Monday, April 28, 2014

Micronauts Monday 4/28/2014

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! 

Sweet Christmas! Last week’s look at issue 50 got me completely pumped for this series, but also, snuck in with the excitement, joy, shock, and horror, was a feeling of dread…we’re rapidly approaching the end of volume one with issue 59. Crud cakes, denizens, I don’t want it to end. Especially not after the insanely great past few issues, but I can at least take solace in the fact that there are eight issues remaining from where we left off last week, and spoiler alert!…the three we look at today are great. But don’t despair. Once we reach the end of volume one, we still have a couple annuals <groan…oh no>, X-Men and the Micronauts, and Micronauts the New Voyages to look at. We’ll get to those in time, but for now…

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Micronauts #52
The Micronauts # 52 - Written by Bill Mantlo, penciled by Butch Guice, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Janice Chiang, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Ralph Macchio, published by Marvel Comics. Baron Karza lives once again, and he will not suffer rebellion in any of the spheres of his realm. First on his hit list…Waterworld. Meanwhile, the Micronauts have been captured by the star-wandering Acroyears. To save their lives and achieve his friends’ freedom, Acroyear must meet his former love, Cilicia, in mortal combat. Unfortunately for Acroyear, he no longer has his nigh-invulnerable armor, and Cilicia is all about cutting down the man she views as a traitor to their race. The Micronauts learn a secret, and Commander Rann is taught a lesson by the Time Travelers, who still refuse to offer aid against the universe-imperiling threat that is Baron Karza.

Young Donist - Okay, I had seen Baron Karza do some heinous stuff throughout my favorite series, but what he does to the mer-people of Waterworld?!?! Criminy. Seeing genocide played out panel-by-panel, page-by-page was horrifying. Even Karza’s chief scientist, the brutal Degrayde, was shocked by what took place. As cool as Karza looks, I was more than hoping to someday see Lady Coral, the only Waterworld survivor—remember, she was the only one who chose to remain human—take up the trident and at least foil Karza’s plans in a coming issue. <brrrrrrr and grrrrrrr> To further traumatize my 12-year-old mind, we have Acroyear and Cilicia meeting in combat to the death, when one is just wrong about their assumptions of what happened to Spartak (the former Acroyear world) and the other would never harm the person he loved. The whole situation was just so messed up.

This issue also had a ton of words, which usually intimidated me, but with this issue I began to understand more about drama and pacing, and that all of the words were not necessarily an exposition bomb, but had something meaningful to contribute to what was happening; I didn’t skip a word of this issue. Those final three panels on the final page made me sad for my favorite heroes, but despite the downer feeling I had, I often returned to this issue over the years to watch a beautifully choreographed battle between two characters I adored. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Current Donist - I’m going to start with a negative here. Why was/is it a “thing” to depict a key turn, a spoiler, on the cover of the book you are reading? I hated DC’s fairly-recent “WTF” month where they flat out spoiled the surprise of the issue. Ugh. The Micronauts #51 showed a battle between Acroyear and Cilicia, yet they only got around to preparing for a battle in the actual issue. This issue shows Cilicia with her stomach bared with sparklies coming out of it, as Acroyear looms shocked in the background. What is someone with half a brain supposed to gather from this? Oh whoa, Cilicia’s pregnant! That is indeed a cool twist, and one that ultimately loses its impact when you actually reach that intense moment on page 24. Why do this, denizens? Why?! <sob> Okay, griping aside, and the fact that the cover for issue 51 should have been the cover for 52, and the cover for 52 left as a pinup at the end, let’s focus on how tremendous an issue this actually is.

The cover, although unnecessarily spoilerish, is gorgeous. I love the look on Acroyear’s face, the sadness and shame of Cilicia’s body languange, the predominantly monochromatic red scheme, and the wonderful highlights on Acroyear’s face; it’s a beautiful cover. The interiors, though…man, oh man. This issue may as well be a Guice showcase titled “How To Create a Sequential Masterpiece by Butch Guice.” From the 50%/50% vertical split page (half roll call, half Karza looming in the sky above Waterworld) on page one,  through the beautifully choreographed fight scene, to the final page that maintains the emotional punch it did three decades ago, every panel is stunning. *I need to see if I can find any images of the original black and white art for this issue on the web*

Despite wanting to see this issue as only the original art, this is not to say that the lettered dialogue and captions are not worthy of greatness; there is nothing further from the truth. A few of the past issues throughout the series really beat the reader up with the exposition, but not here. Yes, there are tons of words on the page, but Chiang’s lettering keeps it all “hidden,” and every word balloon and caption box enhances the wonderful story. The entire issue plays clearly in my mind as if I were watching a cinematic movie. Young Donist loved this issue even though there was no grand battle between the heroes and villains. Current Donist loves this issue because of this fact, and calls #52 a triumph. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts # 53 - Written by Bill Mantlo, penciled by Butch Guice, inked by Butch Guice (?), lettered by Janice Chiang, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Ralph Macchio, published by Marvel Comics. Having gained the understanding of his people, Acroyear receives new armor and his “traitor” mark stricken, but Cilicia will not reign by his side. Instead the Acroyear people will await the birth of the their child before they have a new ruler; they will also not partake in any move against Baron Karza. The Micronauts then decide it is time to bolster the ranks of the rebellion and head to Prisonworld, where they find the less-than-lawful inhabitants have taken to a certain stray, genre-specific broadcast from a planet called Earth.

Young Donist - I had no idea what I was looking at on the cover, but I liked it. The Micronauts as mobsters seemed like an odd direction to go, but I loved the costume designs enough to be fully onboard—so long as it was for only an issue or two. Seeing Acroyear get his armor back had me muttering a prolonged “Yesssssssss!” I also dug the confrontation with the entranced Commander Rann and Fireflyte, and finally accepted his beard and his belief that gaining the aid of the Enigma Force is the way to go.

I will say that after the emotional one-two punch of the previous issue, I was relieved to get down to a slightly more light-hearted story; complete with violence, mayhem, and death. In truth, this issue was fun and faithful to the story I hold dear. The cliffhanger of the G-Men villains left me amped for the next issue. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Current Donist -  Now this cover is more like it. Nothing spoiled, but you are given a glimpse into what you can expect with this issue. I love the darks in the background and the spotlight on my heroes successfully gives the impression that this is a crime/noir story. I also suspect that seeing Mari with the garter and the heavy eye makeup rewired something in my young mind that now makes me partial to…let’s just completely bury that thought while I still can. <phew> Anyhow, I still adore this story. Even though it is sort of a break from the main conflict, it is a welcome diversion as it seems that the creators had a heck of a good time putting the book together. The dialogue, although silly in parts, made me smile, and seeing the Micronauts wail on their foes was awesome. Again, there were tons of word balloons and captions, but it did not pull me out of the story at all.

The art in issue 52 looks different from issue 51, and 53 looks different from 52. I'm not sure what it is, as Guice pencilled and inked both 52 and 53, but it is the style that is slightly different. This is not a negative, I’m merely pointing out that something has changed, the book still looks as fantastic as ever. The only thing that stands out—and I noticed this as a kid—is that Bug’s antennae have tripled in size and look kind of doughy. Not sure what this is about, but it’s fine. The various designs of the alien prisoners are insanely cool, and the mobster costuming is great. Man, this was fun. Also…Huntarr is my BOY!!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #54
The Micronauts # 54 - Written by Bill Mantlo, penciled by Butch Guice, inked by Kelly Jones, lettered by Janice Chiang, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Ralph Macchio, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts are on Prisonworld attempting to plant the seeds of rebellion, but now they face off against Karza’s inhuman G-Men, monstrosities created for only one purpose: death. Between the G-Men and a squadron of dog soldiers, the Micronauts take down plenty of adversaries, but they are eventually overcome. Thrown into the prison system, they receive an unfair trial and are sentenced to death. With their lives on the line, what role will the inmate known only as “Murder-1” play when it comes time to flip the switch?

