Monday, February 17, 2014

Micronauts Monday, 2/17/2014

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! 

Oh boy, these three issues are the calm before the AWESOME that is to come for next week's covered issues; I'm biting my nails to get to them. But don't take the previous statement as an indication that the below issues are not great. They are. These issues, however, are building blocks to the return of the greatest evil to plague the Micronauts, and a foretelling of a battle that will rival even that of the tremendous issue #11. How's that for a build up? Let's get to it...

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Micronauts #23
The Micronauts #23 - Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Pat Broderick, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Tom Orzechowski, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Louise Jones, published by Marvel Comics. So, Biotron...he's kind of been stuck repairing the Micronauts' ship, the Endeavor, for the past three or four issues, but not today as our favorite biodroid takes center stage. Having lost telepathic communication with Commander Rann, Biotron is unsure whether his comrades are even alive, but without a functioning Endeavor to begin his search, he will never know the truth. He sets off in a short-range hydrocopter to a nearby junkyard where he hopes to find some necessary parts. In his search, he comes across a down-on-his-luck man who happens to come into contact with a powerful wand, instilling him with the powers and consciousness of...The Molecule Man. As a bonus, we get a glimpse into the Endeavor and this issue's "Tales of the Microverse" mentions the new hero Prince Pharoid.
Young Donist - I saw the Molecule Man on the cover and instantly recalled his appearance in Fantastic Four #188, and how I loved seeing Mr. Fantastic being compelled to do terrible things until he drops the wand into the factory smokestack. I always wondered what happened to the wand, and this issue answered that lingering question in the best of ways. Although I never really gave Biotron much consideration, and he had predominantly taken a backup roll, this issue elevated him to so much more; I actually wanted to rush out and buy the Biotron toy. The reunion of the characters was brief, but great. I can't even begin to imagine how much time I spent poring over the map of the Endeavor, imagining where I would want my room on the ship to be. The "Tales of the Microverse" feature with the recently resurrected Prince Shaitan blew my mind, especially with the mention of Prince Pharoid, one of my most prized toys at the time. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - I really enjoyed this issue. It was great to see Biotron have his much-needed moment in the spotlight, and seeing the Molecule Man brought back my fond memories of that Fantastic Four issue. Mantlo succeeded in humanizing a robot (yes, he's actually a biodroid with feelings and emotions and whatnot, I know). Biotron has fear and worry for his friends, his thoughts of being stranded, abandoned on Earth are compelling and all too relatable; after 23 issues I finally love this character. The issue isn't all doom and gloom, by any means, it is also funny at the right moments, and knows when to push the action into overdrive.
The Molecule Man is a cool villain and Broderick gets to showcase his grasp on superhero sequential storytelling and anatomy. The Molecule Man looks fantastic—despite having a costume that could be confused with that of Plant-Man from two issues ago—but it is through clever angles that Broderick gives Biotron and his limited range of facial features actual emotional heft that left me impressed. I still love the Endeavor map, and now fantasize that my room aboard the ship would actually be a level higher than I wanted as a kid. Plus the implication of what goes on behind the closed (but unlocked?) door of Commander Rann and Marionette's room...hubba hubba.
As much as I liked the events in this issue, it is the "Tales" feature that still gives me that sense of foreboding that I love so much when reading this comic. The creators' depiction of the diabolical Shaitan is terrifying, but the promise of Prince Pharoid still leaves me hungry for more. Another plus is we are up in page count to 21 pages. Nice. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #24
The Micronauts #24 - Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Pat Broderick, inked by Armando Gil, lettered and colored by (?) Parker and (?) Rosen, edited by Louise Jones, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts are together once again, and now that the Endeavor is (nearly) functional—thanks to Biotron—the crew are ready to begin their journey to find a way back home to the Microverse. But this is Earth...a place where danger lurks around ever corner, and this time the threat is a sentient computer program known as Computrex! You also get a double-page spread of Homeworld and a "Tales of the Microverse" backup that fully introduces Prince Pharoid to the Microverse and that shows how wicked and cruel the undead Prince Shaitan can be.
