Monday, May 1, 2017


Micronauts vol.1 No.16 (Apr 1980)
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Howard Chaykin/Al Milgrom
Letterer: John Costanza
Colorist: ?
Editor: Al Milgrom
EIC: Jim Shooter

Nothing relevant to this but, at first glance, I always accidentally read the buttons on Psycho-Man's emotion-controlling machine as "Fear / Donut / Hate". That's a lot to process at a Dunkin Donuts at six in the morning.

The Micronauts are getting manhandled by Psycho-Man and his planet-sized spaceship full of lesser-beloved action figures from elsewhere in the line, and getting a good talking-to from the plus-sized baddie in his crap ship full of junk. Also, whatever artistic detente existed between Chaykin and Milgrom, at this point, is beginning to really unravel. Even Mantlo seems to be feeling it, this time around.

Much of the first half of the issue is given over to the Micronauts fighting one another under the influence of Psycho-Man's Psycho-Ray (fa fa FA fa fa fa FA fa...), and then fighting the Fantastic Four under the same influence. Marvel's first family -- or three members of which, anyway, being Reed, Sue and Ben -- have navigated via Reducta-Craft to the Microverse to investigate possible incursions into Earth-space by tiny soldiers which Reed believes to be associated with his team's old enemy.

If there's any Mantlo-scripted comic which felt more like a Silver Age issue of Justice League of America, this is the one, and I don't necessarily mean that in a good way. The dialogue is excruciatingly exposition-laden, and dedicated largely to merely describing what's happening on the panel. This happens to the degree that very little character is allowed to show among the packed ensemble cast. When a writer ditches the chance to have his sassy insect people or campily stalwart warrior types interact meaningfully with Ben Grimm, the ever-lovin' blue-eyed Thing, then somethings gone wrong at the root.

"...throughout the entirety of this story."

Likewise, the story bends over backwards to get the FF and the Micronauts to pair off for the old stems-from-a-misunderstanding business of having the good guys fight before it's time to face the bad guy. This could be a lesser JLA/JSA crossover from the era, you know? I'm chin-deep in a read-through of absolutely every Superman Family book in existence, and am currently smack in 1964 -- and the dialogue here read like any issue of Jimmy Olsen. It's an unhappy change, but hopefully temporary.

All in all, this ends up feeling like a fluff story, engineered merely to get everyone into the same spot for the purpose of a crossover, and to get the story to the final panel, to wit:

One interesting thing which came out of this story must be almost entirely accidental, but it's worth investigating. Psycho-Man's lengthy introductory speech is a masterpiece of self-esteem. He is a force of galactic malevolence -- at least in the Microverse, in which he holds the stature of a giant -- and he explains this to the Micronauts in glee.

In fact, Psycho-Man feels very much like the Galactus of the Microverse. His stature and his world-sized ship are the most obvious connections, and he doesn't directly victimize sentient worlds by destroying them, although he victimizes its denizens by manipulating their emotions unto their deaths. I would have liked to see the Galactus-level events of the larger world reproduced in microscopic scale by a whole different team of heroes. It would have kicked the ass of this issue too sorry. Sorry everyone. I found a Micronauts comic I didn't enjoy, hopefully it'll pick up by next issue...

On the plus side, now we got Mego's address:


neofishboy said...

That is a disturbingly off-model Sue Storm.

Unknown said...

No "Burning Man festival" comment for the final panel?

This was actually the last comic I had bought at the time. Eventually I picked up the next issue from an online store, but I was disappointed with the resolution.


Reno Maniquis said...

Hah! Read it as "donut" at first glance, too. :)

Bram said...

Funny Mego comes up here — catching up with Unjustly Maligned (there's a quarterly project I get and it's the right soundtrack), so just listend to Micronauts.

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