Posts Tagged ‘Aurora’

The most expensive dust jacket you’ll ever buy

January 5, 2015

AoAOmnibuscoverX-Men: Age of Apocalypse Omnibus
2012

Note: There is no month of publication indicated, but came out on 2/22/12. Other books that came out on that date carried a publication month of April.

Usually, collected editions aren’t covered on this blog, which you know from reading the F.A.Q. This is mainly because they don’t usually contain new material, but also because I generally don’t collect them, having already bought the floppies. But there are some exceptions.

The massive Age of Apocalypse storyline had already been collected in a four volume TPB, and collected further in a Prelude TPB containing introductory matter, which might or might not count, depending on how much of a completest you are. The “X-Men: The Complete Age of Apocalypse Epic” published in 2006 and the Prelude TPB published in 2011 had its problems, including missing pages, missing dialogue, problems with the read order and particularly poor quality paper in the Prelude. The Ombnibus, an elephantine 1,047 page tome weighing in at 7.2 lbs (that’s 3.27 kg for you metric folks), corrected these errors and limited the contents to the relevant portions of the introductory matter. The remaining material, which numbered a measly 992 pages, would later be published in a second Omnibus in 2014.

So if it’s just a big hardcover of Age of Apocalypse (AoA) material, why does it warrant its own entry? The answer is that the cover art on the dust jacket is a new image by Billy Tan, featuring AoA Wild Child. Here’s the image, which had been floating around as a solicit for a while before the book came out:

AoAOmnibusb

The only way you could get this image in print was to shell out a whopping $125 cover price – essentially buying a really expensive dust jacket. Marvel did release this same image as a poster for a more reasonable $8.99 in November 2011, but posters don’t count. Your $125 dust jacket also has on the back a grid of miniaturized cover art of the issues contained within, including:

  • X-Men: Alpha wraparound cover with AoA Wild Child
  • Astonishing X-Men with AoA Wild Child
  • Factor X #1 with AoA Northstar and AoA Aurora
  • Astonishing X-Men #4 with AoA Wild Child
  • X-Men: Omega wraparound cover with AoA Wild Child
  • and the Age of Apocalypse: The Chosen wraparound cover with AoA Northstar, AoA Aurora and the very tips of AoA Wild Child’s claws.

AoAOmnibusa

Besides the dust jacket, you still get a lot of Alpha Flight in this Omnibus. The Alpha Flight related content includes the expected AoA appearances of AoA Wild child, AoA Box, AoA Northstar and AoA Aurora as well as some bonus intro and outro material:

  • a 2pg spread of the X-Men: Alpha wraparound cover with AoA Wild Child with most of the trade dress and background elements removed, replaced with clean white on the intro pages before the Table of Contents
  • the 2pg Dennis Calero pinup with AoA Wild Child (which can be found in the 2nd printings of the #1 issues)
  • the X-Facts page that preceded the event, with AoA Wild Child shown on the cover of X-Men: Alpha
  • the X-Facts page from Apr 1995 with AoA Wild Child in art taken from the cover of X-Men: Omega
  • the kinda hard to see, um, actually barely discernable Ultimate edition covers which are gold embossed and just didn’t reproduce well, but still you can see AoA Wild Child on the cover of Astonishing X-Men #1 as well as AoA Northstar and AoA Aurora on the cover of Factor X #1.
  • the Omnibus ends with a full page reproduction of the Billy Tan poster without trade dress.

For two interesting posts on the marvelmasterworksfansite by Jeph York about how and why this Omnibus came about and what’s in it and what’s not in it, and why:

http://marvelmasterworksfansite.yuku.com/sreply/517332/Age-of-Apocalypse

http://marvelmasterworksfansite.yuku.com/sreply/573586/Age-of-Apocalypse-what-collection

Note: this issue has a DM variant cover with art by Joe Madureira taken from the wraparound cover of X-Men: Alpha, also with AoA Wild Child, so he got onto both dust jackets. Since the variant also has the Billy Tan poster printed as outro material, it is required for Alpha Flight Collectors to own both.

