Monday, March 26, 2018


Micronauts vol.1 No. 49
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Butch Guice / Danny Bulandi
Letterer: M.Higgins
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Al Milgrom
EIC: Jim Shooter

The series is ramping up again as we head into what should have been a double-sized 50th anniversary issue, had the rapidly changing artistic team not resulted in the hasty-but-welcome appointment of Butch Guice to the roster.

Micronauts works best when it plays it close to its own vest, to wildly abuse the wrong metaphor in the wrong place. But it's true that the best Micronauts stories have exclusively taken place in their own backyard, facing off against Baron Karza, struggling with the mystery of the Enigma Force and keeping tyranny away from Homeworld. They've done a terrible job with that last part, but at least they try!

On the other hand, one of the faults of Micronauts is that Mantlo, editor and company only seem to realize that reality in fits and starts. After months of idling with side-stories about Devil's pointless savagery, and affairs which left Belladonna and Slug wandering Argon's palace as if they were video game NPCs just waiting for the player to finally finish the side mission, the rush is on. Everyone needs to get back to Homeworld in time for the big battle with Force Commander.

Here's where we are: Microtron and Nanotron are freshly dead, having sacrificed themselves to revive Biotron in the form of the spacewall-piercing Bioship. This has also cost Rann years -- maybe decades -- of his own life-energy, leaving the millennium-old Commander resembling his age a little better. I mean, he looks forty-eight now, let's not get drastic.

Bioship was built to penetrate the Spacewall, and this ability allows Mantlo a chance to explore the topography of the Microverse. As Bioship runs between worlds whose scale grows until they are too large to even register, Mantlo dips into a previously-unimagined reserve of Kirby-esque dialogue. As they pass dust motes containing whole universes, meet germs as great as galaxies, and pierce the heart of the Spacewall, it sounds much like a tour of the Fourth World.

This page makes Grant Morrison look like nuthin'.

SEVENTEEN PAGES LATER, if you can believe it (And I use all-caps to impress upon you how much of this issue was given over to a travelogue of the Microverse, not to complain -- I loved it), Bioship penetrates the Spacewall and finds, in its living biological center, THE TEMPLE OF TIME, where the Time Travelers make their home between dimensions. There, Rann confronts his time-tossed duplicates and demand they reinvigorate him with the power of the Enigma Force in order to overthrow Argon. They tell him that they don't do that no more and that he can eat his spuds walking. Is that gratitude?

Back on Homeworld, Argon prepares for his wedding day some more, but at least it's finally right around the corner. Acroyear, Bug and Pharoid are sent to the gladiatorial arena to fight a giant bug creature from the Body Banks, under the guarding eye of Argon's insipid Death Squad. It is not a fight that goes well, I will let you know, as the unfairly-underpowered trio simply do not have the firepower to fight back.

Oh, they got one of those things.

Luckily, that's why this book has Marionette. Having hijacked the Weather Control Tower, she overwhelms the arena with a powerful thunderstorm, then leaps out of nowhere, Lasersonic pistol blazing, cleaning house on the Death Squad. But she's not alone -- Huntarr, formerly the appointed guardian of the Weather Control Tower, has switched sides! That's good praxis, comrade Marionette!

While the arena is awash in confusion, Acroyear ... Acroyear, my dudes, my good people, my rowdy boys and girls ... Acroyear, whilst buck naked and unarmed, JUST FUCKING PICKS UP THE GIANT BUG CREATURE BY ITS FACE AND FUCKING MURDERS IT WITH HIS BARE HANDS. Acroyear sort-of remains my favorite, don't tell Marionette.

With Marionette's arrival, the twist in the weather, and the victory of the other three Micronauts in the arena, THE REBELLION IS BACK ON! Everybody grab a guillotine! The crowd goes apeshit for revolution, and start facing off against Argon forces. But Argon has other ideas. Actually, Argon has one idea, and it's forgiveness -- Belladonna (in Slug's body) removes Force Commander's helmet, showing the shocked citizens that their beloved leader is actually all energy, which is a thing they hate. Except Argon isn't tryna freak them out. He just has a secret.

Oh, and Devil is still dying somewhere inside Bioship. I hope it's in the colon.

Hey, this guy did something neat in the lettercolumn!


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