Posts Tagged ‘Talisman’

Alpha Flight in History of the Marvel Universe #1

June 4, 2012

History of the Marvel Universe #1
Jan 2012

There’s just no way to condense the entire history of the Marvel Universe into a single 48pg book, but this attempt is actually a pretty good try. Narrated by The Watcher, events from the Golden Age (1940s) up to Spider Island (2011) are summarized into short descriptive paragraphs, approximately three per page, accompanied by iconic images to bring life to just about every corner of the Marvel Universe that can fit into a single volume. Despite the movie-centric characters depicted on the cover which hints at a fairly mainstream theme, the writers made some unusual choices in this book, as noted in this good review of the issue. The inside back cover of the book has an useful and extensive reference guide to link the narrative paragraphs to trade paperbacks and hardcover collections so readers can find the full story. In reprinted artwork from various issues, several Alpha Flight members appear.

Because there’s so much information to fit in to such little space, the writers just didn’t have the luxury of including everything. The most notable omission is that which was so notably included in Marvel Saga #1 (Dec 1985) – the origin of Alpha Flight as an idea germinated in Mac’s head after reading about the Fantastic Four in the newspaper. It really would have been nice to include that but Alpha Flight Collector can’t complain – we got a full reproduction of the first on-panel appearance of Alpha Flight in Uncanny X-Men #121!

Founded by the Canadian government’s Department H and led by Vindicator (later Guardian), Alpha Flight included the massive Sasquatch, mystic Shaman, Inuit goddess Snowbird, and super-speedster twins Aurora and Northstar. The team’s first contact with the X-Men occurred when Alpha Flight was ordered to bring Wolverine back to Canada; after hostilities ended, the two squads became allies. Despite soon being disbanded, Alpha Flight continued as an independent group and became allies of other worldwide heroes.

Other appearances in this book include:

  • A splash page from Contest of Champions #1 featuring Sasquatch as a member of The Grandmaster’s team
  • A cropped version of the trifold cover of Infinity War #4, featuring Sasquatch’s doppelgänger and Sasquatch, who is unfortunately obscured by an overlapping semi-transparent text box
  • A splash page from Infinity Crusade #1 featuring Windshear, Sasquatch, Puck and Talisman answering The Goddess’ call to service, without the word “YES!”, a bizarre omission
  • Art taken from the cover of X-Men: Alpha (Note: the original cover for X-Men: Alpha is foil stamped; the artwork reproduced in this issue is flat like the 2nd printing cover) featuring Age of Apocalypse Wild Child
  • A panel taken from Avengers Forever #12 featuring Sasquatch from an alternate timeline in which he was a member of the Avengers

Overall, a fairly good showing for Alpha Flight and just about what was expected, but for fans who really want to learn about the history of the Marvel Universe, consider the Blockbusters of the Marvel Universe #1 handbook instead, which has full pages of extensively detailed text instead of quick blurby descriptions.

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

May 4, 2012

Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z TPB #1
2011

Note: no month of publication is indicated, with the exception of manufacturing date range of 8/25/11 to 9/13/11. The issue was released on 9/28/11. Other issues released on that date carry a publication date of Nov 2011.

The first volume of the amazing fourteen volume Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Premiere Hardcover series is reprinted in trade paperback with all 240 original pages reproduced and, true to the principle of releasing timely information, sixteen additional pages of updates for selected entries. Some minor corrections and additions are found, but for the most part the original 240 pages are reprinted in their entirety. The first issue of this series has every single Alpha Flight member featured in a 3pg entry for the team, Aurora (who appears on the cover) has a 2pg entry and Marrina appears in the Avengers entry. Additionally, Alpha Flight has an extensive update in the appendix, again featuring every single Alpha Flight member. Aurora has a small update as well and there’s also a tiny Northstar appearance in Angel (Worthington)’s update.

Since this book reprints a great deal of material already printed, only the changes and updates are noted.

