Cover art of Micronauts #1 (January 1979). From left to right: Acroyear, Arcturus Rann, Marionette and Bug. Baron Karza in background. Art by Dave Cockrum and Al Milgrom.
Group publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
Image Comics
Devil's Due Publishing
IDW Publishing
First appearanceMicronauts #1 (January 1979)
Created byBill Mantlo (writer)
Michael Golden (artist)
In-story information
Type of organizationTeam
Series publication information
Micronauts: The New Voyages
ongoing series
X-Men and the Micronauts
Micronauts (vol. 3)
Micronauts: Karza
Micronauts (vol. 4)
limited series
Publication date(Micronauts)
January 1979 – August 1984
(The X-Men and the Micronauts)
January – April 1984
(Micronauts: The New Voyages)
October 1984 – May 1986
(Micronauts vol. 3)
January 2002 – September 2003
(Micronauts: Karza)
February – May 2003
(Micronauts vol. 4)
January – May 2004
Number of issuesMicronauts
X-Men and the Micronauts
Micronauts: The New Voyages
Micronauts (vol. 3)
Micronauts: Karza
Micronauts (vol. 4)
Main character(s)Arcturus Rann
Creative team
  • Micronauts
    Josef Rubinstein, Al Milgrom, Armando Gil, Danny Bulanadi, Kelley Jones
    X-Men and the Micronauts
    Kelley Jones
    Micronauts: The New Voyages
    Bruce Patterson, Danny Bulanadi
Creator(s)Bill Mantlo (writer)
Michael Golden (artist)
Collected editions
RevolutionISBN 1-58240-311-2

The Micronauts are comic books featuring a group of characters based on the Mego Micronauts toy line. The first title was published by American company Marvel Comics in 1979, with both original characters and characters based on the toys. Marvel published two Micronauts series, mostly written by Bill Mantlo, until 1986, well after the toy line was cancelled in 1980. In the 2000s, Image Comics and Devil's Due Publishing each briefly published their own Micronauts series. Byron Preiss Visual Publications also published three paperback novels based on the Micronauts. In 2016, IDW Publishing published a new comic book series.[1] A live-action film version of the Micronauts was in development by Hasbro Studios and Paramount in 2015. In May 2023, Marvel re-acquired the licensing rights to publish The Micronauts.

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Microverse of The Micronauts is adapted as the Quantum Realm.

Publication history

Marvel Comics (1979–1986)

The Micronauts began life as comic book characters thanks to a fortuitous accident on Christmas 1977. Marvel Comics writer Bill Mantlo's son Adam opened a new present, a line of the Mego Corporation's Micronauts action figures. Seeing the toys, Mantlo was instantly struck by inspiration to write their adventures. Convincing then Editor-in-chief Jim Shooter to get the comics license for these toys, Mantlo was hired to script their series.[2]

The first series of the Micronauts ran from January 1979 to August 1984 and included 59 issues[3] and two Annuals.[4] The series was written by Bill Mantlo[5] and featured art by Michael Golden.[6] Other artists on the series included Howard Chaykin, Steve Ditko, Rich Buckler, Pat Broderick, Val Mayerik, Keith Giffen, Greg LaRocque, Gil Kane, Luke McDonnell, Mike Vosburg, Butch Guice, and Kelley Jones.[7] Micronauts, along with Moon Knight and Ka-Zar the Savage, became one of Marvel's first ongoing series to be distributed exclusively to comic book stores beginning with issue #38 (Feb. 1982).[8]

In the United Kingdom, The Micronauts was first included as a supporting strip in Marvel UK's Star Wars Weekly comic in January 1979 for several months and then in the first nine issues of Star Heroes Pocketbook, alongside Battlestar Galactica, before joining the new Future Tense reprint anthology.[9] Unlike the U.S. version, these strips were printed in black and white.

