Monday, May 26, 2014

Micronauts Monday 5/26/2014

Hey there, Donist World denizens. Welcome back to Micronauts Monday, where I talk about my longtime favorite comic book series The Micronauts. You'll get a summary of the issue, my remembered reaction/experience with the comic book as a kid, and my thoughts as an adult after rereading the issues over the past week. The Micronauts is the book that introduced me to the wonderful world of comic book addiction. The sad thing about this amazing series is--as I explained in the first post here--is that if you haven't read the comics, doing so is going to be a bit of a hunt, since reprinting rights are firmly wedged into a Prometheus Pit of a printing-rights purgatory. But don't despair, it can be done, you can find them. has most of the main series for a fairly inexpensive price. If you want to dip your toe into the glory that is the Microverse before committing to a hunt for individual issues, then you could also check out the five "Special Editions," which I believe had two or three issues included in each. Or, better yet, if you have an opportunity to do some longbox diving into the $.50-$1.00 bins at your LCS, then I'm sure you can find many issues there. My only caution here is that the story has a tremendous narrative that builds over the course of the series, one that deserves to be read in order, but that said, any Micronauts is good Micronauts! 

I can’t believe it, denizens. After this post, I will have covered the amazing The Micronauts comic book series, the two annuals (blah), and The X-Men and the Micronauts mini-series, which will complete my look at the entire first volume of of this life changing series — 65 issues, by golly! Honestly, it seems like I just started doing “Micronauts Monday,” but I guess it’s true what they say: Time flies when you’re having fun. Today, I’ll finish my look at issues 2–4 of the mini, and then next week begins the ultimate dive into mystery of checking under the hood of the second volume,  Micronauts the New Voyages, which I remember as something that flabbergasted Young Donist’s mind and sensibilities; I honestly remember very little about it, so I’m curious how Current Donist reacts to those 20 issues. For now...

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The X-Men and the
Micronauts #2
The X-Men and the Micronauts #2 - Written by Chris Claremont and Bill Mantlo, pencilled by Butch Guice, inked by Bob Wiacek and Kelly Jones, lettered by Michael Higgins, colored by Juliana Ferriter, edited by Bob Budiansky, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts battle with the nigh-omnipotent Entity did not go that well. Billions of beings lost their lives to the monster’s whim, and our heroes find themselves trapped atop a chasm that leads down to an enemy who looks to be worse than Baron Karza ever was. That meeting does not go well, either. Speaking of Karza, the mad man is with the X-Men, who have been shrunk down to his size and the unlikely team rushes to confront the Entity. They will find the evil-doer has created his own version of the X-Men, only these from the mind-controlled Micronauts...fight!

Young Donist - More than anything, I wanted the first-page splash showing the Micronauts as a poster for my room. Dang! How sweet would that be? Anyways, the scenes with the Entity’s weirdlings trouncing the Micronauts was painful to watch, yet I loved every panel of the confrontation; I especially pored over the image of Bug being turned into, well, a bug. Then to see my heroes crawl on their knees to the bad guy only to be be remade into a version of the X-Men and wearing the “First Class” original costumes? I was pissed off, yet at the same time loved seeing them as thralls to the Entity. Bug and Huntarr especially looked cool, but I shook my head in shame at the sight of Commander Rann and his big, dumb, beefy, bearded self in the X-Men costume — shave that beast, son!

The parts with Karza and the actual X-Men, all looked cool once you swam through the sea of words, and trust me, it is a vast sea. But that’s okay, I found out that Kitty Pryde was alive and well, aside from her mind being trapped in Karza’s armor, but it was the fight between the “Micro-Men” and the “X-Nauts” that made me jump to my feet in excitement. It was the moment I had been waiting for, but it was over as soon as it had begun and those harsh, cruel words that wound us comic book lovers to our core popped up...“To be continued!!” Arrgh! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Current Donist - Criminy! I still really want this first-page splash as a poster on my wall — only this time, I would not use tacks on this gorgeous page, or, dawg-forbid, tape. No, I would have it framed and hung with one of those weight-displacing hanging mechanisms, y'know, class it up real nice. What I’m trying to say is that it’s a beautiful page. It has Guice art depicting my favorite heroes, and I absolutely LOVE how the title of the issue is drawn as part of the environment of the page. So very pretty. Anyways...