Young Donist - Okay, this cover freaked me out. Mari front and center with a look of fear on her face as the rest of her team lies at her feet? <brrrrr> Not to mention the blood red background and the shadowy figure with their hand on the switch…I dove into this issue like a wild cat. My first reaction was “Hey! Why doesn’t Huntarr get featured on the roll call? That’s not cool." What was cool, however, was launching into the action and seeing the fight between the Micronauts and the G-Men. I loved that some lost, some won, but in the end there were just too many dog soldiers running around. Mari whupping ass is an awesome high point at the beginning, but that blow she takes to the head made me shudder. Once in the prison, I loved loved loved the page where Acroyear keeps tapping the green froggy fella on shoulder until the point the creep turns around and Acroyear clobbers him; too funny. I also liked the idea of Murder-1, but I didn’t like his gross, lumpy-headed character design, but even that was not enough lower my estimation of this great issue. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Current Donist - Yup, I’m still loving this two-part storyline quite a bit. Again, the style is different with this issue, but this time, it is the addition of new inker—and future Micronauts artistKelly Jones to the mix. Like I said on issue 53, this is not a negative, as this is yet another gorgeous issue, it is just a noticeable change and something that should be pointed out. Seeing Mari pummel the bejesus out of…well, everyone…still has me crushing somethin’ fierce on her, but overall there’s not much more for me to say about this this beautifully illustrated, superbly-written finale to this two-part storyline. As much as I loved this issue, the back cover foretells “Huntarr Hunts alone!” and I could not be more excited to read it. That said, the conclusion to the Prisonworld storyline is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Oh crud. Only five issues left in the first volume, and I already have a major case of the sads setting in. But let’s ignore that feeling, denizens, let’s keep focusing on the awesome times we had and the promise of the “Huntarr Hunts Alone!” story in the next issue, that I distinctly remember as having messed me up for a while as a kid—by “messed up,” I mean it was dark, gnarly, but crazy good. Thank you so much for reading, and leave me a comment if you have a moment, as I would love to hear about YOUR favorite issues, artists, characters, experiences with this phenomenal series.

While writing this entry, I listened to Spotify’s prebuilt station titled “Intense Studying,” which consists of all classical tracks and the ultimate in wordless background music that is perfect for…well…studying, or writing, or creating. There are also some fantastic soundtrack compositions from both Amelie and The Piano included in the mix, so check it out.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 4/25/2014

(Sung to the tune of ABBA’s “Waterloo”)

My my, that Lazarus book, by Rucka and Lark’s a treasure
Oh yeah, predicting our world’s destiny in quite a terrible way

It’s one of the best on the shelf
Read it, you owe it to yourself

Scary, but it is still great for us
Promise to love it because I must

Predicting a world I do not trust
Eve is so cool she is hazardous
Whoa whoa whoa whoa
Hauntingly awesome my Lazarus

This week has been crazy, so let’s get to it. I'm joined as ever by our CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/convention specialist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Obie is currently hopped up on pain pills and taking it easy as he has two injured back knees, but he is still lying around and putting in 110% here at the Donist World corporate office (my mom’s basement). I’m going to attribute the fact that Obie keeps bringing up replacing me as CEO and replacing me with a more “controllable puppet” to the puppy pain killers he is on. Tulip, on the other hand, is ignoring both of us as she is upset that she did not go with me to Wondercon this year. If we are to maintain our status as a Fortune 320,000 company, then some of us have to stay on-site to keep the show running, but little Miss Tulip isn’t having it. Oh well, I’m used to these guys being annoyed with me—it’s the plight of being boss—so, whatever. Anyhow, while I go to tell Obie to stop ringing the dang bell, I'm not a bellhop who will pick up lunch for him, have a look at this week’s mini…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Lazarus #8
Lazarus #8 - Written by Greg Rucka, art and letters by Michael Lark with Brian Level, colors by Santi Arcas, design and additional content by Eric Trautmann, edited by David Brothers, published by Image Comics. I only had one book in my pull this week—which means I’ll be pummeled in the weeks to come—but, thankfully, any week that sees a release of Rucka and Lark’s Lazarus is a bound to be a good one. The thing with this this title is that I never have that warm fuzzy feeling I get after reading some of my other books. No. Instead, after reading this comic I get this sinking sense of dread as I think about our world’s current state of affairs: massive disparity of wealth, large corporations effectively writing state and federal laws, GMO, war, climate change, rising rent prices, and the list goes on and on. So, if the book upsets me, then why read it? Simple. It’s one of the most thought-provoking titles on the stand, but more than that it’s a showcase for comic book storytelling at its finest. It’s also just plain cool.
In flashback, it’s Forever "Eve" Carlyle’s twelfth birthday, and what better way to celebrate than participating in a VR simulation based on storming a compound and killing as many guards as necessary until she finds her target and extracts that target. Little does she know, her father is in the background watching, but he will not see her; today is not the day little Eve will fight and kill her trainer, Marisol. In the present, the Free, a group deemed as terrorist by the Carlyle Family, have a bomb, and it is up to Forever to prevent them from detonating that bomb at the Lift. The Lift is a sort of job fare in Denver that looks to “lift” those designated as Waste to the status of Serf. Unfortunately for the Barrets, a Waste family who recently lost one of their own, they have yet to realize that trying to not starve to death might actually get them all killed.
<phew> If you have read this issue, then you know what I mean. It’s that feeling you get after you sigh and shut your eyes as you process what you just read. The thing is…if there were more pages, I would have kept reading; I would not be able to help myself. As gnarly as the situations become in Lazarus the strength of the creators’ storytelling grabs hold and refuses to let you go. Equally so are the fantastic characters of Forever, sadly doomed Marisol, and the Barret family, who I fear are in for even more hardship. Again, though, you can’t look away. More than wanting to see what happens next, you have to see what happens next. 
Lazarus is one of my favorites in Image Comics’s long line of tremendous new series and is one everyone should be reading. It has incredible action-filled moments, gorgeously dramatic art embellished by Arcas’s incredible color palette, sci-fi that is just a step or two ahead of where we currently are, and although some of the horrible events hit close to home, every component is just so damn well thought out that you cannot avert your gaze. You can pick up the first four issues in trade form at a retail price of $9.99, and you can even find it for less if on sale, so there’s no reason to not pick up this amazing series (heck, currently has a “Very Good” condition TPB available for $3.10!). Lazarus is a remarkable achievement that you should be reading. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

