Posts Tagged ‘Heather Hudson’

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is filled with lengthy articles about comic book characters, creators and events, not to mention tons of original art, unpublished pencil sketches and the occasional commission piece.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

The Mystery of the Ambiguous Mac

January 2, 2013

oittmuwpgr5coverWolverine, Punisher & Ghost Rider: Official Index to the Marvel Universe #5
Feb 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 #142 and #143 (Sep and Oct 1999).

Click to see full-size version of the solicited cover

Click to see full-size version of the solicited cover

Originally, the solicits for this issue indicated it would start at issue #142 for the Wolverine section of the book, but the writers only got so far as issue #133 last issue. The solicits are based on estimated page counts, so it’s typical to be off by a few issues. Since the usual arrangement is for the first indexed issue of the section to be shown on the cover in thumbnail, we would have had Alpha Flight on the cover of this issue had the estimate been accurate! Instead, the cover for Wolverine #134 (not an Alpha Flight appearance) made it to the big show. It’s the second time we were robbed of this distinction, as the same situation happened with issue #3 of this index as well.

The section on the Wolverine titles covers issues #134 through #169 with a few special issues published during that portion of the run. Alpha Flight members appear in issues #142-#145 and the Wolverine & Cable special, also known as “Guts & Glory”.

Cover to Wolverine #142 showing ambiguous Mac

Cover to Wolverine #142

The covers for #142 and #143 feature some of the team just after Alpha Flight volume 2 ended, with Puck, Northstar, Heather (as team liaison) and one of the two James MacDonald Hudsons. At the time, there were two Macs running around; one being the original Mac who had returned at the end of volume 2 (who at this time took the codename Guardian) and the other being “Synth Mac”, his younger clone (who at this time took the codename Vindicator). Because of similarities in their costumes and the fact that neither one was costumed in those issues, we can’t tell who is who on the cover of Wolverine #142 nor #143. There is also a small flashback panel in Wolverine #145 with a similar ambiguity: an unnamed Mac is shown wearing a cowl with a red stripe but we can’t tell which Mac it is, especially since the flashback is to events in issues #142 and #143 when neither Mac was wearing a costume. The index positively identifies the Mac in that small flashback panel as Guardian but also notes the error of showing him in costume at all.

Cover to Wolverine #143

Cover to Wolverine #143

Why so confusing? For those of you who keep track of these sorts of things: as of Alpha Flight v2 #20, “Real Mac” was wearing an all-white cowl and “Synth Mac” was wearing a cowl with a red stripe down the middle. The next chronological appearance of either of them is Wolverine #142, but again, neither of them are shown in costume in that issue (except in flashback). “Synth Mac” dies in issue #143 (oh sorry, uh, spoiler alert!) and the next appearance of “Real Mac” after this arc is in Generation X #58, where he is wearing an all-white cowl. The confusion starts when we next see “Real Mac” again in Wolverine #171, where he is wearing a cowl with a red stripe, continuing to wear this through several other appearances.

wolv2142coverinset

The actual images printed in this index are thumbnailed so here are the insets, magnified to clearly show the red stripe on ambiguous Mac’s cowl, as well as Heather in her “Team Liaison to Department H” costume holding an awesome looking gun.

wolv2143coverinset

Unfortunately, the information about the issues in the index doesn’t address the mystery of ambiguous Macs on these covers; perhaps it was too subtle even for the usually insanely detailed writers of the OITTMU series. It’s not too subtle for Alpha Flight Collector to still be worrying about this 13 years later, though. My personal opinion is that “Synth Mac” is on the cover of both of those issues based on the supposition that if he were costumed at the time, he would be wearing a cowl with a red stripe.

The index also helps out with positively identifying Ghost Girl (Lilli Stephens) for the first time in a small flashback panel in Wolverine #142 showing the reorganization of the Beta Flight team after volume 2. This places Wolverine #142 as Ghost Girl’s last chronological appearance, not Alpha Flight v2 #20 as previously thought.