Mantlo and Claremont go full-on weird with this issue and it is cool to behold. The first third of the book with the Micros being assaulted by the appropriately named “weirdlings,” where they are confronted by their worst fears, was awesome to see, and quite horrific as well. The sea of words that made Young Donist recoil were not a problem for ol’ Current Donist, and I love the fight between the heroes. I will say that Commander Rann needs to hit a barbershop and get that soup-catcher removed — he also looks ridiculous in the X-Men outfit…yuck. I’m still loving the mind-swapped Kitty and Karza, and the final two pages of this gorgeously illustrated issue did their job and left me desperate for more. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The X-Men and the
Micronauts #3
The X-Men and the Micronauts #3 Written by Chris Claremont and Bill Mantlo, pencilled by Butch Guice, inked by Bob Wiacek, lettered by Joe Rosen, colored by Juliana Ferriter, edited by Bob Budiansky, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts and the X-Men run rampant on one of Baron Karza’s outposts, where they annihilate every dog soldier with glee. This is not the behavior of heroes, but none can resist when under the control of the god-like being known as the Entity. Meanwhile, back on Earth, Professor Xavier discovers how to fight the Entity and makes a startling discovery as Baron Karza (trapped in Kitty Pryde’s body) makes a desperate move.

Young Donist - I was immediately upset that my heroes were not in control of themselves as they cruelly slaughtered the dog soldiers, yet I could not help but be thrilled at seeing my two favorite teams working together; I loved the beginning of this issue. Then we get to see Kitty (in Baron Karza’s) body giving Degrayde the “Shut up, fool” treatment, and I couldn’t resist cheering her along.

I also liked the scenes with Karza (in Kitty’s teenage body) as the Entity came in to reward her, but I still found it pretty scandalous. Here we have a pervy, old guy living out his fantasy of gettin’ busy with Kitty, complete with a Princess-Leia-slave-girl outfit, but it isn’t really Kitty. Nope, it’s an equally pervy, old guy trapped in the body of an attractive teenage girl. I had no idea what to think, all I know is that I was relieved when Karza Kitty shanked the Entity’s pervoid ass, before things went any further.

As much as I liked the majority of the book, the final five pages kind of left me with a mild case of the blahs. Back then, I just didn’t care about the New Mutants (either the characters or the comic), and I also didn’t really care about Professor Xavier either. I know this will upset some people, but, c’mon, I was thirteen and had not picked up  The New Mutants comic (something I definitely now regret not reading) and Professor X just didn’t have the sexiness factor of groovy powers or a cool costume like his students — at least now I know Professor X is a total bada$$. I liked this issue, but the cliffhanger didn’t wow me the same way issue two did. Still, the majority of the issue was pretty darn cool. RECOMMENDED!

Current Donist - Wow…unknowing old perv, on old-perv-in-teenage-girl’s-body-dressed-in-Princess-Leia-slave-girl-outfit action! Dang, I’m still kind of scandalized. Yes, I know that Karza hasn’t really been interested in the fairer sex or whatever, but given that the dude is probably in his mid-to-late 1050s and still sports a mohawk and that pencil-thin mustache…yeah, the perv-force is strong in that one. Anyhow, I liked this issue a lot more than Young Donist, but I still feel that something slipped, just a little, in my enjoyment of the series thus far. Maybe it’s the parts with the New Mutants, which are fine, but not my favorites, that drag down my enjoyment of this issue just a hair.

I also noticed that the art seemed to be off towards the end of the book when compared to the first two thirds of the issue. A few panels look like they might have been finished by someone other than Guice, but I’m guessing that things had to be rushed to make deadlines. That said, most of the book looks as gorgeous as ever. I also noticed that we have only one issue left, and the X-Men are still in the Microverse, Kitty and Karza are still mind swapped, but on top of all of that the Entity is on Earth in Xavier’s body, and Xavier is in the Entity’s body and dying of a knife wound. Talk about a lot of storylines to tie up in only one issue. <phew> I can’t wait to see how this all ends, but dang am I not nervous as to whether or not they can pull it off. This issue, however, is still HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The X-Men and the
Micronauts #4
The X-Men and the Micronauts #4 - Written by Chris Claremont and Bill Mantlo, pencilled by Butch Guice, inked by Bob Wiacek, lettered by Rick Parker, colored by Juliana Ferriter, edited by Bob Budiansky, published by Marvel Comics. This is it, denizens! The grand finale of this incredibly fun mini-series, starring two of my favorite teams in comics! Let’s see what all the hubbub is about. We open with Dani Moonstar asleep at her desk and wearing only panties and a button-up shirt tied at the middle; Professor X leers at her from the shadows. But it is indeed not Professor X, but rather the Entity in the Professor’s body, and he seeks thralls for his dastardly desires. Meanwhile, in the Microverse, Kitty Pryde (possessed by Baron Karza) attempts to assassinate her friends, Baron Karza (possessed by Kitty Pryde) attacks Kitty, the Entity (possessed by Professor X) bleeds out, and must find a way back to Earth to confront Professor X (possessed by the Entity) who looks to annihilate the Enigma Force itself in an effort to wipe the Microverse from existence. The clock is ticking as the fate of two universes are in peril!

