Retro Reviews: Micronauts #1-12 By Mantlo, Golden & Others For Marvel Comics

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Micronauts #1-12, Annual #1  (January – December 1979)

Written by Bill Mantlo

Penciled by Michael Golden (#1-12), Steve Ditko (Annual #1)

Inked by Joe Rubinstein (#1-7), Bob McLeod (#8), Al Milgrom (#9-12), Steve Ditko (Annual #1)

Coloured by Glynis Wein (#1), Françoise Mouly (#2), Carl Gafford (#3-4, 7-12), D.R. Martin (#5), Roger Slifer (#6), Andy Yanchus (Annual #1)

Spoilers (from forty-three years ago)

I have been waiting a long time to write this column.  I’ve had a complete collection of the Micronauts since I was a kid, lovingly sourced in quarter and fifty cent bins over years of dedicated hunting while the New Voyages series was being published, and it’s always been a book I cherished.  I’ve had a bunch of longboxes in storage for the last two decades, and it wasn’t until this summer that I was able to finally access them (it’s not an interesting story), and this was the first book that I wanted to revisit.

The Micronauts began as a toyline in 1976, and Marvel obtained the comic book license, and began to publish comics in 1979.  It seems that there wasn’t a lot of direction from the toy company, so legendary writer Bill Mantlo was free to build his own mythology, heavily influenced by Star Wars, which was the biggest thing going at the time.  We were fortunate that his collaborator was Michael Golden, and together they took the toy concept (there was a heavy focus on magnetic interchangeable pieces) to new places.

The Micronauts live in the Microverse, a sub-atomic universe.  On numerous occasions, they would be able to access the regular-sized Marvel Universe, although they would be tiny when they did so.  The team fought the fascist imperialist Baron Karza at home, and got involved in all sorts of superheroics on Earth for fifty-nine glorious issues, two annuals, an X-Men crossover miniseries, and a second volume, lasting long past the death of the toy line.  

I remember being blown away by this comic.  It contained a lot of what I liked about Star Wars, but was more serious and mature (the droids Microtron and Biotron were not comedic characters), and I loved how it blended in the other Marvel characters.  It was one of the first Marvel comics to go direct sales only, with better paper and an increased page count, and at that point, it became truly phenomenal (Golden had long since moved on, but Butch Guice became a favourite artist of mine in this era, something that has continued until today).  The final issues by Mantlo and Guice were a big deal to me when I read them.

Because of the licensed nature of this book, it has never been collected in trade, and probably never will be.  I’m not sure who owns the rights to these characters now.  IDW attempted a relaunch a few years ago, but since some of the key characters were Mantlo’s creations, and belong to Marvel, it lacked a lot of what made the series work, and it kind of fizzled out.  Devil’s Due tried a version years before that, and it was even less successful.

To my mind, this is one of the greatest books of the 1980s, and as I’m about to start reading it, possibly for the first time from start to finish, I’m a little worried I’ve built up too much anticipation in my head.  We’ll check back at the end to see.

Let’s track who turned up in the title:

The Micronauts

  • Marionette (Princess Mari; #1-12, Annual #1)
  • Microtron (#1-12, Annual #1)
  • Commander Arcturus Rann (#1-12, Annual #1)
  • Biotron (#1-12, Annual #1)
  • Bug (#1-10, 12, Annual #1)
  • Acroyear (#1-12, Annual #1)


  • Baron Karza (#1-11, Annual #1)
  • Prince Shaitan (Acroyear; #1-4, 9-10, 12, Annual #1)
  • Duchess Belladonna (#3, 5)
  • Major D’ark (#4, 9-10)
  • Professor Phillip Prometheus (#4-8)
  • Galactic Defender (Annual #1)
  • Maccabee (Annual #1)

Guest Stars

  • Man-Thing (#7)
  • Captain Universe (Ray Coffin; #8)
  • Nick Fury (#12)

Supporting Characters

  • Prince Argon (aka Force Commander; #1-3, 5-12, Annual #1)
  • Time Traveler (#1-3, 6-8, 11-12, Annual #1)
  • Steve Coffin (#2-8, 12)
  • Ray Coffin (Steve’s dad; #3-8, 12)
  • Slug (#4-12)
  • The Enigma Force (#8, 11)
  • Cilicia (Acroyear’s beloved; #9-12)
  • Agent M (SHIELD; #12)

Let’s take a look at what happened in these books, with some commentary as we go:

