Posts Tagged ‘Dark Reign’

Puck cameo in Incredible Hercules #129

February 4, 2010

Incredible Hercules #129
Jul 2009

Incredible Hercules took over its numbering scheme from the Incredible Hulk while Mr. Purple Pants was off in World War Hulk. Featuring a comically bumbling version of Hercules and his super-smart foil Amadeus Cho, this series is a mashup of Greek mythology and the modern world presented by writers Greg Pak and Fred van Lente. Though not marked on the cover as being officially part of Dark Reign, this issue took place during the Dark Reign era and is often listed among the unofficial tie-ins. Puck appears in one panel, dead, and there is a possible appearance by the real Sasquatch from Alpha Flight v2.

While on a quest to find Zeus, Hercules and Amadeus discover that on the way to the afterlife, an Atlantic City casino serves as a holding pen for souls “who believe they have unfinished stories” before either crossing the river Styx or facing the slim chance of resurrection. Poking fun at Marvel’s death-go-round that sends heroes back to the living world seemingly at random, the main floor of the Erebus casino is filled with recently departed characters, including Puck, who was killed by The Collective in New Avengers #16.

Readers who wish see through the paper might believe that this issue was to portend Puck’s possible resurrection by a writer known to be fond of Alpha Flight, but is likely less prophetic than respectful: a subtle hint from Fred van Lente that Alpha Flight has unfinished stories, eh?

Sitting to the right of Puck is a giant furry orange beast who looks a heck of a lot like a Sasquatch creature. Since it can’t be Walter (he survived The Collective attack), it’s possible that it is the true Sasquatch from Alpha Flight v2, who was killed in issue #12 by flesh-eating bacteria.

Possible appearance of real Sasquatch from Alpha Flight v2

Note: In Greek mythology, Erebus is the name of the other shore of Styx from Tartarus, so the casino name is mythologically accurate.

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Sasquatch killed by flesh-eating insects in Mighty Avengers #21

November 17, 2009

Mighty Avengers #21
Mar 2009

The Mighty Avengers was the official Avengers group formed during the 50 state initiative following Civil War, but in the era of Dark Reign, things have changed. This issue starts a new story arc with a new writer and a new roster, and as such, is mostly a recruitment-oriented story. Sasquatch appears as a regular member of Omega Flight in one panel.

During a series of worldwide catastrophic events dubbed “The Chaos Cascade”, The Scarlet Witch (really Loki) recruits several members to join the new Mighty Avengers, one of which was supposed to be Captain America (Bucky Barnes). Unfortunately, he got himself killed by evil spikey eye-poking vines that manifested as a result of the Chaos Cascade. Her second choice is USAgent, naturally, recruited right out from an attack of evil flesh-eating insects in downtown Toronto, where quondam Omega Flight teammates Arachne, Weapon Omega and Sasquatch are killed.

Tastes like chicken.

The events of the Chaos Cascade were too globally destructive and overwhelmingly mischievous for the reader to believe that its effects would last: Spidey, Cap, Ms. Marvel and Ronin die; New York, San Francisco and Atlantis are destroyed; the reader just knows these effects are temporary. Meanwhile, the very presence of the Scarlet Witch lends itself to a general feel of “alternate reality”, and sure enough, by issue #23, the effects are reversed.

Note the roster change for Omega Flight: USAgent is removed, but not before Dan Slott took two pages to have the Scarlet Witch insult him as being a B-list replacement for Captain America.

The Amazing Hudson issue

November 11, 2009

wolorigins33coverWolverine Origins #33
Apr 2009

This early Dark Reign tie-in attempts to connect many dots in Wolverine’s history but leaves readers with more questions than answers. Most of the issue is flashbacks and exposition while the usually trustworthy Nick Fury and Logan share a couple of drinks at a bar and discuss the Weapon X program, Romulus and the Hudson family. Yes, the entire Hudson family, including James MacDonald Hudson and Heather Hudson, who appear in one panel. Alpha Flight also appears in flashback in one panel and Wild Child appears later as well.

