An in-depth, issue-by-issue exploration of Marvel's Micronauts comics, including background on the Mego toys, the publishing contexts of its 1978 - 85 run, as well as its place in the pop culture and some of its lasting influences.

                                                          

Last Free Comicbook Day I managed to almost complete my recently started back-issue collection of Micronauts.  I have almost all the issues up to the end of volume one and a few of volume two, but as Bill Mantlo wasn’t involved in volume 2, I’m not as interested in those.  I think it’s great that the writer who created the comic series was able to tell the stories he wanted to tell for 60+ issues.  (More or less – see later posts.)

The story is that Mantlo was inspired to create the Micronauts comic series at Christmas 1977, when he looked closely at some of the Micronauts toys his son had got.  The Micronaut toy line was begun in 1976 by Mego, and Micronauts issue #1 was released by Marvel comics just before December 1978 with a January 1979 cover date.  (30 years ago!)  It was Mantlo who pushed Marvel to acquire the rights to the toys as he was convinced he could tell a great tale with the properties.  Sadly, this meant that Mantlo’s perhaps best and most fondly remembered work is twice removed from him in terms of ownership of the ideas.

This is a good site that focuses on the toys rather than the comics, and will give you an idea of the raw materials that Mantlo had to work with.

The dates are interesting, because a lot of Micronauts is reminiscent of Star Wars, which was released in May 1977.  Most similar is the major villain Baron Karza, who, with his jet-black armor and face-covering, grill-mouthed helmet, is incredibly similar to Darth Vader.  A lot of the elements of the story too, are similar, beyond the rollicking space-opera/medieval fantasy feel.  Baron Karza commands a galaxy-wide empire and our heroes are a minority band fighting what seems at first to be a hopeless rebellion.  Further, just like Star Wars, the hope for the future lies with the children of the recently ousted royalty.  (Princess Mari is even introduced wearing a kind of headdress that is an echo of Princess Leia's Apple Strudel earmuffs)

As the toys, the comic and the movie all came out around the same time, it’s possible that they were all thought up independently, but some of the plot developments in Mantlo’s tale must have been partially inspired by Star Wars.  The series is ostensibly science fiction, but like Star Wars there is a force permeating the universe that functions much as magic would in a fantasy story.  In Jack Kirby’s New Gods it was called the Source, in Lucas’s film, the Force, and in Mantlo’s comicbook space-opera it is the Enigma Force that binds the universe together and grants supernatural powers to those who can tap into it. 

In many ways Micronauts is a much more successful attempt to do what Kirby was trying to do several years before.  It is much more accessible and simple than the New Gods, which was off-putting to many.  It’s a more kid-friendly New Gods with the corners knocked off it and the rough edges smoothed out.

 

Issue 1

Mantlo came up with a fairly original source of Karza’s political power, which has nothing to do with the toys.  Karza is a former professor whose control of the body banks, where obedient citizens’ lives can be extended indefinitely, has given him power over the whole society.  Fear of death is something fundamentally human, so it’s interesting to see it worked into this fantasy tale so overtly.

The main hero of the early parts of the story is Commander Rann, also known as Space Glider.  He has been on an extended deep space voyage to the edge of the universe for the past 1000 years, so he serves as an excuse to tell the reader what has been happening in the meantime.  His many years of suspended animation have somehow linked him to the Time Travellers, who are otherworldly representatives of the Enigma Force.  His ship is very old-fashioned compared to what are used now in Karza’s empire, so what took him hundreds of years can now be travelled in a matter of days. 

A helluva lot happens in the first issue.  Prince Argon and Princess Mari are captured by Karza.  In his prisons they meet Commander Rann, the mighty warrior Prince Acroyear and the roguish Bug.  We also meet the robot pair of the tall, fastidious Biotron and the small, brave Microtron.  (Hhhmmmm!)

Rounding out the cast are the mysterious shadow priests, the villainous Acroyear Shaitan, and the enigmatic Time Traveller himself.

At the end of the issue, the rebels, having escaped from the prisons, flee to the very edge of the universe and break through to the Universe beyond.

Issue one ends with the following:  “Six fugitives breach the fabric of space and streak faster-than-light speeds towards.... EARTH!”

