Marvel Heartbreakers #1
You’ve got to be very secure in your masculinity to buy this comic. You need to practice what to say in case someone sees you picking it up off the rack. An eyebrow raises, the horror! – - “It’s not for me. It’s for a friend, a girl. Not me.” From the pink title graphics to the little pink hearts to the pose of the barely legal (or is she?) pink bubble gum girl on the cover, you’ve got to steel yourself as you bring it to the counter as if you’re a teenager again and it’s the first time you asked the guy at the drugstore for a box of you-know-whats. You might even pick up three or four other issues to distract the clerk. All this drama for your Alpha Flight collection – Snowbird appears in her own 8pp story!
Originally published as a digital comic in late 2009 under the Astonishing Tales anthology title, the fourth story in this anthology is “Animalia” by Karl Bollers, and what a story it is! Snowbird, after pleading for permission for a mate and offspring, is sent by Hodiak and Nelvanna to battle two of the Great Beasts. She transforms into an Arctic wolverine and comes upon the fictional (but charmingly named) town of Elk’s Tooth, Alaska, where she uses her postcognitive powers to discern the presence of two Great Beasts not previously known, Tiamaq and Herateq.
She transforms twice more into Nanook, the Inuit polar bear god, and a mosquito swarm to defeat the beasts and brutally dispatches them off panel with an openly raked set of talons. Awesome! Just like in Snowbird’s previous appearance in the God Squad issues of Incredible Hercules #117-120, she’s portrayed as an extremely powerful character of both physical strength and unfailing will to fufill her purpose.
This little story has just about everything Snowbird in it, some obvious, some subtle, but Bollers certainly did his homework on this one, and it shows. It’s got the Inuit Northern Gods, references to Richard Easton, Snowbird’s purpose on Earth, her animal-transmorphing powers, her postcognitive powers, her ability to compel others to assist (in this case, a pack of Arctic Wolverines), the heightened senses she’d pick up while in wolverine form, and a narrative dialogue in highbrow form you’d expect from a demi-goddess. Right before she destroys Tiamaq and Herateq, she offers them this gem:
“Creature, I am the instrument of your demise. Offer you up no defense? Very well. I… will be swift.”
Harvey Talibao and Emily Warren on colors combine to produce beautiful and compelling modern visuals using an unusual palette. If only the original cover for the Astonshing Tales digital comic were used instead!
Note that unlike previous instances, Snowbird retains a diamond-shaped imprint on her forehead while in animal form. This isn’t necessarily an error, but it’s surprising for an established character who has used this power so many times before to suddenly manifest it in a new way. This would have given her away in Wolverine: First Class #5 when she surprised Weapon Y while disguised as a goat. Note also that no mention was made of neither her husband Doug Thompson nor her baby, which should have been made, but could also reasonably be omitted given the space limitations.
Note: on the intro page, a panel taken from Alpha Flight #3 shows Snowbird transforming into a polar bear and following the story is a 1pg pin-up by Lara West and Emily Warren, featuring the girls of this girly issue with Snowbird in the very center on a throne.
Note: In November 2009, Marvel offered a four-page preview online which can be seen in a previous post.