Monday, January 27, 2014

Micronauts Monday, 1/27/2014

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***

The Micronauts #11
The Micronauts #11 - 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. This is it, folks. As the cover states, we are at "Saga's End" and the situation is dire. The tyrannical Baron Karza has returned to the Microverse and holds both Commander Rann and Princess Mari captive with only Force Commander (Prince Argon, Mari's brother) left standing to lead the rebellion against the man-monster. The rest of the Micronauts are scattered across the Microverse with Acroyear, Biotron, and Microtron restoring order to the Acroyear world of Spartak, and Bug is presumed to be dead. Argon and Karza clash, but even the Force Commander himself cannot stand up against Karza's evil might. With no other alternative, the embodiment of the Enigma Force, the Time Traveler, steps forth to take up the battle for the fate of the Microverse.
Young Donist - Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god! I was frantic get a hold of this comic so I could see what happened after last issue's insane cliffhanger. I'm also fairly certain I pushed my mother and father into a new realm of madness with my incessant begging to go to the Rolling Acres Mall newsstand and to the Quaker Square Mall in downtown Akron, OH in an effort to find this issue. I don't recall where I actually found it, but I remember that once I did, I bolted into the living room to get down to completely absorbing this comic into every cell of my being. Thankfully, I was joined by all of my Micronauts toys and we began to read. When I got to the Force Commander fight against Baron Karza, I dropped the comic and ran through the house, up the stairs, into my room and back again, just to let off the extra steam  threatening to cause this Donist to explode. The book only became more intense as I progressed and the page 16 splash of the Time Traveler appearing on the scene halted me in my tracks. I was desperate to glance at the next spectacular page, but I made myself focus on that one panel and to not turn away, prolonging the torture of seeing what happened next. What followed was the best comic book fight scene I had ever seen. The ending of this issue brought victory, the promise of Karza's return, and the destruction of my first copy of this comic book as I literally read the thing into pieces. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - No lie, I was practically biting my nails in anticipation of getting to once again read issue 11 of this amazing series. The first page splash of Karza's ship steadily descending from the sky with the promise of pain and death and suffering brought back all of those feelings I had as a kid, mesmerized by what I was seeing unfold. The stakes in this issue are so high they're nerve rattling, and Mantlo puts the reader on a roller coaster of despair, to hope, back to despair, to hope again. The story alone is worth the price of admission. Even if Young Donist had illustrated this issue, the story holds together, but, thankfully, that is not the case. Golden gives us some of his best work on the series in both the character moments and the brilliant action scenes. The Time Traveler versus Baron Karza pages are still one of my favorite comic book battles of all time, and I had to fight the urge to run through my house as a 43-year-old man and frightening Amy and Tulip as I yelled "Aggghhhhh...I can't take it, I can't take it, I can't take it!" The color knockouts during the final battle stand tall with today's exceptional coloring technologies and that ending "VASHTOOM" sound effect proves how the silent art of lettering can kick the damn door in and command attention when it needs to.
I can gush about this issue for days on end, but I'll stop for now. I have a strong suspicion that if you have already read The Micronauts--whether now or back in the day--then you are nodding your head in agreement to my experience. If you have not read this issue, then please do yourself a favor and read numbers 1 to 11 in order so you learn and love the characters of the Microverse and see just how thoroughly well-crafted the story is. This issue alone is why I love comic books. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #12
The Micronauts #12 Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Michael Golden, inked and edited by Al Milgrom, lettered by Diana Albers, colored by Carl Gafford, published by Marvel Comics. Baron Karza is vanquished! With Homeworld finally free of the scourge of Karza, it is time to lick wounds and allow a world to heal. Unfortunately for Acroyear, there is no time to celebrate as his traitorous brother, Shaitan, has challenged him to mortal combat or "Blood-Feud" as it is known to the Acroyear people. Plus...a hint that Bug lives!
