Micronauts vol.1 No.8 (Aug 1978)
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Michael Golden / Bob McLeod
Letterer: Diana Albers
Colorist: Carl Gafford
Editor: Al Milgrom
EIC: Jim Shooter
Captain Universe debuts in this issue, and I'm still sore about it. While I'd managed to buy almost every other single issue of Micronauts for a quarter apiece at assorted used book stores, I had to pay a premium to an online seller in order to get this issue. And why? Captain freakin; universe. What a burn.
Despite the relatively sedate previous issue, it seems that utter chaos continues to erupt at the Human Engineering Life Laboratories. NASA Security -- armored-up and packing sufficient weaponry to easily secure Fallujah or "respond proportionately" to a pipeline protest -- is engaged in a complete clusterfuck of a one-sided battle with the now-man-sized Baron Karza! He's used his science to trade molecular structures with Dr.Phillip Prometheus, the babbling cyborg inventor of a doorway between Earth and the Microverse, the eponymous Prometheus Pit! And now he's here! And he's paired up woith Prometheus' devoted cyborg security force. The whole thing looks like the best Monsters of Rock tour ever!
|Speaking of The Monsters of Rock tour ...|
Steve and the Micronauts show up to give the Security Forces key information about Karza. Ahem, "He is from a tiny world and he has the power to kick all of our asses." I paraphrase, but there we are. At least they wisely left Muffin back at the bog shack, where she can be eaten by Man-Thing the next time he comes around.
Back on Homeworld, Argon is being nagged into assuming his rightful role of Force Commander, the heavily armed weird centaur hero of the rebellion. Inside a wrecked cathedral, beneath the shattered statues of demigods Dallan and Sepsis, Argon recounts the economic injustice of Karza's bodybanks, adding in that the middle and working classes might also sell limbs and organs to earn immortality. Without limbs or organs. Anyway, capitalism must be abolished.
|Bernie would have won.|
While Karza directly engages the Micronauts at H.E.L.L., Ray Coffin is getting the final few benedictions from the Time Traveler. The battle ramps up back in Florida mostly so that Ray -- now transformed by the Enigma Force into the seemingly all-powerful Captain Universe -- can show up and beat Karza while spouting the worst inanities.
"Call me an avenging angel...come to safeguard Earth! Call me ... CAPTAIN UNIVERSE!" Well, Ray, I will not. You are Ray Coffin, unusually depressed ex-astronaut and deus ex machina and until you realize that being Ray Coffin is good enough, you'l never truly be a Captain Universe worthy of the name.
"I've got the spirit of resistance in me! The hopes and aspirations of all those you've failed to conquer!" shouts Ray while trouncing Karza, as though he's known him all his life, and cried out in anger against every act of evil committed and left unpunished by this galactic tyrant. a lot of folks felt that way after the election.
Captain Universe doesn't exactly defeat Karza, but Ray keeps the power long enough to send the Baron dashing back to the Multiverse through the Prometheus Pit, through which The Endeavor and its crew also retreat. As it does, the Enigma Force leaves Ray, returns to the care of the Time Travelers, and waits to be assigned to the next Hero Who Could Be ... You! Enh. Whatever rings your bell, I guess. The Enigma Force owes me eight bucks is how I feel about it.
There's a profound change in the look and feel of this issue, thanks to bringing in Bob McLeod to ink after seven issues of Joe Rubinstein. McLeod's hand is H-E-A-V-Y, and demolishes lines which Rubinstein would have left fully and inviolably intact. He's here, as far as I can tell, however, to lend a Ditko-esque feel to the art. The laser blasts and arcing energy has a concise Ditko feel, or at least the sense of homage. I wonder if that was done deliberately in order to confirm the association between Captain Universe and Ditko, who'd be drawing the character in Marvel Spotlight soon after this. I hope it was done deliberately, to be honest, otherwise there was no valid reason to do this to a Michael Golden illustration:
Next time around -- Return to the Microverse! You'll find out what it's about when I do!