View from our hotel room.
Wondercon 2014 - Yup indeedy. After suffering through three years of intense con-withdrawl, Amy the Donist World intern (my wife) and I went to Wondercon in Anaheim. We predicted that traffic through LA would be simply stooooooopid, so we instead took the train down on Thursday night. We hopped a quick cab ride to the hotel—getting gouged by the driver for an extra $4…a_hole—and arrived at the hotel around 9:00 PM. We dumped our bags in the room and went to the nice bar/lounge for a late dinner and drinks (dang, denizens, they serve 22 oz. bottles of Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale). 
FRIDAY: The next day, after a short elevator ride with Sergio Aragones, I got in line at 9:00 AM to pick up our badges, at 10:30 AM got the badges, and at noon we hit the showroom floor. Amy and I first happened upon the Oni Press booth where we chatted for a while with an employee about all that is happening, and we found out that Joshua Hale Fialkov was going to be signing copies of The Bunker and of his as-yet-unreleased The Life After. We then sought out one of my all-time favorite creators, Terry Moore, and we double dipped on all four trades and a SiP t-shirt, and chatted with Mr. Moore for a while, who is incredibly kind; I wish I could afford his stunning original art. We then went upstairs for a panel titled “What’s Hot In Young Adult Fiction” for some good information on the industry and how the creators got into writing. We then stuck around in the room for Disney/ABC’s “The Art of the Pitch: The Writer. The Director. The Story” which was highly informative. What they look for in a pitch is more about what the writer has to say about themselves, and not so much a story pitch at first. In their eyes, they want to see an individual who can tell a brief and engaging story about themselves, and not one that is stacked with the usual corporate responses: self-starter, meets deadlines, dependable, willing to put in 200%! type rubbish. They want to know the writer. Basically, if you can relay a snippet of your life in a compelling manner, then you can bring that to potential stories. They also want to see if you are someone they can work with. We then hit the showroom floor again, and ran out to the long line of incredibly expensive, yet tasty, food trucks stationed out front. Amy went to a panel called “The New Wave Graphic Novel” which I wish I went to, but I instead wandered the floor before going to the incredibly funny “Oddball Comics Live” panel where they looked at messed up comic book covers through the ages, like this one:
Do I really need to say
anything about this one?
Needless to say, the above cover could have been the whole presentation and rightly so. Amy and I then went back to the floor where we met Steve Lieber and chatted with him for a while. Lieber is an incredibly kind and equally talented person, and he even took time to talk to us about his process on the freakin' amazing Underground graphic novel from Image. I’ve always loved Lieber’s work, but it’s great to know he’s a genuinely nice guy. After some more searching about the floor, we were destroyed-tired and went back to the hotel for dinner, where we were greeted with a “new” menu that saw meal prices that jumped by $4 and wines and the largest beers jumped by $3…blah. At dinner, I saw a woman having drinks who I recognized from somewhere; later I realized she was a porn star who was doing some sort of comic book thing. Also, while getting ready for bed, I heard a saxophone blaring out front of the Convention Center and realized the person was playing none other than George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” with as much heart and enthusiasm as one could hope for. Overall, a great day.
SATURDAY: The doors opened earlier than Friday, so we rushed over to hit the floor, but quickly ran upstairs to attend “Spotlight on Gail Simone” which was a great and inspiring way to start the day. Afterwards we wandered for a bit and went back for a price-jacked lunch at the hotel and then back to the con to try to meet Gail Simone, but the line was ridonkulous and we were denied. Blah. Upstairs we attended a panel on “SFF for Kids: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” where we saw a host of authors including Frank Beddor (The Looking Glass Wars, Hatter M), which was an informative and interesting look at how these writers got started. After the panel, we walked around on the floor one last time, and met authors from the previous panel, including Frank Beddor who was incredibly cool. Finally, it was upstairs for “Kelly Sue DeConnick on Writing” which went into her process for comic book writing that was a fast-paced, hour-long workshop that was all kinds of helpful and cool; I wish it had been the full six-hour or so workshop she usually does. With that, we went out for dinner, but ended up back at the hotel since everything in the area was ultra-expensive or gross…or both. Goodbye Wondercon! Next time, I will be attending as a professional and probably being ignored by the attendees, but gosh darn it, it’s on!
Here’s a list of the mountains of stuff we picked up in no real order:
  1. The Bunker #1 & 2 (signed by Joshua Hale Fialkov. Oni Press) I’m excited to read.
  2. The Life After (signed by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Gabo. Oni Press) I’m excited to read. Sorry, it’s not available yet. 
  3. Avengers Arena (Marvel) Just started reading, it’s great!
  4. Rachel Rising TPB V. 1–4 (signed by Terry Moore. Abstract Studio) Time to reread from the beginning
  5. Batgirl TPB V. 1–2 (DC, New 52) The first one is awesome!
  6. Underground (Image), Whiteout (Oni), Superior Foes of Spider-Man (Marvel) All signed by Steve Lieber. ALL are worth your time. I read Superior Foes while there, and it is every bit as great as everyone says. 
  7. Beware the Creeper (DC) I’m excited to read this.
  8. Legends #1–6 (DC) Found a bundle, and excited to revisit.
  9. Hatter M V. 1–2 (Automatic Pictures) So much awesomeness to read!
  10. A t-shirt from that I love (the penguin one).
  11. I wished I bought every print available from, primarily this.
Not counting the loads of Kickstarter books I have (including many by good friends of mine…sorry, I’ll get to them!) I also received a bulky order from that included the following:
  1. Rat Queens TPB (Image Comics)
  2. The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story HC (Dark Horse) I wish I brought this copy with me to Wondercon as the writer was there signing. I'm VERY excited to check this out. 
  3. Stray Bullets: Uber Alles Edition TPB (Image) It’s currently propping up the side of our house that is sagging, but I am so stoked to get to this! I can’t believe I completely missed this series back in the day. Only one printing…get it before it is gone!
  4. Cannon HC (Fantagraphics) I actually ordered this from and thought I should mention it. Wallace Wood awesomeness that I am about 20% done reading. Supposedly only one printing on this one, so pick it up while you can. After reading some of this gorgeous book, however, I think <gasp> I got a defective copy. Why do I say this? Because I found about three or four pages thus far that DO NOT have nudity on them. Seeing as how there is TONS of nudity, this must have been an oversight of some kind. 
End of Wondercon report.

Slice Into the Woods

Both Of Obie’s Back Knees Are Injured - All joking and fictitious storytelling about Obie aside, on a serious note, the poor little guy has two injured back knees. According to the vet, Obie has a problem that is common in some of the smaller dog breed, and that he should heal, but this is going to be a recurring issue, and she recommends that he no longer run or chase tennis balls. I'm glad he’s going to heal, but he loved playing ball more than anything, and he was quite a speed demon when it came to running around the park. It breaks my heart that he will not be able to do what he loves or run like that anymore. Poor little buddy.

Undertow Was Missed Yet Again - This is getting ridiculous. I probably will not see issue three for another two to three weeks. <barf>


Monday, April 21, 2014

Micronauts Monday 4/21/2014

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! 

Alright. This is it. Last week I read up to another critical moment in the mighty The Micronauts series. Issue 50 is important to both Young Donist and Current Donist, and I don't only mean because of the absolutely, positively, amazing turning point in the story. Issue 50 is where Young Donist reconnected with his favorite comic book series after issue 37 fell under the Reaper’s slashing scythe that was to usher in the age of the Direct Market. Imagine my joy at finding the LCS in my town, and then discovering that not only was The Micronauts still around, but I had 12 issues to pick up, which the comic store had at the ready…once my allowance permitted me to go back and pick them up. Current Donist is thrilled by issue 50 for the staggering Guice art, the beautiful Sharen colors, and most of all, experiencing Mantlo’s compelling writing that fulfills both my nostalgia for a much-loved series, and my appreciation of a tale that does not need nostalgia to loft it to the point of greatness. That said, don't jump in at this point, start from the beginning, as the impact of issues 12, 28, 35, and 50 will mean so much more if you begin with issue one. Let’s get to it…

