Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Toys Running Wild in the Toy Store

Micronauts Annual #2 (1980) is made of pure fun.

The plot is simple. The Micronauts are in their ship, flying over New York City, when Acroyear is struck by a severe headache and compelled to fly down into the city and then into Macy's Department Story. This is because a mad scientist has inserted a special chip into a new line of Micronaut action figures and is using a beam to activate and control them. A side effect of this is causing Acroyear to go bonkers--it later affects some of the other living Micronauts as well. The other Micronauts pursue Acroyear into the store.

This leads to a rough-and-tumble fight between real Micronauts and fake Micronauts, with some time out to deal with the mad scientist as well. (The villain, by the way, turns out to be a half-cyborg scientist they had encountered before.)

I could go into more detail about the plot, but that would be senseless. It's mostly an excuse to let Steve Ditko go to town with showing us tiny warriors battling through a toy department and using what they find (checkers, frisbees, even a teddy bear) to help defeat the evil toys. It is indeed pure fun. In fact, trying to decide which panels to scan to share in this review nearly drove me as mad as the story's villain. There's not a single image that isn't engaging and lively.

Rich Buckler drew the first seven pages, with Ditko taking over for the rest of the issue. I think Ditko's style fits the half-goofy, half-serious Micornauts stories perfectly and his old skill at choreographing entertaining fight scenes is still evident. So when I say that the plot serves primarily as an excuse to set up the battle, I'm not being critical. The world would be a poorer place without a record of this particular bit of comic book mayhem.

The story is fun on another level as well--tacitly acknowledging that the characters are based on toys and making gentle fun of merchandising.

The writer was Bill Mantlo, a storyteller whose own sense of fun shows through in pretty much everything he wrote. He simply knew how to entertain his readers. Here, he combines humor (without ever going too far into slapstick) with non-stop action to give us 30 boisterous and enjoyable pages of great fantasy.

Next week, we'll watch the Fantastic Four fix history after the timeline is mucked up by...   their mailman?


  1. dear God the work ditko did in the 80s and 90s was awful!

    1. I respect the opinion and I do think the 1960s were his high point, but I still enjoy his work in stories like this.


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