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!”

 

(1400 - 170512)

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Working from the exact same sourse material (i.e., nothing more than the toys themselves), one series was energetic and bristling with ideas, the other… bleah!

Even this high praise isn't quite doing justice to what Mantlo acheived here. He cherry-picked and adapted what scant information came with the toys. One example: he gave Acroyear a whole back-story and characterisation just by 'casting' him counter to the alignment on the box. He made him the one warrior who stayed true to the ideals of his people while the rest of them turned to the 'dark side'.

The producers of the new series were going down a well-beaten path 20 years after Mantlo's breakthrough.

I think comics fans undervalue the excitement of the fresh and new when accounting for nostalgia. Part of the reason so many people recall the series so fondly was in the way Mantlo remixed the hoary old space opera ingredients into something that was fresh and of its time. Even if that IDW series had managed to tell a cracking story, they couldn't have replicated that excitement of being in on the ground floor of something new. Fans who want new Micronauts stories just like they remember them will never get that wish, even if Marvel/whoever sorted out all the copyrights and got the most suitable writers and artists on the series.

You can't put your hand in the same river twice, grasshopper, and all that!

I think these early issues were set on Earth specifically to appeal to the kids who owned the toys. Look at issue #2, literally set in someone’s own back yard! The Microverse became an interesting setting, but as with Thor who had to split his time between Earth and Asgard, [a balance] would need to be struck between Earthbound adventures and those set in the Microverse. I think the series worked best when it wasn’t set for too long in one location or the other.

You’re probably not wrong, but Mantlo himself disagreed with you, as we’ll see in a text piece in a later Special Edition. He wanted to write an out-and-out cosmic-level space opera, but the toy company insisted on lots of episodes where our heroes get tangled up in hosepipes and fight pet budgies. For the reasons you point out, no doubt. Of course if the toy-line was ‘life-sized’ then that adds a level of ‘reality’ to playing with them in your backyard. My Action Man never had to deal with hosepipes and family pets in my games with him!

"Micronauts" was Marvel's best sci-fi series of the time surpassing their versions of "Star Trek" easily and, debatedly, "Star Wars" as well, though they had more freedom than those two books, I'm sure.

Of course. Rom and Micronauts were unusual licensed properties in that so much was left to the comics creators to fill in and adapt as they pleased. In both cases, Mantlo was able to tell just the story he wanted, with a beginning, middle and end, where the characters lived in a high-stakes world where there was no reassurances that anyone would survive because, “y’know, there’s a new TV series/movie coming out next year.” Or whatever. I’ve read enough interviews with writers of tie-ins to know that they find it very restrictive and it really dampens their creativity. Rom and Micronauts benefitted from their timing. They came out just when comics creators were becoming very ambitious in what they were trying to do, and before properties like them became so controlled by the ‘parent company’ that comics tie-ins just become a dead letter.

Transformers, GI Joe and the sadly obscure Zoids, were all comics series that benefitted from that ‘sweet spot’ in pop culture history. I go on at length about them in this post, so won’t repeat the argument here.

It was tied with "ROM" as Marvel's most innovative *toy* tie-in with regards to both internal drama and external ties with the Marvel Universe. They blended super-heroics and space fantasy and were at home with each.

Maybe ‘genius’ is too fancy a word to bandy about, but you’ve put your finger on another great aspect of these series. Mantlo got that balance just right. I don’t want to look to far ahead at later issues, but it feels like Mantlo again cherry-picked from the characters and concepts of the MU that most blended with the imaginative world he’d created. A lot of the guest-stars were low down on the pecking order at Marvel, but he had a plan for how they’d fit in. Spider-man and Hulk were the superstars of this time but I don’t think they appeared at all.
I recall Doctor Strange, Nightcrawler, the X-Men mini and Man-Thing??