Two known continuity errors in Wolverine #143 are pointed out and sort of explained. The first is when Vindicator (“Synth Mac”), while not wearing his EM suit nor cybernetic helmet, blasts Weapon X (Garrison Kane), which should have been impossible. The index explains this by suggesting, “his synthoid nature may have granted him additional, previously unrevealed powers.”

plausible

The second is in the 2nd story of Wolverine #143 when Walter Langkowski tries to explain where A.I.M. could possibly have obtained Snowbird’s body to reincarnate. At the time Walter was in Snowbird’s body but he suggested they obtained the body from her grave. The index notes, “Sasquatch’s explanation here that Snowbird’s body regenerated while in its grave cannot be accurate. [Wolverine #172 (2002)] implies that the Inuit gods had a hand in resurrecting Snowbird, but the exact mechanics of her return are unexplained.”

plausible

There was a chance for these continuity errors to be resolved with the publication of this index… but if the information doesn’t exist, the writers don’t have much to give us.

Red tentacled amoeboid crawls onto Guardian; fans excited and confused

October 14, 2010

Avengers #4
Oct 2010

Sold as a convention exclusive at the Fan Expo Canada 2010 in Toronto, this variant cover by penciler Phil Jiminez and colorist Frank G. D’Armata is one of the greatest Alpha Flight team shots ever published. Advertised as a low print run of 1,000 copies on the Fan Expo website, it originally sold for $10 in Canadian dollars at the show, which is like, what, $3.99 in US dollars? 1.583 Euros? Something like that. Alpha Flight only appears on the cover, not inside, leaving Alpha Flight Collector to happily tape shut this book forever, never having to read a single word from its much hated writer Brian Michael Bendis (who I hate and who is a stupid jerk for killing off Alpha Flight in New Avengers #16), whose accursed name is thankfully left off the cover, allowing fans to enjoy an unblemished blast of pure awesome.

The choice of classic characters (including Snowbird in arctic owl form) hints to honor Canadian creator John Byrne, as only Byrne-era characters and costumes are shown. Note also that Heather is shown out of the E-M suit, just as Byrne left her. The only flaw on the image is the oddly shaped maple leaf element on Guardian’s costume, which Jiminez actually attempted to copy from a Byrne image. The soft snow effects were added later by Frank G. D’Armata and is an excellent example (as particularly emphasized by Jiminez) of the impact a colorist can have on a piece.

A very large full-sized version of the artwork without the title block and letters can be found here (LGT comicbookresources.com)

Mac and Heather in Origins of Marvel Comics #1

May 19, 2010

Origins of Marvel Comics #1
July 2010

What had been a free promo introducing the Siege storyline earlier in the year is expanded with additional material and is no longer free. The Siege prologue and preview material was dropped, and the number of character/team origins was expanded from 12 to 36. The format of this one-shot is 35pp of single page character origins, nearly all of which are written by Fred van Lente with the exception of four, and one double-page Power Pack origin. Mac and Heather appear in the 1-page Wolverine origin.

For those of you keeping track, this is a direct reprint of the same material originally published in Origins of Siege #1 but here’s the image again for your enjoyment.

Art by Mike Choi and Sonia Oback.

Alpha Flight is ALL WRONG on FUNday!

January 25, 2010

In the 18th episode of FUNday, we look at a very interesting panel drawn during the Mantlo era that, well, sums it all up! It’s ALL WRONG! Haha, let’s see what happens in:

Marvel Age #59
Feb 1988

Marvel Age was a monthly series featuring previews of upcoming comics, news articles about various subjects, advertisements, humorous pieces, and the occasional interview with creators and Marvel staff. Long removed from the Internet age, it was a great way (sometimes the ONLY way) to get news about what was going on in the world of Marvel Comics. Cartoon Box, Shaman (as Talisman), Heather, Northstar, Snowbird and Puck appear in this issue on the back cover.