Nick Fury asks Logan about the name “Hudson”, setting off a series of mental flashbacks, one of which is to the “honeymoon in the woods” scene from Alpha Flight #33 where James and Heather Hudson rescue Wolverine.

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Another flashback is the original six member Alpha Flight team of Guardian, Sasquatch, Shaman, Snowbird, Northstar and Aurora, as Logan remembers, “One o’ my first missions for Alpha Flight was to take down the Hulk…”, a reference to his debut in Incredible Hulk #180-182. It’s not clear that Alpha Flight was a fully formed team named “Alpha Flight” at that time, but it’s possible that Logan’s chronically scrambled memory is jumbling things up a bit. It’s a nice Alpha Flight appearance nevertheless, reminiscent of a very similar panel also by Doug Braithwaite in Paradise X #4, in a very similar context, where the original team is shown in flashback to the early days when Wolverine was associated with Dept H.

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The biggest revelation in this story is Wolverine’s family tree, as told by Nick Fury: Logan’s mother, Elizabeth Hudson, had two brothers, Elias and Frederick. Frederick Hudson was the guy running the paramilitary camp in Wolverine Origins #15, shown again in issue #27 callously abandoning his pregnant secretary, Caitlin MacDonald. Caitlin and Frederick’s son, Frederick Hudson II is James MacDonald Hudson’s dad, making Logan and Mac first cousins, once removed. Well, that’s nice, so Logan and Mac worked together for years and formed a close friendship, never knew they were distantly related, then Mac died, not knowing of the relationship. Oh, and Fury’s point? “I believe the Hudsons have been the pawns of Romulus for over a century–he uses them like puppets so he doesn’t have to expose himself. But as soon as one of them serves his or her purpose, they’re taken off the board.”

This revelation is problematic because, according to what we know from Wolverine Origins #27, Mac’s father, Frederick Hudson II was born in 1960. It’s a rather difficult scenario: he would have to grow up and have a kid (Mac) who would himself grow up, get a job at Am-Can, spend 5 years creating Dept H and the E-M suit, form Alpha Flight and have it disbanded by Trudeau, who served from 1980 to 1984. Comic book time sure gets silly sometimes but really, that’s just inexplicable.

Note: Mac’s own memories of his parents as shown in X-Men Unlimited #45 indicates that he was named after his grandfather on his mother’s side. Feel free to speculate exactly where the “MacDonald” comes from, unless it’s just a coincidence that his paternal grandmother and his maternal grandfather both were named MacDonald.

If the entire Romulus retcon wasn’t straining credibility enough for readers of this series, the Hudson family tree revelation really jumps the shark. Especially troubling is the assertion by Fury that Romulus is a shady controller of James MacDonald Hudson’s entire life, leading to his untimely death. This would imply that Romulus was behind the formation of the Collective, which was the result of the depowerment on M-Day and therefore Romulus was behind the Scarlet Witch’s insanity… I can’t even finish this train of thought, it just can’t be possible.

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Nick Fury also reveals more information about Romulus, mentioning that anything that came after the Weapon X program “was an unsuccessful attempt to create the next-generation Wolverine”, along with an illustration showing Daken, Sabretooth, Deadpool and Wild Child. Assuming that the illustration goes along with Nick Fury’s speech, not just what’s popping into Wolverine’s head as he hears the words, it would imply that Romulus re-powered Wild Child after M-Day, a notion consistent with other Wild Child appearances around that time and up until his death in issue #39 of this series.

Sasquatch cameo in Mighty Avengers #23

November 5, 2009

mightyavengers23coverMighty Avengers #23
May 2009

The Mighty Avengers was the official Avengers group formed during the 50 state initiative following Civil War, but in the era of Dark Reign, an entirely different team formed, led by Hank Pym as the Wasp. Assembled once again through Loki’s trickery, the Mighty Avengers’ first battle was against the elder god Chthon, who they defeated using a combination of science and magic. This incarnation of the Mighty Avengers started back in issue #21 where the Scarlet Witch (really Loki) recruited USAgent from Omega Flight. Sasquatch makes a single panel cameo appearance in Toronto as a regular member of Omega Flight near the end of the book.