Also it was a running plot point of ROM hearing about the Hulk over and over again until they finally fought but in Hulk's book??
If you like, Fig, I could lend you that missing issue.
Wow Luke, I'm honoured by your generous offer. Of course I'd love to read the missing issues, but in true 70's fashion, I think I've put together the important bits of the plot in my head from the subsequent issues. I'm hoping to get to the end of the first 12 issues in a few days anyway.

But thanks very much. Comics Cavers are the best people!
Unfortunately my copy of The Micronauts Special Edition #1 ends 8 pages into issue 3 and I don’t have SE #2, so if anyone wants to throw in a paragraph or two on issues 4 & 5, feel free!

How about six?

Issue #3 continues with the pursuit of the Micronauts to a local skateboard park by Karza’s forces. The Air Force is also called in, but unable to see the tiny spacecraft so near the ground, they chalk it up as a hoax and head back to base. The Micronauts manage to turn aside the attack force lead by Acroyear’s treacherous brother Shaitan sending them back to the Microverse, then limp away themselves to regroup and lick their wounds. Meanwhile, Bug had been separated from the rest of the Micronauts and is still in the Coffins’ back yard.

Issue #4 begins with an update of the situation back in the Microverse on Homeworld. Slug and Tril have been captured during a rebel assault, and Tril sacrifices his life to draw Karza’s attention away from Slug. The scen then shifts to the bridge of the HMS Endeavor, where Commander Rann and Marionatte are arguing over the proper course of action. Back at the Coffins’, ex-astronaut Ray drives Steve and Muffin to the Human Engeneering Life Laboratories (“It was only after it was named that someone realized its acronym was — H.E.L.L!”), along with the evidence of the battle in their back yard, including a wing fighter and a few corpse. Bug hitches a ride in hope of acquiring the wing fighter.

By dusk, the Micronauts have made their way back to the Coffins’ house, but no one is there and Bug is nowhere to be found. Leaving Biotron behind to effect repairs on the , the rest of the Micronauts take the “Astro-Station” to search for Bug. As they depart Biotron observes, “Strange! All my sensors indicate that the undercurrent of tension running between the Commander and the Princess is that emotion commonly referred to as… love!” Back in the Microverse, Baron Karza betrays Shaitan.

Tracing Bug’s unique brainwave patterns, the Mirconauts arrive at H.E.L.L. as issue #5 opens. Biotron uses the low-flying Astro-Stations rocket cannon (a feature of the toy, no doubt) to launch himself at the fence surrounding the research facility. Once he has torn a hole big enough for the Endeavor to fly through, the Micronauts spot Muffin in the cab of the Coffins’ pick-up truck parked in the lot. Marionette befriends and releases the dog, and manages to ride it into the building and through security. In doing so, however, she becomes separated from the rest of the Micronauts. Back in the Coffins’ garage, Biotron’s efforts to repair the ship have come to the attention of the Coffins’ cat.

Ray “Flying” Coffin soon discovers that his old buddy Phillip Prometheus, the head of H.E.L.L., is not only aware of the Microverse, but has also been drive quite insane by an accident aboard the space station Starlab which left him hideously disfigured. He is now a cyborg fitted with “jury-rigged bionics.” He has become obsessed with the science of the Mircoverse and has built a method of travelling there, which he has named the Prometheus Pit.

In the Mircoverse, Prince Argon (now a centaur) has apparently escaped from Karza’s Body Banks, but is soon recaptured. The entire scene was staged by Karza to demoralize the captured rebels. Slug’s youthful body has caught the eye of Karza’s ally, the Duchess Belladonna. Meanwhile back on Earth, the Prometheus Pit has been activated, and in an attempt to save Steve, both Ray and Prometheus himself fall in.
I also think Micronauts represents writer Bill Mantlo’s best and most personal work.

I hope we explore some aspects of this, especially the 'personal' part. It's quite a trick to put so much of himself into something that was twice removed from him in terms of ownership, and was essentially a very old-fashioned space-opera, with all its pre-established tropes.


Say, Figs, it occurs to me that if you don’t have Micronauts S.E. #2, then you haven’t read Bill Mantlo’s essay from that issue, transcribed verbatim below. I think you’ll enjoy it!

