Back Issue #53
Published by TwoMorrows Publishing eight times per year, Back Issue “celebrates comic books of the 1970s, 1980s, and today through a variety of recurring (and rotating) departments.” That unassuming description from the TwoMorrows website hardly comes close to the level of awesome of this magazine. Recently changed at issue #52 to 84 pages of full color in a nice square-bound format, Back Issue is filled with lengthy articles about comic book characters, creators and events, not to mention tons of original art, unpublished pencil sketches and the occasional commission piece. In this issue, we have one of the tiniest Alpha Flight appearances ever. Puck appears on a reprinted cover of Thor #373 (Nov 1986).
The entire issue isn’t about Thor, but he dominates most of the page count. Sharp-eyed readers already recognize the cover artist as Walt Simonson – an original Thor image so awesome that Back Issue moved its title block to the lower left corner so as not to detract from it in any way! An insanely long twenty-page (!!) article by Westfield Comics’ Roger Ash, “Flashback: The Tapestry of Walter Simonson’s Thor”, about Simonson’s legendary run on Thor (which spanned from issue #337 to #382) covers almost every major and minor plot point from each issue, along with dozens of cover thumbnails, interior panels and original sketches. Included is the cover to Thor #373, which was one of twenty-nine Marvel 25th Anniversary covers released in November, 1986 with a border drawn by John Romita, Sr.
Alpha Flight fans already have at least one of those 29 issues, as Alpha Flight #40 was part of that set, and if you squint down very close and look in the very lower left corner just beneath the UPC box, you’ll see Puck’s eyes just poking out. Unfortunately, due to poor quality control, many covers printed from that massive print run are offset slightly in the vertical and one can barely see Puck at all on many copies, but some are printed and cut more proper to show him better. This highly magnified image shows what one would see if the bottom edge the cover were shown all the way to the bleed, brought back to glory from 1986 by the wonder of Marvel’s digital comics app:
One can see from the large image above that either the issue used for that reprint had a shifted cover or the image was cropped to remove a ragged bottom edge. One can see from the size of the text to its left that the cover is just a thumbnail to begin with. In actuality the height of the reprinted cover is only two and a half inches (that’s 6.35cm for you metric folks), so Puck’s little corner is barely visible at all. This is just about the tiniest Alpha Flight appearance ever. But, there’s no such thing as an Alpha Flight appearance too tiny to collect, as far as I’m concerned.
Note: The reprinted cover above is the DM (Direct Market) cover with Thor’s hammer Mjölnir occupying the box where you’d normally find the UPC bar code on the Newsstand cover.
Note: My apologies to Dante for the title of the post. I couldn’t resist.