Tampa comic illustrator's 'Micronauts' to get blockbuster treatment

Like most fans of the superhero blockbusters dominating Hollywood in recent years, Pat Broderick hasn't missed one, fearful that doing so would cause him to fall too far behind in these ongoing comic book sagas.

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Paul Guzzo
, Tampa Bay Times Staff Writer, Tampa Bay Times

Like most fans of the superhero blockbusters dominating Hollywood in recent years, Pat Broderick hasn't missed one, fearful that doing so would cause him to fall too far behind in these ongoing comic book sagas.

But unlike many, he waits for the DVD releases or television broadcasts; theaters are too cramped and uncomfortable for his liking.

However, he will lift his five-year-and-counting movie theater moratorium for one day only on Oct. 16, 2020, to see the premiere of Paramount Pictures' and Hasbro's jointly made superhero blockbuster movie Micronauts.

It was an easy decision to make this far in advance, Broderick said. After all, Micronauts is partly his creation, based on a comic series of that name that he illustrated at its height of popularity in the 1980s.

Broderick has been a comic book artist for 45 years, penciling such iconic characters as Batman, Green Lantern, Spider-Man and the Punisher.

While none of those characters brought him to a theater in recent years, Micronauts will.

Nearly four decades after he regularly worked on the Micronauts comics, many of Broderick's fans still most associate him with that space-age story occurring within the molecule-sized "Microverse" dimension, where alien freedom fighters with super abilities battle the evil cyborg Baron Karza, led by the telepathic, handsome humanoid Commander Arcturus Rann.

If adventures took them to Earth, they grew to the size of action figures.

"People do always want to talk Micronauts," said Broderick, 64 and a lifelong Tampa resident. "And I still think of it a lot, too. It's been 40 years and they are still in my head."

For the unaware, Micronauts was originally a mid-1970s Japanese toy line of metallic action figures, vehicles, robots and other accessories, all with interchangeable parts. The toys debuted in the U.S. market in 1977 through the now defunct American toy company Mego and were such a hit that Marvel Comics launched a comic book series in 1979.

"The toys were massively popular," said Brian Heiler, editor of Toronto-based, which celebrates the toy company's history. "It was a phenomenon. One of those years Micronauts brought $60 million in sales for Mego." And the comic, he added, was equally popular "on its own merits."

Broderick broke in to comic book illustrating in 1973, and drawing for Captain Marvel in 1978 was his first big job. But it was joining the Micronauts team from 1980 through 1982 that solidified his standing in the industry.

During that time, he penciled Micronauts' writer Bill Mantlo's existing characters like Bug -- a master thief who looks like a grasshopper and has insect abilities -- and helped create new members of the cast, like the butterfly-winged singing sprite Fireflyte.

His stint marked the peak of popularity for Micronauts.

"It was Marvel's second-best selling comic at the time," Broderick said. "It was a unique universe to imagine. Even though the toys were the creative base we derived the characters from, the Microverse came from the imagination."

But Micronauts' acclaim waned, and the comic was canceled in the mid-'80s.

Image Comics sought to revive it, but that lasted only from 2002 to 2003.

Next, Devil's Due Publishing took a shot at Micronauts in 2004. Broderick was even brought back, but it was canceled after just three issues.

Since 2016, IDW Publishing has continued the story of the Micronauts. Broderick is not a regular contributor, but he has provided cover art.

Still, this new version has not yet recaptured the glory of the original. "It has surprised that none of the incarnations since the Marvel years have worked," Broderick said.

The road to the movie has been similarly rough. JJ Abrams was once attached to direct the Paramount film, but the project was sent into Hollywood limbo when he decided to helm another movie.

"It was a little thing called Star Wars," Broderick said with a laugh.

Then in December, Paramount and Hasbro executives announced that Micronauts was back on, with a release date of Oct. 16, 2020.

It will be part of a Hasbro movie universe that also includes The Transformers and G.I. Joe and that they hope will rival the universes created by Marvel and DC Comics.

Broderick learned of the news from fans via social media. "They said you need to look into this because it is possible work," Broderick said. "I told them, no, it's not." He knows from experience.

He penciled Batman when the Michael Keaton movie premiered in 1989, and characters he helped to create, such as Firestorm and Plastique, have appeared on the CW television series Flash, yet no one from those productions dialed his number, nor did he ever expect them to.

"It's rare they bring back guys like me," said Broderick, who today primarily focuses on self-publishing his comic Niburu, which tells the fictitious tale of humankind's origin on a planet of that name. "But, we all know that going in."

Like Micronauts fans, Broderick has many still-unanswered questions about the movie. Who will star in the film or direct it now? Will it be live action or cartoon? Which comic story line will it borrow, or will a new tale be told?

"I can tell you only this: It will do very well," Broderick said. "It would have been big 40 years ago and it will be big today."

Contact Paul Guzzo at Follow @PGuzzoTimes.

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