better."

Monday, May 28, 2018

MICRONAUTS MONDAY: 55 - HUNTARR HUNTS ALONE!



Micronauts vol.1 No.55
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Butch Guice / Kelley Jones
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Ralph Macchio
EIC: Jim Shooter

We're off of Prisonworld, we're back to the battle with Karza, and in this issue -- Huntarr hunts alone! Okee-doke! Huntarr has done very little hunting up to this point in the series, so I'm glad he gets to justify his namesake.

The two-issue Prisonworld arc still feels a bit like a fever dream, but it happened. The generous side of my nature wants to assume that the two-issue arc was a product of editorial edict -- time for something lighthearted, don't you think? Something frivolous and clumsy and dumb, perhaps. Something to clear the palate between the Micronauts losing their latest battle against Karza and the pressures of the team. Speaking of which, Mari and Bug are fucking.


So, first off, I can happily confirm that Bug looks fucked-up as hell without his helmet on. They should never remove that thing. He should not have hair. I don't know why, but it's particularly disturbing. It makes him look sad and past middle age...

The suddenly carnal relationship between the two team members is portrayed very reasonably. There's no shock or scandal about it -- they're teammates who care very strongly for one another, and for one reason or another they are both denied the emotional and physical support of their loved ones. It feels really natural and reasonable -- what's she gonna do, try'n fuck Bioship? There's a limited number of dudes on this ship and her boyfriend's begging for quarters in the Phantom Zone. It's good writing, I'm really pleased with this direction. I'm sure it's being set up for a love triangle or something down the road, which is fine. Bring it on.

Huntarr, taking a dump.
Speaking of the Phantom Zone, Karza has managed to somehow infiltrate the Microverse's local ambiguous realm beyond dimensions -- The Time Temple! Karza is seeking a truce with the Time Travelers, which is unnecessary because they've been fuck-all as far as help goes recently. Nonetheless, Rann loses his temper and, by way of his clumsy attack, informs Karza as to the desperate state of the Micronauts' situation: They do not have the assistance of the Enigma Force. Good news for Karza, bad news for children and other living things...

Back on the ship, Bug takes a post-coital stroll and watches his pal Acroyear commit the Microversian equivalent of "Suicide by cop." Testing his skills against the little floating ball thing from the first Star Wars movie, A'yo almost allows himself to be murdered by holograms of his wife and brother. Bug saves him, and gives him a pep talk. All solved.

All right, the focus of this issue is Huntarr hunting alone, so let's get started -- because a lot happens. Shaping himself like a very destructive penis, Huntarr smashes some of Karza's orbital patrol vessels. He keeps this up until someone brightly decides to shoot him, which is all part of his plan. Plummeting to Homeworld, the indestructable Huntarr disguises himself as a  ... submarine fish? With the consistency of a banana? I don't think it'd really sunk in before this moment how much I dislike Huntarr's slightly amorphous, roughly-handled Play-Doh body. We can add that to the list of things I don't like about Huntarr (number one is that he looks like a naked guy wearing just socks).

His goal is his former home, in the slums of Homeworld. He recalls his sister, his mother, and his life as ... a male prostitute, I think?  It's revealed that Huntarr, when he was only lowly Iann-23, makes a habit of robbing rich clients who "bought his favors." Pretty sure he's a male prostitute. I don't know why I like this so much, except that it adds to the overall grittiness of Micronauts, and it's not an occupation you often see many heroes pick up in comics. Hell, they never even talk about how many ex-Robins make a living on Chaturbate now...

Huntarr reveals that he has lost track of his family, after the three of them were assaulted and kidnapped by Dog Soldiers. His mother still lives in the shitty apartment, but Body Bank experiments left her looking like a melting Muppet. She welcomes her boy back home by stabbing herself fatally in the gut, encouraging Huntarr to blow the whole shmear to hell. Yeah, family visits are tough.

Real quick, Lady Coral -- last survivor of Seazone -- is depicted watching all of this happen. She seems to be scouting for Huntarr as a new recruit to her personal rebellion, but I've read the last page and Huntarr actually accepts an official offer to join the Micronauts. So. This might pay off later.

Sure, sure, hey, home come your head
looks like a glans, mac?
There's another aside, in which Karza reveals that his visit to the Time Temple left him with doubts and insecurities -- as long as godlike power exists, he must have it! Mortal failings will be his undoing, as will saying all of this out loud to his treacherous chief scientist, DeGrayde! Also, I thought Karza was energy, but I guess that isn't a thing any more.