  • I don’t remember where I got my copies of the first two issues from, but they’re Whitman variants, with blank UPC boxes.  The series opens on Homeworld, where Prince Argon and Princess Mari flee from flying Acroyear soldiers.  There’s a rebellion taking place, and the elite have been targeted by Dog Soldiers and their Acroyear allies.  Mari and Argon head for a place called Shelter, while the Dog Soldiers use puls-rays to kill their retainers and guards, leaving their bodies undamaged.  Argon and his horse lead the siblings into their safehouse, where they are met by Microton, Mari’s roboid valet.  We learn that their parents have been killed, and that Baron Karza is behind the revolution, and that he won the support of the people by offering them immortality through his new sciences.  A shining being called Time Traveler appears to take Mari away.  Mari knows this means that the Enigma Force has been summoned (this doesn’t mean much to us yet), and just then, their Shelter is discovered.  The Dog Soldiers fire on the building, and Argon leads an attack.  He’s shot by Baron Karza, a black-armored centaur that looks more than a little like Darth Vader.  Shaitan, the leader of the Acroyears, comments that Argon isn’t dead, and Karza orders his foe taken to the Body Banks.  An old ship, the HMS Endeavor, prepares to land on Homeworld, and some Dog Soldiers are present to meet it.  Onboard are Arcturus Rann, an explorer who has spent the last thousand years traveling the Microverse at faster than light speeds, contacting alien races telepathically while in suspended animation.  He’s returned home, with his telepathic roboid Biotron, and is ready to inform his people of all he’s learned.  As he walks down the ramp of his ship, he sees the Dog Soldiers preparing to shoot him, and turns back.  He’s hit and loses consciousness.  He wakes up in the dungeons called the Pleasure Pits, where a group of various alien beings prepare to hurt him.  Someone grabs him from above, while a big armored guy scares off the others.  Rann is introduced to Bug, an Insectivorid, and Acroyear, an Acroyear.  They explain that while he was traveling, warp drives were invited, leading to war across the Microverse.  Baron Karza, whom Rann remembers from the Science Academy, has been conquering worlds.  Through a window, they see Mari performing for a crowd, pretending to be a Marionette controlled by Microtron.  The crowd believes that she is a roboid, and Acroyear has to stop Bug from revealing who she really is.  The next day, Karza, Prince Shaitan, and some of the Shadow Priests are sitting at the coliseum where big gladiatorial-style battles take place.  Karza reminds Shaitan that the people will stay loyal to him so long as his Body Banks ensure they receive immortality.  Marionette is performing, as Rann, Bug, Acroyear, and many others are led onto the field.  A giant Deathtank approaches them, and the fight is on.  Acroyear insists that Rann keep himself safe, since they believe he can stop Karza.  Bug has a packet bomb hidden on him that does a lot of damage to the tank, which gives our heroes the chance to escape.  Karza assures Shaitan that he’s planned for this to happen.  Time Traveler appears to Rann, introducing himself using that name and also calling himself the Enigma Force, urging him to escape.  Some Acroyears swoop in on their glider wings, and that is Rann’s signal to leave.  Acroyear punches through some doors, and they see that Mari is waiting for them on a wagon.  She calls for them, and Acroyear takes out a few of their Acroyear pursuers.  We learn that Shaitan is his brother, and that he has a blood feud with him.  When Rann reaches the wagon, Mari says, “Dallan and Sepsis!”, like it’s a prayer.  Time Traveler explains that these two, Rann’s parents, were the first to resist Karza a thousand years before, and that they were killed, and have been deified by the resistance.  Shaitan learns that Karza wanted Rann and his new friends to escape, so he can figure out the unknown factor that’s entered his story.  The group makes it to the Endeavor, which Biotron has prepared for launch.  As they exit Homeworld’s orbit, they are fired on by three Thorium Orbiters.  Rann aims the ship towards the ‘fringes’, and pilots it through an unseen spacewall that the Endeavor can now cross.  They notice that Time Traveler is not with them, as the next issue box tells us they are headed for Earth (we see molecular chains of planets behind them).  There is a text page that introduces us to these characters, but reveals very little about them beyond what we learned in this issue.
  • Having punched through the spacewall around the Microverse, the group are not sure where they are going.  Time Traveler appears to tell them that he disrupted the spacewall, and that a galactic cruiser is coming after them (I assume that things like this are named this way because of connections to the toy line).  Time Traveler explains that now that the spacewall was opened, it can’t be fixed, and then he disappears.  The Endeavor materializes in regular space, in an atmosphere with gravity.  They crash, and are confused by the size of the vegetation they see outside.  Their ship lies on its side, and there is obvious tension developing between Rann and Mari.  She explains that Karza took over through the popularity of his Body Banks, where people can have their lives extended, and where his enemies are forced into being organ donors.  The others all agree that Karza is afraid of something Rann knows, although he doesn’t know what that is.  They decide to scout out a place to hide the Endeavor, which needs time to recharge its solar reserves before it can fly again.  The group, including the roboids, drop to the surface and start to look around.  They are astounded by a large metal structure that appears manmade.  From our perspective, we can see that it’s a child’s swing set.  A small dog rushes at them, appearing huge from their vantage.  On Homeworld, we get an establishing shot showing the Body Banks, and then head inside, where Baron Karza and some of the Shadow Priests have Argon strapped to a lighttable.  Karza admits to him that Mari escaped, and we see that now Karza has human legs, and is no longer a centaur (we probably saw him like that last issue and I didn’t really notice).  Karza tells Argon that he’s going to experiment on him, and breed him.  Our heroes evade the dog, with Rann using his glider-pac to lift Mari away.  Bug and Acroyear end up beneath a cutting machine with a large blade.  Biotron and Microtron attack the dog, which Rann shoots.  Acroyear grabs the cutting blade, and we see that he’s able to send a gas lawn mower, and the kid pushing it, flying.  The kid, a young teen, spots the tiny heroes (scale wise, they are maybe the size of action figures).  Back in the Microverse, Prince Shaitan leads two galactic cruisers to the space where the Endeavor disappeared. They survey the wreckage of the thorium orbiters, and realize there is a breach in the spacewall, that he wants to pass through.  With Microtron’s help, Rann and Mari speak to the child, who is named Steve Coffin.  They explain what’s happening, and just as he agrees to help them, the two Acroyear vessels appear behind him and open fire.  One of the cruisers splits into smaller vessels, and Steve knocks one into a tree.  The heroes head for the Endeavor, while their enemies pursue.  Acroyear throws a stick into one ship, and while another fires on Rann and Mari, Bug uses his rocketlance to fly up and damage it.  They make it to the Endeavor, so Shaitan opens fire on it.  The ship fires its drive, although Shaitan says that it’s teleported away (I’m not really sure – I thought it just had a faster than light drive).  Shaitan’s ship prepares to give chase, but Steve sideswipes the vessel with a rake, and it crashes.  Steve looks around his back yard, which is now half on fire, with trees and the swing set ruined, and wonders what he’ll tell his father.
  • The first page of issue three uses the old column of heads sidebar to identify the main characters, and it’s interesting to see that Rann is called “Space Glider”, and Bug is called “Galactic Warrior”.  I believe these are the names of two of the toys in the Micronauts line, but I’m not sure those names were ever actually used in this series.  Steve Coffin’s father, Ray comes home and is furious to see the state of his backyard.  Steve tells him the truth of what happened, but Ray assumes that Steve is lost in his imagination, and we learn that his mother has died.  Bug wakes up in the foliage and realizes he’s been left behind.  Ray steps on one of the wing fighters, and sees its dead pilot, and realizes that Steve is telling the truth.  The Endeavor returns to normal space over the I-95 (they are in Daytona Beach).  Shaitan’s battle cruiser immediately drops out of warp behind them and fires torpedoes at them.  Their chase flies amidst the interstate traffic, causing an accident.  Somehow, the two vessels are picked up on radar at Cape Canaveral (which seems impossible given their size and altitude – would they pick up a football someone is throwing?) and jets are scrambled.  The two ships end up at the Daytona Speedway, and the fight is not going well for the Endeavor.  Acroyear suggests using glider-pacs to attack Shaitan.  Rann has Biotron pilot the ship, and Microtron and Mari take over the guns.  When the Endeavor starts shooting, Shaitan has his cruiser divide into six separate smaller ships.  Biotron flies into a skatepark, and Acroyear and Rann go after the wing ships.  Mari is impressed by Rann, but her thoughts are interrupted by the return of Time Traveler, who tells her that there’s a tracking device on the ship, and that Karza now knows there’s life beyond the Microverse.  On Homeworld, Karza is visited by Duchess Belladonna, an aristocrat he’s kept alive for over nine hundred years.  