Monday, January 13, 2014

Micronauts Monday, 1/13/2014

Hey there, Donist World denizens. Welcome back to the second installment of Micronauts Monday, where I talk about my longtime favorite comic book series The Micronauts. You'll get a summary of the issue, my remembered reaction/experience with the comic book as a kid, and my thoughts as an adult after rereading the issues over the past week. The Micronauts is the book that introduced me to the wonderful world of comic book addiction, a mindset that compels you to own every issue in sequential order; keeping them in good condition would happen decades later. The sad thing about this amazing series is--as I explained in the first post here--is that if you haven't read the comics, doing so is going to be a bit of a hunt since reprinting rights are firmly wedged into some purgatory like the Prometheus Pit. But don't despair, it can be done. has the most of the main series for a fairly inexpensive price. There were also five "Special Editions," which I believe had two or three issues included in each, if you want to dip your toe in the glory that is the Microverse. Or, better yet, if you have an opportunity to go LCS longbox diving into the $.50-$1.00 bins, then I'm sure you can find many issues there. My only caution here is that the story has a tremendous narrative that builds over the course of the series, one that deserves to be read in order, but that said, any Micronauts is good Micronauts. Anyhow, without further ado...

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Micronauts #4
The Micronauts #4 - Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Michael Golden, inked by Josef Rubinstein, lettered by Costanza, colored by Gafford, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. As Baron Karza's dog soldiers continue to suppress the fragmented rebellion as they search for the rebel leader known only as "Slug," the Micronauts stranded on Earth aren't faring too well. The Micronauts' battle with Karza's evil lapdog, the Acroyear Prince Shaitan, has left their starship, the Endeavor, critically damaged and their search and rescue mission for their companion, Bug, is slowed while Biotron makes repairs. To complicate matters, Bug, like all Insectivorids, aren't accustomed to sitting still, and he has hopped aboard Ray and Steve Coffin's truck as they head off to deliver the dead miniature soldiers to Ray's old work.
Young Donist - The opening scenes with Karza's dog soldiers ruthlessly attacking the rebels was exciting and kinda scary, but I liked them. I was especially blown away by the page 7, fourth and fifth panel of the beaten rebel claiming to be the mysterious "Slug" and Karza launching his hand from his arm to choke the man to death. That was hardcore before I even knew what hardcore was. The rest of the book...talking, talking, talking. Yes, there were some great Golden shots of Bug, but I was ready for some action in this issue that did not quite come through. RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Man, there was a lot of talking in this issue, but that's okay. Give me Golden imagery of Commander Rann--with striking Gafford colors--sitting at the control terminals of the Endeavor and he could be debating whether to order from Pizza Hut or Dominos for all I care. At least with this issue we are circling back to begin rejoining Bug with the rest of the Micronauts. I also still really like Golden's use of silhouettes at just the right moment. Mantlo really pulls me in with just how wicked Karza is and what an abomination the despot has created on Homeworld with the Body Banks. With but a few panels, the creators have made Baron Karza one of my favorite comic book villains of all time. Even if I didn't know what is going to happen, I totally do not trust Professor Prometheus. RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #5
The Micronauts #5 - Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Michael Golden, inked by Josef Rubinstein, lettered by Jim Novak, colored by D.R. Martin, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts have tracked Bug to Human Engineering Life Laboratory (aka H.E.L.L.) where Steve Coffin (the Micronauts' young friend) and his father have taken Karza's dead miniaturized soldiers to one Professor Prometheus to examine. As Prometheus becomes increasingly unhinged over Steve's experience with the Micronauts, an eavesdropping Bug learns that this more-than-a-man has possibly created a pathway to the Microverse in the bottomless tunnel coined "The Prometheus Pit." Bug attacks, the Micronauts join him, and Prometheus and Steve's father fall into the Prometheus Pit. Meanwhile on Homeworld, Prince Argon (now a centaur) briefly escapes, and his would-be rescuer, the rebel leader Slug, is captured.
Young Donist - Holy cow I was excited when I saw this cover sitting on the newstand of the Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio. It had the Micronauts fighting a terminator-type guy--before there ever was such a thing as a terminator--some kind of glowing hole in the ground, a screaming kid, an angry dog...DANG, son, what isn't there to love! Once cracked open, it took a bit to get going, but when Prometheus peels part of his own face off...I was in heaven. Bug then jacks up Prometheus, and Prince Argon the Force Commander leaps forth on a spectacular three-panel page only to get a brutal smackdown by Karza?!?! I lost my mind. Couple this with the fact that Young Donist had been fascinated by the idea of a bottomless pit, then there was nothing to stop me from reading this issue until it literally fell apart. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Luckily, I bought another copy many moons ago to replace the annihilated mess that remained of my original much-loved issue. I love that Princess Mari finally starts to transcend from being mere eye candy--I still think she is freakin' hot, though--and act like the bad-ass she is. I also loved Golden's page 11 visual of the panel-busting Bug sitting atop the super-science tech in the scene. Even Muffin, Steve's dog, breaks a panel, but Golden uses these moments sparingly, and when they do appear it is startling and dramatic. Mantlo's writing is so exciting towards the end of this issue that I was instantly taken back to the days of lying on the living room floor and absorbing every moment., I love me some bottomless pit. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #6
