Monday, June 4, 2018


Micronauts vol.1 No.56
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Butch Guice / Kelly Jones & Sam Grainger
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Bob Harras
EIC: Jim Shooter

It;s Assistant Editor Month, which means that the whackiest shit is gonna happen! Except in this book, not accounting for a fumetti comic in which Bob Harras accidentally destroys by way of an an atomic accident. I can't remember if we're supposed to care if Bob Harras explodes or if instead there are ::waves indistinctly:: issues and we're good with him exploding. I forget which editors groped who or pretended to be what other ethnicity or what-ever-else gross thing they apparently did to deserve being exploded, I guess is what I'm trying to say. I think I just didn't like the new 52 or something? Anyway, I checked, it doesn't appear that he groped anyone. Why the hell am I talking so much about groping all of sudden? I can't believe this entry went off the rails in the first paragraph.

Anyway, he blew up.

Everyone who reads this blog is old enough to remember the Maine so I don't think I have to explain Assistant Editors Month. If I do, here it is: The editors all went to San Diego together, leaving the assistants in charge. Most books took this opportunity to do some funny (or "funny") or inventive, but Micronauts has stories to tell! Let's go!

Bug suggests that the Micronauts -- currently operating without a home base -- set their sights on Kaliklak, his home world. Although Karza's forces had killed his people's previous queen, her successor is about to be born! This is a chance for rallying the Kaliklakians around a cause, and to give the rebellion an army as well as a headquarter.

I heard it's raining men.
PS, the issue before last they liberated Prisonworld from Karza's forces and unleashed a planet full of political prisoners on the universe. I have no idea where those guys are or why they can't -- or wouldn't! -- use Prisonworld as their new HQ. They have an army, they have access to Karza's armory. They don't have very long memories, I guess. Anyway. I'm no Bob Harras or anything, but it seems to me that they missed an opportunity. Or Prisonworld was stupid and Mantlo's trying to help us forget it.

On Kaliklak, they find the planet under the assault of Karza's "Bug Bombs" -- giant all-consuming beetle monsters about the size of a Labrador. They also invade BioShip, pitting the Micronauts against creepy insects -- Rann and Fireflyte absolutely destroy any they come into contact with. Huntarr forgets to do any fighting. Why do they always have to have one team member I can't stand?

Acroyear, Huntarr, Bug and Mari go planetside, visiting Bug's gang's old hideout. There, they're ambushed by Bug's old pals, and they meet Mattressback (I mean "Treehopper"), the younger sister of Bug's deceased girlfriend Jasmine who just starts making out with him without actually being sure that she recognized him. I guess she was carrying a torch.

This causes problems for Mari. The character they insist on calling "Warrior Woman" (that does not have legs) had planned to keep intimately close to Bug on this trip in order to stick it to Rann, who is still on the ship. How he woulda known, I don't know, because he is currently meditating as a post-collegiate level.

Rann is back in the Time Temple, pleading his case one more time to the Time Travelers. Karza is also begging them for the power to put the Microverse in "order" of some sort.  Now. At this moment,had you been reading this book as it came out originally, I am confident that this next scene would have exposed to you the reality that Mantlo is leaving. The next scene should have been at least a full issue, but Bill's clearly emptying out the idea drawer before it's time to hand the book off.

It's just a reskin, settle down.

Pledging impartiality but not inaction, the Time Travelers gift both Rann and Karza with the ultimate power -- the power of the Enigma Force, and of Captain Universe! I still think the "Captain Universe" portion of the Enigma Force is unnecessary, but it's exciting to see the different visuals. Karza's black armor turns opalescent, and Rann gets the version of the Captain Universe costume that doesn't have a mouth-and-nose hole, which is the better version by far.

Transformed, they come to realize that Enigma/Godhood would only place them above conflicts and questions of morality. For Rann, abandoning his humanity for godhood would be an abomination. For Karza, the abandonment of the desire for conquest is too high a price to pay for ultimate power. This ends with Rann getting ready to punch Karza, although by my reckoning he probably should have held on to his power long enough to curb Karza.

It should have been an arc of its own, but at least this confrontation establishes the next step for Karza's motivation: He gives up his quest for ultimate power and instead simply dedicates himself to evil brutality. He kicks the priests out of his palace and reveals that he's all human again under the armor...

For the rest of the book, we return to Kaliklak where Bug is leading the combined forces on a mission to save the new queen. The battle takes the alliance and the Battle-Beetles right to the hatching chamber of the new Queen, where the good guys unequivocally save the day. That's new for this book.

Even better, the Micronauts return to Bioship to find that Rann has rejoined them as Commander! Let's see where that goes! I think Marionette's social calendar is suddenly free.

On the way out, Guice gets to insert himself into a short comic in which he brags about killing Nanotron, among other things. Good for you, Butch, I'm on your side.

Lastly, in one scene of this issue, Karza was wearing a dressing gown and it must be captured for posterity.

"...but a nice dressing gown makes it seem so much better."

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