Posts Tagged ‘Marrina’

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

May 23, 2012

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

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

click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 4, 2012

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

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.

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

April 5, 2012

Comics Buyer’s Guide #1682
Oct 2011

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

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

Click on the page above to zoom onto the review.

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

Click to enlarge

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

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

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

Marrina’s Head: From the Marvel Vault #1

February 29, 2012

Defenders: From the Marvel Vault #1
Sep 2011

In late 2010, Marvel announced a series of books based on previously unpublished and/or partially finished work found during the big office move that same year. Five “From the Marvel Vault” one-shots were published, including Doctor Strange, Gambit/Champions, The Hulk/Human Torch, Thunderbolts and this doozy. The backstory of this comic claims unused Mark Bagley pencils with a Fabian Nicieza script (since lost) were re-purposed by Kurt Busiek, who guessed what was supposed to be happening. The result is a freakishly plausible-yet-puerile story that is in fact, so brilliantly done that I’m not entirely convinced he just “found” these pencils [EDIT: See Comments below for something convincing from Kurt Busiek himself!] . Marrina appears in one panel as a floating head.

After the Defenders are shown in a series of bizarre dream sequences, it is revealed that they are actually trapped in the clutches of some sort of bizarre dream sequence-inducing creature straight out of the Lovecraftian Bestiary. Namor is the first to break free from its direct control in a manner highly reminiscent of a similar scene from Fred van Lente and Greg Pak’s Incredible Hercules #118 where Herc breaks free from Nightmare’s nightmare machine. Even after detaching himself from the creature, Namor still experiences forcible mental imagery, one of which is a set of five floating heads. In addition to his wife Marrina, the other four heads are his cousin Byrrah (on top), his other wife Dorma (who I believe is miscolored as human), beloved cousin Namora and his dad Leonard McKenzie, all dead at the time this was drawn. They are shown in one panel angrily shouting some kind of approbations down to Namor, bitter reminders of what Namor prefers to retain as his “sweetest memories.”

Look familiar? Alpha Flight fans remember the 1990s Namor: The Sub-Mariner series where we saw a pairing of Namor’s former wives Dorma and Marrina in dream sequences quite a few times:

Hallucinations of Dorma and Marrina in Namor: The Sub-Mariner #1 (1990)

Illusions of Dorma and Marrina from Namor: The Sub-Mariner #36 (1993)

Memories of Dorma and Marrina in Namor: The Sub-Mariner #49 (1994)

And Marrina as a floating head in Namor #61:

Spirit of Marrina (head only) from Namor: The Sub-Mariner #61 (1995)

All of which are likely the inspiration for this appearance. Regardless of my slight skepticism about Busiek’s claims, this book is simply a hoot to read and re-read, and I’m glad Marrina made it in from the supposedly lost story that might never have seen the light of day. This turned out to be one of the most interesting and enjoyable comics in my Alpha Flight collection.

Captain Underpants joins Alpha Flight in Chaos War #5

February 14, 2011

Chaos War #5
Mar 2011

The Chaos War story line comes to its conclusion in this final issue of the five-issue mini-series. The plot lines leading up to this issue ought to be familiar to Alpha Flight fans who saw four dead members resurrected in the Chaos War: Alpha Flight one-shot, and reunited with four living members. After a brief cameo in issue #4 of this series, Alpha Flight appears more extensively, and with an important and serious outcome for the team. Guardian (Mac), Sasquatch, Shaman, Snowbird, Marrina, Northstar and Aurora appear in this book, having teamed up in the one-shot. Although Heather was also resurrected in that issue, she doesn’t appear in this one.

The opening page of issue #4, which showed various images of events spun out of the various mini-series, one-shots and other books of Chaos War, is mirrored with the opening page of this issue to show how they all converge together, literally and figuratively. The various characters (Thor, Hulks, Dead Avengers and Alpha Flight) are neatly brought together through some complicated space/time thingy, as explained by Sasquatch, who correctly places Alpha Flight’s former whereabouts, as mentioned in the one-shot, as Alberta. It was a nice touch for writers Greg Pak and Fred van Lente to have Walter explain this in character as a brilliant scientist instead of having Amadeus Cho give us the technobabble again.

During the battle sequence with the Chaos King baddies, only Sasquatch and Guardian are shown, and only in three panels, which is a bit disappointing since Alpha Flight at the time of this battle consisted of eight members. Perhaps it was just too much to fit into the limited space of the panels with all the busy action of the battle and overwhelming number of characters in this issue, on top of having to actually wrap up the entire story line.

