Thursday, November 5, 2015

TRULY GONE & FORGOTTEN : MICROBOTS



“Come,” entices the opening caption to The Microbots no.1 (December 1971), “Journey with us to the world of the distant future - - to the aftermath of man’s ultimate depredation - - a world mis-used and mistreated, that had swept the bulk of mankind off her face like so much unwanted dust - - and left the surviving few struggling desperately to find a new beginning.”

“This,” it concludes, “Is the world of the Microbots!” Or Detroit. Either way, The Microbots represents a single-issue oddity from Gold Key Comics. Everything about the book screams “licensed product,” although searching for the toys presumably in question yields few results, all of which are contemporary. A book ahead of its time, apparently.

"DARRRRR"
I’d also like to point out that the cover introduces them as “The BRAND NEW Microbots,” and while I couldn’t find evidence of any prior Microbots, at least we know these ones have that “new Microbot smell.”

The Microbots are the creation of Dr.Norman Micron (of the Connecitcut Microns, I presume), a scientist living in the dire times of a world succumbing to man’s pollution.  “Mankind had ample warning that he was destroying the world around him” he muses, standing by a window with a highly-desirable garbage view, “Filling the sea and the sky with filth and poisons … and now it’s too late.”

While the other remaining survivors of the ruined Earth are running off to a sanctum in the mountains, Dr.Micron chooses to stay behind with his son Jeff, never giving up in their efforts to fix the Earth.

Joining the Micron boys in their quest for cleaner everything are The Microbots, a group of mute, four-foot tall helper robots of the doctor’s invention. These would be the toys the book was presumably written about, or were trying to market.

They certainly bear the names and traits of toys. There’s KRUSHOR “the powerful piledriver,” LIFTOR “the elongated automaton,” FLIPTOR “the mechanical catapult” and, my personal favorite, “multi-handed” KLAWBOR. See, it’s a double pun, because he has claws and he beats the living tar out of things. My favorite Microbot!

There’s also HOOKTOR “the dependable derrick,” KRANKTOR “the mechanized cable-catcher,” bulldozing BULLZOR and GRIPTOR, the robot who engages in uncomfortably long handshakes. All sold separately, batteries not included.

Also they all have lasers but they keep forgetting to use them until the last minute.

Dr.Micron and young Jeff do a pretty poor job of fixing the Earth, and so opt to lock themselves in suspended animation chambers in the hopes that some distant descendant of man will survive, fix the problem, and come get them. As for the Microbots, they’re simply left on the patio under a barbecue tarp.

Whoa whoa whoa, that's kinda racist, Vik!
It’s impossible to say how long the Microns and their metal Muppets remain immobile, but by the time they’re discovered by a savage but inquisitive young forest honkey named Vik, all of civilization has retreated to tribal barbarism. Superstitious, parochial, and frequently eaten alive by mutated elephants, the people of the future world have turned their backs on technology. When Dr.Micron is killed in a common but tragic post-mutated elephant attack-related mishap, Jeff and the untamed (yet still speaking English) Vik find themselves and the Microns ejected from what little civilization remains.

This is where the single issue leaves us. Clever, ambitious Jeff pairs with the courageous Vik and the solar-powered Microbots to begin rebuilding the world – but correctly this time, without poison and spoilage and maybe even slightly less populated by killer mutant elephants.

Discovering prefabricated metal sheets at an abandoned Army base, they and the Microbots begin constructing a building, which “will tower to the sky” explains Jeff, adding “Anyone for miles in all directions will see it!”

It’s actually unfortunate that this particular post-apocalyptic future out of all of Gold Key’s post-apocalyptic futures didn’t continue, as it had at its core two likable, compelling characters operating under a clear focus to make the world a better place.

Among the last lines of the book involve Vic lecturing a pair of would-be world conquerors that “You have to save the world before you can think to rule it,” while Jeff adds “Go back and tell your people that a new day is coming!” Unfortunately, this particular new day been on hiatus for forty-four years…

This is super-grim.

2 comments:

Ted Hobgood said...

Wow. That is so bad that I might need to hunt up a copy.

You are right; it is a tie-in. I did find some pictures of the toys by searching for "KLAWBOR Microbot." Simple looking things.
https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=KLAWBOR+microbot

Patrick Clark said...

Wow. They were die-cast metal toys, back when they still made metal toys. Manufactured by Kenner, the company that a few years later would make the Star Wars toys.

http://www.plaidstallions.com/kenner/microbots1.jpg

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