He’s promised her Mari’s body, and she’s come to collect it, but Karza explains that Mari escaped.  Belladonna says she’ll live in Argon’s body instead, but Karza claims he’s using it for something special.  We see a glimpse of Argon in a shadowy cell, and it appears he’s been made into a centaur.  In Florida, fighter jets arrive on the scene, but can’t find what they’re supposed to be looking for.  Acroyear destroys another wingfighter, showing his anger at the other Acroyears who follow his brother.  He forces one wingfighter into the skatepark’s office, where the owner is trying to call the police for help.  We learn that Microtron did something with everyone’s brainwaves to make them able to communicate with humans; he warns a kid to leave.  Time Traveler encourages Mari to save Rann, and she destroys another wingfighter, while Rann takes out another with his laser-sonic pistol.  Rann returns to the Endeavor as the fighter jets return to base, unable to spot the aliens from the air.  The police arrive at the skatepark.  Mari bristles when Rann calls her ‘kid’.  Shaitain and his remaining wingfighter merge their ships, and fly straight towards the Endeavor.  Acroyear hovers in front of them, and kicks their ship, countering their full momentum (which says more about the strength of his glider-pac than him, right?).  Shaitan warps away, and Acroyear joins his comrades.  Rann brings them all up to speed, mentioning that they are missing a Micronaut (the first time this word is used to refer to the team), that their ship is crippled, and that Karza knows where they are. Biotron locates and ejects the tracker, and the ship flies away.  Mari explains that Karza will come after the Earth and try to take it over as he has the Microverse.  Acroyear suggests they go back for Bug, so they plot a course.  Bug climbs the side of Steve’s house, and watches his father talk on the telephone.  Ray, looking at the remains of the wingfighter he found, calls “the Director” and tells him to come down to the Cape to take him and his son to The Institute.  Back at the skatepark, the owner is accused of lying about what happened by the police, who think he’s drunk, and running an insurance scam.
  • On the lower levels of Homeworld, a group of Dog Soldiers commanded by Major D’ark attack an underground base.  Their orders are to kill anyone with a weapon, and to capture the rest for the Body Banks.  They are looking for Slug, a rebel leader (who they don’t know is a woman).  Slug changes into civilian clothes as the Dog Soldiers start rounding everyone up, killing the people too old to be useful in the Body Banks.  As they move out of the sewer sectors and into the daylight, we get the idea that Homeworld is much like Jack Kirby’s Apokolips, only shiny and clean.  There is no vegetation, and a massive atomic firepit powers the planet.  Baron Karza meets D’ark and his men to inspect their haul.  A rebel named Tril identifies himself as Slug, and is grabbed by some soldiers.  Karza’s right hand detaches, flies to Tril, and chokes him to death.  Slug watches, and we learn that she’s allowed herself to be captured in the hopes of finding Prince Argon.  On Earth, the Endeavor is listing, and barely able to keep flying.  There’s some Leia/Han tension between Rann and Mari, as they argue about what they should do next.  She wants to return to Homeworld to fight Karza, but Rann wants to fix the ship first.  Biotron worries they won’t make it to the Coffin home, to look for Bug and hopefully get help.  Ray Coffin prepares to leave home with Steve and the shoebox containing the Wingfighter.  Bug notices that they’re leaving, but can’t get Steve’s attention.  Steve turns on the lawn sprinkler, which is a big obstacle for Bug (who also, it seems, doesn’t like water).  He realizes that he needs the Wingfighter if he has any chance of getting off Earth, and manages to make his way to their pickup truck, grabbing onto it as it leaves.  We learn that Steve has a lot of resentment towards his father, who barely has paid him any attention since his mother died, and even now, he thinks his father is only interested in him because the dead aliens will get him attention from NASA.  As they drive, Muffin, their dog, won’t stop barking.  They enter the parking lot of Human Engineering Life Laboratories, which unfortunately has the acronym HELL, where the Professor that Ray wants to see works.  Bug jumps off the truck and follows them.  Ray explains they’re there to meet Philip Prometheus, who was the co-pilot on a mission to space Ray took.  Now he’s an administrator, after an accident on a Starlab mission.  Prometheus meets them, and is surprised by what Steve shows him.  The Endeavor limps its way to the Coffins’ home, but they can’t find Bug’s brainwaves (Acroyear makes a joke about intelligent life).  They do detect them from a distance, but can’t go to him without fixing the ship first.  They have trouble finding a safe place to land and fix the ship, eventually flying through a window on a shed, and landing hard.  Prince Shaitan returns to the Microverse through the spacewall, and is immediately met by a holographic projection of Baron Karza.  He tells him that he’s severing their alliance, and that he is removing the ‘thoughtwash’ that convinced the other Acroyears that our Acroyear is dead.  Shaitan knows this means the people won’t follow him, but his vessel, outside his control now, flies him towards home.  The Micronauts launch the Astro Station, which I think is a removable part of their bridge, to go looking for Bug.  They leave Biotron behind to fix the Endeavor.  Mari and Rann take shots at each other, and Biotron comments to himself that his sensors identify their actions as proof they are in love with each other.  The textpage of issue four has a picture of the Endeavor, identifying key parts of the ship.  A long textpiece mentions that the ship is obsolete since Karza invented warp technology, yet we’ve seen that it uses this same tech (maybe it was upgraded in the brief time it was on Homeworld).  This same textpiece is helpful in explaining why Karza is after Rann.  There are secrets in his mind that he learned while exploring the cosmos that Karza believes can lead him to the Enigma Force, the thing that is behind the appearance of Time Traveler, who has been challenging Karza’s rule.  He let him escape, hoping that Rann would lead him to the Enigma Force, but Karza knows that Rann is unaware of the knowledge he holds.
  • The line of heads on the first page of issue five (I miss this feature of comics) now lists Bug and Commander Rann as those characters’ names.  Rann, Mari, Acroyear, and Microtron have piloted their Astrostation to the outside of the HELL facility, and know that Bug is inside, but the fence is higher than their vessel will travel.  Acroyear uses the ejector tube (I love the way these toy elements get written into the story) to jump onto the electrified fence, and tear a hole in it for the team to fly through.  At the Coffins’ house, Biotron has affected a number of repairs on the Endeavor, and believes he knows how to charge the ship using the electricity at the house.  He doesn’t notice that Steve’s cat is hungrily eyeing him.  Rann and the others find Ray’s truck in the parking lot, and can tell that Bug has been there.  They spot Muffin, the dog, in the truck’s cab, and Mari jumps over to try to communicate with it, figuring that the dog will be able to find its owner.  Acroyear blows the window open, and the dog leaps out, with Mari riding it.  It enters the main HELL building, running past the dogs and entering a restricted area.  The others fly the Astrostation into a ventilation shaft.  Acroyear and Microtron enter the duct system on foot, while Rann flies back outside, to look for another way in.  Bug watches from the ceiling as Professor Prometheus takes Steve and Ray to his lab, and shows them that he has collected a number of specimens from the Microverse.  Prometheus finds it amusing that Steve can identify some of the specimens as Acroyears, but when Steve mentions Commander Rann by name, Prometheus gets agitated, wanting to know more.  He grabs Steve, alarming both Bug and Ray.  Prometheus explains that his specimens are a synthesis of man and machine, and reveals that when he had his accident on the Starlab, the computers there fixed his cosmic ray-damaged body by melding him with machines.  He rips off his skin to show that half of his face is cybernetic.  He also explains that he built his Prometheus Pit to access the Microverse (although he doesn’t explain how that’s possible).  Ray tries to push back the guards that are blocking him, and discovers that they are ‘humanoids’, effectively cyborgs, that Prometheus controls.  Bug drops from the ceiling, hitting Prometheus, and revealing himself, while trying to protect Steve.  Back on Homeworld, Slug and her group of detainees are stripped and put through a purification bath as they enter the Body Banks.  Duchess Belladonna bothers Karze about getting a new body.  He talks about how his science has restructured Homeworld, making it a paradise for the rich, supported by the striving of the middle class, who want to be able to afford the immortality Karza can confer on them.  We see also that the poor are either recruited to be Dog Soldiers, or become fodder for the Body Banks.  Slug wants to find Argon, who appears quite suddenly, bursting through a wall.  He’s clearly been transformed into a centaur, and yells for Karza as he fires a rifle.  Slug is shocked by the changes in her prince.  Karza blasts Argon with his eyebeams, knocking him out.  Slug yells, which draws Karza’s attention to her.  He suggests hers would be a good body for Belladonna.  As the standoff in Prometheus’s lab continues, Muffin comes rushing in, reuniting Mari with Bug.  Prometheus is excited to see a second ‘sub-alien’, and turns on his Prometheus Pit.  The floor around it starts slanting, and it looks like Steve and the two Micronauts are going to fall in, to Ray’s consternation.  Acroyear breaks through the wall, attacking one of the guards with his sword, while Microtron extends his arm and grabs Steve’s pantleg, keeping him out of the Pit.  Rann flies in through a skylight, and Prometheus is even more excited.  Rann’s blasts can’t hurt him, and Ray confronts his old friend.  They both get knocked over into the Pit, where Rann watches them get smaller and smaller.  The remaining guards feel they need to complete their boss’s last order – to put the Micronauts into the Pit.
