Archive for September, 2010

Women of Marvel: Celebrating Seven Decades Handbook

September 30, 2010

Women of Marvel: Celebrating Seven Decades Handbook

No issue number nor month of publication is indicated except for its manufacturing date between 6/25/10 and 7/14/10. It was released on 7/28/10, when other books were marked with a Sep 2010 cover date.

As part of the Women of Marvel series, and Marvel’s 70th Anniversary, this 240pp tpb is really a collection of reprinted OHOTMU (Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe) entries of various Marvel women, with some minor corrections, updates and modifications. For nearly all of the entries, the original text and illustrations are copied almost exactly from the OHOTMU A-Z Hardcovers published in 2008-2010. A few key characters have their entries updated, but still only slightly. Alpha Flight Collector doesn’t usually post about trade paperback reprints, but since this a collection, not a straight-up reprint, and there are some changes, albeit very minor, an exception was made. Aurora, Snowbird and Vindicator (Heather) have their entries reprinted from that series, with very minor modifications. Additionally, Northstar, Puck, Sasquatch and Windshear (none of whom are currently Women of Marvel), appear in part or whole in illustrations within these entries.

Aurora’s 2pg entry is identical to the one in the Hardcover series issue #1, with the exception of listing her membership in the X-Men, as revealed in issue #13 of the Hardcovers in the X-Men entry. The only news on the Aurora front since the original entry was published in 2008 was her participation in Secret Invasion and her current status as COO of Northstar’s company, but neither of those are mentioned. Like the previous entry in issue #1, Northstar, Puck and Windshear appear in the illustrations; Northstar from X-Men Annual #1 (2007), part of Puck’s arm from the opening splash page of Alpha Flight #39 and Windshear’s right leg from the cover of Alpha Flight #95.

Snowbird’s 2pg entry is identical to the one in the Hardcover series #10, with the exception of a slight rearrangement of the main illustration and an inset picture. Since that entry, Snowbird had a fairly major appearance in Marvel Heartbreakers #1, but no mention of that was made. Like the previous entry from issue #10, Sasquatch appears an oddly pink colored illustration from Alpha Flight #23

Vindicator’s entry is identical to the one in the Hardcover series #12, with no exception. She’s been dead since then, so we wouldn’t expect any new info. Like the previous entry from that issue, part of Northstar’s back and Sasquatch’s right shoulder appear in an illustration from the battle armor panel from Uncanny X-Men #432.

Since the amount of new information is so excruciatingly small, precious few Alpha Flight fans would pick this up for their collection, preferring to own the original Hardcovers instead. In fact, the only difference in text among any of these entries is in Aurora’s “Group Affiliation” listing where it now says, “X-Men”!

Note that other Alpha babes had entries in the OHOTMU A-Z Hardcovers but were not reprinted in this book: Diamond Lil had a 1pg entry in #3, Nemesis had a 1pg entry in #8, Puck (Zuzha) had a 1pg entry in #9, Talisman (Elizabeth) had a 2pg entry in #11, and Witchfire had an entry in issue #13, but none of them made it in.

Mister Jeffries appears in Uncanny Mullet #526

September 29, 2010

Uncanny X-Men #526
Sep 2010

Although the Heroic Age technically started months ago in May, this issue (released 7/28/10) is the first Uncanny issue to bear the logo. The story picks up from the end of Second Coming with a new story arc, “The Five Lights”, referring to the appearance of five new mutants as shown at the very end of X-Men: Second Coming #2. Mister Jeffries appears in two panels as a regular member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in issue #505.

Matt Fraction returns to his style of running several different simultaneous plot lines through the book – one of which is a two-page beat where we catch yet another glimpse of Kitty Pryde – remember her? When she was rescued by Magneto in issue #522, many believed this was the meaning of the phrase “Second Coming”, but so far it’s turned out to be an extremely disappointing non-event, possibly written only to validate Magneto’s membership. She’s mute, permanently phased and trapped inside of some sort of upright iron lung. We did catch a brief glimpse of her in issue #524 in the sick bay scene with Jeffries and Karma’s bandaged stump, but that has been it so far.

