Writer Cullen Bunn on IDW's magnetic new Micronauts revival + 6-page preview

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Apr 22, 2016, 4:56 PM EDT

All April long, we'll be highlighting the wonderful world of comics, from interviews with creators and a look at the way the industry works to deep dives with our favorite characters, storylines and controversies. Stay tuned for more throughout the month, and let us know what you think in the comments or on Twitter @blastr!

Next week will witness an immersion into the doomed microscopic realms of the Micronauts with the launch of IDW's Micronauts #1, the premiere issue of a bold new sci-fi fantasy title from seasoned writer Cullen Bunn (Uncanny X-Men, The Sixth Gun, Godzilla: Cataclysm) and dynamic artist David Baldeon (Nova, Web Warriors).  IDW has dipped into the creative depths of the Micronauts' far-out miniature world for a fresh series that captures the property's magical nostalgia and meshes it with modern 21st century storytelling.


Mego's original line of Micronauts sci-fi toys produced in the late 1970s was a revelation in the Star Wars-era market, with incredible interchangeable action figures, vehicles and playsets featuring characters like Acroyear, Biotron, Space Glider, Time Traveler and the evil Baron Karza and his terrifying black stallion, Andromeda.  Their magna-jointed appendages and torsos could be mixed and matched (and lost under the sofa) to create all sorts of hybrid robots, cyborgs and humanoids. A Marvel series started by Bill Mantlo and Michael Golden emerged from the toy line's immense popularity, running from 1979-86, years after Mego formally halted production.  

Rumors of a Paramount feature film starring the Micronauts have surfaced over the years, once with J.J. Abrams attached, and interest is still high in Micronauts' chance for a future film franchise, now that new-owner Hasbro has entered the Hollywood game after the global success of their Transformers and G.I. Joe properties.

Here's the official Micronauts synopsis:

THEY CAME FROM A DYING UNIVERSE! ACROYEAR, SPACE GLIDER, BIOTRON and their allies are back, on the run from the evil BARON KARZA, and blasting through a universe where magic and science vie for control! With resources dwindling, the long-lost TIME TRAVELERS may hold the key to salvation… but will it mean armageddon for our world?

Blastr chatted with writer Cullen Bunn on the eve of the Micronauts' comic-book christening about this diminutive odyssey down through the inner space dimensions of the Micronauts and what fans and readers can anticipate as this provocative series progresses.  

Check out the first six pages + covers for Micronauts #1 in the gallery below and tell us if you plan on descending into the Micronauts' pages when the debut issue strikes on April 27th.  We'll be conducting monthly Micronauts creator previews for upcoming issues so follow our ongoing coverage of this awesome Micronauts revival.


How did you get involved with IDW's ambitious new Micronauts relaunch project?

When I was a kid, the Micronauts were very important to me. One of my favorite Christmases involved getting a ton of the toys, and I’m guessing my Baron Karza action figure, missing a good percentage of his parts in later years, was one of my most played-with toys. So, I’ve long dreamed of writing a comic book about these characters. I was in San Diego when IDW announced that they’d be publishing the series. My Micronauts-sense was tingling, because I just happened to check Twitter and see the news. I immediately e-mailed every editor I knew at IDW, asking to be considered as the writer. Of course, I had to pitch for the series, but it was a thrill to find out that my take on these characters had been chosen. 
Can you give us an introductory tour of what this Micronauts series is all about?

Imagine another universe existing alongside ours. This universe is much bigger in one sense — there are so many strange worlds to explore, so many exotic species, magic, mind-blowing science. In another sense — a very literal sense — it is much smaller. The people of this universe don’t know (yet) that they are much smaller than the people of our realm. What they do know is that their universe is dying. An entropic storm is brewing in the center of known space, slowly expanding, maybe even showing signs of sentience. Whatever it touches is lost forever. Thanks to the panic caused by this impending doom, a civil war has erupted between the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Reason. Somewhere along the line, the two factions have become so obsessed with destroying each other that they’ve forgotten about saving the universe. The title characters, a ragtag group of fugitives, are caught between the war and the destruction of everything they know. 


What attracted you to the Micronauts' Microverse and what were the elements of their weird world that sparked your imagination?

The thing I love about working on the Micronauts is that their universe is a blank slate. Yes, there were toys, but the toys didn’t come pre-packaged with a history. So, I’ve been given the chance to develop the history and personality of these characters from the ground up. When you pick up the first issue of my Micronauts run, that’s the very first part of this story. We’re all in it together. I love world-building, so it’s a property that seems perfect for me. 

How does it feel to finish up with The Sixth Gun, one of the longest-running, creator-owned series ever and move on to a major publishing project like Micronauts?

The end of The Sixth Gun is bittersweet for me. On one hand, I’m thrilled that we have been able to tell the story we set out to tell. We had the ending in mind from very early on, and it’s nice to see the payoff of all that planning. On the other, I’m sad to say goodbye to all these characters that I know and love. Moving on to Micronauts, I’m hoping I can develop these characters in such a way that readers will love them and (when the time comes to say goodbye to them) they’ll be sad to see them go. 

Baron Karza is a magnificent monument of malevolence.  How did you divert his formidable presence from being a mere Darth Vader clone?

