Monday, July 2, 2018


The X-Men and the Micronauts vol.1 No.1
Writer: Bill Mantlo/Chris Claremont
Artist: Butch Guice / Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Michael Higgins
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Bob Budiansky
EIC: Jim Shooter

Briefly sidelining the final three issues of the original run of The Micronauts, the crossover limited series with one of Marvel's premiere teams (and, let's say for argument and acknowledging the era, THE premiere superhero team of the day) debuts. The X-Men and the Micronauts will run four issues, be scripted in a tag-team fashion by the powerhouse team of Chris Claremont and Bill Mantlo, and be okay but kind of disappointing.

One of the elements which
Mantlo was sure to keep
was the blunt depiction
of the casualties
of conflict ...
The oddest quality of the series is that it adopts something of a lighthearted, anything-goes type of tone, while the actual events of the book are skeeeeeeeeevy as a motherfucker. And motherfuckers are, indeed, the skeeviest known creatures to have ever trod the Earth. So you know how skeevy that must be, then. Mantlo and Claremont literally scripting eleven-and-a-half pages of each issue makes for an interesting experiment but it lacks the permissive but disciplined guiding hand of either creator.

This is also the story which introduced me to the Micronauts, by way of the Marvel UK reprint tabloids I lucked upon as a weeyin. I've been waiting most of my life to fill in the blanks...

The book opens with a scenario so unlikely, given the assorted arcs of the Micronauts series so far, that it even becomes difficult to accept given Karza's abandonment of his plans for godhood. Instead, he and the Micronauts have teamed up to battle a mysterious entity named "The Entity," because whoever named characters that day was out with a stomach virus. The Entity lives for destruction and has been shredding the Microverse and its many worlds, or so we're informed amidst Karza sending Homeworld's legions against The Entity and the Micronauts directing the strategic aspect of the fight. It's hard to buy.

They also don't do a great job. The Entity possesses power on an unimaginable scale, and he defeats the invading force of Micronauts, disabling most of the team for the first issue. Karza and Bioship escape, choosing to flee into the Macroverse from which they've detected the Entity first emerged. Also, I think at this point we already saw Xavier, in an older issue of The X-Men, wearing this armor? So, you know ... most of us can see where this is going.

"Hi, my name is Some Evil Personality Escaped From Charles Xavier's Mind."
Nonetheless, Bioship and Karza arrive at the Xavier School, promptly scuffling with several New Mutants (Cannonball, Wolfsbane, Magik and Mirage) and, more importantly, the X-Men who will ultimately be joining the series (Colossus, Kitty Pryde, Nightcrawler, Storm and Wolverine). One of the odd aspects of the comic is that Wolverine is pushed to the background, despite already being one of Marvel's new rising stars. Kitty Pryde gets much more attention... 

And pants.
Speaking of whom: It's Kitty who defeats Karza, the tyrant having just mangled the New Mutants and held off the X-Men with aplomb, despite their greater skills. Kitty -- still going by the codename "Ariel" if that happens to send you back to the tarpits of nostalgia -- phases through Karza, intending to disrupt his armor. Instead, she switches minds with him, trapped in the despot's armor and psionically kept mute by a shocked and frantically planning Karza. Also, half of this is written by Claremont, so I hate to see where Kitty's going to end up in this scenario ...

I wanted to make sure to post this hilarious
panel of Sunspot getting his ass kicked by
a surprisingly large hand.
It's unusual to see the Micronauts written as straightforward superheroes, but that's what the series requires of them (and, in fact, is a better excuse for not doing the crossover in the main series than the one given, being a matter of scheduling. Imagine the Micronauts acting like Spider-Man and Thor in the pages of their own book). Instead of having ideological motives in defeating a conqueror, the Micronauts are sorts-of saviors of the universe, protecting it from harm. It's a bit of an extrapolation.

The first issue of the limited series acts as an introduction to the Micronauts for X-Men readers. The X-Men/New Mutants who show up are multitude, but they bypass introduction because it's obviously presumed that the readers will know them on sight. I'm curious as to why they would try to make the two markets meet, since the Micronauts is one of Marvel's Direct Market titles, and the X-Men are still newsstand. If a kid liked the Micronauts, he couldn't find 'em at Safeway.

The story ends with the X-Men joining a remote-controlled Karza and the BioShip as they shrink to itsy-bitsy size to find and rescue the Micronauts, and defeat the Entity, who is clearly some evil projection of Charles Xavier's mind. I mean, I may as well mention that, right? It'll be the big reveal around issue three or so, I presume...

God, I wish Wolfsbane didn't talk.

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