Posts Tagged ‘Diamond Lil’

Diamond Lil gets an update in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z TPB #3

September 16, 2013

ohotmuaztpb3coverOfficial Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z TPB #3
2012

Note: no month of publication is indicated, with the exception of manufacturing date range of 12/22/11 to 1/10/12. The issue was released on 1/25/12. Other issues released on that date carry a publication date of Mar 2012.

The third 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, Shaman, Northstar and Puck appear in the Crystar entry, Puck appears in the Deadly Ernest entry, Centennial appears in a 1/2 page entry, Diamond Lil appears in a full page entry and X Mac, X Sasquatch and X Puck appear in the Earth X entry. Additionally, Alpha Flight-related characters Ranaq, Tundra, Kolomaq, Somon, Tanaraq, Tolomaq, Kariooq, Dreamqueen and Zilla Char appear in the massive nine page Demons entry.

The Crystar entry has two changes from the HC version published in 2008. The secondary illustration taken from the closing splash panel of Crystar #11 has been recolored in a high contrast modern style, a big improvement over the old version. Also, in the text of the entry, where Shaman and Puck are mentioned regarding their role in that issue, their full names are now given. It isn’t clear why this change was made, except possibly to distinguish Shaman (Michael Twoyoungmen) from other Shamans and Puck (Eugene Judd) from other Pucks. Poor Northstar, who is also mentioned in the text, did not get his full name given. He’s still just Northstar.

The Deadly Ernest entry has a similar improvement to the secondary illustration, which is an image of him getting his head chopped off: the halftones are removed and filled in solid instead. The text changed significantly regarding the Nemesis who killed Deadly Ernest twice in Alpha Flights #8 and #31, but who is a distinct character from the Nemesis who later teamed up with Alpha Flight late in volume 1 (now identified as Jane Thorne), and also distinct from the volume 3 Nemesis (who we knew to be Amelia Weatherly). This new information was revealed in volume 1 of the tpb series, so the writers were compelled to re-word the Deadly Ernest entry. It cleanly states, “Two other women subsequently assumed Nemesis’ mantle,” and confirms that the Isabel St. Ives version of Nemesis and [her father] Deadly Ernest are both in fact, quite dead.

The Centennial entry is re-printed from the 2008 HC with no changes.

(image from Alpha Flight #98)

(image from Alpha Flight #98)

Diamond Lil’s entry also has its secondary illustration recolored, an image of Lil wearing the black bodysuit costume from Alpha Flight #98. In the updates section, Diamond Lil has a paragraph describing the unfortunate events of X-Force #23 and the preceding events as described in Nation X #3. It was obviously not written by Chris Yost, because it’s both an accurate representation of Alpha Flight history and solemnly respectful of the characters.

The images of X Mac and X Sasquatch from the cover of Universe X #6 and X Puck from the back of the wraparound cover of Universe X #X in the Earth X entry are re-printed from the 2008 HC with no changes.

Also in the update section the massive nine page Demons entry somehow gets even longer with an additional two pages. The new Great Beast Neooqtoq is mentioned for the first time in a handbook, having appeared in Incredible Hercules #119 (Sep 2008), just after the HC issue had been published. Unfortunately, it’s in the section “Additional unpictured demons.” Also unfortunate is the omission of the Great Beasts Herateq and Tiamaq from Marvel Heartbreakers #1 (May 2010), who really ought to have been mentioned along with the other Great Beasts, unless for some technical reason they aren’t classified as demons.

Note: the illustrations of the Great Beasts in the massive nine page Demons entry have new captions indicating the issue and year they first appeared, which now matches the format for many of the other captioned illustrations in that entry. Nice job, writers: you got Tanaraq – X-Men #120 (1979) correct.

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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.

Diamond Lil cameo in Dazzler #1

June 25, 2010

Dazzler #1
Jul 2010

This One-Shot exists along the dimensional axis of the Necrosha story line juxtaposed with the Women of Marvel conceptual meta-arc. What the heck does that mean? Well, it’s labeled as a “Necrosha Aftermath” issue, the only one of its kind at the time of its release. It’s also part of Marvel’s “Women of Marvel” promotion of female comic characters and creators. Diamond Lil appears in one panel, in flashback to the unfortunate events of X-Force #23.

