Archive for May, 2011

The black T-shirt returns after 27 years lost in the wash!

May 31, 2011

New Mutants #25
Jul 2011

The Age of X crossover ended after taking over the series for three issues, and we can now return to our normal programming. It’s not so normal though, as new writers Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning’s run starts with this issue. Near the end of Zeb Wells’ run, Magik caused a bit of mayhem, bringing the team to Limbo, which was great for Alpha Flight fans because we got to see Witchfire, but not so great for New Mutants fans now because Cyclops is squarely pissed at Illyana. Mister Jeffries and Northstar appear in a cameo as regular members of the X-Men, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #’s 505 and 508.

The two page spread on which they appear follows a fairly intense conversation between Cyclops and Magik where he tries to get all snarly in her face while she calmly responds to his aggressive questions in a respectful and obsequious manner. The scene ends with his announcement that she’s under permanent house arrest (right, how long is that situation going to last?), which she accepts with equanimity in a serene manner.

Meanwhile, unknown to the reader and in a goofed mismatch to her composed and passive behavior, a gaggle of sneering and heavily armed mutants is gathered behind her, weapons drawn, ready to take her down with extreme force at any second. Up until the point where the actual circumstances of the conversation are shown, the reader is made to feel as if it’s a one-on-one. At the reveal, this reader was surprised to see the overwhelming show of force standing behind Illyana, as it seemed to make more sense to have them standing behind Scott, weapons sheathed, in support of his decision and scowling in disapproval as a sort of jury pronouncing a sentence over her. It seems more like a misguided group shot that got out of hand and really makes no sense in retrospect.

Well, Northstar made it into the group, hovering above and behind, ready to do what – fly in at 99.9% of the speed of light and punch her in the head if she tries to summon a stepping disk? It’s not clear how long he had been hovering there, as the conversation went on for a bit and it seems quite silly to think he were hanging there in mid-air with his fists balled up and holding that look on his face for so long.

Jeffries also appears, just as angry, and even without the Box armor or any other tech gagetry around, the closed-fist street-thug stance looks threatening. But with all the awesome-looking guns and improvised lightning cannons and other armaments he has created using his mutant powers, you’d think they could have put some kind of weapon into his hand to display a more canonical representation of a gadget/weapons related mutant. However, there is one completely awesome element in that image… the return of Jeffries’ black T-shirt! Yes!

For Jeffries fans who have been somewhat concerned about all the flannel, plaid and general lumberjackesque appearance he’s had since joining up with the X-Men, this blast from the past is a welcome sight. We first saw the black T-shirt in Alpha Flight #16, his first full appearance, when he showed up at Roger Bochs’ door.

Panel from Alpha Flight #16 (Nov 1984)

The retro look is great and it’s so nice not to see him in plaid, which makes up for the otherwise very strange circumstances of these cameo appearances.

Note: The wraparound cover by Marko Djurdjevic is reprinted from a much larger (24×36) promo poster also released on 5/11/11. It is unusual in that recently, his poster covers (i.e. covers that were also released as posters in part or whole) have usually been expensive variants, not the regular cover at regular price. Here is the full cover:

Note: this issue has two variant covers, one by Art Adams and Peter Steigerwald, and an X-Man variant by Jorge Molina.

New Mutants #25 – Art Adams variant
New Mutants #25 – X-Man variant
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Jeffries and maybe Jeffries in X-Men: Legacy #248

May 29, 2011

X-Men: Legacy #248
Jul 2011

The Age of X storyline continues in this “Aftermath” issue, which isn’t one of the official books that had been listed in the checklist, but may as well have been, since nearly everything that happens in the book is related to it. It carries the Age of X banner and is part 1 of a 2-part epilogue by Mike Carey, the writer of the storyline who continues his writing duties in this title, leaving the other Age of X title, New Mutants, with a new team. Similar to the way some remnants of the Age of Apocalypse universe persisted after its destruction, certain elements of the Age of X reality persist as well, making it more than a self-contained miniseries. Mister Jeffries appears in one or two panels as a regular member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505.