The Nemeses: Isabel St. Ives (top), Jane Thorne (center), Amelia Weatherly (bottom)In the Alpha Flight team entry, the major change is that the three Nemeses are distinguished from one another. The first Nemesis from Alpha Flight v1 #8, who was never a member of the team, is identified as Ernest St. Ives’ daughter, Isabel St. Ives. The second Nemesis from Alpha Flight #76, who started out in the Canadian Government-sponsored Gamma Flight team is given the name Jane Thorne (no relation to Alec Thorne / Smart Alec of Gamma Flight). The third Nemesis from Alpha Flight volume 3 we already knew to be Amelia Weatherly. It had been a question for many years whether or not the first two Nemeses were the same, and the third Nemesis only made it more confusing, so this clarification puts a very old controversy to rest. This is technically a contradiction to previous handbooks, but can be resolved if one perceives Nemesis to be an embodiment that can be passed from one successor to another.

There are a few changes in the text:

In the “Members:” section, Nemesis (Jane Thorne) is added to the list of members. Also, the awful typographical error in that section misspelling Langkowski has been corrected.

In the body of the entry, it now notes that Wild Child was a member of First Flight, as seen when Wolverine had to break up the encounter with Stitch as depicted in the flashback in Alpha Flight #127. The chronology of that flashback had never been pinned down, and was somewhat confusing because Wild Child didn’t appear in the Alpha Flight Special with First Flight. The text regarding the early formation of Gamma Flight is changed from saying that Diamond Lil, Madison Jeffries and Wild Child joined Smart Alec in Gamma Flight to indicate Diamond Lil and Jeffries joined Wild Child and Smart Alec (who were both already in Gamma Flight).

A very good correction: the word “ironically” has been removed from the description of Pestilence’s attack in Alpha Flight #37. The previous sentence bizarrely read:

Crozier possessed the newborn demigod, became Pestilence and ironically stripped Elizabeth of the Talisman coronet…

Alanis Morissette does not approve.
It is ironic. Isn’t it?

And there are some very minor changes: the spelling of Quwrlln has been corrected from Qwrlln and the Hudson’s daughter has been properly identified as Claire, who had been named recently. When the hardcover version was originally published in 2008, she had been unnamed. This tpb was published during the 2011-2012 Alpha Flight volume 4 run, where her name had been revealed.

The illustrations in the Alpha Flight team entry are the same as in the hardcover, but the volume 3 team illustration now identifies the v3 Nemesis as “Nemesis (Weatherly)” in the caption.

The Aurora entry is reproduced in its entirety from the original, with a very good correction to properly credit the artwork of the twins from the X-Men Annual #1 (2007) to Mark Brooks, not Clayton Henry. Unfortunately, the notation of Aurora’s membership in the X-Men which was included in the 2010 Women of Marvel: Celebrating Seven Decades Handbook, which was also a reprint of the same hardcover entry, was not included but clearly should have been.

The massive Avengers entry, with respect to Marrina’s inclusion in the montage of headshots and a reprinted George Pérez poster is unchanged from the hardcover version.

Solicited cover art by Tom Grummett for Alpha Flight v4 #6In the update section, Alpha Flight gets nearly a full page of update, which is fairly significant seeing as how there are only 16 pages to update all of the other 240 pages worth of entries! The main entry ended just at the formation of Omega Flight, and the update fills in with an excellent brief recap of events since, up to and including issue #4 of Alpha Flight volume 4. Included is a small reproduction of the cover art by Tom Grummett for issue #6 with the caption “Current Roster”, which interestingly, does not include Vindicator (Heather). That image had recently been released as the solicited cover, and wouldn’t be printed until November 23rd, 2011.

There is also a giant grid of headshots of everyone in Alpha Flight. In the main entry, the v1, v2 and v3 teams each had a large illustration with small headshot insets but in the update, everyone gets a headshot. With the exception of a few members (Auric, Earthmover, Ouija, and Flinch), all of the images are updated and/or better versions of the ones shown in the main entry, but even for the guys who didn’t get an updated image, the size is increased so overall the image is improved from the original. The only criticism is that the headshot for Northstar is taken from the cover art of Chaos War: Alpha Flight #1, where Salva Espin drew Northstar with rounded ears. Interestingly, they are arranged in join order, and there’s a massive caption below indexing the issues when each member joined which Flight – an incredibly dense info dump that shows an insane level of detail.

