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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As the series proceeds, keep an eye on the size of the Endeavor when they do visit Earth. By rights, given their scale it should be about the size of, perhaps, a small endtable, but I seem to recall an issue where it's actually washed down a sewer grating. No consistency whatsoever, and even as a wee one I noticed this.

I've been noticing its variable size. I guess the artists are having a tough time showing the tiny micro-things in the same panels as human sized supervillains and 18-wheeler trucks, so I allow them some leeway with the scale. When a microperson or microthing is in front of an Earth thing or person, I suppose we don't know how far in front of them it is, so...

The Endeavour shouldn't be small enough to fit between the cracks of a drain though...

Another thing I noticed was that the Hydrocopter should be small enough to fit just in the top hanger-deck of the Endeavour, which from the plan that Microtron looks at, should be about 1/5 of the height of the ship. Well, when Biotron gets into the Hydrocopter in issue 23 it seems to be about half the height of the ship. Ooops.

I do wish Mantlo had given his all to the "on Earth" issues- as I stated before, it's a premise that never gets old for me, and there's just so many unique ways you could approach the Marvel U when you're only a few inches tall! Since the Microverse is firmly set in the wider Marvel U proper, it didn't have to be the heroes battling insects or house cats over and over

I think I’ve shown that Mantlo was almost unconsciously using the tiny people lost in a giant Earth as a metaphor for inadequacy and existential anxiety, just as Whedon and co would do more whole-heartedly a generation later in the Toy Story movies. But Mantlo seems to have no idea that it’s a potent approach to take on heroes like this, and he never really gets it cooking. Perhaps there is an element of realism in showing how ineffectual such tiny people would be. However, Acroyear alone seems to be as strong as about 20 full grown Earth men, at least! (Showing him as so effective when a doll-sized character on Earth does mean that he must be ridiculously strong and invulnerable in his own Microverse.)

Mantlo also seems to be only skirting the Marvel Universe. Perhaps one reason he doesn’t want them interacting too much with characters like Scott Lang is that they would learn a lot about Earth and he wouldn’t be able to fall back on the Micronaut’s ignorance of Earth ways as a reason why things happen to them.

With the Tales of the Microverse starting in issue 21, we are back in the realm of more conventional rugged heroes who are resourceful and strong enough to take on Galactic despots. Everything is relative. A letter writer draws the parallel between the title of this back-up series and the famous Tales of Asgard back-ups that Lee and Kirby did in Journey into Mystery. The reader was disappointed that the Microverse stories didn’t fill in past background and character histories the way Tales of Asgard did. Jeff’s earlier comment about the balance the writer has to make between Earth/Asgard in Thor stories is the same balance that Mantlo has to strike between Earth/ Microverse made me realise or remember something about Tales of Asgard. Although they use the similarly titled back-ups for different purposes, in one respect the two sets of stories are the same. They both exist because the creators wanted to spend more time “off-Earth” than circumstances allowed. I’m sure Kirby much preferred doing his own version of Norse mythology than yet more superhero/supervillain punch-ups. Similarly, we have it from Mantlo’s own pen that he much preferred stories set in the Microverse.

Tales of the Microverse – Back-ups in issues 21 – 25


Image from www.comicvine.com

Ah, this is more like it. Rains of fire, lovers betrayed, implacable evil that refuses to die. With these short chapters we are very much back in the primal, mythic territory of the first 12 issues. Again Mantlo builds towards an epic superhero confrontation with very broad strokes. In issue 21, Shaitan is raised from the dead by faceless undead priests. In issue 22, former rebel leader Slug, now in evening dress and high heels, finds that the rain of fire has triggered something in her lover Argon’s mind that has made him a pawn of evil. In issue 23, Argon and the evil Desert Centaurs carry Slug to a meeting with Shaitan deep in the Syanite Desert in Sandzone, but their exposition-heavy discussion is interrupted by an attack by Prince Pharoid of Aegypta and his Ostra-riding Desert Demons. In issue 24 Slug is rescued by a newly smitten Pharoid, but Shaitan and Argon flee in one of Luke Skywalker’s traded-in Sand Skimmers.

