Monday, January 6, 2014

Micronauts Monday, 1/6/2014

What? What? What?! No intro song? No mini tale about Obie (my friends' Boston terrier, CFO of Donist World) or Tulip (my dog, Obie's sister, marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/lead Micronauts research associate)? Sadly, no. For those things, you need to check out "Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods," which happens--surprise, surprise--every Friday. FSoH/SitW is where I talk about all things heavenly that occurred that week, primarily relating to the latest comic book releases and occasionally some amazing older comics as well.
I had all of my The Micronauts comics
library bound into three Omnibus-sized books,
complete with red ribbon bookmarks. Very
fancy pants...I also put ice cubes in
my boxed wine.
No, this feature will examine the comic book series that first roped me in as both a comic book reader and a collector...The Micronauts. I wrote about The Micronauts, both the comic book series and the toys, three and a half years ago, which you can read here--typos, poor grammar, and all. When the series began in 1979, I was a nine-year-old boy living in Akron, Ohio and already in love with comic books, which I kept stashed in an old stereo record display case (you know, for those black discs that had music etched into a single, spinning groove...this is in the days before music became the magic that is digitized files). I had tons of your typical Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Marvel Team-Up, Detective Comics, Action Comics piled everywhere, as well as your not so normal fare Weird War Tales, House of Mystery, House of Secrets, and the book that made me love comics...Swamp Thing. Then, in 1979, of all the magazine stands, in all of Akron, in all the world, The Micronauts walked into mine. It was love at first site.
Now, the semi-sucky thing about The Micronauts comic book series is that its rights have been stuck in limbo for a couple of decades for a variety of reasons: The Micronauts are a licensed property; Mego (toy company) went out of business; Palisades (toy company) went out of business after a disastrous toy launch; SOTA's (toy company) license to release the toys expired; Marvel's license lapsed and they only own the characters of Bug, Princess Marionette, and Arcturus Rann; Image Comics had the license; Devil's Due had the license; something called Kinetic Underground was slated to revive the comics, but was halted by Takara Tomy (licensor); J.J Abrams wants/wanted to make a movie; Hasbro was going to relaunch the toys, but hasn't; an animated show was set to release, but was halted; everyone involved is linked to Kevin Bacon by six degrees or less. This mess requires a freakin' astrologer to navigate, and is why you can't just buy a trade or digital version of The Micronauts series. One small hope is that now that Disney has bought both Hasbro and Marvel, maybe something can be worked out with Takara Tomy to see this Donist World darling revived so everyone can easily experience this amazing comic.
For the "Micronauts Monday" feature, I anticipate providing a little synopsis of each issue and then talking about my experience and thoughts on that issue first as a kid, and then as an adult reading the series in chronological order. I will probably look at between three and five issues per week, but acknowledge that if I get bogged down with other writing commitments or schooling, that this feature might miss a week or two if necessary. That said, let's cut to the individual issues.

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Micronauts #1
The Micronauts #1 - Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Michael Golden, inked by Josef Rubenstein, colored by Glynis Wein, lettered by Tom Orzechowski, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. The beginning of it all! We are introduced to Prince Argon and Princess Marionette as they run for their lives from the evil Baron Karza's dog soldiers; Mari escapes, but Argon is captured. The populace of Homeworld has rebelled against the ruling family after former-chief-scientist Karza's promise of immortality through the body banks, which he makes available if his high price can be paid. Meanwhile, Commander Arcturus Rann has just returned to Homeworld after a 1000-year exploration of the Microverse, which his consciousness performed while his body hibernated--and was attended by his biodroid friend, Biotron--aboard the space exploration ship the Endeavor. His reception goes poorly when he is greeted by dog soldiers and imprisoned in the "Pleasure Pits," a place where prisoners engage in gladiatorial combat for Karza's pleasure. Here Arcturus meets Bug and Acroyear, an Insectivorid thief and a deposed Acroyear prince (yes, his name is Acroyear of the Acroyear race) respectively. Arcturus learns that Karza murdered his parents--Lord Dallan and Lady Sepsis Rann--centuries prior, we see Acroyear's traitorous brother Prince Shaitan as Karza's lapdog, Princess Mari and her roboid Microtron join the fray, and the mysterious Time Traveler--a manifestation of something called the Enigma Force--makes its presence known. Arcturus, Mari, Acroyear, Bug, Biotron and Microtron barely escape aboard the Endeavor from Baron Karza and Prince Shaitan by heading through the Microverse's wall toward...Earth.
Young Donist - Unfortunately, this was not the first The Micronauts comic I read. In fact, it would be years after its release before I finally got ahold of a copy at the dearly-departed comic book store Andromeda Comics in Santa Barbara, CA. I did get to read this book at some point in the very early '80s, however, as my cousin had bought a copy...which caused me to burn with jealousy to no end. When I finally added my own copy to my complete run, it was like a badge of honor, a treasured prize that I read and reread many times over to the point I had to repurchase a copy from so I could have a non-thrashed version included in my library bound book. At the time, I had no idea who the creators were, but I knew I loved the characters and story, and that first page splash immediately grabbed me and refused to let go. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - I have reread this series so many times over the years, that you would expect me to eventually become bored or find multiple story or art problems, but that is not the case. This first issue does its job phenomenally. We are introduced to six main characters with clearly defined goals, and vastly different perspectives of the situation at hand. We also get to meet the "bad guy," who murders royalty, provides longevity to the rich through diabolical means, tortures the former prince, and has designs on bending the Microverse to its knees. Further world building delivers two alien races--the Insectivorids and the Acroyears--while at the same time delivering another evil doer, the Acroyear Prince Shaitan (brother of Prince Acroyear). There's mysticism, science-fiction, action, adventure, and a threat so dire, and characters so interesting, that if this were the first and only book I had read in this series I would have no choice but to continue. *I also kind of want to buy that Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders poster at the back of the book...the Grizzly Adams poster ain't all that bad, either.*

