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!



  1. Great summary, Donist. These issues are memorable for me, too, especially #50. Do you have contact with the creators of Micronauts? The crew should be brought together for a roundtable panel at the next Comic-Con to revisit the series and you should be the moderator. There HAS to be more Micronaut fans out there - the room would be packed, I'm sure!

  2. Thank you. As for "contact," Obie doesn't let me contact anyone; it's simply not allowed. That said, I need to check and see what Golden, Broderick, Guice, and Kelly have been most recently up to.

    Thanks for the vote of confidence for moderating a panel, but I am a heck of a kick-ace panel attendee. I even have a +4 Notepad-Of-Taking-Names-and-Numbers, so there is that. I will say that I am glad that Marvel is financially taking care of Mantlo, and I hope that his life is a bit easier and that he is getting the care he deserves. Much of his work touched my life, and I treasure his creations.

    One thing for certain is that there are plenty of "The Micronauts" fans out there, so hopefully a panel does come together. thing...there are three issues worth of comic scripts, as well as some preliminary artwork for what would have been a relaunch of the series, but unfortunately Takara killed it before an issue saw release. Hopefully someday a relaunch will happen. I still need to read the scripts.

    Thanks for reading.