Weapon Alpha in The Uncanny X-Men: An Origin Story

The Uncanny X-Men: An Origin Story
2011

Note: Because this isn’t a periodical, no month of publication is indicated, only a copyright year. The actual release of this book was October 5th, 2011.

It took a while for Disney and Marvel Comics to mesh properly following the summer 2009 buyout. After the weirdness of the ESPN preview and the Tron movie tribute covers, a serious attempt to work together resulted in the creation of Marvel Press, an imprint of kids books based on Marvel characters, done Disney style. A series of hardcover origin storybooks published in 2011 (and ongoing through 2012) tells the famous stories of the top Marvel characters in a kid-friendly format with beautiful artwork and the Disney touch. In the X-Men book, Weapon Alpha appears in flashback to the events of Uncanny X-Men #109.

The story of the X-Men is told expertly by Rich Thomas, who framed the story around Charles Xavier’s dream of a world where mutants and humans can live together. In this version of the X-Men origin story, he emphasizes the notion of having “dreams come true”, a central theme for all things Disney, and he does so with the usual warmth that makes all-ages books like this appealing. He actually bookends the story with Charles Xavier sleeping in his bed as a young boy, dreaming in the opening pages, and ending with an older Charles Xavier drifting off to sleep, remembering his dreams as a youth. The story is fairly accurate to the 616 version of events, but because some of the modern-day characters seen in the movies and intended to be used by Disney weren’t around at the actual origin in Uncanny X-Men #1 in 1963, the story also extends to modernity with the origin of the All-New, All-Different X-Men from Giant Size X-Men #1/Uncanny X-Men #94 in 1975.

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Just after the introduction of the All-New, All-Different X-Men, an idyllic scene which may have been inspired by the picnic excursion in Uncanny X-Men #109 is suddenly interrupted – by a full-page illustration of Weapon Alpha battling it out with Wolverine! There hasn’t been a new image of Weapon Alpha published in a long, long time so this is a real treat for Alpha Flight fans.

In close-up on the suit’s cowl, one can see the electro-magnetic shield barely put up in time by Mac, a nice touch by the artists, whoever they are. The credits say “Storybook Art Group”, a faceless, nameless pool of otherwise very talented artists who did a great job with this book, but whose identities are unknown to us – and the writer! The usual relationship between Marvel writer and Marvel artist wasn’t in place and although it certainly wasn’t a problem with this book, it was a problem nevertheless, and subsequent books in the series were drawn by known Marvel artists who the writers could interact with. A positive review of the storybook shows a typical illustration and accompanying text.

The original panel from Uncanny X-Men #109

Unfortunately, two shocking omissions remove part of the international nature of the All-New, All-Different X-Men, and though I don’t normally comment on plot elements unrelated to Alpha Flight, there is an actual connection. Both Thunderbird, a Native American hero, and Sunfire, a Japanese hero, are omitted from the story completely. The reason for this (according to Rich Thomas) is that they were such short-lived members of the X-Men that it wouldn’t make sense to introduce a new character, only to have them never appear again. This continuity concern was so great that it trumped the usual inclusive nature of Disney stories with respect to minority characters. The fact that Weapon Alpha appears indicates that his character doesn’t fall into that category, meaning it’s possible that sequels to the origin storybooks, or other publications from Marvel Press, could include more Alpha Flight characters.

Note: the front of the dust jacket is shown above, but actually wraps around to the back. Here is an image of the full dust jacket.

Note: Alpha Flight Collector’s trusty sidekick thought Charles Xavier’s giant bisected head was creepy looking and immediately discarded the dust jacket, preferring the very cool action scene on the painted cover beneath, the front of which is shown below and can be seen briefly in its entirety in the trailer for the series.


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2 Responses to “Weapon Alpha in The Uncanny X-Men: An Origin Story”

  1. flightpath07 / dredd sweet Says:

    Cool find! Never even heard of this one before.

  2. TheyStandOnGuard (@TSOGblog) Says:

    Me neither, and that first image is fantastic. Thanks for drawing my attention to it, that’s a keeper.

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