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In the same panel, USAgent formally resigns from Omega Flight, much to the relief of fans irked by the inclusion of non-Canadians on the roster in the first place. In the foreground is a giant white hand, presumably of Weapon Omega, another non-Canadian who would later be recruited by Norman Osborn to join the Dark X-Men.

Note: Sasquatch had been killed off in issue #21, but after Chthon’s defeat, the effects of the Chaos Wave reversed, setting reality back to normal.

Aurora removes her bra!

October 15, 2009

darkxmtbeg3coverDark X-Men: The Beginning #3
Oct 2009

Though not enumerated as a chapter in Utopia, a crossover between the Dark Avengers and Uncanny X-Men set in the Dark Reign storyline, this issue takes place at an unspecified time before the events of Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia #1 and has the Utopia logo on the front.  In the last of 9 attempts to recruit mutants into the Dark X-Men, Norman Osborn finally fails.  Aurora appears in the third story of three in an extensive appearance across 11 pages, including a new costume!  Northstar also appears in flashback in one panel.

By the time this issue was released, we already knew that Aurora wouldn’t be joining the Dark X-Men, as the full roster had already been shown.  She had been seen previously to this in Uncanny X-Men #508 as a civilian, running operations at her brother’s sports business.  Here, she’s shown in psychoanalysis with an unnamed doctor (possibly Bosson from Alpha Flight #7?) who Osborn bribes with a bag of cash into convincing Jeanne-Marie to wear a thalamizer, a device that has unexpected consequences.  After briefly reminiscing to an unspecified time when she and her brother fought an evil forked mechanical tentacle of some sort (ah, the memories…), she puts on the thalamizer. This causes her to drop out of her Jeanne-Marie personality and revert to her Aurora persona.

Fond memories of the good old days.

Fond memories of the good old days.

After introducing himself and blathering on for a bit about yet another diabolical scheme related to how the thalamizer works, Osborn presents a new costume: a red and white version of Aurora’s classic black and white starburst costume.  In a truly comic moment, she instantly changes into her costume and rushes outside, leaving a pink bra on Osborn’s head.  This type of humor could only work in a panel-by-panel comic format and Simon Spurrier should be commended for it!

Outside, Jeanne-Marie has already pilfered through Osborn’s files, found the bag of cash and a gun, and has sent the unscrupulous doctor through the windshield of his own car.  It doesn’t get any better than this.

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Thinking he has her hooked on the thalamizer’s ability to retain Aurora’s persona, Osborn invites her to enjoy drinks on the H.A.M.M.E.R. helicarrier where she somehow is able to stop him from expostulating on his maniacal plans for a record four panels.  When she declines his offer to join, he quickly starts in again by pressing some button and starting in on what the button does by manipulating, oh, blah blah blah, can it already, Norm.  The button unleashes a series of ever-increasingly reckless personalities in rapid-fire sequence, one of which pops him on the nose.

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Another personality takes down three guards with a single sweeping kick, and yet a few more take down more guards.  A seventh personality is finally stopped by Osborn, who pulls a gun on her.  Facing the mortal terror of this moment by developing an eighth personality, she then punches the butt of the gun pointed at her head, causing it to fire off-mark and then rips off the thalamizer.  Forcing it on Osborn’s head, he becomes unintelligible, thankfully, and she walks out on him dressed in her original Jeanne-Marie business attire, disheveled and assuredly braless.

darkxmtbeg3eHer dissociative identity disorder has been an ongoing and central theme with Aurora’s character over the years.  It is a horribly misunderstood and controversial psychiatric disorder.  Commonly referred to in popular culture as “split personality” or even worse, the incorrect but even more popular term, “schizophrenia”, her disorder was generally cured in X-Men Annual #1 (2007) when her and her brother’s minds healed themselves.  In her single panel cameo in Uncanny X-Men #508, she exhibited no signs of the disorder as she celebrated with her brother among a crowd of drinking revelers.  The thalamizer either undid that cure or gave Aurora the ability to switch among a library of personas at will.

