Tag Archives: Micronauts

The Saga of Crystar and Its Weird Reintroduction to the Marvel Universe

Idle Time is celebrating fifteen years and, to honor this crystal anniversary, we’re gifting our readers with some pop culture sparkle!

Marvel's G.I. Joe #1 (1982)
Marvel’s G.I. Joe #1 (1982)

Years before Chris Claremont and Jim Lee set sales records with the X-Men franchise, and decades before Marvel Studios turned The Avengers into a household name, Marvel Comics was filling the 7-11 spinracks with four-color fun based on licensed action figure properties. The two most famous of those toy lines, G.I. Joe and Transformers, have continued to enjoy multimedia success, including comic book adventures with their new publisher IDW. Three other cult classic toy lines, Rom and The Micronauts, each with its own popular Marvel series tie-ins during the 80’s, as well as MASK, which had a short-lived life as a DC comic, have also recently joined IDW’s comicverse.

The Saga of Crystar (1983)
The Saga of Crystar (1983)

Some comic series, like Rom, ended up being more popular than the toy line they were designed to support. Other series, like Sectaurs and Shogun Warriors, died off quickly, right along with their die-cast and resin-molded counterparts. And then there was The Saga of Crystar: Crystal Warrior.

Instead of being produced to help market an existing property, Marvel’s creative council of Jim Shooter, Ralph Macchio, and Mark Gruenwald developed Crystar with the intention of then licensing the character and concept to a toy company. In Shooter’s own words, from the book’s introduction: “the friendly people at Azrak-Hamway, a.k.a. Remco Toys, might be interested in producing a toy line based upon our fantasy creation…” And the friendly people did just that.  Before the first issue of Mary Jo Duffy and Bret Blevins’s series even hit newsstands, Remco was rolling out production on a slate of wizards, warriors, and snazzy prismatic dragons.

treating your bro like a house lizard? some might say Crystar had it coming...
treating your bro like a house lizard? some might say Crystar had it coming…

That oversized first issue – a “Feature Length Fantasy in the Marvel Manner” – introduces us to the the world of Crystallium, and the sibling princes Moltar and Crystar, preparing to jointly rule the realm in the wake of their father’s recent death. But when Moltar quickly makes with back-to-back blunders, first killing their dwarfish uncle Feldspar, and then doing the same to his brother, all hell breaks loose.

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New Comics: ROM

Everyone’s favorite Spaceknight (sorry, Venom) didn’t make an appearance at San Diego Comic Con’s Guardians of the Galaxy panel this past weekend, but he does make his long-awaited return to the comic book shelves this week, courtesy of Christos Gage, Chris Ryall, and David Messina. IDW adds to their stable of cult classic toy licenses with Rom #1, joining successful properties G.I. Joe and Transformers, as well as the other new 2016 arrivals, Micronauts and Action Man.

As cool as Parker Brothers’ Rom toy was, it wasn’t overly successful, especially compared to Hasbro’s 80’s goldmines, the aforementioned Transformers and G.I. Joe. What was successful, however, was Marvel’s Rom comic book series, originally created as marketing support for the toyline. Even after Parker Brothers discontinued production of the toys, the Galadorian spaceknight continued to traverse the galaxy, hunting down those insidious Dire Wraiths wherever they might be lurking.

This first issue begins with Rom’s dramatic arrival on Earth, a reprint of the eleven-page prelude that was released as part of this year’s Free Comic Book Day. The good news for readers unfamiliar with his story is that we seem to be opening with a re-telling of that original narrative. Rom, the built-for-space cyborg, hunts down and executes the black magick-wielding Dire Wraiths who hide among us, having used their shapechanging abilities to replace humans. So, when Rom neutralizes a crowd of alien beasties, it looks like he’s mowing down all of your neighbors. That’s not going to go over well on social media. And when you look like this, it’s hard to remain inconspicuous…

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New Comics: Micronauts

IDW Publishing announced, last October, that they would be adding two more beloved toy properties to their stable, pulling both Mego’s Micronauts and Parker Brothers’ ROM out of limbo and onto the comic book shelves. Or, to be fair, back onto the comic book shelves. Like IDW’s G.I. Joe and Transformers properties, both Micronauts and ROM: Spaceknight were fan-favorite Marvel comic books in the late 70’s and early 80’s. And, as opposed to some of the lesser-known action figure lines that earned shoddy cross-promotional series (think Sectaurs or Crystar), the Micronauts and ROM books were as fun, if not as successful, as their Hasbro brethren.

Marvel's Micronauts #1 (1979)
Marvel’s Micronauts #1 (1979)

I wasn’t lucky enough to have any of those sweet “plastic and die-cast metal” toys of my own, being a little too young when they were popular, but I loved the comic book, and especially loved when my favorite Marvel heroes crossed over into the Microverse and vice-versa. Some of those original comic book Micronauts, not under the toy license, have remained in Marvel’s ownership and have survived into modern continuity, like the Guardian of Galaxy, Bug. The rest of those stalwart defenders of the sub-atomic realm, as well as the tyrant Baron Karza and his evil minions, would need to wait years to see their adventures continue in a monthly series.

From reading the afterword, it’s clear that if anyone other than Cullen Bunn was tapped to write this series, we may have had a problem. His lifelong passion for the Micronauts will, we hope, save the IDW series from being the third stalled attempt at rekindling that Micromagic. Bunn’s words are paired with the crisp, vibrant art of David Baldeón, and the whole package is a characteristically beautiful IDW release. I can only imagine how excited the bloggers of the excellently named Blog for ROM Fans Who Aren’t Dicks are for the Free Comic Book Day premiere of that new book. Now if only they could get cracking on Shogun Warriors.

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