Monday, June 5, 2017


Micronauts vol.1 No.21 (Sept 1980)
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Pat Broderick / Armando Gil
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Barry Grossman
Editor: Milgrom/Jones
EIC: Jim Shooter

Just to catch you up-to-date: The Micronauts recently found themselves on Earth once again, only to be separated by individual menaces lurking in the rustic acres of Saugerties, New York. They reunite to save Bug from a backwoods scientist named Odd John, but are once again separated in the battle!

Rann is so sarcastic.
In fact, this isn't too far away from what happened the first time that the Micronauts came to Earth, as related in the first twelve-issue 'arc' of the series. It's a handy device, I'll say that much for it -- it allows Mantlo to focus on different members of the crew without having anyone drown in the backstory, and gives everyone a pretty coherent mission. On the other hand, maybe it's time to find a new way to do that?

This issue also, once again, has the Micronauts run head-first into a run-of-the-mill Marvel character. This has been a real mixed bag for the series so far -- Ant-Man's recent guest shot worked well if only because the actual interaction between the two properties was kept at a bit of a minimum, while the lengthy Fantastic Four crossover started off somewhat tedious and ended up excruciating. Man-Thing is somewhere in the middle of all of that.

In this case, an unconscious Rann and a very alert Mari narrowly escape a garbage truck compactor, escaping into a floral shop owned and operated by a woman named Fawn ... Fawn's Flora. That's good, I'll let Mantlo enjoy himself. And Mari and Rann may also enjoy themselves, and do! Hidden from view by hiding in a knothole or something, the romantic leads are getting all up in each other's business and not noticing a spontaneous burlesque performance going on outside.

Fawn's business fortunes are evidently sinking, but her romantic possibilities picked up, thanks the to attention of graying wolf Sam Smithers. Mari doesn't like him much, on sight, but she might have liked even less watching him get stark naked in the middle of the shop, just to dress hgimself back up -- as PLANT-MAN! I like this guy. He wears a corsage on his belt and his whole costume looks like he was freshly bagged.

Plant-Man has been stringing Fawn along just so that she would (a) trust him enough with the shop to leave him alone there after closing, so he could (b) command her veritable armory of potentially-deadly plants (when subjected to Plant-Man's plant-fucking-up ray gun) and (c) break into the bank next door. Except for breaking an innocent woman's heart and destroying all the stock and storefront of a struggling business, it's a good plan!

You leave my man A'yo alone!
The subsequent fight is perfunctory, and the Micronauts win, of course. You start to get the feeling, this far into the series, that the appearances of super-heroes and -villains from the Marvel macro-verse aren't of any particular interest to Mantlo, and are probably mandated by editorial fiat. They do spin the wheels, even if the art is enjoyable and the writing is, as always, compelling. It's good soap opera, at the very least.

But Mantlo DOES get to have fun, and it's back where it counts. Beginning this issue: TALES OF THE MICROVERSE, which brings us back to the Micronauts' home universe and shows us what's happening in the recently-liberated civilizations of a post-Karza society.

Back on Spartak -- the world which my boy Acroyear called home, and the throne of which he abandoned in order to continue to battle great evils, Conan-style -- Games of Thrones happen. Weird white-skinned creatures, their flesh decaying and morbid, have a big hand-holding prayer session around a raging fire in The Temple In The Rock. Acroyear soldiers rush the eyeless, albino weirdos, but are easily rebuffed -- and then murdered by a resurrected Prince Shaitan, brought back to life by unknowable energies for insidious purpose. What purpose is that? I dunno, but there's an issue that comes after this one. Maybe it has the answers!

Lettercol time! The Maryland Comics Book Club of Bel Air (hey holmes, smell ya later) announces the recipients of their first annual Microawards. Giving Best Artist to Mike Golden and Best Writer to Bill Mantlo is, you know, really taking advantage of the small field. Personally, I can't take the poll seriously - my boy A'yo is not the third best character in the book, not by a long shot. "Runner-Up" my micro-ass.

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