Friday, March 16, 2012

Sci-Friday: "This Is the Way the World Ends" by Wein and Sparling

What if you made a comicbook to sell a line of toys but nobody bought 'em? Ol' Groove has had a copy of The Microbots #1-and-only since the fall of 1971, but I can't say I remember wanting--or even seeing--the Microbots toys that it was supposedly selling. I say "supposedly selling" 'cause for some reason there's nary a mention of the Kenner toys the mag is based on. Not an ad, blurb, or editorial in sight. Still, the story (by Len Wein) hit Young Groove where he lived, with it's environmentalist message, cool robots, and Vic and Jeffrey's friendship (my best friend at the time was named "Jeffery"). Dr. Micron's sacrifice was about as heavy as anything I'd ever read in a comicbook up to that point, so it really stuck with me. Another mystery behind the mag is the art. I can tell without a doubt that it's penciled by Jack Sparling, but many think the mag was inked by Jesse (Dr. Spektor, Dagar) Santos. It's possible, but it looks more Sparling that anything to Ol' Groove's bleary eyes. Check out the origin of the Microbots and decide for yourself, Groove-ophile!

And just 'cause you-know-who loves ya baby, here's the blazin' back-up tale!


  1. Having already mentioned my love of the toy line in the comments over at Plaid Stallions, I'll restrict myself here to saying that photos don't do them justice. These were absolutely gorgeous, not to mention heavy and durable for their size.

    The comic was probably the darkest comics story I'd ever read at the time. I can't imagine they gave Len Wein much instruction or supervision...and I can't imagine selling the toys was high on his list of priorities. But as a historical artifact it's a perfect example of the "overly earnest warning of eco-catastrophe" SF subgenre which dominated the early Seventies. And even though it wasn't the story I'd have chosen to go with the toy line, it's got a lot of charm.

  2. I vaguely remember the toys - I think my younger brother might have gotten a couple for Chirstmas that year - but I do not remember this comic book version at all. A real find; thanks for sharin!

  3. I don't see anything other than Sparling's work here myself.

    In recalling this story, I thought Len Wein had sneakily crossed over into the Mighty Samson future, but I see that his ecocatastophe and Otto Binder's nuclear war merely led to the same sort of cavemen culture. Great minds think alike!

  4. I had forgotten completely about this comic - bought it when it came out, but had no idea about any toy tie-in till now (pity they didn't try a Zeroids strip; now THAT I'd have gone for in a big way)...I have my doubts about Jesse Santos, but could almost see something of a Win Mortimer look about some of the inks (eg the opening panel of the back-up story).



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