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Micronauts #49
The Micronauts # 49 - Written by Bill Mantlo, penciled by Butch Guice, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by M. Higgins, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. Commander Rann has been reunited with his friend Biotron, after the biodroid was killed in action back in issue 27(?). This is great, only there’s one huge change: Biotron is the size of a starship. Luckily, the new ship has the ability to shrink and it looks like Rann, and the dying Devil might be able to finally return home. The trip will not be easy as they face off against the deadly defense systems of all the worlds in between Earth and the Microverse. Meanwhile, back on Homeworld, the evil Argon’s wedding day has finally come, and what better way to celebrate than to pit Bug, Pharoid, and an unarmored Acroyear against a nightmarish creature born and bred in the Body Banks. But there is hope for our heroes. Princess Mari arrives on the scene with an immensely powerful new ally, Huntarr the Living Weapon. As rebellion sparks anew, that which has been driving King Argon, the Force Commander, makes its presence known.
Young Donist - “Holy @#$%!………What?! No, Mom, I’m sorry. I only said a bad word, because this comic book is awesome and I can’t believe what I just read. It’s really really really…I know, I know I’m not allowed to use bad words, but you won’t believe…but if you would just listen to what happened…but it was…no, I don’t talk like that when you’re not around, but…I know ‘no buts,’ but…Okay, okay. I promise, no more foul language.” Even though Young Donist read issue 50 before issue 49, seeing everything go down over the last 12 pages still managed to floor me. Here we have Bug, Acroyear and Pharoid fighting the grossest bug monster I have ever seen, and then Mari and Huntarr show up to mess stuff up—I love when misunderstood bad guys turn toward the light—then Commander Rann and a monstrous Biotron warship appear? Frankly, I had little hope of keeping it together. Most of all—and I already mentioned that there could be spoilers, given that the cover to issue 50 gives away the reveal anyhow—I’m just gonna say it: Baron Karza lives! Not only does Karza live, but Argon was under his control the entire time, and was still a good guy…up until the point Karza wiped him out of existence. Evil reborn, a force of good vanquished, and this was nothing compared to comes next. I will say that the MANY pages of Rann and Biotron traversing the space between worlds was cool, but it went on waaaaaaaaayyyy too long for Young Donist. Still, even if the weird sci-fi—not to mention Rann’s horrid beard—were triple the pages, I would have still said this issue comes VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - The cool thing about time and having crammed tons of comic book reading into my noodle, I knew that Karza was going to be reborn, but I forgot much of what happened aside from that. I got to re-experience the lead up to one of my favorite moments in all of my years as a comic book reader. This issue managed to impress me more than my already mind-blown younger self. Despite the beautiful cover reminding me of hentai-tentacle nonsense, I thoroughly enjoyed the Commander Rann and Biotron journey, including their morale-crushing meeting with the Time Travelers. This issue is where Mantlo embraces the weirder avenues of science fiction in a big ol’ bear hug, and I loved every panel of it. Guice’s interpretation of the shrinking journey is visually bonkers, yet immensely fascinating. Then we have those final 12-pages. The building tension and suspense caused my shoulders to tighten, and I could feel the building dread of something terrible about to happen, and when it does…egads it is shocking. When I finished reading this issue, it was past my bedtime, but I didn’t care, I had to see what happened next. Young Donist loved this issue, but Current Donist loved it even more. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #50
The Micronauts # 50 - Written by Bill Mantlo, penciled by Butch Guice, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Jim Novak, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. All hope is lost, for the monster has risen. Baron Karza once again stands poised to put the Microverse beneath his armored heel and only the reunited Micronauts stand to oppose him…but is that enough?
Young Donist - Once you read this issue, keep in mind that this is where I jumped back aboard my favorite comic book series. Issue 37 saw the Micronauts on Earth and fleeing from King Argon. Issue 50 has Baron Karza standing triumphantly before the fractured Force Commander armor. Not only that, Biotron is a giant starship, Huntarr is on the team, Acroyear has no armor, there’s a giant, dead bug thing lying on the field of battle, Commander Rann has a horrible beard and is back in the Microverse; it’s safe to say I missed some key events during my absence. All of this information pummeled me from the opening splash page to the staggering two-page spread that followed. There’s a good chance I peed myself—just a little bit, mind you, I was twelve. Right then, I knew my allowance wasn't going to cut it for the grand, eye-opening experience of walking into my very first LCS. There were so many new things available, yet I had to get all of the missing The Micronauts issues to see exactly how the events unfolded. But I digress, we are talking about THIS issue.
Even if this book only contained the first three pages, I would still call this one of the best comics I had ever read, based purely on the exhilaration, the sense of foreboding, and the sense of the forthcoming battle. This book is titled “Sometimes the Good Guys Lose,” and holy crap is that title correct. One Micronaut is soundly defeated as they attempt to bluff Karza, and then it all goes downhill from there: a Micronaut dies (not from Karza though), two Micronaut sympathizers die, another Micronaut dies, another Micronaut sympathizer is killed, Acroyear realizes he sacrificed his world for naught, and all who are left standing barely make it out of the encounter alive. Each page turn dealt me a blow to the stomach that knocked the wind out of me over just how harshly my heroes were having their asses handed to them. Sure, they whupped the Death Squad somethin’ fierce, but that wasn’t worth two spits when it came to confronting the main villain. This issue was brutal. It was horrifying. It was one of the single best things I had ever read. I was moved to desperation for the month to go by so I could see what happened next.  It’s ridiculous home much Young Donist would say this issue is VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Everything Young Donist felt, I felt while reading this issue. My goodness, this book was gnarly. I want to spoil every single victim who fell during the carnage, but I'm not going to—you simply need to experience each moment as it goes down. Instead, I’ll comment on some the technical aspects of the book.
This is easily Guice’s finest work on the title. All you need to see are the first three pages to know what I mean, but there are plenty of equally impressive images throughout to dazzle the eyes. Two of my favorite such moments are the (re)introduction of a new/old Micronaut, and the third panel on page 23 where Karza triumphantly stands, breaking through panel borders with no background other than a stroked yellow bar behind him—it still makes me gasp to this day. Even Sharen’s colors add to the drama and the calamity, while drawing the eye to every key element in a scene. The writing…well, it should be clear how I feel about the writing, but this issue has it all with fantastic dialogue and some heavy subject matter: death in abundance, betrayal, rebirth, hope to hopelessness, dread, fear, desperation, and ultimately fighting for a lost cause. There is so much going on here that it is difficult to express just how much I enjoyed this issue that is not just one of my favorite The Micronauts issues, but one of my all-time-favorite comics, period. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #51
The Micronauts # 51 - Written by Bill Mantlo, penciled by Butch Guice, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Chiang, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts are on the run from Karza’s forces, and they are still reeling from the decisive blow dealt to both them and their home planet. Many friends died in that fight, and as our heroes wish to bring the conflict back to Karza, Commander Rann retreats with Fireflyte so he can meditate on how best to confront the mad monster. The other Micronauts do not understand Rann’s position, and the wedge between him and Mari expands. Just when they feel they have the situation under control, the Micronauts come across the now space-faring Acroyears and their leader, Cilicia, who has definitely not forgiven her former love after he sacrificed their homeworld of Spartak back in issue 28.
Young Donist - “There is only The Micronauts. Before The Micronauts there was nothing by a dark, grey void of stupid in the world.” Now that my favorite comic and I had been reunited—and it feels so gooood (sorry for the Peaches and Herb reference)—I was completely mental for anything and everything going on with this book. Although Karza only appeared as a flashback in this issue, I thoroughly enjoyed the scenes of Mari, Acroyear, Bug and Huntarr fighting Karza’s forces. Heck, even Biotron got in on the action. You know who didn't get in on the action? Commander Rann and his stupid beard. It was at this point where I started to really no like Rann. Up until now, I was cool with him being knocked unconscious for most of the series, and last issue I cheered as he made a futile attempt to confront Karza, but this new Rann, the one who prefers to meditate, just pissed me off. <grrrrrrr> I will say that seeing Huntarr just annihilate their pursuers gave me the chills, the good kind, and I wished Marvel would release toys for Mari, Acroyear, and Bug’s new space suits. Although I'm still waiting for those action figures, seeing Acroyear about to combat the ever-awesome Cilicia, gave me much to keep me happy. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Okay, now that I am an adult, I understand why Rann needs to reflect and meditate, or find himself or whatever, but he is still being a punk-ass who could bother to help out his crew; he could also take a moment to shave off that dang soup catcher of his, too. <sheesh> That gripe aside, I am all about loving Huntarr, and seeing Biotron wreck havoc on the dog soldier fleet made me smile. The art is great, although not as stunning as last issue, leaving me to believe this issue had a deadline restriction in place, but I will mention one of my favorite panels—besides Huntarr kicking a$$—is where Mari and Rann stand facing away from each other, she holds a sword, and he with the wisdom of Fireflyte flying by his head; it clearly shows the rift that has grown between them. Having Cilicia appear once again, was just gravy on this book that is still cruising in high gear. Man, I still want some updated Micronauts action figures. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Boy howdy! I feel like I need to stretch out or something after reading these issues. Each is tremendously entertaining and I found that both Young Donist and Current Donist are in total agreement on the powerhouse storytelling at play here. I want to jump into issue 52 so bad right now, but alas I have quizzes and graphic design projects beckoning, so that will just have to wait until this evening. Next week: Acroyear Vs. Cilicia, and the Micronauts visit a prison world. Thank you for reading.

While writing this entry, I listened to Les Baxter’s The Sounds of Adventure. Not exactly fitting to the mood of what I read, but reflective of the joy I felt after reading these fantastic issues. Check it out if you can find it!


Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 4/18/2014

(Sung to the tune of Husker Du’s “Ever Fallen In Love With Someone”)

Got burned on my comic book pull list
A month gone, I must assert
That I’m sad
Missed The Sixth Gun I was pissed
Undertow, too, but now they’re here
Now I’m glad

Oh man, have you ever read Batman?
I say, have you ever read?
Have you read Batman?
I say, have you ever read?
Have you read Batman?
You really must pick up a copy

Welcome to Donist World! I'm joined as ever by Donist World CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and by our marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/convention optimization specialist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). <pssst> Come over here for a second, denizens, where the dogs won't be able to hear. This week Amy the Donist World intern—aka my wife—and I are off to Wondercon, but there is a slight problem. Obie and Tulip know about the convention, and they are under the assumption that they are going with us. Oops. Why do I think this? Well, Tulip is currently dressed as Jake the Dog from Adventure Time, and Obie is dressed as…actually, I have no idea what Obie is supposed to be. He’s wearing what looks to be a shoebox that has been painted silver with two strips of black tape going lengthwise down the top. I think he’s supposed to be a toaster. If that is the case, then it is a brilliant inside joke on the Battlestar Galactica cylons. If not, then he is actually a toaster, which leads me to think that all of those business-based, self-help seminars he has been attending to solidify our standing as a Fortune 320,000 company has not only turned him into a toaster, but a corporate robot. Anyhow, they're going to be miffed once they realize that dogs are not allowed in the convention center, and that Amy and I have snuck out of the house to attend Wondercon. Oh boy, we’ll just have to deal with the fallout when we get back. In the meantime…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Sixth Gun #39
The Sixth Gun #39 - Written by Cullen Bunn, Illustrated by Brian Hurtt, colored by Bill Crabtree, lettered by Crank!, designed by Keith Wood, edited by Charlie Chu, published by Oni Press. I’m tempted to say good things come to those who wait, but that is not the case with this issue of The Sixth Gun. Instead, I will say that awesome things come to those who wait. I believe this issue came out a month ago, and I have been bummed out each and every week I was told my copy had still not arrived…well, let’s just say Tulip and Obie were also not pleased. As annoying as the delay was, after the insane action of this issue, I am thrilled I only need to wait a couple weeks for the concluding issue of the “Not the Bullet, But the Fall” storyline to arrive; that is unless my LCS gets mis-shipped again.
Griselda the Grey Witch’s minions continue their siege upon Drake Sinclair, Becky Montcrief, and their companions. The sad truth is that evil is winning. One hero fell, one turned against his friends, another was captured, while another was wounded. Now, Jesup holds one of the six mystical guns, and is in hot pursuit of the rest, and the situation is only going to get worse; it does. As the remnants of Drake’s crew battle Griselda’s snake men, a true hero buys his friends the chance they need to escape. Meanwhile, if the Knights of Solomon cannot find the Grey Witch, they at least know where she will eventually end up.
Mein Gott, denizens! I feel like I opened this issue and finished it seconds later. I’m not suggesting this issue is shorter than it should be, or that it is lacking in substance. Not at all. This issue was so exciting and well-paced that I could not put it down. Boy howdy was the action intense. I’m also now upset with the creators for taking away yet another great character who I loved, especially after that character whupped so much a$$ in this issue. Okay…I'm not really mad at the creators, for they took a relatively new character and had me groovin’ on him since his introduction a few issues ago. As for getting my hate on…man, do I hate the bad guy in this issue <grrrrr>; I hope he gets what’s coming to him.
Hurtt’s art is as great as ever, only when we get to the action scenes, something changes and the insanity that had me fervently whipping through the pages kicks in. One page in particular is stunning as the villain holds the hero by the neck, then tosses the hero, who then in the final panel lands on his feet as he slides to a standstill. Keep in mind that we are talking about static images and the strength of implied motion via Hurtt’s wonderful storytelling truly shines; it’s something to behold. Dang, denizens, I’m still kind of shaken by everything that went down in this issue, which is the sign of a great comic.
The Sixth Gun is fantastic and has been since issue one. As much as I don't want to see my favorite characters die, the need to see what happens next is so overwhelming that I cannot wait to get my hands on the next issue—it sure as heck better not be late. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Batman #30
Batman #30 - Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Greg Capullo, inked by Danny Miki, colored by FCO Plascencia, lettered by Steve Wands, published by DC Comics. Confession: I don't really remember what the heck happened to Batman after the last issue. Luckily, all I had to do was reach toward the towering mountain of “read” comics, sort through them all and find out that Batman had defeated Dr. Death (the gross bone guy), but that the Riddler had taken Gotham. The weather balloon was but a decoy that began to explode before being hit by lightning. After all of the exciting battlin’ last month, it’s no wonder I missed that little detail, but I'm glad I went back as things kick off with a bang.
Bruce Wayne has been unconscious for a while after the Riddler had played him like a fine-tuned piano. He awakens to the sight of a cockroach infested apartment—and the sight of what will be a future symbol in the bat family—hooked to an I.V., and talking to a kid about the new Gotham that the Riddler has created. The criminal mastermind has sealed off Gotham from the rest of the world, and promises to keep the city in lockdown unless someone can stump him with a riddle. No one has won. In fact, if the Riddler guesses correctly, then that person's life is forfeit; needless to say, there few takers for the diabolical game. Luckily, Batman is back and dressed in a manner we have not seen since issue 21.
I might have forgotten what had happened last issue—it’s been a crazy month—but I was easily able to get back on track and on board with a Gotham gone wild, the overgrown wasteland that was promised so long ago. We also get to see Batman without all of his nifty technology and gadgetry and a makeshift costume. As much as I enjoyed the ”Red Hood” story, this is the one I have been wanting to see. On the page six and seven double-page splash, we see Bruce drawing the blinds to reveal a dilapidated and overgrown Gotham, with one key untouched building: the one with the giant purple and green question mark brandished for all to see. Snyder does a great job of making it seem like the Batman has been away for a while through each of his interactions with the key players in this story. Towards the end of the book, we also see him reuniting with Jim Gordon and we are reminded of the wonderful role these two play in each others lives. This is just the beginning of whatever madness Snyder intends to unleash over the course of the year. I can’t wait.
Capullo's art is, of course, outstanding as the issue focuses predominantly on the drama of people existing in the Riddler’s Gotham held captive. Again, though, I have to return to that gorgeous double-page spread that is jaw dropping once Plascencia applies the colors.
So, Batman, continues to be one of the two DC proper books I continue to buy on a monthly basis—the other being Swamp Thingand is one that I greatly anticipate reading from issue to issue. With the second half of the ”Zero Year” storyline kicking off, I am more than excited to see how things all play out. If you aren’t already reading Snyder and Capullo’s Batman, then you have made a grievous error, but with this issue you can safely jump in and figure out what is going one; I also bet that you will go back and pick up all the issues/trades you’ve missed in between. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Undertow #2
Undertow #2 - Written by Steve Orlando, illustrated by Artyom Trakhanov, lettered/designed by Thomas Mauer, published by Image Comics. This is the other title that shipped almost a month ago, and that I finally picked up this week. Looking on the bright side, that means I only have a week or so to wait until issue three…that is unless shipments go awry again. <pffftt> whatever. Anyhow, this is the book with the premise that makes me go I wish I thought of that, and it continues the fascinating journey of mer-people breaking from the norm to explore the deadly perils of land as they search for the ”amphibian,” an Atlantean who holds the secret to breathing air.
While the famed Anshargal and his team are away on their mission to find the amphibian, some of the crew of his ship have the stirrings of mutiny. Anshargal, on the other hand, is luckily unaware of the problems back aboard the ship, as his crew clash with a deadly sea locust. The encounter does not go well. As trouble brews back home, Anshargal’s problems have only begun as he and what remains of his crew prepare for a new encounter.
The second issue of Undertow is still a blast and reminds me of a colored version of the Warren Magazine tales of my youth…and what glorious colors they are. The pages in this issue are truly stunning to behold, and the jump from complementary to analogous to monochromatic color schemes depending on the mood of the scene, drives home just how striking the imagery can be. The story continues to be a fascinating journey into the mysteries of a world we are already familiar with, but from an entirely new point of view.
It will be interesting to see where Orlando and Trakhanov’s story goes and the good thing is that my wait to read the next issue will not be a long one. Undertow is a unique, pulpy, sci-fi story worth taking time to appreciate. Best to jump on now at this early stage. RECOMMENDED!