All this climaxes in issue 25, where first of all Pharoid takes Slug through the underground caverns of Aegypta while relating the origin of Baron Karza, before the scene shifts to the volcanic Primal Zone of Homeworld, where Shaitan instructs the mind-controled Prince Argon to leap into ‘a sinister sphere’ from which Karza himself then emerges! Dan dan daaa!

It’s obvious that both writer and artist are enjoying these short event-filled tales much more than the main stories in each issue. Broderick is starting to come into his own, with more varied and experimental page layouts. I mentioned when he joined us that Broderick’s work was in the style of Neal Adams, if not as finished, but we learn from a later editorial that Broderick came up through Adams’ studio, so I wasn’t far off the mark. Adams was inker on one of the early Golden covers too. The creators seem to cram more story and exposition into the 5-page back-ups than in the rather dismal main stories which accompany them.

The faceless undead priests, Pharoid’s Ostra-riding desert warriors and the freakish-looking Centaurs are all fun and imaginative new additions to the mythos, while Shaitan’s hammy malevolence makes an enjoyable return.

It’s clear that Mantlo has found the time to map out a new direction for the series, and work in some historical connections between the Microverse and the Earth above it, which will generate mysteries to be solved and stories to be told going forward. Perhaps the first indication of these are the Egyptian-looking sarcophagi which Slug sees in the Caverns of Aegypta.

When she comments on their large size, Pharoid explains: “Our legends have it that Homeworld’s first inhabitants were giants – from beyond the Microverse!”

We see that the creators have been literally world-building with the illustrated map of Homeworld included as an extra in issue 24. Having now read up to issue 33, its clear from looking at the map that Mantlo has already thought ahead to several of the episodes leading up to that issue, at least. Linking the cosmology of the Microverse to Earth will make for more organic linkages between the two storytelling strata of the series.

The broad-brush storytelling does suit this kind of comics, but some of it is still a little slapdash. We’re told that Argon takes Slug from the Body Banks of First Zone all the way to the Syanite Desert of Sandzone by travelling overland all night, but a look at the map shows that they would have had to ride through Primal Zone in between, and surely Homeworld isn’t that small?

With the Tales of the Microverse, we thankfully turn a corner and head towards much more enjoyable comics again.

Just while the cover of issue 21 is there on this post, I want to point out something about the artists so far. Although Ditko looks like quite a break from Golden's style, I found his work somehow fit in with that of the other artists. If you look at Golden's cosmic rays flying out from Homeworld on this cover, isn't there something Ditkoesque about them?
Golden's energy blobs show a definite Ditko influence. I have yet to pick up the Ditko annuals but he seems like a good choice for art chores on book with human and mechanical characters.
I'll be looking at the 2nd (and last) annual shortly. It was published along with issue 22, but it was kind of difficult to find where it fitted in Micronauts chronology. I think I've got it now.
The Micronauts – Issue 24 Computrex!


Image from www.comicvine.com

The team have reunited for the first time since issue 18 and we begin here with more of R & R scenes we saw in the bonus story of issue 23. I mentioned earlier that the Micronauts are drawn in very broad strokes and their personalities are far from complex. This worked very well in the action-packed Golden issues and allowed readers to latch onto the series very quickly from the outset.

It can be a drawback, however, when the team gets split up, as they have been for the last 6 issues. Individually, they aren’t as interesting to read. Now that they are together again, they add up to more than the sum of the parts.

In depicting the Micronauts relaxing, enjoying themselves and touching base with their ship, Mantlo seems to be indicating that his own batteries are being recharged and this issue marks a return to much better team stories. It’s not clear at first, but this is the first chapter of the next phase of the MIcronauts’ war with Karza.