The story line picks up some time after Necrosha ends, but before Second Coming begins, telling the story of Dazzler re-uniting with her sister Mortis. Diamond Lil appears in the 2nd segment of the book, titled, “Tough Call”, referring to a phone call Dazzler makes to their mom after she brings her captured sister to Utopia for treatment. Penciled by Italian artist Francesca Ciregia, the image in flashback is among several images of Mortis as remembered by Dazzler, up to and including the Necrosha arc.

The Women of Marvel project, which includes a disorganized smattering of one-shots, miniseries, an omnibus edition and an OHOTMU collection, is explained in part by Marvel’s Senior Vice President of Sales, David Gabriel:

…one facet of the program is to celebrate women of the industry, whether they are super-heroines, super-villainesses, artists, writers, editors, colorists, inkers, proofreaders, models, [etc.]

which would be fine if any of Alpha’s women were included besides for the meaningless and technically impossible death choke shown in this issue. Where are: Aurora, Snowbird, Talisman, Persuasion, Goblyn, Pathway, Witchfire, Murmur, Ghost Girl, and/or Stitch? Not to be found in this company-wide promotion! We’ll have to wait until Canadian Women of Marvel starts up, hopefully soon!

Mr. and Mrs. Jeffries cameo in X-Men: Second Coming #1

April 8, 2010

X-Men: Second Coming #1
May 2010

A new, fairly massive X-book-centric story arc begins with this one-shot that picks up where the Messiah CompleX left off. In that series, a mutant baby was born, the first after the widespread depowering of mutants on M-Day. Chapter 1 of this series features the return of the mutant baby, Hope, with a heavy trail of destruction all around. Mister Jeffries appear in a few panels as a regular member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505 and Diamond Lil has a small cameo as well.

While the X-Men convene their senior members in a briefing room on Utopia Island, their new home, Cyclops quickly recounts the casualties from the recent attacks during the Necrosha storyline. Up on the rightmost of three monitors is a head shot of Diamond Lil, who was unceremoniously killed by Mortis in X-Force #23. Though it was nice of Craig Kyle and Chris Yost to show this iota of respect for her, it really would have been much more respectful not to have killed her off in the first place. On the next page in the lower right corner, a close-up of Cyclops shows a poorly magnified reprinting of the same image of Lil just behind him, complete with the jagged pixelation of a novice Photoshop job. I count over a dozen re-used images in this issue, which takes away from the otherwise appealing pencils from David Finch.

On the same pages, standing next to Dr. Nemesis, Mister Jeffries broods in the shadows. He appears again much smaller in two other panels from this scene.

Man, am I pissed!

This is just about the angriest looking image of Jeffries you’ll ever see. It’s not clear why he’s so angry, as they are only discussing the extinction of their species, nothing all that gut-wrenching. He’s probably thinking what I’m thinking:

During one of the set-up sequences, Cyclops refers to his top tier of X-Men as his “Alpha Squad”. Later, Cannonball also refers to this top tier as the “Alpha Team”. This is an extremely poor choice of names for the top tier, as it is a complete and total ripoff of the way John Byrne organized the Department H members into Alpha, Beta and Gamma Flights. If you have an “Alpha Squad”, it only follows that your second-string is the Beta Squad, then the Gamma Squad, and so on. When Northstar was the faculty advisor for the Alpha Squadron kids at Xavier’s Institute, the use of “Alpha” in the team name made sense and was appropriate. In this scenario, it’s just a cheap knock-off of a long-established idea from a couple of yahoos who aren’t even worthy to sweep up John Byrne’s pencil shavings.

Note: although Northstar was a member of the X-Men during this issue, he does not appear in this book and is not a member of the Alpha Squad.

Note: There are two variant covers, a 2nd printing featuring interior art by David Finch and a 3rd printing variant also with interior art by David Finch.

