Archive for June, 2012

It’s about TIME

June 5, 2012

TIME Magazine Vol. 179 No. 23
June 11, 2012

Note: The actual publication date precedes the cover date by a week. I do not own a time travel machine to go into the future to purchase magazines.

Published weekly since 1923, TIME (The International Magazine of Events) is the world’s largest circulation weekly news magazine, ranked 10th overall with a current (latest data from 2011) circulation of approximately 3.2 million subscribers, making this one of the most widespread appearances of Alpha Flight, ever. It even outranks the paltry 2 million subscribers for the ESPN The Magazine. TIME ran a blurb today about Northstar and Kyle’s wedding, featuring a cameo appearance of the lucky couple.

If you can put the morbid and depressing cover page behind you, flip to the section titled, “The Culture”, to find a small blurb in the article “Pop Chart” on page 56, along with a thumbnailed reproduction of the now famous proposal splash page by Mike Perkins.

The accompanying text is rather short, and disappointingly diminished from the full article, “X-Man Northstar to Get Marvel-ous Gay Wedding” published on their website a few weeks ago when the engagement was announced. But, since this magazine has a circulation larger than the population of 6 Canadian Provinces and 21 American States, a little blurb goes a long way.

Alpha Flight in History of the Marvel Universe #1

June 4, 2012

History of the Marvel Universe #1
Jan 2012

There’s just no way to condense the entire history of the Marvel Universe into a single 48pg book, but this attempt is actually a pretty good try. Narrated by The Watcher, events from the Golden Age (1940s) up to Spider Island (2011) are summarized into short descriptive paragraphs, approximately three per page, accompanied by iconic images to bring life to just about every corner of the Marvel Universe that can fit into a single volume. Despite the movie-centric characters depicted on the cover which hints at a fairly mainstream theme, the writers made some unusual choices in this book, as noted in this good review of the issue. The inside back cover of the book has an useful and extensive reference guide to link the narrative paragraphs to trade paperbacks and hardcover collections so readers can find the full story. In reprinted artwork from various issues, several Alpha Flight members appear.

Because there’s so much information to fit in to such little space, the writers just didn’t have the luxury of including everything. The most notable omission is that which was so notably included in Marvel Saga #1 (Dec 1985) – the origin of Alpha Flight as an idea germinated in Mac’s head after reading about the Fantastic Four in the newspaper. It really would have been nice to include that but Alpha Flight Collector can’t complain – we got a full reproduction of the first on-panel appearance of Alpha Flight in Uncanny X-Men #121!

Founded by the Canadian government’s Department H and led by Vindicator (later Guardian), Alpha Flight included the massive Sasquatch, mystic Shaman, Inuit goddess Snowbird, and super-speedster twins Aurora and Northstar. The team’s first contact with the X-Men occurred when Alpha Flight was ordered to bring Wolverine back to Canada; after hostilities ended, the two squads became allies. Despite soon being disbanded, Alpha Flight continued as an independent group and became allies of other worldwide heroes.

Other appearances in this book include:

  • A splash page from Contest of Champions #1 featuring Sasquatch as a member of The Grandmaster’s team
  • A cropped version of the trifold cover of Infinity War #4, featuring Sasquatch’s doppelgänger and Sasquatch, who is unfortunately obscured by an overlapping semi-transparent text box
  • A splash page from Infinity Crusade #1 featuring Windshear, Sasquatch, Puck and Talisman answering The Goddess’ call to service, without the word “YES!”, a bizarre omission
  • Art taken from the cover of X-Men: Alpha (Note: the original cover for X-Men: Alpha is foil stamped; the artwork reproduced in this issue is flat like the 2nd printing cover) featuring Age of Apocalypse Wild Child
  • A panel taken from Avengers Forever #12 featuring Sasquatch from an alternate timeline in which he was a member of the Avengers

Overall, a fairly good showing for Alpha Flight and just about what was expected, but for fans who really want to learn about the history of the Marvel Universe, consider the Blockbusters of the Marvel Universe #1 handbook instead, which has full pages of extensively detailed text instead of quick blurby descriptions.

Shaman in Wolverine, Punisher & Ghost Rider: Official Index to the Marvel Universe #4

June 3, 2012

Wolverine, Punisher & Ghost Rider: Official Index to the Marvel Universe #4
Jan 2012

Note: Despite being clearly printed on the cover, “Official Index to the Marvel Universe: Wolverine, Punisher & Ghost Rider” is not the actual title of this series. The indicia reveals it reversed as above.

The Official Index to the Marvel Universe, or OITTMU, continues in its third incarnation by covering various Wolverine, Punisher, and Ghost Rider series. The first two incarnations covered Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Avengers, Thor, and Captain America. The index contains detailed synopses of individual comics, including all of the relevant data pertaining to the comic as well as a thumbnail of the cover art, 2 issues per page (roughly). Shaman appears in this issue in reprinted art from the cover of Wolverine #110 (Feb 1997).

Originally, the solicits for this issue indicated it would start at issue #104 for the Wolverine section of the book, but the writers only got so far as issue #100 last issue. The solicits are based on estimated page counts, so it’s typical to be off by a few issues. The section on the Wolverine titles continues from issues #101 to #133 and also includes a few special issues published during that portion of the run. Alpha Flight members appear in issues 102.5, 104, 110, 114 and 129, with Shaman on the cover of issue #110 with art by Adam Kubert.

