Monday, March 24, 2014

Micronauts Monday, 3/24/2014

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! 

As I mentioned last week, The Micronauts #37 was an awesome comic that brought Young Donist much joy, but following that joy was a rather big somethin'-somethin' in the letters column that at first confused and then worried me; I had good reason to worry. I'll get into what happened as we look at issue #37 below, just know that this was the precursor to the current state of the comic book climate we have today. With that said, let's take Young Donist's heart and crush the shizzle out of that sucker!

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Micronauts #37
The Micronauts #37Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Keith Giffen and Greg Laroque, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Jim Novak, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Tom De Falco, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts are once again stranded on Earth, with their spaceship, The Endeavor, in much need of repairs. After decidedly defeating the Death Squad a second time, our heroes are now pursued by King Argon's latest horror Huntarr, the living weapon. Little do the Micronauts know that they will be confronting this new enemy on the grounds of Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, where they will find themselves trapped in a most dangerous room. Thankfully, they will have an ally in the X-Man known as Nightcrawler to aid them in their fight against Huntarr, but even Nightcrawler's life will be at stake when the Danger Room goes on a rampage.
Young Donist - This issue had everything I could ever want. Back then, Nightcrawler was my favorite X-Man, although the release of the Wolverine limited series right around this time brought that character up considerably in my mind. Not only that, there's a brief appearance by the rest of the X-Men, a wicked new adversary, the Danger Room, the Micronauts working as a team against impossible odds...criminy, I'm getting all worked up just thinking about how much I loved this darn comic book! Little did I know that this Huntarr character, who for a blobby, orange, blue-eyed lump of a monster in stylish metal boots would later return to take on a HUGE roll in the series, but you'll have to wait find out more about that. Not only did I love this story, but the art blew my mind as well. I was so thoroughly pumped for the next issue that I could not contain my excitement...then with a "Special Announcement" in the Micromails letter column, my excitement popped like a balloon. Here is what it said:
Next issue (#38) The Micronauts go to a full 32 pages--no ads--for $.75. The only drawback will be available only through subscription or at selected retail outlets (in other words, at comic specialty stores.) for a list of these outlets contact Mike Friedrich Circulation Department Marvel Comics 575 Madison Ave. New York, N.Y. 10022
Wait a minute. What? What is a "comic specialty store?" What is a "retail outlet?" For that matter, what the hell is a stupid #$%^ing "subscription?!" ARRRGH! I'm only 11-years old. How am I supposed to know about these things? Anyhow, I crossed my fingers and prayed that our neighborhood Alberstons grocery store, or K-Mart, or 7-11 qualified as one of those things. Unfortunately, none of those outlets were, and I would soon see ALL comic books vanish from those places as well. I like to call the period following this fantastic issue the Comic Book Dark Ages, or the Winter of Comic Book Despair. I would not find out about the glory, the heavenly greatness, the dream-fulfilling beauty of my local comic shop until about a year and a half later. The next issue of The Micronauts that I would find would be issue #50, and I was left to fill the gaps by harassing the poor Andromeda Bookstore workers two or three times a week as I drooled over vast the sea of beautiful back issues before me. Ahhh, Andromeda very important to Young Donist and so fondly remembered, but I digress. This issue—not counting the @#$%ing "Special Announcement"—was freaking VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Wow, what a difference a couple decades makes. The advent of them there interwebbies unleashed the knowledge of where to find comics and ensured that if I miss a book, I can get a hold of it in fairly quick order. But let's look at issue 37. When I cracked open this issue, I expected it to not hold up to the test of time. I am so happy to say that I was oh so wrong. This issue is every bit as great and fun as I remembered. The intro art of the X-Men removing scrap from yet another Danger Room mishap—don't they ever learn? It should be called the Impending Death Room for cripes sake!—is staggeringly gorgeous, but the single page that seals the deal for me is that splash of Huntarr. Holy guacamole! He is gross. He is menacing. He is awesome. I am in love, denizens. Mantlo also has me sympathize with what was once Iann-23, right before the powerless man gets permanently mutated. That one moment of Iann-23 smacking Argon in the face—Agron seems to get punched in the face quite often; I'm not complaining—is so inspiring and brave despite the futility of the gesture, that even when I was young, I knew there was something more to the deadly monster known as Huntarr; I cannot wait to see his return. The rest of the issue is filled with great dialogue and intense action that had me blazing through the pages until the end where that damn "Special Announcement" causes me to wince to this day. Dang, denizens, this issue is right up there with the best of the best (issues 11, 28, 35). With comics like this, it's no wonder I became the fan I am today. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #38
The Micronauts #38 - Part one written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by John Garcia, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Jim Novak, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Tom De Falco. Part two written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Gil Kane, colored by Christie Scheele, lettered by Diana Albers, edited by Al Milgrom. Both published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts are back—and unfortunately sold only in the direct market at the time—and we get two filler stories as the diminutive yet valiant heroes take time to remember the past that led them to where they are today. First up is Commander Rann's tale of his time over 1000 years ago, when he was a young lad under Baron Karza's tutelage, when he first began to suspect that something was dreadfully wrong. Next up is a new "Tales From the Microverse" where Bug tells of his capture at the hands of his homeworld Kaliklak's conquerors, and of his daring escape and fateful first meeting of his friend Acroyear.
Young Donist - Although it took over a year and a half to pick up The Micronauts with issue #50, it would be about a year after that before I saved enough money to chip away at the back catalog of missing issues. The first half of the book left me thrilled by Garcia's art and seeing Commander Rann's earlier days, as well as a younger-yet-equally-devious Karza, had me cheering. The second story's focus on Bug also made me glad I picked up the missing back issue, yet at the same time I was not overly happy with Kane's art. The story, however, answered many of my questions about Bug and Acroyear's first meeting; I was more than willing to look past the art that I did not yet understand. Yes, this is a filler issue, something I usually hate, but given a chance to meaningfully expand the history of my favorite characters for my favorite comic is something I will never complain about. This issue was a blast. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Yeah, I am not a fan of filler issues, but experiencing key moments of these characters' past is thoroughly rewarding with this issue. I'm not sure what happened to Giffen—maybe he got chased out of Marvel, too—but Garcia kills it with an art style tailor-made for the book. His depiction of the space-gliders-in-training sequences are killer, and I'm left wishing I had a glider suit to cruise around in myself. The story is awesome, and although I would be mighty apprehensive about things if two attempts on my life were made in a 24-hour period, I put aside disbelief and just glided like the wind through this cool story.
The "Tales of the Microverse" feature was equally as enjoyable, and I am infinitely more appreciative of Kane's illustration on this title now that I am an adult. The style is different than what I am used to seeing, but his storytelling skills are fantastic and I love love love the designs of the ships and the surroundings. Seeing Bug and Acroyear's first time meeting still lifts my heart and makes me cheer.
Current Donist is generally leery of filler issues, but this one is a prime example of a filler issue done right, as it fills in back story and gives us a chance to take a breath before the insanity that is to come. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

There you have it. A shorter reading week, but I was on a brief vacation and toting the ol' omnibus around is not something I wanted to do, not just because of its bulky weight, but mostly because I did not want any damage to come to my prized book. Anyhow, my recollection of the next couple of issues is a little fuzzy, so next time I'll be coming into the story somewhat new. I'm sure it will all come rushing back once I crack into each exciting new chapter. Thanks for joining, and see you next time!

While writing this entry, I listened to Washed Out's albums "Within and Without" and "Paracosm" each of which are simply beautiful. Give each a listen and you'll see just how ethereal and uplifting these songs are and how they are perfect to write, study, or just plain chill to.


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