A group of senior X-Men and the Science Team meet in a conference room on Utopia to discuss how to deal with one of the most important residual elements: unpleasant implanted memories that remain from many years of false reality. Several of the mutants flat-out request a permanent memory wipe, so telepaths Emma Frost and the Cuckoos hold individual treatment sessions. On one page later in the book, a series of panels show a sequence of individual mutants requesting the mind-wipe and Mister Jeffries gets an unusual close-up.

Previously in the book where the X-Men are in the conference room, there is a panel showing the discussion, and on the far right is a character wearing a teal-colored shirt who may be Jeffries… or Namor. It’s ambiguous for many reasons, the first of which is that he’s not sitting with the Science Team, who are on the far end of the table. One could claim that the character is sitting where Namor ought to be sitting, on the “leadership” end of the table with Emma and Scott. Also, Namor is almost always included in these steering committee meetings, so his absence would be rather odd. Here is the panel in its entirety. Click the image below for a much larger image.

Click to enlarge

If it were Jeffries, you’d expect him to be sitting with the rest of the Science Team. However, Cyclops’ hands would obscure anyone sitting to Dr. Nemesis’ right and Emma’s head in the foreground would obscure anyone sitting to Dr. Kavita Rao’s left. Perhaps artist Jorge Molina meant to have Jeffries sit with the Science Team but had to place him further to the right in the panel than one would expect to prevent him from being obscured.

Inset from above panel

The character is wearing a teal shirt with a collar, something we’ve typically seen Namor wear. Jeffries appears later in the book wearing a rust-colored shirt or vest, not a teal shirt. However, notice the collar on the teal shirt – it does appear to be padded and a close-up image of Namor elsewhere in the book (below) shows him wearing a collared shirt but it is a very thin collar. So Namor wins on color, Jeffries wins on thickness of collar, tie.

The ambiguous character’s hair does not have Namor’s classic widow’s peak; rather he has a rumpled hairline. Namor is drawn with a prominent widow’s peak in the close-up while Jeffries is typically drawn with a more rumpled hairline. But, Jeffries also has greyed temples, which are lacking in the unknown character, so based on hairstyle, it’s a tie.

The facial hair is what clinches it for Jeffries, though, as Namor is clean shaven in the close-up while Jeffries clearly has a five-o-clock shadow in his close-up.

Revised image

I’m pretty sure the mystery character is an image of unshaven Jeffries, placed far to the right because Emma is blocking, wearing a miscolored teal shirt that should be rust-colored (and plaid) and who should be drawn with greyed temples. Toss in a white T-shirt and there ya go. My very, very brief career as a comic book colorist is now over, thankfully.

Northstar in New Mutants #24, Age of X Chapter 6

May 27, 2011

New Mutants #24
Jun 2011

The Age of X story line comes to its conclusion in Chapter 6 as the full reveal of the nature of the alternate reality is presented, then un-done, returning us to the 616 reality. Congratulations to writer Mike Carey, artists Clay Mann and Steve Kurth and everyone else involved for a well-written and enjoyable project. Northstar appears in this issue as both the Age of X and 616 version of himself in various panels scattered throughout the book.

The assembled mutant army reacts quickly to the massive assault that started up last issue. They’ve just had their worldview completely shattered by part of the reveal from last issue but nevertheless head right into the battle. In a fairly large panel, Cannonball and his mutant army are shown heading straight out of the page toward the reader. The panel is filled rather densely with fliers and runners occupying background and foreground and let’s just say that Steve Kurth is much better at drawing flying figures than running ones. Some of the running figures are in rather contorted poses as if they were suffering from a neuromuscular disorder or in need of a bathroom break, but fortunately, Northstar is a flier in this panel, and Kurth is rather skilled at drawing powerful and graceful flying figures. He can be seen under Cannonball’s armpit in such a great pose but unfortunately very tiny. I really wish he had been drawn much bigger because even though he has no face, that position is just so awesome.