AoAOmnibusDMvariantcover Age of Apocalypse Omnibus – DM variant

Namor breathes a sigh of relief.

September 15, 2013

oittmuwpgr6coverWolverine, Punisher & Ghost Rider: Official Index to the Marvel Universe #6
Mar 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). Alpha Flight appears in this issue in reprinted art from the covers of Wolverine #172 and #179 (Mar and Sep 2002).

The section on Wolverine titles starts from the 2001 Annual, then picks up the regularly numbered issues at #170-189, continuing with the next series from #1-20. Alpha Flight members appear in issues #171, #172-174, #176, #179 and #180 and the index fully notes their appearances. Out of those issues, Alpha Flight appears on two of those covers.

Wolverine #172 Guardian (Mac), Sasquatch, Shaman, Snowbird, Aurora, Puck

Wolverine #172 Guardian (Mac), Sasquatch, Shaman, Snowbird, Aurora, Puck

The famous Sean Chen cover for Wolverine #172 shows Alpha Flight and Wolverine as they prepare to face off against Mauvais. Though the Guardian character shown is clearly Real Mac and not his synth clone (who died in Wolverine #143), he’s shown wearing a costume with a red stripe down the middle of the cowl, which is what Synth Mac had been wearing in Alpha Flight v2. This image is a bit puzzling, as Real Mac’s previous appearance to this issue was in Generation X #58 where he was wearing an all-white cowl.

Wolverine #179 Shaman

Wolverine #179 Shaman

The cover for Wolverine #179 is also shown, featuring an image of Shaman pulling a magical swarm out of his bag.

The entry for the Wolverine 2001 annual mentions the Plodex bear, and some other interesting information. In that issue, a single image of the original Plodex ship from 40,000 years ago crashing onto Earth and dispersing its eggs is shown. The index claims that Mar, Marrina and Marrina’s mate are present on that ship, as eggs. It’s not controversial that Marrina’s egg was dispersed from the original ship, nor Marrina’s mate (seen in Alpha Flight v1 #14 and #16), but Mar, that’s another story. Mar’s origins were never explained in Alpha Flight volume 3. Speculation has been that he’s Marrina’s kid, or, because he was shown in a panel in Alpha Flight v3 #12 (Apr 2005) with Namor with the caption “Kids. What’re you gonna do?”, possibly Namor’s kid, possibly both.

mar

Well, all the speculation about Mar’s parents ends with this new information. If he were in egg form already when the ship crashed 40,000, that means he’s just another Plodex egg that somehow came into contact with a human and not related to Marrina or Namor directly.

Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive!

September 14, 2013

backissue54coverBack Issue #54
Feb 2012

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. Alpha Flight appears in this issue in one of those commission pieces, but under dubious circumstances.

In an article “Phoenix Rising” by Jim Ford, the entirety of the Dark Phoenix Saga, a story found at or near the top of nearly every “best X-Men story” list on the Internet, is told in great detail, along with several rare and unusual images of Jean Grey. A few of these are Byrne commissions, and one of them is quite an odd choice: a montage of X-Men characters commissioned back in 2010. Yes, Jean Grey is in the image but is so small and among so many other characters that it’s rather puzzling why this image was chosen in a Dark Phoenix Saga article.

backissue54bclick to enlarge

The actual image as published is a bit small, so here is a higher resolution version. The Alpha Flight characters in the image are Mac (costumed), Heather (not costumed), Northstar (scowling), Aurora, Sasquatch, Shaman and Snowbird (prev 4 all smiling). Aurora is holding a sign, that reads, “Bon Jour Nathan! Je T’amie!” For those of you who were reading Alpha Flight comics instead of paying attention in French class, that means, “Hello Nathan! I love you!”

More information about the original commission piece, and some interesting Alpha Flight tidbits, can be found at the official John Byrne website. The owner of the original commission piece is the extremely talented Nathan Greno, director of the Disney movie Tangled, and John Byrne fan extraordinaire.

