Archive for November, 2012

All that glitters isn’t Auric

November 25, 2012

Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z TPB #2

Note: no month of publication is indicated, with the exception of manufacturing date range of 10/27/11 to 11/15/11. The issue was released on 11/30/11. Other issues released on that date carry a publication date of Jan 2012.

The second volume of the amazing fourteen volume Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Premiere Hardcover series is reprinted in trade paperback with all 240 original pages reproduced and, true to the principle of releasing timely information, sixteen additional pages of updates for selected entries. Some minor corrections and additions are found, but for the most part the original 240 pages are reprinted in their entirety. In the entries, Alt. Sasquatch appears in Blink’s entry and Sasquatch appears in the Contest of Champions entry. In the updates, Hodiak appears in the Council of Godheads update and both Auric and Silver appear in the China Force update.

The Alt. Sasquatch appearance, as it was in the HC version from 2008, is only her hand in a cropped illustration taken from the cover of Exiles #55 (Feb 2005).

The entry for Contest of Champions is identical to the HC version, with the exception of the coloring of the illustration, where Sasquatch appears. It has been nicely updated to remove 1980s-era dithering and replaced with a flatter modern style, while still retaining the simplicity of the original.

The China Force entry is unchanged, but in the update section, new headshots of previously mentioned trainees Auric and Silver are shown. Back when Auric was a trainee in China Force, he was known as “Gold”, and he’s properly identified as such. As I mentioned already in a previous post, Auric still has never had an entry, but at least the writers went out of their way to show the proper name in the proper entry, a detail not unnoticed by Auric fans.

They are the same images from the extensive Alpha Flight team update from issue #1 of the TPB series. However, the best headshots to have used would have been those taken directly from the only issue where they appeared as trainees in China Force, which was the Rick Mason: The Agent Graphic Novel. Had the writers done that, the headshots would have looked like this instead:

Likely because the original images were in black and white, they weren’t used.

Also in the update section, which is only 16 pages long, the Council of Godheads have about a full page worth of update including two large illustrations and a new grid of headshots of gods not already identified in the entry. Hodiak appears in one of the illustrations, which was taken from Greg Pak and Fred van Lente’s Incredible Hercules #116 (Jun 2008) with art by Rafa Sandoval; an image repeated in the preview page of Incredible Hercules #117 (Jul 2008). This is the first positive identification of Hodiak among the ghosty gaggle of Native American-looking gods in those issues.

Hodiak among the Council of Godheads (Image from Incredible Hercules #116)

In the new grid of headshots, an image taken from the Encyclopedia Mythologica #1 (Sep 2009) entry for the Inua identifies Hodiak, with his correct 1st appearance noted below as Alpha Flight #7, not Thor #300 as some websites maintain. That image is by Kevin Sharpe, one of many new illustrations for that issue, but sadly, the characters were not clearly identified at the time. The image was later tagged nicely over at The Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe site, but this is the first time Hodiak was officially identified in that image in print.

Jeffries and Northstar still refuse to speak to each other

November 23, 2012

X-Men Legacy #259
Jan 2012

The schedule of events among the X-titles fouled up a bit with the timing of this issue. Fans who were expecting a Regenesis story (the cover of this issue does have the Regenesis banner logo on the cover) were happily surprised to read yet one more pre-Regenesis story arc from Mike Carey, the long-term writer of X-Men Legacy since issue #188. The Schism event, in which the X-Men divided into two camps: one staying at Utopia with Cyclops and the other returning to Westchester with Wolverine, had ended in October 2011. Regenesis had begun four weeks previously in November 2011 with the release of Uncanny X-Men #1 on 11/2/2011. So by the time this issue was released on 11/30/2011, the hub-bub of who would stay on Utopia and who would leave for Westchester had settled down, already hashed over on countless websites, and even listed by Marvel with in-house ads in various X-books. Both Madison Jeffries and Northstar appear as regular members of the post-Schism, pre-Regenesis X-Men, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505 and #508.

Ultimately, Mister Jeffries would stay on Utopia with Cyclops as a member of the X-Men Science Team, and Northstar would leave for New York, later taking a prominent role in the Astonishing X-Men title. In this issue, Jeffries and Northstar assist in a rescue attempt organized by Rogue of… someone… from another dimension. Jeffries can be seen standing around with the X-Men on Utopia while the rescue attempt is discussed and organized, during which the Science Team is tasked by Cyclops to build a barrier to contain the rescued entity.

One interesting scene shows a wide-angle of the containment chamber assembly. Jeffries can be seen off to the left, apparently levitating or otherwise guiding a very large piece of equipment into place. What’s interesting about it is the tremendous size of the thingamabob that he’s levitating. We know he can manipulate fine machinery and small pieces of equipment but it’s rare to see him handling something so large. It calls into question a bit of overlap between his powers and Magneto’s powers. We know Magneto would easily be able to lift such a large metallic object, but can Jeffries do this?

Northstar appears in two panels, one without a face, and one holding a failsafe switch. Dr. Nemesis has quite a high opinion of Northstar’s fast reflexes

His super-speed gives him the quickest reaction time of us, and pico-seconds may count.

There have been many scenes over the years where Northstar has been shown with phenomenal reflexes, and some scenes where he’s easily taken out by a clearly slower opponent. Even the record is muddled on this point because Byrne’s footnote from Alpha Flight #12 indicates he doesn’t have proportionately fast reflexes but the OHOTMU Master Edition #13 entry disagrees, saying he has superhuman reflexes. Mike Carey, like he did with Jeffries’ intelligence level, errs on the side of awesome when it comes to Northstar’s power set and and chooses to show them at their finest.

This book is yet another X-book that has both Jeffries and Northstar yet doesn’t show them interacting in the way we’d expect. They were, after all, teammates in Alpha Flight and presumably knew each other even from Jeffries’ time in Gamma Flight. Although Northstar did show up at Diamond Lil’s funeral (we think), the two haven’t made any reference to serving in Alpha Flight together. With the two mutants on opposite coasts now and the X-editors sequestering Jeffries even from Fred van Lente and Greg Pak, it’s unlikely there will be any future issues of this type where we’ll get the chance to see it happen at all.

Note: this issue has a Marvel 50th Anniversary cover by David Yardin and a Regenesis Gold variant by Nick Bradshaw and Morry Jay Hollowell

X-Men Legacy #259 – 50th Anniversary variant
X-Men Legacy #259 – Regenesis Gold variant