As the battle begins, a giant two-page spread features Northstar zipping along with his red contrails streaming behind him. These red streaks were never explained but do appear several times in this issue, drawn more jagged than the perfect geometrical style Clay Mann used. Northstar appears to be running in this scene, but like all of the other scenes in this battle, he’s not shown directly engaging any of the invaders. Contrast this with Namor, who destroys two gunships by smashing them into each other or Basilisk (the Age of X version of Cyclops), who routinely blasts the hell out of everything in sight.

On the other hand, at one point, Cannonball calls out to Northstar, who is still running around doing who knows what, and orders him to help out Storm and her squad, so the reader does get the idea that he is a useful combatant who can quickly turn the tide of a skirmish. Well, that’s the best Northstar respect we get in this very busy book where dozens and dozens of characters don’t even get identified by name at all, so I’ll take it.

As the battle rages on, Legion takes control over the reality and eliminates all of the bad guys by uttering a slightly mangled line from Alice in Wonderland. Shortly thereafter, he winks the Age of X reality back to normal. Northstar’s left leg can be seen behind Pixie’s wings in the “before” panel which is fuzzed out with a hazy transformation effect. On the back of the next page, the clear “after” panel shows everyone in the exact same positions in the 616 world, standing on Utopia and with a normal sky behind them. Northstar can be seen again but now unobscured, as Pixie’s 616 wings are a different shape and much smaller. It would have been much better to have had the “before” and “after” panels on facing pages, so as to produce a sort of character map, but unfortunately the Alice in Wonderland scene was also a two page spread and it didn’t work out.

Northstar appears in a few more panels, drawn with the belted version of his costume. This version does not have a starburst on his right hip. We’ve seen this costume before in a few books, in his little cameo from New Mutants #15 and in Tim Fish’s featurette in Nation X #2.

Jeffries gets his face smashed in Uncanny X-Men #536

May 26, 2011

Uncanny X-Men #536
Jun 2011

A new arc that started last issue called Breaking Point continues with part 2 as the Breakworld aliens last seen in Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men return to seek refuge on Earth. Cyclops welcomes them to Utopia, of course, seemingly unbothered by the fact that these genocidal maniacs tried to kill us all by destroying the entire planet with a gigantic bullet. At the time, Kitty Pryde phased the bullet and seemingly sacrificed her own life to save the Earth as it passed through our planet harmelssly, sending her out into deep space, resulting in an insanity-inducing horror of lonely long-term imprisonment inside the bullet and a possibly permanent phased state. In Uncanny X-Men #’s 521 and 522, Magneto pulled the bullet back to Earth, rescuing her. In this issue, Mister Jeffries appears as a regular member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in issue #505.

You’d think Magneto, a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, would have the fiercest reaction to the very presence of these genocidal maniacs, but instead starts asking the genocidal maniacs about the unusual properties of the Breakworld metal – a fragment from the actual bullet itself that was used to try to kill our entire species! I can understand how Magneto could be highly interested in metallurgy, but just can’t swallow how readily he associates with Kruun, the former leader of Breakworld (and the one who sent the bullet to kill us all), to delve into the scientific mysteries of the metal without any sense of apprehension. Kruun performs a quick demonstration, then sends Magneto out of the science lab to gather more mass of the bullet. Jeffries makes the mistake of turning his back on the genocidal maniac.

Jeffries is drawn very similarly to how he was drawn in Uncanny X-Men Annual #3, with goggles and a well-stocked tool belt. Of course, someone with Jeffries mutant powers to transform metal and other materials into machinery has no need for a tool belt. It’s particularly unusual for the Dodsons to draw him that way, as the Dodsons have drawn Jeffries plenty of times and never had these elements. When Nicholas Bradshaw drew him with a tool belt in Uncanny X-Men Annual #3, that was a fairly jokey issue with plenty of silliness all around so Alpha Flight Collector gave him a free pass, but the Dodsons ought to know better.

