Rating: 5/5 – This Could Be the Best Comic Inspired by a Toy-Line Ever.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Shawn Hoklas.
The Micronauts originated as a toy line from Japan in the mid 1970s called Microman. They were three and three quarter inch figures that had plenty of articulation, but were also able to interchange the parts from one figure to the next. As the popularity of these figures grew in Japan, they were imported into the United States by the Mego Corporation, best known for their World’s Greatest Superheroes line of figures and given the Micronauts name. From there, the story of how the comics were created gets a little more coincidental.
According to Bill Mantlo, in 1977 his son opened a Christmas gift that included a line of Micronauts figures and he was immediately impressed. So much so that he convinced the then editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics Jim Shooter to acquire the license. So they did, and two years later the first issue of Micronauts appeared on the newsstand. You’d be hard pressed to find a better comic based on a toy line than the Micronauts. G.I. Joe and Transformers of course come to mind, but this series and especially this first issue really exceeded any expectations, starting with the art.
Michael Golden’s art in this first issue was one of his earlier works, and you immediately get the sense of his brilliance. The issue opens with a beautiful splash page in a sci-fi world as Prince Argon and Princess Mari try to escape the dreaded Acroyears, an armored race of shock troops. His pencils have such a fluid line, with no hard edges or corners. He uses blacks and shadows to perfection, and although many of the character designs were based on the toys, he really made them his own, especially the iconic and cool Baron Karza. The angles that Golden chooses for his panels also standout giving this book a real cinematic feel.
This first issue explores just the tip of the iceberg of the world that Mantlo and Golden create over the fifty-nine issues of the first series . As we explore the Microverse which has been visited plenty of times in the Marvel Universe, we’re introduced to the rest of this team including the original to Marvel Comics (and thus Marvel owned) Marionette and Bug. The team comes together in this first issue as the leader of the Micronauts Arcturus Rann comes home after a 1000 year exploration of the Microverse. As he returns home, the world he knew is a very different place with Karza as it’s ruler. He’s captured by the Acroyear troops and is thrown into prison, where he meets the rest of the team and their journeys begin
Mantlo and Golden throw a lot of ideas and concepts at the reader in this first issue, and each one is better than the last. Unfortunately Marvel no longer owns the license and can’t reprint this title, but they can be readily found in the bargain bins at local cons or on eBay. The first series ran from 1979 through 1984 and includes art by Howard Chaykin, Gil Kane and the underrated Pat Broderick. There is a level of quality to this book that is tough to beat. This is considered by many to be the best comic inspired by a toy line, and I’d have trouble disagreeing. This series is a must read.
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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