Monday, February 3, 2014

Micronauts Monday, 2/3/2014

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! 

Here's an old The Micronauts toy commercial to check out before you read...

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Micronauts #15
The Micronauts #15 Written by Bill Mantlo, breakdowns by Howard Chaykin, finished and edited by Al Milgrom, lettered by John Costanza, colored by Bob Sharen, published by Marvel Comics. The cover says it all: Microtron killed, the Fantastic Four in the Microverse, and the Micronauts about to be savaged by a horde of Antrons! The Fantastic Four's Baxter Building has been attacked, but the attacker did not express their fury from outside the building, rather they appeared from within, and were particularly interested in Reed's submolecular studies lab (every home's got one, right?). Meanwhile, the Micronauts have been reunited after many issues apart, and they have gained two new female members: Lady Cilicia (Acroyear's betrothed), and Jasmine (Bug's main lady bug). No sooner has the team begun to explore the Microverse, than they are caught up in a monstrous ship's tractor beam, and a horde of Antron scavengers set upon them with a hunger for all things metallic. Microtron pays the ultimate price. As the situation becomes dire, the Thing, the Invisible Woman, and Mister Fantastic shrink down to pursue their attacker, as the Human Torch flies to investigate none other than the Prometheus Pit. Little do the two teams realize the identity of their...okay, it's Psycho-Man. The villain causing all of the problems is Psycho-Man.
Young Donist - Holy cow! A new The Micronauts comic boasting The Fantastic Four, the Michael Golden art I have loved and been missing, and the appearance of one-third of the characters from the alien line of toys! Hot Dawg! Then I cracked the comic open. The art, once again, appears rushed and lacking the detail I had adored from the first 12 issues, but the action is awesome and I get to see the Fantastic Four show up in my favorite comic as well. On a side note, I was a bit disappointed that my Mego Human Torch and the Thing dolls didn't exactly work well together with my Baron Karza action figure, and although I was thrilled to see the Antrons show up in this issue, I would have rather seen Repto show up, because--let's be honest--the Repto toy is so much cooler than the Antron toy...sorry, Jeff (younger brother of the Donist), it's true. Antron sucks compared to Repto, and you're just gonna have to deal with it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Dang! Now THAT is a gorgeous cover. Fantastic energy, the character acting tells you our characters are in the shizzle and in it deep, and the color scheme of dropping the Antrons into the background, while utilizing a white background to pop the Micronauts out, is stunning. I also love the '70s use of word balloons on the cover, with the increased font size, to pull you in. Even the "guest-starring"--which I have learned to not trust over the decades--makes me excited for what's to come. Then I cracked open the cover. Rushed. The whole thing feels artistically rushed and the unique coloring I loved from the earlier issues is replaced what you would see in, well, an issue of The Fantastic Four. Then there is the dialogue, which also seems rushed and not in line with the majority of the series. The story itself is sound, it's just the delivery of the spoken moments that brings the momentum down; Mantlo must have had some crazy pressure on him to get the book in. The gut punch is that this issue also boasts an Eagle Award for "Best New Comic," which is surely not what is represented here. The nostalgia of the series still raises my enjoyment enough to call this one...RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #16
The Micronauts #16 Written by Bill Mantlo, layouts by Howard Chaykin, finished and edited by Al Milgrom, lettered by J. Costanza, colored by "_" (Marvel forgot to add the coloring credit), published by Marvel Comics. Fear! Doubt! Hate! Feel it all and despair, for Psycho-Man is here to torment the Micronauts. Bug and Jasmine besieged by a ravenous Repto! Commander Rann plagued by doubts! Acroyear and Cilicia at each others throats...with bladed weapons! The situation is dire until three-quarters of the Fantastic Four appear to lend a helping hand. But can even they stop Psycho-Man's vampiric onslaught? Only the appearance of the remaining "one-quarter" looks to provide any hope.
Young Donist - First off, I missed this issue the first time around, and it would be a few years before I managed to get ahold of a copy. The Golden cover left me hopeful for...nope, same rushed look as the past couple of issues can be found inside. I was stoked to see the Micronauts and the Fantastic Three-Fourths fighting side-by-side, but not much happens other than a brief appearance of a Repto! Wait a minute...why doesn't that Repto have a buzz saw for a hand? Huh... RECOMMENDED! *Side story* - I remember seeing a commercial--or was it an ad?--for the new Micronauts alien/monster line of toys on television and I lost my ever-loving mind. I had to have them, especially the Repto alien with his glow-in-the-dark brain. For my birthday, no sure which--8th? 9th? 10th?--my parents took me to "Children's Palace," an immense toy store made to look like a castle. I made a beeline for the action figure section and came across a massive end-cap for the alien Micronauts toys, but I quickly noticed a sea of purple (Antron) and red (Membros), but not green (Repto). I did some panicked searching and found a solitary Repto--with a yellow brain--hidden all the way at the back. Donist shoots, he scores.
Current Donist - Yeah, nice cover, but get past that and...*groan.* Man, the exposition starts to become unbearable. Take for instance panel one on page seven, where Psycho-Man pushes a button on his control device next to the word "FEAR"and my hero Bug says, "Heads up, crew! Our host is about to press a panel on that suitcase he's >tik< carryin'!" Wait, do you mean the button he just clearly pressed? If that's not enough, Jasmine responds, "Yes! A panel labeled--FEAR." Whoa, she's right, Psycho-Man did in fact press a button next to the word "FEAR." How do we know this? Well, because that is exactly what he did in that first panel. Instances like this happen often throughout this issue, which boggles my mind. Man, this one is barely...RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #17