For those of you who keep score, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen the series penciler Koi Pham draw Sasquatch, but he does so in a markedly improved style over two previous versions in Mighty Avengers #21 and #23.

After the Chaos King is defeated, there’s an expository scene of “What just happened?”. Mac does the asking in two panels, but claims to be an actual “Rocket Scientist”, which frames him in an agreeably complimentary light as a genius, but isn’t technically right, as his background is more in petrochemicals and cybernetics than aerospace. However, since he has been in outer space at least once (OK, I won’t mention the Plodex thing from v3!), and it was an attempt to make the guy look good, I’ll give the writers a pass on this one.

It should be noted that up until this issue was published, it wasn’t known for sure whether or not the resurrections in the one-shot would be permanent or if the dead Alphans would wink out. This was explicitly stated as a known risk by the characters in the one-shot, and in a few interviews, neither Jim McCann nor any other writer confirmed there would be any more Alpha Flight beyond this issue. But, after Hercules re-sets the entire world back to how it was before, the resurrected members of Alpha Flight remain!

click here to show very big version of above panel

The resurrected members are confirmed as permanently resurrected in a quiet scene of post-hubbub solemnity on a beach at the base of the new Mount Olympus. There hasn’t been such an important turn of events in Alpha Flight history in a long time, and to add serious emphasis to the magnitude of the moment, none other than the very, very top Marvel A-List characters help out: Spider-Man, Iron Man and Captain America each take part. I get the sense that this formality was extended particularly as a nod to Alpha Flight fans to make up for the paltry and unceremonious way the unfortunate events of New Avengers #16 played out. The respectful gravitas of the scene isn’t lost on us, especially since other permanently resurrected characters from other parts of the Chaos War story line go unmentioned.

Unfortunately, this moment is imperfect – besides for not being a splash page featuring Alpha Flight in full, the panel has some outright mistakes. The issue still stands in the official category of “understated awesome”, but it’s fun to pick nits out of comics. First, there is a minor error in the speech bubbles. The dialogue from the previous panel reads:

Spidey: Hey, the big guy comes through. I always knew he would.
Iron Man: In more ways than one.
Captain America: How’s that?

The next line is uttered as Alpha Flight is shown on the beach: “Look who’s not dead anymore.” This ought to be uttered by Iron Man (or Spidey), but instead, the speech bubble comes from Cap, which makes no sense, as he wouldn’t be answering his own question.

Second, where’s Heather? Likely nearby, safe and sound, as Mac’s demeanor isn’t consistent with a fellow who has just lost his wife to a snarly chaos demon, but why the team would be shown this way with a pretty damn important member missing is not clear.

Third, the strange coloring in that panel, possibly caused by an odd spectrum from the sun at the horizon. Snowbird, a brunette now, is shown wearing a green cape, Marrina is wearing a red swimsuit, Iron Man (shown between Spidey and who I believe is Luke Cage) is completely miscolored, and Shaman… Shaman is shown wearing… I don’t know what… someone’s underwear? …outside of his costume? He should be drawn with just a belt!

The beach panel is the only appearance of Captain Underpants, Snowbird, Marrina and Northstar in the book. Aurora appears also, and again on the last page, seen from behind standing next to Mac as they face Mount Olympus.

Note: the cover to this issue was originally intended as the cover to the first issue of the series. Thanks to member -K-M- who points out an alternate, unpublished version of the cover:

click to enlarge

Alphans appear in X-Men: Curse of the Mutants Spotlight

January 6, 2011

X-Men: Curse of the Mutants Spotlight
Jan 2011

Note: This issue is unnumbered. The Marvel Spotlight series, a promotional series featuring artists and events since 2005, has not been numbered, but unofficial numbering by fans was possible as issues were released. Since this issue does not even retain the title “Marvel Spotlight”, it is difficult to place it in any numbered sequence in that series.

This oddly titled issue seems at first to be focused (like, oh I don’t know, a spotlight maybe?) on the vampiric Curse of the Mutants story line, with the event logo on the cover and reprinted elements from Paco Medina’s promotional poster for the event. However, once you open it, you’ll find it’s actually a spotlight on three simultaneous events from late 2010/early 2011: Curse of the Mutants, Shadowland and Chaos War. Alpha Flight appears in reprinted art from the Chaos War: Alpha Flight #1 cover.

