Archive for October, 2009

Utopia page complete, plus some comments about general site organization.

October 30, 2009

utopialogo
In an attempt to start getting organized with these posts, I’ve put up a Utopia page to group the associated issues within that story arc.  The little unassuming link is in the sidebar to the right or click on the logo above.  It’s the first one of many static pages I hope to complete, eventually forming a coherent hierarchical archive of appearances by story arc, by character, by era, by theme, etc.   I didn’t want to have long lists of things on this site so as to avoid the tedium of maintaining a database on a blog, but without any sense of organization, this site will just be too random to understand.  The built-in tags and post categories in the sidebar are great starting points but when you click on them, the site returns results in the conventional way: by displaying posts in reverse chronological order of posting.  That might not be the most useful way to see the site content. 

Once I have a few hundred posts of Individual Issue Appearances, it will start to make more sense.  I’ve never seen a blog used effectively as a good database for comic book appearances before, but I think I can make it work.

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Jeffries cameo in Runaways #10

October 28, 2009

runaways10coverRunaways v3 #10
Jul 2009

The Runaways is a series of comics about a group of young heroes with powers inherited from their villain parents. This particular issue was released concurrent with Uncanny #510 but likely takes place after UXM #512, the time travel issue, as the chaotic events of the Sisterhood arc have ended and Greymalkin Industries, the headquarters of the X-Men in San Francisco before the X-Men relocated to Utopia Island, seems orderly and calm. Mister Jeffries appears as a regular member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505.

runaways10

Let's see, what happens if I mix a pint of Molson Ice with a pint of Molson Dry...

In Uncanny X-Men #500, Emma Frost sent out a psychic signal to all mutants. Young Molly Hayes of the Runaways picked up the lingering signal and felt compelled to find the source. Arriving at Greymalkin, Cyclops assigns Wolverine to be her mismatched chaperone while she gets a tour of the facilities, grating everyone’s nerves. One of the stops on the tour is the Science Lab, where The Beast, Dr. Nemesis, Dr. Kavita Rao and Mister Jeffries are doing some sort of scientific science stuff.

Mister Jeffries makes a single panel cameo appearance, wearing a very odd white lab coat, and very oddly working in a fume hood with a rack of test tubes. Similar to his mischaracterized super-smartness that we’ve seen in X-Men Legacy Annual #1 (2009) and X-Men Legacy #228, he seems to have gained a new area of expertise in addition to his awesome knowledge of inter-dimensional physics and mathematics: chemistry! I’ll give James Asmus a pass here though, since it’s conceivable that The Beast made Jeffries put a lab coat on in the lab, and what looks to be a rack of test tubes really might be a small device that he’s working on that uses test tubes, like a spectrometer.

Wild Child killed by Omega Red

October 27, 2009

wolorigins39coverWolverine Origins #39
Oct 2009

Picking up right where we left off in the previous issue, more of Romulus’ secret plan unfolds before us as several members of his deadly fight club square off against each other. Wild Child appears extensively in this issue as an agent of Romulus, having joined up with him sometime before Wolverine v3 #53.

Wild Child first appears in flashback to his single panel cameo in issue #38 on the Intro/Credits page, then in a metal fabrication plant in Russia where he has killed a local worker and tied up Wolverine over a vat of bubbling molten metal. After expostulating for a few pages about his diabolical plan to lower Wolverine into the vat, which could have been shortened if he had just said, “Terminator 2. ‘Nuff said!”, he accidentally gives Wolverine (and us) clues about what’s been going on for the past few years since the Romulus retcon started.

wolorigins39c

You made the classic movie mistake: don't explain so much!

Wolverine figures out Romulus’ gladiator-style plan to pit various members of his fight club against each other, shown very nicely with half-page portraits of the members, the best art in the book (Nuke, Cyber and Sabretooth already killed, Omega Red, Wild Child, Daken and Wolverine are left). Wild Child then appears in a greyed out flashback to the events of Wolverine v3 #55 when Wolverine killed Sabretooth.

wolorigins39aMeanwhile, Omega Red, who was defeated but not killed in the previous issue, shows up during Kyle’s monologue and after a brief scuffle, rams one of his tentacles through Wild Child’s throat and tosses him into the vat of molten metal, killing him.