Well, as soon as Magneto leaves, Kruun smashes Jeffries’ face extremely hard into a nearby console, taking him out fairly easily, ties him up, gags him and tosses him into a storage closet, apparently depowering him with an injection of “the cure” some time off panel.

Mmmf!

Though it’s not exactly clear if he were injected or not, one doesn’t lock Jeffries in a machinery-filled storage closet with his powers intact, so it’s pretty safe to assume he was depowered.

Unlettered preview art from Uncanny X-Men #534.1 showed Jeffries in the lab with Magneto and Kruun.

Here is the panel from that issue, which was reprinted in this issue with a speech bubble obscuring part of Jeffries.

An inset from the panel in close up:

Age of X second printing variants added

May 24, 2011

Sales of the Age of X must have been better than expected – the Alpha issue and the first four chapters have gone back for a second printing! Likely chapters 5 and 6 will be reprinted but no mention has been made so far.  Click on the links to see the covers, which have been added to the posts below. I put them at the very end of the posts but you’ll enjoy re-reading all three to get to the bottom!

Box and Northstar in X-Men: Legacy #247, Age of X Chapter 5

May 23, 2011

X-Men: Legacy #247
Jun 2011

The Age of X alternate reality crossover, which has been so full of awesome, begins its conclusion with Chapter 5. Note that Chapter 4, which was New Mutants #23, was not an Alpha Flight appearance, but Magneto did mention Madison Jeffries in one panel. The issue begins as the army of mutants at Fortress X are standing around for the usual daily assault that strangely does not occur. Box (Madison Jeffries) and Northstar both appear in sporadic panels as members of this large group.

The kicker for this issue is that we finally get to see Madison Jeffries inside the Box armor! He can first be see in a wide panel showing most of the mutant army. Both his left leg (on the far left) and the right half of Northstar (on the far right) can be seen in that panel. These types of “standing around” panels are reminiscent of the Infinity War and Infinity Crusade crossover issues from the 1990s where there would be dozens and dozens of heroes standing around between action sequences, drawn barely large enough to be recognized.

As the mutant army waits, Cannonball and Basilisk (the Age of X version of Cyclops) begin arguing about what is really going on. Box (and boy, oh boy, is it fun to call him that again!) can be seen just to the right of Basilisk, with his head and shoulder visible.

Basilisk draws Box into the conversation, giving him the only speaking line for either Alphan in this issue as he explains his astronomical findings, which suggest that the visible universe ends at the force walls. Madison doesn’t seem put off by being directly addressed as “Box”, as he was when outside the armor in X-Men: Legacy 246 when Magneto addressed him in just the same way. Curiously, Box is shown actually inside of the armor, similar to how we saw him in House of M: Masters of Evil #3, even sporting a flip-up face plate right out of Favreau’s design for the Iron Man armor from the Iron Man movie.

Although it’s possible for him to operate the armor this way, this is not how we’re used to seeing Box, as Madison had been phasing into the armor for about a hundred issues in the first Alpha Flight series, not wearing it as an exoskeleton. Northstar can be seen standing behind Basilisk in that panel as well, identifiable by the red goggles and red wristbands.

Iron Man is not amused.

As the mutant army deserts Cannonball to follow Basilisk into the Fortress to get answers, a very sad sequence drawn from a point of view high above shows Box very tiny in three more panels, walking off the frame. It’s a shame that despite the series being replete with so many battle sequences, the one and only time Madison is shown inside the Box armor, there’s no battle!

Once inside, Northstar (far left with red wristbands) marches into a common room along with the rest of the army as Katherine Pryde phases through a wall nearby. Oddly, Clay Mann decided it would be a great idea to show her butt in the foreground. Apparently, the main difference betweein the Age of X reality and the 616 reality is that the ubiquitous giant round butt that had been following Northstar now belongs to Katherine Pryde instead of Dazzler.

