Monday, June 2, 2014

Micronauts Monday 6/2/2014

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! 

Hello there, Donist World denizens, and welcome back as we begin the tail-end look at my lifelong-favorite series The Micronauts. Last week, we finished checking out Young Donist’s dream-come-true-crossover book The X-Men and the Micronauts and was happy to see that it stood up to the test of time while answering a couple questions in regard to the first volume to boot. Now, we head into volume two, The New Voyages. Before we even get into it, I will say that Current Donist remembers next to nothing about this series. What I do remember is a MAJOR redesign of a loved character, the introduction of two new characters, a captain of a spaceship in desperate need of a beard trimming, and this 20-issue series confusing the heck out of Young Donist. The fact that I remember so little about this series might be an indication of how this new reading is going to play out, but you never know; maybe there were some concepts that were beyond me at the time that will “wow” me now that I am older. Your guess is as good as mine. Let’s see if we can spark some memories…

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Micronauts:
The New Voyages #1
The Micronauts: The New Voyages #1 - Written by Peter B. Gillis, pencilled by Kelley Jones, inked by Bruce Patterson, lettered by Janice Chiang, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Ralph Macchio, published by Marvel Comics. A large, sentient rock circles a star as it has done for untold ages, and it reflects on its existence and the glory of itself. Meanwhile, the Micronauts, now free of the evil of Baron Karza, ponder a life of peace far from anything resembling war. They locate a place, but find that their new ship, the Endeavor II, to be a bit of a lemon. When the team crosses paths with the sentient rock, the call to exploration beckons stronger than the need to find peace, but will a startling discovery within the sentient rock be the Micronauts’ undoing?

Young Donist - I have no idea what is going on. First there’s a thinking rock, then the Micronauts consider a permanent vacation, then the brand new spaceship breaks down? I don’t get it. The part with Commander Rann — and his stupid beard — going outside of the ship and then stupidly reaching past the warp shield kind of freaked me out, but not nearly as much as what happens next. <barf> So disgusting…I like it! I hope to never see Acroyear walking around in his bathrobe ever again, it’s just creepy and wrong, but I will say that Huntarr looks cooler than ever, but I wish Bug had some more important stuff to do. As for action outside of the brief accident…nothin’.

I was so excited for this new start, and I even went so far as to subscribe to this comic directly from Marvel, which unfortunately meant I would receive a banged up copy about two to three weeks later than my LCS, Andromeda Book Store. When I eventually did receive my copy, I remember being awestruck by the cover, which promised my favorite characters gearing up for action and prepared to face an unseen menace; within the actual book, neither would be found. I was, however, patient, and I had faith that my beloved Micronauts would return to form the following month. Because of some of the visuals and the cool cover, Young Donist would say this issue is RECOMMENDED!

Current Donist - Huh…so that’s what was going on in this issue. I guess I should have focused the energies of my 13-year-old attention span into reading through the tons of word balloons and captions and I would have had a slightly better understanding of what was happening…but probably not much. Now as an adult, I actually enjoyed the sentient rock’s self-reflection, which gave me a glimmer of the Warren Magazine vibe I often enjoyed in volume one. After reading this issue, it clearly has a decelerated feel compared to Mantlo’s work. A fair comparison would be watching the first Star Wars movie (“A New Hope,” not that prequel thing), then watching the pilot for Space 1999 only having it star Luke, Han, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and some other crazy alien guy instead of the regular cast. The characters might look the same, have the same names, but the tone of the story is such a marked shift from what you are used to that it is a bit jolting.

As a kid, I did not realize that the writer had changed, but now I can definitely tell Mantlo’s absence from the series, which is not a knock on Gillis, I’m just pointing out that the change in tone is noticeable. Jones draws a mean Huntarr — which is a bummer given what’s coming — and his take on the roboids and the weirdness of the outer reaches of the Microverse is stunning, but I still wish the creators would ditch Commander Rann’s gawd-awful beard. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike beards on some men — just have a look at that Jason Aaron fella — but Arcturus looks more like he should be riding a fixed-gear through The City on his way to distribute flyers for an anti-quinoa rally, not manning any sort of starship; maybe he’s the sci-fi equivalent of a hipster, y’know, a shipster. One thing I do love throughout is Sharen’s colors, which at times harken back to his phenomenal work over Michael Golden’s early The Micronauts art.

Overall, this first issue is an odd shift in storytelling direction, yet I definitely can say it embraces the strange, which is what all good sci-fi should do. However, I have a fear of the characters not acting consistent with what was established over the course of the previous 65 issues of The Micronauts material. Of course characters grow and change and evolve, but those things happen over time, not immediately. Still, this first issue is RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts:
The New Voyages #2
The Micronauts: The New Voyages #2 - Written by Peter B. Gillis, pencilled by Kelley Jones, inked by Bruce Patterson, lettered by Janice Chiang, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Ralph Macchio, published by Marvel Comics. As the Micronauts explore the sentient rock, Huntarr is grabbed by tentacles that cover him in goo and begin to permanently alter his form. As the distant star comes into view to bathe the rock in an unbearable heat, the Micronauts must decide not only how to save their abducted comrade, but how to provide energy to their powerless ship.

