Monday, January 20, 2014

Micronauts Monday, 1/20/2014

Hey there, Donist World denizens. Welcome back to 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. 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 a Prometheus Pit of a printing-rights purgatory. But don't despair, it can be done, you can find them. has most of the main series for a fairly inexpensive price. If you want to dip your toe into the glory that is the Microverse before committing to a hunt for individual issues, then you could also check out the five "Special Editions," which I believe had two or three issues included in each. Or, better yet, if you have an opportunity to do some longbox diving into the $.50-$1.00 bins at your LCS, 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***

Micronauts #8
The Micronauts #8 - Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Michael Golden, inked by Bob McLeod, lettered by Diana Albers, colored by Carl Gafford, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. Baron Karza may have recently clawed his way out of the Prometheus Pit--the bridge connecting Earth with the Microverse--but he wastes little time setting about his conquest of our world. With less than a dozen Earth-made robots on his side, Karza is annihilating our military, and not even the mighty Micronauts stand a chance of defeating the now human-sized madman. All hope appears lost on Earth, but the Time Traveler, the embodiment of the Enigma Force, sends an emissary--Captain Universe--to stop him. Meanwhile, back on Homeworld, Prince Argon dons the sacred battle armor of Dallan Rann to become the "Force Commander" and lead the rebellion to reclaim Homeworld while Karza is away.
Young Donist -  Oh. My. Goodness. Gracious. This issue had everything a young comic book lover could ever want: the coolest looking badguy I had ever seen laying waste to the goodguys; Prince Argon putting on the Force Commander armor (one of my favorite toys); the Enigma Force creating a new super hero; an ad for the Micronauts alien toys; a massively under-powered Prince Acroyear attacking Baron Karza; an insane battle between Karza and Captain Universe; discovering why Karza was human-size on Earth; AAAAAAGGGHHH!!!, LOVE!!!, RESPECT!!! This is another comic that I had to replace for my library-bound collection--as I had to do for the next four issues as well--because I read it until it fell to pieces. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - I knew what was coming with this issue, and I clearly remembered the feeling of excitement I had first reading this issue as a kid. To be honest, as much as I enjoyed experiencing issues 1 to 7 again, it was the next five that I was dying to read the most. Immediately I am blown away by Golden's gorgeous first-page splash and the shadows of the soldier getting taken out by the off-panel Karza. With this single page, you know the tone of what you are about to read, and it's going to be heavy. Two pages later, we see Karza just pummeling people, and Gafford's warm/hot colors make the tyrant all the more imposing and the brick-toned soldiers being dropped out is a killer effect for Golden's second amazing splash. From here the action only intensifies. The character acting on everyone's faces, the sequential movements of Acroyear's futile battle with Karza, and the Ditkoesque appearance of Captain Universe left me cheering until I paused on the third splash page of Captain Universe battling Baron Karza. Gafford then delivers some outstanding knockouts as Ray Coffin is revealed and Karza makes his escape.
As stunned as I am by Golden's beautiful art, Mantlo's story and dialogue is what still grabs me with this issue. I'm a total sucker for the whole good versus evil thing, but when you mix in the strong dialogue and the multiple worlds at war storyline with the characters I adore, there's no way I was going to put this book down until I was darn-well finished. This issue is what made me love expansive storytelling and reminds me of exactly why comic books have been so important to me for the past four decades. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMEDED!

