Monday, August 28, 2017

MICRONAUTS MONDAY: 32 - SNOWBLIND


Micronauts vol.1 No.32 (Aug 1981)
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Pat Broderick/Dan Bulandi
Letterer: Simek
Colorist: Warfield
Editor: Louise Jones/Tom DeFalco
EIC: Jim Shooter

Tom DeFalco shares co-editor credit on this issue, and will be the editor on the nesxt few issues at least, as far as I've read ahead. This is mixed news, at best. My impression of DeFalco (as a writer, anyway), is that a handful of people love him, a handful loathe him, and the vast majority is fairly ambivalent.

For my part, the number of DeFalco stories I can recall could be counted on the fingers of one hand, and they're all over the map. My earliest encounter with his work was on Superman Family, on the Jimmy Olsen feature, and it was not a happy encounter -- although, in his defense, it was very early work and the standards of Superman Family were maybe not the highest among the line. Then there's Spider-Girl and the overall MC2, the hyper-dedicated fandom for which absolutely boggles my mind since I thought they were awful. But, then again, there's his Thor/Thunderstrike arc, which I found delightful and a pleasant surprise among Marvel's Nineties offering.

So, take that as you will. I have to note, though, that the biggest impression left on me by DeFalco's writing is that he prefers by-the-book superhero storytelling. This might be fine on something like Superman Beyond or A-Next, but Micronauts wasn't built to be by-the-book. Let's see what happens, though, since Louise Jones is still co-helming this issue, at least.

Everything is very graceful in Snowzone.
The Micronauts  travel to the Subzero Zone, zeroing in on the frozen city Polaria, and this "The name of the place reflects the singular environmental quality of the place" is already worn out its welcome after "two." I mean, it wore out its welcome pretty much right away, with Homeworld being as much as I was happy to let the book get away with. I mean, I lived most of my life in Arizona, and it's not like the major cities there are called, like, Desert Harbor, St.Sunburn, Melanomaville and Cactusburg, for crying out loud.

Before the M'nauts show up, though, we're introduced to extreme skier Prince Peacock, once a floorwalker at a fading British department store and now the scion of the frozen empire of this dumb iceberg of a planet. He's on the hunt for the Snowbear, which is -- and hold on here, I'm guessing -- a bear that lives in a place with a lot of snow.

The Snowbear has the second key embedded in its chest, and Prince Peacock is chasing the bear in order to yoink the key and use its magic to save Polaria from the great catastrophe predicted in that horrible poem ... which I'll now remind you about!
A time of darkness will there be;
Of great distress on land and sea!
Find thyselves, and thou wilt find me --
The secret lies in these keys three!
Snowbear comes with instructions, which is that whoever uses the key can make it do one thing at their command, but the thing they love most must die. Since the Time Traveler shows up and does a wacky light-show which gives Peacock every visual clue in the universe that the Snowbear is actually also Queen Fria, his unrequited beloved and ruler of Polaria, you'd think Peacock would figure out the twist in the rules. As it is, he still thinks he values his life more than anything else,  and **spoiler alert** he's gonna use his wish but the queen is gonna die and he's gonna be surprised and remorseful. We'll come back to this in a second.

They have a healthy relationship.

While all of this is going on, Dr.Strange has been messing with the golden monolith and has discovered a path to the Microverse. If you were wondering if they've yet explained why Prince Wayfinder's magic sword spoke like Danny Aiello, no, they don't.

Prince Peacock and the Micronauts go after the Snowbear, and that has the ending which you'd expect it to have. It does take up the majority of the issue, though, and it's mostly wheel-spinning. Its highlights involve Bug being abducted by a giant cavebat and, a few pages later, dropping the dead cavebat out of the sky and demanding that someone skin it so he can wear its fur as a coat. Jesus Christ, Bug. You've got layers.

Also, when he's separated from the other Micronauts behind a collapsed cave entrance, Bug mutters "Lord, what *tik* ghouls these portals be!" Sorry Bug, you have to go to jail now.

After all the hubbub, holding the key, Peacock refuses to use it to save Polaria. This is bullshit. Peacock is worse than Karza. I hope they come back later and kick his ass, but they gotta get to Prince Pharoid's homeland of Aegyptia next!

On the last page, we briefly catch up with Acroyear just in time to see him crash on an unknown world and also a single caption informs us that he got blinded some time between this issue and last. Yeah, like I say, some editorial decisions are already rubbing me the wrong way ...

Bad. Ass.

5 comments:

Robert Berman said...

Star Wars didn't invent the "one planet, one climate" trope, but one can't help but think that's what Micronauts is drawing directly upon with this series of trips through the different biomes of Homeworld.

All the interesting stuff is happening off panel: Bug fights a giant bat, Acroyear gets blinded... wonder what Slug is up to.

neofishboy said...

Without the title on the cover, I'd have no idea that thing was supposed to be a bear. I thought they were fighting the Wendigo.

karinations said...

DeFalco. A man of mixed results.

Johny Longtorso said...

"The name of the place reflects the singular environmental quality of the place". If only my parents had known they were moving us to JesusChristtheplantswillfuckyeararoundinsideallyourheadholesandyoucan'tseethroughtheairthroughmostofAugustcuzofthesmog, California I might not have asthma and would only have to deal with 1,000 mosquitoes per square foot back in the Midwest.

Rey Armenteros said...

Thanks for the trip back to memory lane. I can pinpoint the convenient store I bought this one at. By this issue, I had been collecting this comic for over two years, and the story line that begins in these issues and shapes the following issues is what made me curiously appalled by how things were going to turn out. That, and the art was changing. I was fairly sympathetic to Pat Broderick's version of the Micronauts (though he was no Michael Golden), but when they started using Danny Bulanadi over his pencils, I felt like I was looking at a Danny Bulanadi comic. As a matter of fact, it's like a magic trick; every time Danny Bulanadi inked someone, the penciler's hand was somehow gone from the equation.

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