Archive for September, 2009

Atom and Steve, not Adam and… uh, wait, what?

September 30, 2009

dauxmucoverDark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia #1
Aug 2009

The first in a six-chapter crossover between the Dark Avengers and Uncanny X-Men, this issue kicks off the Utopia storyline set within the Dark Reign crossover.  Northstar appears as a regular member of the X-Men, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #508.

The storyline kicks off in San Francisco, the newly recent home of the X-Men after they reorganized in issue #500.  In parallel to the real-world political  controversy surrounding Proposition 8, a law passed by the voters of California to change the state constitution to effectively ban gay marriage, Proposition X is introduced, a law proposed by Simon Trask to force sterilization of all mutants.  All hell breaks loose as protestors and anti-protestors clash violently all over San Francisco.

Since Northstar joined up with the X-Men, he’s not been used all that much.  In many scenes that depict large groups of mutants, he’s absent, and he’s yet to get a feature issue.  The way Uncanny has been written with so many multiple plot lines at once, it’s been hard for anyone except Cyclops and Emma Frost to appear on more than 2 pages in a row.  Not surprisingly then, Northstar doesn’t appear too many times in this book, but it’s nice to see him om the front lines protesting, as if Matt Fraction singled him out as a character who would be deeply affected by the awful hatred of a law such as Proposition X.

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After a city-wide scuffle between protestors and anti-protestors in which Northstar appears in a few more panels, the X-Men regroup back at their headquarters.  In a panel showing nearly all of the mutants at Greymalkin watching the riots unfold on TV, Mister Jeffries can be seen.

He can be found (circled in red) to the far left, bathed in the glow from the TV screen, just in front of fellow X-Club member Dr. Takiguchi and to the left of Colossus. Unnamed, his identity has been confirmed by the character listing in the Official Index to the Marvel Universe #13.

Meanwhile, Norman Osborn takes advantage of the civil unrest to send in his Dark Avengers.  Ares, the god of war, jumps out of a plane, no parachute, and smashes down in front of a now-costumed Northstar to lay down the gauntlet.  Fortunately, the mismatched pair do not engage and that’s all we see from JP this issue.

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Note: Northstar appears on the cover on the ground all defeated, depicting events which do not happen in the book at all.  He clashes only with puny human street protestors and does not fight Ares, so there’s no way he’d be on the ground knocked out.   

There are four variant covers for this issue:

dauxmucoverbianchivariant Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia #1 Simone Bianchi variant
dauxmucoverjaeleevariant Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia #1 Jae Lee variant
dauxmucoversdccsketchvariant Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia #1 SDCC sketch variant
dauxmucoversecondprintingvariant Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia #1 Second Printing variant
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New items for this week 9/30/09

September 30, 2009

I won’t usually be covering upcoming items because it just clutters things, but this week I will make an exception.  Two items are coming out that are very nifty (LGT Marvel solicits):

OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE A TO Z VOL. 10 PREMIERE HC

and

WOLVERINE: WEAPON X FILES

You can see Sasquatch on the cover of the OHOTMU book, and I’m looking forward to his entry as well as some other Alpha Flight related stuff.

But, the real gem is that Wolverine book. Why is it such a big deal? Well, the missing 3rd volume of the Wolverine Encyclopedia from 1996 is finally being published! Alpha Flight had entries in volumes 1 and 2, but, for a reason unknown to me, Marvel never published the third volume, abruptly ending the series and stopping somewhere in the R’s in the A-Z format. Sasquatch, Shaman and Snowbird are sure to have entries. Note that the info is from 1996, so the satisfaction of finally seeing the unpublished volume will exceed the educational value of the information in the entries.

EDIT 10/16/09: See comments below.  No volume 3.  The solicts were wrong.

Monday is FUNday at Alpha Flight Collector!