  • Steve and the Micronauts run from the Humanoids, Prometheus’s cyborg guards.  Steve is worried about his dad, but Rann assures him that his father is still alive.  Microtron figures out how to close blast doors around the lab, and buy themselves some time.  Rann can’t understand why he can’t get ahold of Biotron, but we see that he’s been cornered by Steve’s cat.  Steve figures that the rest of the facility is not under Prometheus’s control, and they decide to split up to escape.  Bug, Microtron, and Acroyear head into the vents to retrieve the Astrostation, while Rann and Mari ride Muffin.  Steve bluffs his way past the guards at the door, who are helping to evacuate the building (the alarm has been tripped).  The guard notices the small beings on the dog, and so Steve and Muffin have to run.  They make it to Ray’s truck, which Steve knows how to drive, but Rann has to help him hotwire it first.  Just as some guards are about to stop the truck, the Humanoids start shooting.  Bug does a poor job of flying the Astrostation to the truck’s bed, and Steve runs through HELL’s front gate.  We see Ray and Prometheus, who continue to fall into the Pit.  They shrink as they fall, entering new sub-atomic worlds.  Ray starts to glow, and then disappears, leaving Prometheus alone.  Ray is floating in the void (it’s interesting that they can all breathe in space in the Microverse).  Time Traveler appears to Ray.  Prometheus, who can see all of the Microverse from his larger vantage point, is noticed by a satellite drone which returns to Homeworld, heading for the Shadow Temple.  A few hours later, Baron Karza, in his centaur form, attends the Shadow Priests there.  They tell him that someone has come through the Spacewall, and he sends his fleet and some Acroyears (I thought he separated with them) to go check out what’s happened.  Argon hears the spaceships leave, and notices that the wall of his cell is melting.  Slug has come to him, and calls him Force Commander (this was another Micronauts toy name).  Slug chastises him for self-pity and when the guards notice her, uses a disruptor to blast through his cell door (she mentions that she had these weapons hidden somewhere; that disruptor looks a little big for that).  Slug rides Argon’s back (remember, he’s a centaur) and they escape.  Steve arrives home as Biotron tosses the cat out of the tool shed.  Rann learns that Biotron has fixed the ship, but needs to recharge it.  Steve plugs the wires into his house’s electrical panel, and the entire block goes dark (it’s odd that Steve’s neighbor, whom we’ve seen before, and is upset that he can’t watch Donny and Marie, is named Abner Jenkins; the Beetle has the same name).  They launch the Endeavor (and get noticed by the Cape Canaveral radar again), and Steve drives the truck beneath the ship, with Mari and Muffin accompanying him.  Some cops notice the truck, and know they have an APB out for it, so they start to pursue.  The Micronauts help Steve escape by blinding the cops, and then Bug and Acroyear smash the vehicles’ windshields.  Mari shoots out the tires with her lasersonic pistol, and the group is free.  Biotron jams their radios, and everyone heads for Steve’s father’s fishing cabin in the Everglades to lay low and make plans.  As Prometheus floats in space, he’s surrounded by Karza’s ships, and their scanners give Karza a good look at who lives beyond the Spacewall.  He can tell that Prometheus is evil, but decides that he’s probably insane; he still can see a use for him.  It’s cool that Golden developed an (Eastern-influenced) alphabet for the language spoken on Homeworld; it’s included in the letter’s page.
  • Steve and the Micronauts are staying at Ray’s cabin in the Everglades.  Steve is fishing for his dinner, while Bug and Acroyear keep him company and maintain a bit of banter that centres on Bug’s hatred of water.  Microtron is monitoring the TV for news about what happened at HELL, but is really just watching Star Trek.  Rann is having a nap in his hibernation capsule, and it’s interesting to note that when he’s in it, he has the same cube-like structure that we’ve seen on Time Traveler on his abdomen.  He’s having a bad dream, and Biotron uses their mental link to show it to Mari.  We see Rann preparing to leave Homeworld on his thousand year journey.  He’s seen off by his parents, Dallan and Sepsis, while Chief Scientist Karza watched.  Biotron explains to Mari how on their trip, Rann slept and communicated with alien races through his roboid companion.  Biotron talks about how while they were traveling, Homeworld developed warp technology, so their work was obsolete, and as they traveled, Karza began conquering the worlds they’d visited (it’s weird that they didn’t come across any of these conquered worlds, though).  He talks about how they crossed through the Spacewall, moving faster than they should have been able to, and met three beings that looked like Time Traveler – the Enigma Force (although maybe the Enigma Force is a place, like Jack Kirby’s Source Wall).  Their communication caused Rann and Biotron to mentally link, and now the roboid has emotions and a permanent connection to his friend.  This is when they decided to return home.  Microtron calls to everyone.  Bug almost gets eaten by a fish, and then he, Acroyear, and Steve enter the cottage.  They don’t see a shambling figure outside.  Microtron shows them TV coverage that explains that there is a force field around HELL, and a colonel who is interviewed denies the existence of tiny aliens.  Steve gets upset, thinking that his father is lost to him.  The figure outside is drawn to Steve’s emotions, and approaches the cottage.  In the Microverse, a number of Mobile Exploration Labs study the floating Professor Prometheus, whom we learn has an atmospheric sheath around him, resolving an earlier concern I had (but not explaining it).  Karza has the idea that if he can merge his mind with Prometheus’s body, he can go to Earth and be a giant, and locate the Micronauts.  On Homeworld, Slug and Argon find some rebels, and are surprised to see one of the Shadow Priests among them; he wants to take Argon somewhere safe before an upcoming final battle.  Time Traveler talks to Ray Coffin, asking if he’ll step up to fight against Karza.  Upset, Steve leaves the cottage.  Mari follows, wearing a red glider-pac, and is the first to see that Man-Thing, Marvel’s oddball swamp monster, coming towards him.  Her lasersonic does nothing against him, and the others rush out to help.  Acroyear gets swatted away when he sliced off a piece of muck, while Bug’s rocket-lance sends him flying through the creature’s leg.  When Man-Thing tries to squash Bug, he starts to burn.  Muffin runs to the Coffins’ swamp buggy, giving Steve an idea.  Man-Thing is drawn to Steve’s fear, so he leaves Bug alone and starts to follow.  Biotron flies out in a Hydrocopter (this is one of the worst toy placements in this series so far – if they have an Astrostation, why would the Endeavor need a one-man copter?) but is not effective against the creature either.  Steve fires up the huge fan at the back of the buggy, and resolves to be courageous as he faces so many challenges.  The Man-Thing is made curious about this change of emotion, and walks right into the fan, getting pureed.  The Micronauts praise Steve, although they all suspect that the creature knew what it was doing when it allowed itself to be killed.  We see that it’s already reformed its body and shambles away.  The others decide that it’s time they returned home to both rescue Steve’s dad, and confront Karza.  At the same time, at HELL, Karza crawls out of the Prometheus Pit.
  • Issue eight opens in the middle of the action, as NASA guards are in a firefight with Baron Karza, human-sized, and some of Prometheus’s Humanoids, who are protected by the force shield around HELL.  Steve and the Micronauts arrive and explain what’s going on to the Colonel in charge, recapping what’s happened before.  Rann wants to engage Karza directly, despite the differences in their size, but Karza immediately points out the futility of that.  On Homeworld, Argon and Slug meet with the rebel cell, and learn more about how Karza subverted and ruined Homeworld’s once near-Utopian culture, making people focus on getting money to pay for life extensions, fueling a form of dystopian late stage capitalism that had people selling their own organs.  We learn that Time Traveler spoke to the King, predicting that the royal family would fall, but that there was hope.  The Shadow Priest explains that his order has never truly served Karza, but was waiting for Arcturus Rann to appear, their champion and prophesied savior.  We learn that the Shadow Priests started the rebellion.  We also learn that now that Karza is offworld, they feel it’s time to make their move, and they want Argon to wear Dallon Rann’s armor and lead them in rebellion.  Argon is dressed in white armor resembling Karza’s, and takes the name Force Commander officially.  Somewhere else, Time Traveler speaks to Ray Coffin, giving him the energy of the Enigma Force and sending him back to Earth.  The Micronauts are able to take out the Humanoids, but Karza is too strong for even the Endeavor to be effective against him.  