Posts Tagged ‘Vindicator (Heather)’

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.

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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!

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!

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!

Women of Marvel: Celebrating Seven Decades Handbook

September 30, 2010

Women of Marvel: Celebrating Seven Decades Handbook
2010

No issue number nor month of publication is indicated except for its manufacturing date between 6/25/10 and 7/14/10. It was released on 7/28/10, when other books were marked with a Sep 2010 cover date.

As part of the Women of Marvel series, and Marvel’s 70th Anniversary, this 240pp tpb is really a collection of reprinted OHOTMU (Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe) entries of various Marvel women, with some minor corrections, updates and modifications. For nearly all of the entries, the original text and illustrations are copied almost exactly from the OHOTMU A-Z Hardcovers published in 2008-2010. A few key characters have their entries updated, but still only slightly. Alpha Flight Collector doesn’t usually post about trade paperback reprints, but since this a collection, not a straight-up reprint, and there are some changes, albeit very minor, an exception was made. Aurora, Snowbird and Vindicator (Heather) have their entries reprinted from that series, with very minor modifications. Additionally, Northstar, Puck, Sasquatch and Windshear (none of whom are currently Women of Marvel), appear in part or whole in illustrations within these entries.

Aurora’s 2pg entry is identical to the one in the Hardcover series issue #1, with the exception of listing her membership in the X-Men, as revealed in issue #13 of the Hardcovers in the X-Men entry. The only news on the Aurora front since the original entry was published in 2008 was her participation in Secret Invasion and her current status as COO of Northstar’s company, but neither of those are mentioned. Like the previous entry in issue #1, Northstar, Puck and Windshear appear in the illustrations; Northstar from X-Men Annual #1 (2007), part of Puck’s arm from the opening splash page of Alpha Flight #39 and Windshear’s right leg from the cover of Alpha Flight #95.

Snowbird’s 2pg entry is identical to the one in the Hardcover series #10, with the exception of a slight rearrangement of the main illustration and an inset picture. Since that entry, Snowbird had a fairly major appearance in Marvel Heartbreakers #1, but no mention of that was made. Like the previous entry from issue #10, Sasquatch appears an oddly pink colored illustration from Alpha Flight #23

Vindicator’s entry is identical to the one in the Hardcover series #12, with no exception. She’s been dead since then, so we wouldn’t expect any new info. Like the previous entry from that issue, part of Northstar’s back and Sasquatch’s right shoulder appear in an illustration from the battle armor panel from Uncanny X-Men #432.

Since the amount of new information is so excruciatingly small, precious few Alpha Flight fans would pick this up for their collection, preferring to own the original Hardcovers instead. In fact, the only difference in text among any of these entries is in Aurora’s “Group Affiliation” listing where it now says, “X-Men”!

Note that other Alpha babes had entries in the OHOTMU A-Z Hardcovers but were not reprinted in this book: Diamond Lil had a 1pg entry in #3, Nemesis had a 1pg entry in #8, Puck (Zuzha) had a 1pg entry in #9, Talisman (Elizabeth) had a 2pg entry in #11, and Witchfire had an entry in issue #13, but none of them made it in.

Al… Alph… Right! Alfalfa Flight!

November 2, 2009

funday

Ah, Monday – the one day of the week where no Alpha Flight members die! FUNDay continues with a new title: What The-?!, a humor magazine which will grace the FUNday posts many times over. So let’s get going for this week!

whatthe1coverWhat The-?! #1
Aug 1988

The Marvel Mag of Mirth and Mayhem! That’s the tag line and the best way to describe this irresistibly silly humor book that lacked all boundaries. Filled with short parody pieces, fake ads, fake letter pages and fake bullpen bulletins, this series relentlessly tore apart anything that wasn’t nailed down while at the same time showcasing the best and most popular creators of the time. Truly a comic book, Alpha Flight makes it right into the 1st issue as Alfalfa Flight, a version of the team based on the freckled, cowlicked Our Gang (The Little Rascals) character.

Alfalfa Flight appears in the third story, “When Titans Bunch”, a ridiculous romp which starts out with the Unnecessary X-Persons and New Pubescents in battle with the Offengers. For a completely unknown reason, the Fantastical Four join in, followed by the Guest Host Offengers, the Ever-Agonizing X-Ipsofacto, the Awesome Alfalfa Flight and eventually The Bulk, Spidey-Man, The Black Panster, Low Gage, and just about every other Marvel hero (along with the Three Stooges, Daffy Duck, Popeye, Bluto, and some intruders from another comic publisher who won’t be mentioned)

whatthe1a

Alfalfa Flight consisted of an androgynous Vindicator, Puck, White Sasquatch, Box and Northstar (not shown in this panel). Note that this issue was concurrent with Alpha Flight #61, and that Puck had been trapped in issue #60.  Similarly, Northstar had been trapped in Asgard since issue #50 but Sasquatch was still in Wanda form at the time.

In the final battle scene, you can see The Bulk bopping Sasquatch in the face and Northstar running face-first into Quicksilver (no parody name) with a BONK.  The writer eventually dies of a heart attack from writing too many characters at once.

whatthe1b

Curiously, in the concurrent issue of Alpha Flight #61, Sasquatch has a strange interaction with a Meg, a barmaid at a local pub (no relation to the fascinating Meg from Alpha Flight #7) who is unable to pronounce “Alpha Flight” on demand fast enough for Wanda, prompting her to sarcastically correct her shaken stammer of “Al…Alph…” as “Right! Alfalfa Flight!”

Note: credits for this story are w-Peter Gillis, p-Jon Bogdanove and i-Al Milgrom.

A new personal best. Let’s hear it for Mailman Mike!

October 8, 2009

darkxmtbeg2coverDark X-Men: The Beginning #2
Sep 2009

Though not enumerated as a chapter in Utopia, a crossover between the Dark Avengers and Uncanny X-Men set in the Dark Reign storyline, this issue takes place before the events of Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia #1 and has the Utopia logo on the front. Norman Osborn recruits, or attempts to recruit, members of a mutant counterpart team to the Dark Avengers, the Dark X-Men. In the second of three short features, Weapon Omega is recruited and Alpha Flight makes a quick cameo.

Unfortunately, the cameo is a flashback to the unfortunate events of New Avengers #16 where Michael Pointer, as The Collective, killed Guardian (Mac), Vindicator (Heather), both Pucks, Shaman and Major Mapleleaf. Osborn meets up with Pointer at a construction site for a children’s hospital and tries to recruit him. The “corpses in the snow” scene is reproduced by Osborn’s pocketwatch holographic projector to demonstrate to Pointer that Osborn knows who he is. Osborn then threatens to enlarge the scene and show it to everyone at his work site, compelling Alpha Flight’s murderer to stop and listen to yet another of Osborn’s diabolical plans, one that results in Pointer joining up with the Dark X-Men. Somehow, crybaby Pointer manages not to uncontrollably sob for the entirety of the feature, an amazing 11 pages, a personal best. Because this site, like my previous site, has a standing ban on showing the “corpses in the snow” scene, here is a picture of some cute little bunnies jumping on each other instead:

darkxmtbeg2

Awww, cute widdle bunny wabbits!