Archive for March, 2012

Northstar cameo in Fear Itself: The Worthy #1

March 29, 2012

Fear Itself: The Worthy #1
Sep 2011

Originally published as a series of free, four-page digital features back in March 2011 just as Marvel started to reveal the Fear Itself storyline, this one-shot tells the “Secret Origins of the Hammer-Wielders”, eight heroes and villains who form “The Worthy”. Each of the eight chapters is rendered by a different artist, so if you’re a fan who likes to read these anthology type books with wildly varying styles, it’s really quite a fun book. Northstar appears in one panel in a generic flashback to his early membership in the X-Men.

The success of this book is that the origin stories, which we’re all familiar with, are told from a softened, introspective point of view. The characters reveal their inner fears, doubts and anxieties about their powers and what they’ve done with them and it’s really far more sophisticated from what you’d expect from a normal four page origin story. I’m glad the theme of Fear Itself is so ready in the writing and I congratulate this group for pulling it off!

Northstar appears in the Juggernaut’s chapter (for those of you who keep track of these sorts of things, it was the 2nd chapter when released digitally on 3/4/11), written by Jeff Parker and illustrated by Declan Shalvey. It’s not clear if he or the colorist Matthew Wilson decided to use a smattering of the halftone coloring method to indicate the flashback effect, but it works and looks great. He appears in a single panel showing the general membership of the X-Men around Chuck Austen’s run on Uncanny X-Men in 2002-2004.

Northstar had joined up with the X-Men in Uncanny X-Men #414 and would go on to appear as a regular member during Austen’s run in 15 issues on that title, right around the time Juggernaut was there too, during several arcs: Dominant Species, Rules of Engagement, Sacred Vows, and The Draco, among others.

This closeup shows Northstar wearing his red goggles, which were part of his costume back then. It’s a nice touch to have him and the other X-Men drawn in the proper costumes from that era, so good job on the costume check!

Northstar and Aurora do… uh, something… in X-Men: Schism #2

March 26, 2012

X-Men: Schism #2
Sep 2011

Just as the massive Fear Itself crossover was ending, Cyclops and Wolverine finally decided they’ve had just about enough of each other’s shit, and it all comes to a head in the five-issue X-Men: Schism series. This mini-series resulted in the splitting of the X-Men into two teams with one team staying in San Francisco and the other going back to Westchester, NY. It also brought about the end (and subsequent restart) of Uncanny X-Men – one of the longest running titles in comic book history, and began yet another Wolverine title, so as far as X-events go, this had a fairly substantial aftermath. Northstar and Aurora appear as regular members of the X-Men in one panel, and on two variant covers.

Wait, what? Aurora? For those of you scratching your heads, remember that Aurora joined the X-Men in X-Men: Secret Invasion #2 (2008), as revealed in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Hardcover #13. When Northstar was asked to re-join the active roster by Wolverine in Uncanny X-Men #508, Aurora was already a member, though no mention was made of it at the time. Subsequent appearances of Aurora in Dark X-Men: The Beginning #3 and as COO of Team Northstar Extreme Snowsports in Nation X #2 made no mention of her X-Men membership either. Even when Alpha Flight was rebuilding in Chaos War and during the overlapping storyline of Fear Itself in Alpha Flight v4, she was still on the X-roster, so this little appearance is the result of a fairly well-researched job on the part of series writer Jason Aaron.

As part of a wave of anti-mutant sentiment, the world’s nations re-activate their Sentinels, only to find many of them malfunctioning. The X-Men send tactical squads across the world to deal with the threat, as coordinated on Utopia by Cyclops, Emma Frost and the Stepford Cuckoos. One of the Cuckoos telepathically calls out to the twins:

Northstar and Aurora, your targets have just sunk a fishing boat in the Red Sea. Coordinates are as follows…

For those of you who were reading Alpha Flight comics instead of paying attention in Geography class, the Red Sea is nowhere near Utopia – it is in fact halfway around the world off the coast of Africa, so it makes sense to dispatch two of the fastest mutants there. Unfortunately, what they do when they get there isn’t exactly clear…

When Frank Cho isn’t drawing cleavage, he just doesn’t know what to do, I suppose. If only the front of Aurora’s costume had a zipper going down the front so he could draw some gigantic massive boobs, we would have seen an actual battle scene. Unfortunately, there’s no zipper, so all we get is Northstar’s feet and Aurora’s butt along with some blurry lines and pretty sparklies.

