Monday, January 23, 2017


Micronauts vol.1 No.3 (Mar 1979)
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Michael Golden / Josef Rubinstein
Letterer: John Costance
Colorist: Carl Gafford
Editor: Al Milgrom
EIC: Jim Shooter

Fuckers, now we're talking. A title like that promises big things, and Micronauts will deliver! PS Sorry I called you "fuckers." I meant it lovingly.

Before we launch into this, it's worth mentioning that Commander Arcturus Rann, effectively the de facto leader of The Micronauts, is introduced in this issue as the very Skywalker-esque "Space Glider." If this name catches on, I give up. Arcturus Rann is much more of an "enjoyable bullshit 1970s science fiction" name and any other choice is folly.

I know, there was a toy called Space Glider, I still hate it.

Back to issue 3: We pick up where we left off, plus or minus a few minutes. Shirtless tween Steve Coffin is joined by his sad, paunchy ex-astronaut dad Ray Coffin. Currently employed at Cape Canaveral, pop Coffin longs for a return to relevancy, and the miniature space-war recently concluded in his backyard might be the key. Also, Muffin the Cocker Spaniel is fine, just stunned. That's all I needed this issue to tell me.

While most of the issue is an extended dogfight between the Micronauts' ship The Endeavor and disgraced Prince Shaitan of the Acroyear Warriors, it combines comic book action with some entertaining real-world locations. The battle takes the tiny figures through the Daytona Speedway, Cape Canaveral, the eponymous beach and even a skate park -- described as a mountain range, and I don't know why I find that so charming but it's great and I do and you should too and it's also great, did I say that?

Marionette, Princess of Thirst
A brief cutaway to Homeworld finds Baron Karza welcoming the frail, elderly and altogether unpleasant Duchess Belladonna, creaking like a cartoon skeleton, into the Bodybanks. Body Banks. I'll figure it out.

Belladonna has been promised Marionette's body as a replacement for her Estelle Getty-lookin' self, a transaction which seems to exist in this story mostly to underline the inherent evil of the Body Banks. The book has been vague about the operation and intent of the Body Banks, so it's nice to occasionally have a horrible crone show up and talk to the giant evil black fire hydrant about stealing the body of a girl dressed like a package of Fruit Stripe gum. Now I can align my moral compass correctly.

Rann acquires a curious but compelling bit of backstory. He and Mari share in common the loss of their parents at the hands of Karza and his squads of outer space mooks. The Princess' loss is more recent, if just by dint of Rann having spent a millennium in telepathic space hibernation (if those three words don't make sense at first glance, then you're on your own, I'm afraid).

But the pain of their loss nonetheless resonates with Rann, and it's interesting to try to understand the reasons. Surely, in his mind, he'd come to grips with the reality that his loved ones, parents and all, would be long dead by the time he returned to Homeworld. Still, he must have imagined the fullness of their lives preceding their eventual, inevitable deaths. To find instead that they'd been murdered by a power-mad former professor of his, ad have been elevated to the status of widely-worshiped deities, is stealing them from him multiple times.

Maybe he'd accepted that he had to lose them during the interim of his mission, but he not only had the fantasies of their happy, long lives taken from him, but the exclusivity of his memories robbed from him as well. If an entire world worships your parents as gods and rebels, if they've created mythologies about them which are appropriately epic in nature, then how does a child's individual memories compare? If you alone remembered your loved ones for their minor triumphs and occasional foibles, for their sense of humor and affection, for the shared moments of charm and warmth -- but billions more remembered them for being gods of freedom and revolt, then whose memories are real? Whose are more valid? Do individual, personal memories of someone long dead mean more than the collective imagination's recollection? Basically, this is a Berestein/Berenstain thing is what I'm saying.

Next issue, the Micronauts stop blowing up bits of Daytona Beach, more or less! Awww ...

This issue's bonus poster:


Eric said...

O'course, "Space Glider" was the name of the actual toy Rann corresponded to. (But yes, it's a lame name, and "Arcturus Rann" is a much better "enjoyable bullshit 1970s science fiction" name).

I had the toy in the foreground of the cover, the one SG/Rann and the 'Nauts ship are blazing away at. The whole thing came apart and could be reconfigured in different ways--the epic battleship, the smaller fighter, the hey-look-you-can-awkwardly-snap-these-two-pieces-together-and-uhm-now-what. The two wings on either side could be used independently as pistols, which originally used a cocked-spring mechanism to fire a plastic, rubber-tipped dart; however, some kid somewhere put his eye out or something and later versions were sold with the plastic darts glued in. I was lucky enough to have one of the potentially fatal ones, though at some point I broke at least one of the darts (or maybe both, it was nearly forty years ago).

I'm sure if I'd never played with it, it would be worth millions of dollars now. It was pretty awesome, though.

Still loving the recaps, thank you!

Calamity Jon said...

Glad you're liking them. You know, one thing I could use from folks who are reading this is a keen eye for what was an actual toy and what was just an extrapolation from Golden -- I never owned any of the toys, myself, except a couple I picked up from stuff left at my house by other kids (and my memory of these are only so-so, of cuss). I'm curious as to how often Golden was adapting versus inventing from found pieces...

Green Luthor said...

"Space Glider" was a figure, but "Commander Rann" wasn't (although Rann was somewhat based on the Space Glider figure). Acroyear, Karza, Biotron, Microtron, Shaitan, and Argon were all based on figures (Shaitan was "Acroyear II", and Argon was "Force Commander"), whereas Bug and Marionette were original to the comics. Most of the vehicles I believe were based on toys, although the Endeavour wasn't.

I'm fairly certain that, except for the "roll call" bits, the "Space Glider" name isn't used in the comics themselves. (Nor is the "Galactic Warrior" name they have for Bug, which I had actually completely forgotten about.)

The interesting thing about all this: the characters based directly on the toys would remain under Mego's ownership, whereas the original characters would be Marvel's. Thus, Marvel still owns Rann, Marionette, and Bug (as well as, presumably, a few other characters who'll come later in the series), but don't own one of the main team members (Acroyear), the two robot sidekick/comic relief/C-3PO and R2-D2 stand-ins, and the main villain of the series. The comics rights are currently held by IDW, I think, and Hasbro (which now owns the property) want to include it in their own cinematic universe, along with G.I. Joe, Rom, MASK, and... Visionaries? Really? Whatever.). Which means that, barring any deal between Marvel/Disney and Hasbro, the whole team isn't getting back together any time soon. Alas.

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