Thursday, September 17, 2015

Throwback Thursday: The Micronauts & Leaving It All Behind

"Commander!" "Yes, Prince Acroyear?"
"If this is OUR comic, why is Baron
Karza in the upper left box?"
When Micronauts number one came out, I had no idea what to expect. Already disappointed with the cheap Cooper costumes sold at K-Mart, and loving the Micronauts eponymous toy line did not guarantee nor even suggest a great comic. Even at this young age I knew when I was being cheaply pandered to.

Someone did not tell Bill Mantlo and Michael Golden, however. After the blockbuster success of Star Wars, I suspect they decided to go for broke in telling an epic sci-fi tale, being inspired by everything from Gulliver's Travels to Led Zeppelin.

The Micronauts first twelve issues were so epic, so stunning, the entire series pales in comparison. Golden made every page flow with a film-like quality. You seriously could've used every panel as a shot plan for a cinematographer, it was that good.

The story is simple: Commander Arcturus Rann, having left Homeworld to explore the universe aboard the H.M.S. Endeavor in suspended animation, has returned after his thousand-year journey to find his former mentor has not only killed his parents but taken over Homeworld. Baron Karza offers its denizens a form of immortality with his "Body Banks" and to cap things off, he's used the recently discovered warp drive to go out and conquer every single world Rann had just befriended.

Talk about giving it all up for nothing and feeling less than useless.

But Rann's return sparks hope in the rebellion. Even as he is imprisoned in gladiator pits he makes staunch friends: Prince Acroyear and Master Thief "Bug", Princess Mari and her little Microtron. Together with his faithful roboid Biotron they begin fighting back as the Micronauts.

Everything from Firefly to Guardians of the Galaxy is in this comic from 1977, and thus, it rocks; it rocks very hard. Just because I'm a nice guy, let me show you page one by the inimitable Michael Golden:

Now three things blew me away: one, how amazingly the horses and figures are drawn. Two, that the little aerial figures up in the chapter title are recognizable to me as acroyears in flight [btw - they aren't acro-years, they are a-KROY-eers].

Thirdly, that they took the time and effort to layout "CHAPTER ONE" and "HOMEWORLD" in a futuristic font face. This showed me they were serious. I know that sounds weird, but how type is handled is usually an afterthought. It is not done so here. It is part of the art, the story, the visual marker that this, child, is a new SF series and needs your attention.

It was $.35, too. Dude - seriously - when are you EVER going to get goodness like that in your hands for $.35?

Clearly, Micronauts was going for broke. They were putting it all down on the page and you were captured. No one - no one sane - bought just issue one.

What my comparison is today for all you loveable Micro-fanatics out there is this: Rann left it all behind for something greater.

It looked bad when he came home. It looked really bad. All his work for naught, you know? He could have crawled up and died but he didn't - and then slowly, we see him find love again, he rescues a boy and his dad who are also science "explorers" [NASA on our Earth]. He even finds that his suspended animation had a bonus he did realize; he's created the very hero necessary to fight Karza.

Jesus said if we leave it all behind and follow him we too will have great glory.

Abram went out, "not knowing wither he went" and ended up fathering Israel and all believers.

The virgin Mary gave up her social standing but got fame instead of shame.

The apostle Paul said it succinctly like this, echoing this theme of sacrifice that looks dumb at first, but ends with joy and happiness:
Philippians 3:8-11
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Let me confess something to you: radical faith does not mean you become a great big sign-wielding jackass or fly into buildings to blow up infidels.

It means you give up things. You give up stuff you like for the god you love.

You will do this anyway, since we all feel the call to worship something, but if we humans are good at anything we tend to give up everything for the wrong god.

Money and power are easy to see as bad gods. We hate fascism, dictatorial rulers, greedy bastards and lying corporate heads.

But I am not talking about bad gods. I am talking about acceptable gods: being well-liked, having a family, friends, your own space, your homeland.

When we see those things sacrificed, we stop. We go "Whoa - that's radical!"

Yeah - and it is highly commended in fiction. When Luke loses everything and decides to "become a Jedi like my father" in Star Wars we are impressed, but really, what other choices did he have? His aunt and uncle were a smoldering husk and his home destroyed.

No, it is when someone has The Good Stuff and sacrifices it, we get awed.

Commander Rann left a loving mother and father to reach out to other worlds and offer them peace. He sacrificed all he knew and loved for others. No wonder he becomes the vessel for redemption. This type of story is so intuitive, so ingrained in the Christian psyche of our civilization we may take it for granted.

Loss may turn into gain, but a sacrifice? That turns into glory.

So I just want to leave you with that: remember that no sacrifice is in vain. If it is for the right God - and I mean that enigmatic force that grabbed you and had you read this entire blog.

He loves you. Sacrifice for Him and get glory.

A thousand thousand years from now, you'll be grateful and glad you did.

Amen.

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