Chaos War #5
The Chaos War story line comes to its conclusion in this final issue of the five-issue mini-series. The plot lines leading up to this issue ought to be familiar to Alpha Flight fans who saw four dead members resurrected in the Chaos War: Alpha Flight one-shot, and reunited with four living members. After a brief cameo in issue #4 of this series, Alpha Flight appears more extensively, and with an important and serious outcome for the team. Guardian (Mac), Sasquatch, Shaman, Snowbird, Marrina, Northstar and Aurora appear in this book, having teamed up in the one-shot. Although Heather was also resurrected in that issue, she doesn’t appear in this one.
The opening page of issue #4, which showed various images of events spun out of the various mini-series, one-shots and other books of Chaos War, is mirrored with the opening page of this issue to show how they all converge together, literally and figuratively. The various characters (Thor, Hulks, Dead Avengers and Alpha Flight) are neatly brought together through some complicated space/time thingy, as explained by Sasquatch, who correctly places Alpha Flight’s former whereabouts, as mentioned in the one-shot, as Alberta. It was a nice touch for writers Greg Pak and Fred van Lente to have Walter explain this in character as a brilliant scientist instead of having Amadeus Cho give us the technobabble again.
During the battle sequence with the Chaos King baddies, only Sasquatch and Guardian are shown, and only in three panels, which is a bit disappointing since Alpha Flight at the time of this battle consisted of eight members. Perhaps it was just too much to fit into the limited space of the panels with all the busy action of the battle and overwhelming number of characters in this issue, on top of having to actually wrap up the entire story line.
For those of you who keep score, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen the series penciler Koi Pham draw Sasquatch, but he does so in a markedly improved style over two previous versions in Mighty Avengers #21 and #23.
After the Chaos King is defeated, there’s an expository scene of “What just happened?”. Mac does the asking in two panels, but claims to be an actual “Rocket Scientist”, which frames him in an agreeably complimentary light as a genius, but isn’t technically right, as his background is more in petrochemicals and cybernetics than aerospace. However, since he has been in outer space at least once (OK, I won’t mention the Plodex thing from v3!), and it was an attempt to make the guy look good, I’ll give the writers a pass on this one.
It should be noted that up until this issue was published, it wasn’t known for sure whether or not the resurrections in the one-shot would be permanent or if the dead Alphans would wink out. This was explicitly stated as a known risk by the characters in the one-shot, and in a few interviews, neither Jim McCann nor any other writer confirmed there would be any more Alpha Flight beyond this issue. But, after Hercules re-sets the entire world back to how it was before, the resurrected members of Alpha Flight remain!
click here to show very big version of above panel
The resurrected members are confirmed as permanently resurrected in a quiet scene of post-hubbub solemnity on a beach at the base of the new Mount Olympus. There hasn’t been such an important turn of events in Alpha Flight history in a long time, and to add serious emphasis to the magnitude of the moment, none other than the very, very top Marvel A-List characters help out: Spider-Man, Iron Man and Captain America each take part. I get the sense that this formality was extended particularly as a nod to Alpha Flight fans to make up for the paltry and unceremonious way the unfortunate events of New Avengers #16 played out. The respectful gravitas of the scene isn’t lost on us, especially since other permanently resurrected characters from other parts of the Chaos War story line go unmentioned.
Unfortunately, this moment is imperfect – besides for not being a splash page featuring Alpha Flight in full, the panel has some outright mistakes. The issue still stands in the official category of “understated awesome”, but it’s fun to pick nits out of comics. First, there is a minor error in the speech bubbles. The dialogue from the previous panel reads:
Spidey: Hey, the big guy comes through. I always knew he would.
Iron Man: In more ways than one.
Captain America: How’s that?
The next line is uttered as Alpha Flight is shown on the beach: “Look who’s not dead anymore.” This ought to be uttered by Iron Man (or Spidey), but instead, the speech bubble comes from Cap, which makes no sense, as he wouldn’t be answering his own question.
Second, where’s Heather? Likely nearby, safe and sound, as Mac’s demeanor isn’t consistent with a fellow who has just lost his wife to a snarly chaos demon, but why the team would be shown this way with a pretty damn important member missing is not clear.
Third, the strange coloring in that panel, possibly caused by an odd spectrum from the sun at the horizon. Snowbird, a brunette now, is shown wearing a green cape, Marrina is wearing a red swimsuit, Iron Man (shown between Spidey and who I believe is Luke Cage) is completely miscolored, and Shaman… Shaman is shown wearing… I don’t know what… someone’s underwear? …outside of his costume? He should be drawn with just a belt!
The beach panel is the only appearance of Captain Underpants, Snowbird, Marrina and Northstar in the book. Aurora appears also, and again on the last page, seen from behind standing next to Mac as they face Mount Olympus.
Note: the cover to this issue was originally intended as the cover to the first issue of the series. Thanks to alphaflight.net member -K-M- who points out an alternate, unpublished version of the cover: