MINI-SERIES REVIEWS...

X-Men/Micronauts #1 - art Butch GuiceThe X-Men and the Micronauts

(1984 - four issues, published by Marvel Comics)

Writers: Chris Claremont, Bill Mantlo. Art: Butch Guice. Inks: Bob Wiacek.

This was written by the chief writers of the X-Men and the Micronauts respectively. When a super-powerful, planet-destroying entity invades the subatomic microverse, the heroic Micronauts ally themselves with the tyranical Baron Karza to battle this mutual threat. Karza tracks the source of the Entity to the macroverse (our universe), discovering it has some connection to Prof. Xavier. The Micronauts are captured, so the X-Men shrink down and go to rescue them, but are also captured and subjected to brainwashing by the Entity. Meanwhile, Xavier struggles against the Entity on the astral plane. Eventually, the battle brings both teams back to earth. Oh, yeah, and the New Mutants also get in on the action.

What's to like: the big, apocalyptic concept. Some nice psychological scenes as the Micronauts face their greatest fears as manifested by the Entity. Some twisty plot elements involving various people's psyches inhabiting the wrong bodies, usually unbeknowst to the other characters.

What's not to like: The Entity is just evil, reveling in destruction...which means he doesn't really have a goal, or motivation, or anything that might make for an interesting character or plot twists. And I'm a little uncomfortable with the cavalier way comics like to destroy whole worlds. The fact that the X-Men/Micronauts spend a lot of time bunched up together, meaning you just have a mass of a dozen or more heroes wandering about, not really allowing the characters to come alive as individuals. The kind of, um, creepy way (some) comic book writers use minors as sex-objects, from Kitty Pryde to Danielle of the New Mutants, as if adult heroines like Storm and Marionette are just too darn old to pique the libidos of Claremont and Mantlo. Nor does the story really exploit the idea of miniature Micronauts/giant X-Men.

I read this when it first came out, and re-reading it I remain...ambivalent. There's something off a little about the pacing. It feels a little sluggish. Too much of the time the reader is observing the action, not being sucked into it and, as noted above, the characters are often a bit distant. The art by Butch Guice perhaps epitomizes my mixed feelings. On one hand I liked it -- a lot! -- on the other hand, I wondered if it's part of my mixed feelings, as if he's just not rendering the characters as sharply as he should. As well, for a guy who was the artist on the regular Micronauts comic, he doesn't draw the microverse very effectively, the planets looking like planets rather than molecular chains.

Ultimately, this wasn't bad, but not quite riveting, either.

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