After a near crash with a Poughkeepsie banker who comes out to personally hammer foreclosure notices on his properties(!), the Endeavour’s computers are hijacked so that it is brought to a Computer plant which has gained sentience. It tries to get the Endeavour to join it in a poorly conceived plan to take over the world from us fleshy ones.

During the MIcronauts’ battle with it, Rann gets sucked into the air vents, and Mari flies off to find him. This is part of a recurring pattern of Mari rescuing Rann. We’ve seen her rescue him from the animated dolls, the garbage truck and from Plant-Man. It’s quite refreshing, and gives Mari something meaningful to do, as Rann has an important role as the bearer of the Enigma Force. It’s probably another aspect of this series that is quite progressive for the times. I can’t think of another contemporary series where the hero’s girlfriend is a gun-toting warrior who doesn’t just sit around waiting to be rescued yet again. Slug is no slouch either!

Again and again we get indications that there isn’t much separating the psyches of robots and people in Mantlo’s world. Here, Computrex, an advanced computer, is able to tap into the psychic link, between Biotron, a robot, and Rann, a human. That he is able to read what is passing between them and cut off the link, as well as feed his own images to Rann indicates that the ‘thought processes’ of all three are very similar.

Jim Shooter began his reign as EiC more or less when Micronauts began in 1978, and by December 1980, the cover date of this issue, he would have been well settled in. Sadly some of his influence is becoming detrimental to the stories. Mantlo has to find a reason in each issue, to tell us who these characters are and what their powers and backgrounds are. To this end, Computrex takes time out from trying to defeat the Micronauts to put Rann through a hallucinatory rematch with Karza where we find out all about Rann’s parents, his 1,000 year journey through space and how he became the bearer of the Enigma Force.

After noting that the first 12 issues came very close to comprising a true space-opera graphic novel, having the characters stop every chapter to explain themselves all over again detracts from the ongoing story. Surprisingly, this is just as evident in the Tales of the Microverse back-ups where space is at a premium. No-one pops up there without explaining themselves ad nauseam. This edict from Shooter seems to be only taking hold in the last few issues and I see that Shooter stayed in charge for 7 more years. So I suppose we’ll have to get used to this clunky storytelling device intruding in every issue and blunting any attempt Mantlo might make to portray his characters’ personal journeys with the subtlety and nuance we occasionally saw in the early issues.

The mass of exposition now required means that Mantlo and Broderick have to pack more verbiage and panels into each page. However, I think that the crammed pages are also a result of the creator’s fresh wind of enthusiasm in their storytelling. So crammed are the pages, that Rann only destroys Computrex in the 3rd last panel of the tale, and the last panel shows that Computrex was actually set up by Mentallo and the Fixer, who are consequently now taking an interest in the Micronauts.

We never find out how they felt about their creation deciding to take over the world on behalf of the computers!
You might want to take issue 23 with you. That's the last one I'm missing until issue 41-43.

All right, will do.

By the way, I did say earlier that I didn't have issue 19 or 23, but a made a detour to a comicshop I don't normally visit on Sunday and was pretty happy to find them.

All right, never mind. (See how flexible I am?)

(Thank Dallan and Sepsis he dropped the 'Howie'...)

I’d be willing to bet “Howie” was an editorially mandated Marvel-style nickname because one of his later credits (probably from First Comics’ American Flagg!) read by “Howard ‘Don’t Call Me Howie’ Chaykin.”

Pat Broderick makes his debut as Micronauts artist here, and he is a good fit.

I recently opined that Broderick’s best (or my favorite, anyway) work was on Captain Marvel, but his work on Micronauts also ranks right up there. Except for the inexplicably tepid Chaykin/Milgrom issues, Micronauts was blessed with good art throughout both Marvel runs.

With the Tales of the Microverse starting in issue 21, we are back in the realm of more conventional rugged heroes who are resourceful and strong enough to take on Galactic despots.

