08.26.2010

READING: Micronauts

If you grew up in the early 1980s, chances are you’ve heard of The Micronauts.  Perhaps you played with some of the toys, read some of the comics, or were just aware of their existence.  I fell into that last category.  I was aware there was a toyline and comic for Micronauts, but that was about it.  Recently I decided to learn more about these interesting characters.

Micronauts #1 cover from Marvel Comics by Dave Cockrum and Al Milgrom

The Micronauts was a successful toyline and comic book property in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  In fact, the Marvel comic series outlasted the toyline.  The first volume started in 1979 and went 59 issues, while the second volume went another 20 issues ending in 1986.  I’d heard many people sing the praises of the Micronauts comic, specifically the work of Bill Mantlo and Michael Golden.  I found this surprising as typically comics based upon toylines were pretty forgettable.  For every successful toyline-related series like Micronauts or G.I. Joe, there were tons of flops like Robotix and Sectaurs.  I recall running across the Micronauts in the occasional guest appearance or team-up book, however, I was never able to really connect with the characters from those brief meetings.

On a whim, I recently decided to check out these early Micronauts adventures.  I looked for an Essential or collection, but found none.  So I ordered the first 20 issues from Mile High Comics for about $20.  Not a bad deal in my opinion.  So far I’ve read through issue #7 and I’m really enjoying this science-fantasy epic.  It’s definitely a product of the bronze age, but that doesn’t prevent me from appreciating the work.  It’s also interesting to note that both Captain Universe and Bug (currently of Guardians of the Galaxy) got their start in this toy tie-in comic.

One of the stand-out features of this series is the breathtaking artwork by Michael Golden and Joe Rubinstein.  These guys really knew how to draw!  To demonstrate their phenomenal artwork, Marvel ran several house ads and pin-ups for the Micronauts series.  You just don’t see cool bonus features like these anymore.  Check these out!

Below is an ad that ran prior to the release of Micronauts #1.

Micronauts coming soon by Bill Mantlo, Michael Golden, and Joe Rubinstein

Below is a house ad that ran in Micronauts #2.

Micronauts advertisement by Bill Mantlo, Michael Golden, and Joe Rubinstein

This one-page explanation of each character was invaluable to me.  This appeared in issue #1 in lieu of a letters page.

Meet the Micronauts by Bill Mantlo, Michael Golden, and Joe Rubinstein

Below is a bonus poster that appeared in issue #2 in lieu of a letters page featuring the mysterious Time Traveller.

Micronauts Time Traveller/Enigma Force by Bill Mantlo, Michael Golden, and Joe Rubinstein

Below is a bonus poster that appeared in issue #3 in lieu of a letters page featuring the villainous Baron Karza.

Micronauts Baron Karza by Bill Mantlo, Michael Golden, and Joe Rubinstein

Below is a bonus pin-up page featuring the Microship Endeavor.  This map and history appeared is issue #4 in lieu of a letters page.  Click the image to enlarge.

Micronauts Endeavor by Bill Mantlo, Michael Golden, and Joe Rubinstein

On the letters page of issue #6, it was revealed that a secret code had been used through out the series.  Many people noticed the weird symbols in the artwork but didn’t possess a key to decipher it.  Below the alphabetic key was shared with the fans.

Micronauts alphabet by Bill Mantlo, Michael Golden, and Joe Rubinstein

Below is the house ad that ran in issue #7 promoting the Man-Thing guest appearance.

Man-Thing in Micronauts #7 by Bill Mantlo, Michael Golden, and Joe Rubinstein

I’m really enjoying the comic series so far and plan to continue reading as long as it holds my interest.  If you’d like to check out the series, you could possibly find issues in your local 50 cent bins or can order online for very reasonable prices.  For further information on the Micronauts comic, check out the Wikipedia page dedicated to the four-color adventures of these heroes from Inner Space.

Micronauts toys by Mego

If you are interested in learning about the toyline, there are several references:

Micronauts toys by Mego

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3 Responses to “READING: Micronauts”

  1. smacky Says:

    I have really come to appreciate the writing of Bill Mantlo. Not only did he have two long-running series based on toy lines (Micronauts and Rom) but whenever I randomly pick up a bronze-age one-shot issue of a series (Fantastic 4, Hulk) from a 50-cent box and find myself really engaged in the story, invariably I flip to the credits and find Mantlo was the writer. He was prolific!

  2. Andrew Wahl Says:

    Shag:

    Great post. Bill Mantlo did great work with both Micronauts and Rom, building up excellent back stories for both both toy lines (if you can even call the single Rom action figure a line!) Of the two, I liked Rom better, though the always-solid Sal Buscema and later Steve Ditko art could not compare to those early Golden Micronauts. Much good reading lies ahead for you!

    Cheers,
    Andrew
    ComicsBronzeAge.com

  3. Diego Says:

    Did anyone read the series that Image Micronauts relaunched some years ago? It was canceled after some 12 issues, is it worth reading at all?

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