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.
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.
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.
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.