Cover of Wolverine #110
click for big image

The notes identify the various Alpha Flight appearances in these issues as well as the little volume 2 preview at the end of issue #114. Invaluable information from these index issues notes the chronology of the character’s appearances, but out of all the issues listed above, only issues #110 and #129 were in continuity, and #129 only had flashback scenes.

Of all the indexed issues mentioned above, the only Alpha Flight image appearing in this book is the cover for Wolverine #110. The actual image shown inside is a tiny thumbnailed image, so here is an inset from the actual cover to that issue featuring Shaman as he weaves a spell to trap the Great Beast back into its vessel.

Unfortunately, a long-running question about this issue remains unresolved: the Great Beast in this issue had never been identified properly as one of the Seven Great Beasts (Somon, Kariooq, Kolomaq, Ranaq, Tanaraq, Tolomaq and Tundra), and fans were puzzled at the time if this were one of them. Hints had been dropped over the years that there were other Beasts (as mentioned in Alpha Flight #6, #23 and Wolverine #172) and in Over the Edge #2, Shaman referred to a snow creature as a Great Beast. In more recent times, more Great Beasts have surfaced, including Neooqtoq in Incredible Hercules #119 and two others, Tiamaq and Herateq, in Marvel Heartbreakers #1.

In the “Villians” section of the text for this issue, the Great Beast is simply called “Great Beast” and in the “Notes” section:

It is unclear which Great Beast appears here. Aside from this issue, only Seven Great Beasts have ever appeared on-panel – but Snowbird transforms into a previously unknown eighth Beast in Herc #119, ’08, so others may exist, and this may be another Beast. However, it vaguely resembles Ranaq the Great Devourer; if this is Ranaq, he appears here following AFlt #18, ’85.

So, the mystery of the Great Beast from Wolverine #110 stands, but Ranaq does seem to be an excellent suggestion.

Note: Tiamaq and Herateq should have been mentioned in the quoted text above, a minor omission that doesn’t matter for the purpose of identifying the Great Beast in issue #110, but still a bit disappointing as fans expect the info in these indexes to be comprehensive.

Age of Apocalypse Wild Child killed by Archangel in Uncanny X-Force #17

June 2, 2012

Uncanny X-Force #17
Jan 2012

Well, the title of the post already spoiled what this comic is about, and regular readers of this site would probably expect some blathering rant which usually accompanies an Alpha Flight death where I go on and on whining about disrespecting the characters and how the writer is a stupid jerk and I hate him, etc.

But, to paraphrase Rocky Balboa, if you were to ask me if I had anything derogatory to say about this issue, I’d say it’s great. One of the best comics in the Alpha Flight collection actually, despite the unfortunate outcome for Age of Apocalypse (AoA) Wild Child, who appears as a regular member of the Amazing X-Men.

Chapter 7 of the Dark Angel Saga brings the return of the Age of Apocalypse characters re-introduced to us in issue #11 of this title as AoA Wild Child, Sabretooth, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler and Sunfire teleport in to save Wolverine. Some time must have passed since we saw them last, since Wild Child’s right arm has grown back, but with all the interdimensional hopping, it’s hard to say how much time exactly. Wait, what? Yeah, his right arm was pulled off by the Blob in issue #13 but apparently he got better.

A close up shows his right arm back where it belongs:

The chain that Sabretooth had been using as a leash was notably absent in previous issues in this series, but it returns here. Maybe because, you know, they’re out for a walk in another dimension. Wild Child can be seen in several panels chained up and crouching low next to his master, in very typical imagery for the character.

Various scenes showing Wild Child chained to Sabretooth, crouching beneath him in subservience

While attempting to stop Archangel from destroying the entire world, the Amazing X-Men along with Wolverine attack him in the Akkaba stronghold in the metropolis deep under the North Pole. Just like every character and every battle in this issue, it’s a big and bold and powerful scene. Archangel lowers his left wing and pivots a horizontal slice through Wolverine’s chest, Sabretooth’s chest and straight through Wild Child’s entire body, severing him in half with a “Grgaghh–” (and severing the chain, which is a nice touch despite it being a bloody and goopy mess).

Knowing he had an accelerated healing factor that was capable of growing back an arm in just a few issues, it wasn’t clear to readers at the time if Wild Child had actually been killed or not, even though he had been chopped in half. Many of the other characters had taken an insane amount of abuse in these issues from Archangel and it seemed inconceivable that all of them had been killed, especially since there had been solicits out for future Age of Apocalypse-related issues featuring Sabretooth (sliced to bits in a bloody smear), Jean Grey (burnt by her own Phoenix blast) and Nightcrawler (stabbed doubly in the back the points of Archangel’s razor-sharp wingtips). Unfortunately, in issue #19 of this series, AoA Sabretooth confirmed that Wild Child had in fact been killed. It should be noted that in that issue, Rick Remender duly honors his loyalty to Sabretooth with the solemnity and respect deserving of the character.

So nope, no angry rant. The guy got killed ON PANEL by someone more powerful in a fair fight while heroically trying to save the entire world – a world not even his own! Combine that with the tasteful nod that came later and the overall awesomeness of this issue (and the Dark Angel Saga in general) and you get an Alpha Flight death done right.

Note: Wild Child had previously been killed off twice; his 616 version in Wolverine Origins #39 by Omega Red and once in the Mutant X universe (which is designated Earth-1298 for those of you who keep track of those sorts of things) when Sabretooth killed him while rescuing Wolverine’s daughter in Mutant X #29 (March 2001). With the death of the AoA version, all versions of Kyle Gibney are finally put to rest.