THE CREATION OF THE MICRONAUTS: A CONFESSION by Bill Mantlo

I can’t do it — not any more. I’ve carried on the deception for too long and now that marvel is reprinting the first twelve issues of THE MICRONAUTS my conscience ust won’t let me claim credit for their creation any longer. The time has come for me to confess…

I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MICRONAUTS!!!

My mother is.

It was 1978. Christmas. My son, Adam, was twelve years old and, like any kid, eager to see what goodies Santa had deposited under Grandma and Grandpa’s Christmas Tree. Would it be the air-hockey game he’d asked for, where the puck travels on a cushion of air at incredible speeds until reaching escape velocity? Or would it be the bicycle with the banana seat and the nail-studded tires capable of climbing the Himalayas? Or would it be (yechh!) merely socks and underwear?

1978 was different. Under the ornament-laden boughs of the plastic evergreen lay a number of very small packages. Dubious, Adam reached for the first one. The wrapping tore and fell. A tiny figure, gleaming, metallic, reflecting the Christmas lights, was revealed. Then another. And another. There they stood, five inches tall. Grandma was delighted. “They’re new toys!” she said. “I’ve never seen anything like them!”

Neither had I. THE MICRONAUTS was born.

I didn’t know they were called that. Or who manufactured them. In his fervor to get the Christmas wrapping off, Adam had also demolished the packaging. My mother thought they were called “The Metaloids” and that they were manufactured by a toy company named MEGO.

The “Metalloids” haunted me.

And soon as Christmas was over, I wandered into Jim Shooter’s office and said, “Jim, I’ve got an idea for a new comic book based on a series of action toys!” I wven had a proposal written up, based on each of the characters Adam had received as presents. There was SPACE GLIDER, clearly a leader; the insect-like GALACTIC WARRIOR; the indomitable alien ACROYEAR and his evil counterpart ACROYER II; the robots BIOTRON and MICROTRON, the noble FORCE COMMANDER and the dark, diabolical and deadly BARON KARZA. Their size suggested that they be located in a universe smaller than ours… a Mircoverse.

Jim got on the phone to MEGO. The proposal was presented, the bargain struck, approval was granted. As I left the office visions of intergalactic wars being raged in my head, Jim called after me, “by the way, Boisterous, your new book’s not called ‘The Metaloids’… it’s THE MICRONAUTS!”

Thanks, Mom.

BUT THAT’S ONLY HALF THE STORY!

Right.

The easy half.

Soon after New Year’s Day, 1979, a refrigerator-sized carton arrived at the old Marvel offices at 575 Madison Avenue. I was called in by Jim, who commanded, “You open it!” Was that envy… or terror… in his voice? A bit of both, I think, in which I shared, for, as the packing came undone, an embarrassment of riches was revealed that threw into chaos all the order I had crafted. THE MICRONATS, it appeared, was more than just a handful of toy characters. Mego had created literally hundreds of figures, spacecraft, weapons and cuty-systems. The tidy little universe which I had conceived for my MICRONAUTS exploded in my face. It was a whole new ballgame…

And an artist was need to give the proper cosmic scope to the project.

I sat down with Jim and then-editor Bob Hall. Bob had done a double-page splash based on the characters. It was nice, but Bob was too busy to handle any book regularly. In fact, no one I would have chosen was available. Then who? Jim said, “I’ve got this new guy… Michael Golden… whom I’d like to try out on a series.” A new artist? One of whom I’d never heard? I was skeptical. So was Michael… of me. I mean, my credentials thus far consisted of primarily MARVEL TEAM-UP, IRON MAN and the HUMAN FLY. Nothing cosmic. But I knew what I had in THE MICRONAUTS and, a half-hour into explaining it to Michael, he was hooked! THE MICRONAUTS had an artist!

You’re reading all about this five years later.