This speedster battlefail should remind readers of Greg Land’s silly dance scene between Northstar and Spiral in Uncanny X-Men #511. Like that battle, the reader is left to assume victory despite the inability of the artist to portray it.

Note: Aurora does have some sort of lightning blast powers, and so does Northstar, as explained in a caption in Alpha Flight #119 when Aurora blasted the Wrecker with lightning:

That’s the other side to the twins. A side Northstar seems to bury. They generate light energy, wielding it as blinding or concussive force. It’s Aurora’s forte.

Note: this issue was published interstitial to Alpha Flight v4 issues #2 and #3, but likely takes place after the series end or briefly during the series with no concerns to continuity given the twins’ ability to instantly respond and return.

Note: this issue has a variant cover by Frank Cho, which is part of a larger 5-part poster featuring nearly every X-Man and tons of cleavage. Northstar and Aurora are depicted in the seam between the second and third parts, so all we get is Northstar’s right arm, part of his head (pointy ear included!) and Aurora’s right forearm on this cover. There is also a Second printing variant featuring interior art by Frank Cho, a Third printing sketch variant and an X printing variant, which is a sketch variant of the first variant, also featuring Northstar’s right arm, part of his head and Aurora’s right forearm.

X-Men: Schism #2 – Frank Cho Variant
X-Men: Schism #2 – Second Printing Variant
X-Men: Schism #2 – Third Printing Variant
X-Men: Schism #2 – X Printing Variant

Age of Apocalypse Wild Child in Uncanny X-Force #12

March 22, 2012

Uncanny X-Force #12
Sep 2011

Note: the cover date hints at a regular monthly release but this issue was actually published a full eight weeks after issue #11.

The Dark Angel Saga, which began in Uncanny X-Force #11 re-introduced readers to the Age of Apocalypse (AoA) world where bad mutants hunt good mutants and humans, and everyone who you thought was good turned bad and everyone you thought was bad turned even worse. Chapter Two of the Saga brings the Uncanny X-Force Team together with the AoA X-Men to obtain a “Life Seed” in the hope Angel can be turned to good. AoA Wild Child appears in a few panels as a member of the AoA X-Men.

We saw him in various issues of the original series just the same way we see him in this one – as Sabretooth’s silent pet, so this appearance, though minor, should feel very familiar and proper. In a meeting of the combined teams, he can be seen sitting casually on the back of Sabretooth’s chair. Mark Brooks continues to round off Wild Child’s ears, a minor criticism of what is otherwise one of the most impressive and intricately detailed comic books in Alpha Flight Collector’s collection. Congratulations to the art team on this one – they really put together a beautiful book. But for the record, Wild Child has pointy ears. He can be seen from behind in reverse angle to the same scene in another panel.

It should be noted that the character of Kirika, one of the AoA X-Men, is formally introduced to the readers as Mariko Yashida’s and (presumably) AoA Wolverine’s daughter. But just as the touching little scene where 616 Wolverine meets her and he realizes she’s the daughter he never had, and she meets who is essentially her father again, and he’s a decent guy, and the whole thing just starts to tug on your heartstrings – well, remember that this is the same little girl who chopped off AoA Aurora’s hand at the wrist in a bloody mid-air battle before running Jeanne-Marie through with her claws in X-Men: Age of Apocalypse #2 (May 2005), ultimately killing both her and AoA Northstar with Weapon X’s assistance. Don’t start getting all choked up, please.

Don't start getting all choked up, please. Panel from X-Men: Age of Apocalypse #2 (May 2005) showing Kirika chopping off AoA Aurora's hand. Gross!

The team of AoA X-Men and Uncanny X-Force commandeer a Sentinel to pick up Gateway from a prison known as “The Sky”, and Wild Child can be seen in a few more panels on the way inside the prison, all very tiny appearances. They come across the Black Legion, a villainous team too silly to take seriously. The Blob, leader of the Black Legion, jumps down to attack and knocks Wild Child off-balance, sending everyone running away. He can be seen again scampering on all fours, very tiny. The teams then meet up with Weapon X, who we all thought was dead but is actually now the new Apocalypse. Fortunately, he blasts the hell out of his quondam partner Kirika, killing her, and I say good riddance!