An amateur colorist decided to download a scan of the commission, freely available at John Byrne’s website, colored it, and posted it online, which TwoMorrows then lifted, crediting it only as “artist John Byrne’s drawing of the X-Men cast of his legendary tenure.” The original commission piece from 2010 is shown below.

backissue54aclick to enlarge
(note: the link leads to a very high resolution image which is a rather large file)

Nathan later found out about TwoMorrows using this image without his permission. Unlike other instances when commission owners were publicly acknowledged in a subsequent issue after contacting TwoMorrows, no such acknowledgement has ever been published. When Joe Hollon wrote to TwoMorrows regarding an uncredited contribution published in Back Issue #53, TwoMorrows published an apology in issue #58:

Joe, our sincere apologies for that goof. We juggle so many images and image sources that occasionally an error like this occurs. Thanks for understanding-and for your art contribution.

The most likely explanation for the lack of apology to Nathan is that TwoMorrows was never contacted and informed of the error, but it’s still odd for them to have published the colored version of the piece without properly crediting it.

He’s the best at what he does… and what he does is imperceptibly tiny.

September 10, 2013

wolverine300coverWolverine #300
Mar 2012

Similar to the What If? #200 issue that came out of the other end of the re-numbering craze to arbitrarily re-start a comic book series at a very high number (as opposed to the re-numbering craze where you start over at #1 every 4-5 months), Wolverine #300 is arguably around the 300th issue or so of the various Wolverine series, give or take a few issues. This oversize issue contains a seven-part story and a preview of Jeph Loeb’s Sabretooth Returns, along with three pages of character designs and four pages of tiny cover thumbnails of the 300 issues arranged in a tight array, including many, many variants. Alpha Flight Collector is very much impressed with the kind of painstaking indexing work required to create such an array, and is thrilled to find many Alpha Flight characters on those covers!

wolverine300a

Due to the volume of material, the actual thumbnails are extremely small and the cover detail is quite hard to discern. So here are much larger images of the issues shown in the array:

Wolverine #35 - Puck

Wolverine #35 – Puck

Wolverine #95 - Vindicator (Mac)

Wolverine #95 – Vindicator (Mac)

Wolverine #110 - Shaman

Wolverine #110 – Shaman

Wolverine #142 - Heather, Northstar, Synth Mac

Wolverine #142 – Heather, Northstar, Synth Mac

Wolverine #143 - Heather, Synth Mac

Wolverine #143 – Heather, Synth Mac

Wolverine #172 - Guardian (Mac), Sasquatch, Shaman, Snowbird, Aurora, Puck

Wolverine #172 – Guardian (Mac), Sasquatch, Shaman, Snowbird, Aurora, Puck

Wolverine #179 - Shaman

Wolverine #179 – Shaman

Wolverine #28 - Northstar

Wolverine #28 – Northstar

Note that we still aren’t sure which Mac is on the cover of Wolverine #142 and #143, but I think it’s Mac’s Synth clone.

Note: there is a cover variant by Geof Darrow, one by Jim Cheung, a blank variant and a second printing sketch variant of Adam Kubert’s original cover.

wolverine300coverdarrowvariant Wolverine #300 – Geof Darrow variant
wolverine300covercheungvariant Wolverine #300 – Jim Cheung variant
wolverine300coverblank Wolverine #300 – blank variant
wolverine300coversecondprintingvariant Wolverine #300 – 2nd printing variant

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.