Karza swats it out of the sky with his force blasts, and then smashes Acroyear into the ground.  He hits Rann and Mari with his eye blasts, and as Mari falls, she talks about not giving up on the man she loves, meaning Rann, which surprises him.  The NASA guards notice someone coming out of the HELL building – it’s Captain Universe (in his first appearance).  He attacks Karza, and Steve recognizes his father’s voice.  Karza can tell that Universe is using the Enigma Force, and isn’t able to counter the sheer power that is being unleashed.  Karza decides that the Enigma Force made a mistake though, because he decides it’s not as powerful as he thought.  Rann feels hopeless, but also comes up with a plan.  Steve tells the guards that Captain Universe is his father.  Universe and Karza continue their fight, and Karza decides that he definitely needs Rann’s mind to understand how to defeat the Enigma Force.  The Micronauts launch the Endeavor, heading towards the Prometheus Pit.  Rann wants to either bring Karza through the Pit after them, so he’ll return to his smaller size, or even better, seal the Pit behind him, leaving him on Earth.  Karza realizes what they’re doing, and separates himself from Professor Prometheus (there is no explanation as to the “science” behind this), following them into the Pit.  Rann is worried that he’s following them, since they won’t return to the same place.  The Enigma Force, appearing as five versions of Time Traveler, seal the Pit and prepare to receive back their power.  Time Traveler contacts Captain Universe, turning him back into Ray Coffin, who embraces his son.
  • The Endeavor returns to the Microverse, but finds itself amidst a fleet of Acroyear vessels.  Acroyear assumes that they will destroy them immediately, not knowing that Karza did away with Shaitan.  The Acroyears tow the Endeavor via tractor beam to their home planet, Spartak, which is an oddly shaped rock world.  Once the Endeavor lands the Micronauts emerge to a serious looking group of armored beings.  Karza also returns to the Microverse, his energy returning to his body.  Major D’ark tells him that the Micronauts are on Spartak, and Karza laughs at the irony of what’s happened.  The Acroyears hail our Acroyear, and a tribal elder and a female named Cilicia explain that they now know that they’d been thoughtwashed by Karza into following Shaitan.  It’s clear to Mari that Acroyear and Cilicia love one another, although they are very formal about it.  Rann makes a crack about how not everyone uses arguing as a form of affection.  We learn that Shaitan is being held prisoner, and then Acroyear welcomes his friends to his planet.  On Homeworld, Argon and Slug attack the Body Banks.  While they are making progress, it does look like they might be in trouble when a group of Phobos units – large robots – start firing on them.  The Shadow Priests use the Enigma Force to melt these units though, and Argon presses ahead, speaking of Rann as their savior.  On Spartak, the Micronauts are treated to a feast while the High Council meets and we see that Acroyear has been declared king.  He knows that Karza is going to attack soon, and wants to prepare.  Bug tries hitting on a woman and gets a beating for it, which amuses Microtron.  Shaitan is present at the meeting, due to custom, but he is not very helpful.  Karza’s fleet arrives and starts dropping thorium bombs on the settlement.  Acroyear orders his people to stand against them, and wants to take drastic steps to protect his home.  It’s clear Cilicia knows that what he plans to do is dangerous, but it’s not explained to anyone.  He enters a chamber with Cilicia, and rejects Bug’s offer of help, which hurts the Insectivoroid.  The Micronauts borrow Acroyear wing-fighters, planning on joining the fight.  Mari defies Rann, choosing to fly separate from him, while Microtron joins Bug, who is not a good pilot.  Karza sees them flying off, and makes plans to capture them.  In a large crystal chamber deep inside Spartak, Acroyear starts to take off his armor while Cilicia talks to him about the dangers of what he is going to do.  We see that Acroyears have purple skin, and lack noses.  His plan is to merge with the Worldmind, which is his right as a king.  He enters the middle of a circle of crystals, and Cilicia worries about him.  In space, the Micronauts fight against Karza’s larger numbers.  Rann sees Karza on a platform, and moves to take him on.  He flies his wing-fighter right into a forcefield, perhaps leaving him dead.  Biotron feels whatever just happened and is sad.  Acroyear is surrounded by Kirby Krackle energy, and calls on the gods of Spartak.  Mari reacts to the possible loss of Rann, and then goes after Karza herself.  Biotron lets Cilicia know that he can help transport evacuees off the planet, but she rejects that idea.  As Acroyear speaks to the Worldmind, or the gods, we learn that his people were nomads who found Spartak and made a deal with its gods to live there and adopt a warrior lifestyle.  Yelling out in pain, Acroyear declares that he is Worldmind.
  • The beginning of issue ten shows us Mari’s attack on Karza, who is standing on his Galactic Command Center, holding an unconscious Arcturus Rann.  As Mari attacks, she yells about how she’s not going to let him hurt the man she loves.  Karza fires his hand at her.  Microtron sees what’s going on, and wants to help.  Bug jumps off their wing-fighter to attack one of the Phobos Squadron attack robots (they’re kind of like primitive Gundams, with their pilot visible in the chest).  He blasts at the thing, and ignites its fuel pods, which somehow makes it implode.  It looks like Bug is killed in the explosion.  Microtron, realizing that Mari and Rann are prisoners, and Bug dead, returns to the planet.  Karza tosses Mari against a wall and orders Major D’ark to continue attacking the planet while he returns to Homeworld with his prisoners.  On Spartak, Biotron talks to Lady Cilicia about how poorly the battle is going.  Shaitan doesn’t believe that Acroyear will be of any help, and when she hits him, knocking off his helmet, we see that he’s albino.  He claims this is why he’s always been hated by his people, and again insists that they appease Karza and surrender.  Cilicia does not agree with this proposal.  Microtron joins them, letting Biotron know about the others.  In the heart of Spartak, Acroyear, now covered with rock formations, finishes merging with the Worldmind.  His image is broadcast to Karza’s fleet, as a form of warning, but D’ark orders them to attack.  Mari worries that Rann is dead.  Karza’s ship arrives at Homeworld, where he discovers that the rebels have attacked.  Force Commander, Slug, and the Shadow Priests have taken the Body Banks, and start freeing all the prisoners.  Some aristocrats refuse to join them, so Slug executes them.  Karza’s forces amass for a counter attack, just as Karza enters the planet’s atmosphere.  On Spartak, the planet starts firing rocks into Karza’s fleet, and the invaders hear its voice.  D’ark orders the attack, and much of his fleet is destroyed as cliffs and lava vents fly at them.  D’ark orders his men to land, and the planet increases its gravity, making many ships crash.  D’ark orders his men to kill any Acroyears they find, and we see them massacring everyone, including children.  The fight gets more and more vicious.  Cilicia rallies the Acroyears to fight back, and Microtron chooses to join her, wanting to avenge his friends.  We see that these two wade through a few dozen Dog Soldiers on their own.  Soon, the Acroyears have defeated their enemies, and start to round up prisoners.  Cilicia executes one who has asked for mercy.  Acroyear returns from the catacombs, and immediately Shaitan starts to remind him that Karza hasn’t been dealt with.  Acroyear tells his brother that he’ll be returned to the Judgement Towers and disavows him.  His people praise him, but Acroyear is troubled; he knows that he has to stop Karza, but also recognizes that he desires peace above all else.  This makes him question how he can be king of a warrior people.  Biotron is also questioning the worth of this war, and worries that Rann is dead, since he can’t connect with his mind.  Microtron, for his part, wants revenge.  Time Traveler teases the next issue, saying the story will end with a meeting with the Enigma Force.
