Monday, March 10, 2014

Micronauts Monday, 3/10/2014

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! 

Two weeks ago, we looked at the phenomenal The Micronauts #28, which witnessed the defeat of Baron Karza. It was a brutally hard-won victory that saw the Enigma Force, that which separates the Microverse from our our own, being forced into hiding as a new doom rises to plague the Microverse. Commander Rann has sparse memories of three keys that will free the Enigma Force from seclusion and hopefully fight back the coming darkness that has also happened to catch the attention of one Dr. Strange.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Micronauts #31
The Micronauts #31 Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Pat Broderick, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Joe Rosen, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Louise Jones, published by Marvel Comics. Dr. Strange has taken possession of the strange obelisk found in the dessert. Through sorcerous means, Strange discovers that untold ages ago, a group of individuals whose powers mimicked that of the Hindu gods, fought a loosing battle against a horde of demons. Only through the use of a magical sword and a blind mystic named Wayfinder did the city survive as it was moved from Earth to the newly created Microverse. Unfortunately, the darkness of that time is rising once again. Meanwhile, Bug, Pharoid, and Lady Coral are futiley fighting back the tide of leviathans descending upon Seazone, but what they fail to realize is that the monstrous creatures are commanded by Lady Coral's long-lost brother, Aquon, who is now an orange-skinned mer-human and possessor of one of the keys to the Enigma Force. As seaquakes ravage the city, Lady Coral has to decide between death in the rubble of the floating city, or Aquon's new proposed way of life. While this transpires,  Rann and Mari plead their case for the first of the three keys to stave off the doom heading Homeworld's way.
Young Donist - Whoa boy. There sure was a lot of talking in this issue. First Dr. Strange—who I was happy to see—talked, then some new and freaking awesome characters talked, half of the Micronauts talked, then the other half of the Micronauts talked, Lady Coral and Aquon talked, some cool monsters appeared between word captions, and in the grand finale...everyone talked to each other as captions explained what was happening. This wasn't an issue that 10-year-old Donist necessarily read. More accurately, I flipped through it, enjoying Broderick's stunning visuals of the really cool mer-humans and the leviathans. I also took plenty of time to wonder why Mari and Rann had respective red and blue fish bodies, when Aquon temporarily transformed them into mer-humans; shouldn't they have orange skin, too? Huh, best not to think about it. What I liked most about this issue—aside from the cool double page spread of Aquon leaping from the water with the key—was the introduction of Wayfinder and his group, who looked so freaking cool; I hoped I would see more of them. As much as I thought this issue looked great, I was kind of disappointed by all the talking, but I loved seeing my heroes turn into mer-humans, and there was no way I would skip seeing what was coming for the quest for the next key. RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Whoa, Nellie. There is just as much talking in this issue as I remembered from way back when, but because it's been over three decades since I bought this issue, I've come to appreciate Mantlo's narrative much more; I tend to be a wordy bastard myself. At a that young age, I just wasn't ready to deal with lost relationships, "change or die" situations, hurt feelings, or someone being stubbornly stuck in their ways (Lady Coral and Aquon's father). Now I (un)fortunately understand all those things, and this issue resonates much more with me. I don't need Mari to blast a mer-human with a laser gun, or bug to punch a mutated whale. That kind of stuff is for the other more run-of-the-mill comics from this time The Micronauts does not have to go along with the status quo, instead it can be as weird and epic as it needs to be without a single blow being struck.
Speaking of "epic," that is exactly what Broderick's art is in this issue. Every panel of the Micronauts riding along Oceania's surface is magical. Broderick draws strange fish and water with majestic grace and the page 22 and 23 double page spread of Aquon leaping from the water is pure beauty. His character designs of Wayfinder and his group still makes me wish for a separate comic, or at the very least a mini-series detailing their exploits...heck, what I wouldn't give to see a Dr. Strange comic from Broderick as well; his depiction of Strange is something to behold.
So, one key down and I am definitely more on board with this tale and the manner in which it is being told than I ever was as a kid. Storywise, this issue is a cool new direction with this short tale that allowed the creators to dig into the weird side of sci-fi, while maintaining a link to the Marvel Universe proper. I also like that we are now off of Earth and back in the Microverse, where we can get a more detailed look at Mantlo's world, much in the vein of the "Tales of the Microverse" backups I loved so much. All I can say after this issue is bring on the search for the keys! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #32
The Micronauts #32 Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Pat Broderick, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Simek, colored by Warfield, edited by Louise Jones and Tom Defalco, published by Marvel Comics. We now venture to the frozen lands of Subzero Zone, where we find Prince Peacock of the ice city Polaria. The cold-hearted man hunts the snowbear, a massive creature with a strange golden glyph on its chest. When Peacock wounds the bear with an arrow, he catches a glimpse of an emerald being of immense power and he is frozen where he stands...until the Micronauts rescue him. They learn that Peacock hunts the bear because of a legend that states he who slays the snowbear will lose that which they hold most dear, but they will save the dying city of Polaria in return. But Peacock is sadly mistaken about that which is most important to him. Unknown to the Micronauts, a spy operates amidst their rank, and the one who commands him will shock you. Meanwhile, Acroyear pursues the comet that was present at the time of his birth through space to see what it foretells for his life.
