Monday, February 24, 2014

Micronauts Monday, 2/24/2014

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! 

Criminy, has been a few years since I've read this ol' favorite series of mine, and I can't begin to tell you how excited I was to read the below three issues. Unlike the posts back in Donist World's infancy, I generally try to watch my language when writing, but by golly I'm gonna cuss up a storm right now. The shit goes down in issue #28. Hells yes it does. It goes down hard. It goes down viciously. Even though I was covering my eyes as I read, I still could not resist peering through my fingers to see what triumph racked with tragedy followed next. But enough of my jabbering about how great these issues are, let's just get to it. Oh, I only cussed twice..."ass," there, I feel better now.

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Micronauts #26 - 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. Wherefore goes the evil organization known as Hydra, you shall find the forces of SHIELD there to stop them. Last issue, the Micronauts learned that not only is Baron Karza back among the living, but he has usurped control of Hydra on Earth to better conquer both our universe and that of the Microverse. Our heroes find Nick Fury and team waging war in space against Hydra and they lend a helping hand, for The Micronauts will soon desperately need all of the help available to stop Karza. The Micronauts charge forth to stop the SHIELD ESPer units being controlled by Karza, Bug finds an ally, Mari gets blasted back to the Microverse, and Commander Rann loses the Enigma Force before Karza's mental might. As the Microverse prepares for war on their side of the Spacewall, the situation becomes dire as Baron Karza has just added the power of the Enigma Force to his own.
Young Donist - I wasn't completely certain about Hydra or SHIELD or Nick Fury as a kid, but I had seen them pop up before, and the first page splash (including title) of them battling in outer space made me an instant fan. I guess it reminded me of the James Bond movie Moonraker or something, but Broderick's art made the image absolutely stunning. Seeing my heroes blasting into action at the bottom of page four for the page turn had me cheering and dreading their confrontation with the as yet unseen Karza. This issue also compounded my already huge respect for Acroyear and Cilicia as they tear up flooring and smash the bejesus out of the Hydra agents—and to think, I didn't even know what was coming in issue 28! I was stoked that yet another Acroyear, Dagon, would be joining the team, but what got me the most with this issue was the page of Baron Karza's appearance as he soundly defeats Commander Rann. The final "Tales of the Microverse" shows that Mari did indeed survive her encounter with Karza, and although the pages are filled with talking, talking, and more talking, this Young Donist loved every panel of it. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Yeah, that space battle scene is still the hottness. Dang. But whereas I liked the action parts of this issue the most as a kid, it is actually the talking moments that get me the most now. As Rann and Mari charge forth to take out the mind-controlled SHIELD ESPers, their dialogue brings unbelievable tension to the page as it dawns on Mari that Karza lives again, and her anger at Rann for keeping his suspicions secret. (This part is a bit contradictory to Rann proclaiming "By the Enigma Force he lives!" last issue, but I'm cool with it.) The art is also somewhat psychedelic and disorienting in the best of ways as we gaze into the Microverse from the SHIELD Helicarrier. Then I turned the page to THE image. The one where Karza steps forth from the shadows to grab Rann by the face and force the 1000-year-old man to his knees. The dialogue, the captions, the art, the colors all contribute to the spine-tingling moment I've been dreading/anticipating even before cracking the cover.
I also have to extol Bob Sharen's colors with this issue, especially during the "Tales of the Microverse" segment where he pushes and pulls characters to the foreground and background with single shaded colors, or fantastic monochromatic shadings as seen on the Acroyear representative and Prince Pharoid. The ending two-panel page with the looks of horror on the Microverse delegates' faces, rendered normally—and to wonderful effect—before jumping to the final panel of the delegates all colored in blue before the image of the triumphant Karza seals the deal.
After reading this issue, I didn't want to go to bed. I desperately wanted to continue reading so I could relive the events that blew my young Donist mind so many years ago. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #27