The way the battles had been going so far, this was an unexpected result. Remember that a newly powered (with possibly increased levels) Wild Child fought Wolverine and won handily in Wolverine v3 #53. Later, Wolverine defeated Omega Red, so it would appear that Wild Child ought to have done better against the loser of the loser’s battle, but unfortunately, fared worse than expected.

Given the choice, I’d prefer not to see Kyle die at all, but if he had to, it would have been preferable for Logan to do it: remember back to the grisly fight between them in Marvel Comics Presents #51-53, which could have gone either way, the short battle in Alpha Flight #127 and in that same issue, the flashback when he rescues Stitch from him and declares, “The kid’s a monster, pure and simple. He doesn’t need reaching… …he needs putting down!” I was expecting Logan to take him out with a line something like, “Mac’s not around anymore to stop me from doing something I shoulda done years ago…”, to get a sense of closure on the long-standing storyline of raw animosity between the two. Nothing was even mentioned before or after Wild Child’s death. Even Jeph Loeb took a shot at Wild Child’s history, but Daniel Way just treated Kyle as some random dude who just showed up who Logan didn’t even know, without a single hint of recognition or connection whatsoever.

wolorigins39b
Wild Child’s character has been transformed so many times through his life, from the scraggly feral man-beast from Delphine Courtney’s Omega Flight to Weapon Omega, then the handsome Wildheart, reborn somehow into X-Factor, devolved at the end of his run there, reborn by Weapon X into a mute grey-skinned vampiric moppet and finally depowered, only to be brought back all Wildhearty again, with super-speed and strength, hair, a voice, and tons of piercings. His life, a story of continual change, oscillating between man, beast, hero and villain, is finally over.

Note: this issue has a variant cover:

wolorigins39cover70thanniversaryvariant Wolverine Origins #39 – 70th Anniversary Frame variant

Bye, GeoCities! We’ll miss you every FUNday!

October 26, 2009

funday
To celebrate the closing of GeoCities today (farewell, old Alpha Flight Collector site), another installment of Monday’s FUNday is ready to go. For the record, the old site had NO blink tags, NO animated gifs, NO “under construction” images and (almost) NO broken links. It was a ton of FUN to build and I’ll miss it, you guessed it, every FUNday… speaking of which, today’s issue is:

marvelage29coverMarvel Age #29
Aug 1985

Marvel Age was a monthly series featuring previews of upcoming comics, news articles about various subjects, advertisements, humorous pieces, and the occasional interview with creators and Marvel staff.  Long removed from the Internet age, it was a great way (sometimes the ONLY way) to get news about what was going on in the world of Marvel Comics.  This issue has a small Sasquatch cameo on the back cover.

The issue’s inside front cover has a small inset by Jim Salicrup where he lists the top 10 sales figures for ongoing Marvel titles.  The data is quite mashed up, representing the average sales of the titles during their July, August and September on-sale period for comics dated October, November and December (of 1984). Got all that?  Headache?  OK, that corresponds to Alpha Flight volume 1 issues 15, 16, and 17 during the initial Byrne run.  Here is the entire list:

  1. Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars
  2. X-Men
  3. Kitty Pryde and Wolverine
  4. The X-Men Annual
  5. The Amazing Spider-Man
  6. Alpha Flight
  7. New Mutants
  8. West Coast Avengers
  9. G.I. Joe
  10. The Transformers

Yes, Alpha Flight was once a top 10 book and here’s the proof!

This issue was concurrent with Alpha Flight #25 and solicits issue #26 in the section, “Marvel Coming Attractions”:

ALPHA FLIGHT #26 – Omega Flight is out for Alpha Flight’s blood – and this time it looks like they’re going to get it!  Meanwhile, Guardian is acting weird and Heather wants to know why!  She is certain that what she doesn’t know about her husband can – and will – destroy her!  “If at First You Don’t Succeed . . .” is written and penciled by John Byrne and inked by Bob Wiacek. 65¢.

