Posts Tagged ‘Witchfire’

Witchfire cameo in Fear Itself: The Fearless #8

January 3, 2015

fearitselffearless8coverFear Itself: The Fearless #8
Apr 2012

Fear Itself was one of the biggest and most widespread events in recent comic history. Spanning almost two hundred issues, it included just about every team, title and character in the Marvel Universe at some point in 2011 and 2012. It had at its core a 7 issue maxi-series, plus crossovers into just about every major title, tons of spinoff mini-series (including the fourth volume of Alpha Flight!), prequels, epilogues and ancillary material including an official handbook, a poster book, a spotlight issue and eight webcomics that were later collected in print. Alpha Flight did very well in this event even though no members appeared directly in the core 7 issues.

Fear Itself: The Fearless was a biweekly 12-issue mini-series that followed the main series as an epilogue, featuring Valkyrie and Sin racing to collect the powerful Asgardian hammers of The Worthy. Valkyrie’s motivation was to collect the hammers for safekeeping; to secure them from being used again as weapons of mass destruction, while Sin’s motivation was less altruistic. With the assistance of the mercenary Crossbones and the D.O.A. (Department of Occult Armaments), Sin hoped to use the hammers to raise the Final Sleeper, a gigantic mecha/organic death machine, in an evil scheme to burn the entire earth. Based out of a facility in Charleston, South Carolina, the D.O.A. grew in ranks suddenly right before a visit from Daimon Hellstrom, son of Satan. The “new recruits” of the D.O.A. are revealed to him, shown in a full-page splash panel including a couple of dozen diabolical baddies – basically anyone from the Marvel Universe with a snake, bat, devil or fiend for a father, mother, aunt or uncle. Right in the middle is Witchfire, shown prominently with glowing blue fire hands.

fearitselffearless8

The demon fire casts a too-strong blue effect over her skin and most of her costume, but oddly not her cloak. It must be a magic blue-resistant cloak, or just a bit of a coloring error. The last time we saw Witchfire before this, she had been captured by Magik, hauled away and made to suffer, but apparently not killed. Well, there’s nothing like incarceration and torture in a demonic realm to make someone want to be part of an evil scheme to burn the entire earth using a gigantic mecha/organic death machine, I suppose.

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.

Alpha Flight baddies in Heroic Age: Villains #1

January 4, 2011

Heroic Age: Villians #1
Jan 2011

The sequel to Heroic Age: Heroes #1 is naturally about the bad guys that make the heroes so heroic, so says Steve Rogers in the full page introduction to this files-type handbook. The format of the book is similar to the first book, with three entries per page presented as notecards, with a brief description of the baddies as written from the perspective of Steve Rogers’ personal opinion, followed by a suggested method of how to deal with them. Lacking from these entries is any type of power grid, replaced instead with a chart classifying the villains into their various plots and schemes. Witchfire has a 1/3 page entry and Zombie Guardian appears in the entry for the Zombie-verse.

Far less trippy than the first book in the series, there is a particular emphasis on what to do with many of the villains. Here’s where the book is really at its most interesting because you get the full spectrum of tolerance all the way from suggesting rehabilitative psychiatric treatment, therapy and medication to outright life-long permanent incarceration under maximum security. It’s a nice touch that the writers didn’t just assume Cap would have a “one size fits all” remedy and instead thoughtfully approached each villian’s motivation and general state of mind. Of course the best suggestion is for the Orb, a villian with an actual giant eyeball for a head, an inscrutable biological configuration. After mentioning that “an irritated or injured eye can drive people crazy” in the text entry, Cap suggests:

TREATMENT: Recommended long-term incarceration in a mental hospital and give him a special protection for his eyeball like a globe filled with artificial tear fluid.

Witchfire’s entry has an inset taken from the Finch variant cover for X-Infernus #3, but with much of the swirly background removed and replaced with null space. Unfortunately, the background wasn’t cleanly removed from the foreground of the wispy tendrils of flame emanating from her awesome flamey-eyes, resulting in a splotchy appearance around the indistinct borders of the flame. Here is the same inset as taken from the original cover, which ought to have been used instead. Described as being “a deadly threat to all on Earth”, her suggested treatment is “Recommended containment at ARMOR facility”, but how she could be held there is not clear.

The Zombie-verse entry has an inset taken from Ultimate Fantastic Four #23, with a tiny image of Zombie Guardian. Also seen in the inset are two very tiny flying figures that could be Zombie Northstar and Zombie Aurora. Even in the original comic, the figures are so extremely tiny that it’s impossible to be sure and the reproduction here is even smaller.

