Monday, March 20, 2017


Micronauts vol.1 No.11 (Nov 1979)
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Michael Golden / Al Milgrom
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Carl Gafford
Editor: Al Milgrom
EIC: Jim Shooter

This is it, the big finish -- advertised on the cover as Saga's End, and that seems to be about the right sentiment. Even allowing for distractions like the go-nowhere introduction of Captain Universe and the extra-narrative dalliance with the Man-Thing, Micronuats to date has been one of the most dense, intense and grandly-scoped comics ... ever? Possibly, although I can say with certainty that this first arc is definitely one of Marvel's top 50 storylines, arguably the best comic to come out of Marvel's 1979 offerings, and one of the two or three best books out of Marvel's wide expanse of licensed comics.

Those seem like watered-down accolades but, honestly, it's about right. I went into this series knowing nothing of the contents of the comics except the pedigree of the creative team, and it's been everything except a disappointment. I know this blog usually obsesses on bad ideas, lousy executions, and misfired concepts, but Micronauts has been a delight.

But, here we go, the penultimate issue of the Micronauts' first 'season,' as it were:

Karza's flagship has returned to Homeworld, only to find the Body Banks ablaze and the population in abject rebellion. On his side, though, he has his mortal enemy Arcturus "Space Glider Is Still A Dumb Name" Rann and the Princess "Marionette" Mari in custody, and is getting a real kick out of shooting eye lasers into Rann's face. You find your pleasures where you can.

Seeing Karza's return, Argon rallies the troops for the last and greatest conflict to date. The thing is, you see, the rebels have barely scraped by so far, and neither they, the Shadow Priests, or their Force Commander have much left in the tank. Slug, the previous leader of the rebel forces, muses that she once loved death and watched for its approach that she might stare it in the face --- b ut now she's instinctively, heteronormatively bound to Prince Argon and his sexy horse ass, so death can eat it.

With Rann and the Princess bound, Argon leads the first assault against Karza, man-horse against man-horse! His heart is in the right place -- I think, I actually don't know where a centaur keeps its heart -- but Karza wouldn't knowingly turn a sworn enemy of his into a man-horse even more powerful than he. Fool me once, I imagine him saying, remembering the man-horses of times past. Time pasts. Anyway, Argon loses the fight.

 This is the cue for the Shadow Priests to, as one, become nude. Doffing their robes, they reveal each of them to be Time Travellers ... or, Time Traveller, more or less. There's both one and many, something which is clarified in this issue, much to my relief. It was a little confusing.

The Enigma Force immediately jumps from the multitude of nude Shadow Priests into the body of Arcturus Rann, although it doesn't turn him into Captain Universe because that idea was kind of dumb and a distraction. It would also, narratively speaking, rob Rann of his most triumphant act of heroism.

Because rather than being gifted with the power of the Enigma Force, Rann sort-of IS the power of the Enigma Force. It's revealed that every letter writer of the last ten issues was on the beam, and correct in deducing that Rann is, in fact, Time Traveler. More to the point, there are hundreds of thousands of Time Travelers, each connected to the mysterious Enigma Force which infuses every atom of the Microverse in a very Force-y way. For his 1,000-year journey through space, every second of Rann's life spawned some sort of living duplicate, tied to the power of the Enigma Force --- a thousand thousand lifetimes lived by Rann through each of these disparate figures. It's deep.

Speaking of deep ... Karza and Rann engage in a big cosmicy fight, the depiction of which is one of those things that Golden should be better remembered for. Like all Marvel Comics of the era, there are touches of Ditko and Kirby in the swirling, incomprehensible energy of superhuman conflict, but Golden renders it in such a way as to make it entirely new and, ultimately, his own.

Here's where the "deep" part comes in. Karza, seeing that his own power falters before the still-increasing might of Rann, as possessed with the Enigma Force, decides to take the entirety of Homeworld with him. He detonates the Great Pit, intending to consume the crown jewel of the Microverse in all-consuming flames. At this desperate moment, Enigma/Rann lets loose a blast of power intended to freeze Karza in his armor and deny him access to his power ... but, instead, it blows him out of his socks and sends him screaming on his way to hell, via the fiery Pit.

This seems to satisfy the Pit, which stops destroying the world. It probably never wanted to, anyway. You can't be a Pit if there's nothing to be a Pit in, you know? He would've been out of a job.

The apparent death of Karza leaves the spent rebel forces pondering their chances against the remaining Dog Soldiers, what with Rann's powers fading and the sole Time Traveler disappearing into the Enigma Force -- seemingly for good. But, then, all the Acroyears show up and blow the remaining Karza loyalists all tae fuck. The end!

Next issue, it's the proper finale, with the last few plot threads wrapped up, the settings for the upcoming "season" put into place, and one final major knock-down drag-em-out fight for the books. Mah boy Acroyear got an albino brother to beat down.

1 comment:

Bram said...

Among the great things — that Karza at the end there, reflecting how the limbs and head all came off the toy figure.

Pretty sure I said it before, one of the great things about this series is how it was always rocketing forward, throwing new elements in, and making you feel like the next issue was going to be so full of revelations you couldn't afford to miss it.

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