Review: The Microbots #1

The Microbots #1 cover
Cover uncredited

The Microbots #1
Published and © by Gold Key (Western), December 1971

Title: “This Is the Way the World Ends”
Synopsis: With the help of worker robots, a scientist and his son survive an environmental apocalypse to wake in the future.

Writer: Len Wein
Artist: Jack Sparling

Review: While not especially noteworthy for its entertainment quality, The Microbots is ahead of its time in two key ways. Comics about licensed properties were nothing new, but this comic based on a toy line predates a Bronze Age trend that includes series like Shogun Warriors, Rom and Transformers. Its adult protagonist also stands out; how many positive portrayals of heroic, highly educated, black single fathers were there across all media at that time? Writer Len Wein post-apocalyptic future was pretty standard fare and Jack Sparling’s art is simply serviceable. But The Microbots deserves some consideration as a historically relevant book.

Grade: B-

Second opinion: “The artwork was pedestrian, and the actual Microbots looked as if they had been designed by a 5-year-old with building bricks.” – Frank Plowright, FantaCo’s Chronicle’s Series Annual #1, 1983

Cool factor: This book has an awful lot of historical coolness going on.
Not-so-cool factor: That still doesn’t make the actual Microbots cool.

Notable: This issue also includes two pages introducing the Microbots, as well as educational and humor pages. 
Collector’s note: According to MyComicShop.com, there are two versions of this comic, one with an ad on the back cover, the other featuring the cover art sans trade dress as a pinup.

Character quotable: “We do not want your help! There is nothing to be gained by progress save pain and destruction!” – Korlok, village elder

Editor’s note: This review was written May 20, 2023.

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