Note: This issue has a “Thor goes to Hollywood” variant, part of a series of variant covers released in April promoting the Thor movie by mashing up Thor with famous movies. This issue’s variant is an homage to the Planet of the Apes, depicting the final scene where Taylor encounters nuked Lady Liberty on the beach, with art by Koi Pham. Note that this issue was published on April 13th and the Thor movie was released on May 6th.

X-Men: Legacy #247 – Thor goes to Hollywood variant

Snowbird cameo in Herc #1

May 22, 2011

Herc #1
June 2011

As advertised at the very end of Chaos War #5, Hercules returns in a new series written by Alpha Flight (volume four) writers Fred van Lente and Greg Pak. After the main story is an eight page “Hercules Saga”, describing the major events in Hercules’ life with text in caption boxes arranged around key panels from various issues. This is very similar to the “Atlas File” found at the end of Namor, The First Mutant #1. Snowbird appears in one panel as a member of the God Squad, with art reprinted from Incredible Hercules #119.

The panel as re-printed omits two text elements, a speech bubble from Amadeus Cho and the graphic descriptor, “BRZTWAKTZ”, but neither of those obscured Snowbird even in the original panel. Here is an inset from the panel as reprinted:

The accompanying text by writer John Rhett Thomas is somewhat inaccurate. It says,

Hercules headed an unlikely assortment of gods – including Snowbird, Ajak the Eternal, Demogorge and Amatsu Mikaboshi. …Hercules yielded to Athena’s wisdom and used Mikaboshi’s talents to achieve victory against the Skrull gods.

This is not exactly how it went down. In Incredible Hercules #120, Snowbird, in yet another burst of awesome, was the one who killed Kly’Bn by ramming Demogorge’s spine at full force into his back while Mikaboshi duplicitously killed Sl’Gur’T. The omission of Snowbird as being responsible for achieving victory against the Skrull gods is unfortunate, but was likely written that way because the rest of the narration had to do with Mikaboshi coming back later as the Chaos King.

Note: this issue has a variant cover by John Romita, Jr.

Herc #1 – John Romita Jr. variant

Jeffries Bros. in Age of X: Universe #1

May 20, 2011

Age of X: Universe #1
May 2011

Though not one of the numbered chapters in the Age of X storyline which had been weaving its way through X-Men: Legacy and New Mutants, this issue is included in the official checklist as the sixth issue. This issue and its sequel show what’s going on in the rest of the Marvel Universe while the Age of X alternate reality is playing out, with stories about the Avengers, Spider-Man and Dazzler. Madison Jeffries and his brother, Dr. Lionel Jeffries appear in a single panel cameo in flashback.

The Avengers in this reality are mutant hunters, some being darkly twisted versions of their 616 counterparts. One of the most twisted is the Iron Man character, who Captain America introduces by showing a flashback to ten years ago when he was first afflicted with a tech-virus implanted by our favorite mutant brothers, Madison and Lionel Jeffries. They are shown in a single panel in shaded blue flashback to that moment, leaving Tony Stark fused into the armor and slowly being digested by it ever since. Yuk!

Unfortunately, once the Age of X reality is unraveled and reader is aware of what’s really going on, it’s difficult to understand the framework of the plot of this book, who is experiencing the action and interactions with the characters on Utopia/Fortress X, which characters are illusory or memory implants or imaginative embellishments and in whose mind all of this is taking place in and who will remember it! Since the entirety of the reality of the Age of X is a construct, it’s a murky mess to try to tell a tale of what’s happening outside the Force Walls surrounding Fortress X. Before your brain explodes trying to understand whose memory is conjuring this false image, just sit back and enjoy the depiction of the two brothers as a gratuitious bonus from Simon Spurrier, who seems to be quite the Jeffries fan based on his previous work with the Second Coming and Curse of the Mutants X-Club spin-out books that featured Madison prominently.

