Once upon a time, Marvel Comics got the comic book rights to, of all things, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Anyone who’s seen that movie knows it’s, well, an odd choice for any sort of adaptation for younger readers, but it still happened. It was also an ongoing series. Where do you take a story like that once you’ve recounted the story from the movie? This wasn’t Star Wars with the promise of ongoing adventures for the characters. Part of the answer for writer/artist Jack Kirby was to create a new character that would cross over to the main Marvel Universe, namely Machine Man.
That was not the only time a licensed character got into the main universe. That also happened with Bug.
Bug was a cast member from a licensed series called Micronauts. What were the Micronauts? They were a toy line in the 80s. I have no direct recollection of the Micronauts, and wasn’t reading comics back then, so I can’t tell you much more than that, except they looked a lot like the usual Transformers/Go-Bots that were prominent in those days.
Like many 80s toy lines, the Micronauts had a mythology that was fairly basic. Two factions, one good fighting one that was evil. I don’t think I need to spell more of this out for anyone.
The Micronauts’ adventures took place in the Microverse, the creatively named sub-universe that Marvel still uses as a subatomic universe where whole worlds and civilizations still exist.
Now, what happens in this case is Marvel (or whoever) has the rights to various licensed characters, and many times that means the licensed characters can interact with characters from the comic publisher’s regular line.
It’s a really old tradition.
Now, another thing that happens is the publishers will add original characters to the licensed work. Those characters will exist in a limbo afterwards when the license expires. The new characters may make the transition to the original licensed property, but many others will not. The new character really belongs to the company that created it, not the one that licensed all that new character’s friends and foes.
That’s a rather convoluted way to explain where Bug came from. Originally, he was in Micronauts.
Despite this, Bug (among others in the series) was original enough that Marvel retained the rights to him after the Micronauts license finally expired.
Why bring him up at all? Well, Bug got Big when he got out of the Microverse and made it to the, er, regular universe? The Macroverse? One of them. And then he joined a team.
James Gunn, according to Wikipedia, had Bug in an early script draft for the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. That obviously didn’t happen, but if it had, maybe he would be a bit better known.
Not bad for a guy who originally was just there to sell some toy robots.