Monday, May 22, 2017


Micronauts vol.1 No.19 (Jul 1980)
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Pat Broderick / Armando Gil
Letterer: John Costanza
Colorist: Ben Sean
Editor: Al Milgrom
EIC: Jim Shooter

Yeah, we're a mess.
Pat Broderick is an artist whom I always felt I should enjoy, but whose work escapes me. There's something that's difficult to grasp about how he frames a scene. His characters are pretty stiff, although this issue appears to show off a surprising amount of fluidity in his figure work. He's pretty heavy with the rendering, and Armando Gil on inks merely doubles down on that -- but, it works? I've never enjoyed a Broderick book as much as this issue, and I've read Planet of Vampires!

We pick back up on Bug, recently having left the team in order to come to emotional grips with the recent death of his blaster-happy lady love, Jasmine. Unfortunately, while swamping around Earth's abundance of water -- the Insectivorid's most hated element and also a clear sign informing Bug, out of all the Micronauts, that the crew has landed on our world again -- Bug is captured by ... ODD JOHN!

Here's Mantlo's weird mind at work. In the idyll of Saugerties, New York, he's made a mad scientist on par with any foe of the Avengers (or at least the Defenders. Maybe the Champions). Bespectacled, wiry, decked out in overalls, sporting a mouth full of broken teeth and crazy as a bat's asshole, Odd John is a pretty intriguing twist on the crazed supervillain genre. What kind of aesthetic does a would-be world conqueror adopt when he's away from the glitz, glamour, and pressure to impress of a major metropolitan center? He looks like one of the Brothers Darryl, is what.

Capturing Bug is the cherry on Odd John's day. Turns out the old weirdo's been breeding super-insects, capable of conquering the world. At this point, I would've added "...for some reason," but we go and get a reason, via the secret origin of Odd John.

A'yo shoots! He scores!
The Micronauts have used the Endeavor's sensors to lock in on Bug's location, unfortunately pitting them in a lopsided battle against Odd John, his spray pack of mutant-making insecticide, and probably traumatic manic depression. I dunno, I'm not a doctor. Anyway, as Odd John cleans up on our pint-size paladins (that's one of mine, glad to trod the Stan the Man boards once in a while), he recounts his somewhat predictable origin: A weird kid who loved to capture and study bugs, John was made fun of by the mandatory neighborhood bullies. Reduced to bug tears by their taunts, Odd John rededicates himself to experimenting on insects. His motivation: "Ah, you who dwell in darkness could be so much greater than those who mock me --- if only evolution had given you a chance!"

Seems Odd John may have read Lovecraft, and also is real good with a mutating spray that turns insects into giant freak weirdos! In fact, he's turned the spray on Bug himself, resulting in the team's often irresponsible, fearless former thief becoming a freaked-out bug monster man! Yeah, that's why I pay my money!


Recovering from an Acroyear punch -- A'yo continues to be my favorite Micronaut -- John releases his bug horde into the city (such as it is, this is Saugerties) to wreak all kindsa bug havoc. And just as the scene fades to black, the scattered and defeated Micronauts are due to end up pinned to Odd John's bug collection, starting with Arcturus "Space Glider is still a dumb name but at least they hardly ever use it now" Rann! Oh no!

But that's not all! After two pages of ads, Mantlo predicts the format of the Marvel movies and gives us an after-credit sequence with a surprise guest star! Ants from the site of Odd John's battle with the Micronauts carry an important message of warning to Scott Lang, a.k.a. the only-okay one of the three Ant-Mans to date. Poor middle kids, they always get the shaft. Next issue: Ant-Man! I have no way of gauging your excitement at that announcement but, judging by my own, enh. 

Lettercol fun: Everybody kind of hated Ditko's art on the Micronauts Annual. It's too depressing to post the scan, just believe me. Oh, okay ... here's two, and Al trying to pour oil on the churning water ...

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