The type of voluntary personality shifts and unstable behavior exhibited in this issue cannot possibly be taken as a serious manifestation of her disorder; rather it’s just Spurrier having some fun with a great character who plausibly takes down the most powerful villain on Earth.  Usually, mental health conditions aren’t subjects for casual humor (and beware! You will be called out on this blog, insensitive writers!) but in this case you have to make an exception on the side of comic relief.  The three-issue series up to this point had been filled with a seemingly unending stream of threats, blackmail, deceit, secrecy, hidden agendas and other wonderfully dark and depressing themes, but in this story, we get a doozy of an appearance from an original Alphan that really lightens things up.

A new personal best. Let’s hear it for Mailman Mike!

October 8, 2009

darkxmtbeg2coverDark X-Men: The Beginning #2
Sep 2009

Though not enumerated as a chapter in Utopia, a crossover between the Dark Avengers and Uncanny X-Men set in the Dark Reign storyline, this issue takes place before the events of Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia #1 and has the Utopia logo on the front. Norman Osborn recruits, or attempts to recruit, members of a mutant counterpart team to the Dark Avengers, the Dark X-Men. In the second of three short features, Weapon Omega is recruited and Alpha Flight makes a quick cameo.

Unfortunately, the cameo is a flashback to the unfortunate events of New Avengers #16 where Michael Pointer, as The Collective, killed Guardian (Mac), Vindicator (Heather), both Pucks, Shaman and Major Mapleleaf. Osborn meets up with Pointer at a construction site for a children’s hospital and tries to recruit him. The “corpses in the snow” scene is reproduced by Osborn’s pocketwatch holographic projector to demonstrate to Pointer that Osborn knows who he is. Osborn then threatens to enlarge the scene and show it to everyone at his work site, compelling Alpha Flight’s murderer to stop and listen to yet another of Osborn’s diabolical plans, one that results in Pointer joining up with the Dark X-Men. Somehow, crybaby Pointer manages not to uncontrollably sob for the entirety of the feature, an amazing 11 pages, a personal best. Because this site, like my previous site, has a standing ban on showing the “corpses in the snow” scene, here is a picture of some cute little bunnies jumping on each other instead:

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Awww, cute widdle bunny wabbits!

 

Utopia concludes, Alpha Flight is finally honored.

October 7, 2009

dauxmecoverDark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Exodus #1
Nov 2009

The sixth and final chapter in Utopia, a crossover between the Dark Avengers and Uncanny X-Men set in the Dark Reign storyline, features the ultimate showdown between the X-Men and Norman Osborn.   Northstar appears as a regular member of the X-Men, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #508 and Madison Jeffries appears as a regular member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505.

After he raised Asteroid M to become the floating island Utopia and prepared for the inevitable knockout drag-down battle that results whenever one does such a thing, Cyclops fully reveals his secret plan to defeat Osborn, escape the untenable prospect of residence in the U.S. and provide a safe haven for all mutants.  Just that?  He gets some help along the way from Northstar and Mister Jeffries who appear in battle against Osborn’s teams, who attack Utopia a short time after secession.

As the various groups of X-teams clamor around to gang up on the Dark Avengers and Dark X-Men, one battle pits the fashionably named Dark Beast against Northstar and the X-Men Science Team. Unfortunately, Northstar get taken out right away, but the Science Team runs over to finish the job.

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You can see Mister Jeffries very tiny running in the lower right of the image.  Madison is able to restrain the Dark Beast by transmutating coiled tentacles out of the metal deck as Northstar lies nearby.  Fellow Science Team member Dr. Nemesis blasts at the Dark Beast as Psylocke simultaneously rams her TK sword right through him, taking him down.