The Micronauts #2
The Micronauts #2Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Michael Golden, inked by Josef Rubenstein, colored by F. Mouly, lettered by John Costanza, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts are on the run from Prince Shaitan, Prince Acroyear's traitorous brother, and now find themselves stranded on a strange world inhabited by monstrous creatures...Earth. While exploring the jungle of a back yard, they meet young Steve Coffin and his dog Muffin, but are assaulted by Shaitan's forces. Meanwhile, Baron Karza tortures Prince Argon as we learn more about the insidious body banks. The Micronauts escape once again, but poor Steve is going to have a lot of explaining to do to his father.
Young Donist - This was the first issue of The Micronauts I ever bought. The cover alone sold me, primarily with the cool looking Bug and Acroyear characters. Once home, I stared transfixed at the character roster on the first page, not quite knowing what a "Galactic Warrior" was, but confident in the fact that Bug was far and away my favorite character of the bunch. I was thrilled to have my Space Glider and Baron Karza toys starring as main characters, and I was happy to see Acroyear in the book, but dismayed that my toy lacked the killer design of the deposed prince; it also boggled my mind as to how Acroyear could even see through his helmet...huh. The action was non-stop, and although I did not understand all of the twisted stuff going on in the story, I desperately wanted to see what happened next, especially to see if Bug survived. I also prayed that Mego would someday release a Bug action figure. More than anything, this issue made me wish my toys would someday come to life. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Yeah...I'm still waiting for that Bug action figure; c'mon Disney/Hasbro/Marvel! Anyhow, reading this book as an adult, I still get that thrill I had as a wee-kiddie, but what is better is I can fully grasp what is happening in this rather dark, but thrilling story. Golden's artwork blows me away, and I now know I need to become rich so I can start tracking down some of his original art to display in my home. The action scenes flow like something I rarely see in today's comics, with silhouettes ramping up the tension in scenes that technically have limited coloring options. Golden's depiction of the cocker spaniel, Muffin, is spot on, and the scene of Karza torturing Argon is simply chilling; I love the creepy mix of yellow and flesh colors on Argon in panel three. I am pumped for issue three! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #3
The Micronauts #3Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Michael Golden, inked by Josef Rubenstein, colored by Carl Gafford, lettered by John Costanza, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. Steve Coffin's dad, Ray Coffin, returns home to find his backyard a cratered-out burning shell of its former Daytona Beach glory. He is all set to lay down the law on his son, when he finds the wreckage of a Microverse ship and the bodies of a few Acroyear warriors. Meanwhile, Shaitan continues to chase the Micronauts, this time onto a freeway, catching the attention of the military. Prince Argon transformed into a centaur?! Finally Ray Coffin sees possible dollar signs and glory amongst the carnage scattered about his yard.
Young Donist - Okay, yes, I was a little let down by this issue. The action was still high octane, but if I wanted to watch car chases, I'd turn on the television and watch a few episodes of CHiPs. There was also lots of talking and precious little of Bug whupping a$$. Still, watching Acroyear continue to represent on Shaitan's troops could make most any young kid smile. RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - I definitely liked this more now than I did as a kid. That said, if I wanted to see a car chase, I'd watch Ronin or Fast and Furious or something. Golden's art continues to be stunning, but it is Gafford's creative lighting/coloring inside the Endeavor ship that really captures my attention. Now that the Micronauts have--once again--thwarted Shaitan, I am happy that rescuing Bug is back on the menu; the implications of Ray Coffin taking the dead Microverse bodies to a research lab gives me that "uh-oh" feeling I love to have when reading a great comic book. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

That's it for this week, and I hope to post up the next couple of issues next week.

*While writing this entry I listened to Yuja Wang's lovely Piano Concertos...currently only $5.00 for the digital version at!


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