The Micronauts #27 - Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Pat Broderick, inked by Dan Bulanadi, lettered by Joe Rosen, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Louise Jones, published by Marvel Comics. Okay, take a deep breath, maybe do some jumping jacks or something, loosen up and dive in to these shark infested waters. Baron Karza has returned and is preparing to take over the Earth, before turning his attentions back to the Microverse. Not only that, he now controls the might of the Enigma Force itself. Also resurrected is Prince Shaitain, but despite being instrumental in Karza's rebirth, the traitorous albino Acroyear has earned nothing more than a vicious beating at his master's hand (read the issue to know why this statement is funny). The Micronauts and SHIELD meet to discuss their best course of action to deal with the evil before them as Karza begins to bring his microforces across the Spacewall to join with his army of Hydra soldiers. As the war on Earth begins, a Micronaut dies and Commander Rann confronts Karza alone. But when Rann learns that it is the body of Prince Argon, Force Commander, that plays host to Karza's wicked mind, he stalls enough to give the megalomaniac the opening he needs to strike.
Young Donist - Somehow I missed this one when it came out and I actually found it on either the spinner rack at the grocery store or at KMart or something, so I knew what was to happen as I read, but that did not make this issue less impactful. The pages of Karza pummeling his lapdog, Shaitan, reinforced just how evil Karza is. I mean, here are two bad guys, and the more powerful bad guy is ruthlessly beating the person responsible for bringing him back to life. That's cold! I actually felt bad for Shaitan, and more than anything I wanted Karza to pay for being such an evil jerk. On the negative side, I was thoroughly confused as to why last issue ended with a group of captured Time Travelers, and in this issue there is only one, but I was able to get past it. Seeing a Micronaut die (for the second time...hint) caused me all sorts of grief, but it was the evil look on the face of the Karza-possessed Prince Argon that was seared into my mind right before Rann gets taken down hard. Even though I got this issue after 28, I still read and reread it until it fell apart. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - With the first page, I immediately noticed a slight difference in the art. The look of this issue is still stunning, but some panels might have been rushed a little or it is the new inker providing a different line weight than I had been used to seeing in some spots. Don't get me wrong, though, this is still a freakin' insane issue. To this day, I'm still disturbed by Karza's treatment of Shaitan and I'm left wondering if this is Mantlo's take on what it is like working for some employers, but I digress. The look Broderick puts on Shaitan's face, a mixture of disgust and horror, is an amazing moment for this loathsome villain who finally sees that he has been backing the wrong horse; the promise of this revelation will pay off tremendously next issue. The Rann versus Karza pages are brief, but awesome; I still feel that sinking feeling in my gut when he gets captured, and things look bad for our heroes.
I did crack up and roll my eyes at Dum Dum Dugan's dialogue, though. Do people actually refer to themselves in the third person nowadays? "Ah, if Don "Donist" McMillan knows one thing, it's that Don "Donist" McMillan loves him some multi-grain hot cereal. Don "Donist" McMillan also enjoys imbibing a big mug of Irish breakfast tea, despite the fact that it makes him have to pizzle like a racehorse for hours afterwards." Dude, if I had a friend who spoke like that, I think I would have to give him a Baron Karza style beating. Still, even with Dum Dum being a dum-dum, I loved this dang issue...although the Micronaut death is bumming me out somethin' fierce. The urge to read issue 28 immediately after this one was almost unbearable, but this issue is still VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #28
The Micronauts #28 - Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Pat Broderick, inked by Dan Bulanadi, lettered by Joe Rosen, colored by R. Slifer, edited by Louise Jones, published by Marvel Comics. Remember how I suggested limbering up a bit before cutting into last issue? Well, maybe you should go for a quick 6-mile jog, or meditate for a few hours before starting this one. Just a suggestion. This is the moment we've been waiting for. The combined might of Hydra and Baron Karza's diabolical, miniaturized minions set to take over the Earth! The Enigma Force bent to Karza's will! Commander Rann captured! A Micronaut dead! That was last, we see Fury and Dum Dum Dugan struggling against the onslaught of Karza's forces as SHIELD agents die left and right. With Mari believed to be dead, it is up to Acroyear, Cilicia and Bug to break past Karza's defenses and take the fight to him. Back on Homeworld, Mari, Pharoid and Slug mount a desperate defense against Karza troops who seek to reclaim the Body Banks. As Acroyear engages Baron Karza in fierce combat, he has to ignore the fact that each strike, each blow is shared by the imprisoned Rann floating helplessly nearby. Shaitan makes his treacherous move, allowing Mari and the Microverse rebels to journey across the Spacewall to the desperate battle, but Shaitan has made too bold a move by calling upon the Worldmind, the very soul of the Acroyear planet Spartak. A world dies, a mind is torn assuder, a queen is sacrificed, a prince is freed, a prince dies, it all falls to this one great cataclysmic battle.
