Monday, March 31, 2014

Micronauts Monday 3/31/2014

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! 

I'm not going to lie to you, Donist World denizens. The next eight or so issues are a little rough. As I said last week, Young Donist lost track of his beloved The Micronauts after issue 37 when the book went exclusively to the direct market. What this meant was that the comic book I used to be find on spinner racks at 7-11, K-Mart, or the grocery store (in other words, everywhere) were now only sold in comic book specialty stores, of which I did not know one existed in my town for about a year…hey, I was 12 and the internet didn't even exist yet. I would not see my next issue of this fantastic series until issue 50, and then had to chip away at the back issues box (held behind the counter) for issues 38-49 all while having my eyes opened to the world of MANY other comics outside of Marvel and DC, such as Eclipse, First, Epic, Pacific, and not much later than that...Mirage Studios. Anyhow, I think it was a good thing that I initially missed out on issues 38-49 as at least half of those issues might have scared me away from the series all together. Stick around, though, things get insanely better by around issue 48!

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Micronauts #39 - Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Steve Ditko, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Jim Novak, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. In a failed attempt to warp back to the Microverse, the Micronauts' ship, the Endeavor, mistakenly appears out of the front cover of an issue of none other than The Micronauts #1 at a comic book specialty store. How crazy is that?! Our heroes find themselves assaulted by a cigar-chomping store owner, toys (not living or animated toys, just normal toys) that look like Baron Karza or their current enemy the Force Commander. Meanwhile, back in the Microverse, King Argon denies Huntarr (the menace from the awesome issue 37 starring Nightcrawler) his request to be put to death, as Duchess Belladonna—an elderly, wicked woman—sees her request for a new body approved…unfortunately, that body belongs to former rebel leader Slug. Not only that, Acroyear’s old love, Cilicia, is working with Argon and sends an Acroyear assault team to Earth to capture the Micronauts.
Young Donist - What…the…hell…is…this?! Let me get this straight. You take my favorite comic, move it to something called a “comic specialty store,” leave me with over a year-long absence, and this is your second issue for this move? A fight in a comic book store, when they come out of their own comic book?! Man! Brutal! Ugh..., although I did like seeing Huntarr again for all of three panels. Micronauts versus Acroyears was okay, and I liked the art, but dang…if this wasn't sealed in a bag by Andromeda Book Store (RIP), I would have not picked it up. I would not recommend this issue to anyone.
Current Donist - <sigh> Yeah, I still do not like this issue. Supposedly Steve Ditko was the illustrator, but if you are familiar Ditko's art style, or have read The Micronauts Annual #1 and 2 (which I have not yet talked about), then only a few panels will strike you as being his. I'm not totally certain, but my guess is Ditko did the layouts with Bulanadi providing the finishes, but I will say that I did enjoy the art. It’s just the story that grinds my gears, with the exception on the three pages with King Argon, Huntarr, Belladonna, and Cilicia to spark my interest. Yeah, I still cannot recommend this issue.

The Micronauts #40 Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Gil Kane, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Jim Novak and Albers, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. In this issue, as the cover clearly tells you, The Micronauts meet up once again with the ever-lovin’, blue-eyed Thing! The Endeavor has fallen into a sewer and is sinking fast, as our heroes attempt to save the battle damaged vessel. Bug needlessly endangers his comrades, but directs them to the Baxter Building, home of the Fantastic Four and the chance for a way home. There they meet Franklin Richards, an evil host of antrons (alien bug creatures), and the Thing who would like nothing more than to get back to his nap.
Young Donist - <shaking his head> Why me? If I didn't already know that issue 50 is a fistful of awesome, I might have been done after this issue. It doesn't need a Marvel super guest-appearance (The Thing), and more than that, it doesn't need a freakin’ toddler (Franklin) to be the hero! Plus, talking, lots and lots of talking. The 1.75 pages of King Argon were great and I wanted more of that. Okay, I will admit that the antrons look really cool, but other than those two things…barf. I would not have recommended this issue to anyone.
Current Donist - Is this where my dislike of the “guest-appearance” first began to grow? Possibly. Like the issue before, I do not see the listed artist, Gil Kane, as being the primary artist on this issue. Kane has a very distinct style—just look at the cover—and the art inside is more like the previous issue than the cover. I'm guessing Kane did mostly layouts and Bulanadi finished, but despite who did what, I like the art, especially on Bug, Devil and the antrons. I also wish that Sharen could have done more of his intense coloring like he does on a page of the antrons and on Argon's scientist, Degrayde. The story is filled with exposition, and for a series flagged for specialty stores only, it sure has a lot of ties to the regular Marvel Universe. Wasn't the move so the creators could do more edgy stories? Thank goodness I kind of remember what is coming. I cannot recommend this issue unless you are an obsessive hoarder like me.

