Monday, March 17, 2014

Micronauts Monday, 3/17/2014

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! 

Alrighty, denizens, the three keys of the Enigma Force are in the Micronaut's hands, but Prince Argon is beginning to show signs of drunk-with-poweritis, as the demons and Dr. Strange become involved in the happenings of the Microverse. As I have said in the past couple of posts, I remember issue 35 as being a pretty big deal, and it was an issue Young Donist read until it fell apart—I bought a replacement copy years later. So, without further ado, on with The Micronauts show.

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Micronauts #34
The Micronauts #34 Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Pat Broderick, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by D. Albers, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Tom De Falco, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts have done it! Commander Rann, Princess Mari, Bug, Microtron and Pharoid have secured the first and second keys to the Enigma Force, and Acroyear and his new friends, Devil and Fireflyte, have the third. All that is left is for the two groups to meet in Prince Pharoids land of Aegypta and to avert "the time of great distress." It should have been easy. Unfortunately, King Argon (the Force Commander) has gone mad with power to the point of comparison to one Baron Karza. The Micronauts are imprisoned and the three keys taken. Thankfully, a certain "traitor" has a crisis of conscience and looks to set things right.
Young Donist - *yawn* Talking. Talking. More Talking. This is not to say that my young eyes thought this issue was bad, it was just that quite a bit of internal politics and junk were being worked out, while I was wanting to see some action with the keys, the demons, Dr. Strange, Argon, and the Micronauts. Still, there are a few thrilling parts where my favorite heroes wail on some dog soldiers, and my previously low estimate of Devil's worth skyrocketed as he shreds the bejesus out of some bad guys off panel—all I needed was Rann and Mari's shock and horror over Devil's savagery to bring a smile to my face. One thing for certain is that I was plenty mad at King Argon for turning into Mr. Jerky McJerkface, and seeing Commander Rann hand him his ass gave me quite a sense of vindication. "Punch him, Commander Rann! Punch him in his stupid face!" RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - King Argon. What...a...grade-A...a_hole. What is with this idiots once they start to get a little power? Did Argon watch the first two seasons of House of Cards, and decide that's the way the game is won? Ugh, I'm glad the Commander socked him up. Plus, no one should be allowed to kick it in orange loungewear with purple accessories as far as I'm concerned, that right there is cause enough for attempting to depose a tyranical, power-mad jackface. Respect! Anyhow, wardrobe malfunctions aside...yeah, a lot of talking in this issue, but now that I am older, I did not mind. I found the unfolding dramatic events incredibly well-played and actually brought some needed structure after the somewhat bizarre—yet still very much worth reading—events of the past few issues.
Broderick's art is fantastic as always, which really bums me out as this is his final issue of the series after some "creative differences" sent him packing to DC Comics where the artist worked on a handful of series that I also enjoyed in the '80s: Firestorm, Captain Atom, Lords of the Ultra-Realm. Art and story make this issue a fantastic read as relationships and friendships dissolve and the grounds for a new evil force sets to erradicate the hard-won peace recently established in the Microverse. Yes, the action in this issue was minimal, but what action there is left me cheering my heroes along. "By Jove, Commander Rann! What a jolly good right hook you have there, I must say. Excellent donnybrook, old boy. <ahem> Punch Argon in his stupid face!!!" HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #35
The Micronauts #35Written by Bill Mantlo, layouts by Val Mayerick, finished and inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Joe Rosen, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Tom De Falco, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts have been branded traitors to Homeworld by none other than their former colleague, King Argon the Force Commander. This is especially a blow to Princess Mari, Argon's Sister, and to Slug, Argon's wife-to-be. As the Micronauts flee Argon's dog soldier forces in an effort to reach Deadzone with the three keys to the Enigma Force, our heroes' time is running out as the impending darkness is upon them. Demons surround the tomb of Wayfinder the one who created the Microverse with the aid of a star sword, and who became the first Time Traveler. The history of Microverse is revealed as the Micronauts face off against Argon's newly created Death Squad, and as Argon attempts to strike a bargain with the whirling chaos demons who want to eradicate all semblance of humanity from both our world and the Microverse. Can Commander Rann, with the help of Dr. Strange and Fireflyte, make it to Wayfinder's tomb to save the day?!