Young Donist - Yeah, I didn't really like this issue. Prince Peacock was just some longhaired stranger who wore purple, skied and had a mad-on for a bear that looked like...well, a bear with a key on its chest. Big whoopie doo. I liked the scene of Bug getting snatched up by the bat, but the reveal of the spy kind of bummed me out, as I was hoping to see much more of the character working with the team. Still, despite my lack of interest in the story, some of the art continued to blow my mind, but something seemed to be a bit off on some of the panels. This issue was pretty, but nowhere near as pretty as last issue. Young Donist would barely call this RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Like last issue, I enjoyed reading this installment more than I did as a kid, but it is still not one of my favorites. I appreciate the done-in-one nature of this tale that is reminiscent of something that would appear in a Warren Magazine-type story, but still wanted more from the team of heroes I am most interested in following. The Micronauts are mostly bystanders this issue, which is fine as they still acquired the second key to the Enigma Force, but I would have preferred seeing at least one or two of the characters taking an active roll in acquiring the key. As it stands, it was a "Oh, bummers, bro. What you did sucks. We'll be taking that key, though. Best of luck. Toodles," situation.
After reading this issue, I think Mantlo is going for a change is necessary vibe. For example, last issue saw seaquakes destroying Seazone city, resulting in the inhabitants either dying or becoming mer-humans. This issue said that the increasing heat of the suns would melt Polaria, requiring the inhabitants to either die or thaw their cold hearts and move on. I'm not quite sure. Or, Mantlo predicted climate change for the Earth and applied that knowledge to Homeworld, which is kind of terrifying.
The art does seem a little off here, not sure what it is, but there are no really glorious moments as there were last issue. I also know Broderick's days on this book are numbered after supposedly being told that his art "sucks" by Jim Shooter, prompting the immensely talented artist to quit and move to DC. I can only imagine how being so gravely insulted by editorial would put a damper on one's drive to give a book their all. Regardless, this is still a solid issue and an interesting experiment for the story. RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #34
The Micronauts #33 Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Pat Broderick, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Simek, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Louise Jones and Tom Defalco, published by Marvel Comics. Aside from appearing on a single page of issues 31 and 32, Acroyear has been all but missing from the pages of The Micronauts, and this is after he saved both the Microverse and Earth from the evil clutches of Baron Karza. Now after his people have literally branded him a traitor, Acroyear chases down the Herald Comet, a force of nature that appeared at his time of birth, and one that he hopes will foretell the next course of action for his life. When the comet explodes in front of him, Acroyear crash lands on the Homeworld sphere of Tropica. He finds himself completely blind, and amidst the humidity of the jungle, he hears the heavy breathing and growls of a creature circling him. As he prepares to go down fighting, it is a mysterious, beautiful song that will give him guidance and introduce the former King of Spartak to a couple new Micronauts.
Young Donist - What the heck is going on? I remember seeing this issue at K-Mart, flipping through it and I think I chose something else instead. I was happy to see Acroyear was back, but I wanted the new character, Devil, to look cooler; I would grow to love this character later in the series. My brother loved this issue and Devil, and he might have been the one who ultimately bought it, or else it was me at some later date...I can't remember. After the past couple issues and this one, I was hoping for more spectacle and high levels of action, but they weren't coming. I did like some of Acroyear and Devil's fight, as well as the appearance of the Time Traveler who delivers the final key. Oh and Fireflyte is all sorts of pretty. At this point, I was hoping to see things pick up the pace...oh ye of little faith. Barely RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Yeah, this one reads much better as an adult as well. Broderick's art is also stronger on this issue than the last, but some of Devil's proportions change over the course of a couple panels. Still, it's a hella beautiful book to look at. Mantlo's story originally boggled my young mind, and it is still kind of out there as Devil and Fireflyte explain to Acroyear about the Devil (like Acroyear's people are called Acroyears, Devil's people are all called Devils) games brought to them by a mysterious wanderer (spoiler alert...Time Traveler). Basically, the Devils were a happy people, who were promised they could be even happier if they win at a shell game. The Devils play the game because they of course want to be happier, but then again that is the last thing they want, because if they become the happiest Devil, then they will be happier than their neighbors, which would make them sad, despite their happiness, which...AAAAARRRRRRGGGHHHH! I'm going into a happiness-hole...abort...ABORT! <phew> Anyhow, the story is kind of outer limits, and I love it because of that. Again, we have a Warren Magazine feel, and the story plays so much better to me as an adult. I'm also confused by the message where the last two issues encouraged adapting to change, while this basically says go back to the way you used to be. Huh? Anyhow, I like Devil a lot more in his introduction than I did as a kid and Fireflyte is great as well. I'm glad to see Acroyear will be rejoining the team, along with Devil and Fireflyte, and now that the third key is in hand, we are but two issues away from the amazing issue# 35. I'm excited, and it is sure to be a doozy. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Hey, I will be the first to admit that these issues are a huge change in how the story is being told, and although they did not resonate with me as Young Donist, Current Donist enjoyed them quite a bit. Sure that snowbear issue was not the best, but that does not mean it was not good; it was. Next week, though, we continue the quest for the Enigma Force which wraps up in issue number 35 for what will join the ranks of issue 11 and 28 as one of the best The Micronauts issues of all time. I'm excited to get to it. Thank you for reading.

While writing this entry, I listened to the OST for "Moon" by Clint Mansell, which reminds me that I desperately need to re-watch that staggeringly amazing sci-fi movie on blu-ray.


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