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Micronauts (comics)

The Micronauts are a group of fictional group of characters based on a line of toys that appear in comic books published by Marvel Comics, Image Comics, Byron Preiss Visual Publications, and Devil's Due Publishing. The Micronauts first appeared in Micronauts #1 (Marvel, Jan. 1979), and were created by Bill Mantlo and Michael Golden.

Publication history

Marvel Comics

The first series of the Micronauts ran from January 1979 to May 1984 and included 59 issues and two Annuals. The series was written by Bill Mantlo and featured art by Michael Golden, Gil Kane, Pat Broderick, Butch Guice and others. As of #38, the series was no longer available from newsstands and was sold via direct distribution only.

In the UK, The Micronauts were first included as a supporting strip in Marvel UK's "Star Wars Weekly" comic in January 1979 for several months. Unlike the U.S. version, these strips were printed in black and white.

From 1983 to 1984, a Special Edition series was published (#1 - 5) that reprinted issues #1 - 12 and a back-up feature from #25.

In 1984, a four part mini-series featuring the Micronauts and the X-Men was published, written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Butch Guice.

The second volume of Micronauts, subtitled The New Voyages, was published from 1984 to 1986 and was numbered from #1 - 20. The series was written by Peter Gillis and featured early-career artwork by Kelley Jones. After this series the Marvel-owned license lapsed.

From the late 1990s the characters of Marionette, Arcturus Rann and Bug (all Marvel properties) have appeared in various Marvel titles (without referencing the Micronauts label). Bug has appeared in a solo one-shot and together with cosmic hero Star-Lord, and will be part of a new incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Image Comics

In 2002, a new series by Image Comics was published that ran for ten issues before its cancellation in 2003.

Byron Preiss Visual Publications

This was followed the same year by the three-issue Micronauts: The Time Traveler Trilogy, published by Byron Preiss Visual Publications and written by Steve Lyons.

Devil's Due Publishing

In 2004, a new series was launched by Devil's Due Publishing, mixing new characters with those based on the toyline. The series ran for ten issues and featured art by former Micronauts artist Pat Broderick. The same year this was followed by a three-issue limited series featuring Baron Karza's origin and his relationship with the Time Traveler entity.

Fictional team history

The Micronauts originate in the Microverse, a microscopic series of diverse habitats that are linked together in the fashion of molecule chains. The original team is formed in response to the threat posed by former academic and now murderous dictator, Baron Karza. Commander Arcturus Rann - in suspended animation for 1,000 years - and his co-pilot the robot Biotron return from their voyage on the HMS (Homeworld Micro Ship) Endeavor to discover Karza has slain the royal family, who are in fact Rann's parents. What follows is an epic war across the Microverse between Rann and his allies against Karza.

In addition to Biotron, Rann's team of "Micronauts" includes Princess Mari of Homeworld, who with her brother, Prince Argon, are the only survivors of the slaughtered figurehead royal family. Known to the team as Marionette, she falls in love with Rann and leads the team on occasion. The warriors Acroyear and Bug also join Rann's cause, and although completely different - one a noble warrior prince and the other a joking insectoid - the two become best friends and staunch allies of all Micronauts. The last member of the original team is Microtron, Mari's robot tutor. Although small, Microtron is very resourceful and very supportive of all team members.

After a series of bloody and brutal battles against Karza and his genetically engineered armies of soldiers, the Micronauts triumph and Karza is apparently killed. Rann is able to claim victory with the possession of the Enigma Force - a semi-sentient power source that bonded with him during his period of suspended animation - which enables him to perform incredible feats. The team then encounters the superhero team the Fantastic Four, who have traveled to a different region of the Microverse to battle the villain Psycho-Man. Unfortunately, Bug's great love, Jasmine, is killed during the climax of the battle. It is shortly after this encounter that the Micronauts become trapped on Earth, but still at a greatly reduced size.

