Archive for February, 2010

Snowbird cameo in Incredible Hercules #141

February 22, 2010

Incredible Hercules #141
Apr 2010

The Assault on New Olympus arc concludes with this issue, as does, sadly, the Incredible Hercules title. The opening page of the book has an irreverant “The story so far” summary of this amazing run by Fred van Lente and Greg Pak, including snappy one-liners for each issue plus an array of all of the covers from issues #112 to #140 plus the one-shot prologue to this arc. Included in the array is the cover to issue #117 on which Snowbird appears.

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Note: there is a Deadpool variant cover for this issue by Michael Avon Oeming

Incredible Hercules #141 – Deadpool variant
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Northstar and Box in Uncanny X-Men #521

February 21, 2010

Uncanny X-Men #521
Apr 2010

The Nation X storyline continues in Uncanny X-Men as the Predator X arc comes to its conclusion and a new arc gradually starts. Well, the new arc is not so much an “arc” as it is an “event”, or whatever the highest ranking episodic descriptor might be: Kitty Pryde is coming back, if you didn’t already read it on a hundred other blogs. Northstar appears in a one panel cameo as a regular member of the X-Men, having joined up in issue #505 and Mister Jeffries appears as a member of the X-Club, having joined up in issue #508.

In the previous issue, Cyclops sent a squad to deal with the Predator X situation in New York City, where they encounter a team of bad guys who nave been around since issue #515. It turns out the 784 trillion nanobots Mister Jeffries discovered on Utopia Island in issue #519 have been gathering data for these villains to put into a super-duper mutant computer. Of course their leader, Lobe, made the classic movie mistake: don’t explain so much! He literally explains their entire nefarious plot on floating video screens generated from their super-duper mutant computer. On one of the screens, you can see part of Northstar.

Also in the previous issue: Magneto and Namor built a column to hold up Utopia Island, which had been sinking. This massive column also serves as a habitat for displaced Atlanteans. Dr. Nemesis and Mister Jeffries arrive in the X-sub and its awesome X-shaped front window to offer their assistance. Jeffries is shown in one panel with a hands-free headset playing the straight man to Nemesis’ usual nasty rudeness. It’s quite comical that the reader is left to figure out that the unattributed speech bubbles coming from the X-sub are spoken by Dr. Nemesis as Jeffries comes across so warm and folksy.

Meanwhile, Magneto is doing… something on a mountaintop, presumably concentrating really hard to bring back Kitty Pryde, who has been trapped inside a giant space bullet. Cyclops calls in the X-Club to figure it all out and Jeffries figures it out! He appears in front of a virtual orrery where he discovers what Magneto is doing. Although it’s great to have Jeffries portrayed as the super-smart guy, it’s a bit of a mischaracterization to have him studying orbital pathways and astrophysical dynamics. It would make more sense for him to use his powers to build a giant telescope or a sensitive detection instrument to measure gravitational effects, something like that.

Jeffries is shown again in one panel from behind talking with Angel, who calls him “Box”. It seems odd at first because he hasn’t been called this regularly, but in his previous appearance in this title (issue #519), Dr. Nemesis calls him Box. Also, when he was introduced to the reader in issue #512, his little X-caption box said, “Madison Jeffries-Box”, so it’s not really all that controversial.

Note: this issue has a Deadpool variant cover by Karl Moline, Rick Magyar and Christina Strain.

Uncanny X-Men #521 – Deadpool variant

We’ve got Olympic fever on FUNday!

February 15, 2010

Well, it’s another Monday FUNday post and we’ve got Olympic fever! Although we can’t come close to the thrill of victory in Vancouver, we can sure try with this week’s item! If “Tiniest Alpha Flight Appearances” were an Olympic Sport, this book would win the gold medal.

Marvel Heroes Amazing Powers
2007

Published in both hardback and paperback by Dorling Kindersley, this book by Catherine Saunders is a 48pg early reading book for kids, featuring the amazing superpowers of various mainstream Marvel Heroes. The actual dimensions of the paperback book are just under nine by six inches, notably smaller than a regular comic. The “Introduction” page includes a reprint of a Marvel poster containing just about every single character in the Marvel Universe and several extremely tiny appearance of Alpha Flight characters.

The original image appeared as a banner on top of the official Marvel Universe website, thus the aspect ratio is typical of a banner: extreme from width to height. This image became available as a poster-sized print with a red Marvel logo in the foreground and a blue sky behind it and was once available for purchase, though you still needed a magnifying glass to recognize some characters way in the back and some are simply unrecognizable at all.

This image is actually a composite of existing character images overlapped on top of each other to create an expansive panorama. Clearly an attempt was made to put the more popular characters in the front and lesser-known characters in the back, but since its debut, popularity has shifted around, so the image dates itself in a subtle way for sophisticated fans who track the ups and downs of characters.