If you were with us back then… congratulations! You’ve lived through history. If you’re coming to MICRNAUTS fresh,… congratulations! The history continues.

MICRONAUTS was an immediate success. Part of it was its good fortune in hitting the stands soon after STAR WARS hit the silver screen. Sci-fantasy was selling, and selling strong. Part of its success was its tie-in with the Mego toys and their marketing campaign. But the toys soon disappeared, as did Mego, and older readers who’d never heard of the toys were seen reading the mag. Part of its success was my love of the characters and my determination to do what I’d always dreamed of doing… writing a comic book cosmic as any ever created by stan Lee and Jack Kirby. But a lot of its success had to do with Michael Golden. Relatively unknown before MICRONAUTS, Michael quickly rose to comics fame… with good reason, as his work on the first twelve issues of MICRONAUTS — reprinted here — attests. Michael took design-concepts suggested by the toys and breathed cosmicity into them. I could provide ideas, suggestions, words… but Michael MADE Bug, he MADE Marionette, he MADE the Time Travellers and the HMS Endeavor and the Acroyears and the…

Well, you’ve got the pictures… right here in your hands.

Happy reading!
Double thanks for those Jeff! Mantlo's essay was a bit of work for you, but that's a great piece.

I feel like that guy in the old folk-tale "The Elves and the Shoemaker", who goes to bed and wakes up the next morning to find all his work done for him.

“by the way, Boisterous, your new book’s not called ‘The Metaloids’… it’s THE MICRONAUTS!” Great stuff.

Like Lucas and Kirby, Mantlo was using this space-opera to delve into primordial mythic themes. We've already seen that Karza owes his power to the fear of death which has been part of humanity since forever, but then Mantlo chooses to call the Micronauts human allies by the unusual name of 'Coffin'? What's that about? As an astronaut called "Flying Coffin", Ray has lived for much of his working life with an awareness of his mortality, perhaps.

Similarly mythic, Prometheus was the God who descended from the heavens to the lower orbs to bring fire to mankind, which is similar to what Prometheus is about to do, although, with the Micronauts being more technologically advanced than us, perhaps he is going to do it in reverse, or do a diabolic inverted version of Prometheus' noble sacrifice? He descends from H.E.L.L. not the heavens, to steal fire,rather than grant it.

(I've read the later issues, but the questions are interesting on a philosophical level. I love asking questions.)

In fact the whole concept of worlds contained in larger worlds, which Kirby tapped into during his Fantastic Four run, starts to throw up interesting lines of thought. Prometheus is a reflection of Karza, so we have the old concept of 'As above, so below.' I've probably missed most of Prometheus' 'screen time', but from what I've seen, Karza seems ironically to be the 'bigger man', in that he's more in control of himself, and less conflicted. As I've said, so far he seems chillingly sane.

It's strange that I've chosen to delve into The Micronauts at about the same time that I wrote this post about a similar 'worlds within worlds' concept of Grant Morrison's. Qwewq is the 'infant universe' in his stories that's looked after by a benevolent member of the JLA. The twist is that Qwewq seems to be 'our' universe' contained within the DCU! 'Worlds within worlds' is one of the recurring concepts in Morrison's work generally. I'm not sure if Morrison read The Micronauts when they first came out - he would have been 18 - but Kirby's Microverse probably played its part in inspiring his philosophy. It's just hard to trace its influence directly as Morrison has written such a small proportion of his work within the MU.

Funnily enough, Godlike characters doing "a diabolic inverted version of Prometheus' noble sacrifice. descending from H.E.L.L., not the heavens." is exactly what Morrison has been writing about for the past 20 years! It could be the short summary of The Filth!
Two quick comments:

I'm not quite sure I'd call Mantlo a genius either, but I do know that whenever I pick up a random comic and see his name I always think "Good, this will be a fun comic."

Re: Micros being compared to Star Wars. As a kid I always thought of it as a "darker" SW.
Double thanks for those Jeff! Mantlo's essay was a bit of work for you, but that's a great piece.