 

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Micronauts issue 26

The Second Karza War Part 2 – Assault on S.H.I.E.L.D



Image from www.comicvine.com

The issue begins with a very effective and exciting narrative jump to where the action is. Mantlo has set up his pieces so that both the Hydra agents and Rann’s Micronauts are trying to get to the ESPer unit aboard the SHIELD helicarrier. The opening splash page throws us into the attack on SHIELD already underway with the Endeavour just arriving on the scene.

Nick Fury and Dum Dum Duggan are on the front line, wearing jetpacks outside the helicarrier, and are quick to realise that the tiny Endeavour and its crew are on their side. The great thing about this little mini-saga is that it reads more like a war story than a superhero story. Bug blasts the Hydra agent Fury is fighting with the Endeavour's Thorium guns, and there is nothing in any of these issues to say that being blasted with the guns of an intergalactic spacecraft, even a small one, is anything less than fatal. Micronauts was aimed primarily at a young audience so there isn’t any gore, but at the same time we don’t see anyone getting up after being blasted in the head. (Funnily enough, the violence here is handled in much the same way as the sex was last issue...)

Rann and Mari succeed in reaching the ESPer unit before Hydra does. There they find that something (or someone, can you guess who?) is using the ESPers' psychic link to the MIcroverse to establish a ‘mind-bridge’ to Earth. Just as our stalwart heroes realise who is doing this, Broderick and Mantlo have Karza pop up virtually between one page and the next. One moment Mari is questioning one of the possessed ESPers and the next, POW! Karza is standing over Rann draining the Enigma Force form his mind. Possibly one of the best supervillain entrances EVER!

The recovering SHIELD telepaths in the room find it hard to take a 6” Darth Vader wannabe very seriously, but change their tune when Karza turns his ‘nipple-blasters’ on them and reduces them to atoms, catching Mari in the same blast.

Karza lets Rann live with a fairly believable gloating speech before he and Shaitan leave a shellshocked team of Micronauts to deal with the apparent death of Marionette.

Fury arrives and asks if they have much to fear from a “six-inch high Hitler.” This is only one of many references to World War Two in this storyline; a war which is still a living memory to former Howling Commandoes Fury and Dum Dum. The references to the war against the Nazis are another little thing that makes the fighting here seems a little more 'real' than is usually the case in superhero comics.

Issue 26 ends with the last of the Tales of the Microverse. The dovetailing of the main stories and the back-ups is complete as we learn what happened to Mari after being blasted by Karza. It seems that as a Microperson, she isn’t turned to atoms, but is reduced to small enough to live on one. She finds herself on Homeworld beside the lava pit where Argon sacrificed himself to provide a body for Karza.

With Karza now risen, an emergency council is held with all the leaders loyal to the new regime. It seems that renegade races and bad eggs generally have begun to rise against the new order. They try to contact the Time Travellers, but instead get a broadcast from Baron Karza himself, showing them that he now holds the Time Travellers in bondage.

This means WAR!!

(But considerring the Time Travellers saved the day last time, not nessecarily a winnable one!)
Cable #37-39 (Nov 96-Jan 97)
Bug 48-Page Special #1 (Mar 97)
Alpha Flight #10-11 (May-Jun 98)
Captain Marvel #6 (Jun 2000)
Realm of Kings: Son of Hulk #1-4
Incredible Hulks: Enigma Force #1-3


When I compiled this list I neglected to include the Bug one-shot.

Cable #37-39 (Me? Read a Cable comic? Let alone 3?)

Well, it’s a three-part story, but the Mirconauts appear only in #38-39.

Alpha Flight #10-11 (Which volume is this? What year?)

Vol. 2, 1998. The list above is chronological but I’ve added publication dates for ease of reference.

Realm of Kings: Son of Hulk #1-4 (You’ll have to tell us if these are worth reading at all)

I located a copy of #4 at my back-up shop and read all four yesterday afternoon, but I don’t want to get ahead of the discussion so I’ll save it until we reach that point. A collection has been solicited for August release, but in the meantime, suffice it to say “these ain’t your father’s Micronauts!” That's not to say it's bad, but there definitely seems to be something missing between CM #6 and SoH #1.

The issues 24-28 are well worth another look, Jeff, in case you're on the fence about rereading them.

