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Everyone's Little In Liddleville!
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Reading the story, however, it's clear that nobody's told Bill Mantlo and Gil Kane that it's a cheap toy tie-in, as they seem to think it's a key part of the Marvel Universe, free to roam where it wishes, have guest stars, and generally be a thumping good read. I was surprised how enjoyable this was, to be honest, even when the first five pages are about the tiny little Micronauts trying to escape from a stinky sewer. There's then a lengthy sub-plot in the Microverse, where a very Darth Vader/Doctor Doom-ish baddie is laying out the main story arc for the series, and then it's back to the Micronauts themselves. Last issue they visited the Baxter Building, where The Thing told them about their own recent adventure in Liddleville, so the Micronauts head over to Doctor Doom's castle in "the pine-covered slopes of the rolling Adirondak mountains." This is a great use of continuity and shows how the Marvel Universe can be flexed to create new stories. If somebody else has done a story about superheroes being turned into the size of action figures, then it only makes sense to follow it up with some superheroes who actually ARE the size of action figures, and see how it all works out from there.
The Micronauts smash their way into Doom's castle, and uncover his piano, as seen when we were last here in Fantastic Four #236. They eventually find Liddleville and land on the outskirts where they meet a tiny citizen who looks remarkably like Tom Baker. Tom gives them an update on what's happened since we last visited. With Doom out of the way, The Puppet Master became the Mayor of Liddleville, but was overthrown when a fully armoured Doctor Doom returned and took control again. They once again fight their way into Castle Doom, this time a miniature version which Doom has had built, and here they meet Doom himself. He makes short work of the Micronauts, gassing them and chucking them into the dungeons, where they meet The Puppet Master for another bit of back story about how Liddleville came to be and how Doom managed to come back. The Puppet Master suggests that Doom is enjoying himself in Liddleville because his tiny robot body has a handsome face, rather than his usual scarred visage, which I think is a great bit of characterisation. The Micronauts realise that this is all well and good but won't provide them with a way to return to The Microverse, so when some robot guards turn up they take the opportunity to escape, bashing them to bits and heading for a final confrontation with Doom himself, who they discover playing with his organ. This is a version of the Hyper Sound piano he used against the FF back in Fantastic Four #87. Most of the Micronauts are knocked down, apart from Acroyear who is strong enough to smash the piano to bits with his sword. It's a great bit of comicbook action which is immediately followed up with some more as he and Doom launch into a sword fight. Doom ends up fighting the whole team, and is only beaten when he realises that Acroyear's flaming sword has set the room on fire, and his painting and other works of art are burning. The whole thing reminds Doom of his own accident years ago. It's great stuff, only slightly spoiled by The Puppet Master turning up to reveal that he still had some Radioactive Clay left, and so has managed to use it to trap Doom where he is. It all feels a bit like Bill Mantlo suddenly remembered that he'd got to the last page, especially as it leads to the Micronauts getting straight into their flying ship and zooming off for the next issue, but it does lead to a fantastic face-off between the two villains, as Doom's handsome face literally melts off while he swears revenge. It's a great ending which deserves to be followed up, and it will be pretty soon when John Byrne uses it as the starting point for a whole new story, but before then we've got a bunch of cameos, re-caps and, next time, What Ifs?
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posted 24/7/2020 by Mark Hibbett
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