This gets so really gross. Huntarr's sister is a Breeder, which means that she's hooked up to an enormous Simon machine which "gives her babies." I don't want to know the details, even though the details are horribly obvious. There are also a bunch of cold, naked babies all over the floor. Huntarr kills some nuns. It all ends with Huntarr liberating the Breeders, but they've all gone nuts from their treatment, so they grab their babies and jump to their deaths. Then Huntarr blows everything up, yelling, which is almost literally everything he's done all issue. What a male prostitute he must have made.

Next issue, Kaliklak! Good! As far away from the Breeding Simon as possible, please!

Monday, May 21, 2018

MICRONAUTS MONDAY: 54 - MURDER-1!


Micronauts vol.1 No.54
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Butch Guice / Kelly (sic) Jones
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Ralph Macchio
EIC: Jim Shooter

Not with that posture you won't.
Some of the recent issues have given off the implication that Mantlo might be getting just a little bored with the Micronauts' universe (or, at the very least, with what he could do with the universe given that the book was still a licensed title, regardless of its Direct Market status). I say this for a couple of reasons. To begin with, some of the stories have involved a real info-dump in terms of the raw ideas which Mantlo's fertile imagination had designed for the Microverse, implying that he's wrapping things up. Secondly, the Prisonword arc is terrible.

A new editor sitting on two weird, possibly pointless issues suggests where the finger should actually be pointed. Ralph Macchio, you did not do good work here today.

The story picks up from last issue. The Micronauts Mob -- our stalwart heroes decked out in White Heat cosplay -- are battling the G-Men, mutated servants of Karza freshly emerged from the Body Banks.

The villains resemble the hated Death Squad in numbers and their assortment of unique powers. Unlike the Death Squad, I do not hate them on sight and also I don't think any of them have names. Nonetheless, backed up by Karza's dog soldiers, the G-Men square off against the Micronauts as follows:


  • Some sort of orange snakewoman fights Marionette. She can apparently spit an hallucinogenic venom which makes its target experience the terror of facing their greatest fear. This is the usual comic book hallucination stuff. Mari hallucinates Karza, but then figures out the score and stabs snakewoman through the heart. 
  • Little D, the leader of most of Prisonworld's mobs, takes on a bulky grey G-Man alongside Bug. They decisively throw their hulking opponent down some stairs, and are captured by Dog Soldiers promptly thereafter.
  • Huntarr beats up a pink G-Man whose powers I don't recall seeing in action. Maybe he was a walking eraser.
  • And Acroyear battles a head-butting green lizard, who has this really odd exchange after defeating the Spartak prince:



The remainder of the issue is a series of riots in different locations, and it'd be pointless to recount them all. During the penultimate riot, the Micronauts make the acquaintance of Murder-1, a tusked behemoth who falls platonically for the Princess and joins their side in this, the second most important of the many riots in this issue.

Having thrown his lot in with the Micronauts, he is tried alongside them at the hands of Karza's Tri-Bunal, which is idiotic and looks like this:

I want to pretend that this never happened.

Both Murder-1 and the Tri-Bunal once again feel like very early Alan Moore ideas, some classic 2000AD stuff. They feel like slightly more sensitive riffs on 1970's-style, LSD-inspired Marvel Comics nonsense. Defenders plots, you know? But with a college degree...

The issue ends with the Micronauts and the eagerly-rioting mobs of the Microverse overthrowing the powers of Prisonworld. The weird part of the issue is that none of the prisoners on Prisonworld -- political prisoners, every one of them, brainwashed to remove their identities -- has any idea what to do when the planet is liberated. Marionette has to encourage them to resume their anti-establishment activities, but it's weird that no one thought of that on their own. They KNOW they're political prisoners! They adopted gangster identities because they admired how criminals took on the establishment! THEY SHOULD ALREADY BE ON THIS PAGE.

So this was a rough issue that I didn't much enjoy, but at least they closed it out with a poster of all of the book's dead characters so I can laugh in Devil's stupid face.

HAHA, EAT IT YOU DEAD MUPPET!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

IF YOU SEE SWAMP THING, SAY SWAMP THING: CHAINS OF FOREVER

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 ...



In my heart, I want to get this entire entry written in fifteen minutes, inasmuch as the episode was so bad that it fails to warrant any effort beyond that. Counterpoint: It's one of the most unusually-shot and bizarrely-staged episodes in the series' entirety and I should at least mention that it ends with everyone in the same shot like a junior high school production of Our Town.