  • Issue eleven opens with Karza’s Galactic Command Center descending on the chaos around the Body Banks.  Mari and Arcturus mock him for misjudging the rebellion, and Karza blasts Rann with his eye beams.  Argon and Slug watch the ship prepare to land, and get ready for the battle to get even more intense.  Slug has doubts, and the Shadow Priests rally behind Argon, the Force Commander.  Karza floats down on his Kirby Krackle energy, with Rann and Mari floating above him in bonds.  The Shadow Priests declare that the Enigma Force is with them, and Karza realizes that the Priests have always worked against him.  Karza reveals that he suspected this, and that’s why he left Homeworld and gave the Priests the illusion that it was their time to make their move.  Argon is upset that they were manipulated, and Karza, who turns into his centaur form (I wish they’d explain just what his power set is) stands still while Argon fires his saddle bag cannons at him.  They fight, with Karza having a counter for everything Argon tries to do.  Slug wants to help, but can’t get a clear shot.  Karza fires on Argon from his torso, knocking off his helmet and knocking him to the ground.  Mari worries about her brother, and Argon feels like he has no hope.  A Shadow Priest says that things are going according to their plan, and when Karza questions what they can do, he casts a spell that frees Mari and Rann, and suggests to Rann that he “know thyself”.  The Shadow Priests remove their cloaks, revealing that they are all aspects of the Enigma Force, looking like Time Traveler.  They reveal that throughout Rann’s thousand year life, the Enigma Force manifested his many dreams.  They merge into one being – an amalgam of the Force, Time Traveler, and Rann.  Karza doesn’t see this as a real threat, and starts to blast away at the being who seems to be both Rann and Enigma Force.  Mari runs to Argon, and tries to get him to rejoin the fight.  Rann seems to be getting stronger, and fights his way through Karza’s force-field.  The Dog Soldiers and various rebels watch their fight, not knowing if they should continue their own battle.  Rann forces Karza back into his human form, and starts to take away his powers.  Karza fires his stomach cannon, and explains that he draws on the energy of Homeworld through the pit he dug.  Rann calls him a parasite, and then drains his powers.  He talks about how Captain Universe was powered by the spirit of Earth, and that the Enigma Force is the spirit and power of Microversian prayers and dreams.  He talks about being the light.  Karza decides to try one last desperate thing, preparing to let loose a mindshock that would destroy Homeworld and everything around it.  As he powers up, some form or energy hits him from above, and his energy is blasted out of his armor and into his pit.  Rann figures that his own mindshock will consume him.  Slug points up, and they all see that the Acroyears have arrived, and Rann realizes that the Worldmind is what struck Karza. Quickly, the Acroyear warriors defeat the Dog Soldiers or send them running.  Acroyear, Cilicia, Biotron, and Microtron join the others.  Time Traveler and the Enigma Force leave Rann’s body, telling him that he’s part of the Force.  Biotron can sense his connection to the Commander again, and Rann weeps to learn that the fight is over.  The last image in this issue is of Karza’s empty armor.
  • Issue twelve, Golden’s last, opens on Homeworld, where the scars of battle are visible, and where rebels and Acroyears guard the captured Dog Soldiers.  Karza’s armor has been hung as visual proof that he’s gone.  The remaining Micronauts, Cilicia, Argon, and Slug gather on a dais in front of a roaring crowd.  Rann’s been slow in recovering from his injuries, and feels out of place being treated with such worship.  Argon wants to make Homeworld back into the paradise it once was, and wants Rann to stay and help him.  Rann’s not sure he’s built for that.  We learn that Acroyear is heading back to Spartak with his people, and Rann worries about them breaking up the Micronauts.  Acroyear leaves anyway, and shows a little emotion over the loss of Bug.  As the Acroyear fleet leaves, we learn that Rann didn’t know that Bug was killed.  Rann is left to his own thoughts, and his confusion after merging with the Enigma Force.  Time Traveler looks in on Earth, where a NASA colonel finds a small Acroyear body in a test tube and orders Prometheus’s lab sealed.  Time Traveler checks in on the Coffins, and we see that Steve and Ray are closer than they’ve been in years.  Catching a glimpse of the future, we see a man in shadows, referred to as Colonel (it’s obviously Nick Fury) order someone called Agent M to deliver something from NASA to New York.  The Acroyears return to Spartak, and Shaitan is brought before Acroyear and the Warrior Tribunal.  We get a recap of the history of the Acroyears, and how they went from being a peaceful agrarian race to a hard group of warriors under the tutelage of their second home planet.  Acroyear admits that he understands why Shaitan is broken, but still needs to have him stand in judgment.  Shaitan challenges his brother to a blood feud, and Acroyear has no choice but to accept.  They get dropped off in a remote part of the planet, and Acroyear notices a comet streaking past, and starts to think that like when a similar comet crossed the sky when the twin brothers were born (did we know they were twins), it carries a portent or message.  Shaitan attacks him from behind, and as they fight, using something called Force Hammers (obviously part of the toy line – they are just round balls on the end of their arms), they argue.  Shaitan has his blade, but Acroyear has lost his, and the fight starts to go against the King when Shaitan knocks off his helmet.  He sees his brother as weakened after spending time amidst the Micronauts.  Shaitan is about to push Acroyear into a magma pit, but Acroyear manages to reach a blade (is it his brothers?).  He ends up stabbing his brother in the side, which was not his intent, and as he dies, Shaitan points out that he’s weak for feeling regret, and tells him he hates him.  The comet, which he recognizes as the Herald Comet, streaks past again.  Time Traveler takes us far away, and shows us that Bug still lives, and that the explosion he was caught in sent him into hyperspace.  Bug crashes into his home planet, Kaliklak.
  • I figured that since the first Annual came out at around this point, and was made up of flashback stories that were set in the days leading up to the start of the series, it made sense to end this column with it, instead of having it start the next one.  Time Traveler is our narrator (Steve Ditko is the artist for the whole book), and his first story concerns Arcturus Rann and Biotron, while they are on their thousand year journey.  Just as they get closer to Homeworld, Biotron detects a strange Force Nexus – a distorted region of space.  He can detect one lifeforce within it, and discusses it with Rann telepathically, as the first Micronaut sleeps in his suspended animation chamber.  The Endeavor is caught in some turbulence, which knocks Rann out of his chamber and wakes him up for real.  They land on the planet inside the nexus, and when they walk out, they are attacked by a being who identifies himself as Galactic Defender (this was a toy).  He claims the planet they are on is Paradise III, and that he is there to protect it from outsiders.  They end up fighting, and Rann cracks the aerobionic helmet that Galactic Defender wears.  He freaks out about disease, and races off.  Rann and Biotron decide to explore the city that Biotron has detected, and walk there.  They find Galactic Defender in a large room filled with glass tanks that each contain a decayed body.  GD shows that he is rapidly aging now that his helmet has exposed him to the air.  He explains that his people learned of other worlds and decided that they had little to offer their paradise, so they created the Force Nexus, but also started to reject anyone who was old or sick.  Eventually, they became so obsessed with not aging that they sealed themselves in aerobionic tanks to preserve their youth, leaving only the GD to protect them.  Over the million years he’s served, the planet has suffered earthquakes that ruptured everyones’ tanks, so he’s the only one left of his race.  He dies, and Rann and Biotron return to their ship so they can fly home to Homeworld.
  • Time Traveler’s next story tells of the Homeworld royal family.  Mari is practicing her horse gymnastics while her unnamed father and brother Argon watch, accompanied by her roboid tutor, Microtron.  The horse is upset when Baron Karza, in centaur form, arrives.  Microtron has to save Mari from a fall, and then the princess is rude to Karza.  It’s clear that Karza holds the real power on Homeworld, and he rubs it in the royal family’s faces.  Microtron tosses some horse manure at him, and Mari and Argon laugh about it as they walk through their people with their father.  The poor beg from them, while the upper classes laugh at them.  They see a ship dropping off new fighters for Karaza’s Great Games.  We see that Bug and Acroyear are among them, and Bug flashes a symbol at Mari to suggest he’s among the underground resistance.  The royals arrive at the Games (at some point between panels, they were joined by the unnamed queen).  Karza summons them, and introduces them to his ally, Prince Shaitan.  Karza makes it clear that he’s planned a coup, and then he shoots the king and queen dead.  When he orders his Dog Soldiers to capture the prince and princess, they fight back and make their escape.  A Shadow Priest had suggested that someone they trust hold onto their horses for them before they entered.  When they climb a wall to escape, Microtron is waiting for them, and they head off to Shelter.  A Shadow Priest watches them go, but we learn that Karza intended to let them escape, hoping they would lead him to the Enigma Force.
  • The final story focuses on Bug and Acroyear, who have been brought to Homeworld as prisoners.  Their fellow prisoners all fight each other as a way to show their prowess, but these two don’t engage until an unnamed prisoner and his big pal Maccabee decide to start something.  Bug mocks the one guy, while Acroyear defeats the other.  A Shadow Priest brings them their weapons – Acroyear his energy blade, and Bug his rocket lance – so they can have them in their big fight.  They are led into the arena, where Karza and Shaitan watch. Shaitan is not happy to see his brother in this setting, but Karza insists that he’ll die in the fight.  The prisoners are set against some large beasts.  Bug fights a Repto (this fight becomes an excuse to include three more toys in the story) while Acroyear fights a Terraphant.  Having both defeated their opponents, and being maybe the only two combatants still standing, our heroes should have been freed, but Karza gives them the thumbs down, and they are attacked by a Hornetroid.  They work together to defeat this biomechanical killer.  The crowd cheers that they should be free, but Karza declares they would fight again the next day.  This is when our heroes see Mari again, in disguise, and she returns the same rebellious signal Bug gave her before.  This sets things up for the events of issue one.