After encounters with the villains Plantman and Molecule Man, the team battle the Fixer and Mentallo, who have allied themselves with the organization HYDRA. Joined by one of Acroyear's people - Dagon - the team discovers that the villains and HYDRA are secretly under the control of Baron Karza, who courtesy of Prince Argon's body is able to resurrect himself. Although the organization S.H.I.E.L.D. and several representatives of the races of the Microverse help the Micronauts finally defeat Karza, the battle is costly. Biotron is murdered by Dagon - an agent of Karza; Bug's Queen dies in battle; Rann is rendered comatose and Acroyear's traitorous brother Shaitan dies summoning the Worldmind - the parallel power to the Enigma Force that sustains their own homeworld. In desperation Acroyear bonds with the Worldmind to defeat Karza but in doing so destroys his world.

The remnants of the team have an encounter with the villain Nightmare whilst trying to awaken Rann, and accidentally discover that the Microverse is unraveling. A warning left in Rann's mind reveals that three keys will restore balance to the Microverse. The team embarks on a new quest across three new regions of the Microverse, being Oceania, Polaria, and the Dead Zone. The Micronauts are eventually successful and also acquire several team mates, including the bestial Devil and his companion Fireflyte and the robot Nanotron.

A new problem arises when Prince Argon begins displaying paranoia regarding the Micronauts and eventually sends a special Death Squad to kill them. The Micronauts defeat the unit, and then have an encounter with the mutant Nightcrawler and battle a new foe called Huntarr. Huntarr is genetically engineered by Argon to destroy the Micronauts, but is made to see by Marionette that Argon is simply using him. A war against Argon and his forces follows, with several beings from various locations in the Microverse - Pharoid, Slug, Margrace and Solitaire - joining the team in a bid to stop Argon. After several more encounters with beings such as Doctor Doom; the heroine Wasp and villain Arcade, Microtron and Nanotron sacrifice themselves to reanimate Biotron's consciousness in the Micronauts' new vessel. Argon is finally revealed to be controlled by the spirit of Baron Karza, who returns once more. After killing Argon, Karza deals the Micronauts a crushing defeat by killing Devil, Pharoid, Slug and Margrave. After regrouping and a series of skirmishes, the remaining Micronauts confront and defeat Karza once and for all.

The New Voyages

Weary of war, the surviving Micronauts leave the known Microverse behind and embark on a journey of exploration. They eventually discover the true nature of the Microverse, and in a final act that restores their ruined world, sacrifice themselves.

The Microns

Years later Arcturus, Marionette and Bug (all Marvel properties) reappear as a team called by the Microns. They re-team with the X-Men against the reborn Baron Karza and his ally Thanos who seek to merge several of the sub-atomic universes. The Microns also aid the mutant Cable when the scientist Psycho-Man abducted the shape-changing Copycat; with visiting super-team Alpha Flight battle Microverse inhabitant Baron Zebek of Aegyptus and later assist Rick Jones and Captain Marvel during their adventures in the Microverse. These appearances do not take into account the ending of the New Voyages. The non-returning Micronaut characters absence is also left unexplained.

Alternate versions

  • In 1997, Marvel accepted a proposed reboot of Micronauts as a new series written by Shon C. Bury, penciled by Cary Nord and inked by Dan Green, using new character designs based on the original characters. Scripts were written for five issues and three issues were penciled, though Marvel was not granted the Micronauts license by the copyright holder, Abrams/Gentile Entertainment, forcing the series to be canceled.
  • In 1998, AGE, Annex Entertainment, Gribouille and Kaleidoscope Media Group planned to produce a Micronauts animated series starting with a five part miniseries to air on the Sci-Fi Channel in Fall of 1998, followed by a syndicated 26 episode Micronauts animated series for 1999, with action figures and a Marvel tie-in comic announced. The project appears to be shelved/canceled.
  • From 2005, AGE gave permission for State of the Art Toys to produce redesigned Micronauts action figures as Micronauts Evolution, with concept art by Randy Queen. SOTA president Jerry Macaluso expressed interest in a new comic based on the figures.

Collected editions

Part of the Devil's Due series has been collected into a trade paperback:

  • Micronauts: Revolution (112 pages, Devil's Due Publishing, June 2003, ISBN 1582403112)

See also

References

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