Note: Wild Child had gained the power of speech as of last issue, but has no lines in this issue.

Note: this issue has a variant cover by Adam Kubert (shown with apologies for the nearly X-Rated costume he drew on Jean Grey) and an “I am Captain America” variant by Chris Stevens, part of a series of variants released in the summer of 2011 to coincide with the Captain America: The First Avenger movie released 7/22/11, just a few days before this issue was published. Also, there’s a Second Printing variant in the same style as the Second Printing variant to issue #11, featuring interior art by Mark Brooks and once again, Wild Child made it onto the cover, not having appeared on any of the other covers!

Uncanny X-Force #12 – Kubert Variant
Uncanny X-Force #12 – I am Captain America variant
Uncanny X-Force #12 – Second Printing variant

Where are they now, Part II

March 21, 2012

OK, haven’t done this for a while but a little bird asked me to do this, so here it is. This is the current situation with all Alphans out there. For a few members who are actively appearing in an ongoing series, or have been popping up in the past year or so, names are noted in bold text. Green means they are alive and kicking, yellow means they are alive, but we haven’t seen them for a long time, blue means they are alive but depowered and gray means they are dead. The rest is self-explanatory.

Original Team

Member Status Last seen
Guardian (Mac) Alive Alpha Flight v4 #8
Aurora Alive Alpha Flight v4 #8
Northstar Alive Alpha Flight v4 #8
Sasquatch Alive Alpha Flight v4 #8
Shaman Alive Alpha Flight v4 #8
Snowbird Alive Alpha Flight v4 #8

Added v1

Member Status Last seen
Marrina Alive Alpha Flight v4 #8
Puck (Eugene) Alive Alpha Flight v4 #8
Talisman Alive Omega Flight #5
Vindicator (Heather) Four-toed Alpha Flight v4 #8
Diamond Lil Dead Nation X#3
Wild Child Dead Wolverine Origins #39
Madison Jeffries Alive X-Club #4
Purple Woman Alive Alpha Flight v4 #8
Goblyn Alive Alpha Flight #130
Pathway Alive Alpha Flight #130
Manikin Alive Alpha Flight #130
Windshear Depowered Thunderbolts #43
Feedback Alive Alpha Flight #130
Roger Bochs Dead Alpha Flight #49
Flashback Alive Alpha Flight v3 #12
Smart Alec Dead Alpha Flight #46
Nemesis Dead Alpha Flight v3 #12
Witchfire Alive Fear Itself: The Fearless #10
Silver Alive AF#121
Auric Alive Alpha Flight #121
Wyre Alive Alpha Flight #130

Added v2

Member Status Last seen
Flex Depowered Wolverine #142
Radius Depowered Uncanny X-Men #406
Manbot Alive Wolverine #142
Murmur Depowered Wolverine #142
Ghost Girl Alive Alpha Flight v2 #20
Ouija Alive Alpha Flight v2 #20
Flinch Alive Alpha Flight v2 #20
Synth Mac Dead Wolverine #143
Real Sasquatch Dead Alpha Flight v2 #12

Added v3

Member Status Last seen
Yukon Jack Divorced Alpha Flight v3 #12
Centennial Dead Alpha Flight v3 #12
Puck (Zuzha) Dead New Avengers #16
Major Mapleleaf, Jr. Dead New Avengers #16
Mar Alive Alpha Flight v3 #12
Thunder Alive Alpha Flight v3 #12

Added “Other”

Member Status Last seen
Groundhog Alive Alpha Flight Special #1
St. Elmo Dead Alpha Flight Special #1
Stitch Alive Alpha Flight #127
Earthmover Alive Alpha Flight v3 #6

alphaflight.net is back!!!

March 15, 2012

Well, this is definitely the best Ides of March ever! Much thanks to Ben at alphaflight.net for getting things fixed up!

Update on alphaflight.net!

March 13, 2012

Well, if you paid careful attention to the punctuation mark in the title you already know it’s good news.  The site repair is underway – one file at a time apparently. Now we await network approval.  Also, the software has been updated to the “newester” version, which is all just back-office mumbo jumbo meaning the site is almost ready!