Aw, shucks! ‘Tweren’t nothing’.

“…by the way, Boisterous, your new book’s not called ‘The Metaloids’… it’s THE MICRONAUTS!” Great stuff.

Interesting that Mantlo somehow instinctively knew that the toys represented teeny-tiny little beings.

Mantlo chooses to call the Micronauts human allies by the unusual name of 'Coffin'? What's that about? As an astronaut called "Flying Coffin", Ray has lived for much of his working life with an awareness of his mortality, perhaps.

I think you’ve answered your own question.

…perhaps he is going to do it in reverse, or do a diabolic inverted version of Prometheus' noble sacrifice? He descends from H.E.L.L. not the heavens, to steal fire,rather than grant it.

Interesting interpretation. That hadn’t occurred to me before, but now that you’ve pointed it out I think you’re on to something there.

I love asking questions.

Have you seen the 1985 documentary “Masters of the Comic Book Art”? It features interviews with 10 different artists, and one of the things Jack Kirby said in his segment was something along those lines. He said (approximately), “I’m a guy that lives with a lot of questions, and if I were to die tomorrow, my life would be fulfilled in that manner. I’d say, ‘The questions have been great.’”

In fact the whole concept of worlds contained in larger worlds, which Kirby tapped into during his Fantastic Four run, starts to throw up interesting lines of thought.

Somewhere along the line some writer at Marvel introduced the idea that there are no microscopic worlds within the Marvel Universe, and that once someone shrinks as much as once can shrink in one universe, he is automatically shunted into another. I buy into that explanation for, say, Jarella’s world, but not for the Kirby/Mantlo Microverse.
Well, its good to have one thing at least in common with the Mighty Kirby. He managed to frame his questions beautifully as entertaining works of pop art though...

I should look out for that documentary, shouldn't I? I've never seen footage of Kirby talking.

Somewhere along the line some writer at Marvel introduced the idea that there are no microscopic worlds within the Marvel Universe, and that once someone shrinks as much as once can shrink in one universe, he is automatically shunted into another. I buy into that explanation for, say, Jarella’s world, but not for the Kirby/Mantlo Microverse.

Yeah, I wondered how the Hulk always found himself in the same world every time he shrunk down. Wouldn't every mote of dust have a whole universe in there? I presumed her world was on a mote of dust on the Hulk and likewise presumed the Hulk never washed for years on end. Maybe he's afraid to wash in case he's seperated from her world?

Possibly best not to over-think these things...

It could be that Mathematics is on the side of Marvel though. We'll see a letter in a later issue that says shrinking could involve shunting.

Before we move past that story about Mantlo getting the inspiration for the 'Metalloids', Wiki (and all other sources I can find) says that he was born in 1951, but according to his story above, his son was 12 in 1978. Mantlo had a son when he was 15?

Anyway - onto

Issue 6 – The Great Escapes.

In the text piece in SE #3, Mantlo goes further into the backstory he created for his meisterwerk. We get more info on Homeworld history and a lot of stuff about the very founding of Microverse civilisation as it is seen in this series, as well as the Sanskrit-inspired alphabet which Golden worked into a lot of the artwork.

We’ll eventually have to decide if Mantlo was a genius or not, but he makes a very wise statement in his initial proposal to Jim Shooter.

“Although it is the same Microverse into which the Fantastic Four once travelled on the trail of the Silver Surfer, it is so vast that our characters will be totally unaware that such an event ever took place. The major phrase or concept to keep in mind is the title of that FF epic: WORLDS WITHIN WORLDS!”

Creators today would be very keen to join up all the dots with previous stories, which ultimately makes everything familiar and closed in, limiting story possibilities. By not referencing the FF story, Mantlo is freeing himself from having to tie down what he is doing to what happened before and he is also showing us, not telling us, that the Microverse is incredibly vast. I know Geoff Johns is always my whipping boy, but he is a major culprit for closing off all avenues where stories can have their own life. Everything has to be tied to everything else and be known to everyone else, so his universe seems small and tired, instead of vast and surprising, as comics universes should be.