Young Donist - “What the what?!?! Noooooooooo! THAT is the new Huntarr?! He looks like a total dweeb!’ I was appalled by Huntarr’s character design change in this issue. Completely, whole-heartedly appalled. I was totally onboard for Huntarr being captured, and I was forgiving that his teammates would have even left him there to gather “the resources of the Endeavor to save him.” The change in character design, though? No way.

Even with talk of the “Makers,” and the use of the mysterious egg thing the new-yet-stupider-looking version of Huntarr carries in his head tail (a head tail for goodness’s sake!) was not enough to make me like this issue. I even felt that the cover lied to me. Here we have my heroes leaping into battle against an unseen enemy as Huntarr suffers. I was totally excited to get into this issue and see who this grand new foe would be. Unfortunately, there was no foe, the only action was running away from a thinking rock that they should have left alone in the first place, and then at the end the roboids diagnose the impending death of the Micronauts. Not only that, Commander Rann and his annoying beard end up becoming world-class jerks to their teammates. What the what?! Young Donist would definitely not recommend this.

Current Donist - <sigh> Yes, I try my best to keep things positive on Donist World in regard to other people’s work. As a writer, I know just how difficult it can be to create something from  nothing, and just because something might not be for me, does not mean that someone else out there might adore that which I am less than thrilled about.

That said, I like this issue more than I did as a kid, but I still have a dislike of Huntarr’s new character design. I love his orange, Silly-Putty-in-clunky-metal-boots look and although some of his hinted new power sets are probably cool, it’s the goofy design that leaves me shaking my head. As for the rest of the story, and excuse my language, Commander Rann has become a total dick. Last issue he was telling Bug he was stupid, and here we have him practically sayin’ “So longa, sucker!” to Huntarr. What next? Is Rann going to start talking about how he “found” The Pixies (the band) before anyone knew who they were, and turning into a total contrarian? Criminy, denizens. Anyhow, the story…

I was reading this issue in bed and had to set it down about a third of the way through. The following night, I was reading the rest of the story on the couch and noticed a loud snoring. I though it was either Amy (my wife) or Tulip (my Tulip) sawing logs upstairs, but when I sat uprigh, I found I was the one snoring; I had fallen asleep and my own snoring had awoken me. Falling asleep twice on one issue is not something I normally do, but I will say that I was exhausted when I started reading on both occasions. That said, there are a lot of words in this issue dealing with existence, Makers, radiation, and powering up a broke-down spaceship. Even though it took a couple of attempts to finish, and not counting Huntarr’s new design, I will say that I appreciate the hard sci-fi angle of this series, and I maintain hope that the characters will return to acting consistent with what was developed over the past six years. RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts:
The New Voyages #3
The Micronauts: The New Voyages #3 - Written by Peter B. Gillis, pencilled by Kelley Jones, inked by Bruce Patterson, lettered by Janice Chiang, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Ralph Macchio, published by Marvel Comics. Although the war with Baron Karza is over, remnants of the madman’s evil remain very much alive, as Princess Mari discovers aboard the Endeavor II. Acroyear and the transformed Huntarr discuss the egg that now powers their ship and the changes Huntarr has undergone, as a possible new homeworld appears on their sensors. What mysteries does this strange world of silver hold.

Young Donist - Okay, I have to admit that I thought the image of Huntarr on the cover looked cooler than what he actually looked like in the dang book. But, then again, the covers weren’t exactly representative of what was inside on the first two issues either, so I was not all that hopeful. The only halfway neat thing about this issue was the crab-dog-flea things jumping around the planet. Too bad the Micronauts didn’t even actually fight them. <yawn>

Current Donist - Yeah, I kind of have to agree with my younger self on this one. Lots of words, little progress, but I did enjoy it a bit more than I did as a kid. That said, I am confused how a laser beam (essentially focused light) would bounce off a silver leaf, while a regular flood light would obliterate the crab-dog-fleas. Yes, I read the explanation, but still…I must have missed something.

There’s actually little more for me to say about this issue that hasn’t already been said in issue one and two. The cover does not reflect what’s inside, but the hard sci-fi storytelling is cool, I just wish my favorite characters had something more to do. I did like Mari’s find in the emergency bay, even that is barely enough to make me say this issue is RECOMMENDED!

<crickets> Yeah…ummmm…so there you have the first three issues of The Micronauts: The New Voyages. It is a definite departure from what I had grown to love as a kid — and as an adult, for that matter — yet there are aspects of the story I find intriguing and enough to keep me going. I will still have to light a candle for the old version of Huntarr, but I also try to remain open to the possibilities of what this new Huntarr will contribute to the story. Did any of you denizens read this follow-up to one of the greatest comic series of all time? If so, what did you think of it? I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.

While writing this entry, I listened to the fantastic album Everyday by Cinematic Orchestra which includes a The 7th Voyage of Sinbad homage titled “The Man With the Movie Camera.” Definitely great background music for when you need to focus on a project.


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