X-Men: Second Coming #1 – Finch variant
X-Men: Second Coming #1 – inked Finch variant – this comic was a giveaway at the 2010 Diamond Retailer Summit on April 14-16 preceding the C2E2 (Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo)
X-Men: Second Coming #1 – 2nd printing variant
X-Men: Second Coming #1 – 3rd printing variant

Mister Jeffries gets some action in Nation X #3

March 11, 2010

Nation X #3
Apr 2010

The anthology series Nation X continues in this issue with more “slice of life” stories about what it’s like to live on Utopia Island, the new headquarters for the X-Men. Consisting of 8pp stories by various writers and artists, we get to see a showcase for characters not usually put into the center of the stage, and for creators not usually associated with the X-Men. Mister Jeffries and Diamond Lil are featured in one of the stories, with a cameo appearance by Northstar in one panel.

The third of four stories, “Boxes” begins with the burial at sea for Diamond Lil, who was recently killed off unceremoniously and completely unnecessarily in X-Force #23. This issue was published so shortly after that issue that this story had been solicited as “a story that is so top secret we can’t tell you who is writing it or drawing it or who it’s about!” because it would have been quite a spoiler otherwise.

In a strange funeral scene attended only by Cyclops, Dr. Nemesis, Logan, Mister Jeffries and Northstar, Diamond Lil is put to rest inside of a glass coffin and tossed overboard from Utopia Island. The funeral is strange for three reasons. First, the attendance is so sparse compared to the general population of the island. Note that Dr. Takiguchi’s rooftop cremation funeral in Uncanny X-Men #515 was attended by about twenty mutants, including the entire X-Club, and he was barely known. Second, they encase her in glass rather than cremate her, but that’s likely because she still might be indestructible, even in death. It also raises the question why they didn’t also bury Dr. Takiguchi this way. Third, and strangest of all, Mister Jeffries is wearing a suit! Seriously though, credit goes to whoever decided not to dress up the few heroes who made it to the funeral in their costumes, as many superhero funerals are disrespectfully accompanied by way too much spandex.

The figure in the foreground is very likely Northstar, but he’s not mentioned by name. It marks one of the few times since the pair joined up with the X-Men that Northstar and Mister Jeffries are shown in the same panel.

The story itself explains the sad, sad story of Madison and Lil’s marriage after the unfortunate events of the Neverland mutant concentration camp from the Weapon X series. During that series, a mind-controlled Jeffries built Boxbot guards to run the horrific prison where his wife Lillian was an inmate. In fact, she had beaten nearly to death by one of his creations while temporarily depowered in Weapon X #5 (Mar 2003). The beating was so bad that at the time, fans assumed she had been killed off until it was revealed later in the sequel series Weapon X: Days of Future Now #3 (Nov 2005) that she had just been taken away.

Up until this little 8pp story, even inclusive of the unfortunate events of X-Force issues #22 and #23, the issue of “What’s up with Lil?” had not been asked nor answered. Fans who knew Lil was still out there, still powered after M-Day and knew she was married to Mister Jeffries had been wondering where she was, why no mention had been made of their marriage and why Jeffries, despite having appeared in over 20 issues as an X-Man until this point, had never mentioned her once. This story does a fairly good job as a ret-con explaining why he had been so reticent about the whole issue.

He had been in fact, quite affected by his role as the constructor of the Boxbot guards and was completely avoiding Lil for over a month, choosing instead to immerse himself in the behind-the-scenes construction of the facility on Utopia Island. Chris Yost, the writer who killed off Diamond Lil in the first place, does score points here by noting in one of Jeffries’ thought captions dated Day 9 of Utopia’s existence:

I bury myself in work. God knows there’s enough of it here. The entire installation is a disaster, and given my abilities, I’m the prettiest girl at the dance. Nemesis and Beast help brainstorm, but I’m left to do the work.

This is a very accurate observation, as we’ve seen Jeffries do it all in his many appearances, always the hard-working hands-on guy taking action while the rest of the team just blathers on and on and I’m glad Chris Yost mentioned this.