You’ve convinced me that, unlike Jim/Thor (which struck a balance between stories set in Asgard or on Earth), the Micronauts work best when set in the Microverse. Perhaps I was thinking of the similarity between the features “Tales of Asgard” and “Tales of the Mircroverse.”
We had the Ditko influence showing on the cover of #22, now with #24's cover we are getting a Streranko influenced piece, especially on the left side.
BTW, have y’all seen Diamond’s new Previews catalogue (July for September)? Evidently the upcoming Hulk storyline is to be called “Incredible Hulks” and will tie in with a three-issue ancillary mini-series titled “Incredible Hulks: Enigma Force” which will feature Commander Rann, Marionette, Bug, someone who looks like Jarella, someone who looks like Psyclop, and what appears to be a robot with dreadlocks (!?).

“Commander Rann and his Enigma Force face theire first mission as the protectors of the Mircroverse… but it might be over before it begins when they are forced to rely on the help of a horrifying enemy! But to stop Hiro-Kala, the sinister son of Hulk, and the rampaging, world-shattering plans he has for Jarella’s World, the Force will go to any length! With old friends Marionette and Bug alongside some new faces, this Enigma is a force to be reckoned with!”
You’ve convinced me that, unlike Jim/Thor (which struck a balance between stories set in Asgard or on Earth), the Micronauts work best when set in the Microverse. Perhaps I was thinking of the similarity between the features “Tales of Asgard” and “Tales of the Mircroverse.”

That wasn't really my argument. Sometimes the artists themselves don't know what makes their work great. Mantlo might have wanted to write only about the Microverse, but even the bad issues we've been looking at up to now were groping towards how you could use small heroes in much the same way Toy Story used them later.

Just because Mantlo wrote them badly and half-heartedly doesn't mean that the concept can't work.

Also the interaction between the two levels gives Micronauts a uniqueness. Both the cosmic space opera landing in a kids backyard, and the size differential. Without these contrasts, Micronauts might end up just another Star Wars imitation, or a modernised Flash Gordon. It is both these things, but the connections with the MU and the size difference make it something a bit special. Which is about to be demonstrated in the rather wonderful SHIELD/Hydra/Micronauts/Karza showdown just around the corner.

It's the difference betwen naming your sci-fi troops after Nazi's and having someone in your story that actually fought Nazis!

We had the Ditko influence showing on the cover of #22, now with #24's cover we are getting a Streranko influenced piece, especially on the left side.

Glad you mentioned this cover, Doc. I forgot to say that the cover for issue 24 is Golden's last for now (possibly ever?) His covers were, of course, the best thing about the 'Garbage issues'. He signs his covers with a kind of Gi sigil, which has been worked into each of the covers up to now. It's just above Rann's left fist on the cover of #24 there. (I don't know what the 'i' represents.)

Well, onwards...

Micronauts Annual #2 – The Terrible Toymaster.


Image from www.comicvine.com (Nice toy-themed banner advertisemetn there too!)

To be fair, this annual shows all the signs of being rushed out to capitalise on how successful the Micronauts had been. Our heroes in a toy store, facing the toys that they were based on leads to some metafictional fun, but it’s not hard to imagine Mantlo sitting at his desk, looking at a shelfload of the Mego toys for inspiration and hey presto! He starts typing. It’s a fun story, but a lot of it doesn’t make any sense when you examine it too closely. Further evidence of the rush is that although it is entirely inked by Ditko, the first 7 pages are pencilled by Rich Buckler (whoever he might be!), before old pro Ditko jumps in and pencils the rest of it to ensure it gets out on the deadline.

Ditko also rounds out the annual with a collection of one-page posters that introduce new readers to the Micronauts, their friends and foes. These look quite rushed too, but are distinctively ‘Ditko’ in an enjoyable way. They were of great use to me when my collection comprised only of issue 1 and 28-33 and I was trying to get an idea where our tiny friends were coming from.

Ditko seems to have been an influence on a lot of the art in The Micronauts, and Captain Universe too, is very Ditko, so I’m glad that we get him drawing the annuals. It’s fun to see a series that was otherwise so cutting edge and ‘of its time’ being drawn by one of the old school classic superhero artists. All the artists on the Micronauts are indeed top notch, even if they sometimes aren’t doing their best work, as in the case of Chaykin and Ditko.