Coverage of Northstar’s wedding in the New York Daily News

May 23, 2012

New York Daily News Vol.93 -Number 333
Wednesday May 23, 2012

Marvel’s big announcement yesterday on The View that Northstar and his boyfriend Kyle were to be married in a nigh-unprecedented same-sex interracial wedding was picked up by various international news periodicals, the largest of which in New York City is the venerable New York Daily News, which has been continually published since 1919. It’s actually the fourth-largest newspaper by circulation in New York City, but none of the other large New York City papers picked up on the news, including USA Today, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, nor Newsday. The New York Daily News gave nearly a full page of coverage, the most extensive of any of the national or international papers covering this event. Guardian (Mac), Sasquatch, Snowbird, Shaman, Aurora, Puck and Marrina appear in preview art to the cover of Astonishing X-Men #51, and of course Northstar and Kyle appear as well, including images from Astonishing X-Men #50, released on the same day as this issue.

click to enlarge

The article, titled “Gay wedding for ‘X-Men'” is nearly identical to the on-line article published the day before, with a few minor wording changes. The amazing wrap-around cover to Astonishing X-Men #51 by Dustin Weaver and colored by Rachelle Rosenberg is the main illustration modified with an overlaid caption that unfortunately obscures part of Snowbird but otherwise reproduced well in newsprint. Other images in the article are a modified version of the soon-to-be famous proposal splash page by Mike Perkins which has the speech bubble thankfully enlarged, and in the lower left corner, a great image of Northstar snipped from the cover art of Astonshing X-Men #50.

It should be noted that both Reuters and AP picked up the story, so in addition to Ethan Sacks’ story above, dozens and dozens of other newspapers (in more than one language!) published an article, some with an accompanying image, some in color! Here is an abridged list of major newspapers from around the world who I have confirm to have joined The New York Daily News in correctly identifying the newsworthiness of Northstar’s wedding (all in English except where noted) by publishing the story in their print version:

Cape Breton Post, Canada
Cebu Daily, Philippines
Daily Telegraph, UK
Edmonton Journal, Canada
El Universal, Mexico (Spanish)
Hindustan Times (Delhi), India
Hindustan Times (Kolkata), India
Hindustan Times (Mumbai), India
Il Giornale, Italy (Italian)
Journal Pioneer, Canada
Kingston Whig-Standard, Canada
Los Angeles Times
Nanaimo Daily News, Canada
National Post, Canada
Northern Territory News, Australia
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
San Jose Mercury News
South China Morning Post, Hong Kong
The Amherst Daily News, Canada
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Dominion Post, New Zealand
The News, New Glasgow, Canada
The Press, New Zealand
The Southland Times, New Zealand
The Sun Times, Canada
The Timaru Herald, New Zealand
The Trentonian
Times Colonist, Canada
Toronto Star, Canada
Toronto Sun, Canada
Truro Daily News, Canada
Washington Times Daily
Winnipeg Free Press, Canada
… and more!

Nearly all of these contained at least one image, so globally the number of people who saw this Alpha Flight appearance today was likely in the tens of millions. The circulation for the New York Daily News alone is around 700,000 and is easily eclipsed by the Los Angeles Times (800,000), Daily Telegraph (900,000) and Hindustan Times (1MM+), so I’m fairly certain of this estimation.

Note: Yes, that’s Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli nude on the cover of the New York Daily News today. Sigh. Something about this blog just can’t keep the sexy away…

Alpha Flight’s last entry (for now) in Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z TPB #1

May 4, 2012

Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z TPB #1
2011

Note: no month of publication is indicated, with the exception of manufacturing date range of 8/25/11 to 9/13/11. The issue was released on 9/28/11. Other issues released on that date carry a publication date of Nov 2011.

The first 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. The first issue of this series has every single Alpha Flight member featured in a 3pg entry for the team, Aurora (who appears on the cover) has a 2pg entry and Marrina appears in the Avengers entry. Additionally, Alpha Flight has an extensive update in the appendix, again featuring every single Alpha Flight member. Aurora has a small update as well and there’s also a tiny Northstar appearance in Angel (Worthington)’s update.

Since this book reprints a great deal of material already printed, only the changes and updates are noted.