I wasn't super paying attention to the opening of the episode, which led me to believe that we were starting out in the Victorian era. What I'd caught was Celia (Laura Hicks) and Robert (Jeff Breslauer) dressed in nominally Victorian outfits and visiting a bookseller (Kristian Truelsen) who was dressed like a bartender in an old time saloon and also I thought he might also be Stephen Stucker from Airplane BUT WAS NOT. What I'd missed was all the signifiers that we were in the present day like cars and shit. ANYWAY.

We eventually learn these people are 200 years old but dress like they're 100 years old. 

Just to describe the whole plot: Celia and Robert were once given an elixir of eternal youth, but the elixir's running out. So Robert has become obsessed with finding the Fountain of Youth, and Celia's become obsessed by being really put out by the whole thing, which we know because she has mastered the long-suffering eyeroll.

Besides finding the fountain to be located in the middle of the Universal Studios backlot, Robert and Celia accidentally alert Arcane to their quest. It's frequently mentioned that Arcane is working on finding some sort of scientific solution to mortality, although it always sort of feels like a surprise when he mentions it. In any case, the bookseller is in Arcane's employ ... for reasons I must consider, later. What are the odds that someone would come into some obscure old bookshop with clues to the location of the Fountain of Youth? Arcane really spreads out his gambles...

The cobra hood on Swamp Thing's neck deserves its own credit.

 Robert and Claire try to hire Will for a swamp tour, but he can sense that they're nuts and so he disinvites himself from the adventure. Will is showing tremendous canniness, BUT I think he might have just refused the call to his heroic journey. Sorry Will, you gotta keep piloting your fart boat in the shit lake. Enjoy!

Disappointed and bickering, Robert and Claire return to their hotel room to find Graham wrecking it! He leaps out the window and fires a gun to scare off a pursuing Robert. This is all done so clumsily that I assume there must have been a stuntperson's strike at the time.

"Let me just ... I'll just ... No, let me do it, I need to learn ..."

Claire is freaked out by Robert's obsessiveness, and so joins Will for a tea party (?) and to beg him for help in finding Robert, who has rushed out into the swamp. It's at this point that I must mention how stodgily shot this whole thing is. It feels like a dramatic segment on Texaco Star Theater. With the writer having come from soap operas and the director having few credits to his name, it's coming off like a filmed stage play...

Swamp Thing finally gets some lines, having observed that Robert's aura gives off a glow one normally associates with long-lived objects like trees and very very old people. Swamp Thing is clearly high.


But that obvious stoner bullshit comes with some hard truths, too. Knowing the story of the elixir and the alchemist who presented it to Robert and Claire, Swamp Thing explains to Claire why Robert appears to be aging and she doesn't: It's not that his mania is doing something to the chemical or that the elixir is failing him, it's that the elixir is powered by love. And Robert doesn't love Claire any more. Oh shit. Oh dang. Swamp Thing you have known Claire for all of two minutes it is not cool to come down on her with cruel realities like that.

At some point around here, by the way, Robert redeems himself in my eyes by pulling a gun on Will, the ultimate redemptive act. Will is saved by Swamp Thing bursting into the shack where Will is being held at gunpoint and, um ... getting murdered. Durock throws Garrison down so hard, the FUCK he was awake to finish filming this episode. There is no mattress soft or thick enough to keep Will alive. He is dead. RIP Will. Any Will sightings from this point on are like Paul McCartney sightings after Magical Mystery Tour.

That flinch is supposed to be because of the gun but I'm pretty sure it's because Durock is a huge oaf.

At the end of the episode, we learn that the Fountain of Youth is real, but that Arcane (despite blaming Graham) poisoned it with runoff from one of his evil experiments. Wracked with guilt and the realization of his inevitable death, Robert chugs a bunch of the poison water and dies in what we like to call "The Ol' Reverse Romeo and Juliet."

And then everybody walks off. The final shot involves the camera jumping back twenty feet and us being able to see all the actors sort of just standing there, until Arcane and Graham sneak off to the side. It is legitimately the weirdest thing this show has ever presented to me, and I choose to remind you of ::gestures indistinctly at every episode of the show preceding this::

This blurry, so: Swampy standing on the left, Will and Claire holding Robert's corpse in the middle, Arcane helping Graham sneak off on the right.

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