Micronauts vol.1 No.10 (Oct 1979)
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Michael Golden / Al Milgrom
Editor: Al Milgrom
EIC: Jim Shooter
War war war! Doesn't anyone just fuck anymore?
The rebellion is in full swing, yet Karza has split his forces so as to launch an assault on Spartak, living homeworld of the fearsome Acroyear warriors, where the Micronauts now reside. His forces outnumber the heroes, but Prince Acroyear has bonded body and soul with the living planet of Spartak, and turns the planet's rocky mass against his enemies, striking Homeworld ships out of the sky with rocky arms the size of mountains. Meanwhile, Karza has captured -- and possibly killed! -- Arcturus Rann, the one man everyone counts on to save the Microverse from Karza's malevolent grasp! This three-issue climax to the first Micronauts story arc is fully underway and, this issue, it gets grim.
Karza having beaten the living tar out of "Space Glider" Arcturus Rann gives Marionette the opportunity to go full HAM, blasting Karza and promising revenge for "the man [she] love[s]." The immediate heterosexual couplings taking place in this book are either a little lazy or just the product of most everyone in the Microverse being a weird monster, so when two humans meet they fall in love as some sort of defense mechanism against the species dying out. I say this because the two romantic relationships in the book -- Mari and Rann, Slug and Argon -- don't add much to the story. I'll explain more when the battles are over and Slug and Argon have a moment to catch their breath in a couple of issues.
|Jesus christ, you guys ...|
Spartak in particular endures a troubling amount of carnage. Naturally, both Dog Soldiers and Acroyear warriors die in abundance, but no one makes it out alive, if the bad guys have anything to say about it. As Prince Acroyear shouts a vicious, world-maddened mantra from the heart of Spartak -- "Destroy! DESTROY!" -- Dog Soldiers cut a bloody swath across the planet, slaughtering everyone they find INCLUDING a tiny Acroyear baby. That's a wild thing to depict. This is Cormac McCarthy's Blood Micromeridian.
Slug and Argon are hungry for blood, too. Back on Homeworld, the rebellion continues to rage, with the Shadow Priests helping to arm the population. On a raised platform above the burning Body Banks, Argon coolly inquires of a captured contingent of rich fuckers -- clients of the Body Banks and Karza loyalists, as far as that goes -- if they'll give up their immortality and fight for the people. They say no, obviously, and Argon just flat-out murders them. I support Force Commander in this. Vote Prince Argon/Slug 2020.
|Well, he's got my vote.|
Even Microtron learns to love death and crave the culling of it from the living. It and Biotron have a pretty affecting exchange of dialogue, between the smaller Roboid's forelong leaps into the fray, swinging his crowbar arms like helicopter blades as he wades through Dog Soldiers. It's a good scene, and the Roboids -- by no means even remotely the central characters of this story -- always surprise by having genuine depth.
If there's one thing which I felt failed the issue, it was Shaitan revealing the motivation behind his usurpation and the hatred of his royal brother: He's an albino.
This is a gimmick occasionally played in superhero comics, typically where an African-American is born an albino and, because they cosmetically resemble the oppressors of their race, are treated like shit by their peers and neighbors. Later, super-villainy happens. This is a dumb-ass conceit on the best of days, insulting to at least three intersecting categories of people, but it makes no sense on Spartak as currently presented. Especially because absolutely every Acroyear warrior reassures Shaitan repeatedly that they never hated him because of his skin ... they only hated him because he was mentally ill oh wait a minute that's not much better.
Without some cultural context for albinism within Spartak culture -- I mean, it's a warrior culture, and Shaitan seems to be a pretty decent warrior, as we'll eventually see -- this reveal seems gratuitous at best.
Back to the battle, Cilicia leads a counter-assault on the Dog Soldiers and obliterates every last one of them, bloodily executing the few who survive. Acroyear survives his ordeal in the heart of Worldmind, and Karza, having captured Marionette and Arcturus Rann, fucks off back to Homeworld in his flagship. slug announces its sudden appearance as "The death-knell of the world," which is a good place to hop off and wait for the senses-shattering conclusion, next issue! My senses! Someone shattered them!
Lettercol fun: Jeff Dee, much-adored illustrator on the Villains and Vigilantes game of the 1980s, writes in to pitch his theory that Time Traveler and Arcturus Rann are the same person. He ain't the only one with that theory, someone's mentioned in in the letters page pretty much every issue since number 5. It's still a good twist, though, let's wait it out.