Another nice touch takes place on the 26th day of Utopia, when Lil comes down to the lab to call a truce just after the unfortunate events of Dark X-Men: The List #1, when Marrina was killed. Although Jeffries and Lil likely never really knew Marrina all that much, even back in the days of Dept H, it’s finally nice to see two of the precious few Alpha Flight members still alive mentioning her passing.

Along with plenty of gratuitous scenes of Jeffries using his powers to transmorph metal, glass and plastic into machinery, artist Karl Moline very smoothly inserts powerful haunting images of Boxbots into several panels. The evil robots aren’t actually there, but are cleverly placed visuals showing the immense depth of guilt suffered by Madison whenever he uses his powers. It’s a very serious insight into the character and is quite a nice touch on top of his otherwise cartoony style.

After forty-one days, Mr. and Mrs. Jeffries resolve their differences and continue the tradition of hooking up “on panel” that we’ve seen before in Nation X issues. See if you can tell which of the following images of Mister Jeffries are from scenes that occur before the sex scene and which is from the scene that occurs after:

sssssss

Unfortunately, the events of Necrosha begin shortly after they get back together and Lil perishes within an hour after that. Chris Yost does manage to elevate himself with this story with a few good points, close characterization and excellent writing, but it all happened one issue too late.

Diamond Lil killed in X-Force #23

February 3, 2010

X-Force #23
Mar 2010

The Necrosha storyline continues in this issue as an invading force attacks Utopia Island, the new home of the X-Men. The battle, which started in the previous issue turns sour very quickly, as some of the bad guys have literal power over life and death. Mister Jeffries appears as a regular member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505 and Diamond Lil appears as well.

Diamond Lil, who had been tending to Iceman in the previous issue, can be seen very tiny on the intro page in a reduced version of the 2pg spread at the end of issue #22 which shows the invading force blinking in by teleportation. However, once the issue begins, she suddenly becomes extremely impatient with the situation, dumps Iceman right on the ground (poor Bobby) and rushes headstrong into the fray. She ignores Mister Jeffries’ admonition to wait and is immediately taken out by Mortis’ death touch which kills her instantly. It’s just “HK–!” and then THUD! and that’s the end of Lillian “Creepy” Crawley.

Later, Jeffries can be seen holding Lil’s limp dead body, lamenting, “I never stopped loving you,” a confusing statement given the unknown status of their relationship at the time of publication. Even more confusing was the relative ease with which Mortis’ death touch was able to penetrate Lil’s impenetrable bio-aura, unless it is far more disruptive to energy fields than previously known.

Just like the sudden reappearance and immediate subsequent death of Marrina in Dark X-Men: The List #1, the initial excitement over Lil’s resurfacing in last issue took a turn for the worse. It’s not clear why Chris Yost felt compelled to kill her off, in addition to a few other mutants, but he did have this to say about it:

…Pretty much every comic, artist, writers, you name it has people that love it, or people that hate it. It’s subjective.

It really is an interesting situation here, though, with comics – because even when people hate a book with the power of a million exploding suns… they will keep reading it because of a love for the characters. I get that…

…We’re still taking heat from the New X-Men bus explosion four years ago. There’s some dude on Comixfan that will probably hate us forever for killing Quill. We’ll take heat for Diamond Lil forever, too. And that’s okay.

If you guys weren’t passionate about these characters and stories, good or bad, it wouldn’t be worth doing.

Chris Yost lacks a needle in his moral compass. His logic is: writing that results in fans hating him for killing a beloved character or writing that results in fans loving him for resurrecting a beloved character are morally equivalent because there will always be one person somewhere who will hate him. Since he can’t ever please 100.00% of all people 100.00% of the time, he ought not make any attempt to please anyone, ever, and just sit back and be hated, or loved, happy that he was able to evoke an emotion at all while showing complete indifference to the nature of the evoked emotion while somehow still existing in a state of wonderment and admiration for comic book fans. Terrible. He ought to get over this angsty perfectionism and stop assuming that fans will continue to buy comics he writes just because they love comic books more than they hate his writing.