Young Donist - I might very well have lost a month or two of memories after reading this comic book, as I could not think of anything else for quite sometime upon setting this book down. I had moved from Ohio to Santa Barbara, California a few months prior and was picking this series up from spinner racks at the 7-11, or the grocery store, but I remember finding this one at K-Mart. Just seeing the cover was enough to leave me awestruck. Although Bug was my favorite character, my estimation of Acroyear was heightened after reading the past few issues, and seeing him locked in deadly combat...let's just say I could barely stand it. I grabbed the comic, found my mom and grandparents and tried to hurry them along and out of the store so I could get home and absorb this issue. I flat out refused to look past the first page of the book, which I only checked to see if the art was consistent from what came before; it was. The ride from Goleta to Santa Barbara took forever, and the fact that it was getting dark and I could not stare at the cover left me squirming in irritation, but we finally made it home and I sequestered myself from family and the world in the living room.
Damn, denizens. Sweet Christmas this book delivered on what the series had been leading up to, and with what was promised on the cover. Holy moly did it deliver! Acroyear, Cilicia and Bug leap into battle as Fury and Dum Dum fight their losing battle in a gorgeous splash page, followed by an even more impressive double-page splash of SHIELD getting just hammered. Mari and Pharoid then appear as they fight many of the Micronaut alien toys I loved so much (Repto!), but it is the splash of Acroyear and Karza striking their first blows that gave me pause to linger and to take in every single inch of the page. Then Shaitan calls forth the Worldmind before realizing what it is he has done. Ooops! Then Acroyear takes up the Worldmind and the fight goes mental, as the Kaliklak queen even gets involved to deliver a suicide sting (trust need to see this) in hopes of turning the tide of the battle, which it does. Aggghhhhhhh! It's too much!
The idea that Acroyear has to sacrifice his world and possibly Rann's mind both thrilled and terrified me. I was about ten and half years old and the concepts in the story were mindbogglingly heavy, yet I worked through the story and the implications and upon finishing the issue, I could safely proclaim this was the best book I had ever read. So, obviously, Young Donist says this is VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - I don't smoke, denizens. I've never even tried. After reading this issue, though, I could sure go for a smoke (I'm being dramatic, here, don't try smoking; it's bad for you). Maybe I should pour myself some rye (do not try this at home...unless you are >21). Amy and Tulip had already gone to bed before I started reading The Micronauts #28, and in the quiet artificial light of the living room, when I set the completed story down, I had all the same sense of excitement I had as a kid. All of it. Even sitting down to write my thoughts and flipping through the comic to look at it from a perspective other than that of a normal reader, I still have the exhilaration of what I am seeing: the art, the drama, the horrors, the triumphs, the fantastic colors and knockouts, the awe-inspiring storytelling of Mantlo and Broderick. This book is what being a lover of comic books is all about for me. It's timeless. Sure printing technology has changed and vastly different processes are used today, but feeling the slightly yellowed pages and seeing what could be done with color at that time, it's kind of amazing and goes far beyond the nostalgia factor. All of the feelings and excitement that I had for this issue as a kid hold true today, so there is not much more to add than to stress that story, character, art, and color make this issue one of my favorite comics of all time. This one cranks the volume all the way to 11 (for you youngsters, this is a This is Spinal Tap reference, btw), denizens, and I want to say it goes far beyond being VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Wow...there you have it. Heck, I think I'm going to read issue #28 again before I move on to what is coming next. Now, just because I practically worship the issues I talked about today, that does not mean that what is coming in the near future is anything to shake a stick at. There are a couple moments that are almost, if not every bit, as great as this week's books, and I hope you join me next week as the repercussions of issue 28 become apparent. Thank you for stopping by.

While writing this entry, I listened to the soundtrack for "La Planete Sauvage" by Alain Goaguer, which is a trip and a half. Definitely check it out if you have a chance. I also listened to Miles Davis "The Complete On the Corner Sessions", which is also great, but these are some mind bending albums, which I guess go well with this week's books. Check 'em out if you have a moment.


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