Green Lantern:
The Animated Series
Green Lantern: The Animated Series - Wow! Here I thought I would watch a couple episodes of this one—and regrettably only—season of this show, and the next thing I know I watched the entire 26 episodes over the course of two weeks. The show recently popped up on Netflix, and I'm not going to really get into it, but it is one of the best animated shows I have ever seen. Beautiful graphics, fantastic voice acting, a familiar yet different take on the Green Lantern story, and characters (old and new) who I instantly fell in love with. It is simply a phenomenal show. I am so irked that the powers that be struck down a second season because of the flop that was the Green Lantern movie—which I hated—and now we don’t get to see the next stage of the show, which probably would have gone into Black Lantern territory. Don't let the fact that this amazing show only received one season prevent you from checking it out, as I am convinced that once you watch the first two or three episodes, you will be drawn in until the end. Now I need to buy the blu-ray. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

No Negativity This Week - We’re off to Wondercon, so let’s not be negative. Sure things have been crazy busy with my rapidly ending graphic design courses, so I'm looking forward to the mini vacation, and I expect to kick into my writing even more in the coming weeks. Look for some changes to Donist World coming soon. Take care.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Micronauts Monday 4/14/2014

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! 

Remember last week when I told you things were about to get kind of weird in the Microverse? Well, yeah, things are about to get weird over the next three issues, but the story's building to some great things, which you can easily guess to be a reunion of the Micronauts, and their inevitable confrontation with the inhuman King Argon. We have to get to that point first, however, as Commander Rann, and what is left of his crew, make a shocking discovery. So, denizens, set your trusty rocketlance in the corner (carefully!), grab a cup of coffee, and check out these three issues before you return to the anti-Argon rebellion.

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Micronauts #46
The Micronauts # 46 - Written by Bill Mantlo, art by Luke McDonnell and Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Janice Chiang, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. When last we saw the Earth-trapped half of our heroes—Commander Rann, Devil, Microtron and Nanotron—they had barely managed to escape the clutches of the sinister X-Men foe, Arcade. Now, as Arcade's sea platform sinks into the ocean, Rann's glider provides him safety, but the fire-scorched Devil has once again gone feral, and the two roboids (a synthesis of organics and machinery) look to sink like rocks and drown. It's a hopeless situation, but there is land in the distance. When they make it to the island and find the mysterious, diminuitive, orange-skinned inhabitants, will they wish they sank beneath the waves after all? Meanwhile, Princess Mari has barely survived the battle with her evil brother, the mind swapped Slug and Belladonna work together as Slug tells her tragic past, and Bug and Acroyear stalk into the dreaded Pleasure Pits to rescue a imprisoned ally.
Young Donist - (My thoughts at some point in '83 or '84.) Devil needs to stop acting like this. He's gonna get everyone—well, half of everyone—killed! I totally like his black fur look, though. I wonder if that is why Devil's fur is black on issue 35. Huh? Anyhow,  I miss the happy Devil I came to know and love. Why is Mari not bleeding from being stabbed by King Argon's energy sword that he grew from his own body? What I do know is that seeing her deal with that gnarly fall is awesome…I wish I could marry someone like her when I'm older. Whoa! Slug is almost naked! I want to marry someone like Slug, too! Bug and Acroyear—my two favorites—have rescued Prince Argon? YES! But I wish they showed more of this than the 13 pages of Commander Rann gliding around the ocean and being bummed out. The orange weirdos look better on the cover than they do inside the comic for some reason, but they still really freak me out. Not my favorite issue—except for the parts with Mari, Bug and Acroyear—but I will say this comic is RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - I liked this issue much more now than I did in my younger days, although I still would have preferred to see the Rann and crew pages, the ones where they are flying over the ocean, streamlined a bit more. I am still confused as to why Mari was not bleeding after Argon had stabbed her last issue, but I guess those energy blades are like being stabbed with electricity…but  if that is the case, then how come he was blocking Mari’s steel blades with those things, so…ack…best not to overthink it. I did find the brief one-pager of Slug’s origins interesting, but more than that, utterly horrifying. I’ve been wanting more of her story, but now that I have it, it’s one of those things where maybe not knowing is the better deal. You'll have to read it yourself, but just know that Baron Karza was a monster, and now it looks like Argon is nearly ready to fill his exceptionally-high boots. Seeing Bug and Acroyear rescue Pharoid still makes me cheer, and all I can say is “Get that boy his star scepter!”
Although I wanted less of Rann flying over the ocean, once he gets to the island with the mouthless, bug-eyed, big-brained, orange fellas, I felt this mounting sense of uneasiness and was completely creeped out by them in the best of ways. Just watching these things carrying the unconscious Commander Rann—man, that dude spends A LOT of time unconscious in this series—and laying him in his old hybernation couch, which is effectively a coffin is bone chilling. I'm not sure where Gil Kane went on this title, but the new art is fine, although the style does change from page to page, which is a tad distracting. I still do not like how crude these orange guys look within the comic when compared to how they look on the tremendous wrap-around cover. Despite the art inconsistencies, the Microverse portions of the story, and the Warren Magazine-esque tone of the portions with the orange creatures left me enjoying this issue much more than I did as a kid. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #46
The Micronauts # 47 - Written by Bill Mantlo, art by Mike Vosburg and Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Jim Novak, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. When we last saw Microtron and Nanotron, they were sinking below the ocean's surface. Now, because of their organic parts, they are at risk of drowning; that is if the terrors of the sea don't kill them first. As all hope seems lost, they find something…unexpected. Meanwhile, Rann’s orange-skinned saviors are far more bizarre than he could have ever imagined. Not only did they originate from the Microverse, but they had met Rann many centuries ago when he roamed the shrunken galaxy as the Time Traveler. Now, these former humans who were transformed upon breaching the spacewall see Rann as a god. Back in the Microverse, Bug, Acroyear, and the battered wreck that is Prince Pharoid face off, once again, against the Death Squad (it’s on the cover), but the battle is not going well. Belladonna and Slug find Pharoid’s star scepter, Mari encounters an old foe as she attempts to destroy Argon’s weather tower, and Devil has survived and is more savage than ever.
Young Donist - This issue kind of blew my mind. What Microtron and Nanotron find on the ocean floor is insane, but cool, and I am liking the look of these orange guys far more than I was last issue. Getting a glimpse into what these Time Traveler worshippers do to feed is terrifying, but really cool. Seeing the Death Squad battle caused me to melt in the awesomeness of those few pages, and left me desperately wishing for toys of each character so I could recreate the entire fight. I was, however, disappointed that Pharoid, after being imprisoned, beaten, and tortured, pulled himself together enough to grab his star scepter and…nothing. Pharoid gets no payback or even a solitary cool moment to get even. That said, I remember giving a hearty "YES!" at seeing Mari's opposition, and the scene with Devil getting taken down by one of the psionic vampires was just brutal. That final panel, though, I could not wait for the next issue. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - This issue is every bit as good as I remembered. The psionic vampires idolatry of Rann—or rather the Time Traveler—is just creepy, and the recounting of their origins is fascinating, but seeing these Micronaut-sized creatures consume that crash-landed pilot…<brrrrr>. The fight with the Death Squad is still a ton of fun, and Lobros is just disgusting, but I am still bummed that Pharoid does not even get a brief moment to shine. As for Mari and the character-I-am-intentionally-not-naming meeting for one panel made me desperate to get to the next issue. The psionic vampires feeding on Devil is a horrible, but well-played, moment that recaptures what I loved about the character, and then quickly turned that against him; but that is okay. I don't exactly remember what happens to Devil after this, but I sure as heck want to get to the next issue. As for that final panel...boy howdy! Bring it on!
With this issue, we get the horror, the weird sci-fi, the action, and the drama. Since The Micronauts went to a solely direct market distribution model, things have been a little rough in regard to the consistency of the illustrations and the story itself, but over the past two issues, Mantlo and his artists have once again found their footing and returned the series to that which I love: an unparalleled sci-fi space opera. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #48
The Micronauts # 48 - Written by Bill Mantlo, pencilled by Butch Guice, embellished (inked?) by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Jim Novak, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. No spoilers here, as it is clear as day on the cover…Biotron is back. Sort of at least, because he is as big as a spaceship. As Devil lies dying after having most of his life force drained by the Soul Survivors (psionic vampires), a confused Commander Rann enters the enormous ship that wears the shape of his friend Biotron. He then converses with the Biotron ships’s brain—yes, an actual giant brain. Back in the Microverse, although Acroyear has been captured, he is not going back to the Pleasure Pits easily, but when Bug and Pharoid’s lives are at risk, he surrenders and the dog soldiers melt his armor off his body. The mind-swapped Belladonna and Slug, armed with the mighty-but-currently-powerless star scepter, attempt to restore themselves to their rightful bodies, as Princess Mari fights against a dreadfully powerful foe. Will Commander Rann be able to give himself over to this Biotron impersonator so he can travel back to the Microverse, and what of the sinister stowaway lurking in the bowels of the ship.
Young Donist - *gasp!* I could not believe that the bad guys were actually able to get Acroyear out of his armor. Yeah, the guy is tough, but without his armor?! Dang. Mari’s fight at the weather control tower was just unbelievably cool. Here she is, totally outmatched, yet she continues to press on and in the end it is her quick thinking that will keep her alive. Her offer to her adversary is a possibility that I hoped-hoped-hoped would come to pass—spoiler alert, it will, but you'll have to wait to find out what I'm talking about. The moments with Commander Rann talking to the Biotron ship ran a bit long for me, and I hate his new look…absolutely hate it. Thankfully, the Micronauts who were stranded on Earth are on their way back to the Microverse, and I can't wait for them to get there. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - I feel almost exactly the same about this issue as Young Donist. The key difference is that I am a bit more forgiving of the Commander Rann and Biotron discussion. Also, Butch Guice, holy cow. Those fight scenes between Acroyear and the Death Squad are freakin’ gorgeous. Man! In fact, it’s the entire book that looks just stunning. I forgot that Guice took over art for a while on this title, and I can easily say that he is right up there with Michael Golden and Pat Broderick as the most important artist to ever put pencil to page on this series. The Mari versus *not sayin’* fight consists of four stunning pages I wish I could see hanging side-by-side on my wall, but maybe it is best I don't have those original pages, because I’d never leave the house—I’d just stand there staring at them all day. That said, and not Guice’s fault, I still hate Rann’s new look; yuckers. But that is just a minor quibble as my much-loved characters are poised to reunite. The only other thing I can say is that I know what I’m going to be reading tonight. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Oh boy. Oh boy. Next week, I'll be looking at issues 49, 50 and probably 51 (I’ll be at Wondercon that weekend, so not sure if I can talk about three books or not). Issue 50 (or was it issue 52?) is the first issue of the comic that I picked up following issue 37 when The Micronauts went to a direct market distribution model. Regardless of which issue it was, you just need to know that issue 50 is another one of those “Big Time” events in the Microverse that solidified this amazing series as one of my all-time-favorite comic books. If I remember correctly, issue 50 is right up there with issues 11, 28, and 35 as shining examples of how a not-as-popular super hero title can achieve levels of greatness. I truly hope issue 50 holds up, but I have a sneaking suspicion I will not be disappointed. Thank you for reading and see you next week.