It really is very disappointing to lose Lil this way. There was no reason to kill her off, except for he fact that she was an unused character who precious few would mourn. It didn’t advance the storyline nor add characterization to anyone. All it did was completely ignore her life story, which was one of redemption from a checkered past into a top tier super-hero as an Alpha Flight member. She was also a survivor of a breast cancer scare and a troubling love triangle that caused immense suffering in her heart, the only weak part of her otherwise indestructible body. Her meaningless death by means of an instant death touch from a character she had no previous connection with, and without any resistance is incomprehensible, shocking and undeserved.

Note: this issue has a variant cover, also by Clayton Crain.

X-Force #23 – Clayton Crain variant

Note: a portion of the actual panel depicting Diamond Lil’s death was reproduced on the Intro page of X-Force #24. That issue also has a variant cover, also by Clayton Crain.

X-Force #24
X-Force #24 – Clayton Crain variant

Alpha Flight panel in X-Men Forever #15

January 21, 2010

X-Men Forever #15
Mar 2010

Chris Claremont’s reimagining of the X-Men, which continues after X-Men #3 in 1991, takes place in a universe that happened so long ago that readers need a guide to refresh their memories of that era. Luckily, at the end of the main story, there’s an 8pp roundup of what was going on in the Marvel Universe at the time. On the page, “Meanwhile…”, a panel taken from Alpha Flight #101 (Oct 1991) shows the team assembled at Mac’s grave, again, along with accompanying text.

The page following the 8pp roundup is a full page advertisement for trade paperbacks that contain many of the highlighted stories. Notably absent from the advertisement is a trade paperback containing the Alpha Flight series, which, at the time of this post, has not been collected in a tpb past the 8th issue. The advertisement sours the roundup from an interesting educational segment (or a trip down memory lane for us old guys) into a blatant shill for your tpb dollars. The same 8pp could have been a new 2nd story or even a preview of the next story arc instead of re-printing old material as a giant advertisement, but Alpha Flight got into the roundup, so it’s more sweet than sour.

The accompanying text to the right of the panel reads:

Canada’s premier heroes in Alpha Flight had newly reaffirmed ties to their government; they were briefly rejoined by the long-dead Vindicator (James Hudson), only to lose him again during a confrontation with Galactus. Still led by Guardian, the team included Puck, Sasquatch, Northstar, Aurora, Windshear, Diamond Lil and the mystery man Weapon Omega.

Note that Aurora was listed as a member, but at the time, she had resigned from Alpha Flight (issue #95), reassigned to Gamma Flight as a counselor in the psychiatric unit. In issue #98, she had seemingly been teleported away by Laura Dean (Pathway), which explains why she’s not in the panel above. The Weapon Omega listed above is not Michael Pointer, but Kyle Gibney, a.k.a. Wild Child. He wouldn’t resurface until issue #102, which explains why he’s listed as a member of that era but not in the panel. Finally, Box (Jeffries) appears in the panel, but wasn’t listed as a member for an unknown reason.

To the far right are two other Alpha Flight associates: the bald General Jeremy Clarke and Department H’s Liaison Kerry Patrick, who is very much not bald at all. It isn’t exactly clear why the team showed up to the memorial service in costume. The most puzzling was Walter, who seems to prefer Sasquatch form for funerals.

Diamond Lil resurfaces in X-Force #22

December 27, 2009

X-Force #22
Feb 2010

No, not THAT X-Force, the other one. The one that Cyclops created as a covert mutant operations squad, led by Wolverine. The team started out before the Utopia storyline and continued on its own, gathering up the New Mutants and X-Men: Legacy titles to run into the Necrosha storyline. In this issue, Necrosha makes it to Utopia Island, the new floating home of the X-Men. Madison Jeffries appears in one panel as a regular member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505 and Diamond Lil appears in two panels.