Also in the section, “Newswatch” is a quick mention of the X-Men/Alpha Flight LS:

ITEM! Boy, do we have a bunch of stuff to tell you about! To start off with, we’re proud to announce the long-awaited X-MEN / ALPHA FLIGHT cross-over special! It’s a two-part Limited Series, scripted by Chris Claremont with art by Paul Smith and Bob Wiacek – from a plot by Ann Nocenti, Denny O’Neil and Jim Shooter! The outlaw mutants and the northern stars face Loki . . . so you know it’s going to be a battle to remember! X-MEN / ALPHA FLIGHT #1 will be showing up in September, so mark your calendars!

Alpha Flight is once again referred to as the “northern stars”. This must have been written by the same guy who wrote the solicit for the creative team switch in Marvel Age #26!

marvelage29Now finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the FUN part of FUNday: the calendar! The back pages of many Marvel Age issues featured a comical calendar with staff birthdays, one-liner jokes and parodies of various Marvel characters. This issue had a calendar for May 1985 and Sasquatch appears on the 31st. Credits for the calendar are w-Jim Salicrup, a-Ron Zalme and c-Andy Yanchus, who was the regular colorist for Byrne’s 28-issue run on Alpha Flight volume 1 and numerous other Alpha Flight appearances.

Lambda Flight disbanded, Jeffries rejoins the X-Men

October 24, 2009

xmenleg228coverX-Men Legacy #228
Dec 2009

Continuing right where X-Men Legacy Annual #1 (2009) left off, this issue, now set in the Nation X storyline, is part 2 of the “Devil at the Crossroads” arc. Mister Jeffries appears as a regular member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505.

While the young mutant Bling is off in Emplate’s scary, twisted pocket dimension, which, incidentally is rendered perfectly by Daniel Acuña, Cyclops and Rogue plot a rescue on the deck of Utopia Island, the X-Men floating headquarters.  Turning first to Dr. Nemesis and Mister Jeffries for a plan, Cyclops inquires about the firewall suggested in the previous chapter by the Science Team.  Jeffries appears in a few panels wearing civilian clothes, explaining how difficult it would be to reach Bling.

xmenleg228Jeffries appears again in black and white as Rogue’s astral form peeks into a peepshow viewing device in Emplate’s pocket dimension, discovering Dr. Nemesis and Mister Jeffries hard at work in the lab while Cyclops browbeats them to find a solution.

Jeffries only has a few lines in this issue and is noticeably less full of technobabble than he was in the previous chapter, though he still seems to have a firm grasp of the physics and mathematics behind interdimensional travel.  Also, the very odd lambda symbol seen in X-Men Legacy Annual #1 is gone, replaced by a very normal circumscribed X on his shirt,which you can see faintly on his red shirt in lighter red. The mark on his face left by Emplate when he sucked out his bone marrow has been healed nicely, presumably by one of the mutant healers on Utopia island or Mike Carey’s poor memory.

Second printing added to Dark Reign: The List – Avengers #1

October 23, 2009

The post for Dark Reign: The List – X-Men #1 has been updated to show the new 2nd printing of the preview issue, Dark Reign: The List – Avengers #1.

Since those comics were issued close to each other, it’s likely that there will be a 2nd printing of Dark Reign: The List – X-Men #1, coming soon, too.

Wild Child cameo in Wolverine Origins #38

October 22, 2009

wolorigins38coverWolverine Origins #38
Sep 2009

Wolverine’s never-ending origin continues in this issue, taking us deep into Russia to discover the secret plan and identity of Romulus, the shadowy and powerful figure who has been retconned to have manipulated every aspect of Wolverine’s life. Wild Child appears in this issue as an agent of Romulus, having joined up with him sometime before Wolverine v3 #53.

Wild Child, shown wearing his leather-studded costume, was last seen in Wolverine v3 #56 (Oct 2007), where he was posting polaroids of Wolverine’s torture in the pit on Romulus’ wall. His entire appearance is a full-page cliffhanger cameo at the end, towering over a very weakened and passed out Wolverine, who has just fought Omega Red in a climactic battle and has wandered out into the snow.

wolorigins38

Note: this issue has a variant cover.

wolorigins38cover40sdecadevariant Wolverine Origins #38 – 40s Decade variant

Jeffries cameo in New Mutants #4

October 21, 2009

nmv34coverNew Mutants #4
Oct 2009

The re- re-launch of the New Mutants, now with most all the original members, ends its opening story arc with this issue.  The New Mutants conclude their struggle with Legion (a.k.a. David Haller, son of Professor X), who is likely the most powerful mutant ever.  Mister Jeffries appears as a regular member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505.