I’d built up a lot of anticipation around rereading this series in order, and I’m happy to say that at the end of the book’s first year, it was pure fire.  I was not disappointed in the least with anything I read here, aside from the fact that Michael Golden ended up leaving the title after only one year. 

The story goes that writer Bill Mantlo was impressed by his child’s Micronauts toys one Christmas, and convinced Jim Shooter to get the license to the toys at Marvel.  It seems that, aside from a few awkward inclusions of some very toy based story elements, Mantlo had a free hand to develop the series and characters as he chose, and he gave us a Star Wars-influenced tale of rebellion against an armor-clad villain. 

There was a lot more to it than that though.  Mantlo (and Golden, who shared a storyteller credit on each issue he drew) created new characters, worlds, and a mythology that borrowed a few elements from Jack Kirby’s Fourth World.  The story was epic in its scope, but also very character driven, and it was very effective.

I like the way Mantlo established the connection between the Micronauts and Earth, which opened the door for many guest stars in the team’s next period.  That left me with a question though, as I don’t understand how the Micronauts, moving from their sub-atomic world to the larger one, wouldn’t all manifest in the exact same place.  If you imagine the entire Microverse being stuck on the tip of a blade of grass in Steve Coffin’s back yard, how is it that it can also be accessed from the Prometheus Pit?  It really only makes sense if the sub-atomic aspect is metaphoric, but the story makes it clear that it isn’t.