The Micronauts Special Edition five-issue limited series (December 1983-April 1984) reprinted issues #1–12 and a back-up feature from #25.[10] The X-Men and the Micronauts four-issue limited series (January 1984–April 1984) was co-written by Mantlo and Chris Claremont and drawn by Butch Guice.[11]

The second volume of Micronauts, subtitled The New Voyages, was published from October 1984 to May 1986 and ran 20 issues.[12] The series was written by Peter B. Gillis and featured early-career artwork by Kelley Jones. After this series the Marvel-owned license lapsed.[13]

From the late 1990s the characters Marionette, Arcturus Rann and Bug (all Marvel properties) have appeared in various Marvel titles (without referencing the Micronauts label). Bug has appeared in a solo one-shot[14] and together with cosmic hero Star-Lord,[15] as part of a new incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy.[16]

Image Comics

In June 2002, a new series by Image Comics was published for eleven issues before its cancellation in September 2003.[17] The same year saw a four-issue limited series featuring Baron Karza's origin and his relationship with the Time Traveler entity.[18]

Devil's Due Publishing

In March 2004, a new series was launched by Devil's Due Publishing, mixing new characters with those based on the toy line. The series ran for three issues and featured art by former Micronauts artist Pat Broderick. More issues were solicited, but never appeared on shelves despite some cover art being released.[19]

IDW Publishing

In 2015, IDW Publishing acquired publishing rights from Hasbro to produce new comic books for the Micronauts and Rom the Spaceknight, both formerly popularized by Marvel as licensed properties. IDW released the first issue of their Micronauts series in April 2016, with scripts by Cullen Bunn and art by David Baldeon. The comic ran for eleven issues from 2016 to 2017. It was followed by two five-issue miniseries Micronauts: Wrath of Karza and Rom & the Micronauts which were released between 2017 and 2018.

IDW also featured Micronauts prominently in their crossover epic - Revolution. Released from September to November 2016, the crossover featured characters from various licensed toy lines IDW held the right to such as Transformers and GI Joe. The main line featured a preview issue and five regular issues, plus eight one shot tie-in issues across the various lines, one of which was Micronauts: Revolution.

Marvel Comics (2023–present)

In May 2023, Marvel renewed their license with Hasbro. Starting with a line of Marvel Omnibus collecting the original Marvel run of Micronauts, the first is scheduled for release in May 2024.[20][21]

Fictional team history

Marvel Comics version

The Micronauts originate in the Microverse, a microscopic universe full of strange planets like the human-inhabited Homeworld which is made up of diverse spherical habitats that are linked together in the fashion of a molecular chain. The original team comes together in response to the threat posed by Baron Karza, former bearded and balding academic turned murderous immortal black-armored dictator, who gained control of Homeworld through the creation of the Body Banks, where life-extending brain transplants are performed on the rich and inhuman genetic alterations on the poor.

Commander Arcturus Rann returned from a thousand-year deep space voyage in suspended animation with Biotron, his robot co-pilot on the HMS (Homeworld Micro Ship) Endeavor, to discover Karza has slain the royal family, descendants of Rann's parents Dallan and Sepsis who are now worshiped as virtual gods. What follows is an epic war across the Microverse pitting Rann and his allies against Karza.

In addition to Biotron, Rann's team of "Micronauts" includes Princess Mari of Homeworld, who, with her brother Prince Argon, are the only survivors of the slaughtered royal family of Homeworld. Known to the team as Marionette, she falls in love with Rann and leads the team on occasion. The alien gladiators Acroyear and Bug also join Rann's cause, and although completely different - one a noble armor-clad warrior prince and the other a wisecracking insectoid thief - the two become best friends and staunch allies of all Micronauts. The last member of the original team is Microtron, Mari's robot tutor. Although small, Microtron is a very resourceful R2-D2-style character and very supportive of all team members.[22]

Warping through the Spacewall, an energy barrier between the Microverse and our much larger universe, and becoming trapped for a time on Earth where they enlarge to the size of action figures, the team encounter the to-them giant-sized Florida teenager Steve Coffin, his ex-astronaut father Ray (who is briefly transformed into the first Captain Universe), the Man-Thing and the evil cyborg scientist Professor Prometheus before returning to the Microverse.

After a series of battles against Karza (who, among his many other powers, can turn into a centaur and fire his fists like rockets) and his genetically-engineered army of vicious and obedient Dog Soldiers, the Micronauts triumph and Karza is apparently killed.[23] Rann is able to claim victory due to the possession of the Enigma Force - a semi-sentient power source that bonded with him during his period of suspended animation and appeared in the form of floating, glowing green entities known as the Time Travelers - which enables him to perform incredible feats. The team then encounters the superhero team the Fantastic Four, who have traveled to a different region of the Microverse to battle the villain Psycho-Man. Bug's love, Jasmine, is killed during the climax of the battle. It is shortly after this encounter that the Micronauts again become trapped on Earth, at a greatly reduced size.[24][25][26]