This issue was concurrent with Alpha Flight #55 and solicited issue #56 in the section, “Marvel Coming Attractions”:

ALPHA FLIGHT #56 – What could be worse than Box going insane? How about Box going insane while he’s as big as a space ship – and his teammates are aboard?! “Warped ” is written by Bill Mantlo and penciled by Jim Lee. Direct Sales only. $1.00.

Alpha Flight had switched over completely to the Direct Sales distribution method in issue #52, meaning it would not be found on newsstands, but sold only in comics specialty shops. Direct Sales proved more profitable for certain books than others because they could not be returned by retailers for credit. Publishers were freed from the risk of unsold copies, which would be kept by the comic shops as back issues, and could pass that savings on to the Direct Sales outlets by offering a greater discount than Independent Distributors would get.

Well, that’s not so much fun, is it? Just business, but here’s some funny business: the calendar! The back pages of many Marvel Age issues featured a comical calendar with staff birthdays, one-liner jokes and parodies of various Marvel characters. The back cover of this issue had a calendar for November 1987 featuring cartoon Alpha Flight wishing Alpha Flight writer Bill Mantlo a Happy Birthday on the 9th. In addition to a missing balloon tail (there are six Alphans and five tails), the six Alpha Flight members shown are ALL WRONG! Remember that this issue was concurrent with Alpha Flight #55 and by that issue, the very man honored in this panel, Bill Mantlo, had made some significant changes to each of the characters:

  • Box – Mister Jeffries took over the “Blue” Box armor from Roger Bochs (who died in issue #49) in issue #46, and would transmorph it into the dark red/silver armor in issue #49 (although it debuted on the cover of issue #48). Showing “Blue” Box makes no sense as neither Roger nor Jeffries were using that armor at the time. If it’s from the past, it’s not clear which Box is shown there.
  • Shaman – Michael had left Alpha Flight in issue #45 and disappeared off this Earthly plane, not to return until the Dreamqueen issues much later. He was known as Talisman at the time, of course.
  • Heather Hudson – Heather put on the E-M suit in issue #32 and would keep it on as Vindicator. It wouldn’t make sense to show her out of costume. One possibility is that there’s a coloring error and that sections of her all-white clothing ought to have been colored red, but even then, it’s yet another error.
  • Northstar – Jean-Paul had been tricked by Loki to visit Alfheim, the Land of the Elves in issue #50. He wasn’t around at all during issue #55.
  • Puck – Judd had left Alpha Flight for Tibet in issue #50 as well. But that’s not even what’s so wrong about the image: at the time, Puck was tall!!! He returned to his full height in that issue. You gotta love the little head poking up from the panel border, though, heh.
  • Snowbird – Killed by Heather in issue #44. Dead.

At no point had this particular assembly of Alpha Flight members existed simultaneously. Credits for the calendar are w-Mike Carlin, a-Ron Zalme and c-Paul Becton, all of whom are excused for not keeping track of Alpha Flight’s members because no one could keep track of all the changes Mantlo had made to the team between issues #29 and #55. Unless you’re an Alpha Flight Collector!

Mac and Heather in Origins of Siege #1

January 5, 2010

Origins of Siege #1
Feb 2010

This free promo comic contains 32pp of a mixture of prologue material, preview material from Siege #1 and 12 single pages of character origins, all related to the upcoming Siege crossover, Marvel’s big 2010 company-wide event. The 12 pages of character origins are all written by Fred van Lente and are drawn by 12 different artists. These origin pages are very nicely done, seeing as how difficult it is to cram an entire origin into a single page for most characters.

On Wolverine’s page, Mac and Heather appear in a single panel in flashback to the “honeymoon in the woods” scene from Alpha Flight #33, written by Bill Mantlo. Mac and Heather aren’t identified, except as “a backpacking couple [who] discovered him and nursed him back to health – – and humanity.” But, we all know who they are despite the missing snowshoes. A nice touch from artists Mike Choi and Sonia Oback: the honeymooners have a chilly breath, a minor but charming little detail of coloring.