Anyway, I’d like to take a look at all of the main characters as they are understood at the end of the book’s first year.

Arcturus Rann is a man out of time, but at the beginning, he’s so focused on staying alive that most of his personality isn’t really shown yet.  I noticed that he was surprised to be the object of Mari’s affections, and doesn’t give the impression that he’s all that interested in her.  I thought that his connection to the Enigma Force was interesting, if poorly explained.  I know that Rann is a character to watch in future issues.

Marionette is an interesting character.  She is royalty, but is not afraid to get into the middle of a fight.  She falls for Rann pretty quickly, and it’s not all that clear yet what she sees in him, but you have to respect her loyalty.  

Bug gets very little character development in the first year, but is proven to be very loyal and determined.  He is sometimes used as a more light-hearted character, and we see that he’s an effective warrior.  

Acroyear probably gets the most development.  We learn that he’s been betrayed by his brother, who stole his throne, yet he doesn’t seem too bitter about that.  Later, he takes on the role of King of his warrior race, but realizes that at his heart he’s a pacifist.  This never seems to stop him from throwing down in a fight, but he clearly wants to change, and this makes him fascinating, as well as very cool looking.  I like how reserved he is.

Biotron is interesting, in that he’s a thousand year old roboid with a telepathic connection to Rann that has caused him to be able to feel emotion.  At first glance, Biotron appears to have a C3PO style role in this book, but that’s not really the case.  Instead, there’s a warmth to him that is not usually given to robot characters.

Microtron, on the other hand, is the team joker, but his presence is not as irritating as R2D2’s often way.  I like that both roboids are so intelligent and such a help to the team.

Prince Argon/Force Commander is an interesting character, as is Slug.  They kind of work more as plot devices in these issues, but I’m hoping we see more of them in future issues.  I’m not sure why Slug has that name.

I remember Lady Cilicia becoming a member of the team later on, but found her to be just an outline of a character in these issues.  That’s fine, as her appearance both softened Acroyear and made him more traditional at the same time.

Baron Karza is a cool villain.  He has a Darth Vader look about him, but with armored jheri curls, and the fact that half the time he’s a centaur is very cool.  I like how ruthless Karza was depicted to be, and thought it interesting that his death was so ambiguous, but was celebrated with such certainty by the characters.

I am left wanting to know a lot more about the Enigma Force, but can’t even remember if we do learn more about them/it.  Time Traveler is kind of annoying as a character – he only shows up to sway events, and it makes me wonder why he and the rest of the Enigma Force didn’t move on Karza earlier, if they were that invested in what happened on Homeworld.

As I said before, many of the toy aspects of the story, while being the reason for it, fit awkwardly in the series.  Things like Karza’s Galactic Command Center, with its obvious place to store an action figure, or the designs of the Phobos units were clearly included to make the toy company happy and to promote it, but I noticed that Michael Golden spent less time on those details, and from what I remember, many of those designs faded away with later issues.

Golden’s figure work and character design is unmatched.  I know that many of these characters, like Acroyear, were based on the toy designs, but Golden added so much to them.  Acroyear is huge relative to the other Micronauts, but also somehow sleek.  Mari’s body suit really accentuates some of her feminine attributes, and there’s a fluidity to her movements.  Bug just generally looks cool.  I also love the aesthetic of the glider-pacs, and how they make Mari and Rann look when they fly.  Karza, however, was the pinnacle of these designs. He was so menacing, but also, due to his hair, contemporary and a bit animalistic.  I felt like, when he was in his centaur form, he had a mane, and that worked.  I also love Prince Shaitan’s and Cilicia’s designs.  The way in which Force Commander’s armor was designed to be the opposite of Karza’s is neat, although I assume that was decision made by the toy company.

Golden’s mixture of sexy, attractive characters, seventies grit, and the toy designs are very memorable. When contrasted with Ditko’s stiffer, more staid approach in the Annual, you can really see how ahead of his time Golden was with this book. I really wish he’d stayed longer, but he did stick with the covers for another year or more.

I had forgotten that this first arc ends with Karza’s death, because I remember him being in later issues.  It really felt like this book had a twelve-issue lifespan that ended up being extended, as Mantlo wrapped up almost his entire story in this space.  And truly, I’m not sure that there’s a reason for the Micronauts to continue as a team after this, with their main threat erased.  The first issue I remember ever reading is issue thirteen (I didn’t buy it regularly until the New Voyages started), so the events of this first arc always felt like ancient history to me as a kid.

Even though losing Golden on pencils was a huge loss, I remember this book transitioning into a lasting affair.  For my next column, we’ll continue with this series, as (I think) Howard Chaykin took up the art chores.  I am not a huge Chaykin fan, but his issues were my introduction to this team. I’m expecting more waves of nostalgia for this next column.

It is such a shame that these books won’t ever be properly collected.

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