Despite the fact that Mister Jeffries and Northstar, both members of the X-Men during the Curse of the Mutants story line, appeared in several of the event’s issues, they do not appear in the Curse of the Mutants portion of the book at all.

In the Chaos War portion of the book, a half-page interview with Jim McCann, writer of the Chaos War: Alpha Flight #1 one-shot, offers a saccharine but warmly loving account of the one-shot, which was released in the same week as this issue. Also included is a reproduction of the art from Salva Espin’s much criticized cover (note Northstar and Aurora’s reversed costumes, Northstar’s rounded ears, Shaman’s odd warpaint and Snowbird’s impossibly long cape). The interview by staff writer Dugan Trodglen can be seen in its entirety at Flightpath07’s blog: Canada’s Own – The Flight, along with a great review of the one-shot!

Alphans appear in DK’s Marvel Avengers: The Ultimate Character Guide

December 1, 2010

Marvel Avengers: The Ultimate Character Guide
Sep 2010

This hardcover collection of 208 single page character bios from DK is a bit below the typical quality seen recently of other Marvel books coming out of their shop. Unfortunately riddled with minor errors and bizarre omissions, its usefulness even to the younger crowd as its intended market (DK’s website says ages 8 – 17 years) is questionable. Less than favorable reviews of this book have mentioned creepy duplicate entries and disturbing missing children, but this post finds an “acceptable-yet-strange” opinion of the book from the standpoint of its Alpha Flight related material. Marrina appears in a 1pg entry, presumably as an honorary member of the Avengers. Puck appears in her entry, and Talisman appears in Arachne’s entry.

The format of the entries are all single pages, with a standardized layout: a main illustration, two side-bar style insets, a smaller portrait illustration and two main blurbs of text, one being a short character summary and the other a Vital Stats listing. On the bottom of the pages are power rankings from 1 to 7.

Marrina’s entry doesn’t contain any glaringly wrong information but does have a few odd things, one being that it doesn’t actually say she was a member of the Avengers! For the record, she was an honorary member from issues #286 to #293. Another odd thing is that it refers to Tom Smallwood as Thomas Smallwood. Of the three illustrations, only one, a side-bar, is taken from an Avengers issue (that being a portion of the cover to Avengers #292, showing her in Leviathan form). The other three are Byrne images of her as an Alpha Flight member (the main illustration shows her in the spirally-arm costume from Alpha Flight #15, the other side-bar illustration is a portion of the cover of Alpha Flight #15 which also shows Puck, and her portrait is an image of Marrina wearing a turtleneck in a reversed panel from Alpha Flight #1), all likely chosen for their canonical imagery rather than out of any sense of association with the Avengers. For those of you who keep track of these things, her Power Ranks are Energy Projection (3), Strength (4), Durability (4), Fighting Skill (4), Intelligence (4) and Speed (5), dubiously wild as compared to her recent Avengers Assemble entry, where her ranks seemed more consistent with her actual character.

Most of the entries end chronologically around the time of the Siege storyline, but Marrina’s actual story ended earlier in Dark Reign when the Sub-Mariner killed her mercifully in Dark Reign: The List – X-Men #1, so there’s no out-of-date info. Unfortunately, author Alan Coswill (the creator of the Classic Marvel Figurine Collection and DC Super Hero Collection for Eaglemoss Publications), uses a bit too much discretion when describing that issue, declining to mention that she was killed by being crushed to death in the unimaginable pressure of the ocean deep, her head severed from her monstrous body and tossed into Norman Osborne’s office. Instead it just mentions that she attacked the Sub-Mariner. Well, it is supposed to be a kid’s book!

Note that this book pre-dated the release of the Chaos War: Alpha Flight #1 issue by over two months, so no mention of Marrina’s re-appearance is expected.

The Arachne entry refers to events chronologically during or just after Omega Flight, as it incorrectly states, “Arachne is currently part of the Canadian Super Hero team known as Omega Flight.” In fact, each of the four illustrations are from that series, and boy is it nice to see that art again! One of the illustrations is part of the cover of issue #4, with the title block removed, featuring Talisman being tossed around by Piledriver. Omega Flight was disbanded quite some time before this book was published, so technically that info is outdated, but had the error not been made, it’s unlikely an image of Talisman would have been published!