Young Donist - Game over. Mind blown. I loved this issue. Not only is this issue double-sized, but all the action that was missing last month is crammed into this here comic. Heck, I did not care that a whole $.75 of my $2.00 allowance would be eaten up on one comic (oh how I weep for the days where even a child could afford to buy comic books <sob>), it was worth it. I believe I picked this issue up at K-Mart—how often did I go there back in the day?—and I read it over and over until the cover eventually fell off. To me, this issue was every bit as good as the phenomenal issues 11 and 28, and seeing the Micronauts take on a team of anti-Micronauts left me giddy to see more; I especially loved Bug's enemy, Lobros, who was gross and all sorts of awesome. The first page splash of King Argon wearing a now jet-black Force Commander armor made my jaw drop and left me wishing for an all-black update to the Micronaut toy. On the other hand, I was deeply confused by Devil's fur being a purplish shade that I assumed was black on the cover, which left me scratching my head. Heroes, monsters, Dr. Strange, Force Commander in black armor, the Death Squad, the history of the Microverse, this issue rocked my socks off. Well, if you love it so much, Young Donist, then why don't you marry it? I would have, denizens, but as I said, my allowance was only $2.00, and after buying this issue, $1.25 was not enough to support an 11-year-old and the love-of-his-life comic book. True story of economic hardships, denizens. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - First off, I still love this issue as an adult, but does it live up to the awesomeness of issues 11 and 28? Young Donist would say yes without hesitation, but Current Donist would have to say close, but not quite. Part of me is annoyed by the fact that Pat Broderick was allegedly (but most likely as so many other creators were) treated so poorly by editorial at Marvel that he had to quit and go to DC. Did these overlords—one in particular—not look at the past 16 gorgeous issues that Broderick worked on? Grrrrr... Not only that, a few of the pages towards the front appear to have been illustrated by Broderick and are uncredited, which really chaps my hide. <sigh> Let's move past the book's loss of one of my comic art heroes and get on with this issue..
This book is an exciting finish to the quest for the keys to the Enigma Force, although I would have liked to have seen another issue or two before this one to extend out the anticipation and raise the stakes a little more. As it stood, with last issue's revelation of King Argon's power madness and treachery, it would have been cool to bring him into conflict with Dr. Strange, or for all the Micronauts to have a run-in with the demons, but what we do get is pretty tremendous, even if it doesn't quite reach the heights of those exalted issues 11 and 28. The fight scenes are spectacular and the lead up is tense, but where I remembered this as the closing chapter of a grand storyline, it is actually the lead-in to something much bigger as Argon steps up to fill Baron Karza's recently vacated shoes—you know, those stylish thigh-high jobbers he used to wear. The thing that most hurts this book is the inconsistent quality of the art, but even that can't prevent me from giving this issue a rating of VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #36
The Micronauts #36Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Keith Giffen, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Jean Simek, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Tom De Falco, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts are back on Earth for some reason—let's not worry about that detail as we are not really told how or why—and they are pursued by King Argon's newly reformed Death Squad. Unfortunately, the Microverse starships happen to appear at an elementary school, where school is in session, much to the horror of the students and teachers. It's the Micronauts versus the Death Squad (again), only this time their foes' ranks have grown.
Young Donist - Heck...YEAH! Boy howdy did I love last issue's battle with these Death Squad guys, but in no way did I expect them to appear in the very next issue. It blew me away to see the new villainous members of Antron, Repto (who still kicks Antron's a$$...sorry Brother Of the Donist, Jeff), and Galactic Destroyer. I also liked that the battle was waged at a school, and I would spend the next few months at Vieja Valley Elementary School imagining the Micronauts waging battle in my classroom as I learned the joys of fractions and decimals. I was also happy to see that the art received a sizable kick in the pants over last issue as well. This issue ruled. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Okay, how the heck did they make it back to Earth so easily? It's not like you can hop on the downtown 11 bus and get off in another universe; it's supposed to be a big deal. Whatever, pushing that bit aside, this was another exciting issue that I can safely call fun, which is odd after how serious the book has been for so long. Luckily, the fun factor of this issue does not detract from the story, and actually increases my interest in seeing what happens next, especially since I know who the guest star will be next issue.
Although Broderick will sadly not return to this series, the quality of art that I expect on this title returns with the addition of Keith Giffen, whose art style is perfect for this book. His phenomenal storytelling and his spot-on designs make this story all the more enjoyable as we watch our heroes work like a team to beat impossible odds. I enjoyed rereading this issue every bit as much as I did as a kid. That said, has a child faced with impending doom from a microscopic universe ever exclaimed the words "Sockamagee" or "Hominna-hominna-hominna?" I'm not sure, but enquiring minds really want to know. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

After rereading issue 35, I'm not sure I can count it up there with issues 11 and 28, but it is darn near close to being as great...maybe if Broderick had illustrated the entire issue my thoughts would change would change. Still, these three issues are simply wonderful.
Up next, we see a guest-appearance by Nightcrawler—which, spoiler alert, Young Donist loved—followed by news that would break Young Donist's heart for months on end, until the day he learned of the mystical land known as the LCS.

While writing this entry, I listened to Bonobo's albums "Dial 'M' For Monkey" and the awesome "Black Sands," each of which are perfect for writing, studying, or playing during dinner. Great music.


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