I recently had a conversation with the Captain (Captain Comics, not Captain Universe!) off the board where he mentioned that Ditko’s art, in terms of contemporary details, had stuck around the 1950s, so I was quite sensitive to that in studying the art here.

Sure enough, he fluffs the one part of Mari’s look that’s quintessentially hers – the very then-fashionable Farah Flick! There may be a hint of it in the first 7 pages, when Ditko is only inking, but it's gone for the rest of the story. (Apparently lots of artists get stuck at a particular era of fashion. I'm pretty sure that most Perez women had the Farah Flick well into the naughties.)

Another hint that the annual was flung together with little thought is that it's so hard to place it in the chronology. They are on Earth, but it can’t be on their first visit, because a lot of time has passed since they faced Prof Prometheus, and they mention the defeat of Karza. It’s also hard to place it in the second trip to Earth, as the team got split up before they even realised they are on Earth, and when they get back together again they get caught up in the Second Karza War almost straight away. After that, things change from the classic team that is featured in this annual.

I decided to take refuge in the word ‘almost’ in that second last sentence there and have decided that this adventure takes place just after they fly off from defeating Computrex in issue 25, and before Mentallo and the Fixer catch up with them a few pages later. It’s a bit dodgy because the implication is that the villainous duo catch up with them quite quickly, but the text does mention that they cross 5 state lines in the meantime. It’ll have to do!

The other problem (and evidence of rush, perhaps) is that Cilicia is nowhere to be seen! I can’t explain this at all. My suspicion is that once they get near the toy store, Cilicia slinks off to swap her warrior’s armour for some pink spangled Barbie outfits and hang out with Ken for a while… Wanting to be a glamorous housewife is her secret shame, way beyond the pale for an Acroyear Battle Maiden, so no-one ever mentions her absence.

The plot revolves around the Toymaster controlling all the Micronaut toys that Macy’s has on display, so our little superheroes get to meet their plastic counterparts. It's fun seeing them question why there are no toys of Mari or Bug. Bug does meet his ‘insectivorid cousin’ who looks like the Galactic Warrior toy on which Bug was supposed to have been based. It’s also fun to see how klunky looking the toy Argon, Karza and Acroyear are compared to the powerful graceful forms that Golden designed.

It turns out that in the MU, the Micronaut toys were designed by Professor Prometheus (for the Toymaster is he!), seemingly as part of his occupational therapy in the institution where he ended up. Rather mind-bogglingly, he designed them with a ‘chip’ which the toy company included in them, which enabled the toy to be brought to life with Professor Prometheus’s ‘control ray’. He somehow also ensured they were mass-produced with murderous death rays built into them too!

Not only do we have all the above, but by another vast coincidence, activating the toys with the control ray, which remember were made from designs handed to Mego Corporation by Prof Prometheus, also somehow causes the Micronauts on which they are based to come under Professor Prometheus's control.

….er….huh?

Like the business with Ant-Man’s shrinking gas, the logic here seems to be more of the associative/magical thinking kind, where things can affect other unrelated things, so long as they appear the same or have something vaguely in common. Mantlo’s thinking gets very magical when the deadlines loom, at any rate…

Once again Mari saves the day, this time with some deft swordwork. She doesn’t usually rave on about feminism or anything, but her actions speak whole books on equality. I love the understated way this is done. (There is, however, a moment where she lands on a baby doll that cries “mama”, to which she replies “I’m not ready for motherhood yet.”)

The last panel shows the toy dept manager asking the toy company rep to provide the new toys in time Christmas. Perhaps it is Mantlo's subconscious again commenting on the commercial demands being made on him, the troubles with dealing with toy companies, and of course the dreaded deadline doom!