The Nemeses: Isabel St. Ives (top), Jane Thorne (center), Amelia Weatherly (bottom)In the Alpha Flight team entry, the major change is that the three Nemeses are distinguished from one another. The first Nemesis from Alpha Flight v1 #8, who was never a member of the team, is identified as Ernest St. Ives’ daughter, Isabel St. Ives. The second Nemesis from Alpha Flight #76, who started out in the Canadian Government-sponsored Gamma Flight team is given the name Jane Thorne (no relation to Alec Thorne / Smart Alec of Gamma Flight). The third Nemesis from Alpha Flight volume 3 we already knew to be Amelia Weatherly. It had been a question for many years whether or not the first two Nemeses were the same, and the third Nemesis only made it more confusing, so this clarification puts a very old controversy to rest. This is technically a contradiction to previous handbooks, but can be resolved if one perceives Nemesis to be an embodiment that can be passed from one successor to another.

There are a few changes in the text:

In the “Members:” section, Nemesis (Jane Thorne) is added to the list of members. Also, the awful typographical error in that section misspelling Langkowski has been corrected.

In the body of the entry, it now notes that Wild Child was a member of First Flight, as seen when Wolverine had to break up the encounter with Stitch as depicted in the flashback in Alpha Flight #127. The chronology of that flashback had never been pinned down, and was somewhat confusing because Wild Child didn’t appear in the Alpha Flight Special with First Flight. The text regarding the early formation of Gamma Flight is changed from saying that Diamond Lil, Madison Jeffries and Wild Child joined Smart Alec in Gamma Flight to indicate Diamond Lil and Jeffries joined Wild Child and Smart Alec (who were both already in Gamma Flight).

A very good correction: the word “ironically” has been removed from the description of Pestilence’s attack in Alpha Flight #37. The previous sentence bizarrely read:

Crozier possessed the newborn demigod, became Pestilence and ironically stripped Elizabeth of the Talisman coronet…

Alanis Morissette does not approve.
It is ironic. Isn’t it?

And there are some very minor changes: the spelling of Quwrlln has been corrected from Qwrlln and the Hudson’s daughter has been properly identified as Claire, who had been named recently. When the hardcover version was originally published in 2008, she had been unnamed. This tpb was published during the 2011-2012 Alpha Flight volume 4 run, where her name had been revealed.

The illustrations in the Alpha Flight team entry are the same as in the hardcover, but the volume 3 team illustration now identifies the v3 Nemesis as “Nemesis (Weatherly)” in the caption.

The Aurora entry is reproduced in its entirety from the original, with a very good correction to properly credit the artwork of the twins from the X-Men Annual #1 (2007) to Mark Brooks, not Clayton Henry. Unfortunately, the notation of Aurora’s membership in the X-Men which was included in the 2010 Women of Marvel: Celebrating Seven Decades Handbook, which was also a reprint of the same hardcover entry, was not included but clearly should have been.

The massive Avengers entry, with respect to Marrina’s inclusion in the montage of headshots and a reprinted George Pérez poster is unchanged from the hardcover version.

Solicited cover art by Tom Grummett for Alpha Flight v4 #6In the update section, Alpha Flight gets nearly a full page of update, which is fairly significant seeing as how there are only 16 pages to update all of the other 240 pages worth of entries! The main entry ended just at the formation of Omega Flight, and the update fills in with an excellent brief recap of events since, up to and including issue #4 of Alpha Flight volume 4. Included is a small reproduction of the cover art by Tom Grummett for issue #6 with the caption “Current Roster”, which interestingly, does not include Vindicator (Heather). That image had recently been released as the solicited cover, and wouldn’t be printed until November 23rd, 2011.

There is also a giant grid of headshots of everyone in Alpha Flight. In the main entry, the v1, v2 and v3 teams each had a large illustration with small headshot insets but in the update, everyone gets a headshot. With the exception of a few members (Auric, Earthmover, Ouija, and Flinch), all of the images are updated and/or better versions of the ones shown in the main entry, but even for the guys who didn’t get an updated image, the size is increased so overall the image is improved from the original. The only criticism is that the headshot for Northstar is taken from the cover art of Chaos War: Alpha Flight #1, where Salva Espin drew Northstar with rounded ears. Interestingly, they are arranged in join order, and there’s a massive caption below indexing the issues when each member joined which Flight – an incredibly dense info dump that shows an insane level of detail.