Young Donist -  The thoughts of a youngster on this issue: Kitty (Karza) attempting to kill the Micronauts and the X-Men…cool; Professor X (the Entity) doing “sensual” things with Dani Moonstar…confusing; Kitty (Karza) and Karza (Kitty) confronting one another to get their proper bodies back…cool; Bioship, the Micronauts, and the shrunken X-Men battling the New Mutants…totally radical, man!; Professor X and the Entity talking a lot…confusing; Degrayde dies…cool; Bioship dies…are you out of your ever loving minds? C’mon!!!; It’s over already?!

This wasn’t exactly what I was expecting and I wasn’t even sure how I wanted this mini to play out, but I was left feeling slightly unfulfilled. I guess I wanted a more grand battle of sorts, that never came. I also did not completely understand what the heck had happened, or why Bioship had to die, or why Karza just vanished and the X-Men were immediately on their way back to the Microverse. If you fit these four issues into the release schedule of the main The Micronauts series — aside from Bioship’s death — it’s almost like this mini series never happened. Back then I just didn’t realize that that’s the thing about comic book events and mini-series…in the end they almost never have any longterm effect on the main story or the rest of the Marvel U. Even if nothing really mattered by the end, I did get something I never thought I would ever see: a team-up between the heroes of two of my favorite comic book series. Young Donist would say this issue and the mini as a whole are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Current Donist - Okay, I get a lot more of this issue than I did as a kid. I also have the patience to sit through a reading of some of the heavier dialogue sections and now see that although wordy, those sequences are key to the ending and are well crafted. The action is great, the characters all act in a consistent manner, and the conflict between Karza (Kitty) and Kitty (Karza) is fantastic with Guice’s powerful first panel on page six being yet another page I wish I owned.

Although the art does not feel as rushed on this issue as it did on issue three, the same cannot be said of the story. Everything wraps up way too fast, and I wish that Marvel would have opted to make this one at least 30 pages so the pacing could have flowed better and we could have received an epilogue to make the experience even more satisfying. Heck, even a fifth issue would have helped, but eight more wrap-it-up pages would have pulled things together nicely. Whatchagonnado?

This issue also answered a couple questions I had about the main series. Through The X-Men and the Micronauts, we learn of Degrayde’s fate, we find out what happened to the Bioship, and we find out what happened to all of Karza’s dog soldiers. This also strengthens my belief that Mantlo knew he was out the door on The Micronauts, and this mini allowed him to make the events of issue 58 possible, which is a bummer. I would have loved to have seen Degrayde step up to become the new psychopath plaguing the Microverse, and maybe have D’ark show up, while Lady Coral actually received her moment to shine. <sigh> Alas, it is not meant to be. Aside from wanting more, more, more Mantlo and Guice on the main series, this mini issue is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! with the mini-series as a whole falling somewhere inbetween HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! and VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Thus ends my look at the first volume of one of my favorite comic series. There were a few low points, but they were few. There were more issues that were simply mind-blowing in writing and art, and scale. All the other issues inbetween are simply dang-fine comic books in a series I treasure above most others. Part of my love for The Micronauts is nostalgia, I will admit to that being a factor, but even without the Young Donist memories, this series is freakin’ excellent and something every comic fan should seek out. I would also suggest reading the series proper before reading The X-Men and the Micronauts so you can get a handle on these characters and see what they have been through; your love for them will carry you a long way.

<phew!> Okay, next week, it’s on to Micronauts the New Voyages, and all I remember is that Young Donist had no idea of what he was getting into, and although I do not remember what all happened in this series, I will say that there is one part early on that filled Young Donist with blind rage. Hope to see you over the next month or two so I can tell you all about it. Thank you for reading.

While writing this entry, I listened to Sulk’s awesome 2013 album Graceless,  which is like a reborn version of the Stone Roses. The whole thing is great, but I am especially loving the song "Flowers." Click the link to see what I mean about this amazing band!


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