While writing this entry, I listened to a radio channel of primarily instrumental ambient music. Two songs of note were Yppah's song “Never Mess With Sunday” from the album Eighty One and Ulrich Schnauss’s song  “A Letter From Home” from the album A Strangely Isolated Place. Each are perfect for writing and worth checking out.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 4/11/2014

(Sung to the tune of ABBA’s “Angeleyes”)

Keep thinking ’bout that Private Eye
I keep thinking, a-aah

Last night, I strolled into my store to buy my comics
And I saw that my pull had only one book
And the look I gave the owner was of sadness
’Cause the norm has been way more books than on that day
Then I saw that the book was the killer East of West, I have to say
“Ah-ha-ha, everything’s gonna be okay”

Have you read The Private Eye
One read and you’re hypnotized
But let's journey back
And see Marshal Law’s worth the price

Hello there Donist World denizens, I'm joined by Donist World CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and by our marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/anger management specialist Tulip. The puppies ain’t talking to me this week, denizens. It’s a sad thing, but just amongst all of us, their anger and stubbornness has given Donist World headquarters (my mom’s basement) some much needed quiet time. In fact, I’ve been able to get a TON of work done because of it. Heck, I don't remember the last time I was ever so productive. To answer your question as to why Tulip and Obie are pissed off at me, it’s quite simple: Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Even though they both know that dogs are not allowed in the movie theater—regardless of their executive-level positions at Donist World, or their dedication to comic book awesomeness—they still blame me for not “going that extra mile,” or for not “taking one for the team.” I would normally feel bad, but hey…Cap 2 was freakin’ awesome! They are also upset about our missing copies of the latest The Sixth Gun and Undertow, neither of which are my fault, but if my executive team wishes to be a couple of poopy heads, then that is fine with me. So, with all of this quiet time, I’m going to take advantage of this temporary moment and look into some new ventures: start my memoirs, write my biography, or maybe take up making jewelry, or something. Besides the silence, it was an incredibly slow week in regards to books in my pull; there was only one. In the meantime, take a peek at…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below

The Private Eye #6
The Private Eye #6 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Marcos Martin, colored by Muntsa Vicente, published by Panel Syndicate. I believe I made a huge mistake, denizens. Actually, I know I did. I neglected to talk about The Private Eye #5 back when it came out. Spoiler, like each of the issues that came before, was VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! If you are a fan of Saga, or Y The Last Man, then there is no reason to miss this digital-only work by Vaughan. If Vaughan's name is not enough to pull you in, then how about the business model behind this series? The Private Eye is 100% creator owned and is on a pay-what-you-want-even-if-that-amount-is-nothing model. From the outset, Vaughan and Martin have said that they would release the first few issues, and then if contributions did not match expenses they would halt the book. In the letters column of this issue, Vaughan states that money brought in on issue five was so encouraging that he can easily see this story running its 10-issue course. That, denizens, is not just good news, its ridonkulously good news, as The Private Eye is a fantastic read, set in a future that could possibly happen, especially given the hush-hush SSL breach that just went down. So, try an issue or two for free, and then go back and contribute once you see how well-crafted and freakin’ amazing this series is. Heck, I gave them $3.50 for this issue, which is what most Image physical books go for nowadays.
P.I.’s buddy, Melanie, ain’t doin’ so hot. After the horrific car accident back in issue 4, P.I. and Raveena were fairly banged up, but Mel was put in a coma and just awakened with an acute case of almost-got-my-ass-killed-itis. Mel’s a wreck, and to make matters worse, the press (what the police have become) is snooping around, asking questions about what Mel was doing immediately after a dead woman’s confidential search history was stolen. The dead woman is Taj, Raveena’s sister, and it was in fact P.I. and Raveena who stole the information, with Mel as the getaway driver. Unfortunately for Mel, Taj’s murderer, a mysterious man known as Daguerre, has sent a pair of murderous French twins out to grab her to use as leverage against P.I., who is closing in on Daguerre's ultimate mission: to bring back the internet.
I'm about a week behind on this review, but here's the thing...I have a difficult time keeping track of my digital purchases. This is only compounded when I look at the leaning tower of comics and graphic novels I have looming dangerously above me. In fact, I have a virtual ton of digital comics I purchased a while ago, and I just forget about them. This I'm preparing to take my own works digital, but here’s the thing: this negligence does not extend to The Private Eye. Yes I forgot to review issue five and I'm getting to issue six a week late, but I read each as soon as they were released, which is not the case for many other digital comics I am excited to read, but see get pushed aside for the physical deal; nothing beats the feel of a gloriously presented comic/trade that you can hold in your hands. 
As for the content of the comic—do I really need to say anything more? It’s Brian K. Vaughan, by golly. You’re going to get a solid story set in a fascinating, yet terrifyingly possible, world. You have great characters, and Martin displays amazing character/world designs, and a strong storytelling sense that will lead you from the first panel through to the last with nary a moment to catch your breath. 
The Private Eye is a creator-owned experiment gone right in that those who actually made the comic are the ones directly benefiting from their hard work. They are the first ones paid, as opposed to the last ones, and no one is taking a “bite” out of their efforts. You can also visit their site at and pick up the first five issues—plus bonus material—in one fell swoop as a “trade," all for the price of whatever-the-hell-you-want. You need this book, denizens, not just because it is a Donist World darling, or because it is a wonderful story with beautiful art, or because it directly supports the creators, but also because—given the current SSL breach—Vaughan might have actually predicted the future, which is a terrifying concept to say the least. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