As Utopia Island is being attacked by a bunch of very dead and very bad bad guys, the X-Men feel the tide turning against them. Many of their opponents are lost loved ones whose bodies need to be hideously mutilated in order to be defeated. In the heat of battle, Cyclops turns to Jeffries to ask if he can interface with the techno-organic invaders. Note that Jeffries is not drawn with his signature greyed temples, the only time since joining up with the X-Men that he’s drawn this way. Clayton Crain’s style is so impenetrably murky that it’s not all that surprising, but since Cyclops addresses him directly as “Madison”, there’s little doubt who he is.

It would have been nice to have Jeffries transmorph some nearby machinery into a suit of Box armor and start cleaning up the place. He could singlehandedly wipe out all 30 invaders, but is relegated to just monitoring the battle and devising interface schemes, which is a shame. Since Matt Fraction had repeatedly under-used his incredible offensive combat abilities, it’s becoming par for the course for writers to use him this way, so I’ll blame what Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost are doing here on the other guy instead.

The real gem of this issue is the resurfacing of Diamond Lil. She hasn’t appeared since X-Men: 198 #4 (Jun 2006) when she appeared briefly as a member of a tiny group of disaffected mutants who survived M-Day with their powers intact. Fans had been wondering about her whereabouts, especially since her husband Madison has been quite busy in various X-books since the beginning of 2009 as a member of the X-Men Science Team.

She is shown in one panel tending to Iceman, who was taken out in battle. Shown wearing her classic green and yellow diamond patterned costume and her yellow diamond mask, she’s not identified outright, but her identity has been confirmed by Chris Yost on an internet forum. Lil shows up again very tiny at the end of the story in a 2pg spread, in the background and in the same position as earlier, tending to Iceman. It’s not clear if she’s joined the X-Men, just visiting, living on Utopia, or even if she’s still married to Madison, but this little cameo is very good news for Alpha Flight fans and I’m delighted to have her included in this comic.

Note: this issue has a variant cover, also by Clayton Crain:

X-Force #22 – Clayton Crain variant

Alphans appear in House of M: Masters of Evil #4

November 10, 2009

hommoe4coverHouse of M: Masters of Evil #4
Jan 2010

Set in the alternate reality of the House of M storyline where Wanda Maximoff (the Scarlet Witch) warped reality into a mutant-centric world in which her family ruled, the Masters of Evil spin-off series concludes with the defeat of the title characters. Sasquatch and Diamond Lil appear as members of Magnus’ elite Red Guard.

Sasquatch first appeared in the House of M storyline in issue #6 of the main series as a member of the Red Guard, but this story pre-dates those events, as Wolverine and the other heroes haven’t been made aware of the divergent reality yet. The Alphans appear on a splash panel naming several members of a strike force sent by Magneto to take out the Masters of Evil, who had just defied him in issue #3 by conquering the tiny nation of Santo Rico, formerly ruled by the Jeffries brothers.

hommoe4aSasquatch and Lil jump out of a helicarrier, without parachutes, all bad-ass, of course, and attack the members of the Masters of Evil who choose to remain after the coup. Diamond Lil isn’t shown in the attack, except very tiny at the top of the opening battle sequence, but Sasquatch is shown in a few panels, fighting the Wrecker and again later alongside fellow Red Guard member Sebastian Shaw, taking him out with a nice right cross. After the events of Omega Flight when a super-charged Wrecker beat the crap out of Sasquatch, it’s very satisfying to see the tables turned and see the guy go down, in this or any reality. Sasquatch is also shown about to battle Titania, but the Absorbing man scoops her up and tosses her to Mexico before they can fight.

Diamond Lil hadn’t made any other showing in the House of M storyline, so it was a bit surprising to see her, and it’s a shame she wasn’t used more extensively in the battle. Her membership in the Red Guard explains in part why she wasn’t with Madison Jeffries earlier in Santo Rico. This is also the first time we’ve seen her wearing this costume, a uniform similar to the ones worn by Northstar and Aurora in New X-Men #16.

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It’s still not clear why Sasquatch would be a member of the House of M Red Guard, as he isn’t a mutant, but speculation whether or not it was actually him or not in House of M #6 can be put to rest after this issue, especially since he’s identified by name. How they got him to put on a pair of pants is even less clear.