It was nice of Fred van Lente to include Mac and Heather. He only had a single page to tell Logan’s origin, a task that seems ridiculous when you consider the extreme volume of material. He could have left out that scene completely in favor of about fifty other scenes that could be just as useful in the narrative, so this is much appreciated! Thanks, Fred!

Happy Canada Day! Or is it FUNday?

November 16, 2009


This week is FUNday’s 8th weekly post and possibly one of the longest, since I decided to transcribe large portions of text from this week’s issue. How is typing out all those words so much fun? No, that’s not fun, that’s work! Right, uh, except no one pays me for this, therefore it’s fun!

Marvel Age #31
Oct 1985

Marvel Age was a monthly series featuring previews of upcoming comics, news articles about various subjects, advertisements, humorous pieces, and the occasional interview with creators and Marvel staff. Long removed from the Internet age, it was a great way (sometimes the ONLY way) to get news about what was going on in the world of Marvel Comics. This issue has a few Alpha Flight images, two interviews and cartoon Puck on the back.

In Marvel Age #29, Jim Salicrup included a Top Ten list for Marvel Sales on the inside front cover, where Alpha Flight ranked #6. Unfortunately, that data was aggregated over a few months, likely so he could put Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars at number one. In this issue, the list is just the top ten best-selling Direct Sales titles for April 1985.  Individual issues are listed, not titles:

  1. Secret Wars II #2
  2. X-Men #196
  3. New Mutants #30
  4. Alpha Flight #25
  5. Web of Spider-Man #5
  6. Elfquest #1
  7. Fantastic Four #281
  8. Amazing Spider-Man #267
  9. Iron Man #197
  10. Thor #358

Alpha Flight moves up in the ranks to #4! For the record, in Marvel Age #30, Alpha Flight #24 was in the #5 position of the Top Ten titles sold only through Direct Sales outlets (not including newsstand nor subscription figures). So in 3 months, Alpha Flight moved from #6 to #5 to #4!

This issue was concurrent with Alpha Flight #27 and solicited issue #28 in the section, “Marvel Coming Attractions” with text set inside its own yellow highlighted block:

ALPHA FLIGHT #28 – The Beyonder! Alpha Flight! Omega Flight! And all of them are against the Hulk! You’ll never believe how this saga ends! You’ll never believe how this saga begins! But whatever you do, you’ll never forgive yourself if you miss “Cross-Over” written and drawn by John Byrne with an inking assist by Keith Williams. 65¢.

On the bottom of the page, a panel taken from Alpha Flight #28 is shown with Mister Jeffries’ hand in the foreground and the caption, “ALPHA FLIGHT meets THE INCREDIBLE HULK – the hard way!” Notice how the figure on the screen is colored green in the solicit but neutrally colored in the actual comic. Not as if it weren’t known who the figure was supposed to be, especially after the interviews below, but the neutral color sustains a bit more suspense for both the reader and the characters in the story for the ending of Alpha Flight #28. There’s just a completely different reaction to a green figure (oh, that’s the Hulk) than the neutral one (gee I wonder, who or what is that?), and I’m glad the actual version was published that way. Both panels are shown below for your viewing pleasure.

Marvel Age #31 version: Oh, that's the Hulk

Alpha Flight #28 version : Gee I wonder, who or what is that?

Two interviews regarding the Alpha Flight/Hulk creative team switch follow, a 3-page John Byrne piece by Dwight Jon Zimmerman and a 1-page Bill Mantlo piece by Kurt Busiek. Here is the portion of the John Byrne interview pertaining to Alpha Flight:

