Micronauts vol.1 No.52
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Butch Guice / Danny Bulandi
Letterer: Jim Novak
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Al Milgrom
EIC: Jim Shooter
I'm a fan of Jackson Guice's art, but I wouldn't call myself a FFFFFANNNNNN, as it were. He's one of those artists whose work is clear, concise, sufficiently dynamic and narrative, but it rarely blows me away -- I think it took until the Tangent Universe event that DC ran at the tail end of the Nineties before I saw him do something that really shook me up, in a good way. Other than that, I appreciate him as a solid, reliable artist whose work -- at the absolute, apocalyptic worst -- is perfectly fine.
I say all of that as prelude because that cover is a disaster area. The rendering is just kind of sloppy, and the composition is no great shakes, but it's obvious that he had to redraw Cilicia and drop her onto the sketches of Acroyear warriors in the back. The glow emerging from her abdomen just looks like her gut is throwing things at people just off-cover. Her pose is clearly hastily done and the damage to her armor is presented in a way that fails to elucidate what struggle cost her so dearly, and so on.
Also, either Butch or the production department neglected to cut out the paper between Cilicia's knees, so all those warriors simply become invisible. Perhaps they thought it was tacky to put a small army of men between the knees of a pregnant woman YEAH THAT'S RIGHT I SAID "PREGNANT" GET YOUR REGGAETON AIRHORNS READY BECAUSE IT'S
But to that in a moment!
Karza tours the Microverse, seeking resistance which he can squelch. This brings him to Seazone, a hotbed of rebellion which, were I Baron Karza, probably wouldn't worry me because these guys can't breathe out of the water. My immortal reign of brutal cruelty is probably gonna be just fine, unless someone floods the Multiverse so that the Seazoners can get to me and --- well, I mean, if the Microverse is flooded, they're gonna have bigger fish to fry, the Seazoners...
Speaking of frying fish, that's exactly what Karza commands be done to the Seazoners. Using a massive magnifying lens (which Mantlo neglected to call a "Sun Gun," although I assume that was nothing more than an innocent oversight), Karza and DeGrayde boil the oceans of Seazone. The entirety of the aquatic population is killed in painful moments, although it's hard not to at least chuckle at lines of dialogue like "The merhumans and their steeds are dying!"
There is one survivor -- the Lady Coral, the last airbreather on the planet and last of the royal family of Seazone. Which still sounds like a waterpark. We'll probably get back to Coral in upcoming issues, but for now it's
Cilicia and Acroyear must battle, as is the way of their people. Despite having been lovers before A'yo betrayed a whole planet so hard that it blew up, the warriors must know battle for their lives. It's a little uneven, as conflicts go -- Cilicia is allowed to keep her armor, but Acroyear himself can wear only the tribal colors of his people, painted onto his bare skin.
This, by the way ... I didn't know that the Acroyear people had tribes! Or that there were identifying colors (A'yo's are blur, white and yellow, which is, what, Norway? I dunno. I don't know why it's not his armor colors, but I can live with it)! Anyway, Mantlo's worldbuilding can be a little sloppy at times, so I'm glad when we receive a glimpse into something he, to be frank, might just have thought of and might forget by the end of the issue.
As they launch into battle, we return to Rann's quest to stir the Time Travelers into action. Instead, they remain impassive in the Time Temple, and choose to make their reasoning known to their creator by way of punishing him with a razor-sharp, acid-squirting rose. I didn't quite get the lesson, myself, even as one of the Travelers explains it: "The flower is beautiful AND deadly ... but neither good now evil!" Well, the flower ain't able to reason morality, is my feeling on that matter, but no one's offering me immortality.
Which is how the Travelers end the meeting. They offer Rann a spot in the Temple, but he refuses until Karza is defeated. He returns to his body, still in the company of Fireflyte, deterred but not yet defeated ...
The battle between Cilicia and A'yo is, naturally, not really about the fight. Acroyear has been left with more than a few dangling plot threads since the end of the series' first arc, and -- as we prepare to stage what appears to be the third and likely final confrontation between the Micronauts and Karza -- it's time to wrap those up.
The conversation which passes between the two does most of the sparring. Acroyear, having found some solace in peace and the use of war only to achieve it, speaks of love and hope. Cilicia, bearing much of the burden of Acroyear's destruction of the Worldmind of Spartak since his banishment, speaks of justice, right and custom.
Disarmed of his sword, Acroyear makes a desperate effort to speak reason into his former intended. He clutches her in a bear hug so powerful that it cracks her armor at the midsection, where it is revealed that Cilicia's womb is just straight glowing through her whole body. That's apparently what happens when an Acroyear gets pregnant, which Cilicia is, and that means ...
The customs of the Acroyear prevent a mother from ceremonially murdering the father of her child, which is a pretty good rule really. This calls a truce to the battle between Acroyear and his whole people, at least until the child is born. Hooray! Unfortunately, it puts everything on hold for the now-nomadic race, including any participation in the battle against Karza. The Acroyears, possibly the second-most powerful force in the Microverse behind the Enigma Force, will join the Time Travelers in sitting out this last confrontation, further reducing the Micronauts' chances to near-nothing.
Next issue, apparently a really controversial two-issue story arc begins. Meanwhile, here's a big poster of the Acroyears, in case you'd like to celebrate KINGBIRTH!