I will definitely consider it. I was reading about the Fixer, Mentallo and SHIELD in Micronauts #25-26 as backissues at the same time I was reading about the Fixer, Mentallo and SHIELD (reprinted from Strange Tales #142-143) in Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #18 as a backissue. (The two events were not entirely coincidental. :P )

We discover that Mentallo and the Fixer are actually habitual losers…

I misread that as “lovers.” :P

Without a doubt [the bar scene] was solely an homage, but does anyone know where it appeared?

I was hoping you could tell me! I definitely remember seeing it, but I can’t remember where. I seem to recall it was drawn by Butch Guice, though, so I think it’s less of an homage than it is a sly wink to fans of the Micronauts.

According to Drew Geraci's website, the Abell/Geraci image is from a 90s proposal.

Thanks, Luke. I didn’t think that was a back cover image, but then again it’s been decades since I had those issues out of their bags.
I'm pretty sure it occurred when Professor X was off-world, running around with his alien lover whose name completely escapes me. This would have been in 1986 -7 or thereabouts, in either Uncanny or New Mutants.

Without a doubt [the bar scene] was solely an homage, but does anyone know where it appeared?

I was hoping you could tell me! I definitely remember seeing it, but I can’t remember where. I seem to recall it was drawn by Butch Guice, though, so I think it’s less of an homage than it is a sly wink to fans of the Micronauts.
From the brief googling I've done, Guice did do a stint on X-factor, so it's probably that book. He was on the early issues and his work is in Essential X-factor Vol 1, so perhaps that's the place to start looking...

There are great interviews with Mantlo and some of the artists in this section of the web page that Luke and Jeff both linked to earlier.

The Micronauts – Issue 27

The Second Karza War Part 3 – To Snare Men’s Souls!



Image from www.comicvine.com

This issue starts with some shrink-sized fun. We see Karza’s giant face on a screen in front of an assembled horde of Hydra, giving them the old “we will crush our enemies!” spiel. We then see a group of Hydra communications staff with camera and sound equipment huddled around a tiny dias on which the 6” Hitler is standing.

SHIELD are also regrouping and trying to use the pause in hostilities to prepare themselves for the next phase of Karza’s plan. I was happy to see Gabe Jones at the conference. I liked him in his role as Dum Dum’s right hand man during their attempt to contain Godzilla’s eventful incursion into the MU. I see on wiki that Marvel had retroactively made him a member of an integrated fighting unit during WW2, when in fact the US Army didn't become integrated until after the war in real life. So Gabe has an importance of his own.

The first 9 pages set the scene for the upcoming confrontation, but sadly, a lot of it is taken up with “Shooterisms” telling us what we already know. Bug even wells up in tears at the mention of the Psycho-man, so we get Jasmine's story too, even though she shuffled off the mortal coil 10 issues ago.

Yes, every comic is someone’s first, but by the same token, the majority of most comic’s readership would have been around for a few issues at least. This is diminishing the enjoyment of the many for the benefit of the few. I can see that there seems to be a diktat at work here that each issue be relatively self-contained, which can be seen in the change of scene every issue since #23. The recapping nonsense contradicts this, as it involves bringing in all kinds of information which has nothing to do with the central spine of each issue's story.

All the recapping means that I have less story to comment on in each of these reviews. My posts would actually be shorter if I didn’t spend so much verbiage complaining about the repetitive reiterations of everyone’s back story.

Interestingly, Fury mentions for the second time that Reed Richards was less than forthcoming about what actually transpired on the FF's journey into the Microverse. Perhaps Mantlo, for storytelling purposes of his own, doesn't want Earth authorities knowing too much about his little corner of the MU, but revelations like this does feed into a broader narrative of distrust between our spandex-clad friends and the representatives of government. The seeds of Civil War and The Initiative go back quite a ways...

The most important story beat in the first half of the issue is Karza’s humiliation of Shaitan. He just shoots one of his detachable fists at the miserable Acroyear traitor and doesn’t even bother to watch as it beats the black snot out him. The footnotes keep telling us to ‘see issue 11’ but Karza never gets around to reviewing his defeat in that now-classic mag. He clearly hasn’t learned any lessons regarding the chronological placement of pride viz a viz the proverbial fall. He has a lot to be proud of, and gloats quite wisely that the lust for power which drives both Hydra and his Microverse allies is actually what puts them squarely within HIS power.