The Micronauts #6 Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Michael Golden, inked by Josef Rubinstein, lettered by John Costanza, colored by Roger Slifer, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts and Steve's problems have just begun. Prometheus might have fallen into his own H.E.L.L.ish pit, but his robotic soldiers unfortunately are still attempting to seize our heroes. They escape the building and set the Prometheus minions against the cops, barely managing to make it out alive. Meanwhile, Steve's father, Ray Coffin and Professor Prometheus plummet down the Prometheus Pit and find that they are shrinking. The Time Travelers grab Ray, and Prometheus is left to be discovered by Baron Karza's forces. Finally, the Micronauts plan a trip to the Everglades where they hope to figure out how to make their way back home.
Young Donist - Honesty time here, denizens. When I first saw this cover--cool as it might be--my thought was no more car chases, dagnabbit. Luckily, this issue had a lot going on. Seeing Bug's rocket lance in action on the robot's face had me cheering, and the robots mixing it up with the police so my heroes could escape was pure genius. Ray and Prometheus falling down the pit was cool, especially when the Time Traveler appeared...I was desperate to know more about that guy, and he hadn't really been around for a while. Karza finding Prometheus made me happy, but it was the promise of the next issue that left me flipping out to see what happened next. Also, the Homeworld to English chart at the back of the book was a neat touch. RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Man, the 2/3-page spread with 1/3-page title is how you kick off an issue. Again there are a ton of balloons, but the regrouping of the team and the seamless "catch-up" for new readers is needed, and Mantlo keeps the drama intriguing. Golden's imagery--with the pink knockout--of Ray and Prometheus falling down the Prometheus Pit is really cool, especially as it transitions from a technological tunnel to a sort of organic vein. The appearance of the mysterious Time Traveler still gives me the chills, and I love that Baron Karza appeared without explanation as a centaur. Seeing the tag for next issue's Man-Thing appearance reminds me of how long it took to actually get ahold of issue number seven. RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #7
The Micronauts #7Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Michael Golden, inked by Josef Rubinstein, lettered by John Costanza, colored by C. Gafford, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. Steve Coffin and the Micronauts have retreated to his father's cabin in the Everglades so they can figure out a way to return the visitors safely home. Princess Marionette learns about Commander Rann's 1000-year-long travels through the Microverse, as the Time Traveler asks Ray Coffin a pressing question. With emotions running high, a certain muck monster's unwanted attention is gained.
Young Donist - Okay, mini story took me a long while to get ahold of this comic. For whatever reason, I never found it at the newsstand, and I am fairly certain other comics I collected had an ad depicting this gorgeous cover by Golden to further push me to desperation. Needless to say, I was so pumped to get this issue I could barely contain myself. First off, I was not yet jaded by the usual story-halting "guest-starring" banner, and I actually LOVED the Man-Thing from my Power Records comic/45 record of "Night of the Laughing Dead," which you can actually check out here! This was the best of two worlds. I did get to have a look at issue seven once, though, as a friend had a copy he let me flip through. took me a couple years before I got my own copy, and was it ever worth the wait. I loved seeing Dallan Rann, Arcturus's father, in the Force Commander armor, but watching the Micronauts battle Man-Thing was an awesome break from the shiver inducing image of Baron Karza climbing from the Prometheus Pit. <brrrrrr> Also, Man-Thing going splat was too cool for school. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Nowadays, whenever I see "Guest-Appearance" or "Guest-Starring" I can't help but groan. Maybe even in the late '70s a guest spot from a more well-known Marvel hero was a way to boost flagging sales, but the Man-Thing is hardly what I would call a sales boosting character...perhaps he was a way to bridge The Micronauts book over to the more horror-oriented fans. I can only guess that this was the case, and that their ploy worked since it took me forever to find this issue. But tell you what, I'm going to go on the unqualified assumption that the creators included the Man-Thing because it was a groovy kind of thing to do. Unfortunately, crossovers and guest appearances eventually morphed into a sales strategy that increasingly messed up storylines at some point in the '90s. Anyhow...
Yeah, I still really like this issue. Maybe not as much as I did as a kid, but the threat of the Man-Thing and the way the Micronauts try to conventionally fight him was pure '70s awesomeness. I didn't even mind that it was the kid who saved everyone's bacon by luring the muck-man into the back of a sweet is that?! Golden's art has never been better, especially when showing Commander Rann's flashback/dream sequence and the storytelling involved with the fight scenes still kept me eagerly whipping through the pages.
Mantlo's dialogue and captions are brilliant. He expertly and seamlessly mixes the sci-fi adventure of The Micronauts with that of the grim horror of The Man-Thing, leading me to believe the inclusion of this character was fully embraced by the creators, and that they had a heck of a good time working on this issue. Even though, I am anxious for a meet-up between my heroes and the villain, this was a welcome pause before the frickin' outstanding next issue. Knowing full well what is to come, I can hardly wait to reread issue 8! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

That's it for now, and I hope to see you next week where things really start to get nuts! Thanks for reading.

While writing this entry, I listened to Hank Mobley's "A Caddy For Daddy," Lee Morgan's "Candy," and Wes Montgomery's "Compact Jazz," which appears to no longer be available, but there are plenty of other great albums from the jazz guitarist. Check 'em out if you can.


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