It’s all a bit nuts, really, but fun. And a landmark issue, if it is the last one done by Ditko.
I thing Golden's "Gi" is just a stylized "G", no "i".
That wasn't really my argument.

Right. I should have said “the Micronauts worked best” rather than “the Micronauts work best.”

The only things I remember about the (before reading #1, anyway) was that I didn’t particularly care for them, story or art, and that they didn’t fit into continuity very well. #1 doesn’t matter so much because it’s all flashbacks; I recently decided to file it between the Golden (yay!) and Chaykin/Milgrom (yuck!) runs. But I was almost certain that a footnote, either in the regular series or the annual itself, placed #2 firmly in continuity. Perhaps it was slotted in later and you haven’t gotten to it yet. I’ll try to remember to check tonight.
I have a soft spot for Ditko. Lets leave it at that. I do wonder what he thought of Prometheus in this story. Obviously he's doing all this cause he's BAD, but he's also a bit MAD, so I don't know how much Ditko would excuse his actions.

Cilicia being gone does point to the story taking place after the small matter of Acroyear ...ah...destroying her homeworld (and possibly her mother with it). If it is set after that her absence is understandable.

Although there is a renaissance in the direction of the story with the Tales of the Microverse in issue 21, I still find it hard to imagine that Mantlo thought that far into the future at this point, and I have checked out the letters pages quite far ahead and no mention has been made of the Annual yet, so I'd given up on guidance from the comics.

Of course, these were printed as monthlies and I also find it hard to imagine that some issue in the late 30's has a box that says "Suddenly,last summer..." that tells us the Micronauts now go off and have an adventure that was published a year previously.

About the upcoming Incredible Hulks: Enigma Force, that's big news indeed. I was under the impression that Commander Rann, being established as the original Space Glider, couldn't be used, but maybe Marvel are seeing how much they can get away with. Enigma Force is quite an acceptable substitute for Micronauts. Kudos to whoever came up with it. It's so obvious once you see it.

I can't get too excited about it, however, as they are already straying far off Mantlo's template of new and exciting concepts every month. Jarella's world? The Psyclops? Snore. Remember what Mantlo said about making the Microverse seem infinite by not tying everything together? Then if they get to Earth we'd better see the 2010 equivalents of Cape Canaveral and Steve Coffin mowing the lawn with his shirt off, CB radios and skateboard parks.

It takes more than Micronauts to make a Micronauts comic!

I wonder have they decided who's writing/drawing it yet?
Before I move on from Issue 24, I thought I’d point out another instance of a recurring motif that Mantlo has used a few times before in this series.

When Rann was being taunted with hallucinations by Computrex, he saw himself as a dessicated corpse in the Hibernation Couch that he spent 1,000 years sleeping in. Now that his long, isolated journey is over, Rann seems to have a real horror of the semi-lifeless state that he spent his first voyage in. This isn’t the first time he’s connected it with death. We last saw the couch, being used, at Rann’s insistence, as Jasmine’s coffin in issue 18. It seems Rann is only now beginning to process the horror of leaving his loved ones behind, and lying in a deathlike state while they fought and died to save a universe. It also explains his deep attachment to Mari and his fellow Micronauts.

Tie this back to an astronaut called Ray Coffin, who finds that he has become too removed from his own remaining family, and has to fight to return to his son, and you’ve got some strange layered symbolism of Death/sleep /space travel/isolation recurring again and again. Substitute ‘imagination’ for ‘space travel’ there and perhaps you have a fantasy writer’s fears that the profound moments of real life are passing him by while he is lost in a make-believe, far-off world.

I’m sure most writers feel like this at times. Gaiman allows his William Shakespeare to voice these self-doubts in the famous Midsummer Night issue of Sandman.

Computrex discerns that Rann’s sense of distance from his loved ones is exacerbated by his brief communion with the Time Travellers. Having felt a Godlike union with the Universe, he fears that being merely human won’t be enough for him going forward. This is another reason he cleaves close to Mari and his Micronaut crew; to affirm his human ability to love and be loved.

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