Thursday, 17 January 2013
X-Men And The Micronauts #1: "First Encounter"
This is a curious one. It practically screams "toy-line promotion", which certainly seems to check out (indeed Sam is kind enough to provide a lampshade by mentioning the Micronauts in his sister's collection). We here are Year X are not precious about the motivations behind a given comic, though, and since this both features the X-Men and was co-written by Claremont, it clearly falls under our remit.
It's also a pretty quick issue to run through, given it's been divided precisely in two, with the X-Men not showing up until the action switches to Earth at the top of page 12 (one wonders if the writing duties between Claremont and Mantlo were shared the same way; it's difficult to tell from the text, though the second half reads like standard Claremont and the first reads like him on the worst day of his life, which might just be Mantlo's style; I don't know). I don't feel the need to dwell much on the first half, but in brief, there's these Micronauts, right, superheroes who fly around in "Bioship", which is a Gobot that sings Earth spiritual numbers in a possibly racist accent. They live in the Microverse, a miniature universe which is being invaded by forces so overwhelmingly and horrifyingly powerful that they've been compelled to forge an alliance with their arch-nemesis Baron Karza (think Doctor Doom with more interest in helmets) in the hope they can defend themselves. Their initial encounter - with what proves to be a vicious army led by an Earthling psyker dressed as a conquistador - goes horribly wrong, with the entire Micronauts team captured, save Bioship, who escapes with Karza, hoping to find aid elsewhere.
Screenwipe. Over at the Xavier pad, it's a typical day. The professor is training the New Mutants, Kitty is whining and complaining, Ororo is in her bikini to offer the lads some side-boob. Business very much as usual.
Until Karza arrives, detachable fists flailing. He's got it into his head that the monstrous invader of his own realms is linked directly to Xavier (did Claremont just accidentally create Onslaught?), and he doesn't think much of putting questions ahead of punching on his to-do list. He carves his way through the New Mutants, but the senior team prove a bigger impediment; they hold him off until Bioship can follow Karza through whatever interdimensional rift they're using, and explain the situation.
It's all a big misunderstanding, it would seem, but at least no damage was done. At least, that's what Karza wants everyone to think. In fact, he's swapped minds with Kitty following her attempt to phase through him, a fact he's keen for no-one to glom onto. Conveniently for him, Kitty has lapsed into unconsciousness due to the strain, so she's not able to contradict him. Equally conveniently, he possesses sufficient psychic power to not only keep Xavier in the dark, but to animate his own armour (now housing Kitty) so as to seem still himself as he explains the situation. The X-Men agree to help out, and so Bioship shrinks them all down to doll size so they can head over to the beleaguered Microverse, all save Xavier, apparently because the talking spaceship with the shrinking ray isn't able to slap together a miniature wheelchair, and because a shrink ray that can work on flesh, adamantium and clothing is helpless against wood ("What, it doesn't do wood?"). The issue ends with our heroes stepping into the Microverse.
So what can I say about all this? I mean, so far, it's just a replay of UXM Annual #3, only with toys and less padding. That's a swap I'd be happy to make, true, but it doesn't really lend itself to in-depth analysis. Let's just go with this: I expected little from this issue, and I was neither disappointed nor pleasantly surprised.
Xavier mentions that Magma is now a part of the New Mutants team. He's also unable to walk, which handily puts this issue between NMU #13 and NMU #14. Less handily, that's only a gap of a week (NMU #14), and yet apparently it's a fine warm day, despite it snowing a few days later (NMU#14 again). I think we'll just have to assume Storm is in a bikini because it's bright, not necessarily warm (we know that her powers make her immune to cold, after all), and that when Kitty calls this a lovely day, she means considering the time of year. It's also possible Ororo's fiddling with the weather again, too.
The story itself (at least that part which takes place on Earth) lasts for a few hours at most.
Monday 27th December, 1983.
Pope John Paul II visits his would-be assassin Mehmet Ali Agca in Romes' Rebibbia prison, in order to forgive him.
"At last -- free of that accursed flying hand!" - Sunspot