Current Reviews


Micronauts #2

Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2002
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: Scott Wherle
Artists: Eric Wolfe Hanson (p), Barbara Schulz with Steven Hall (i)

Publisher: Image Comics

The book opens with Baron Karza proudly showing a confused Ryan his world, but when Ryan asks why he was kidnapped & brought to the Microverse we see Karza flies into a rage, and Ryan is thrown back in his cell. Ryan then hooks up with the armored warrior Acroyear, who explains how Baron Karza made his rise to power, when the former rulers attempted to hold back the scientific progress that Karza had made. However when Acroyear gets to the part that might explain why Baron Karza is so interested in Ryan their conversation is cut short by the arrival of Princess Persephone. After discovering the Princess is a spoiled brat, and Ryan manages to get on her bad side, we see a fight breaks, and Acroyear is able to overcome the initial group of guards sent to quell this conflict. We then look in on the four-armed Vaerian we met last issue as he's busy being admired by a gathering of buyers, who view the alien as a highly prized commodity, as the Vaerian race has been pretty much wiped out. Meanwhile back in the cells we see Biotron has been brought in to punish the prisoners, and the issue ends with Acroyear & Ryan being the only two who survive this object lesson.

This second issue does a nice job expanding on the ideas hinted at in the first issue, as we get a expanded look at how Baron Karza came to rule the Microverse, and we also get a better look at the cast members who are going to make up the Micronauts. Even more interesting is the idea that certain members of the group look to be working for Baron Karza, as we see Biotron commit a decidedly evil act, while the Princess looks to be the very definition of a spoiled brat, so it should be interesting to see what inspires these two characters to turn against Baron Karza. We also get a nice little bit of information about this book's version of Bug, as we learn his race has been nearly wiped out, which makes him a highly prized asset to the slave traders that populate the Microverse. Plus we also get a nice little heads up on some of his new abilities, such as his being able to breath under water, and his extra two arms. There's also this book's version of Commander Rann, who is completely out of his element, and while Acroyear is his usual imposing self, the rule of if he ain't broke don't fix it would seen to apply to his character.

I feel I should point out that by the end of its first issue the original series had gathered together all its players, introduced the reader to the evil that is Baron Karza, and even had the Micronauts breaching the spacewall that separated the Microverse and Earth. Now I'm not making this point to cast dispersions on this current series, but rather I'm using it as an example of how comics have changed their storytelling approach, as writers now come on a project with the idea in mind that its readers will come back next month to get the next chapter rather than the next adventure. Now sure the original made use of cliffhangers, and had running plots that took multiple issues to tell, but personally I feel its first issue was stronger, as right away it set a fast pace that gave the reader only what they needed to know, while the extra details were filled in as they went along. Now this current series has started out at a slower pace, and while the characters will presumably be more fleshed out, it does assume that the reader is willing to commit to the series with promise of getting the full story rather than laying it all out right from the word go.

First off I have to make mention of this issue's cover, as this has to be one of the more impressive shots of Acroyear that I've come across. I mean it's always been common knowledge that Acroyear is a warrior, and as such he doesn't shy away from using lethal force to secure his victories, but this is one of the only times the art has captured the essence of this idea in all its rather gruesome glory. As for the interior art, the book impresses right away with a fantastic double-page spread of the cityscape, and one has to love the design work that is displayed on this page, as it really does look like an alien city. The art also does a nice job conveying a sense of dread on the scenes where Baron Karza's backstory is offered up, and the fury of the Princess when she spots our hero looking at her is nicely done. There's also a wonderfully chilling scene where the people in the cell are vaporized by an unexpected party, and the final page peek at the body-banks is suitably disturbing. The news that this book is going to start shipping monthly as of issue #5 does leave me a bit concerned about the quality level of the art being compromised.

Final Word:
I must admit that my familiarity with the original series does have me wishing the story was progressing a bit quicker, as I'm eager to be done with the rather familiar feeling introduction phase, and on to the stories where Scott Wherle can find his own path. On the other hand I'm also rather intrigued by how this new version is straying from the original series, as while there are similar elements (e.g. the Baron Karza's backstory), there's also some fairly notable changes. In fact it's these changes that proved to be the most engaging sections of this issue, as Biotron gets a wonderfully chilling scene in this issue that is sure to have Ryan keeping a wary eye on him when these two find themselves together in the Micronauts. This book is also doing a pretty good job of delivering a new version of the series, as I imagine people who haven't read any issues of the original series will find this book to be an engaging sci-fi adventure.

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