Following that is a paragraph of text and an illustration for Alpha Prime, the Savage Land superhero team from Alpha Flight Annual #2. There was a minor comment and an illustration for Alpha Prime in the Savage Land entry in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Premiere Hardcover #10, but these expanded remarks are much more substantial and now properly placed with Alpha Flight team information.

Aurora has a small update as well, just a paragraph with no illustration, describing her activities following the events mentioned in the main entry which ended at her restoration to sanity in X-Men Annual #1 (2007). This includes the little appearance in Uncanny X-Men #508 as COO (Chief Operating Officer) of Team Northstar Extreme Snowsports (the update indicates she had been promoted sometime off-panel to joint CEO – Chief Executive Officer), joining up with the X-Men in X-Men: Secret Invasion #2, rejecting Osborn’s offer in Dark X-Men: The Beginning #3, re-joining the team in Chaos War: Alpha Flight #1 and subsequent events in Alpha Flight volume 4.

In Angel (Worthington)’s update, Northstar can be seen very tiny in a small illustration from Uncanny X-Men #533 just after the de facto X-Men team defeated Lobe’s squad of baddies on the rooftop. Here is a much larger image taken from the original issue.

Note: the cover for this issue is identical to the hardcover, with a slightly different spine and a small note on the back cover that updates are included. Tom Grummett’s Aurora on the cover is very tiny and has a minor error in her costume. In a highly magnified image we see that he drew the asymmetrical starburst over her right boob instead of her left hip.

Jesus, can you go ONE post without mentioning Aurora’s boobs?

Unfortunately, Marvel has canceled the remainder of the trade paperback reprints at issue #5. Sadly, we won’t see updates for all of the original fourteen volumes. Also, since no new OHOTMU books are scheduled for any time in the future, this could be the last printed entry for Alpha Flight we see for a very long time. It was already an excellent entry, and with the corrections, changes and updates, it’s simply the perfect ending to a great run.

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!

Captain America comments on Alpha Flight members in Heroic Age: Heroes #1

October 28, 2010

Heroic Age: Heroes #1
Nov 2010

Note: Despite the really big “Super Heroes” title on the cover, the inidicia drops the “Super”, and just leaves “Heroes”. A counterpart issue, “Villians” is solicited at the end, so it makes sense.

This files-type handbook as narrated by Captain America, who recently took over as official head honcho of all superheroes, contains 64 pages of entries in the form of note cards for various heroic characters and teams in the Marvel Universe. Written from the standpoint of a New Age “moment of clarity” as explained in the trippy introductory page, it gives a brief summary of each character, along with an comment about how the character could or couldn’t be used as a potential ally or Avenger. Aurora, Northstar, Sasquatch, Snowbird and Talisman have 1/3pg entries.

The format of the entries is a small inset picture, usually a head shot, then a listing of “Affiliations” and “Status” followed by a short set of comments. Pros and Cons are listed for each entry right above a Power Grid, a bizarre new power rating system based on heroic attributes (altruism, conscience, courage, etc.). Since most of the heroes are pretty much good guys, they all score 8s, 9s and 10s, with the exception of a few oddballs. The writers pulled off an excellent job with these entries, having only a few paragraphs to summarize entire characters, give recent info and Cap’s opinion about their suitability to join forces with him. You can tell they had a lot of fun with this one, as some of the “Cons” listed for certain characters are snarkily honest as described previously.

Each of the entries for Alpha Flight are very nicely done, factually correct, well-balanced, and sounding likely what Steve Rogers might say about them. One particularly amusing detail is in Aurora’s entry, where one of her Cons is:

usually operates under jurisdiction of the Canadian government

which at first might just be a comment on how she is outside of Captain America’s jurisdiction, until you look at what it says for other foreign nationals:

operates under jurisdiction of a foreign government

and no other foreign nationals have their country named in this manner, as if to say that working with the Canadian government is a singularly vexing Con.

Northstar’s entry has an inset image taken from the same panel of the X-Men Annual (2007) as Aurora’s, and Cap flat out says he could make a “very talented Avenger” which is an interesting comment, but unlikely to happen any time soon.

