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Micronauts #8

Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Dan Jolley
Artists: Steve Kurth (p), Barb Schulz (i)

Publisher: Image Comics

Plot:
The book opens with the Micronauts arriving on Earth to find themselves smack dab in the middle of Baron Karza's invasion fleet. However, some seat of their pants flying manages to get their ship out of the middle of this fire fight between Karza's forces, and the jet fighters that humanity has sent up to repeal these tiny invaders, and the Mirconauts set down on the relative safety of the ground below. After looking in on Archer who sets Princess free, as he felt sorry for her we see the group finds itself wondering what they plan on doing next, as they have very little hope of driving off an invasion fleet in a single ship, and humanity is likely to assume they're part of the invasion fleet. We then see the Micronauts bear witness to another troubling part of Baron Karza's plan as the planet's population is set upon by a series of probes that preform seemingly harmless mind scans, but before they can really question the logic behind this move, the group finds itself under attack, by a group loyal to Karza. During the ensuing fight we see Archer, the Princess & Biotron are separated from the others, as they take a tumble down a storm drain. We then see in the relative quiet away from the battle Archer learns that the probes are being used to measure the IQs of the humans they scan, and anyone with an IQ of higher than 80 is targeted for execution.

Comments:
Okay, now I'm really concerned as before this issue I could simply tell myself that the writing simply too focused on introducing the various characters to really develop an entertaining universe for our characters to function within. In fact as a devoted fan of the original series, I have to confess that in the early stages of that series, I wasn't overly impressed by the Microverse, and it wasn't until they began their journeys to the various worlds on their quest for the pieces of a magic key that I started to see the real potential of the Microverse. However, right from the start Bill Mantlo made the planet Earth into a wondrous site for out heroes to have adventures, as starting with the cover to the second issue that had our heroes about to be run over by a lawn mower, the book seemed to understand the storytelling potential of having them moving about on a world where even the most mundane elements of every day living could be a terrifying danger to our heroes. However, this new series looks to be treating the planet Earth as simply a backdrop for the continuation of the space warfare that has made up the previous issues, and the fact that our heroes are tiny compared to the rest of the world only rates a passing mention, as heavens forbid they actually interact with this new environment. Now the artwork for the next issue look somewhat promising, as we at least see a human takes notice of our tiny heroes, but this first issue left me a bit disillusioned.

I also have to say that the cast members of this book simply aren't all that compelling, as while they all have the basic personality templates of the originals, they are far more passive & uninspired in how they interact with each other & the world about them. I mean this issue's big character moment is that the princess has her eyes opened about what a scum bag Baron Karza truly is, and thanks to his rescue of her in a previous issue, we see she has started to develop feeling toward our square-jawed hero. However, while this character development isn't unexpected, it does seem rather abrupt, when one considers that only a few issues a go she was screaming for their heads, and acting like a spoiled brat who looked downed upon everyone else as a lowly commoner, who shouldn't even look upon her when she walked into a room. Now that I think about it this change in personality is the only real character development we've seen outside of Archer's abrupt transition from a confused & utterly bewildered kidnap victim, to a cool, calm & collected leader figure, whose orders the others seem to be perfectly willing to obey, without question. If nothing else I would've like to have seen a little more skepticism from the various characters, as why should most of these characters care what happens to the Earth? In fact I would've like to have seen the suggestion of how could they strand Baron Karza & his forces on Earth, thus ridding the Microverse of their evil presence.

Steve Kurth becomes the fourth artist to work on this book in eight issues and while this doesn't exactly inspire much confidence in this book's ability to hold on to its artists, I do have to say that of the four, Steve Kurth's work looks the most polished & professional in my eyes. I like the way that his characters are able to convey the various emotions that the story calls for, as Archer looks genuinely surprised to find himself back on the planet Earth, and the Princess looks downright sheepish as she explains why she's decided to switch sides in this conflict. The art also does some nice work on the more visually impressive sections of the story, as the double-page shot of the sky filled with invaders from the Microverse is a truly wonderful piece of art, as is the sequence where the ship moves through the battlefield. If I had to make one complaint about the art though it would have to be that it never quite manages to convey the sense of scale that is required to tell newer readers that the Micronauts are tiny in comparison to the world around them. In other world there's no real comparison shots that instantly give readers a sense of scale (e.g. having the ship land on an object that readers would know the size of, such as a park bench). Now there is a scene where we see Baron Karza standing above a human who is being tortured, but this issue needed far more scenes like this to convey the size difference, as this is important visual information.

Final Word:
I truly want to enjoy this series, and I feel a bit like a broken record as it seems like I've included this line in every single review I'm made regarding this newest series. However, this issue stands up as likely the biggest disappointment, as the one area that I had been counting on to redeem this book's rather lackluster start was the idea that when this book took these characters to Earth, there was no way the creative team wouldn't be able to deliver an entertaining time. I mean the basic premise of a group of little people trapped on a world where everything towers over them seems like a can't miss premise for excitement, but after this first issue I'm not even sure the creative team understands what readers found so enjoyable about the original series. It wasn't the overblown space battles, or the purple prose of the ever ambiguous Time Travelers, but rather the sense of constant danger that the Micronauts seems to find themselves in. I mean here we are on Earth and not a single threat to the group stems from the fact that they are tiny visitors trying to function in a land of giants.



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