In the entry for the Purple Man, Cap uses the limited space to make a quick mention of another Alpha Flight member, “the Canadian Hero Persuasion”, who is of course the Purple Man’s daughter. She isn’t shown but it was nice to have her mentioned in this well-researched entry.

Witchfire and some Easter Eggs in New Mutants #17

October 22, 2010

New Mutants #17
Nov 2010

The New Mutants show up in their own title this issue, returning to Limbo to prevent a possible future where the X-Men and New Mutants are slaughtered. That possible future, including Witchfire’s flamey-eyed death, was confusedly explained by a weirded-out Magik in New Mutants #9. Since, Pixie has been kidnaped by Project Purgatory, causing Illyana to sense the exact moment to jump into her own timeline to prevent the deaths of her teammates. Witchfire appears in this issue in a few panels, rather bloodied up but none the less feisty for it.

Yes, another Limbo issue, and writer Zeb Wells makes reference to the very recent adventures in the Hellbound miniseries as Cannonball complains right upon arrival, “Oh, No… No! You’ve got to be kidding me! Dammit, Illyana! We just left Limbo.” They really did just leave, as this issue picks up very shortly after, likely within a day or so, of the ending of the Second Coming storyline.

The mysterious group of mutants seen in the last issue has apparently taken out the massive army of Limbo baddies led by Witchfire. Captured by Magik’s horde on their way to rescue Pixie and brought out to a central square in an abandoned Limbo village, she is announced as “The Burning Witch”, a reference lost on Karma (who I still want to smack in the mouth), but picked up (somehow) by Danielle Moonstar.

In a very intense exchange between Magik and Witchfire, which writer Zeb Wells skillfully pulls off without making either one of them sound cheesy at all, we learn that she’s lost the bloodstone amulet. She then surrenders Pixie’s location willfully, hoping the New Mutants face the same fate she did when she and her baddies attacked Project Purgatory. After flat out asking to be put out of her misery, Witchfire is hauled away, as Magik instructs her horde to “Make sure she suffers”.

Thinking she’s left to be tortured and killed? Well, not to worry… in a later interview, Zeb Wells hints, “I wouldn’t be surprised if she got out of her predicament…” so this post won’t carry the too-often used “death” tag.

Okay, that’s the Alpha Flight-related part of the book, and usually I’d stop here, but there’s a little more to say. In a few panels, Illyana and some other characters speak with a demonic script. Cypher translates a few of these speech bubbles for us, which led me to wonder what was being said in some of the untranslated speech bubbles. One can tell that it’s a simple substitution cipher and I put together a handy chart to figure out what letters match with which demonic script characters, with the exception of J, Q, X and Z, which weren’t shown:

Click to see full-sized image

Well, once I started translating, I almost fell on the floor! It turns out Zeb Wells left us a doozy of an Easter Egg!

In a panel where Magik first meets up with her one of her horde commanders, this exchange takes place:


See that guy’s balls? Yeah…they were weird.

As she returns to Cannonball, she addresses him with this one:


Hey, dick-breath.

While valiantly riding off on her armored steed, she exlcaims:


Pork Chop!

Right before Witchfire is dragged out, Cypher can be seen walking Illyana’s three little red limbopuppies and he says:


Fuck nuts!

Here it is a little bigger so you can see the smallish demon script a little better:


Fuck nuts!

Go ahead and check out the demonscript chart above and you’ll see for yourself!

Note: this issue has a Super Hero Squad variant cover, inspred by the famous Byrne cover from the Days of Future Past issue of Uncanny X-Men #141, with art by Leonel Castellani.

New Mutants #17 – Super Hero Squad variant

No New Mutants in New Mutants #16

October 6, 2010

New Mutants #16
Oct 2010

No, there aren’t any of the New Mutants in this issue at all – a bold and impressive move by Zeb Wells to leave out the title characters that pays off big time. Sometimes these types of books turn out so gimmicky that they fail miserably, but certainly not this issue. It’s all backstory and character introduction and solid (though at times disturbing) storytelling, with a few flashbacky scenes all in a difficult but well-executed continuity, along with spot-on art by Leonard Kirk, just everything you want in a good comic book. Of course it doesn’t hurt that Witchfire appears as well!