September 29, 2009

funday
With all the Dark X-Men, Dark Reign, Dark Avengers and the death of Marrina this past week, it’s just too dark around here. So it’s time to lighten things up a bit. Monday posts are hereby declared FUNday posts, covering the lighter side of Alpha Flight appearances, mostly parody issues and other random silliness.

ffroastcoverFantastic Four Roast #1
May 1982

The cover wraps around but Alpha Flight doesn’t appear on the back so only the front cover is shown.

One of the few comics in which Alpha Flight appears before the launch of volume 1, this issue is a complete mockery of nearly all of the characters in the Marvel Universe, with artwork from nearly everyone mixed in. Written in the form of an actual roast, heroes and villains alike come up on stage to roast the Fantastic Four.  Every panel has some quip or joke or outright nonsense, the funniest ones IMHO being the X-Men sketch and the bathroom humor of The Whizzer.  After a few attempts on their lives by a possessed Willie Lumpkin, (a machine gun hidden in a chicken, a hypnotic disc in the salad, a bomb in the soup and an ice-cream monster), the entire dinner is destroyed by Black Bolt when he lets out a laugh after The Thing’s final joke.

Though the cover is drawn by Fred Hembeck, each page is drawn by a different uncredited artist, usually the artist who, at the time, was working on the characters appearing on each page.  John Byrne drew a few of the pages, one with Uatu the Watcher and the Silver Surfer dressed in vaudeville duds.  In the lower right corner of one panel is a tiny Alpha Flight cameo with Vindicator (Mac), Sasquatch and Snowbird as Mac calls out for some beer.  Here’s the panel and a close-up:

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ffroastcloseup

Mmm... beer...

Well, that’s this week’s FUNday post.  Isn’t it nice when no one gets dragged down into the crushing depths of the deepest trench of the Pacific Ocean by their ex-husband?

For a long-winded description of how this comic came together, written by none other than the inimitable Fred Hembeck himself, check out this link: http://comics.ign.com/articles/673/673771p1.html.

Nation X begins, Alpha Flight is there!

September 27, 2009

uxm515coverUncanny X-Men #515
Nov 2009

A new story arc spinning out of Dark Reign and Utopia starts with this issue, and we are not forgotten.  Greg Land returns to pencil (well, you can use that term loosely, but this blog isn’t about tracing) Uncanny and does Madison Jeffries quite nicely, grey temples and all. Both he and Northstar appear as regular members of the X-Men on Utopia Island.

Unfortunately, one of the X-Club members, Dr. Yuriko Takiguchi, dies of natural causes in this issue, prompting his friends to have an unusually extensive conversation about what to do with his body.  Two entire pages are devoted to this conversation, emphasizing the difficulties of establishing an island nation – what do you do with dead bodies when you live on an island?  Fortunately, Jeffries comes up with a solution: cremation in a blast furnace.

Personally, I prefer sushi. But, if you insist on cooking something, Japanese barbecue sounds just as good!

Personally, I prefer sushi. But, if you insist on cooking something, Japanese barbecue sounds just as good!


 
uxm515bHe and Northstar attend Dr. Takiguchi’s rooftop funeral, which is Northstar’s little cameo. Oddly, the X-logo seen previously on his chest is missing, but can be seen on other X-Men standing nearby and drawn about the same size.

This book marks the first use of the “Nation X” logo on the cover. We know from the December solicits that it will spin into its own series (Northstar can be seen on the cover of issue #1).

Marrina killed by Sub-Mariner. This is not a repeat from 1988.

September 27, 2009

drtlxmcoverDark Reign: The List – X-Men #1
Nov 2009

Marrina has been killed, uh, again, by her former husband, the Sub-Mariner.   Marrina had first been seemingly killed by The Sub-Mariner in Avengers #293 (Jul 1988), which turned out to be a “false death” (Alpha Flight #78 Dec 1989), confirmed when we saw her floating in a tank in Avengers v3 #47 (Dec 2001).   This time around,  in a classic evil villian/maniacal scheme to take down Namor once and for all, Norman Osborn somehow gets his hands on her, genetically modifies her to be continually in estrus, insane, hungry, able to eat only Atlanteans, adds in “shark stuff” and gives her completely awesome blastey eyes.  He sets her free to go eat.