Northstar on the cover of Uncanny X-Men #541

March 8, 2012

Uncanny X-Men #541
Sep 2011

Four hundred and thirty-two issues ago, Weapon Alpha graced the cover of X-Men #109 (yes, this was even before it was Uncanny), marking the beginning of the greatest super-hero team the world has ever known. From that Cockrum cover to this Land cover thirty-three years later, Alpha Flight has been intimately associated with one title more than any other – the flagship title in the X-books: Uncanny X-Men. Even the very top of Alpha Flight #1 defines this relationship from the very beginning: “Exploding from the pages of the X-Men!” Why is this such a reflective moment? This marks the last appearance of Northstar or anyone else from Alpha Flight in the Uncanny X-Men title, as the run ended a few issues later with #544. Northstar appears on the cover of this issue as a regular member of the X-Men, having joined up in issue #508.

Although he doesn’t appear inside, he does get a quick reverse angle on the cover as he flies in to battle the possessed Juggernaut (Kuurth). It’s no surprise that he doesn’t show up inside the book, as it really makes no sense to have a super-fast flier go up against a super-slow bad guy. In fact, Northstar doesn’t appear at all in the entire story arc, and Alpha Flight Collector doesn’t fault Kieron Gillen one bit for completely detaching Northstar, as his power set is simply incompatible with the X-Men’s goal of stopping Kuurth.

Here is an inset from the cover which shows this concept – what’s Northstar going to do, collide head-on with an unstoppable enemy? The answer can be found in the extreme lower left of the image.

Likely, Greg Land just wanted to put Dazzler’s butt on the cover and felt compelled to have Northstar as nearby as possible.

Mister Jeffries saves everyone on Earth again in X-Men #15

March 7, 2012

X-Men #15
Sep 2011

Note: both this issue and the previous issue carry the cover date Sep 2011 as they were published 2 weeks apart.

The five-part “First to Last” arc comes to its conclusion in this issue, with the X-Men still under very serious attack on Utopia by the Evolutionaries, powerful and ancient interventionist beings who cannot be defeated using conventional means. Mister Jeffries appears in three panels as a regular member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505.

While the X-Men come under siege on Utopia, Cyclops mentally implanted his memories of a machine built long ago by Hank McCoy into Madison’s brain. The X-Club gathered in the lab to do exactly what the Science Team is supposed to do: use Jeffries’ technomorph powers to very quickly assemble an awesome machine that does awesome science stuff. It took five issues for this all to happen, so along the way they had a bit of trouble getting it started, then he got knocked out by Litterbug, then he woke up but still couldn’t get it to work

…but finally the Awesome Cosmic Ray Disruptor they build kicks in and kicks Evolutionary butt.

The machine we see is a fairly bizarre and rather large contraption consisting of a spherical chamber, some pipes, and seems to be blasting around a lot dust and lightning. What the hell it is actually doing or how it works is beyond me but it looks like a fairly plausible rendition of what an Awesome Cosmic Ray Disruptor machine might look like.

Unfortunately, since Cosmic Rays are invisible, it’s very difficult to portray them being disrupted, so we just get a bunch of lightning and dust. You can’t be a comic book fan and not think of this, one of the most famous panels in all of comic books when you read about Cosmic Rays:

We have been taught for the past fifty years that Cosmic Rays look like white bars with rounded corners, and it would have been a nice touch to have some of those and the “RAK TAC TAC TAC” sound effect, but it might have looked too retro, especially in a book already filled with flashbacky memory scenes weaving in and out of the main plot. In any case, even though Jeffries’ machine did something invisible, the reader got the point very clearly in the next few panels where the Evolutionaries are instantly ripped apart and their flaming skeletal remains rain down upon the battlefield.

It’s a powerful conclusion to the arc and one of the most effective uses of Mister Jeffries since the Science Team was assembled. I was naturally worried when he got knocked out in issue #13, but the combined efforts of Magneto, Storm, Namor, Angel, Emma Frost, Cyclops, Iceman, Colossus, and even Wolverine add up to just about zero compared to what he was able to do – save everyone on Earth, again!

Note: this issue has a variant cover by interior artist Paco Medina taken from a much larger promotional poster for the “First to Last” story arc.

X-Men #15 – Medina variant

Second printing variant added to Uncanny X-Force #11

March 1, 2012

It’s always nice when an Alphan appears on the cover of a comic book, especially when they didn’t appear on the regular cover, then pop up later on a second printing variant cover. Wild Child’s arm, shoulder and leg appear on the second printing variant for Uncanny X-Force #11 so go check it out!