As the issue winds down, the X-Men finally arrive to perform damage control in the Colorado town where the New Mutants have been battling Legion and to tend to the wounded team.  The entirety of Jeffries’ appearance is a single panel cameo as he places a brain wave dampening helmet on the recently captured David Haller.

nmv34

The helmet must also be a hair dampener, as it fits right over his crazy vertical hairdo without a single stray strand.   Subsequent panels show Dani Moonstar and Cannonball wearing high-tech braces on their limbs, but it’s not clear if those are technomorphed contraptions made by Jeffries on the spot or just nifty casts.  Jeffries isn’t identified by name, but neither is Colossus, the A-lister who you can barely even see in the previous panel, so don’t feel bad.

This issue has two variant covers:

nmv34coverbenjaminvariant New Mutants #4 – Ryan Benjamin variant
nmv34cover70thanniversaryvariant New Mutants #4 – 70th Anniversary Frame variant

Exploding from the pages of X-Men Legacy! Lambda Flight?

October 20, 2009

xmenlegacyann1coverX-Men Legacy Annual #1
Nov 2009 

In between the end of Utopia and the beginning of Nation X, two X-Men related story arcs spinning out of the Dark Reign storyline, this annual sets up the beginning of a four part story arc “Devil at the Crossroads”.  Madison Jeffries appears as a regular member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505.

The X-Men, having just recently established their independence on Utopia Island, are busy constructing the facilities while Madison Jeffries and Danger work on diagnostics in the lab.  Danger senses that they are currently being observed from a super-normal dimensional envelope, detecting the presence of Emplate, who phases into the room and attacks them.  Jeffries instructs the diagnostic equipment to become a weapon, but Emplate swings Danger into the line of fire instead.  He then quite rudely insults Jeffries, calling him a “puling worm”, then brutally attacks him by sucking some bone marrow out of his face.  Yuk!  The X-Men come to the rescue and drive him off after a short battle.  Later, Jeffries is shown again with a big bloody splotch on his face where he got his bone marrow sucked out, discussing strategy with Dr. Nemesis.

Whoa. Did you just say we are currently being observed from a super-normal dimensional envelope?

Whoa. Did you just say we are currently being observed from a super-normal dimensional envelope?

Mike Carey commits a terrible sin by getting Jeffries, well, just wrong in this issue.  Usually when your favorite characters are written as stronger, faster, smarter, braver, better-looking, wittier, etc., it’s very nice to see and you enjoy reading stories like that.  But Jeffries, what can I say, I love the guy but he’s just not as smart as this.   It starts when Pixie refers to him as “Dr. Jeffries.” while she’s up on deck, and continues when Danger also calls him “Doctor Jeffries.”  No, he’s just “Mister” Jeffries (see my rant in That’s “Mister” Jeffries to you, pal! for more of the Doctor/Mister issue).  When he’s discussing the diagnostics with Danger and later, the plan to capture Emplate with Dr. Nemesis, here’s what he says:

“Your data throughput is breathtaking.  17 terabytes per pico-second–like a truckload of Einsteins.”

“Mutate the valence to force different dimensional intersects.  Instead of bouncing off, he gets caught in a holding cycle.”

This technobabble is Jeffries?

xmenlegacyann1bAnother thing Carey gets wrong is the way Jeffries uses his powers: instead of  using his technomorph powers to re-shape and re-organize materials into constructs, he gives verbal instructions to command machines.  When he wants the diagnostic equipment to change into a weapon, he just tells it to increase the power to the scanning lasers and microwave emitters. Now, it’s possible that the diagnostic equipment does respond to voice commands as designed, but you’d think after all the years he’s spent fighting battle after battle with Alpha Flight that he’d have the sense to create something a bit more powerful.  This is Jeffries, trapped in the X-Men Science team’s diagnostic lab, surrounded by what might be some of the most advanced computers and machinery on Earth, and the best he can do is talk to a laser scanner?  It’s just off.

xmenlegacyann1cFinally, the strangest thing is the Lambda patch on his jacket. What’s up with that?  I’ve heard of Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Omega and even Epsilon Flight… is this a Lambda Flight patch?  In an issue very close chronologically to this, X-Men vs. Agents of Atlas #1, Jeffries is seen wearing a similar jacket with an X on the shoulder, which makes sense, but the Lambda is simply unexplainable.