The Micronauts #9
The Micronauts #9 - Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Michael Golden, inked and edited by Al Milgrom, lettered by Joe Rosen, colored by Carl Gafford, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts have managed to return to the Microverse after Baron Karza's crushing defeat. Unfortunately, Karza's spirit has returned along with them and resumed control of his normal body. Awaiting the Micronauts are Prince Acroyear's people, but as our heroes prepare for yet another battle, they are surprised to find the Acroyears are now free of Karza's influence and they are mad, really mad, at the despot. We also meet Acroyear's love, the lady Cilicia, who is a powerful warrior herself. As the Force Commander presses his attack on Karza's forces, Acroyear journeys to the heart of the Acroyear planet, Spartak, to converse with the very soul of their world, but it will not be an easy task. Pssst...hey, you...we also get to see what Acroyears look like under all that armor.
Young Donist - This is a definite calm-before-the-storm issue. The cover alone left my jaw dropped and succeeded in keeping it that way with every close up of every new Acroyear on the page. My mind was awhirl with the dream of tons of new Acroyear action figures to grace my room; sadly, these toys never came to be. I was also thrilled to finally see Acroyear without his helmet, but I was disappointed to find that he was just a beefy bald guy without a nose. I was also disturbed by Cilicia's noselessness and that she too was bald, except for the ponytail. Seeing Commander Rann crunch into Karza's shield made me gasp, and the thought of the Worldmind of Spartak getting on Acroyear's dingus probably gave me a couple of hangups. Still, I have to say...RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Yeah, the armored-up Acroyears look mighty fine, and if they released some of them as toys today, this grown-ace man would buy them. Storywise, I like this issue much more than I did as the kid who mostly enjoyed checking out all of the cool armored warriors. I love that Mantlo and Golden created a warrior love interest (Cilicia) who will become every bit as impressive as Acroyear, and that she is someone who makes his stoney heart beat. Force Commander's brief appearance is great, and the comedic moment of Bug's crushingly ineffective come-on to an Acroyear maiden still cracks me up many years later. Acroyear without the armor no longer bothers me and the noseless thing makes total sense given the fit of their helmets, but I will say that my rocks-on-the-dingus hangup has returned.
The insane excitement of the previous issue might be missing, but I know what's coming and the creators have given us a moment to catch our breath...right before they punch us in the stomach. I cannot wait to get to issue 11! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #10
The Micronauts #10 - Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Michael Golden, inked and edited by Al Milgrom, lettered by D. Albers, colored by Carl Gafford, published by Marvel Comics. Last issue Commander Rann was defeated and Prince Acroyear was encased in living rock by the Worldmind, the very soul of the Acroyear planet Spartak. Princess Mari is captured by the maniac, Baron Karza. Bug is lost in battle, leaving Microtron and Biotron to join the Acroyear people in their battle against Karza's dog soldiers. With the Worldmind accepting Acroyear as the rightful heir to the throne of Spartak, the Acroyears win the battle for their planet, but at great cost. Rebel leader Slug catches Prince Argon's eye, and the battle for Homeworld is about to begin.
Young Donist - "Now this is more like it! Action, action, NO! Not Bug. Don't let my favorite character be dead." In addition to that sentiment, I remember loving how Acroyear commands the planet itself to attack the evil dog soldiers. I also remember being fairly traumatized that the dog soldiers were not only killing Acroyear warriors, but that one panel of them about to take out a crying Acroyear baby crawling away from its dead mother...ugh. Thankfully, that page is soon followed by Cilicia and Microtron representing like bosses on the dog soldiers. Cilicia taking out Major D'ark with the cold mercy of her Acroyear steal helped me feel a bit better about things. I was nearly peeing my pants in anticipation for the next issue. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Okay...Baron Karza's baby-murdering dog soldiers still traumatize me today. Dang...that is some dark stuff for Marvel Comics, especially for way back then. <brrrrr> That said, those two six-panel pages are incredibly well-paced and a testament to Golden's storytelling mastery. The intensity of both Mantlo's dialogue--whether coming from Major D'ark or Cilicia or Microtron--and the moving captions all ramp up the the action to the next climatic issue. I'm not one for gore or death, but the page where Cilicia executes D'ark is one of my all-time-favorite pages, both visually and in terms of the words written on the page. Oh issue...the climax! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

That's it for now, and I hope to see you next week where the daddy of all issues comes down! Thanks for reading.

While writing this entry, I listened to Grant Green's "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "Idle Moments." Check 'em out if you can.

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