Young Donist - I was pumped to see what happens in the aftermath of last issue's wondrous glory, and the page two splash left me smiling and feeling as if I, too, had been subjugated by Baron Karza's evil and was finally free. I probably sat in the living room, drinking a monstrous glass of green Hi-C, and turned the page to see the Micronauts talking. Then more talking. Then even more talking. I would have been greatly disappointed if not for the beautiful Golden art and the intense battle between Acroyear and Shaitan. That final page teasing that Bug--my favorite character--was still alive, raised my opinion of this issue considerably. RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Okay, I totally get the need to bring new readers on board and to let them all know what has happened in the story thus far; it is crucial to the longevity of many titles. That said, three-quarters of this issue was a recap and reintroduction to the characters. I did not find this as off-putting as I did as a kid, and I accepted it as a "bring 'em up to speed, Commander" issue that I enjoyed very much; having Golden's beautiful art doesn't hurt none, either. The fight scene between Acroyear and Shaitan gives this issue a nice jumpstart, and leaves me wondering how many movies have...borrowed...from the battle-overtop-of-molten-lava bit found in these very pages. Knowing Bug yet lives still makes me happy. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #13
The Micronauts #13 Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Howard Chaykin, inked and edited by Al Milgrom, lettered by Joe Rosen, colored by Bob Sharen, published by Marvel Comics. Bug lives!!! Our favorite, green-skinned, fun-loving Bug has managed to survive the exploding Phobos unit (a space-faring battle robot) and as luck would have it, he has crash landed on his native, red-leafed planet of Kaliklak. Now that he is home, it's time to regain his crew, find his lady love, and repay the treacherous father who sent him to Karza's "Pleasure Pits" so long ago.
Young Donist - "Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! Bug is back! This cover is awesome." Then I cracked open the first page. "Huh?! What happened to the art? What's going on?" I failed to understand that the artist had changed on this issue and the change in colorist was also noticeable. I didn't like it. What saved the issue for me was watching Bug whup butt, and seeing his lovely girlfriend. I also dug seeing the varied species of beings living on Kaliklak. As bummed as I was, I still enjoyed this issue and wanted to see what happened next. RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - "Oh man, oh man, oh man! Bug lives!" With this issue, young Chaykin takes over on art, and it is a noticeable change from the level of detail and the style I was adoring with Golden. Chaykin already has his storytelling down on this issue, but the refinement of his style would come a few years later with his American Flagg comic. Still, Bug's solo adventure is fun, and I love the introduction of his "ladybug," Jasmine. With this issue, I would give almost anything to see a side-by-side of what Golden's take would be from back then, and what Chaykin's take would be today...that would be something to see. RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #14
The Micronauts #14 Written by Bill Mantlo, layouts by Howard Chaykin, finished and edited by Al Milgrom, lettered by Annette Kawecki, colored by Bob Sharen, published by Marvel Comics. Bug and his crew continue their battle to retake Kaliklak from Karza's holdout forces. Between Bug's traitorous father still gunning for him, and the man who presided over Bug's tenure at the "Pleasure Pits" fighting to retain control of the planet, our favorite Insectivorid has his work cut out for him. King Acroyear and Lady Cilicia decide holding down a desk job (ruling Spartak) is no fitting work for warriors, and the pair head off to rejoin the Micronauts.
Young Donist - Somehow, I missed this issue and it would take years before I was able to actually get a copy. My cousin had it--which chapped my hide--so I did get to read it, just not in order. I still had problems with the change in art, but I was cool with my favorite character taking center stage. Whoa...what are the Fantastic Four doing in this issue! RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - I liked this issue just fine, but it's missing something. It could be that the art is not thrilling me, but I think this issue is missing the drive, stakes and narrative that made earlier issues so very addictive. My comments about issue 14 are going to be brief, because there's not much to say. It was fine, I liked it well enough, and the lesson I can take away as a writer is that you cannot expect every issue to be a grand slam. RECOMMENDED!

That's it for now, and I hope to see you next week where we start off with an issue that at least brought the thrills back to my favorite series...if not Michael Golden! Thanks for reading.

While writing this entry, I listened to the Ahmad Jamal Trio's "The Awakening" and the soundtrack "La Planete Sauvage". Check 'em out if you can.


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