By far the best part of this book is Daniel Acuña’s shot of Jeffries (shown above) when Danger suggests they are being observed from a super-normal dimensional envelope.  I mean, that’s just the look you’d expect him to have on his face upon hearing such a thing.  Precious!

Note: although Northstar was a member of the X-Men at the time, he did not appear in this issue.

FUNday is Awful this week!

October 19, 2009

funday
It’s Monday, and you know what that means. Yes, it’s FUNday! This week’s installment of FUNday at Alpha Flight Collector is probably the most extensive parody ever of Alpha Flight:

pporker6coverPeter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham #6
Mar 1986

In what might be the grandaddy of all Alpha Flight parodies, the 2nd story of this issue is Awful Flight, a 5 page deconstruction of the team with absolutely no mercy.  Combining just about every Canadian stereotype with Alpha Flight as goofy animals wearing red plaid lumberjack ear flap hats results in a ridiculous romp.  The story starts out with Snow-Youse waking from a dream sequence on Walrus Lamebrainski’s couch.  Deciding her dream is a result of an acid-rain flashback, which angers Lamebrainski so much that he transforms into Summersquash, they team up with Aroma, Trinket (Elizabeth Twodeadanimals) and Hockeypuck to invade the USA to take care of the acid-rain problem.  Before they get far, Hockeypuck finds a US dollar bill, prompting them to abandon their mission and spend their newfound riches on root beer instead.

pporker6cThe story dates itself with certain jokes that wouldn’t make any sense today.  The issue of acid rain was high on the environmental agenda back then, but has fallen deeply by the wayside as the issue of climate change takes the center stage in modern times.  Additionally, the exchange rate between the Canadian and US dollar, which was on a horrible downward trend for some 10 years between 1976 and 1986, reaching appx $0.70 USD for $1 CDN, is far more favorable to Canadians today, reaching parity with the US dollar in 2007 and as of the date of this post, nearly equal to it ($0.9715 USD = $1 CDN).

Awful Flight (l-r: Trinket, Aroma, Hockeypuck, Snow-Youse, Summersquash)

Awful Flight (l-r: Trinket, Aroma, Hockeypuck, Snow-Youse, Summersquash)

You have to wonder what type of audience this parody was intended for.  The story was published in Marvel’s Star Comics imprint, a line intended for kids with titles such as Care Bears, Muppet Babies and Strawberry Shortcake.  When Snow-Youse wakes up, she asks, “Howcum Awful Flight members are always winding up at each others’ houses with no idea of how we got there?” amidst a littered floor strewn with beer bottles.  What sort of kids comic is this?

What sort of kids comic is this?

What sort of kids comic is this?

Note: Creators for this story are w-Steve Skeates  and a-Steve Mellor, neither of which are Canadian

Note: For those of you who keep track of these sorts of things, this story exists in the universe designated Earth-8311, the Larval Earth. The team image above appeared in the OHOTMU A-Z Hardcover #6 in the Larval Earth entry.

Note: the heroes Cardigan and Nerdstar are mentioned but are not shown, eh?

Note: this Awful Flight is not related to another, even more extensive 8pp parody of Alpha Flight, also called Awful Flight (What The-!? #7), but that’s a matter for another FUNday.

Note: a miscolored version of Walrus Lamebrainski transforming into Summersquash appears in the letters column of this issue.

Note: if you have gotten this far and haven’t figured it out yet: Snow-Youse is a Snowbird parody of an unidentifiable animal, Summersquash (Walrus Lamebrainski) is a walrus Sasquatch (Walter Langkowski), Aroma is a skunk Aurora, Hockeypuck is a beaver Puck, Trinket (Elizabeth Twodeadanimals) is a rabbit Talisman (Elizabeth Twoyoungmen), Cardigan was Guardian and Nerdstar was Northstar. Also, you fail FUNday this week.