Completely awesome eye blasts.

Completely awesome eye blasts.

After some completely awesome eye blasts, she gobbles up some poor Atlantean farmers.  The X-Men decide to stop the threat, luring the Leviathan to Utopia Island.  When she comes into view, Namor instantly recognizes her and utters an absolutely inappropriate line, “Ex-wives, what can you do?”

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Bad times.

Poor Marrina then battles the X-Men, very similar to the battles against the Avengers in issues #291-293.  Iceman tries to freeze her, Wolverine chops up her blastey eyes, which just gets glowing eye goop all over the place, Surge tries to electrocute her, and Nightcrawler teleports in a bomb and tosses it at her.   This brings her to flop onto land, where the Sub-Mariner can pick her up and fly her out to the Marianas Trench. 

drxmtl1c

Good times.

He dives down into the crushing depths with her, mistakenly calling her “Mariana”, probably just a typo.  The oddly flippant attitude shown previously is gone.  Instead, he softly begs her not to fight him, not to think.  Then,  a very nice touch: flashback to his fondest memories with her, printed in halftone as if it were lifted right from an 80s era comic.  He comforts her, “It will all be over soon”.

Which isn’t exactly the case because The Avenging Son doesn’t stop there.  No, he has to sever her head and toss it into Osborn’s office window.  When the Leviathan had been subdued before, it reverted back to Marrina’s humanoid form, and again when it was seemingly killed, it reverted again.  This time, she must really be dead.

Well, you can’t blame Namor for what he did. Except for the completely awesome blastey eyes, Marrina was in pretty bad shape.  The wrenching agony of his decision to kill Marrina had already been played out the first time he killed her, so it wasn’t necessary to blather on and on about whether or not to try to rehabilitate her or reverse her condition, etc.  Although it was very nice to see Marrina again after so many years, it was disturbing to see her so terrified and heartbreaking to see her killed in the same issue.  I was really hoping when I saw the preview art that she’d be brought back to us, but no, another Alphan has been killed off.

This concludes the sad, sad saga of Marrina’s short and torturous life.

drltxmcoverchovariant This issue is printed with an alternate Frank Cho cover (1:100 Hero variant) which will cost a pretty penny due to its low print run.
Second printing variant by Alan Davis
drtla1cover Preview art from this issue without speech bubbles was printed in Dark Reign: The List – Avengers #1 last week.
drtla1covervariant That issue also had an alternate 1:100 Hero variant by Marko Djurdjevic, which will also cost a pretty penny.
drtla1coversecondprintingvariant Second printing of the Avengers issue, also by Djurdjevic, much cheaper.

Alpha Flight in Dark Reign: Made Men #1

September 27, 2009

drmm1coverDark Reign: Made Men #1
Nov 2009

Originally released as a digital comic, the 2nd story (of 5) features Attuma, Alpha Flight’s evil enemy from way back.  While contemplating joining forces with Doctor Doom, Attuma recalls his past failed battles with Namor, including the epic underwater battle shown in the story arc from Alpha Flight #35-39, continuing in Avengers #272 and concluding in Alpha Flight #40.  Included in a montage, a portion of one panel shows an erroneous memory of being simultaneously attacked by Namor, Marrina, Shaman, Sasquatch and Puck.  Of course, at the time, Sasquatch was dead (Snowbird could have taken his form, but she’d be white, not Tanaraq-orange), and Michael Twoyoungmen was wearing a black/white fur costume, becoming the Talisman in Alpha Flight #38, before the underwater battle.   Also, Marrina did try to directly attack Attuma but was shot down before she could get as close as pictured:drmm1

It’s a bit disappointing to see the mistaken portrayals of the characters, especially from Frank Tieri and Rafa Sandoval, creators who have previously been very good to us, but it all can be attributed to Attuma’s  faded memory, so all is good.  For this issue, just the one panel cameo and very nice to see Marrina poised to land a straight right on Attuma’s kisser.

Where are they now?