Nevertheless, his pride prevents Karza from seeing that having someone like Shaitan on his side, to whom treachery is as natural as breathing, is a very double-edged sword indeed.

Dagon is an intriguing addition to the team. Bug had found him preserved in amber in the previous issue and he explains that he was one of the Palace Guard that came across the faceless priests resurrecting Shaitan in issue 21. He was chosen to venture into the universe of the giants to find Acroyear and bring him back.

Broderick does great work in the scenes between him and Acroyear, so that it isn’t hard to see what Acroyear at least is thinking and feeling despite his face-covering helmet. Despite his warrior’s code, Acroyear is in anguish over killing his own brother in issue 12, and it has turned him further from the ways of war and violence. He is much more understanding of Dagon’s reluctance to join the front line than any Acroyear king should be.

Dagon himself is a little harder to read, however…

Remember I applied my PhD in Cod Psychology to Mantlo’s use of recurring garbage imagery at the lowest point in this series? Well, it’s worth noting that this cracking upturn in the series is set in a FUNFAIR! Obviously the creators are having a lot of fun themselves, that someone’s subconscious came up with this setting! Even the normally dour Hydra agents are enjoying themselves. One pair even uses a roller-coaster carriage as a moving sniper’s nest! Presumably they’d have to be good shots, and had only eaten a very light lunch...

SHIELD have indeed located Karza and his forces in an amusement park in Orlando, Florida… but sadly not THAT amusement park. Evidently, in 1980 there was more to fear from the lawyers of the House of Mouse than those of McDonald’s, who were featured by name in issue 22. Obviously McDonald’s is just a name, whereas showing the MIcronauts in Disneyland would necessitate depicting the likenesses of Mickey, Donald and co, which would be a bridge too far.

Perhaps if Disney owned Marvel it would be a different story?

Death is never far away in this series, and here Mantlo is pairing it with fun. We find that Karza has opened a gateway to Earth in Hydra's base beneath the Funhouse, no less. Hydra agents and renegade Microverse battleships stream out of the funhouse, inflicting death and destruction on peaceful holiday-making families.

By the end of the issue, Dagon’s inaction has allowed Dog Soldiers to board the Endeavour and kill Biotron, whilst Rann’s surprise at seeing Argon’s form behind Karza’s mask allows him to be all the more easily captured by Karza and held captive and unconscious beside the essence of the Time-Traveller.
Over the weekend I took advantage of MHC's half-price sale to order (among other things) the one issue of the DDP/Image Micronauts series I was missing (#8) as well as the four-issue Baron Karza mini-series.
The Micronauts – Issue 28

The Second Karza War – part 4 – “Last Stand in Fantasy World!”


At this point we come to my second and final encounter with the Micronauts as a youngster. Some comics have memories attached. When my aunt and uncle used to stay with us, he’d drive into town every morning for the papers and sometimes he’d bring me along for company and buy me a comic. So I managed to pick up another issue of the Marvel UK reprint title I’ve mentioned before. In classic Marvel UK ‘loser’ fashion, although only 6 months have passed since the Plant-Man issue mentioned above, Future Tense has already merged with Valour, another weekly comic, ”The best of two great weekly comics – in one!” and would only last for another 6 issues before being turned into a monthly “More excitement than ever!”


It was dated late May 1981, which accords with my memories of heading into town on a lovely sunshiny morning. Then again the sun shone every morning of our childhoods when we set out for town with the expectation of getting comics.

Or is that just me?

Note that the issue in question had only been published by Marvel US the month before, in April 1981, so the producers of the UK reprints were constantly in danger of running out of stuff to print once they ‘caught up’ with the US material. Actually, the Micronauts did seem exotic to me, something very different to the run-of-the-mill superheroes, and the two encounters that I mention on this thread made an impression on me, so I’m wondering why I didn’t get more issues of Future Tense [and Valour!]