This scene is typical of the battles sketched out in this issue by Matt Fraction, who really went out of his way to show the dozens and dozens of characters in this epic battle using their signature powers to defeat the enemy.  How Dark Beast was able to swipe at Northstar so fast that he was unable to avoid the blow is difficult to understand, but he is quite fast and Northstar isn’t the greatest hand-to-hand combatant out there.  Well, someone had to get hit in the attack, the worst being Cyclops himself, who pretty much got wiped out by Osborn, so he wasn’t the only one to fall.

Man, I've been watching TOO MUCH Inspector Gadget.  It was nice to see Jeffries in battle again, but wouldn’t it have been nicer to see him in the Box armor?  The tentacle thing was pretty good, but he just as easily could have done the Inspector Gadget telescoping arm thing from within the Box armor, or any other clever use of the armor as we’ve seen before in so many issues of Alpha Flight volume 1.  He’s just so much more powerful than this.  I remember the guy being one hell of a powerhouse for the heavy, heavy jobs.  He can become a spaceship or a submarine.  He can turn his arm into an semi-automatic machine gun or a laser cannon.  The guy once used his mind to rip apart a Sentinel and used the debris to make a superharpoon to kill another Sentinel (Alpha Flight #43).  Heck, he once transformed his armor into a frakkin’ Robot Tyrannosaurus Rex and ripped the throat out of a real T-rex (Alpha Flight Annual #2).  In the battle for the very survival of his race, we could have seen a bit more than some coiled tentacles.  Well, they did win and they were following Cyclops’ principle of working as a team to defeat the enemy, as laid out in Uncanny X-Men #514, so it’s not that hard to swallow.

One of the other battles pits Wolverine against Weapon Omega. Wolverine easily takes him down by completely gutting him. As he rams his claws into Weapon Omega’s back so hard and so far that they jam out the front of his belly, Wolverine lashes out with one of the most angry faces you’ll ever see, well… ever, shouting, “You killed a mess o’ my pals up North, Bub. You don’t get to walk away from that.”

Appropriate reaction to the unfortunate events of New Avengers #16.

Appropriate reaction to the unfortunate events of New Avengers #16.

He’s referring to the unfortunate events of New Avengers #16, when Weapon Omega (Michael Pointer) as The Collective seemingly killed Mac, Heather, Shaman, both Pucks and Major Mapleleaf, Jr. Compare this to Brian Michael Bendis’ Wolverine in his bizarre initial reaction in New Avengers #17, which was completely out of character and almost as insulting to Alpha Flight fans as the crappy pre-battle dialogue and off-panel death of the team:

Inappropriate reaction.

Inappropriate reaction.

Matt Fraction’s Wolverine really gets it. He really understands. Just look at those two panels and decide which one you would associate with Wolverine. Alpha Flight gets a singular honor in this issue with that panel, finally, from the one character we expect to give it. Thanks, Logan, and thanks to Matt Fraction for having more class in the tip of his pinky finger than Brian Michael Bendis has in his whole body.

dauxmedAfter the battle, the X-Men assemble to watch Osborn and his defeated teams leave Utopia Island and you can see Jeffries from behind, distinguished grey temples and all.  Cyclops then holds yet another press conference and Northstar just sneaks into 3 of the frames, apparently back on his feet.

This concludes the Utopia storyline, setting up for the Nation X storyline to follow.

Note: this issue has a cover variant and a 2nd printing variant.

dauxmecoverbianchivariant Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Exodus #1 – Simone Bianchi variant
Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Exodus #1 – Second printing variant

That’s “Mister” Jeffries to you, pal!

October 4, 2009

darkave8coverDark Avengers #8
Oct 2009

The fifth chapter of six in Utopia, a crossover between the Dark Avengers and Uncanny X-Men set in the Dark Reign storyline, is filled with plot twists and surprises as Cyclops’ master plan unfolds before us.  Northstar appears as a regular member of the X-Men, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #508 and Madison Jeffries appears as a regular member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505.