The two characters are not identified by name but readers with a sharp eye will notice Lionel wearing the protective helmet and buckled straightjacket he wore while a patient at Montreal General Hospital in Alpha Flight #30. It’s the most iconic image of Lionel, made more so by Gus Vazquez who chose that as the “official” image in Lionel’s recent entry in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Update #5. Note that Lionel only wore that outfit in that one issue, never to don it again, as he was no longer a mental patient after that issue, preferring more traditional medical provider garb such as white lab coats and scrubs. However, it was a great villain costume at the time and to this day, remains the classic costume for Scramble, The Mixed-Up Man.

Jeffries is shown in flashback without the greyed temples which first popped up when he joined the X-Men Science Team in Uncanny X-Men #505. He looks so young! This pairing of the two brothers ought to remind fans of another recent team-up, also in an alternate reality, in House of M: Masters of Evil #3. In the post for that issue, I commented on “how incredibly powerful the combination of techno- and organo-morph mutant powers could be” and from the looks of Tony Stark, this sentiment holds true.

Northstar tells Pixie and Dazzler to STFU!

May 18, 2011

Uncanny X-Men #534
April 2011

Note: the publication date of Apr 2011 is not an error – both issue #533 and this issue carry the same date.

The Quarantine story arc comes to its conclusion in part five of this five part series, along with Matt Fraction’s run as Uncanny writer, with his recent partner Kieron Gillen taking over as a solo gig. But enough about Matt Fraction. The threat from Lobe and his New X-Men, along with the HX-N1 mutant virus is gone and so is he, so that’s that. A small de facto team of X-Men unaffected by the virus had been in operation in San Francisco and Northstar appears in a few panels as a member of this team, having joined up in issue #530 after joining the full X-Men roster in issue #508.

While taking on a group of “instant” mutants with powers of popular X-Men at a party, Pixie and Dazzler engage in possibly the most irritating exchange ever published in a comic book, repeating a word that is supposed to be funny over and over, but it’s not funny. The word will not be mentioned here and please don’t leave a comment containing the word! The word, combined with the bizarre smiles on all the faces traced by Greg Land just makes one want to ugh just… ugh… and then Northstar swoops in and says what we’re all thinking!

He must have recovered from the massive eye blast from Lobe in the previous issue, and also must have recovered from the rib crack from The Collective Man in the issue before that because it looks as if he’s back in action! A strange bit of shading around his face gives him an odd effect of having a goatee, but it’s just an unfortunate coloring error. Even more unfortunate is the rounded ear traced by Greg Land in that panel.

After a group of infected X-Men infect the “instant” X-Men, Lobe is forced to deactivate the virus, as he becomes one of the infected. The very smiley de facto team then heads over to the Sublime Corporation Headquarters and finds a warehouse filled with the inhalers used to create the instant mutants. Pixie and Dazzler say that damn word again, but Northstar comes to our rescue, admonishing them both, again.

Northstar then suggests Storm use her lightning blasty powers to destroy the contents of the warehouse. He looks a bit beat up and generally covered in scratches, presumably from either the virus or the battle, but so does the rest of the team. Northstar can be seen again in a single panel on the next page leaving the warehouse. Northstar is by far my favorite character in this book, not because he’s the only Alphan in it, but because he keeps telling the girls to STFU!

Note: this issue has 2 variants. One is by Janet K. Lee, artist for Marvel’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Emma, in a strangely conceived Emma Frost / Emma Woodhouse mashup. Another is the San Francisco Giants variant by Giuseppe Camuncoli sold as a show exclusive at WonderCon 2011 in San Francisco. They must have won the Stanley Cup or something, dunno.

