Monday, May 29, 2017


Micronauts vol.1 No.20 (Aug 1980)
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Pat Broderick / Armando Gil
Letterer: Jim Novak
Colorist: R.Slifer
Editor: Allen Milgrom
EIC: Jim Shooter

" the passages of the night!"
And here we are! The bulk of the Micronauts are prisoners of the mad entomologist Odd John, and Arcturus Rann is facing a future with a long pin stuck through his abdomen! A mutated Bug has flown away with a horde of mutated insects in order to harass a supermarket (that may only be their short-term goal, to be fair)! And here comes the most inevitable guest-star to date -- Ant-Man!

Marionette -- perhaps the most visually striking of the Micronauts and certainly the foremost female lead of the team -- finally gets to do something. I'm being unfair, but she really has been relegated to mooning over Arcturus Rann ever since her last big save-the-daying (which involved freeing a dog from a locked car, so, measure that against your own standards. To her credit, what she does is save Rann from Odd John's approaching hatpin, by way of a series of acrobatic maneuvers so well choreographed and executed that it rivals the same work Miller was doing over on Daredevil at the time. No joke, Broderick and Gil really bring that one home.

The Micronauts incapacitate Odd John, while John's insect horde has almost made it to "Food World" (Today, Food World -- tomorrow, the non-food World!). Scott Lang is following the swarm in his guise as Ant-Man, riding some regular old flying ants which, let's be honest, is probably a pretty gross thing. You gotta have chill to be Ant-Man.

Chill pays off, as it were, when the mutated and marauding Bug takes a potshot at Lang and ends up murdering his "steed." The caption reads "This is the first time Scott Lang has heard an ant scream" which implies that he's been hearing it a lot since then. What the hell is going on in the anthills of the Marvel Universe, and why is Scott Lang listening in?

I like to read those captions as though they were the voiceover on a Food World commercial ...

The Micronauts show up, and the battle is joined in earnest. Marionette continues to ratchet up the badassery, operating the ship's cannons while the team's officially assigned badass Acroyear just gets frozen by a broken refrigeration line. Ah damn, A'yo. It's a mulligan, it doesn't count, go take another swing.

That's what they say, all right.
Big group fight scenes like this were pretty common occurrences in Marvel for the most part (I'd say DC did as well, but there's a different cadence to theirs). The pacing and drama of the fight reminds me of ones I've seen in The Avengers, Defenders and even Champions comics of the Seventies and early Eighties. Here's how Mantlo makes his different: all the menaces are utterly quotidian, dangerous only because of the scale of the protagonists.

I already mentioned that Rann was damn near killed by a hat pin and they're fighting insects, and Acroyear for snuffed by the small amount of Freon (or whatever) in the refrigeration line. Well, Rann and Mari are knocked out, and fall onto a conveyor belt bringing garbage out to the sanitation pickup behind the store. I don't know if that's how grocery stores work, but it's as effective as a manufactured death trap here.  It also sets up the drama for the next arc, as the pair are successfully dumped into a garbage truck and hauled away, even as Ant-Man realizes that his reducing gas cures the mutant bugs. And the mutant Bug, as well.

Next issue: The Micronauts meet one of Marvel's doofiest villains Plantman, AND we get to check in with Homeworld with the newly-launching TALES OF THE MICROVERSE! Woo!

You'll have to explain that one to your kids.


neofishboy said...

Those are some remarkably detailed cereal boxes.

KWK said...

No doubt. Nice price on those Grape Nuts! In 1980...

Calamity Jon said...

Y'know, I was gonna say that he probably used photostats for the cereal boxes, rather than drawing them by hand bu-u-u-u-ut ... I think he drew them by hand, including the nutritional information panel ...

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