It’s difficult to show the actual image from the book because the image of the poster was greatly reduced to a 2pg spread (appx 10 inches wide) while the original poster was 36 inches. Instead, here are portions of the poster itself. Unfortunately, characters near the back are very, very tiny so I’ve highlighted the Alphans in red.

Aurora can be seen on the extreme left side, just behind Sandman and above the foreground image of Rogue.

Snowbird and Northstar can be see in flight just in front of Fin Fang Foom and above the foreground image of The Hulk. Guardian can also be seen in the scrum just behind Dazzler.

On the far right, the volume 3 team can be seen, from left to right: Major Mapleleaf Jr, Puck (Zuzha), Yukon Jack, Nemesis, Centennial and Sasquatch behind them all. They are just below Galactus and above the foreground image of Iron Fist.

So if you don’t know how to read, go get this item for your collection, use it to learn how to read, and then come on back here to read all about it on FUNday!

Northstar in the Dark Avengers Poster Book

February 14, 2010

Dark Avengers Poster Book
Apr 2010

Note: the indicia says Apr 2009 but that is obviously a misprint. The book was released on 2/10/10 which means it should carry an Apr 2010 publication date. It also says the books were manufactured between 1/18/10 and 1/29/10. No month nor year are indicated on the cover.

This magazine-sized book contains extra large versions of various covers to Dark Avengers and related issues, with the titles and business elements removed. The posters are nestled inside of each other so you’d have to remove the central staples to get to them, and you get a folded-in-half poster as a result. Unfortunately, they are double-sided, so you have to buy two copies if you want to hang all of them on your wall.

One of the posters included is the cover to Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia #1, featuring Northstar. Oddly, it’s referred to as the “Variant by Marc Silvestri”, but that cover was marketed as the standard cover, while other versions of the cover were labeled as variants.

For the truly insane: it can be seen from the poster that the border on the printed cover from Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia #1 slightly cut off part of Northstar’s right side. Here is the unobscured and magnified version of Northstar from the poster:

As mentioned previously, though Northstar appeared on that cover on the ground defeated, those events did not occur in the book.

Puck in X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain #3

February 9, 2010

X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain #3
Apr 2010 (FEB on cover)

Don’t bother trying to understand what’s going on in this issue unless you’ve read issue #2, specifically the last panel, and even after that, it’s not fully explained. The element of mystery, key to the noir style, is the major strength of this book and the reader is sure to be twisted and turned even more in the next issue. Puck appears in this book as the first mate of the Mariko and as an adventurer/thief searching for the gem of Cyttorak which was stolen and lost in issue #1 of this series.

Puck finally gets the call on the radio from, uh, well, let’s call him “The Angel” while aboard Cap’n Logan’s ship, the junk Mariko in Genosha Bay. The brothers Halloway, both playing “The Angel” character, appear to have swapped places last issue by unknown means, distinguished to the reader from one another by the presence or absence of the familiar “M over the eye” facial mark usually sported by Bishop and other DoFN citizenry. Once aboard, Puck and Logan discern that the Halloway they have aboard is not Tommy, but Robert. It doesn’t seem to make much difference to them nor Cyclops that they have the other brother aboard as they continue their plan to recover the gem. Meanwhile, Tommy is off plotting to double-cross everyone and steal the gem during which he insults the group as “One-Eye, the Drunk and the Midget.”

They get a tip that the Blackbird, a ship carrying the gem is about to dock in New York Harbor. They see its listing in the New York Times (right below Freedom’s Lady, a reference to the Guardians of the Galaxy’s ship and the Admiral Akbar, a ship named for the fish-like alien from Return of the Jedi famous for uttering “It’s a trap!”, and above the Oracle, the icebreaker captained by Namor’s father Leonard MacKenzie, and an uncaptioned picture of Edward Smith, captain of the Titanic). The Blackbird is named after the 616 X-Men’s supersonic Lockheed SR-71 of course. In New York, they climb aboard the Blackbird and take out the guards and Puck serves a nice kick in the you-know-whats to one of them!

Unfortunately, Puck is later taken out by an elbow to the face by Noir Nightcrawler as they obtain the gem. Ouch! A nice touch by writer Fred van Lente: during the battle with Nightcrawler, who only speaks German, Puck calls him “Leibchen”, which means “sweetie” in German, showing his polyglot background. I’m glad Fred van Lente took the time to research that Puck speaks many, many languages and he tossed in that word to show it, thanks Fred!

Note: this issue has a variant cover, also by Dennis Calero.

