Monday, May 8, 2017


Micronauts vol.1 No.17 (May 1980)
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Howie Chaykin/Al Milgrom
Letterer: Jim Novak
Colorist: Roger Slifer
Editor: Al Milgrom
EIC: Jim Shooter

It didn't pick up this issue! Sorry! I still didn't like it!

It's an unfortunately rough conclusion to the already-rough three-part arc which constitutes the Micronauts' crossover with The Fantastic Four. This is a story which seemed able and willing to write itself, but it doesn't really play in any meaningful way.

Acroyear and Cilicia are becoming
my favorite Micro-couple
I mean, it's so off-base that the title of the story is "The Harder They Fall" while the cover boasts not only an amazing Michael Golden cover, but also the proposed title "Death-Fugue of the Psycho-Man." Tell me the latter doesn't beat the former's ass with a stick in a bag. I dare you.

As of last episode, our combined heroes are fighting one another for the amusement of Psycho-Man in his planet-sized spaceship in the Microverse. What's put an end to their messing around is the Human Torch, fully aflame and having hopped between dimensions by using the believed-inactive Prometheus Pit. And, like all things that travel from Earth through the Pit, he is now incredibly huge.

Comparatively, anyway, which means he should've made short work of the Psycho-Man and his plastic toy compadres. Unfortunately, a giant Human Torch also means a tremendous strain on the artificial atmosphere of Psycho-Man's ship, the limited oxygen in which is quickly consumed, leaving pretty much all the heroes unconscious. Well-played, good guys!

They awake in Psycho-Man's weird pipe organ prison -- one man short, as Biotron has been murdered by the Psycho-Man, joining the long-deceased Microtron in destruction. Or did he? Well, yes and no. Hold on a second.

He just had to share that.

The FF and Micronauts are trapped in glass tubes connected to a baroque-lookin' space organ which Psycho-Man is playing while thrusting his hips towards it. It is a disturbing image to be sure. And, excepting that, it's also as reminiscent of a Silver Age JLA story as the issue which preceded it. Two groups of heroes caught in traps which allow them collaborate on an escape is very Gardner Fox, I'm beginning to wonder whether Mantlo's doing it on purpose.

As a serious aside, one of the things which has made this arc feel less like the dynamic Micronauts title of last year is the absence of subplots. Here we are, teaming up with other heroes to fight a massive but singular menace, and the entire universe seems to have stopped dead while it happens. No backstories, no B-plots, no foreshadowing -- just a straightforward team-up and fight. The second year of Micronauts has to be the series' Empire Strikes Back, but it's in danger of becoming its The Wire Season 2, all owing to this arc.

The big battle with the Psycho-Man results in a third casualty, cruelly following the revelation that Microtron and Biotron have been saved from destruction by the automatic repair facilities of Psycho-Man's worldship. The newly joined-up Jasmine, Bug's bloodhungry lady friend from Kaliklak, has fallen victim to a Repto summoned by Psycho-Man, and died in the jaws of her people's ancient enemy.   And, I mean, she's dead. She's dead in a way we don't usually get in these comics. I mean, it probably won't last long, but it's a good death, with real panic, sorrow and anger. It's easily the best scene in these wan issues as a whole, so good job guys.

And then the Psycho-Man gets away and the FF go home. The end. The sucky, sucky ending.

This seems vulgar.

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