During this brief appearance, Jeffries shows up in the Utopia sick bay again, with Dr. Kavita Rao. He explains how the iron lung thingy works while holding an awesome-looking wrench. He also seems to have grown quite a bit of hair since his last appearance, where he was drawn with particularly short hair. He’s generally been drawn with medium- to close-cropped hair, so where this fly-away mullet came from, even in the often-distorted continuum of elapsed comic book time, is a real mystery.

I'm not only the President of the Hair Club for Mutants, I'm also a client!

Side note: previous speculation that one of the lights representing a newly discovered Canadian mutant might be related to a new Alpha Flight team turned out to be overly optmistic – it’s just a flying naked blue girl.

Northstar’s holding something long and hard in New Mutants #15

September 28, 2010

New Mutants #15
Sep 2010

Though the Heroic Age storyline started back in May of 2010, this issue (released 7/21/10) is the first of the New Mutants title to carry the Heroic Age banner across the top, since the Second Coming storyline had been monopolizing the X-titles for a while. It fits chronologically immediately after the events of Second Coming, and specifically after the events of the Hellbound miniseries. Northstar appears in one panel as a regular member of the X-Men, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #508.

Following the devastating attacks of the war in Second Coming, the X-Men are forced to rebuild Utopia Island yet again. A page showing yet another reconstruction effort includes a panel with Northstar carrying what appears to be a section of pipe. Note that he is drawn rather tiny and shown wearing the belted version of his costume without the usual starburst on his right hip. All the busy little bees cleaning up the place are completely unnecessary of course, since Mister Jeffries could repair/rebuild the entire facility with his mutant powers.

Is that a section of pipe you're holding or are you just happy to see me?

Note: there is a variant cover by Art Adams

New Mutants #15 – Arthur Adams variant

Northstar says Hurkk!

September 27, 2010

X-Men: Hellbound #3
Sep 2010

This issue concludes a three-issue miniseries spin-off from the Second Coming story line. It is one of several “Revelations” issues that accompany the main Second Coming series but are not numbered chapters. Northstar appears significantly as a regular member of the X-Men, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #508.

Illyana Rasputin (Magik) had been transported to Limbo by unknown means in X-Men: Second Coming #1 – a tactical move by Bastion’s forces to take out a teleporter. This miniseries is the self-contained story of how a small X-Men squad led by Cannonball rescues her. Northstar had been selected as part of the team in the first issue and, in the second issue, was transformed into Dark Northstar by a demonic Gambit, who had also transformed Dazzler after a confusing scattering and partial reunion of some team members.

Dark Northstar, Dark Gambit and Dark Dazzler find Cannonball and Anole in Limbo’s lava fields with the intention of attacking them. During the trash talk set-up for the battle, Gambit mentions that Anole’s limbs grow back when severed. Northstar then offers to help:

This disgusting little creature struck me once. I go first. I think I’ll take the arms.

This is of course a reference to the events of X-Men: Divided We Stand #1 (2008), when Anole popped Northstar in the mouth after he made an unsuccessful attempt to reach out to an extremely disaffected former student. That was actually in response to the events of X-Men #190 (2007) when a then-controlled Northstar sucker-elbowed Anole in the head, so technically Dark Northstar’s sense of retribution is misplaced. Either selective amnesia is a side effect of demonic possession or writer Chris Yost decided to put yet another chip on Jean-Paul’s shoulder.

I am about to say Hurkk! I haven't said it yet, but I will say it very soon.

We never get a chance to find out though, because Cannonball and Anole fly off. This brings Dark Northstar, Dark Dazzler and Dark Gambit into a final showdown with N’astirh, Pixie and Magik, only to have Cannonball swoosh down and blast everyone. Northstar is temporarily knocked over by this initial blast and is then completely taken out by Cannonball – a somewhat surprising outcome to a one-on-one battle between the two, except one has to remember that Northstar wasn’t exactly himself at the time.

Note Dark Northstar’s slightly modified costume has a starburst pattern positioned mid-thigh, lower down on his leg from the hip than the usual placement.

Northstar spends the rest of the issue unconscious, only to recover after Dark Gambit is turned back into Cajun Gambit again. Upon waking, Northstar realizes he had been knocked out, but still refuses to give full credit to Cannonball for getting them through the mission alive – another nice touch by Chris Yost to continue the same attitude we first saw in issue #1 when Northstar was arrogantly questioning Sam’s leadership skills.