     How did the HULK/ALPHA FLIGHT cross-over come about?
     It started with me realizing that I was fast approaching the end of my Alpha Flight stories. You see, I had a specific number of stories in mind when I started ALPHA FLIGHT. As it turned out, a couple of those stories, when they were produced, generated other tales, so I actually remained with ALPHA FLIGHT longer than I anticipated. Even so, I realized a couple of months back that I was reaching that cut-off point for me, after which I’d have no more Alpha Flight stories to tell. So I started asking myself what I wanted to do after ALPHA FLIGHT? At one time, I would have said THOR. But THOR is in really good hands with Walt Simonson right now.
     Then I remembered the Hulk. I was lying on my bed staring at the ceiling and wondering what I would do with the Hulk. And it was as if someone had knocked over a domino in my head. Suddenly I had about fourteen issues worth of stories formulated. I soon started hounding HULK editor Carl Potts, asking him if Bill Mantlo was tired of writing the Hulk yet. Bill, of course, wasn’t. But Carl jokingly suggested that I call up Bill and ask him if he wanted to trade THE INCREDIBLE HULK for ALPHA FLIGHT. That’s what I did. After Bill got over the surprise, he called me back and told me that both he and Mike Mignola, the Hulk’s penciler, would love to swap.
     As the plans started to firm up, we decided to make everything a literal cross-over of characters, creative and editorial teams.
     Is the cross-over going to be double-sized?
     No, it will appear in two regular-sized issues. One of THE INCREDIBLE HULK and one of ALPHA FLIGHT. We will show two sides of the same story that month. Basically it’s a fishing story where the Alpha Flight crew is fishing around in an alien dimension trying to find a new body for Langkowski and they hook something. What they hook is the Hulk. So in THE INCREDIBLE HULK #313, we get his side of the story about his being hooked, and in ALPHA FLIGHT #28, we get Alpha Flight’s side of things as they do the hooking.
     It must have taken some pretty close plot coordination.
     Pretty close, yes. It was lucky, really, because we happened to hit a time for both Bill and myself when we were able to slip this scenario into our continuities. Unconsciously, our storylines were actually all in position, so we didn’t have to spend hours burning the midnight oil to try and fit everything together. It was one of those Marvel serendipity things where once it was conceived, it fell right into place.
     With ALPHA FLIGHT, what are the major plot threads that you’ll be finishing?
     Actually, I’ll be doing less wrapping up than I will be dangling story threads that Bill wants me to dangle. I’ve pretty much tied up everything I wanted to do. Bill told me a few things that he would like to have happen that he wanted to pick up on. So I started to add those elements in. Anything that has a Bill Mantlo plot twist in the ALPHA FLIGHT stories I’ve done also has a Bill Mantlo plot credit.
     Could you give us any examples?
     Bill wants to concentrate more on Shaman than Talisman. So we concocted a way of taking care of Shaman and Talisman at the same time. Bill also wanted me to bring Snowbird back. I had originally intended to leave her out for a while, so I changed plans there.
     What will happen to Talisman?
     What happens to Talisman will be tied into the SECRET WARS II continuity. My last issue of ALPHA FLIGHT is also the SECRET WARS II cross-over. I will say this, Talisman won’t be killed. There has been enough death in Alpha Flight during my tenure. I’ll let Bill handle any new killing.

On the following page, the Alpha Flight title block and four title box floating heads appear: Heather, Aurora, Talisman and Box (who was occupied by Walter in the concurrent issue #27 and part of the solicited issue #28 until Roger Bochs jumped in and Walter jumped out into the fishing line, so it’s not clear which Box’s head that is). Ironically, the floating heads were drawn by John Byrne on the Bill Mantlo page. Byrne’s floating heads would continue to appear in the title box through Alpha Flight #31.

Here is the full Bill Mantlo interview:

     One of the biggest surprises of the year is that Bill Mantlo and Mike Mignola, the creative team on THE INCREDIBLE HULK, and John Byrne, writer / artist of ALPHA FLIGHT, are switching assignments. Starting with HULK #313 and ALPHA FLIGHT #28, John will be bringing you the adventures of Marvel’s anti-social green goliath and Bill and Mike will be chronicling the exploits of Canada’s greatest heroes. We collared Bill Mantlo in the offices one Monday afternoon shortly after we heard the news, to find out what’s in store for the northern stars.
     I know it’s a little soon for you to have worked out all your plans, Bill, but can you tell us anything about what’s coming up in ALPHA FLIGHT?