That’s the challenge with Karza. On the surface, he’s this imposing, powerful overlord in chilling black armor. In part, his goals help to set him apart. Karza wants to save the universe, and he’s certain that he’s the man to do it. But he’s human in that he gets derailed by pride and anger. He makes mistakes. His history helps to set him apart. In our fourth issue, we really dig deep into what makes a man like Karza tick. And I’ve created some cast members — Karza’s wife, Shaezrella, for example — who will help us illuminate different facets of Karza. I don’t necessarily see him as a villain, although he’s certainly the antagonist. I think he’s probably the most complicated character in this book. 

Will we see a version of Baron Karza's sinister steed, Andromeda?

Of course, we’ll see Andromeda!


What outside influences from books, video games, toys or movies did you draw from in constructing the Micronauts comic story?

As with almost everything I work on, I draw inspiration from everywhere. Lots of sci-fi movies; comics ranging from sci-fi to superhero to horror; sci-fi and fantasy novels. And I have a big plastic tote full of Micronauts toys, most of them in pieces. I admit, I pulled them out and played with them for a bit, and that helped inspire some story elements. For example, a big part of the Micronauts toy line was that they were interchangeable. You could switch weapons and arms and legs and bat wings and heads from one figure or vehicle to the next. Of course, I am introducing that concept into the comic — an ability some beings in the universe have to “enerchange” and reshape their own forms. The dark twist is that, when it is done too much, it can lead to psychotic breaks and hideous mutations, giving birth to some of the more monstrous Micronauts. 

 A Micronauts feature film from Paramount has been been discussed over the years.  Most recently, rumors of a partnership with Hasbro and Paramount to create a shared cinematic universe to include Micronauts, G.I. Joe, M.A.S.K. and ROM: Spaceknight.  Did the property's Hollywood potential influence or guide your storyline?
Not really. Hasbro was really supportive of letting me take the characters and run. They see all my proposals and scripts for sign-off purposes, and there’s never been a time when they’ve asked me to change something and make it more like any movie plans. 

Your Godzilla: Cataclysm run was an admirable addition to IDW's Godzilla books.  What aspects of writing Godzilla did you incorporate into Micronauts?

Writing Godzilla was such a different experience, I think, because Godzilla comes with so many expectations and preconceived notions that fans expect you to both honor and play against. With Micronauts, you have some of that, but it’s much more about establishing the characters from the beginning. There are some expectations from old school Micronauts fans, but many readers will be discovering these characters for the very first time. I’m really building something new here. Now that you mention it, though, I would love a Godzilla/Micronauts team-up. 


You're well known for your exacting world-building with The Sixth Gun.  How has writing that book flavored this Micronauts mythology?

With The Sixth Gun, I threw the reader into the world right from the beginning. I’d mention something like The Gallows Tree, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to explain it right away. It’s part of the world, the reader is part of the world. I feel like that goes a long way to helping these fantastic elements seem real. As the series progressed, I introduced more aspects of the Tree’s history, but I never tried to over-explain. In many ways, I’m doing the same with Micronauts. I’m introducing a lot of different aspects, and I’m providing enough details to help you understand what’s going on, but a lot of backstory and details are going to come later. In that way, I hope readers become more immersed in what’s going on. It’s the characters who are more important anyway.  

What were some of the challenges adapting and expanding the Micronauts story into this awesome epic?

There are a lot of moving pieces in a story like this. Lots of different factions and characters. The challenge is making sure each character has a chance to shine and that the motivations of all the key players, large and small, are clear. 
Why is artist David Baldeon such a fantastic match for Micronauts, and how did you two get hooked up?
A year or so ago, I reached out to David, just as a fan of his work, and asked if he’d be interested in working on something together. At the time, he was too busy with other projects. I guess it was fate that we were meant to work on this book together. David’s work is wonderful. Whether hes drawing super sci-fi cities, designing space ships, drawing monsters, or bringing these toy-based characters to life, the art just pops off the page. He’s also very versatile. Parts of this series feature fun, swashbuckling action. Other parts are dark and menacing. He handles all the different aspects of the story like a pro. 

The first issue is a vivid, eye-popping affair with an immediately absorbing story.  How was the overall look and tone of the series decided upon?

The impending death of a universe is grim business, and I wanted to show that off, but I also didn’t want the series to be oppressively dark. That’s why our heroes are portrayed a little more lighthearted and fun. I love balancing darkness and light. It makes it all the more interesting when the darkness bleeds into the light and vice versa. 


How does Baldeon's beautiful artwork enhance your writing and the overall story arc?

It falls to the artist to bring these characters to life — to make the emotions they are experiencing seem real. Yes, David does a great job of designing these strange characters and giving the universe a visual hook. He does a terrific job with action. But it’s making those characters seem alive that really elevates the comic. 

What's the most fun about writing Micronauts, and what can readers look forward to in subsequent issues?

I really, really like the cast of characters we’re introducing, and I love that, with every issue, they become more and more vivid and interesting. I also dig that I get to introduce weapons and vehicles and monsters, all based on these toys that I loved so much as a child. Even the toys I could never find — like the fabled Ampzilla — can show up in this book. In that way, I get to play with the Micronauts all over again. As for what to expect in future issues...well, the first story arc is set completely in Microspace. But if you’re going to have super-small characters, you have to eventually bring them to Earth, right?