First of all, it was impossible to guarantee that the next issue of the comic you got one week would be there the next. It was a lottery as to what would be available. Perhaps Future Tense had a lower print run than the other superhero comics Marvel UK brought out at the time and it just wasn’t high enough on my wish-list. I must have read some other issues of Future Tense, as I do recall being entranced by Rom that I read there too. To my mind, it was probably the sustained series that Sal Buscema should be most proud of. He made a great match with the Spaceknight. I’d love to get my hands on the early Rom issues too. Who wouldn’t want to read this

A look through a catalogue site brings me back to the Marvel UK comics I was regularly reading in April 1981. I was a very regular collector of Captain America weekly comic at the time, with John Byrne on Cap and shiney, glossy Bob Layton on Iron Man. I also got Marvel Action for a while, with the far-flung adventures of Thor and Dr Strange therein. When I could command the King’s Ransom of 40p from my mother I’d indulge in Marvel Superheroes Monthly which was jammed to bursting with the line-ups of the Avengers, the X-Men, and the Champions.

Marvel Superheroes was just about the gateway drug for me as a superhero fan. Marvel Superheroes #359, Mar 1980, to be precise. An apocalyptic storyline with Count Nefaria was my introduction to the Avengers! In the other strips in there, I was a little puzzled why there seemed to be quite a bit of crossover between the three teams. Check out the line up of characters in that one comic in the ‘characters’ list on the right of the page in that link.

My research just now has turned up a comic published at the same time called Marvel Super Adventure, which I’ve never seen before. It reprinted pre-Miller Daredevil stories which I’m sure were as dull as dishwater and late-period Kirby Black Panther stories that were far too strong a distillation for my 9 year old mind, I’m sure. I wouldn’t have touched it with a barge pole then anyway.

As well as the Marvel UK comics I was interested in, actual US Marvel comics would appear on the shelves in an extremely ad-hoc basis. The stories in them might have been published months before or months after the stories in the Marvel UK magazines on the shelf beside them, so we didn’t worry too much about following any storyline or characters in a linear fashion.

I’m guessing that the US comics would be sold in a certain area and the ones that weren’t sold there would be gathered up and sold in an area further out and so on. Thus by the time they came to my remote part of a remote little country like Ireland, the regularity and dependability of the comics was severely compromised. Marvel UK's comics distribution system in Ireland wasn't very dependable either.

All-in-all, the idea of following any title on an ongoing basis back then would have been pretty futile, so I couldn’t have followed The Micronauts, even if I’d wanted to…

Issue 30 of Future Tense only contained the first half or less of issue 28 of The Micronauts, but it was all very exciting. Nick Fury and his SHIELD team were being pinned down by the superior numbers and fire-power flying out of the Funhouse in Fantasyland. Things are looking terrible for our heroes. Biotron is once again mourning the loss of his teammates, this time Biotron and Marionette. Fury's attempts to communicate with either the Helicarrier or Avengers Mansion were being disrupted by Karza’s Psycho-seal. No doubt, back in 1981 I was very gratified to see the cameo of my faves, the Avengers. However, looking at it now, their lack of interest in following up on a disrupted communication attempt by Fury on the specialist SHIELD channel is a pretty extreme case of negligence, and might have cost the very Earth itself! Lazy buggers...

As has happened with many of the storylines that entranced me as a child, I had to wait quite a while to find out how our heroes got out of this one! I’d be in college before I found out how the Avengers beat the aristocratic would-be Earth-conqueror Count Nefaria, and it took me almost another 2 decades after that to find out how the MIcronauts defeated the aristocratic would-be Earth-conqueror Baron Karza. As it turned out, #29 was my first Micronauts comic in almost 30 years when I read it earlier this year, so a circle has been closed.

And how did they beat Karza? Tune in next post!
So many times when I was a child I had to make up my own endings for continued stories which I had no hope of reading to find out what "really happened"... not for a decade or more, anyway.
That was very pro-active of you Jeff. I never really did even try to work out how the stories might have ended. Then again

"The Vision gets better, flies into the stratosphere, becomes the densest substance imaginable and falls on Nefaria like a ton of super-dense bricks, thus knocking him out"

would be pretty hard for a 9-year old to come up with.

I guess that's why I never became a comics-writer.

Looking at those old reprint comics, I'm still wondering what happened that time Clea was contacted by the Delphic oracle (great art that one, as I recall),

How Thor's journey across the galaxy on the longboat with the Grey Gargoyle turned out.

What the guy who could control any aspect of his life after being exposed to atomic testing at Bikini Atoll had to do with the the Living Planet in that Fantastic Four story.