X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain #3 – Dennis Calero variant

Adorable Alpha Babies

February 8, 2010

Every Monday, Alpha Flight Collector looks at the lighter side, and this week, we get teensy weensy as well! In the 20th (!) weekly installment of FUNday, we look at the cutest little version of Alpha Flight characters you’ll ever see.

X-Babies #4
Mar 2010

Born (get it?) out of the same Mojoworld universe of the adjectiveless X-Babies, the Adorable X-Babies are the cuter, indestructibler versions who replace them in the ratings. Unable to take it any longer, Wolverine sliced up all of the Adorable X-Babies in a berserker rage, only to have their fleshy bits and pieces reborn into an Adorable X-Baby army of unimaginable proportions. Among the countless super-cute super-babies created out of this carnage are Northstar, Aurora, Wild Child and Box, who appear in cameo in a few panels.

During a gigantic climactic battle between the X-Babies (along with their new allies, heroes from the Star Comics line of the 80s) and this army, Adorable X-Babies Northstar and Aurora can be seen flying around Rogue in one panel. You can also see them again later, in a few more panels, flying.

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Wild Child can be seen among a group of clawed Adorable X-Baby mutants with lupine/feline appearances. Unfortunately, he is quickly taken out by Top Dog, a super-smart talking dog from the Star Comics line.

Box (Jeffries) can be seen among a group of mechanized/robot Adorable X-Babies, but he had already been taken out by the real X-Baby version of Kitty Pryde.

After Spiral shows up, all of the Adorable X-Babies are sucked into a teleportation vortex and sent very far away, thus ending the pernicious threat.

There are dozens and dozens of tiny appearances of Adorable X-Baby versions of mutants from all over the Marvel Universe, some of which are quite obscure. Strain your eyes long enough and you’ll find even more X-Baby cameos among the tiny, tiny figures. You have to be quick, otherwise you’ll miss some of the subtle but hilarious jokes in the circus-like atmosphere of this hyperkinetic story.

Writer Greg Schigiel and artist Jacob Chabot clearly had a heck of a lot of fun with this story, especially warmed with nostalgia for characters from the Star Comics line who we haven’t seen for 25 years. Watching the cute little babies get smashed, sliced, bashed, blasted, crushed, burnt, frozen and headbutted (oh, don’t worry, they’re all indestructible) is just what FUNday is all about!

Note: there is a variant cover by Jacob Chabot.

X-Babies #4 -Jacob Chabot variant

Snowbird appears in Marvel Heartbreakers #1

February 6, 2010

Marvel Heartbreakers #1
April 2010

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.

Puck cameo in Incredible Hercules #129

February 4, 2010

Incredible Hercules #129
Jul 2009

Incredible Hercules took over its numbering scheme from the Incredible Hulk while Mr. Purple Pants was off in World War Hulk. Featuring a comically bumbling version of Hercules and his super-smart foil Amadeus Cho, this series is a mashup of Greek mythology and the modern world presented by writers Greg Pak and Fred van Lente. Though not marked on the cover as being officially part of Dark Reign, this issue took place during the Dark Reign era and is often listed among the unofficial tie-ins. Puck appears in one panel, dead, and there is a possible appearance by the real Sasquatch from Alpha Flight v2.

While on a quest to find Zeus, Hercules and Amadeus discover that on the way to the afterlife, an Atlantic City casino serves as a holding pen for souls “who believe they have unfinished stories” before either crossing the river Styx or facing the slim chance of resurrection. Poking fun at Marvel’s death-go-round that sends heroes back to the living world seemingly at random, the main floor of the Erebus casino is filled with recently departed characters, including Puck, who was killed by The Collective in New Avengers #16.

Readers who wish see through the paper might believe that this issue was to portend Puck’s possible resurrection by a writer known to be fond of Alpha Flight, but is likely less prophetic than respectful: a subtle hint from Fred van Lente that Alpha Flight has unfinished stories, eh?

Sitting to the right of Puck is a giant furry orange beast who looks a heck of a lot like a Sasquatch creature. Since it can’t be Walter (he survived The Collective attack), it’s possible that it is the true Sasquatch from Alpha Flight v2, who was killed in issue #12 by flesh-eating bacteria.

Possible appearance of real Sasquatch from Alpha Flight v2

Note: In Greek mythology, Erebus is the name of the other shore of Styx from Tartarus, so the casino name is mythologically accurate.

Diamond Lil killed in X-Force #23

February 3, 2010

X-Force #23
Mar 2010

The Necrosha storyline continues in this issue as an invading force attacks Utopia Island, the new home of the X-Men. The battle, which started in the previous issue turns sour very quickly, as some of the bad guys have literal power over life and death. Mister Jeffries appears as a regular member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505 and Diamond Lil appears as well.

