Posts Tagged ‘Windshear’

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

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.

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
Madison Jeffries
Diamond Lil (subsequently killed)
Puck (Zuzha – subsequently killed)
Depowered on M-Day: Flex
Wild Child (subsequently killed)
Unknown status after M-Day: Centennial (subsequently deceased)
Ghost Girl

Women of Marvel: Celebrating Seven Decades Handbook

September 30, 2010

Women of Marvel: Celebrating Seven Decades Handbook

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.

Alpha Flight panel in X-Men Forever #15

January 21, 2010

X-Men Forever #15
Mar 2010

Chris Claremont’s reimagining of the X-Men, which continues after X-Men #3 in 1991, takes place in a universe that happened so long ago that readers need a guide to refresh their memories of that era. Luckily, at the end of the main story, there’s an 8pp roundup of what was going on in the Marvel Universe at the time. On the page, “Meanwhile…”, a panel taken from Alpha Flight #101 (Oct 1991) shows the team assembled at Mac’s grave, again, along with accompanying text.

The page following the 8pp roundup is a full page advertisement for trade paperbacks that contain many of the highlighted stories. Notably absent from the advertisement is a trade paperback containing the Alpha Flight series, which, at the time of this post, has not been collected in a tpb past the 8th issue. The advertisement sours the roundup from an interesting educational segment (or a trip down memory lane for us old guys) into a blatant shill for your tpb dollars. The same 8pp could have been a new 2nd story or even a preview of the next story arc instead of re-printing old material as a giant advertisement, but Alpha Flight got into the roundup, so it’s more sweet than sour.

The accompanying text to the right of the panel reads:

Canada’s premier heroes in Alpha Flight had newly reaffirmed ties to their government; they were briefly rejoined by the long-dead Vindicator (James Hudson), only to lose him again during a confrontation with Galactus. Still led by Guardian, the team included Puck, Sasquatch, Northstar, Aurora, Windshear, Diamond Lil and the mystery man Weapon Omega.

Note that Aurora was listed as a member, but at the time, she had resigned from Alpha Flight (issue #95), reassigned to Gamma Flight as a counselor in the psychiatric unit. In issue #98, she had seemingly been teleported away by Laura Dean (Pathway), which explains why she’s not in the panel above. The Weapon Omega listed above is not Michael Pointer, but Kyle Gibney, a.k.a. Wild Child. He wouldn’t resurface until issue #102, which explains why he’s listed as a member of that era but not in the panel. Finally, Box (Jeffries) appears in the panel, but wasn’t listed as a member for an unknown reason.

To the far right are two other Alpha Flight associates: the bald General Jeremy Clarke and Department H’s Liaison Kerry Patrick, who is very much not bald at all. It isn’t exactly clear why the team showed up to the memorial service in costume. The most puzzling was Walter, who seems to prefer Sasquatch form for funerals.