The few glimpses of Project Purgatory we’ve seen have been teasing us along for a few issues, and we finally learn what the connection is with Limbo. Though it’s difficult to pin down the time frame because of the wacky way time works in Limbo, approximately three years ago, a soldier from Purgatory comes across a blonde girl’s skeletal remains (presumably Magik) and obtains the 3-bloodstone amulet seen last in the X-Infernus series from 2009. Witchfire then shows up at the gates, with an army of Limbo baddies to score the amulet.

There are a few nice touches in her little appearance. First, she introduces herself as Belasco’s daughter Ananym, a name not mentioned in the X-Infernus series, so good job on the research, Zeb. She also explains a plausible meaning behind the name Witchfire – “I take the name Witchfire for the pain it suggests”, but we have no way of knowing if this were the original intent of her creator, James P. Hudnall.

The entirety of her appearance is on one page in just a few panels. She’s wearing the awesome new costume worn in the X-Infernus series and she’s got the glowing eyes that Alpha Flight Collector loves! She utters the commands in Limbonic, “Dalcke! Carribit!!” and her army completely destroys the base.

So if you were wondering how Witchfire got her hand (get it?) on the bloodstone amulet, this solves that mystery. The only way this issue could be better would be if there were flames shooting out of her eyes, of course.

Never underestimate the power of body language!

January 14, 2010

New Mutants #9
Mar 2010

The first post-Necrosha issue of New Mutants was published while the storyline was still going on in X-Force and X-Men Legacy, leaving readers with an unusual insight as to how certain parts of the storyline ended, at least with respect to the New Mutants. Mister Jeffries appears as a member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505 and Witchfire appears in one panel as well.

Mister Jeffries’ appearance in this issue is only two panels. He looks on in the lab while Danger examines Cypher and Warlock, two original New Mutant members recently reunited with the team. He only has one line, not anything eventful. On the next page, Cypher says, “From Mr. Jeffries’ body language I’d say he has feelings for–” after which Dr. Nemesis cuts him off.

From my body language, I'd say I need a comb.

Presumably, he was about to say “Danger”, as the only other possible object of affection nearby was Emma Frost, who was on the other side of the room at the time. In any case, from the two panels in which Jeffries appears, it’s not apparent what Doug is talking about, as there’s really nothing that he’s doing that would make one think he has feelings for anyone. However, take into consideration that upon his return to the New Mutants, Cypher gained a seriously enhanced power set where he can understand even the most subtle types of communication, including body language. So, something must be going on there, but it’s not visible to readers without Cyphers’s mutant powers.

Note also that during the Necrosha storyline, we find out that Mister Jeffries’ wife, Lillian “Diamond Lil” Crawley is with the X-Men on Utopia. As if she’d put up with that! I can understand that Zeb Wells wants to establish Cypher’s new powers by giving us an example of an extremely subtle human interaction that he’s now able to perceive, but really, of all the inhabitants of Utopia and of all the possible relationships, selecting Jeffries and Danger to use as subjects for this example really makes no sense.

If you want my body and you think I'm sexy, come on, sugar, let me know

Following Warlock’s remark that Illyana Rasputin is a copy, Emma sits down with her to discuss her recent history. What follows is quite momentous for those who follow Magik’s storyline, and if I had a “Magik Collector” blog, I’d probably be going on and on about it. Her rambling explanation, which is confusing, even if you are well-versed in her history and recent return, explains events following the end of X-Infernus and the beginning of this run of New Mutants – events that were in a time pocket lasting only a few days in one reality but years in another.

While searching for her bloodstones during those years, Magik finds Witchfire, reincarnated. What she’s referring to by “reincarnated” is difficult to understand, unless it means “reconstituted” as opposed to “resurrected.” At the ending of X-Infernus, Witchfire is shown escaping Limbo, seemingly alive, so the notion of being “reconstituted” would make much more sense. Unfortunately, Magik kills her with the soulsword, causing green fires to spew forth out of her mouth and eyes. Now I love flamey-eyed Witchfire as much as one could, even to the point of using Finch’s version as the official logo of this site, but that image is just disturbing. Note that Witchfire’s right hand is correctly shown as being partially regenerated, as it’s still magically growing back after Nightcrawler severed it in X-Infernus #4.

Illyana goes on to describe a battle between the X-Men and travellers from another dimension led to the bloodstones by Witchfire. It’s not clear how, or even if these events fit into continuity, as they could occur during the time pocket years or be one of many futures she said that she saw on the way to the past. Confused? So am I, twice over with incomprehensible scenes for both Alphans.