     We have a lot of ideas. We’re not sure exactly how soon eadh [sic] idea is going to be put into the process. Essentially, my feeling about ALPHA FLIGHT is that John did a spectacular job. That’s straight from the shoulder – I think it’s some of the finest writing I’ve read in a long time. But I think you had to read it consecutively. You had to sit down as I did, and read ALPHA FLIGHT #1-20, in order to get a grasp on the organic maturation of his characters. It was extremely difficult to follow what he was doing on ALPHA FLIGHT from issue to issue, because he never really concentrated on the team. He concentrated on individual members and their problems. And after awhile, even I, who read it religiously, lost track completely of who was in the book and who was a member of ALPHA FLIGHT, and what the team was.
     Our first job is going to be to pull the team together, to give them a reason for existence, a location, a headquarters. Probably they will be funded by the government. Whether that is a generous gesture on the part of the government, or whether there is some subterfuge involved in forming this team again, is something that we’re going to develop.
     Once they’re held together as a team, they will act as a team. If one of them has a problem, that problem will involve the whole team, instead of specific individual adventures as you’ve seen in the first two years of ALPHA FLIGHT. The whole team will go solve Snowbird’s problem, or find out what Snowbird’s problem is. The whole team will go on a Puck adventure, instead of Puck going off and leaving the team at home.
     Some characters will remain, some charcters [sic] will go. I think John has already dealt with Sasquatch – he will not be returning. Northstar will probably meet his demise, as something from his past surfaces. Snowbird is going to think that she’s dying, but that’s actually a prelude to some major changes in her life and character. A major villain, tentatively called Pestilence at this point, is going to be introduced. I don’t think the book has had a major villain except for the Master. We’re not sure what to do bout Marrina. We’ve got a lot for plans for Box, the robotic member of Beta Flight. He’s going to be reintroduced.
     I want to deal with Beta and Gamma Flight, and Omega Flight, find out who these people are, and . . . Where is the government raising these people with bizarre powers, and what is it raising them for, and what does it mean that now they’re re-funding Alpha Flight? Is it because they’re using Alpha Flight as a control group, or do they want to study Alpha Flight and find the secret to their powers and create new super heroes, or what? We don’t know. That’s all stuff we want to find out.
     They will become more closely linked to the Marvel Universe, in that there will be a few cross-overs. There’s already an ALPHA FLIGHT / X-MEN project in the works that Chris Claremont and John Byrne did. We will pick up on elements of that, and may have them meet other Marvel heroes, although not too many.
     There’ll be an international sense. The book has been predominantly located in Canada so far, with one or two trips to the United States. But Canada is closer to, say, the Soviet Union or Greenland or Europe than we are, in many ways. You go right over the top of Canada to shoot an ICBM from the United States to the Soviet Union. We’ll probably do stories that deal with that notion of pan-globalism, and how Canada’s tied up with the international scene.
     So there’s a lot of ideas – we just haven’t put them into specific stories yet. Guardian will be back, in some form. Not the Guardian you know and love, but . . .
     That’ll be a big development certainly.
     I think that’s where we’re going. In fact, we’re here today to discuss the nuts and bolts of what happens now, to discuss the cross-over where John and Mike and I will actually switch titles, our first issue of ALPHA FLIGHT will hit. Apparently the book is doing remarkably well, and has a loyal following. I’d like to win back people who bought a team book, and then saw it devolve into indivdual [sic] stories, and I’d like to win new readers who might not like super hero books, but are going to find that this is a different kind of super-team book. It’s not THE AVENGERS or THE FANTASTIC FOUR or THE X-MEN. It’s a completely different slant towards telling super hero stories.