Sasquatch’s entry has an inset image taken from the cover of Alpha Flight v3 #10 and also suggests that Captain America will be “reaching out to [him] as a potential ally”, but how and where this would occur isn’t known. Strangely, he doesn’t mention “Walter Langkowski” by name, which is just as good because it would likely be misspelled, anyway.

Snowbird’s entry has an inset image taken from her 8pp story in Marvel Heartbreakers #1 and reveals more explicitly about the ending of her second marriage, mentioning the unfortunate events of New Avengers #16 where several Alphans were killed, “the stress of which caused her marriage to self-proclaimed demigod Yukon Jack to fall apart.”

Talisman’s entry has an inset image taken from the cover of Omega Flight #1 and makes a particular point to refer to her tribe as Tsuu T’ina, but also as Sarcee, the deprecated Blackfoot term. Unfortunately, her power is only listed as 8/10, which really ought to be higher if Captain America had more experience working with her.

The individual Alpha Flight members listed have had less association with the Avengers than some others, and most all of them are dead: Gary Cody from Avengers #249; Roger Bochs from Avengers #272; Marrina from Avengers #282-293; Puck, Heather, Diamond Lil and Shaman from Avengers #320-324; all dead! Notably missing from this issue is Madison Jeffries who appeared in the Crossing Line story arc in the Box armor. Why Aurora and Northstar were listed but not Jeffries is puzzling, as Jeffries has had about the same interaction with the Avengers as the twins, and they were all active X-Men members at the time of publication. Otherwise, five surviving members of Alpha Flight did make it onto Captain America’s radar, a very nice showing in an enjoyable handbook.

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)

Talisman cameo in Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural #5

March 28, 2010

Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural #5
Apr 2010

The breakout series to introduce the new Sorcerer Supreme closed out early with this issue. Originally solicited as an ongoing, the series only included one story arc, which concluded with a satisfying victory for Doctor Voodoo and for the creative team who brought us this incredible miniseries. Talisman appears as a member of Nightmare’s dark army in one panel, having been seen previously in a very tiny cameo in issue #4.

Before bopping him in the nose and sending him back to Latveria, Voodoo had temporarily teamed up with Doctor Doom, battling an un-real army in an un-real world ruled by Nightmare. Picking up powerhouse magic-users along the way, his evil army fell before the mighty duo. Talisman appears on a splash page showing part of the huge battle. It’s a bit hard to understand how Talisman could lose to Doctors Voodoo and Doom, as she could easily overpower the two, especially in the presence of so much other magic energies. However, this wasn’t the real Talisman but an un-real version plucked from someone’s nightmare.

As can be clearly seen, she’s in her Omega Flight costume along with Shaman’s pouch on her right hip. The presence of that pouch is the clue that this appearance is not in continuity, as the original pouch was sealed up and brought into the Realm of the Great Beasts by Beta Ray Bill in Omega Flight #5.

Talisman cameo in Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural #4

March 27, 2010

Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural #4
Mar 2010

Just as Omega Flight was turned into a 5-issue mini within moments of being announced as an ongoing, this excellent series shared the same shameful fate. Shameful on whoever made those decisions, not on the creative team, who deserve praise for putting together an enjoyable, visually stunning and well-rounded series. In this introductory story arc for the new Sorcerer Supreme, Talisman appears very tiny in a brief cameo in one panel.

When the search was on to replace Strange as the new Sorcerer Supreme, it was very disappointing that Talisman wasn’t even in the running. The candidates involved were all incredibly strong users of magic and Elizabeth ought to have been included, as depicted on the cover of New Avengers #51 where the field was originally shown. Apparently, other factors than ability, skill, talent, raw power and innate relationship to magic were in play.

In this series, Doctor Voodoo battles Nightmare, the ruler of a dream-based dimension, who recruits magically-themed heroes, villains and others to battle against the new Sorcerer Supreme and Doctor Doom. Talisman is one of these, and she can be see in one panel as a member of Nightmare’s green-eyed dark army, just above Ghost Rider, flying boobs-first into battle. She’s just a few splotches of color, so small that it was generally overlooked until issue #5 came out and a more substantial illustration of her in her Omega Flight costume confirmed her presence in the dream battle. Note that this is an un-real appearance in Nightmare’s conjured world, and not in continuity.

