Friday, December 5, 2008

Famous First Fridays: The Micronauts

Welcome to another Famous First toy tie-in, Groove-ophiles! Near the end of the Groovy Age, Marvel Comics went from being the "House of Ideas" to the "House of Licensing", but it wasn't all bad. One of the best was the Micronauts, a mag which was so successful that it lasted for years after the toys had stopped being made. If you're interested in a history of the toys themselves, there are a slew of Micronauts sites out there, the best of which is InnerSpace Online. That far-out site fills ya in on every phase of Micronauts history, from their beginnings in 1976 to the present. They also give ya tons of pics, and lots of links to other sites. Best of all, they have links to interviews with the men behind the comicbook Micronauts, Bill Mantlo and Michael Golden.

Writer Bill Mantlo was Marvel's "master of the fill-in" in the late 70s. He regularly wrote mags like Marvel Team-Up, Marvel Two-In-One, the Champions, Sons of the Tiger (for Deadly Hands of Kung Fu), and a few others, but you'd find his name in the credits of most any Marvel comic at some time or another. Micronauts catapulted him into stardom, and it wasn't long before he was the regular writer for mags like the Incredible Hulk and Spectacular Spider-Man. Sadly, Mantlo suffered brain damage in 1992 after being hit by an automobile while rollerblading. In 2007, a benefit book, Mantlo: A Life In Comics was published, with proceeds going to help the Mantlo family in caring for Bill. For more info on how to order the book, go to the Bill Mantlo Project.

You can read all about how Mantlo was inspired to create a comicbook series around the Micronauts here (transcribed from the original Comics Journal article from June, 1978).

Artist Michael Golden was an up-and-coming fan favorite at DC during the mid-to-late 70s. He was best known for his work on Man-Bat and Batman for Batman Family, Mr. Miracle, and a legendary Demon story for Detective Comics. Marvel's Editor-in-Chief, Jim Shooter invited Golden over to Marvel specifically to draw the adventures of the Micronauts. According to Golden, it sounded like something different (he didn't really want to do superheroes) plus there was the matter of a ten dollar per page rate increase, so he accepted Shooter's invite. You can read Golden's side of the story here. Again, Micronauts was such a huge hit that it propelled Golden into the ranks of super-stardom. Golden went on to co-create the X-Men's Rogue, as well as acclaimed gigs on G.I. Joe and The 'Nam.

As I said, the Micronauts was a fan-favorite from the get-go thanks to its Star Wars type villain and Golden's incredible art (beautifully inked by Joe Rubenstein). The mag lasted 59 issues in it original run (from October, 1979-May, 1984), then another 20 issues (July, 1984-February, 1986). During its run, it became one of Marvel's first "direct sales only" titles (comic sold in comics shops only--what a novel idea!)(Vol. 1, #38, December, 1981), proving itself as one of Marvel's top-sellers.

Mantlo wrote most every issue of the first volume, plus a couple annuals and a mini-series in which the Micronauts met the X-Men (1984). Golden handled the art for the first 15 issues, and was followed by high-caliber talent like Howard Chaykin, Pat Broderick, Steve Ditko, Gil Kane, and Jackson (Butch) Guice.

Had enough history? Ready to read the comic? Then let's boogie, baby! From October, 1979, Here's Bill Mantlo, Michael Golden, and company with the premiere episode of the Micronauts!


  1. Aside from ROM, this is Bill Mantlo's best work for Marvel. Sadly, we'll probably never see either reprinted due to rights issues ...

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  3. ROM will be here next Friday, Keeper!

  4. Marvel did a surprisingly good job with their toy licenses, especially Micronauts and Rom. This was one of my favorites back then.

  5. Far and away, my favorite Marvel comic EVER. This series was simply magical for me. Rom, Godzilla, Shogun Warriors, Crystar ... I liked those books just fine, but Micronauts was a great series with a great mythology. It changed the way I played with my toys ... and introduced one of my favorite comic book villains, Baron Karza. Thanks for posting this!

  6. arguably, Michael Golden's finest hour. I LOVED this book when it came out.

  7. Thanks for the great link to the Golden interview. He has always been a bit of a recluse. Have not seen many pics or interviews of/by the guy. Micronauts #12 ranks up there as one of my all time favorites.

  8. I'm a huge fan of the Micronauts! I still have all of the comic books and figures. Bill Mantlo was great also. I bought that benefit book when it came out. I highly recommend it to everyone.



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