Part of Cyclops’ plan is to raise the submberged Asteroid M in Oakland Bay to become Utopia, a new floating island home for the X-Men.  Madison Jeffries and Psylocke don wetsuits and S.C.U.B.A. gear to install engines onto the big rock as the X-sub and its awesome X-shaped front window hovers nearby.  Jeffries isn’t visually identifiable because his face is covered by a mask and rebreather.  They exchange a useful bit of dialogue where he corrects her use of the title “Doctor” to just “Mister” when she addresses him.  Note that in X-Men Legacy Annual #1 (2009), he’s erroneously referred to as “Doctor Jeffries”, but does not correct Danger.

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This small bit of dialogue really emphasizes Jeffries’ role on the team. Of all the members at the time: Dr. Hank McCoy, Dr. James Bradley (a.k.a. Dr. Nemesis), Dr. Yuriko Takiguchi, Dr. Kavita Rao and Mr. Madison Jeffries, he’s the only one without a “Dr.” in front of his name. Recall the first time we saw him in Alpha Flight v1 #16 – Roger Bochs calls him “Mister Jeffries” and that’s the only name he’s known by until issue #30 when we meet his brother Lionel, forcing Bill Mantlo to come up with a first name for the other brother. It raises the question if John Byrne, who left in issue #28, even had a first name in mind for the character. “Mister” was his identity, part of his name and definitely his character all at once, none of this “Doctor” nonsense for him. No, he’s the guy who builds things, the mechanic who does the physical work, the laborer who rolls up his sleeves and gets his hands dirty. So it’s perfectly appropriate for Jeffries to be the one member of the team to actually install the engines and I’m glad Matt Fraction went out of his way to make this point about the character.

darkave8aBack aboard the X-sub, Jeffries is shown changing out of his gear as Kavita loses her patience and Dr. Nemesis, resplendent in his bizarrely inappropriate underwater attire (fedora, white coat and tie) self-medicates with a wicked looking syringe.  Dr. Nemesis opens a channel to Graymalkin Industries, the X-Men headquarters in Marin County, and by videolink, Cyclops gives the order to raise the asteroid.
darkave8cThere’s a minor continuity error as Jeffries is shown wearing a red collared shirt on the video monitor at Greymalkin and a tank top in the X-sub in the panel below it.  He was shown wearing the same tank top in the X-sub when he was taking off his wetsuit.  It’s possible that the video images are just still images of the person speaking in the videolink, not a live video feed.

Meanwhile, Northstar is shown standing around back at the Graymalkin chapel, where the assembled X-Men and students receive word to begin the evacuation of the old headquarters.  He is among the members of an advance team to get to Utopia first and is whisked away in a swarm of fuzzy purple teleport sparklies from Pixie and Nightcrawler while Magik stays behind to teleport the rest.

Why fly solo with all these fuzzy purple teleport sparklies everywhere?

Why fly solo with all these fuzzy purple teleport sparklies everywhere?

It’s nice to have included Northstar in the advance team, but why he couldn’t go outside and fly the 35-40 miles or so between Marin County and San Francisco Bay in about the same time as the teleport is not clear.  Group teleportation must be the preferred method of travel when a writer can’t fit extra panels showing individual characters moving around by their own method of transport.

darkave8dThe X-Men arrive at their new home where Nightcrawler teleports in a news crew.  Northstar can be seen tiny among the assembled X-men on deck as Cyclops begins a live televised news conference alongside Namor and Emma Frost, who have been revealed as sleeper agents in the Dark X-Men.  Overall, it’s a bit of standing around from Northstar and a solid, respectable showing for “Mister” Madison Jeffries.

This issue has two variant covers and is sure to have a 2nd printing released shortly (this post will be edited upon its release).

darkave8coverbianchivariant Dark Avengers #8 – Simone Bianchi variant
darkave8cover70thanniversaryvariant Dark Avengers #8 – 70th Anniversary Frame variant

Alphans in Uncanny X-Men #514 – Motorcycles and submarines!