Following that is a paragraph of text and an illustration for Alpha Prime, the Savage Land superhero team from Alpha Flight Annual #2. There was a minor comment and an illustration for Alpha Prime in the Savage Land entry in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Premiere Hardcover #10, but these expanded remarks are much more substantial and now properly placed with Alpha Flight team information.

Aurora has a small update as well, just a paragraph with no illustration, describing her activities following the events mentioned in the main entry which ended at her restoration to sanity in X-Men Annual #1 (2007). This includes the little appearance in Uncanny X-Men #508 as COO (Chief Operating Officer) of Team Northstar Extreme Snowsports (the update indicates she had been promoted sometime off-panel to joint CEO – Chief Executive Officer), joining up with the X-Men in X-Men: Secret Invasion #2, rejecting Osborn’s offer in Dark X-Men: The Beginning #3, re-joining the team in Chaos War: Alpha Flight #1 and subsequent events in Alpha Flight volume 4.

In Angel (Worthington)’s update, Northstar can be seen very tiny in a small illustration from Uncanny X-Men #533 just after the de facto X-Men team defeated Lobe’s squad of baddies on the rooftop. Here is a much larger image taken from the original issue.

Note: the cover for this issue is identical to the hardcover, with a slightly different spine and a small note on the back cover that updates are included. Tom Grummett’s Aurora on the cover is very tiny and has a minor error in her costume. In a highly magnified image we see that he drew the asymmetrical starburst over her right boob instead of her left hip.

Jesus, can you go ONE post without mentioning Aurora’s boobs?

Unfortunately, Marvel has canceled the remainder of the trade paperback reprints at issue #5. Sadly, we won’t see updates for all of the original fourteen volumes. Also, since no new OHOTMU books are scheduled for any time in the future, this could be the last printed entry for Alpha Flight we see for a very long time. It was already an excellent entry, and with the corrections, changes and updates, it’s simply the perfect ending to a great run.

orthstar and urora on X-Men: Schism #3 variants

April 7, 2012

X-Men: Schism #3 – Cho variant
Oct 2011

Northstar and Aurora appear on the variant cover by Frank Cho, the third part of a five-part interlocking image released for the five-issue X-Men: Schism series, and then re-released later as a set of “X-Print” variants, which were uncolored sketch variants of the same. They appear as regular members of the X-Men, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #508 (Northstar) and X-Men: Secret Invasion #2 (Aurora).

It’s really a shame that they didn’t appear inside, as this was the best of the five books in X-Men: Schism, and one of the best comics released by Marvel in 2011 without “Alpha Flight” in the title. Daniel Acuña’s detailed painted style was just so perfect in this issue – so much so that I actually read the entire thing even though no one from Alpha Flight was in it.

The original pencils for this five-part poster was released as promotional image in early April 2011. Not everyone fell in love with the image, which does have its flaws. It does show the twins with pointy ears, so that’s a big plus, but I doubt Frank Cho got the memo that Northstar and Aurora are related as brother and sister because that pose is just wrong.

If you click on the image, you can see the full-sized pencils, which have tick marks along the top and bottom edges to show the breaks between the issues, and unfortunately, Northstar and Aurora are bisected by one of the breaks.

Here is what you’d expect to see if the tick marks were used strictly as a guide, with issue #2 shaded in dark red and issue #3 unshaded. At the time, fans didn’t know where the actual borders would be between the two issues, and just fraction of an inch (that’s 1-2 millimeters for you metric folk) would make a difference.

The official Marvel solicit for this issue offered in May 2011 (for August 2011) was accompanied by an image of the central panel offset to the right so as to include Northstar and Aurora completely.

