Monday, February 19, 2018

MICRONAUTS MONDAY: 44 - CHARNEL HOUSE! / THOU SHALT HAVE NO FALSE GODS!/THE DEVIL, YOU SAY?


Micronauts vol.1 No. 44
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Gil Kane & Danny Bulandi, Carl Potts and Al Milgrom
Letterer: Jim Novak
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Al Milgrom
EIC: Jim Shooter

Wow, what happened to Bulandi? They had to pull in two editors to ink the penciled pages, that feels like an emergency. It's a pretty good exchange, though -- Milgrom's got that same heavy hand as Bulandi but he knows when to lay off the brush, and Carl Potts is just terrific. His clear line suits Kane's dynamism more than I would expect.

And speaking of Kane's dynamism, here is this amazing cover. It's got to have been based, in one way or the other, on Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People. The elevation of Mari to the head of the rebellion suits her placement on the cover. And, with that being said, it's nice for Marionette to have the cover focus in the first place.

Of the covers which feature one Micronaut prominently over the others, most of them feature Acroyear. This makes a lot of sense because he's a powerful and boldly designed character, and he's the fighter! Rann takes the second spot and, with all of one appearance under her futuristic unitard, Mari's in third. Bug got nothing, which is garbage because Bug's great.

Anyway, while the interior spends two-thirds of its time on the Earth-bound Micronauts in Florida battling Prometheus and Computrex, the cover and the strength of the single Homeworld segment imply a focus on the historical core of the series. The Microverse, after all, was effectively abandoned after the defeat of Karza, allowing a seemingly benevolent transitional government to establish itself and use the infrastructure and resources of the previous government to lock the place down into a military dictatorship. Seems like there's more than enough meat at tiny-size than all the adventure in Florida.

So, chapter one puts the Earth-bound Micronauts in conflict with Computrex and Prometheus, and it's going poorly. Nanotron and Microtron are trapped on not just a powerful magnet, but a spinning powerful magnet, which seems to be Computrex's way of delivering unto them a powerful "fuck you."

Devil's been fighting his savage side again, engaging in a personal battle which entertains no one. In throes of fury, he's calmed by the memory of long-lost companion sprite Fireflyte, who tells him to be himself and not this terrible beast. Devil complies and becomes a fat cat tramp who won't shut up about himself. Wait a minute ... is Devil supposed to be a riff on Snagglepuss? Holy crap. That's canon. I declare that to be canon.

The big pink idiot goes savage again and starts clawing at the dead parts of the cyborg Prometheus, causing it terrible pain. He also uses his catchphrase, which causes Prometheus even more pain, I'm sure of it. If there's a good part here, it's that Computrex turns the catchphrase around on him ("You call yourself the Devil? Then burn in H.E.L.L.!") and then lights him on fire and Devil falls into the Prometheus Pit. He got off easy, in my opinion.

The Mr.Bean of the Microverse.

In chapter two, Bug, Mari and Acroyear go to one of Homeworld's misery-spreading gambling churches, where the faithful can play their hard-earned cash on machines against the slim chance to gain life credits which will allow themselves to survive injury and illness, or to live even a short time beyond the human lifespan. Those who lose everything are thrown into the Body Banks as spare parts for the rich. Medicare for All.

Uncloaking themselves, Mari and crew disrupt the crowds as they stand on the steps to the church. A confrontation grows between the priests and the rebel icons, which brings the soldiers. As our heroic trio battle the soldiers, the people are inspired, and a full-on fuck-you Bill-Mantlo-class riot breaks out. Remember that Mantlo does not sugarcoat the riots and wars the way he's required to bowdlerize one-on-one violence, as per The Code. People are getting shot in the face, soldiers are being clawed at and battered, and Aegyptia's representative among the rebels, Captain Margrace, weeps for the memory of his desert homeland and cries, riding to war, "We'll just have to do our dyin' in the darkness!"

The battle ends with Margrace uniting his forces with Mari's, while the women inside the castle are starting to stir too. Belladonna realizes that her plan to marry and co-opt the rule of Argon is unfeasible, so she commits herself to betrayal. In the dungeons, Slug -- wearing Belladonna's aged frame -- lashes out at her guard and escapes, vengeance in her sights. Give me Mari, Slug and Belladonna on an adventure for a few issues, I could handle that.

Carl Potts inking Kane. Look at this.

Back in chapter three, the fight at H.E.L.L. is wrapping up. Turns out the Prometheus Pit is full of water, which is good news for Devil and bad new about him: he survived! His fur's been burned black and now he's full-time savage, which is fine. It wasn't the going-wild storyline that bugged me, it was the dithering and the meaninglessness. Now maybe we can do something proactive with his arc.

Computrex also uses this time to explain his plan, since he finally has a motivation -- he wants to conquer the Microverse and use their roboid technology to give him a conquering roboid form of his own. Devil kills him and Prometheus, so he's good for something. The end, see you next week!

Well, thanks for wasting our time?

1 comment:

Wes Carter said...

I was waiting to see who the guest inkers that you mentioned a couple of weeks ago would be. Carl Pott's - wow, didn't see that one coming, but damn you're right, beautiful inking for Kane!

It's funny, the inkers that seem to work the best on Kane are some of my least favroite inkers in general. Vince Colletta of all people did some excellent inking for Kane on some Flash comics from the early 70's - easily the best Colletta inks I've ever seen.

klaus Janson works well over Kane, I generally don't care at all for his work.

Oh well I guess it's back to Bulanadi... a shame.

Sorry to go on so much about inkers, I should probably socialize more.

BTW: Gorgeous cover!

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