Diamond Lil, who had been tending to Iceman in the previous issue, can be seen very tiny on the intro page in a reduced version of the 2pg spread at the end of issue #22 which shows the invading force blinking in by teleportation. However, once the issue begins, she suddenly becomes extremely impatient with the situation, dumps Iceman right on the ground (poor Bobby) and rushes headstrong into the fray. She ignores Mister Jeffries’ admonition to wait and is immediately taken out by Mortis’ death touch which kills her instantly. It’s just “HK–!” and then THUD! and that’s the end of Lillian “Creepy” Crawley.

Later, Jeffries can be seen holding Lil’s limp dead body, lamenting, “I never stopped loving you,” a confusing statement given the unknown status of their relationship at the time of publication. Even more confusing was the relative ease with which Mortis’ death touch was able to penetrate Lil’s impenetrable bio-aura, unless it is far more disruptive to energy fields than previously known.

Just like the sudden reappearance and immediate subsequent death of Marrina in Dark X-Men: The List #1, the initial excitement over Lil’s resurfacing in last issue took a turn for the worse. It’s not clear why Chris Yost felt compelled to kill her off, in addition to a few other mutants, but he did have this to say about it:

…Pretty much every comic, artist, writers, you name it has people that love it, or people that hate it. It’s subjective.

It really is an interesting situation here, though, with comics – because even when people hate a book with the power of a million exploding suns… they will keep reading it because of a love for the characters. I get that…

…We’re still taking heat from the New X-Men bus explosion four years ago. There’s some dude on Comixfan that will probably hate us forever for killing Quill. We’ll take heat for Diamond Lil forever, too. And that’s okay.

If you guys weren’t passionate about these characters and stories, good or bad, it wouldn’t be worth doing.

Chris Yost lacks a needle in his moral compass. His logic is: writing that results in fans hating him for killing a beloved character or writing that results in fans loving him for resurrecting a beloved character are morally equivalent because there will always be one person somewhere who will hate him. Since he can’t ever please 100.00% of all people 100.00% of the time, he ought not make any attempt to please anyone, ever, and just sit back and be hated, or loved, happy that he was able to evoke an emotion at all while showing complete indifference to the nature of the evoked emotion while somehow still existing in a state of wonderment and admiration for comic book fans. Terrible. He ought to get over this angsty perfectionism and stop assuming that fans will continue to buy comics he writes just because they love comic books more than they hate his writing.

It really is very disappointing to lose Lil this way. There was no reason to kill her off, except for he fact that she was an unused character who precious few would mourn. It didn’t advance the storyline nor add characterization to anyone. All it did was completely ignore her life story, which was one of redemption from a checkered past into a top tier super-hero as an Alpha Flight member. She was also a survivor of a breast cancer scare and a troubling love triangle that caused immense suffering in her heart, the only weak part of her otherwise indestructible body. Her meaningless death by means of an instant death touch from a character she had no previous connection with, and without any resistance is incomprehensible, shocking and undeserved.

Note: this issue has a variant cover, also by Clayton Crain.

X-Force #23 – Clayton Crain variant

Note: a portion of the actual panel depicting Diamond Lil’s death was reproduced on the Intro page of X-Force #24. That issue also has a variant cover, also by Clayton Crain.

X-Force #24
X-Force #24 – Clayton Crain variant

Alpha Flight – Canada’s finest…. beer?

February 1, 2010

Since there’s nothing more fun in the whole world than beer, this week’s FUNday post might be the best ever. We’ve seen Alpha Flight statues, coins, and totem poles, but this tops it all off: Alpha Flight beer! Canada’s Finest!

Wolverine: Wendigo #1
Mar 2010

A Wolverine comic without Wolverine? Well, he does sneak into a few panels, but this one-shot, originally released as a Digital Comic, is more about a Quebecois detective named Jean Guy, a Canadian Wilford Brimley type who I’d love to see more of. Expertly handled by Alpha-Friendly writer Frank Tieri, Jean Guy gets to the bottom of a Wendigo encounter during a filming of a fictional documentary show, “Monsters, Myths and Marvels”, which Tieri debuted in Marvel TV: Galactus The Real Story #1 one-shot.

Tieri writes some great beer-related dialogue in this issue and let me tell you, Jean Guy is all about beer. Beer on his fishing boat, beer in the interrogation room, and most importantly, a beer poster on the door to the interrogation room featuring Alpha Flight!

Beer!

The image looks sort of like a modified version of a more famous Byrne poster, minus Sasquatch and Marrina, and artist Paul Gulacy got the twins just right in a classic bookend pose. The poster appears again in a subsequent panel in shadow and later, a closeup of the lower left portion reveals a small label on the beer bottle that reads “Alpha Flight”. Well, since we can’t have our own series, we’ll have to take the next best thing! Beer!

Beer!