It’s been awhile since the Micronauts have starred in their own comic, even when considering the pair of short-lived series from Image Comics and Devil’s Due Publishing from over a decade ago. Now, Cullen Bunn brings the franchise to IDW Publishing in a brand-new “Micronauts” #1, with layouts by David BaldeÃ³n and finishes by a roster of similar-styled artists. There are a few familiar faces and costumes, but old-time fans will find an issue with a largely different lineup and feel from what they might remember from Bill Mantlo’s classic incarnation for Marvel Comics back in the eighties.
There’s no sign of Bug, Mari or Arcturus in Bunn’s introduction, as these are team members who are actually still Marvel properties. Acroyear is back, though, and a couple of other familiar faces make an appearance, but the front man of Bunn’s story is Oz, an adventuresome rogue with a conscience. Oz’s boss takes advantage of his kinder nature and sends him on a “humanitarian” mission, but — when Oz, Acroyear and company embark on it — it turns out to be something else entirely.
Bunn opens up his story with the destruction of a world, and the only thing his story can do after that is slow down, which it does. Bunn uses the tragedy to highlight Oz’s concern over such a terrible occurrence, as well as his lack of tolerance for those who don’t demonstrate same. The sequence is used to introduce the other characters as well, but the intros aren’t all that exciting, beyond the introduction of Acroyear, who is arguably the most anticipated character featured in the issue. There’s no grand entrance to speak of, unless a punch to the jaw fits that description, and the other characters also have casual walk-ons. There’s no sense of grandeur in this introductory issue; much of the cast feels more like stand-ins, and Bunn fails to replace the missing characters with ones that have any kind of presence to carry the story.
Curiously, this twenty-four page story requires four artists and four colorists to complete it. Despite this, there’s a surprising and impressive consistency throughout; BaldeÃ³n gets most of the credit for this, as the breakdowns are all his, giving the structure of the issue a homogenous quality, while the other artists — including Fico Ossio, Max Dunbar, Jack Lawrence and BaldeÃ³n himself — finish off his layouts with clean and harmonious inking. Colorists David Garcia Cruz, Joana La Fuente, Thomas Deer, John-Paul Bove also bring uniformity to the art; darker, gradient shades dominate and make for an attractive issue, but some brighter tones every now and then would have brought a little more punch.
The art team doesn’t deliver the same kind of detailed and lush visuals like other artists associated with the franchise, like Michael Golden or Butch Guice, but they nonetheless bring a sharp and animated simplicity to the pages. Overall, though, there’s little in the way of anything downright impressive, save for the reintroduction of Baron Karza, who carries that sinister, Vader-like quality that he’s meant to.
When considered on its own without any of the franchise’s history, Bunn and BaldeÃ³n’s story is a competently constructed introduction to a sci-fi story. Those familiar with the Micronauts of old, though, will find it lacking; “Micronauts” #1 shows some promise and entertains, but it’s akin to seeing one’s favorite band well after its most well-regarded members have left.