East of West #11
East of West #11 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Nick Dragotta, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics. Before I get into anything about this book, I just need to say that this is one heck of a gorgeous cover. Yes, I am desperate to know about Crow, but everything involved in the design of this one-color cover—I believe it is different tints of the darkest purple—just grabs me. Couple that with the off-kilter logo design, the strategic use of white space and the information (creators, issue number, price, and blurb) on the left makes this cover stand out amidst everything else on the stand. That said, Crow, unfortunately, does not appear anywhere within this issue. Still, this month’s East of West is worth reading, and it comes complete with yet more nightmare-inducing imagery involving eyes. <shudder>
Xiaolian, Death's wife, is on the move and preparing to take on the Chosen— those who have received “the Message” and who currently work with three of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Xiaolian goes to meet those who rule the world at a neutral location known as the Wall. As the Union, the Kingdom, the PRA, the Texas Republic, and the Confederacy all meet, along with the until now unseen Endless Nation, the world holds its collective breath over what might transpire. 
Not much happens in this issue...but that is okay. As I have said since the beginning, Hickman and Dragotta are in this story for the long haul, and each intricately planned storyline, character and event has a purpose. This issue appears to be the calm before the chaos, as we focus primarily on the Chosen, with not a hint of Death, the horse beast, Crow or Wolf, or mention of the killing that occurred last issue. What you mostly see is beautiful character acting and political intrigue; the action will come later. 
East of West is still one of the best books to come out of Image (of which there are many ridiculously good books) and is one I look forward to each month. Although this issue is mostly setup for what is to come, it is still a fascinating read and the series is one that commands your attention. The second trade was just released, making this smart, complex series something you can binge read to immerse yourself within this bleak world. RECOMMENDED!

Flashback Friday:
Pinhead Vs. Marshall Law:
Law In Hell #1 & 2
Pinhead Vs. Marshal Law: Law In Hell #1 & 2 - Written by Pat Mills, illustrated by Kevin O'Neill, colored by Steve Buccellato, lettered by Janice Chiang, published by Epic Comics, formerly a Marvel Comics imprint. Back in mid-2013, I received the Marshal Law: The Deluxe Edition HC (DC Comics) and I rejoiced. Marshal Law was a series that Young Donist absolutely loved back at its introduction, and the chance to own most of the series in a hardcover edition was something I could not pass up. The key word in the previous sentence is “most.” The hardcover edition contained everything but three crossover mini-series that featured our surly hero meeting Pinhead (from the Hellraiser films/comics), the Savage Dragon, and finally the Mask. My guess is that reprinting those stories would have been a logistical and licensing nightmare, so DC just didn’t trouble themselves, which is understandable, as reining in BOOM, Dark Horse and Image sounds…complicated. Anyhow, if you have a moment, check out my reviews of the individual series that make up the hardcover (start at the bottom and move up), and you’ll come away with my feelings at the time Marshal Law was being released, and you’ll quickly learn that I kind of adore the series of mini-series within that collection. But what about the issues not in collection? Hmmmm...let's see. 
The good Marshal has been feeling a little bit better about life lately. After his girlfriend was murdered by a super-powered serial killer acting out on his seething daddy issues—with his daddy being an A-Number-One asshole—Joe (Marshal Law) slid further into his hatred of any and all heroes. Then he met Super Nova. Yes, she’s a super heroine, and she is a bit…off her rocker, but that’s okay, who isn’t crazy these days? She’s also slammin’ hot. What else besides love could ever convince Joe to attend a super hero therapy party; did I mention Super Nova’s a looker? Anyhow, the party is a load of crap, and the Marshal is not making any friends, but when an angelic “hero” named Seraph presents a mysterious cube to the partygoers a gateway to hell opens. Now trapped amongst the sadistic beings known as the Cenobites, with the one known as Pinhead leading them, it’s up to Marshal Law to get himself and Super Nova back to reality. That is, of course, if they can trick Pinhead into releasing them, but does the Cenobite leader want to kill our hero…or hire him?
Ahhhhhh…1993. A time when speculators were beginning to implode the comics market, and we can see some of that in this two issue mini. Each cover is of a heavier stock with four-color printing, one color being a metallic red that admittedly looks kind of cool. The second issue is a four-color job with black on black and silver on the front with red on the interior cover, which also looks pretty darn cool. What was not cool at the time was the $2.95 price tag for a comic printed in 1993. Yes, each issue has 32 pages of comic, but the cover stock and the ink must have cost a pretty penny, which was passed onto the reader and set the pricing for comics going forward. Thankfully, this pricing has stuck (except on some of Marvel and DC’s bigger titles), but publishers also began to drop the page count and backed off the pricier cover gimmicks. But, then again…them covers sure do look purty.
As for the content, I enjoyed rereading these issues after so many years. I’ve always had a soft spot for the early Hellraiser movies and the screwed up world and imagery, and if you’ve read last year’s posts about the individual issues of the Marshal Law HC (please do! Just go here to check it all out!), then you already know that Marshal Law plays a crucial part in my love of comic books. That said, I liked rereading these issues, and I know that crossovers are done to sell-sell-sell, but I would have loved to have seen the hero hunter go back to his roots of beating the snot out of your average super hero; you know, like maybe target a speedster with a public indecency problem, or a master of the mystic arts who can’t stop taking magical drugs. But, I enjoyed this crossover, and some of the witty bits are hilarious—Razorhead rallying a group of heroes by utilizing his ability to speak fluent cliche?! Classic! 
One negative on this mini is the art seems rushed on some of the second issue's pages, giving an inconsistent look, but that is a minor problem. You can still find the hidden jokes and Easter eggs strewn throughout, and some of the designs on both the heroes and the villains are a riot. 
I believe I found the first issue of this crossover back when it was released, but the second issue was something that took a year or two for me to track down. If you are a Marshal Law fan and have not yet read this crossover, then the decision is a no brainer. If you are new to the character—and you are fine with some potentially offensive stuff—then this is NOT the book to start with. You need to start at the beginning, denizens. You need to learn what the hero hunter is all about and then proceed along the title’s schizophrenic order of release, and there is no better way to do this than by picking up the beautiful hardcover. If you are strapped for cash, then finding the individual issues on the cheap will not be that difficult a chore, which you can do at Pinhead Vs. Marshal Law: Law In Hell has a bit the ol’ nostalgia factor working in its favor, but I'm glad I took the time to revisit on of my favorite characters. So to you I say, ”You must strike now! It’s a slim chance! But the only one you’ve got! You must read Marshal Law, before it is too late! Heads up, denizens. It’s clobbering time and this series is there for you…so take it!” RECOMMENDED!

Captain America: The Winter Soldier - No spoilers here. I loved it. One of my top three favorite comic book movies. I loved The Avengers, but this might be tied with that monumental film. I want to take my wife to see it. I want to take my mom to see it. I want to sneak Obie and Tulip into the theater to see it. I wouldn't be surprised if I make it back to the theater this weekend. Time never flew by as fast as it flew by in this movie. Respect! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Sis-a-frack-a-brick-a-brackin’ Where Are My Missing Comics?! - I'm still missing the latest issues of The Sixth Gun and Undertow. What a revoltin’ development. Dagnabbit!