Monday, May 15, 2017


Micronauts vol.1 No.18 (Jun 1980)
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Howard Chaykin/Al Milgrom
Letterer: J.Watanabe
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Al Milgrom
EIC: Jim Shooter

The last issue of the 6-issue Chaykin/Milgrom experiment comes to an end with this episode. Right out of the gate, it improves immensely over the previous story arc. Suddenly, the layouts begin to show Chaykin's innovative application of inserts and his strong formal training, while the inks (for the most part) are restrained. The end result is Chaykin's powerful sense of layout given exceptional gravitas by Milgrom's powerful eye for solidity. Too bad it's the last outing of this duo, and after a middling story arc which seemed to bring everyone down. In retrospect, I don't think any of them wanted to do a Fantastic Four crossover in the first place...

But the Micronauts are out of that shiz and back in biz! The Endeavor pierces the Force Wall again and ends up back on Earth, although they don't realize it at first. Hey, the first time they paid a visit, it was Florida. This time, they appear to have picked some sort of cozy hamlet in upstate New York. America, a wonderful country (to visit*).

*If they let you.

Despite having died in the previous issue, Jasmine -- Bug's slightly homicidal girlfriend -- still gets a headshot in the splash panel line-up of characters, which just goes to show that what they always say is true: there are no dead roles, just dead actors.

The Micronauts have no time for toxic masculinity and its taboo against platonic male touch.

Jasmine's death provides much of the steam for this arc's launch. The allegedly heartless warrior Acroyear comforts Bug for his loss in a genuinely touching scene, just prior to Bug fucking right off. I'll be honest, guys ... I wish I had an Acroyear in my life.

 After Jasmine is buried in a very tiny grave (inside Arcturus Rann's Hibernation Chamber, the device which kept him alive during his 1,000 year journey and is probably at least partially responsible for his essence fragmenting into the Time Traveler(s) of earlier stories, which I mentioned because it seems like important foreshadowing), Bug leaves the surviving Micronauts to clear his head.

Where do those other Micronauts go? Exploring, of course. And their exploration delivers them to a tiny, Gatsbian mansion in the middle of a grassy field. It looks for all intents and purposes like a doll house -- and it is -- which is underlined as we see a child hovering over the display before her. She seems delighted to find living "toys" to interact with her dolls, until Rann and Marionette flip out and kill the butler. Party foul!

He had it coming. Turns out that the kid watching all of this -- Helen, as though that information would help you in any way -- actually has crazy mental powers! She can animate her dolls and make them fight the Micronauts (and she does)! And she can fire laser blasts from her eyes! THIS IS SERIOUS STUFF. Call Professor X! He may not be able to do anything, but you can start spitballing a crossover miniseries...

There's no real explanation of Helen's powers, but this issue is really just the ramp up to the remainder of the upcoming arc, and a better story on which Chaykin can make his exit. Even the conclusion to the battle lacks any sense of urgency or import -- it's just time for Helen to come in, dinner's ready. She woulda killed the Micronauts, is my guess, so hooray for pork chop night!

The larger purpose of the episode seems to be to get Bug out on his own, so that he can be the target of the upcoming menace. Having the Micronauts encounter a random mutant in the middle of Saugerties may have mostly been engineered to play out the clock and put enough distance between the main group and Bug for his starring turn in the next couple of issues seem earned rather than declared.

Yeah, Earth sucks.

Lettercol fun: Issues ten and eleven appear to have caused all sorts of involuntary convulsions and compulsions among the readership.

No comments:

Popular Posts