Posts Tagged ‘Murmur’

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 PĂ©rez 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.

Advertisements

Alphans in Fear Itself: Fellowship of Fear #1

April 2, 2012

Fear Itself: Fellowship of Fear #1
Oct 2011

Part of the Official Handbook series, this book contains both a “Saga” portion and regular handbook entries that blend together to tell the backstory of the massive Fear Itself storyline. The first portion of the book, roughly akin to a “Fear Itself Saga”, is narrated by the Fear Lord D’Spayre and tells the story of recent events in the Marvel Universe. No, you won’t find the harmless 1980s-era funtime battle-o-rama like the Contest of Champions, or Spidey getting his new costume in Secret Wars, nah – this is all about widespread damage, high body counts and all-around devastation. The second portion consists of handbook-style entries for various dreadful characters and terrifying events in the Marvel Universe. Murmur and Radius appear in the Saga portion of the book and several members of Alpha Flight (Vindicator, Shaman, Snowbird, Sasquatch and Marrina) appear in one of the entries. Additionally, the Dreamqueen has a one page entry.

Wait – the Dreamqueen wasn’t in Fear Itself! Well, some of the events mentioned in the Saga portion and many of the entries in the handbook portion are not directly related to the Fear Itself storyline, but they do fit with the theme “all things frightening!” quite nicely, so it’s all good. For those of you who keep track of these sorts of things, she had an entry in the OHOTMU ’89 update (issue #2) and one in the OHOTMU Master Edition in 1993 (issue #28), but this one is completely re-written in the modern style – it even refers to Laura Dean as Pathway!

In the Saga portion of the book, D’Spayre gleefully recounts events in the Marvel Universe from the perspective of how frightening it must have been for the characters. For instance, The House of M storyline, which wasn’t exactly in the horror category and likely didn’t frighten any readers (who were too busy trying to figure out who was left powered and depowered in its aftermath), is described chillingly:

Millions upon millions of beings were left powerless, their very identities torn to shreds, terrified to be left vulnerable and weak in a threatening world.

Creepy, and well-done. The accompanying image for this text is taken from the array of depowered mutants as depicted in a two-page splash from New Avengers #18. The actual image shown is the modified version from the House of M entry in the Blockbusters of the Marvel Universe #1 handbook, as can be seen by the slightly rotated image [to better fit the grid into the small horizontal space]. The four Alphans shown in that array are Murmur, Radius, Wild Child and Windshear, but in this cropped image, only Murmur and the very top of Radius’ hair can be seen.

The Alphans have been highlighted in red below. Look for Radius’ hair in the extreme lower right corner of the image. For a larger version of the original and for more info on that panel and its importance to Alpha Flight, please click on the link above to the post for Blockbusters of the Marvel Universe #1.

In a new two-page entry for the Chaos War event, one of the inset illustrations is a miniaturized version of a splash page taken from the Chaos War: Alpha Flight #1 one-shot showing five members of Alpha Flight watching the battle with the Great Beasts just as Walter revealed the corrupt bargain he had made with them. There is also a very well-written account of the events of that issue as well as some other mentions of the Alpha Flight resurrections in Chaos War #5 and the team’s current status.

Just in case you wanted to see Heather’s butt, here is an inset from the original page showing each of the characters in greater detail:

Oh and since this a is a blog about collecting comics, I’d like to take this opportunity to mention where I picked up my copy of this issue: Coliseum of Comics in Kissimmee, FL, while on vacation with my trusty sidekick.

It’s one of the best (and largest) comic shops I’ve been in with a great staff, a great selection and best of all, free parking! So if you’re ever in the Orlando/Disney area, make sure to stop by and check it out!

Depowered Alphans appear in Blockbusters of the Marvel Universe #1

February 15, 2011

Blockbusters of the Marvel Universe #1
Mar 2011

While nearly all entries in the modern style OHOTMU books have been based around a single character, a few entries have been based around something more abstract instead, for example: teams, locations, races, equipment, pantheons and alternate universes, to name a few. Similar to the concept of the two-issue Marvel Atlas series that consisted entirely of location-based entries, this Blockbusters issue consists entirely of “Events” in the Marvel Universe. I put this in quotes because there is no hard and fast definition of what an “Event” is – sometimes it’s a crossover, sometimes a limited series and other times, just an involved story arc. Murmur, Radius, Wild Child and Windshear appear in the 2pg entry for the House of M/M-Day event.

