This will meander about a little bit, and take me a while to get to the point. Bear with me.
Recently I was going through some of my comics, deciding which ones I was going to send out to my friend Greg Hatcher. Greg teaches cartooning classes to middle-school students in the Seattle area, and every once in a blue moon I cull through my comics, set aside the ones I no longer want, and (if they're age-appropriate) send them to Greg to give to his students.
This brought me to a stack of Marvel's Micronauts comics from the late 70's and early 80's. Specifically, Micronauts #6.
Now, when I picked these up a few months earlier, it had pretty much been on a whim. I barely have room for the stuff I do pick up, but they were two for a buck, and I remember liking these as a kid, and wanted to see if they held up well all these years later.
As it turns out, they did for the most part. One of the best things that writer Bill Mantlo did was not dumb the writing down, despite the fact that it was based off of a popular toy line of the time. Drawing inspiration from both Star Wars and Jack Kirby's 'Fourth World' stories, as well as various other SF works, Mantlo and artist Michael Golden created a space-opera universe that could be just as gritty at times as anything else published by Marvel back then (seriously, the main bad guy, Baron Karza, used his prisons/death camps to harvest body parts from prisoners).
Still, there wouldn't be anything too out of line, right? After all, it did have the Comics Code Authority seal on it. Now, the Comics Code may have just recently went the way of all flesh (and good riddance, says I), but in the late 70's it still had some teeth to it. Not as powerful as it was in the 50's and 60's, of course, but it could still cause problems for publishers.
So I was more than a little surprised to see that Mantlo and Golden had managed to slip the following sequence past the CCA. To set the scene, one of the book's subplots involved the Underground resistance leader Slug, who has been captured and held prisoner in the aforementioned prison (also referred to in the series as the 'Body Banks'), all the while trying to find and help free Prince Argon. She eventually finds him, only to discover that he has been turned into a centaur by Karza's scientists, and is wallowing in self-pity as a result. How is Slug to facilitate their escape? (click on the panel below to enlarge)
That's right, she hid a disruptor in her hoo-ha.
Take that, Fredric Wertham!