It was a strange offering in the first place because we knew it would not be the regular cover. Daniel Acuña had been announced as the artist for this issue long back and we knew this was the variant cover and not the actual cover. It was also strange because it’s very clear that Frank Cho intended for Colossus to be in the dead center, so whoever put out this asymmetrical image purposefully shifted it to include the twins. It’s not uncommon for the images released with solicits to differ from the actual cover art so we just had to wait. An inset from the asymmetrical solicit shows almost both of them with the exception of Northstar’s right shoulder, but just about a complete image.

This is the image we were hoping would be found on the left edge of the variant cover.

Unfortunately, when the Cho variant for X-Men: Schism #2 was released in July 2011, we only got Northstar’s right arm, part of his head (including his ear) and Aurora’s right forearm on the extreme right edge as predicted by those tick marks on the original pencils, so we knew the variant for issue #3 would show the bisected remainder.

X-Men: Schism #3 – X Printing variant

When the X-Print variants were released in November of 2011, we got a bit of a break. The cover images were letterboxed, compressing the image vertically with black borders on top and bottom. This new aspect ratio was just enough to sneak more of Northstar’s face onto the very left edge. A side-by side comparison of insets taken from the Cho variant (left) and the X-Printing (right) shows this a bit better.

But look closer. You know where to look. If you still can’t see it, try comparing the original pencils of Aurora (left) to the X-Print version of Aurora (right) and you’ll see the difference.

Can you spot the difference?

The bizarre gigantic nipple on Jeanne-Marie’s right boob has been removed. Call it an improvement or not, whichever you prefer, but in any case, these things do not go unnoticed on Alpha Flight Collector!

Four star review of Alpha Flight v4 #1 in Comics Buyer’s Guide #1682

April 5, 2012

Comics Buyer’s Guide #1682
Oct 2011

The venerable Comics Buyer’s Guide is one of the first and one of the last printed magazines covering comics, fandom and conventions. Starting in 1971, it claims to be “the longest-running English-language periodical reporting on the American comic book industry.” It ran as a weekly (!) for many years before returning to its current monthly format. In an era where comic fans are easily connected to comic book industry info via the Internet, it’s hard to believe there’s still a printed magazine covering convention listings and fanzines and running tiny classified ads, yet it endures. Alpha Flight v4 #1 was reviewed in this issue, featuring appearances of the entire team on the cover and some interior panels.

Although this issue carries a cover date of Oct 2011, it was actually published on 8/17/11, fully two months after the Alpha Flight v4 #1 was released on 6/15/11. In fact, issue #3 had already been published the previous week. The production cycle of periodicals just can’t keep up the way online reviews can – in comparison, issue #1 had over a dozen reviews posted online within just a few days.


Click on the page above to zoom onto the review.

In the section, “Comics Reviews!”, subsection, “Mainstream Comics Reviews”, the very first comic reviewed is Alpha Flight v4 #1. A full reproduction of the cover is shown, along with a few panels featuring Marrina and Guardian battling Attuma in Vancouver. The review is written by the reviewer’s reviewer, Martin Gray, and is quite positive, even ending with the unknowingly woeful call “Can anyone say ‘ongoing’?”

Click to enlarge

In the section, “Auction News and Market Trends”, a full column by comic shop owner John Tinkess of Another Dimension in Calgary, AB also shows the cover of Alpha Flight v4 #1 as his main illustration. He mentions in his article a general summary of June sales and points out:

Alpha Flight #1 also enjoyed a spectacular debut, although it looks as if it might be selling better here in Canada than it is in the U.S. Some of our customers see it as a point of national pride to support Canada’s only super-team.

He also includes a section “Top comics for June” and Alpha Flight v4 #1 is listed! One can’t help but read this and fly back in time to when the Byrne/Mantlo-era Alpha Flight was a top ten book in the Direct Market and boy, is it amazing to see this kind of thing again. For one brief moment, we had all the glory again in the pages of Comics Buyer’s Guide – which I’m sure will still be around to publish a review of the first issue of Alpha Flight volume 5!

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