Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Micronauts, Part 5

At the end of Micronauts #8, the heroes had wrapped up their business on Earth and headed back to the Microverse. This changes the feel of the series in a way--we go from what were relatively small-scale fights to epic space battles and world-wide rebellions. This works, though, as the story has effectively built up to these events.

In Micronauts #9 & 10 (September & October 1979), the Micronauts arrive on Spartak, the home of Acroyear. The Acroyears had been fighting for Baron Karza, but this was the result of a planet-wide "thought-washing." When Acroyear's rotten brother Shaitan failed to defeat the heroes on Earth, Karza sent him home and released the planet from his control, leaving the population very, very displeased with Shaitan.

This might seem a tactically unwise move--allowing a planet of kick-butt warriors to go from loyal minions to angry enemies. But Karza has already sent a fleet to Spartak large enough to destroy the Acroyears. This is actually an effective look at the pettiness and evil of Karza. He's essentially willing to commit genocide as part of an off-hand gesture to punish an underling who failed him.

But he has another motive as well. He knows the Micronauts are on Spartak. He wants to capture Rann alive to hopefully find out more about the Enigma Force (the power that the mysterious Time Traveller embodies or is a part of). Get rid of the Enigma Force, Karza figures, and nothing else can stand against him.

The Micronauts join in the defense of Spartak, but they are badly outnumbered. The good guys  are getting curb-stomped. Before long, Rann and Mari are both prisoners of Karza. Bug is presumed killed in action.

What is Acroyear, once again the leader of the Acroyears, doing while all this is going on? He's having a heartfelt conversation with the planet.

According to ancient legends, Spartak is actually a living being, pledged to help defend itself and the Acroyears in times of great need. This definitely qualifies. Acroyear wakes up the planet, which then starts tossing chunks of itself at the invaders.

The series has taken not just a more epic, but a much more brutal turn with this issues. This is not a criticism--everything that happens makes sense in context of the story. But bad stuff happens, especially when some of Karza's troops manage to land on Spartak and go on a killing spree, taking out women and children as well as enemy soldiers.

In the meantime, back on Homeworld, Prince Argon takes advantage of Karza being off-world and leads an open rebellion, attacking the body banks. With the Shadow Priests switching sides, they soon overwhelm the enemy troops.

As the good guys achieve victory on both Spartak and Homeworld, we get some more examples of how brutal life in the Microverse can be. Are you a snotty rich person who has oppressed and killed the poor to achieve immortality? Are you a murderous invader who has been slaughtering civilians on Spartak? Then don't expect much in the way of due process.

Michael Golden's art work gives the entire story an appropriately epic feel. And I must once again repeat what has become a standard refrain during my look at the Micronauts: Writer Bill Mantlo continues to give us sophisticated, complex world-building wrapped around a strong, well-constructed plot.

Next week, we'll jump from the Microverse to the 30th Century and visit with the Legion of Substitute Heroes.

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