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for, the FUN part of today’s FUNday post! The calendar! The back pages of many Marvel Age issues featured a comical calendar with staff birthdays, one-liner jokes and parodies of various Marvel characters. The back cover of this issue had a calendar for July 1985 featuring cartoon Puck on the 1st, celebrating Canada Day, which is, uh, the day Canada signed the Magna Carta and Quebec became independent from France in 1492, or something like that, whatever. I really should have waited until it were July 1 to post this, but I’m pretty sure that in modern times, Canada Day got moved to some other date after the Queen conquered the Duke of Calgary in the Battle of Halifax in 1776, so it doesn’t matter. Credits for the calendar are w-Jim Salicrup, a-Ron Zalme and c-Andy Yanchus.

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.

No, not THAT X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the other one.

November 4, 2009

xmenoriginswol1coverX-Men Origins: Wolverine #1
Jun 2009

The X-Men: Origins series is an irregularly published set of one-shots focused on individual members of the X-Men. Despite having his own ongoing Wolverine Origins series, Wolverine was selected for one issue, released in a coordinated blitz of Wolverine stuff right around the time the blockbuster movie of the EXACT SAME NAME was about to hit the theaters in 2009. It tells a condensed and slightly altered version of Logan’s early life and recruitment by Professor X from a very nasty Department H. James and Heather Hudson appear in this book as friends of Wolverine in Department H and in flashback to the honeymoon rescue scene from Alpha Flight #33.

Of all characters in comics, Wolverine has by far the most complex and hardest to understand origin story, to the point where he’s defined by the messiness and mystery of it all.  To put out a single book chronicling what couldn’t be told in 50 issues of a standalone series (Wolverine Origins) is an impossible task and it would have been very easy to skip over the Hudsons.

xmenoriginswol1aCentral to Heather’s appearance in this issue is a new facet of Logan’s feelings for her, revealed for the first time in this issue in a very sweet and touching moment, but with a bit of retcon thrown in. During a slightly altered “honeymoon in the woods scene”, Logan shows up freshly escaped from the Weapon X facility and first comes across Heather, who instantly reminds him of his redheaded childhood friend (and first love lost), Rose, morphing into her right before Logan passes out. Heather shouts out to James, who must have been in the cabin, for assistance with Logan.

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Now of course the actual events shown in the original scene are a bit different: Logan was a screaming wild man with no tubes nor wires coming out of him and James was right there with Heather; no need to shout out for him. Oh, and I almost forgot: Heather shot Logan with a rifle! Not exactly the best circumstances to trigger a fond memory of your childhood crush…

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Later, in a quiet scene on a Department H porch which takes place at an unspecified time afterwards, James and Heather appear to collect Wolverine to go meet the new Alpha Flight recruits. Heather again morphs into Rose during a quiet sunset conversation as she assures Logan that they’ll always be there for him and that he’s part of their family now.

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The Hudsons. Not nasty jerks.

Part of this origin story takes place right before the events of the tie-slicing scene in Giant Size X-Men #1, but oddly, the personnel at Department H are made out to be real nasty jerks. Likely done to exaggerate Logan’s reasons for wanting to leave with Xavier so readily, it put him into quite a bad crowd of outright racists who simply hated him. After returning from what are possibly chronologically misplaced events of Incredible Hulk #180-2, a Major Chasin[sic] declares, “Hudson may want you for his pet project, but Department H took you in for one reason.” The pet project is likely Alpha Flight or the First Flight team. This would imply that Hudson was just a scientist at Dept H, not its founding member and leader.

xmenoriginswol1dDiametrically opposed to the strangely insulting and nasty way Christ Yost wrote the rest of the Department H members, James and Heather are written with class and as a welcoming family for Logan. Their outright loving and affable care for him really shine in this issue, only matched by Mark Texeira’s flattering artwork for Heather’s beauty, a real treat.  The continuity errors can easily be explained away by Wolverine’s famously faulty memory in multiple flashbacks, and quite frankly, Yost got the honeymoon in the woods scene wrong in a dear and tender way, so he gets a free pass.

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