Although Alpha Flight members have participated in many of the Marvel “Events” since 1982, fans are reminded in this book how limited their inclusion has been as a team. The most extensive involvement of Alpha Flight as a team in an “Event” was in the Infinity War/Infinity Crusade crossovers in the early 1990s, when volume 1 was still an actively published ongoing. Other “Events” to note would be the Contest of Champions (1982), Secret Wars II (1985), the Crossing Line arc with the Avengers (1990), Collective (2006) and of course Chaos War (2010). Despite all these issues and all the cameos, Alpha Flight made it into only one entry out of thirty-nine in this book, and only as very tiny cameos of minor characters, a disappointing but not surprising outcome.

The entries in this issue have a standard format that includes four sections: History, which is the main narrative of the event; Key Participants; Key Chronicle, which lists the major issues of the event; and a fascinating section called Legacy, where the impact of the event is explained in context within the larger Marvel Universe. The Legacy section of the House of M/M-Day event entry is largely concerned with the mass depowering of mutants and naturally spills a bit into the Collective event, which doesn’t have an entry of its own. An illustration taken from a splash page in New Avengers #18 (2006) shows an array of depowered mutants whose energy signature showed up in the Collective.

This image was, at the time, extremely important to determine the status of dozens of minor characters that hadn’t been explicitly shown as powered or depowered on M-Day, and it even included a partial listing of characters on the screens as a quasi-checklist. The four Alpha Flight members shown (along with their row,column coordinates from the top left) were:

  • Murmur (4th row, 6th column) – who hadn’t been heard from since Wolverine #142 (1999)
  • Radius (5,8) – who we all thought had been killed by Avalanche in Uncanny X-Men #405 (2002), revealed in this issue to be alive!
  • Wild Child (7,6) – whose appearance at the time was his “gray gargoyle” look and was still a member of Weapon X
  • Windshear (7,9) – who we knew had quit the superhero business when last seen in Thunderbolts #43 (2000)

For those of you unable to figure out the coordinate system I tried to use, here is a much enlarged version of the original panel with the Alphans highlighted:

The actual illustration shown in this issue is cropped just across Wild Child’s face (poor Kyle!), and slightly rotated. For the truly insane: in the original, the top edge of the top row is aligned horizontally, while in the reprinted illustration (above), an attempt is made to align one of the middle rows along the horizontal, resulting in a better fit into a rectangular inset.

Even after the original panel appeared in 2006, the status of many other Alpha Flight mutants stood unknown. Many were revealed subsequently as powered or depowered, and some remain unknown to this day. Since you’re all wondering, here is a reckoning of the status of Alpha Flight’s mutants since the House of M/M-Day event:

Retained powers after M-Day: Northstar
Aurora
Madison Jeffries
Diamond Lil (subsequently killed)
Persuasion
Puck (Zuzha – subsequently killed)
Depowered on M-Day: Flex
Murmur
Radius
Wild Child (subsequently killed)
Windshear
Unknown status after M-Day: Centennial (subsequently deceased)
Feedback
Flashback
Ghost Girl
Goblyn
Pathway
Manikin
Stitch
Wyre

Murmur gets an OHOTMU entry!

October 4, 2010

Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Update #3
Oct 2010

This five-issue OHOTMU Update series updates the fourteen-issue A-Z Hardcover series from 2008-2010, covering additional entries that didn’t make it in the first time around. There was a similar “update” series in 2007 that served the same purpose, so be careful when collecting that you get the right one. Murmur appears in a 1/2 page entry.

This is a significant entry for Alpha Flight fans because Murmur had not had her own entry in any other OHOTMU book. Strangely, her teammates Radius and Flex did get 1/2 page entries in recent books, so this fills out a noticable gap – a situation similar to Manbot’s recent entry in issue #1 of this series. Note that at the beginning of Alpha Flight volume 2, Murmur was a full member of Alpha Flight, so this omission has been glaring for quite a while.

Murmur did have a small 1/3 page entry in the Marvel Encyclopedia Vol. 2: X-Men book, which had a different format from the official books. For those of you who keep track of these sorts of things, her stats have changed since that entry: Intelligence (2) is now (3), Strength (2) is also now (3), Energy Projection (2) is now (1/2) – [(1) due to her depowering, (2) before depowerment], Fighting Skills (3) is now (1), and her height of 5’8″ is now 5’6″, while her weight went from 134lbs to 130lbs. So she got smarter, stronger, depowered, shorter and lost some weight. Another change is that her listed powers no longer include teleportation – no surprise since it wasn’t exactly clear if she had the ability to teleport others in the first place.

Like Manbot in issue #1, Murmur gets a brand new illustration by Gus Vazquez – the first new image of Murmur since Wolverine #142 (Sep 1999). Since new illustrations are fairly rare in these books, this is also a nice treat for Alpha Flight fans.