In the 18th episode of FUNday, we look at a very interesting panel drawn during the Mantlo era that, well, sums it all up! It’s ALL WRONG! Haha, let’s see what happens in:
Marvel Age #59
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. Cartoon Box, Shaman (as Talisman), Heather, Northstar, Snowbird and Puck appear in this issue on the back cover.
This issue was concurrent with Alpha Flight #55 and solicited issue #56 in the section, “Marvel Coming Attractions”:
ALPHA FLIGHT #56 – What could be worse than Box going insane? How about Box going insane while he’s as big as a space ship – and his teammates are aboard?! “Warped ” is written by Bill Mantlo and penciled by Jim Lee. Direct Sales only. $1.00.
Alpha Flight had switched over completely to the Direct Sales distribution method in issue #52, meaning it would not be found on newsstands, but sold only in comics specialty shops. Direct Sales proved more profitable for certain books than others because they could not be returned by retailers for credit. Publishers were freed from the risk of unsold copies, which would be kept by the comic shops as back issues, and could pass that savings on to the Direct Sales outlets by offering a greater discount than Independent Distributors would get.
Well, that’s not so much fun, is it? Just business, but here’s some funny business: 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. The back cover of this issue had a calendar for November 1987 featuring cartoon Alpha Flight wishing Alpha Flight writer Bill Mantlo a Happy Birthday on the 9th. In addition to a missing balloon tail (there are six Alphans and five tails), the six Alpha Flight members shown are ALL WRONG! Remember that this issue was concurrent with Alpha Flight #55 and by that issue, the very man honored in this panel, Bill Mantlo, had made some significant changes to each of the characters:
- Box – Mister Jeffries took over the “Blue” Box armor from Roger Bochs (who died in issue #49) in issue #46, and would transmorph it into the dark red/silver armor in issue #49 (although it debuted on the cover of issue #48). Showing “Blue” Box makes no sense as neither Roger nor Jeffries were using that armor at the time. If it’s from the past, it’s not clear which Box is shown there.
- Shaman – Michael had left Alpha Flight in issue #45 and disappeared off this Earthly plane, not to return until the Dreamqueen issues much later. He was known as Talisman at the time, of course.
- Heather Hudson – Heather put on the E-M suit in issue #32 and would keep it on as Vindicator. It wouldn’t make sense to show her out of costume. One possibility is that there’s a coloring error and that sections of her all-white clothing ought to have been colored red, but even then, it’s yet another error.
- Northstar – Jean-Paul had been tricked by Loki to visit Alfheim, the Land of the Elves in issue #50. He wasn’t around at all during issue #55.
- Puck – Judd had left Alpha Flight for Tibet in issue #50 as well. But that’s not even what’s so wrong about the image: at the time, Puck was tall!!! He returned to his full height in that issue. You gotta love the little head poking up from the panel border, though, heh.
- Snowbird – Killed by Heather in issue #44. Dead.
At no point had this particular assembly of Alpha Flight members existed simultaneously. Credits for the calendar are w-Mike Carlin, a-Ron Zalme and c-Paul Becton, all of whom are excused for not keeping track of Alpha Flight’s members because no one could keep track of all the changes Mantlo had made to the team between issues #29 and #55. Unless you’re an Alpha Flight Collector!