Micronauts vol.1 No.25 (Jan 1981)
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Pat Broderick / Armando Gil
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Editor: Louise Jones
EIC: Jim Shooter
If there's a worse title for a comic book story than "Deathbirth," we're going to have to travel a long way to find it. I do fondly remember Gerry Conway's "Typhoon is a Storm of the Soul" from an old Firestorm story, but I think that's in a whole other category of awfulness.
|Got your nose!|
There's a real lovefest going on aboard the Endeavor, not the least of which is happening in the shared quarters of Acroyear and Cilicia. The Spartak warriors, owing to their endangered population and limited planetary resources, apparently treat lovemaking as a ceremonial task, undertaken with great care and with the primary intent of reproduction. Woo, that's some steamy stuff. It's also not enough for pervy Acroyear, who convinces Cilicia to try something different -- just screwing around for the hell of it.
Rann and Marionette are always bumping uglies elsewhere on the ship, and we enjoy most of the pre-foreplay events (not reproduced on the page, by the way, as this is a family comic) inside Marionette's internal monologue. There's something interesting going on with Princess Mari's idle, intra-coital reflections, where she seems to be about thi-i-i-i-is close to realizing that her love for Rann might be inspired in no small part by religious reverence for his sainted parents and gratitude for his role in saving Homeworld from Karza.
|Pretty good keepin'-it-light here...|
Just as an aside, there's a real shift in tone around now, with the perfunctory dialogue and by-the-numbers super-villain crunching which typified the book's second dozen issues declining. Mantlo's dense world-building and intimate characterization seem to be returning, and I can't help but suspect it's a change in editors. Milgrom has stepped down in favor of Louise Jones (later --Simonson, for those of you playing along) and the return to form seems too well-timed to be coincidence. Well, good on her, this is better than the other way.
Anyway, Mentallo and the Fixer find the Micronauts and launch a revenge attack on them, which tests Rann's newly-discovered, enhanced telepathic abilities (He'd always had a telepathic bond with Biotron, but now it's just general telepathy). This also leads up to the big revelation regarding Fixer and Mentallo's masters, identified by a deadly brand burned into Fixer's noggin --- it's HYDRA, and they've got SHIELD in their sights!
Tales of the Microverse! We're promised the origin of Baron Karza, as told by Pharoid to Slug in Karza's birth city of Aegypta. Unfortunately, we don't learn of the actual source of his treachery, but we do know that his arc begins with an assassination attempt on Dallan and Sepsis, then-regents of Homeworld.
Fleeing the failed attack, Karza's vehicle fails him in the scorching desert. He is rescued, however, by Sun Cultists who revive him, give him access to science and magic which predates the Microverse, and then are murdered by him for larfs. Goddamn, I really appreciate how Mantlo just packs his stories with world-building goodness. There's so much to enjoy.
The final kicker on the way out of this backup involves the resurrection of Karza -- inhabiting the body of Argon, Force Commander, and brought back to life in the heart of a volcano by faceless death priests! That's ... I'm done describing anything for this issue, I can't top that...
Over in the letter column, it's lots of well-deserved praise for Pat Broderick, which is nice to see.