Alpha Flight in Namor, The First Mutant #1

October 13, 2010

Namor, The First Mutant #1
Oct 2010

The first issue of Namor’s new ongoing series starts off squarely in the middle of the vampiric Curse of the Mutants storyline, and could be one of the numbered chapters if the series had them. Right off the bat, sharp-eyed readers will notice the title block taking its general shape from John Byrne’s Namor, The Sub-Mariner series from 1990. Unfortunately, no one from Alpha Flight appears in the main story of the book, but Jeffries does appear in the Intro page as a regular member of the X-Men Science team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505 and Marrina appears in flashback in two panels.

Since there’s no need to introduce readers to the main character (unless you’ve been under a rock or in a coma since 1939), Stuart Moore picks up the story right after the events of X-Men #2, where Cyclops unveiled his incredulous plan to resurrect Dracula by reattaching his severed head to his body, which was recently recovered in X-Men: Curse of the Mutants – Storm & Gambit #1. To introduce the general background of the Curse of the Mutants storyline and to show Namor’s current membership in the X-Men, a typical full intro page is used, containing narrative text and a portion of a two page team splash from X-Men #2. Here is part of that original panel:

Namor then obtains Dracula’s severed head.

After the main story is an eight page “Atlas File” as narrated by his cousin Namora from the Agents of Atlas, describing the major events in Namor’s life up to and including his membership in the X-Men. Extensive text and key panels depicting important moments fill in the reader with a well-written chronological story, including his brief romance and marriage to Marrina. Two interesting images accompany this text, one being a very nicely restored image from Fantastic Four #261 as Namor lifts Marrina from the roof of the Baxter building:

Note the miscolored light blue hair and miscolored dark blue costume – but don’t blame the artist in this issue – both were very clearly blue in the original comic. The detail of Marrina’s eyes and overall quality of the image has been very nicely restored, which says more about the poor quality of newsprint images and abysmal printing processes from 1983 than anything else. The art is by John Byrne, of course, who was in the middle of his famous Fantastic Four run at the time.

The second image is of Namor holding Marrina after he apparently killed her with the ebony blade:

Very sharp-eyed Alpha Flight fans know that this image is not from Avengers #293, the issue where those unfortunate events took place, but from Saga of the Sub-Mariner #12 – an incredible 12-issue summary of Namor’s life that puts this little eight page narrative to shame. That series contained new artwork based on original panels. In this case, the writer Kevin Garcia wanted to show Namor’ grief following Marrina’s apparent death and had a choice between the condensed version from Saga of the Sub-Mariner #12 and the original version from Avengers #293:

The single panel contains text combined from three panels of the original and is therefore the better choice of the two for this purpose.

Note: the single panel image shown above is from this issue, not the Saga of the Sub-Mariner #12, as distinguished by the modern coloring techniques but otherwise faithfully reproduced.

Note: there is a variant cover by Joe Quesada, Danny Miki and Richard Isanove, along with a rare sketch variant. There is also a second printing variant which is really a sketch variant of the orginal cover by Jae Lee and June Chung.

Namor, The First Mutant #1 – Quesada variant
Namor, The First Mutant #1 – Quesada sketch variant
Namor, The First Mutant #1 – second printing variant

Marrina gets a modern-era Handbook entry

June 28, 2010

Avengers Assemble #1
Jul 2010

This one-shot is an OHOTMU-style handbook published to coincide with Avengers-oriented events in the Marvel Universe, notably the end of Siege and the beginning of the Heroic Age story lines. Published just at the tail end of the incredible run of A-Z Hardcovers and during its subsequent A-Z Update miniseries, many entries are brand new or update recent developments to mainstream characters. Marrina, who served as a honorary Avenger, has a two page entry and appears on the cover.

What is notable about this entry is that unlike all of the other members of Alpha Flight, and some Beta Flight members, Marrina had not had an entry in the modern-era (2004 and newer) handbooks. She did have previous entries in the original OHOTMU series in 1983, the Deluxe Edition in 1986, the Master Edition in 1992 and the X-Men Encyclopedia in 2003, so it was expected that she’d have her own entry in the modern versions, but she hadn’t. Of course, not much was happening on the Marrina front since a single panel cameo in 1998 (Avengers v3 #47), so it’s somewhat understandable.