October 3, 2009

uxm514coverUncanny X-Men #514
Oct 2009

The fourth chapter of six in Utopia, a crossover between the Dark Avengers and Uncanny X-Men set in the Dark Reign storyline, this issue sets up for the surprise ending and final encounter between Norman Osborn’s teams (Dark X-Men and Dark Avengers) and the X-Men.   Northstar appears as a regular member of the X-Men, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #508 and Madison Jeffries appears as a regular member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505.

uxm514bCyclops gathers teams of X-Men specifically grouped for certain tasks, unrevealed to the reader for the most part, and sends them out on their way. Northstar is chosen for the group intended to take down the Dark X-Men.  They ride out on motorcycles to the Northern Park suburb of San Francisco to observe the Dark X-Men in battle against a squad of Trask’s Biosentinels, as depicted on the cover.  From their rooftop vantage, they study the Dark X-Men’s fighting techniques and individual styles in preparation for the final showdown.

Northstar can be seen from the front in only one panel when he’s on the rooftop, and he gets an off-panel line there, but unfortunately the rest of Northstar’s panels are just partial appearances, a headless body, his right side, a shoulder, etc.  I suppose in a book this crowded, not even the Dodsons can fit everyone in.  To be fair, many “A-list” X-men were treated the same way, or worse. 

Why fly solo when you can cruise with a badass motorcycle pack?

It’s not clear why Northstar rode on a motorcycle to get there, especially because they had Pixie with them, who could have teleported the group to any location, and oh yeah, HE CAN FLY!  It reminded me of the silly scene in issue #4 of the Northstar Limited Series where he gets too tired to fly from New Orleans to Vancouver and has to rent a car from “Aviz” 70 miles outside of Seattle to drive the rest of the way.  Perhaps Cyclops just wanted to keep the group together, or avoid detection by going a ground route, or maybe he just wanted to cruise with a badass motorcycle pack.  

The issue concludes with the Science Team in the X-sub, a submersible craft with an awesome X-shaped front window, about to do… something.  Matt Fraction continues to tantalize the readers about Cyclops’ plan by holding back just the right amount of details.  Pyslocke asks Jeffries, “How long will it take to install?” without saying what the heck it is he’s going to install.  Install the what?  Arrrgh!  We find out later that they are approaching Asteroid M, the long-submerged rock that will ultimately become Utopia Island.

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The submersible may be under Jeffries’ control, as hinted by his outstretched hand reaching back behind him toward some glowing machinery, but it’s not clear exactly what he’s doing.  You can also see Jeffries very tiny in the preceding panel through the awesome X-shaped front window.

This issue has four variant covers: (one not shown is a variant of the regular cover with slightly different title text)

uxm514coverbianchivariant Uncanny X-Men #514 – Simone Bianchi variant
uxm514cover70thanniversaryframevariant Uncanny X-Men #514 – 70th Anniversary Frame variant
uxm514coversecondprintingvariant Uncanny X-Men #514 – Second Printing variant

Northstar cameo in Dark Avengers #7

October 3, 2009

darkave7coverDark Avengers #7
Sep 2009

The third chapter of six in Utopia, a crossover between the Dark Avengers and Uncanny X-Men set in the Dark Reign storyline, this issue continues the evil manipulations of Norman Osborn and his Dark X-Men, who play a prominent role while the Dark Avengers chill back at their headquarters.  Northstar appears as a regular member of the X-Men, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #508.

The entirety of Northstar’s appearance is a single panel cameo, with artwork lifted directly from Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia #1.  It’s the scene right after Ares lands in San Francisco to lay down the gauntlet in front of Northstar and other X-Men.  The image appears on one of many virtual monitors floating around Osborn’s suite at his West Coast H.A.M.M.E.R. headquarters on Alcatraz Island, showing various scenes from previous events in the Utopia storyline.

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Note: Alpha Flight does not appear in Chapter 2 of the Utopia story line, which is Uncanny X-Men #513.

There are two variant covers for this issue:

darkave7coverbianchivariant Dark Avengers #7 – Simone Bianchi variant
darkave7coversecondprintingvariant Dark Avengers #7 – Second Printing variant