Uncanny X-Men #534 – Emma Frost variant
Uncanny X-Men #534 – WonderCon variant

Jeffries makes Emma’s boobs fall out in Uncanny X-Men Annual #3

May 16, 2011

Uncanny X-Men Annual #3
May 2011

Back in the day, Uncanny X-Men Annuals came out somewhat regularly. After a hiatus between Annual #2 in 1971 and #3 in 1979, they ran every year like clockwork from then until 2001. The annual numbered #3 in 1979 was published before the title changed to include “Uncanny” so technically this is the first “Uncanny X-Men Annual #3”. The two most recent Uncanny X-Men Annuals were published in 2006 (#1) and in 2009 (#2), so these Annuals are not annual events at all! This issue is Part 1 of a 3 part crossover with Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier Annual #1 and Namor: The First Mutant Annual #1 called, “Escape from the Negative Zone”. This type of crossover through different annuals is a mini-revival of an old Marvel tradition where massive stories weaved their ways through multiple annuals, the most famous of which are the Evolutionary War and the Atlantis Attacks crossovers.

It’s a bit odd for Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier to have an annual, seeing as how it was just a little mini-series which ended in late 2010. Also, the Namor series had been announced as ending in June 2011, so the reasons why these two titles served as parts 2 and 3 of the crossover are somewhat mysterious, but it’s always refreshing and fun to see the X-titles cross over into Avengers territory for a change.

Mister Jeffries is appears as a regular member of the X-Men Science team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505. He’s introduced on a complex montage opening splash page where he is introduced as, “master of all things electronic” and shortly can be seen in the background in a large awesome looking lab on Utopia, working on a device that can open a portal to Limbo. Speaking of the background, I just love the art in this issue – the mishmash of cartoony faces with the intricate and highly detailed backgrounds is just superb. You don’t see backgrounds like that in comics that much these days and artist Nicholas Bradshaw did an impressive job on this book.

Jeffries is building some sort of contraption made from a stolen cyclotron. Cyclops explains, “After everything that’s happened recently in Limbo, we need our own way in.” This is likely in reference to the events of the X-Infernus series, the Hellbound Second Coming issues and recent issues of New Mutants.

Jeffries is shown wrangling with an ornery contraption in his device, ultimately smashing it with a large wrench to get it to work. He’s also drawn with a heavily burdened tool belt – and any Alpha Flight fan at this point should already have at least one eyebrow raised – what does Madison Jeffries need with a wrench? Or a tool belt? This is reminiscent of the strange panel in New Mutants #5 where he’s shown using a soldering iron to fix a circuit board.

Well, the answer is that it’s funnier to have him smash it with a wrench than to just use his powers to fit the contraption into place, and the issue is supposed to be a “comic” comic book, so unclench! Alpha Flight Collector really doesn’t have a problem with this odd mis-characterization taken in the context of the rest of the book, whose lighthearted and comical tone fits right in with the wrench smash scene.

Unfortunately, right after he smashes the contraption, a tremendous lightning discharge destroys half the lab, sends four X-Men to the Negative Zone (instead of Limbo) and knocks out Jeffries but fortunately, also causes Emma Frost’s boobs to fall out.

For what is otherwise a comedic and light-hearted book, it’s not so funny to see Jeffries smoldering on the ground and later in the Utopia infirmary with half his face bandaged and a bunch of tubes keeping him alive. Emma just says “Jeffries is… down” and Rao just mentions that he isn’t awake. It’s not exactly clear how injured he is but the guy looks pretty bad.

Note: in the opening scene, a dark-haired character who could be Northstar can be seen off to the extreme left behind Hope. He’s drawn in the same cartoony style from Nicholas Bradshaw that we saw on the cover of X-Men: To Serve and Protect #1. However, the character’s costume is colored black on the neck, not white as previously seen on the cover of that issue, so it’s not clear exactly who it is. The character can be seen again with the same black coloring on the neck in the next panel, but it’s even smaller and harder to see who it is.

Possible Northstar?