Thank God Shooter came along and forbid cliff-hanger endings after that!*

*joking.
Issue 28 continued


image from www.comicvine.com

I thought the US cover was worth a look because
a) a comparison with the cover of Future Tense, above, shows how much work the Marvel UK folks* put into reformatting them, and
b) all that verbiage below the title gives away the entire plot of the comic! The climax of the Second Karza War in three short intransitive sentences. Isn’t this a fairly unusual tactic?

Still superhero fans do like to see huge sacrifices, our heroes stressed to breaking point, and of course, the baddie getting his at the end, so this writes that large…

Actually, a Karza-Acroyear face-off is quite a logical conclusion to this second phase of the war with the despot. Acroyear has been shown to be super-strong and incredibly invulnerable, so it would take him to stand up to Karza. Also, there has been something almost passive about Commander Rann, from his speciality of running away from things, to his dependence on the lovely Mari to get him out of his jams.

I said Argon seemed like John the Baptist to Rann’s Saviour, and Rann does indeed, like Christ, seem primarily to suffer for his people’s freedom and salvation rather than fight for it.

Shaitan shows that he is of the royal blood by summoning the Worldmind of Spartak, but once he does that, and it is used to fight Karza, the Worldmind will die, being unable to return to the planet in the Microverse of which it is the living spirit. In a great panel we see that Acroyear's battle with Karza is at once a battle of wills, a physical confrontation between two mighty warriors and something more cosmic, which results in the destruction of Spartak back in the Microverse.

Mantlo and his artists seem to have an instinctive understanding of what we want from stories like this. In this case, yes, we want to see the good guys win, but somehow, we want to see it confirmed that what is worth fighting for comes with a cost. Yes, Acroyear uses the Worldmind to defeat the despot, but the cost is Rann’s mind, which connected to the Enigma Force, experienced Karza’s death as his own, and the destruction of Acroyear’s home planet, as well as the death of Esmera, Queen of Bug’s planet Kaliklak, who contributes to Karza’s defeat with her Suicide Sting.

Even Shaitan finds that as a risen undead, his reanimated body cannot contain the Worldmind, and he is dissolved to nothing. He dies again, betraying the master who he had betrayed his own people to earlier.

In fact, it is Shaitan who trips the switch that stops Karza’s reinforcements coming through from the Microverse, while allowing the Micronauts' allies to arrive in sufficient numbers to turn the tide of battle on behalf of SHIELD. Karza thought to put in a one-trip switch for that… interesting.

This comic ends on a similar note of finality to the first 12 issues. The Micronauts have won, but as Acroyear asks: “At what price, victory?”

As well as being a fairly conclusive conclusion, Mantlo and Broderick have done a good job of setting up future storylines. Rann seems to be in some kind of comatose shock and Acroyear has committed a terrible crime against his homeworld.

An apocalyptic ending to a great little arc. ‘Nuff said.

The letters page has a great letter too, from a reader based in the Netherlands, which is ironic, since most of it is in double Dutch. Ivo Steyn explains how theoretical physics might explain the existence of the Microverse, and also explain why it doesn’t matter where you enter it from. Take it away Ivo:

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THINGS GET SMALLER?
(Or: Into the Microverse with Mantra, Tantra, and Oh, get on with it!)

First Off: It is impossible that people retain their mass when shrinking.
After enough shrinking, they would collapse into tiny Black Holes (about 10-23cm in diameter and very, very hot). In other words, their density remains constant during shrinkage. Don't ask me how. Since it is impossible for them to lose body matter without dying, the mass of their bodies must decrease somehow: i.e., space becomes smoother around their body matter during shrinkage.

OK: So someone shrinks. Well, by the time he's about 10-31.5 cm high something funny happens. He reaches the so-called Planck-Wheeler Length (at the time, his mass is about 10-34 grams). If he continues shrinking, he comes into screwy territory where space is discontinuous, i.e., there are holes (Singularities to be exact) in space without the distortion effect usually accompanying such holes (think of the extreme gravity, strong enough to bend light, around a Black Hole). If he continues shrinking he might conceivably "fall" through one of these 'holes" (although topology
suggests that there is really only one ‘hole’ which is tangential to our universe in infinitely many places) and ... yes? And then what?

How About: And then he enters a sub-molecular, a sub-quantal even, universe?