After encounters with the villains Plantman[27] and Molecule Man,[28] the team battle Mentallo and the Fixer, who have allied themselves with the organization HYDRA. Joined by one of Acroyear's people - Dagon - the team discovers that the villains and HYDRA are secretly under the control of Baron Karza, who is able to resurrect himself by placing his mind in Prince Argon's body. Argon was also converted to a cyborg centaur by the Body Banks, which combined him with his horse Oberon. Although the organization S.H.I.E.L.D. and several representatives of the races of the Microverse help the Micronauts finally defeat Karza, the battle is costly. Biotron is destroyed by Dagon, who is revealed to be an agent of Karza; the Queen of Kaliklak, Bug's home planet, dies in battle; Rann is rendered comatose and Acroyear's traitorous albino brother Prince Shaitan dies summoning the Worldmind - the parallel power to the Enigma Force that sustains their own home planet of Spartak. In desperation, Acroyear bonds with the Worldmind to defeat Karza, but in doing so destroys his world.[29]

While trying to awaken Rann, the remnants of the team have an encounter with the demon Nightmare[30] and accidentally discover that the Microverse is unraveling. A warning left in Rann's mind reveals that three keys will restore balance to the Microverse. The team embarks on a new quest across three new regions of the Microverse: Oceania,[31] Polaria, and the Dead Zone. The Micronauts are eventually successful, and also acquire several teammates, including the bestial Devil and his companion Fireflyte and the robot Nanotron.[32]

A new problem arises when Prince Argon, turning tyrant after donning the sacred white armor of the legendary Force Commander, begins displaying paranoia regarding the Micronauts, and eventually sends a special alien Death Squad to kill them.[33] The Micronauts defeat the unit, and then encounter the mutant Nightcrawler and battle a new foe called Huntarr. Huntarr had been genetically engineered into a virtually indestructible living weapon by Argon to destroy the Micronauts, but Marionette makes him see that Argon is simply using him.[34]

A war against Argon and his forces follows, with several beings from various locations in the Microverse - including Argon's ex-fiancee, the beautiful lowborn rebel leader Slug, and Prince Pharoid of Aegypta and his faithful lieutenant Margrave - joining the team in a bid to stop Argon. After several more encounters with beings such as the tyrant Doctor Doom[35] the heroine the Wasp,[36] and the villain Arcade,[37] Microtron and Nanotron sacrifice themselves to reanimate Biotron's consciousness in the Micronauts' new vessel, the Bioship. Argon is finally revealed to be controlled by the spirit of Baron Karza, who returns once more.

Karza kills Argon and deals the Micronauts a crushing defeat by killing Devil, Pharoid, Slug and Margrave.[38] After regrouping and a series of skirmishes, the remaining Micronauts confront and defeat Karza once and for all.[39]

The Micronauts: The New Voyages

Weary of war, the surviving Micronauts leave behind the known Microverse (which they discover looking back resembles a galaxy shaped like a DNA Helix) and embark on a journey of exploration.[40] They eventually discover the true nature of the Microverse and, in a final act that restores their ruined world, sacrifice themselves in order to repopulate the planets.[41]

Team members

The Microns

Years later Arcturus, Marionette and Bug (all Marvel properties) reappear as a team called the Microns. They aid the mutant Cable when the scientist Psycho-Man abducts the shape-changing Copycat.[45] They battle Microverse inhabitant Baron Zebek of Aegyptus alongside the visiting super-team Alpha Flight[46] and later assist Rick Jones and Captain Marvel during their adventures in the Microverse.[47] In another largely untold tale, they also reteam with the X-Men against Baron Karza, who had recently been reborn, and his ally Thanos who seek to merge several of the sub-atomic universes.[47] Arcturus Rann and Princess Mari became involved in the Psyklop invasion of K'ai, Jarella's homeworld.[48]

Other versions

Collected editions

The first five-issue story arc of the Image series have been collected into a trade paperback:

In May 2023 Marvel renewed the licensing with Hasbro in order to be able to publish Micronauts again. To commemorate the announcement a Volume 1 Marvel Omnibus, containing the first 29 issues, two annuals & material from Micronauts Special Edition featuring restored artwork, letter pages, house ads & bonus material, was revealed for a May 2024 release:

Marvel Comics, May 2024

In other media

Action figures

From 2005, AGE gave permission for SOTA (State of the Art) Toys to produce redesigned Micronauts action figures as Micronauts Evolution, with concept art by Randy Queen.[52] SOTA president Jerry Macaluso expressed interest in a new comic based on the figures.[53]