The multiple escapes referred to in the title of issue 6 are as follows:

• Steve, Muffin, Rann and Mari escape H.E.L.L., first by Steve bluffing past the guard and then in Ray’s pick-up.
• Ray escapes from his fall into the Prometheus Pit with the assistance of the (or is it ‘a’) ever-helpful Time-Traveller.
• Slug and a newly centaured Argon escape thanks to a disrupter Slug had hidden “where the Dog Soldiers sometimes forget to search”.(!)
• Once they power up the Endeavour with jump leads, all the Micronauts head for the Everglades and escape the attentions of “county mounties” on the way there.

The Micronauts are brave and resourceful fighters anyway, but our appreciation of them is increased seeing them best the hulking obstacles that get in their way in our world. The reader can’t help but cheer them on as they jump from one scary situation to the next. I was joking when I compared them to the Toy Story characters in a different thread, but there are a lot of similarities between them, where they continually find themselves challenged as little people in our world. Whereas Woody, Buzz and co. are reluctant heroes made of fragile plastic, the Micronauts are tough-nut rebel superheroes, who barely blink at adversity, and have hardly paused for thought since the first frame of issue 1!

A lot has changed in 30 years in the kind of heroes we relate to.

The jump leads are yet another nice touch in this comic, which would have made it easy for kids to imagine the Micronauts in their mundane world.

As a 30-something adult reading this in the 21st century, 70’s references like banana seats on bikes, CB slang, and later Donny and Marie (Osmond) give this series a strange nostalgic warmth. This was the world as I found it just as I started to think about the world around me at all. I probably assumed at the time it would always be like this.

But the intent wasn't nostalgic at the time, of course. this comic must have seemed all the more immediate to its young audience with all these references to their own world. Most comics today are lost in some nostalgic neverwhen and wouldn't hook kids in the same way at all.
I'm coming to this discussion a bit late but thought I would relate my own discovery of Mantlo's Micronauts. I was college age when the series debuted and I completely ignored it. A comic book based on a line of toys!?! No way was I going to touch something like that! And so I turned up my nose and passed on The Micronauts. Some twenty years later as I became increasingly disenchanted with current day comics, I began to search out Bronze Age series I missed the first time around. Based on enthusiastic reviews, probably on the old message board, I bought a couple of Micronauts issues on Ebay and was hooked. Fortunately my local comics shop had the complete Special Edition reprint run in-stock. I now consider the Mantlo/Golden run as one of the high points for 1970's Marvel.
I should look out for that documentary, shouldn't I?

You really should. See here.

I presumed her world was on a mote of dust on the Hulk and likewise presumed the Hulk never washed for years on end.

Ooh, you’re so close! In one of the early Jarella stories, when Hulk returned to Earth again, it was revealed that Jarella’s world was on a mote of dust on the Hulk’s pants… which means the Hulk never changed his pants for years on end!

…the Sanskrit-inspired alphabet which Golden worked into a lot of the artwork.

It’s very similar to the alphabet used in my college linguistic classes in which each sound is represented by a symbol. You will notice that there is no letter “Z” in the alphabet of the Microverse. When asked about this seeming omission on the letters page and how Baron Karza’s name is spelled and pronounced, either Mantlo or the editor replied that the Mircroverse uses the blend “TH” and that the Baron’s name is actually pronounced “Kartha.” Even though that was never established in an actual story, I still tend to think of it that way, and almost typed “Kartha” a couple of days ago in an earlier post.

Sometimes while reading certain comics, I hear certain character’s voices in my head. Usually it’s the voice of the actor who plays a particular role on TV or in a cartoon, but sometimes other actors’ voices insert themselves into my mind’s eye. For example, I never had a particular voice in mind for Microtron before, but while reading issues #1-5 the other night, I kept “hearing” the voice of John Leeson (Doctor Who’s K9) every time I read Microtron’s dialogue balloons!

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