Young Donist - "Oooooo...Commander Rann and Princess Marionette sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes..." ugh, never mind. Anyhow, even though I was a young boy, I was fine seeing these characters finally together, it was a love that was meant to be, but I will say that I was thankful for the timely comedic relief from Bug and Microtron. Computrex was awesome! I was uncertain as to why he looked like the Silver Surfer, but he was still really cool with the blue and pink effects. Seeing Commander Rann take charge and whup butt on Computrex's innards was great. But the creepy dream sequence and the following illusion that provoked my hero to attack Mari thinking he was instead fighting Karza upset me; I shared the Commander's rage and was happy to see him take down the insane computer program. The Homeworld Map gave me hours of enjoyment as I fantasized over each molecular sphere and what those regions were like...I would soon find out. I cheered as Pharoid came to save the lovely Slug, and the promise of next issue's "The Origin of Baron Karza" left me frantic to finally get some background on the evil of all evils. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Brodericks art is just astounding in this issue. Computrex as a pink and blue knockout is just plain groovy, but it's the character expressions that grab me: Mari's panicked scream, Rann's desperation, the scholarly Karza, Rann's pain-wracked horror at what he has done. Despite the outdated technology—Bug being attacked and choked by computer ribbon?!?!—Mantlo's dialog builds Computrex into a viable threat with the psionic daydream being an awesome moment. Broderick translates this scene to eerie effect with one of my all-time-favorite panels of the panel-busting Rann painstakingly crawling from a pit. I am once again noticing the colors of this issue, like when aboard the Endeavor, or when using a single color to drop the focus on certain panel elements and characters to great effect. The "Map of Homeworld" is still really cool, with a promise of distant lands to come. "Tales of the Microverse" had an amazing fight between Shaitan and Pharoid, but with what comes next...oh boy. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #25
The Micronauts #25 - Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Pat Broderick, inked by Armando Gil, lettered by Joe Rosen, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Louise Jones, published by Marvel Comics. It was the villains Mentallo and Fixer who caused Computrex to go out of control, and it has also put the Micronauts on the pair's radar. As Biotron and Microtron discuss what it is that drives their fellow crew members, Acroyear and Cilicia enjoy some...alone do Mari and Rann, who is still recovering from his injuries after battling Computrex. Unfortunately, Bug has never felt so alone after losing his ladybug Jasmine. Then Mentallo and the Fixer attack. Too bad for them, despite being small, the Micronauts are mighty. When Commander Rann uses his growing telepathic abilities to combat Mentallo, he learns that it is the earthbound group known as Hydra commanding the two villains, but the group is being controlled from the Microverse by evil incarnate reborn. "Tales of the Microverse" delivers on a brief history of Baron Karza before Prince Shaitan succeeds in returning the monster to the realm of the living.
Young Donist - I had no idea who these bad guys were, but I liked them. I was titillated by the intimate Acroyear and Cilicia scene, deeply saddened by my favorite character Bug's isolation, and was then re-titillated (oh boy, shouldn't be admitting this, naughty) by the Mari and Rann...uh...intimacy scene. Bug "stinging" Mentallo in the face with his trusty rocketlance was awesome, and Rann proved to be a kick ace hero and not just the guy who spent far too many issues unconscious. Commander Rann for President! I loved seeing Karza's history—especially when he was transferring his mind into his armor—but that ending two-panel page...holy cow! Because of the five-page "Tales of the Microverse" to top the already great issue, Young Donist would say VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Well, whatdoyouknow...still titillated, denizens. Yup, still titillated. Beyond that, though, I love Biotron and Microtron's discussion that cleverly hides the exposition to bring new readers up to speed. After reading this issue, I would even dare to say that this could be a jumping on point for new readers, but I would still advise against not starting with issue one. The Acroyear and Cilicia love scene is touching and beautiful, as these two seemingly emotionless warriors drop the pretenses and reveal their hearts and their love. It is also a beautifully illustrated page with a uniquely-shaped center panel with a shifting two-tone coloring scheme that is just killer. The panels of the troubled "Bug" are kind of heartbreaking despite Jasmine never really being around enough for me to become attached to her. Broderick also gives as a sexy as heck sequence with Mari and Rann—<phew> is it getting hot in here, or what?
Anyhow...the battle with Mentallo and the Fixer is still cool, but it is the awesome "Tales" feature that makes this issue shine. We see some of Karza's history after his failed assassination attempt on the royal family—he will later correct this failure—and his ending page resurrection has me, get to what comes next. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

That's it for now, and I hope to see you next week where I'll be looking at issues 26, 27 and the holy-calamity-scream-insanity issue that is number 28. Hot diggity dog, I got some The Micronauts comics to read.  Thank you for stopping by.

While writing this entry, I listened to the Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass's "Classics Volume 1", which is no longer readily available, but you cannot go wrong with "Whipped Cream & Other Delights." Check it out if you have a moment.

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