Animated television series

In 1998, AGE, Annex Entertainment, Gribouille and Kaleidoscope Media Group planned to produce a Micronauts animated series starting with a five-part miniseries to air on the Sci Fi Channel in Fall of 1998, followed by a syndicated 26 episode Micronauts animated series for 1999, with action figures and a Marvel tie-in comic announced. The project appears to be shelved or canceled.[54][55]

Boulder Media (then-subsidiary of Hasbro) planned to develop a new Micronauts animated series,[56][57] but the project was delayed indefinitely as Hasbro sold Boulder Media to Australian media company Princess Pictures in 2022.[58] According to writer Eric Rogers, 52 episodes of the series were produced, and confirmed the series received a tax write-off.[59]


Marvel Cinematic Universe

The Micronauts' homeworld the Microverse makes a featured appearance in the film, Ant-Man (2015). The dimension appears in a scene in which Scott Lang / Ant-Man goes subatomic in order to defeat the villain Darren Cross / Yellowjacket. Lang manipulates his suit to sabotage Darren's suit, and accidentally begins to continuously shrink into what Hank Pym calls the "Quantum Realm".[60] While within the microverse, Lang sees glimpses of Pym's long-lost, presumed to be dead wife Janet van Dyne / Wasp (who had previously gone subatomic to destroy a Soviet nuclear missile). Previously believed to simply be one of Pym's theories, Lang's entrance into the Microverse is a key plot point and hints at the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's ventures into alternate dimensions and realities[61] being largely explored in Doctor Strange (2016). Lang's escape from the dimension gives Pym hope that he may one day see his wife again. The realm appeared again in Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) where Hank Pym finds his wife again and is successful in his mission. In Avengers: Endgame (2019), Lang along with the team use the realm to travel back in time to get all 6 Infinity stones to reverse the effect from Thanos' snap. In the series finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2020), Leo Fitz uses the realm to retrieve the S.H.I.E.L.D. team from the alternate timeline they are trapped in. In Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023), Lang, Hope, Janet, Hank and Cassie are sucked into the Quantum Realm upon finding inhabiting beings, ruled by Kang the Conqueror.

Feature-film developments


The 2002 Image Comics relaunch was followed the same year by Micronauts: The Time Traveler Trilogy, a collection of three paperback novels published by Byron Preiss Visual Publications and written by Steve Lyons.

See also


  1. ^ Arrant, Chris (October 9, 2015). "Rom and Micronauts Finally Return... But Not Where You Think". Newsarama. Archived from the original on September 27, 2015. Friday at their IDW & Top Shelf: The Best Panel of All-Time at NY Comic Con, IDW announced more details about the return of Rom and Micronauts, the holy grails of licensed comic books.
  2. ^ "The Micronauts: Gil Kane Thinks Small". Amazing Heroes (7). Stamford, Connecticut: Fantagraphics Books. December 1981. Archived from the original on October 23, 2013. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
  3. ^ Micronauts at the Grand Comics Database
  4. ^ Micronauts Annual at the Grand Comics Database
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  6. ^ Nolen-Weathington, Eric (2007). Modern Masters Volume 12: Michael Golden. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 17–19. ISBN 978-1893905740.
  7. ^ Lantz, James Heath (October 2014). "Inner-Space Opera: A Look at Marvel's Micronauts Comics". Back Issue! (76). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 41–54.
  8. ^ Catron, Michael (July 1981). "Micronauts to be sold exclusively though comics shops". Amazing Heroes (2). Stamford, Connecticut: Fantagraphics Books: 22–23.
  9. ^ Future Tense at the Grand Comics Database
  10. ^ Micronauts Special Edition at the Grand Comics Database
  11. ^ The X-Men and the Micronauts at the Grand Comics Database
  12. ^ Micronauts: The New Voyages at the Grand Comics Database
  13. ^ Murray, Noel (February 15, 2012). "Whither Micronauts? On the long-delayed return to inner space". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014.
  14. ^ Bug at the Grand Comics Database
  15. ^ Giffen, Keith; Gage, Christos; Abnett, Dan; Lanning, Andy (2008). Annihilation: Conquest, Book 1. Marvel Comics. p. 272. ISBN 978-0785127826.
    Giffen, Keith; Gage, Christos; Abnett, Dan; Lanning, Andy (2008). Annihilation: Conquest, Book 2. Marvel Comics. p. 352. ISBN 978-0785127161.
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    Mantlo, Bill (w), Guice, Jackson (p), Bulanadi, Danny (i). "Keep the Home Fires Burning!" Micronauts, no. 49 (January 1983).
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