Almost a decade before Transformers hit store shelves, there existed a Japanese toy line called Microman. This series of small, robotic toys were meant to be actual size for the Micro beings that came from Micro Earth. They had interchangeable parts and some were clear, so you could see their inner cybernetic parts. It was a popular enough toy line, eventually getting a comic series published by Marvel. The comic outlived the toy series, going well into the 80s. Microman, or Micronauts as it went by in America, is notable for being essentially the origin of the Transformers series of toys. IDW, in partnership with Hasbro, has brought back the comic series in a big way, with the first two issues setting up a good old fashioned Space Opera replete with explosions, a lovable short robot sidekick, and a motley crew of rebels.
Writer Cullen Bunn is no stranger to space epics, as he’s written Sinestro and Green Lantern: The Lost Army. Here with Micronauts, he’s allowed to flex his storytelling muscles a lot more than he could at DC, and that’s one of the best things about the series so far. Bunn introduces the band of space pirates led by a man named Oziron. Oz, as he his called by friends, is the last of a group called the Pharoids. He looks vaguely Egyptian, so one can only guess that had something to do with it. Not only does he have a mysterious background, but he’s the last of something and if there’s something that has been taught to us time and time again, it’s that being the last of something is cool. The other characters range from the tempermental and protective genetically engineered cyborg Acroyear, to the reserved TRON extra and company woman Larissa. Bunn does a great job of making this world seem fully realized almost from the outset. One example of this is that Oz and his crew have obviously made a few enemies well before issue one opens, we’re even introduced to one at the end of issue two.
The story of the first two issues revolves around Oz’s crew getting past a Ministry of Defense (Space Marines) blockade to acquire pharmaceuticals on a research satellite so the slimeball who is giving the job can sell them. Upon arriving on the station, they find it heavily defended and find out there’s something much more sinister going on. Issue Two picks up with the heroes under attack and falling to the planet below. They battle sentrybots and dodge other weapons on the planet below before the issue come to head when a squadron of new and improved Acroyear cyborgs. The way the first two issues are written keep info on a need to know basis without feeling like they hold anything back. I’m looking forward to seeing more of how Bunn will slowly unravel plot points and backstory over the course of the series.
Oziron works as a main character due to the fact that he’s a bit roguish and just enough of a space pirate to make the reader like him. Perhaps one of my favorite characters is Microtron, the ship’s pilot and resident robot. Imagine if R2-D2 could communicate with English, instead of beeps or boops, and you have Microtron. One element that I don’t think worked quite so well is the introduction to series bad guy Baron Karza, a Darth Vader analogue. He ominously talks to his wife about a war they are waging. But against whom? There’s almost too little foreshadowing for his character and is feels more like they’re just introducing the character to introduce him.
The regular series covers are being done by J.H. Williams III and portray characters in the real world as small beings. As clever and likable as this concept is, looking at it narratively makes no sense. There’s no reference to the real world or this universe being micro sized so far. That might change as the series goes on, but so far the covers just hearken to the series origins from the 70s and 80s. Overall, the writing is tight and the characters seem fully realized immediately as they appear on page. The Art from series regular Max Dunbar with colors by David Garcia-Cruz is crisp and cartoony, but just in a stylized way. Dunbar does a great job of incorporating the original toy’s aesthetic without making it seem forced or out of place. Overall, I enjoyed the first two issues and will be adding it to my pull list.
Between Bunn’s storytelling and Dunbar’s aesthetic, Micronoauts is a fun, fast ride that will keep readers on the edge of their seats, wanting more, earning it a very solid 8.5 out of 10.