The main illustration is the same classic Marrina pose first seen in the first OHOTMU entry from 1983 and re-used again in the Deluxe Edition and X-Men Encyclopedia. You’d think we could get a new image every 27 years or so! But, while Gus Vasquez has been busy drawing lots of new images for this and other recent handbooks, such as Manbot’s recent entry, this image is so complete that no new illustration was warranted. Note that the costume is incorrectly colored blue in the image, but correctly shown as green everywhere else.

Other illustrations are the same as seen in the 1986 Deluxe Edition with one additional image of her floating in the Master’s tank from Avengers v3 #47 (2001) and two additional images of her in Leviathan form, one from Avengers #293 (1988) and the other from Dark X-Men: The List #1 (2009).

This entry does have some new information, notably the location of her hatching pinned down to Lady Cove, Random Island, Newfoundland. Where this came from is a mystery to Alpha Flight Collector, but it makes sense and fits in with her origin as told by Mac in Alpha Flight #2. Also, her stats have been corrected: previous entries mentioned an erroneous top speed of 51 knots while it ought to have been 900 knots.

Strange omissions from this entry are her encounters with the Collector in Marvel Team-Up Annual #7, which was mentioned in her OHOTMU: Deluxe Edition entry, its quick sequel in Power Pack #’s 9 and 10 and the troubling encounter with the Dire Wraiths in ROM #56-58. Seeing as how Marrina really hasn’t appeared in that many issues, dropping these 6 issues is rather noticeable. None are critical to her entry but could have easily fit in the space. Also, there is an unfortunate error in the text quoting Llan as uttering the soporific “sleeping a false sleep under the waves” which should be the hope-inspiring “sleeping a false death under the waves.”

For those of you who keep track of these sorts of things, her stats have changed since Marvel Encyclopedia Vol. 2: X-Men: Intelligence (2) is now (3), Speed (2) is now (4), and Fighting Skills (2) is now (3). So, between 2003 and 2010 she got smarter, faster, and mad skillz. Her Leviathan form stats are also included, bringing her Intelligence from 3 to 1, Speed and Strength to 7, Durability from 3 to 6 and the eye blasts increase her Energy Projection from 1 to 5.

Inset from the cover

The cover art by Mike McKone and Morry Hollowell shows Marrina wearing her spirally arm costume. This costume, a more demure version of her sporty one-piece, debuted in Alpha Flight #14, and didn’t last long, turning out to be rather impractical. Also seen is the decorative choker she wore to replace the Alpha-signal necklace. You can tell they did their research on this one, and it’s a nice touch that they picked the classier version of her costume for the cover art.

You think I’m obsessed…? Okay, okay, a little, but this is ridiculous!

June 21, 2010

Obsessed with Marvel
Jun 2010

This fun little hardcover book from Chronicle has an incredible 2,500 trivia questions related to Marvel comics. The book itself is 8 1/4 inches square by 1 3/8 inches thick, a nice compact size. On the lower right corner is a little beepy electronic computer module (thankfully you can turn the sound off!) where you can enter your guesses to the multiple choice questions. It keeps score in 1 or 2 player mode, and it can pick numbered questions at random out of the book for you or allow you to enter a question by number. Interestingly, there is no answer key printed in the book, so if you want to know the answer, you have to use the little computer. Because the electronic module needs to be accessible for all questions, the pages are die-cut around it, a clever design.

The questions are written by arguably one of the greatest Marvel Comics experts there is: Peter Sanderson, whose expertise lends credibility to the project. There are separate sections for the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, The Avengers, X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, Marvel Knights, Horror Heroes, Cosmic Characters and Marvel Time (a catch-all category). Each 2 page spread has a central illustration on the right page and accompanying text on the left, so it’s much more than just 2500 trivia questions in a row. The illustrations are printed in a sepia tone and are either comic covers, classic panels or promo pieces.

In the Avengers section, the cover for West Coast Avengers #1 appears for question #851, featuring Puck’s head on the cover. In the X-Men section, Alpha Flight gets its own page! The cover for Alpha Flight #1 appears for question #1195, with accompanying text about John Byrne, the creation of Alpha Flight, and the following trivia question:

Who was not a member of Alpha Flight when the team first appeared?
A. Shaman
B. Snowbird
C. Sasquatch
D. Puck

There are six other questions related to Alpha Flight in the book, none of which are any harder than that one, but still very fun to read. Not surprisingly, Alpha Flight Collector got all of them right, but was infuriatingly stumped on too many of the 2,493 non-Alpha Flight related questions to admit my score.