For many fans who knew Brother Voodoo as a Fred Hembeck joke character, his choice to be the new Sorcerer Supreme was shocking, and many fans could not believe this series could undo that deep-seated impression. Congratulations to Rick Remender and artists Jefte Palo, Alessandro Viti and Jean-Francois Beaulieu for pulling it off!

I still don’t understand how her costume stays on.

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.

FUNday is Awful this week!

October 19, 2009

funday
It’s Monday, and you know what that means. Yes, it’s FUNday! This week’s installment of FUNday at Alpha Flight Collector is probably the most extensive parody ever of Alpha Flight:

pporker6coverPeter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham #6
Mar 1986

In what might be the grandaddy of all Alpha Flight parodies, the 2nd story of this issue is Awful Flight, a 5 page deconstruction of the team with absolutely no mercy.  Combining just about every Canadian stereotype with Alpha Flight as goofy animals wearing red plaid lumberjack ear flap hats results in a ridiculous romp.  The story starts out with Snow-Youse waking from a dream sequence on Walrus Lamebrainski’s couch.  Deciding her dream is a result of an acid-rain flashback, which angers Lamebrainski so much that he transforms into Summersquash, they team up with Aroma, Trinket (Elizabeth Twodeadanimals) and Hockeypuck to invade the USA to take care of the acid-rain problem.  Before they get far, Hockeypuck finds a US dollar bill, prompting them to abandon their mission and spend their newfound riches on root beer instead.

pporker6cThe story dates itself with certain jokes that wouldn’t make any sense today.  The issue of acid rain was high on the environmental agenda back then, but has fallen deeply by the wayside as the issue of climate change takes the center stage in modern times.  Additionally, the exchange rate between the Canadian and US dollar, which was on a horrible downward trend for some 10 years between 1976 and 1986, reaching appx $0.70 USD for $1 CDN, is far more favorable to Canadians today, reaching parity with the US dollar in 2007 and as of the date of this post, nearly equal to it ($0.9715 USD = $1 CDN).

Awful Flight (l-r: Trinket, Aroma, Hockeypuck, Snow-Youse, Summersquash)

Awful Flight (l-r: Trinket, Aroma, Hockeypuck, Snow-Youse, Summersquash)

You have to wonder what type of audience this parody was intended for.  The story was published in Marvel’s Star Comics imprint, a line intended for kids with titles such as Care Bears, Muppet Babies and Strawberry Shortcake.  When Snow-Youse wakes up, she asks, “Howcum Awful Flight members are always winding up at each others’ houses with no idea of how we got there?” amidst a littered floor strewn with beer bottles.  What sort of kids comic is this?

What sort of kids comic is this?

What sort of kids comic is this?

Note: Creators for this story are w-Steve Skeates  and a-Steve Mellor, neither of which are Canadian

Note: For those of you who keep track of these sorts of things, this story exists in the universe designated Earth-8311, the Larval Earth. The team image above appeared in the OHOTMU A-Z Hardcover #6 in the Larval Earth entry.

Note: the heroes Cardigan and Nerdstar are mentioned but are not shown, eh?

Note: this Awful Flight is not related to another, even more extensive 8pp parody of Alpha Flight, also called Awful Flight (What The-!? #7), but that’s a matter for another FUNday.

Note: a miscolored version of Walrus Lamebrainski transforming into Summersquash appears in the letters column of this issue.

Note: if you have gotten this far and haven’t figured it out yet: Snow-Youse is a Snowbird parody of an unidentifiable animal, Summersquash (Walrus Lamebrainski) is a walrus Sasquatch (Walter Langkowski), Aroma is a skunk Aurora, Hockeypuck is a beaver Puck, Trinket (Elizabeth Twodeadanimals) is a rabbit Talisman (Elizabeth Twoyoungmen), Cardigan was Guardian and Nerdstar was Northstar. Also, you fail FUNday this week.