We know it as the Microverse. .

So it really doesn't matter where you start shrinking: You simply "fall" through the Sieve Portal and enter the (very much larger than our own universe by the way) Microverse. Plausible and in accord with topological physics.

Hey! When are you people gonna realize that there’s probably a Macroverse, too?

Please convey my admiration and thanks to Messers. Broderick and Gil, and to Mmme. Jones. '

Ivo Steyn
Loosdi&cMss"ag4
1215 JW HiMwsum
The Netherlands


Sounds good to me, although who knows where this explanation stands now, as theoretical physics has made all sorts of breakthroughs in the 30 years since this was published. I love that he mentions the Macroverse years before I came across it’s use in Marvel Comics. The same week I first read this comic, I read Slott’s Mighty Avengers, wherein Pym and co escape to the Macroverse, and since then I’ve also read Slott’s ASM tale where the FF and Spider-man expand into the Macroverse and stay there for months on end, in MU time.

I can’t recall seeing the Macroverse mentioned in an MU story before these stories, but maybe I’m wrong.

Slott, for all his gifts in other areas, doesn't have a good handle on how to use the Macroverse in a philosophically interesting way, as Mantlo and Morrison use their 'worlds within worlds'. To Slott, the Macroverse is just 'someplace else'.

* Neil Tennent of Pet Shop Boys, if you’ve ever heard of him, used to work at Marvel UK in the late 70’s doing this kind of work, by the way.
Between your analysis of each issue and my own pre-research of the post-series appearances of the Micronauts, I’m beginning to regret my decision not to read along with this discussion. Secret Warriors #17 (the first part of “The Last Ride of the Howling Commandos ”) ended up leading me, not to the Second Karza War, but instead to the real “Last Ride of the Howling Commandos” (Sgt. Fury Annual #3), set in Viet Nam in 1967. But I digress…

That letter you transcribed may be the theoretical physics explanation of the Microverse I was thinking of earlier in this discussion. I thought it was from an actual comic book story, but maybe not. I find myself very much looking forward to your treatment of the upcoming “Origin of the Microverse” story.
I can't believe you're reading all those old SHIELD comics and not these. Maybe I'm biased because of being 9 years old at the time I first read it and all, but this is still a cracking SHIELD story. And they're not just faffing around with Communist spies or some twiffle. They are the last (and only) line of defense against an all out assault on the free world!

Were Fury and Dum Dum always yakking on about the WWII in other SHIELD comics? I think Mantlo has them doing it here to kind of subliminally suggest that this encounter with Hydra and Karza is just as serious and fateful as The Big One. (Mantlo seems to make a lot of great choices just on instinct. Then again, his subconscious has a lot to say...)

This arc is everything a good Marvel comic should be. (Complete nonsense being one of the criteria, but still...!)

When did you last read these comics, anyhoo?

You should read along anyway. Otherwise how will you spot when I'm (to slip into the Irish vernacular for a moment), "only talking $#!&e"?
I can't believe you're reading all those old SHIELD comics and not these. Maybe I'm biased because of being 9 years old at the time I first read it and all, but this is still a cracking SHIELD story.

All right, you convinced me. I read issues #25-28 yesterday and re-read your treatment of those issues just now.

Otherwise how will you spot when I'm "only talking $#!&e"?

I didn’t find too much of that; in fact, I enjoyed what you had to say more with the stories fresh in my mind. I really don’t have anything to add to your coverage, but I do have one minor observation to make. Regarding Fury’s jetpack, I’d have to see the images side-by-side, but I think Broderick was paying homage to the cover of the August 1928 issue of Amazing Stories (which featured the first appearance of Buck Rogers).

Were Fury and Dum Dum always yakking on about the WWII in other SHIELD comics?

To a certain extent, yes, but all that stopped when Jim Steranko took over.

This arc is everything a good Marvel comic should be.

You know, this story does follow the two SHIELD volumes quite well. The first volume tells the story of Hydra under the leadership of Arnold Brown, the second tells of Supreme Hydra Baron Strucker, and the Micronauts shows Hydra under the command of Baron Karza. I had really forgetten the details of these comics!

When did you last read these comics, anyhoo?

Oh, 20 years ago at least… probably 25. I’ll try to keep up going forward.

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