September 26, 2009

First things first. Let’s get the current situation with all Alphans out there. For a few members who are actively appearing in an ongoing series, or have been popping up in the past year or so, this page will become quickly out of date.  Those members are noted in bold text. Green means they are alive and kicking, yellow means they are alive, but we haven’t seen them for a long time, blue means they are alive but depowered and gray means they are dead. The rest is self-explanatory.

Original Team

Member Status Last seen
Guardian (Mac) Dead New Avengers #16
Aurora Alive Dark X-Men: The Beginning #3
Northstar Alive Uncanny X-Men #515
Sasquatch Alive Mighty Avengers #23
Shaman Dead New Avengers #16
Snowbird Alive Incredible Hercules #120

Added v1

Member Status Last seen
Marrina Dead Dark Reign: The List – X-Men #1
Puck (Eugene) Dead New Avengers #16
Talisman Alive Omega Flight #5
Vindicator (Heather) Dead New Avengers #16
Diamond Lil Alive X-Men: The 198 #4
Wild Child Dead Wolverine Origins #39
Madison Jeffries Alive Uncanny X-Men #515
Persuasion Alive Marvel Digital Holiday Special 2008
Goblyn Alive Alpha Flight #130
Pathway Alive Alpha Flight #130
Manikin Alive Alpha Flight #130
Windshear Depowered New Thunderbolts #43
Feedback Alive Alpha Flight #130
Roger Bochs Dead Alpha Flight #49
Flashback Alive Alpha Flight v3 #12
Smart Alec Dead Alpha Flight #46
Nemesis Dead Alpha Flight v3 #12
Witchfire Alive X-Infernus #4
Silver Alive AF#121
Auric Alive Alpha Flight #121
Wyre Alive Alpha Flight #130

Added v2

Member Status Last seen
Flex Depowered Wolverine #142
Radius Depowered Uncanny X-Men #406
Manbot Alive Wolverine #142
Murmur Depowered Wolverine #142
Ghost Girl Alive Alpha Flight v2 #20
Ouija Alive Alpha Flight v2 #20
Flinch Alive Alpha Flight v2 #20
Synth Mac Dead Wolverine #143
Real Sasquatch Dead Alpha Flight v2 #12

Added v3

Member Status Last seen
Yukon Jack Married Alpha Flight v3 #12
Centennial Dead Alpha Flight v3 #12
Puck (Zuzha) Dead New Avengers #16
Major Mapleleaf, Jr. Dead New Avengers #16
Mar Alive Alpha Flight v3 #12
Thunder Alive Alpha Flight v3 #12

Added “Other”

Member Status Last seen
Groundhog Alive Alpha Flight Special #1
St. Elmo Dead Alpha Flight Special #1
Stitch Alive Alpha Flight #127
Earthmover Alive Alpha Flight v3 #6

Hello, world!

September 25, 2009

oldsidebarYahoo is closing down GeoCities, so I’m moving my old Alpha Flight website to WordPress.  I still have the old site on my computer but won’t be porting it over word for word.  Instead, I’ll create something new: a blog about Alpha Flight collecting that’s more in line with the way people use the Internet.  I’ll include lots of posts about old issues, news about new developments in the exciting world of collecting Alpha Flight and some other goodies.

This should be fun. I’m tired of  manually writing HTML, tired of uploading files and images one at a time, and tired of living in the 1990’s when it comes to my web presence.  I experimented with WordPress by making a small website about Meg, an extremely minor character from Alpha Flight #7 (check it out, it’s a fun site that takes itself too seriously) and found WordPress to be usable for a more extensive site.

Well, wish me luck.  At last count of my old website, I had almost 600 issues indexed and that was back in April 2009, and that didn’t even include the main Alpha Flight titles (almost another 200 issues) nor about 100 or so books that I have waiting in the wings.  I hope to keep things organized but how can you organize almost 1000 issues without using a database?  

I want to thank the fans over at alphaflight.net for keeping the flame burning, being the best group of fans ever and helping each other find new comics with Alpha Flight appearances.  I love you.