Some toy lines come and go, while others seem to last forever. G.I. Joe and Transformers are two toy lines that might have come and gone without much notice if not for the creative spark of comic books. In the double-barreled classic comic series by Marvel, both of those toy lines saw their history expanded and their adventures unfurled for an eager fanbase of kids (and former kids) who couldn’t get enough. But past those two shining examples, there are other toy lines that didn’t fair as well but still carry some weight for fans. In this week’s Remake & Reboot, we imagine how The Micronauts could be brought back to life.
First launched as a toyline in America in 1976 (based on the Japanese line of Microman toys), the Micronauts caught the eye of then-Marvel writer Bill Mantlo when his son got some for Christmas and he petitioned the higher-ups at the House of Ideas to acquire the comic book license. In January 1979, Mantlo and artist Michael Golden launched the comic series The Micronauts (billed as coming from “inner space”), starting a memorable run that would last for seven years and included a cross-over with none other than the X-Men. Using the toys as inspiration, Mantlo created personalities and back-stories for each toy and even introduced new characters like Bug, Arcturus Rann and Marionette. When Marvel lost the license in the late 80s, those new characters stayed with Marvel continuity while the original characters (and The Micronauts title itself) floated away. In the ensuing years, three other publishers have done short-lived Micronauts titles but none achieved the level of success as the original. But here’s how a new publisher could do it right.
Doing licensed comics is a hard business because after the initial buzz of the relaunch you have to keep interest high and find the fanbase to support it; just ask Devil’s Due. Dark Horse and IDW seem to be the only two companies with the infrastructure and know-how to get it done (and keep doing it), so imagine one of those getting the comic license to The Micronauts from its owners, Takara Tomy. Although some characters like Bug, Arcturus Rann and Marionette are unavailable due to being owned by Marvel, there is a host of others — including the seminal villain Baron Karza — that could readily act as building blocks for a new era of the Micronauts.
In a new Micronauts series, the line needs to start from from square one, and I’d focus on Karza as an introduction to the Microverse world(s) and the characters within. In this, I’d make Acroyear the lead hero, using his backstory as a member of a race of people who claim neutrality in Karza’s war.
The Writer – Ian Brill: Brill might still be a new name for those who didn’t read his excellent Darkwing Duck run or his recently released Dracula World Order series, but this California-based writer seems to have all the skills to write a creative story and make sense of what can be an arduous approvals process with licensed books.
The Artist – Will Rosado: In his 20 year career, Rosado has become known as a great pinch-hitter and competent detail-oriented artist on some of the secondary titles in comics. I first came to know him on Joe Casey’s second Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes series, but it is his current work on IDW’s main G.I. Joe series that tells me he’s just the person for the job. Rosado can do complicated machines and worlds, and also do real acting with his characters faces and posturing. He may not be a glitzy as an A-list artist from Marvel or DC, but Rosado would be an excellent practical choice who could deliver with no worries.
The Cover Artist / Concept Artist – Daniel Acuña: To help provide some of that glitz, I’d bring in Daniel Acuña to provide covers for the series and also come up with modern (yet classic) renditions of the Micronauts characters. I’d love to see Acuña’s take on Karza, Acroyear and the others.