The Micronauts #17 Written by Bill Mantlo, layouts by Howard "Howie" Chaykin, finished and edited by Al Milgrom, lettered by Jim Novak, colored by Roger Slifer, published by Marvel Comics. The Human Torch arrives, but not at the same size as his comrades or the Micronauts. Unfortunately, Johnny Storm traveled to the Microverse via the Prometheus Pit and has come through as a giant, even when compared to the towering size of the diabolical Psycho-Man. Unfortunately, having a monstrous blazing man on a spaceship is not the best of ideas given the limited availability of oxygen. Oops. One Micronaut falls, shortly followed by another, bringing the body count to three over the past three issues, with Psycho-Man gunning to boost the score. Can the combined might and brains of the Fantastic Four and the Micronauts save the day?!
Young Donist - It also took me a year or two to get this comic as well. <gasp> "Reptos on the cover and they all look right!"And like before...then I opened the book. The art is the same as it has been, but I do like how the Thing is drawn. Words and talking, lots of words and talking, and I was stunned first by Biotron being torn to scrap, but the death of newcomer Jasmine, really bummed me out. I couldn't understand why they killed Bug's girlfriend so soon after her introduction. Plus, she ran around in an orange bikini and was kind of like Red Sonja with a sword AND a laser blaster. She totally ruled! Why do that?! Still, I enjoyed the issue. RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Yeah, nice Golden cover--really nice, actually--but you aren't fooling me this time, Marvel. I know what's coming once I crack the cover open, and...yup, art that does not compare to what came before. The "Best New Series" designation is no longer touted on the cover and the exposition kicks into overdrive. I understand that the story has been playing out over the previous two issues, but, man, some of the "catching up" moments for new readers is pretty brutal. The fact that the first heroes to collapse, because of the Human Torch burning up all of the oxygen on the ship, are the women is kind insulting given that one of the women is the hardened warrior Cilicia, who should be able to withstand less oxygen for longer than most of the male characters in this book--end of nerd rant. Then I get to the Biotron death pages. I see what are clearly magnets popup out of the floor, then Biotron gets stretched out in the next panel, before being torn apart in the third panel. All while this is happening, the word balloons explain exactly what you are seeing. <sheesh> As frustrating as the art and dialogue are in this issue, I will say I'm glad to see Biotron and Microtron alive and back on the team, but the death of Jasmine still bums me out. I liked the notion of having a crew of couples and of the potential contrast Jasmine posed to Command Rann's leadership; plus she was crazy hot. I won't lie to you, denizens, if I did not know the Earth-shattering awesomeness coming down the road for this tremendous series, I would be tempted to drop the book. This one is also barely...RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #18
The Micronauts #18 Written by Bill Mantlo, layouts by Howard Chaykin, finished and edited by Al Milgrom, lettered by I. Watanabe, colored by Bob Sharen, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts are unknowingly back on Earth after narrowly escaping Psycho-Man's evil machinations. Unfortunately, one Micronaut, Jasmine, did not survive the encounter. After a crash landing in a field, the Micronauts hold a burial ceremony for their fallen comrade before Bug heads off for some alone time to reflect on his loss. Stalled while Biotron and Microtron attempt to repair the Endeavor (their ship), Commander Rann, Princess Mari, Acroyear and Cilicia head out to explore their surroundings and come across an odd, yet appropriately-sized mansion. They enter and are surprised to discover the house is populated by dolls their size. But some of the dolls can move.
Young Donist - This issue took me a while to get ahold of as well, and I absolutely hated it once I got a chance to read it. I was annoyed by the art, and sending Bug off on his own--again, mind you--while having my other heroes run around in some little girl's dollhouse really chapped my hide. Yuck! The only thing I liked about this issue is the touching moment shared by Bug and Acroyear...THAT's what friendship is all about. Besides that one page, Young Donist does not vouch for this issue at all.
Current Donist - Now, I have read and reread my The Micronauts comics countless times over the years and because of my negative view on this issue, I usually skimmed it, or all together skipped it. Not this time. I reread from beginning to end and found my tune has drastically changed. First of all, this Golden cover is one of my all-time favorites. I love Rann and Mari's expressions at their terrifying surroundings with the creepy people in the background and the eyes gazing upon them. <brrrrrrr> Couple the beautifully haunting imagery with word balloons and the fantastic coloring that implies moonlight being cast upon the creepy people, and I am so sold on this book. Inside, I'm still bummed about the art and by the fact that the deceased Jasmine is listed as a member of the Micronauts, but whatever. The exposition has eased a bit with this issue and is not so on the nose as to bloody it. The emotional beats are great, especially the page where Acroyear consoles Bug, and it is actually understandable that Bug would retreat to be alone.
The rest of the issue focuses on Rann, Mari, Acroyear, and Cilicia dealing with the odd and scary introduction of the dollhouse and the little girl who creepily controls her toys. This part of the comic reminds me more of a Warren Magazine story than a Marvel one, but I have to say I love it! This is an odd direction to take this issue, but after--sorry to say it--blowing it with issues 13-17, I'm thrilled to see a return to more solid dialogue, and the darker, tighter stories I loved so much in the beginning. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

That's it for now, and I hope to see you next week where I promise you the series takes its original energy and punches it to the max for a long run of phenomenal issues and the introduction of Pat Broderick as artist! Next issue, The Micronauts pick up with a Bug-centered installment that is everything Young Donist could have ever hoped for his favorite character. Spoiler Alert! Current Donist darn-tootin' loves it, too.  Thank you for reading.

While writing this entry, I listened to the George Benson's "The George Benson Cookbook" and also George Benson's "It's Uptown". Check 'em out if you can.


No comments:

Post a Comment