The Micronauts #41
The Micronauts #41 - Written by Bill Mantlo, art by Gil Kane and Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Jim Novak and Albers, colored by Bob Sharen and Warfield, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. In this issue…Doom! The Endeavor has fallen into a sewer and is sinking fast, as our heroes attempt to save the battle damaged vessel (yes, the exact same sentence as the previous review, but it happens again). This time they lose and the ship is lost. Thankfully they have their hovering Astrostation to get around. Back on Homeworld in the Microverse, King Argon's madness escalates as he has swapped the minds of the young, strong Slug—to whom he was once engaged—with that of the aged Duchess Belladonna. To make matters worse, he becomes more and more like the deceased Baron Karza, as he is no longer a man, but rather something more, as he has transformed his body into living energy. Lady Slug (in Belladonna's aged body) and the beaten Prince Pharoid begin to plot. Back on Earth, The Micronauts travel to a US bound Castle Doom (Huh?) where they find a miniaturized village, where none other than The Puppet Master is shrunk and held captive by a miniature puppet of Dr. Doom!
Young Donist - COME ON! Give me back the stories I love! Okay, yes, I want to see Acroyear kick Dr. Doom's butt, but this isn't the real Dr. Doom and this bald Puppet Master guy is about as threatening as my eight-year-old cousin. Those gripes aside, the stuff about King Argon becoming energy…can we just see that, please? That is awesome, and that look of vengeance in Slug's eyes is more along the lines of what I wanted. I like most of the art. I would not have recommended this issue to anyone, except my eight-year-old cousin or brother…they totally used to bug me.
Current Donist - Hmmm...okay, I agree with some of my younger self in that the Homeworld based storyline—all five pages of it—is the best part of this book, but I actually like this issue more than I did as a kid. Despite the Doom "guest-appearance" and the use of a regular Marvel Universe villain, this issue creeps back into the Warren Magazine (Creepy, Eerie, etc.) style territory that I love so much. The five pages with King Argon are fascinating and still interest me far more than what is happening on Earth.
It doesn't move the story forward that much, but I did enjoy the House of Wax influence and the creepiness of the village. Again, despite the Kane cover, little in the way of his art is within the actual pages, but this time Kane and Bulanadi are credited as "artists." Young Donist might not have liked this comic, and even though I would have preferred to NOT see Doom in this issue, it regained some of the feel of the book I fell in love with. RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #42
The Micronauts #42 - Written by Bill Mantlo, art by Gil Kane and Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Leferman and Albers, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. In this issue a guest-appearance by…The Wasp! <groan...ahem> Devil is becoming more unhinged, more feral with each passing day. After the death of Fireflyte, the absence of her song has caused the once amiable Micronaut to return to his buried animalistic side. Music does calm the savage beast. We catch up with the story—again—and somehow Bug finds himself psychically linked to none other than Janet Van Dyne (the Wasp), and he rushes off to her rescue placing his teammates in harms way—again. It turns out that one of Hank Pyms old enemies, Dr. Nemesis, has broken in and stolen a miniaturized adamantium suit that can shrink things out of existence…like the Wasp's clothes. Can the Micronauts save the Wasp, and does Dr. Nemesis have the means to return them home, or to destroy them?
Young Donist - <drops the issue on the floor and kicks it under the bed> At least half of the team might be back in the Microverse. I'm going outside to play. I would not have recommended this issue.
Current Donist - Whoa. Young Donist really has nothing more to say about this issue, and I'm pretty sure he only read it once. This book is just whatever. It has more panels that look reminiscent of Kane's work, and some of the action scenes are pretty cool, but this Dr. Nemesis clown didn't stand a chance when he faces the people responsible for taking down a tyrant who threatened not one but two universes. In fact, the only thing at risk in this issue are The Wasp's clothes, which get shrunk out of existence; she spends half of the issue naked but "covered" by strategically placed things like laser blasts, arms, and wings. This issue isn't as bad as 39 and 40, but without a glimpse into what is happening back in the Microverse, I think I'll just flip through it when my next reread pops up in a couple years. I don't recommend this one.

<sigh> There you go. Nothing all that great, on one of my all-time-favorite comic book series. But that's okay, I know what is coming, and trust me, it is going to be mind blowing. Hey, you can't expect to make an omelet without dropping an egg on the floor and having Tulip eat up that egg before you can pick it up…or however the saying goes. Although I did not enjoy these comics as much as I enjoyed most of the previous 37 issues that came before, please understand that they are not bad—#39 comes close—just not as gripping as what came before. Next time, things begin to look up as half of our heroes are back home, but even though half are still trapped on Earth, I'm still excited to see what happens next. Thank you for reading.

While writing this entry, I listened to Tycho's albums "Awake" and "Dive" each of which are perfect for writing or getting into the groove of whatever it is you are doing. I especially like the song titled "Dive."


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