Monday, March 27, 2017


Micronauts vol.1 No.12 (Dec 1979)
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Michael Golden / Allen Milgrom
Letterer: Diana Albers
Colorist: Carl Gafford
Editor: Allen Milgrom
EIC: Jim Shooter

This is effectively the well-deserved season finale of Mantlo and Golden's Micronauts, and it reads as such, too. The issue is given over to wrapping up loose threads, placing plot elements for the upcoming arc, and giving us one last definitive fight scene before winding up for the sophomore effort.

It's a good time to recall everything which Mantlo and Golden (and company) managed to accomplish with this unlikely book; an adventure which spanned two galaxies, laid the intriguing map of unique backstories of six main characters as as many secondary characters, created a socio-political environment for a world in turmoil, kept five or six subplots going, introduced maybe the lamest supervillain scientist in history (not everything's a winner),  and managed to create a story which is, more than almost anything else except the legitimate heirs to this throne, a fitting endcap to Jack Kirby's Fourth World Saga. I don't intend to fight for that statement, even though I believe it deeply.

Anyway, accolades aside, here's where we are: Homeworld is liberated from the empire of Baron Karza, whose empty armor remains unclaimed at the edge of the Great Pit into which the villain's essence had plummeted. The Acroyears have reinstated Prince Acroyear and joined our conquering heroes for one last reunion, and Argon prepares to place himself on the throne of Homeworld, to the delight of his people, and with the former rebel leader Slug as his presumptive queen.

Slug's journey from rebel fighter to queen is actually, on paper, the most interesting character arc in the book. She is, however, possibly the fourteenth-or-so most important character in the book, so practically no attention was paid to her on the whole. Argon hijacked her arc, as will happen.

In fact, if there's one major problem to the book, it's that the romantic plots seem, if not forced, then ingloriously inevitable. In fact, with Mari and Rann consummating a relationship entirely in thought balloons, Slug and Argon seems like a worn cassette recording of the original concert. It was a relationship that barely deserved to happen once, much less twice in the same book.

Anyway, speaking of Rann and Mari: Homeworld celebrates, and Rann is among the heroes of the day -- and looking all the worse for it. His physical condition is only part of the problem. Rann is left bereft by the absence of the Enigma Force which his alternate self(ves) embodied, and rightly so -- the man essentially has lost a thousand lifetimes.

The Micronauts briefly gather, only to separate again. Rann is further troubled by the news of Bug's apparent death in an earlier issue, and Prince Acroyear plans to return to Spartak (more on that in a moment). In Daytona Beach, Florida, Big-Size World, Human Engineering Life Laboratories is getting thoroughly cleaned up. Prometheus has been returned to Earth after having switched molecules with Karza, but he's nuts and is no problem. What is a problem is Colonel Macy of NASA security discovering some of Prometheus' discarded Micronaut corpses...

Nearby, Steve and Ray Coffin have been brought closer together as a result of Ray's time as Captain Universe and the terror of almost having lost one another forever. Also, Muffin is still around. This makes the Captain Universe interruption almost worth it.

Setting up the plot for the next arc, a shadowy "Agent M" receives orders from a nearly-silhouetted Nick Fury and Dum Dum Dugan to transfer the Micronaut corpse to New York...

Those recaps and assorted finales represent a small part of the issue, the plurality of which is given over to the final conflict between the treacherous Shaitan and his noble brother, Prince Acroyear. This "Prince Acroyear" business is making it easier for me to handle him having the same name as his entire race. I'm for it.

Being a warrior culture, the Acroyears naturally have a totally bogus "blood feud" wherein the entire point of having a justice system is discarded if the defendant wants to beat up the judge badly enough. If that system worked in our culture, do you know what we'd be? Kentucky is what we'd be. Kentuckies, all the way down.

The battle ends as expected, with Shaitan totally impaled on an Acroyear shiv and the surviving Prince really regretting that he had to stab the fuck out of his brother. Vulgarity aside, Prince Acroyear gets some delicious soliloquizing in this issue, covering his race's history, morality, purpose, and their relationship to their cold, unfeeling world, and the burdens of the king. It is literally very good stuff, and more important to the Prince's character than the actual fight.

Last thing we see before sign-off is the Time Traveler happily fucking off to nowhere and a still-living Bug -- apparently saved from destruction in the battle above Spartak by the Enigma Force -- crashlanding on his homeworld, Kaliklak, hiveworld of the Insectivorids! PS, I never mentioned this before, but an "Insectivore" is something that eats insects, not that is an insect, which Bug is generally acknowledged as effectively being. Well, who'm I to judge. My culture has Hot Pockets, that's gotta be worse than consuming your own children.

But, before that, it's Micronaut Annual No.1 next time ...


David Warren said...

Oh Lord, my little brother had this.As well as the all the action figures

Unknown said...

Well of course Slug would hook with Argon... dude's hung like a horse.


Robert Berman said...

"Slug" is a great against-type name for one of our leading ladies. If I had a daughter... no, maybe not.

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