Thursday, August 1, 2013

Review: Alpha Flight #114

Alpha Flight #114, Cover Date November 1992

Written by Simon Furman, Pencils by Pat Broderick, Inks by Bruce Patterson

Alpha Flight 114 cover

In my Fantastic Four review, I mocked the idea of evil Reed Richards stating it was "imperative" to contact Alpha Flight. Now, in the interest of fairness, I'll review an issue from the same general time period (spoiler alert: this means AF survived the explosion from FF #367).

We begin with a flashback, as a foaming at the mouth Wild Child appears to be eating a corpse as he's watched by two mysterious figures, who congragulate themselves on how feral and deadly Wild Child is. One of the figures, still in the shadows, says "like father, like son" ominously. Back in the present, a narrative caption tells us that Wild Child is now "Weapon Omega," and that his crazy bloodlust is under control... except right now, when it's not. Omega notices blood on his hands and resists smelling to see if it's animal blood, remembering his recent confrontation with his evil self, as happened in every marvel book that year. He's relieved to find it's animal blood, but a shadowy figure watches Omega from the foliage.

Alpha Flight Windshear Bill Cosby
Is 1980 Bill Cosby available to play Windshear?

In the meantime, Heather Hudson, aka Guardian, thinks back on recent battles and how Beta Flight, Canada's second-line of defense (its third line? The Toronto Maple Leafs) have proven themselves. She meets teammate Windshear, who is surprised she's not in action herself. She says she's confident in Beta Flight, while he looks more surprised than the situation really warrants.

Alpha Flight 114 Seduction

Beta Flight runs into some trouble with administration as a cigar-chomping chief of police (rightfully) objects to being stuck with the "B-team" to rescue hostages. He suddenly turns purple and becomes polite. It turns out a member of Beta Flight is named Persuasion, and she can turn people purple and get them to do what she wants. She's obviously the daughter of minor villain "Purple Man."
Alpha Flight 114 Northstar pose
Try to copy that pose!

While these people I don't know plan to fight crime, Sasquatch, in his human form as Dr. Walter Langkowski, conducts tests on Aurora, who for some reason isn't wearing clothes as Langkowski tries to figure out why her multiple personality disorder is creating new powers. She chides Walter for working too much, giving him a naked hug from behind, then asks "What... what am I doing with you? Like this!" as her Jean-Marie persona takes over. Just as she's covering herself, her brother Northstar shows up looking like a bad Elvis impersonator. Her repressed personality blows him off, and Northstar responds by telling Walter to stay away from his sister in an incredibly awkward pose.

Meanwhile, Heather Hudson, dressed in a robe, looks at a picture of her dead husband (the original Guardian) and gets sentimental, kissing it as she regrets not having kids with him. Puck comes calling in his civilian guise as a jacked midget. He's worried that Weapon Omega might be regressing into Wild Child, and points out that there's no record of the doctor that supposedly cured Omega.

Back at the hostage negotiation, the apparent leader gets stabbed by a guy that looks like the Jackal from the clone saga. He says his "father" taught him well, while the redheaded "Witchfire" starts glowing with energy. Then she shoots a yellow bolt of... magic(?) into the Jackal clone's mouth in a scene that is way too suggestive to not be an accident.

Alpha Flight 114 Witchfire Jackal
What on earth?

Another member of Beta Flight chides Witchfire, saying that the Jackal clone was connecting with her, that it was the sins of the father that made him this way, while the Jackal barfs up yellow goop.

Alpha Flight 114 Witchfire Jackal 2

Finally, Weapon Omega is on the run as a gun is fired, and a huge explosion knocks him off his feet. The hairiest man in the world stands over the downed hero and announces that his "bloodline" ends here and now, with the death of Wild Child! To be continued...

Alpha Flight 114 Wyre Weapon Omega
Why wear a shirt when you're hairier than Robin Williams?

Simon Furman's script is average. We're very briefly introduced to the core team, although Northstar and a few others don't really do anything. Mostly this is supposed to be set-up for Omega Flight having their own "mission" and Weapon Omega fighting his mystery dad. Also, it's kind of refreshing that in 1992, they felt they could introduce a new character, and not just make his dad Sabretooth. Weapon Omega is clearly the Wolverine surrogate of the team, but I kind of like the idea that he's been somehow medically "cured" of his berzerker state. I've got a good feeling about that! I have no idea who Windshear is, and the book didn't really help me. A quick google search tells me that Witchfire is Belasco's daughter, meaning the group has two daughters of villains. The Jackal clone reveal is just bizarre, as the Jackal hadn't been seen in years, and this is too early for it to accidentally be a clone saga hint.

Pat Broderick is not an artist whose work I'm super-familiar with, but his work here is decent, although it can be very inconsistent. Broderick came to Marvel after working on Firestorm and Captain Atom for DC, and is a serviceable enough John Byrne-style artist. Although I will say he draws a character named "Manikin" as the Hulk wearing a wig, and his version of Persuasion is basically purple Jean Grey in her Marvel Girl outfit. There's also plenty of "good girl" anatomy-bending art, and not just Northstar sticking his ass out at Sasquatch. More troubling is the fact that Persuasion was depicted as "Purple Girl" not that much earlier, and looked like a goth (purple) Jubilee prototype:

Alpha Flight Purple Girl
The Purple Girl next door!
Whereas in this book, she looks like this:

Alpha Flight 114 Seduction

I'm not saying characters can't ever look different, but turning her into a character proportioned like every other comic book woman and giving her the name "Persuasion" kind of takes away everything that seems interesting about that character in the first of the two images. The book already has Guardian, Witchfire, and Aurora, can't one of them not have the exact same proportions as the others?

All in all the book is pretty middle of the road. Furman and Broderick were both industry veterans (Furman did the Transformers comics) so there's not the amateurism that I'd expect from an Indy book from around this time period (or a Marvel book in 1995), but there's also not a lot being brought to the table. It's the comic book equivalent of the Milwaukee Bucks: not bad enough to start over from scratch, not good enough to bring in any fans.


  1. I haven't read much of Alpha Flight past some of the Byrne/Mantlo stuff, but I gather it gets pretty 90s-riffic by the end. This, as you say, doesn't seem as bad, neither good enough nor bad enough to really care about.

    For the most part, I enjoyed Furman's Transformers stuff; I'd be curious to see how his Alpha Flight compares.

    Puck comes calling in his civilian guise as a jacked midget.


    ...saying that the Jackal clone...

    What's great about comics from this era is that you could mean that either literally or figuratively.

    It's the comic book equivalent of the Milwaukee Bucks: not bad enough to start over from scratch, not good enough to bring in any fans.

    Double ha!

  2. Yeah I don't mean to pick on Furman. Mostly I'm disappointed that "Box" isn't around. I mean he's a member of Alpha Flight AND basically a Transformer! I also like Broderick's pencils on Doom 2099, which I think is maybe his strongest work ever.

    As for the Jackal clone, it's not made clear, but I think this guy is a literal clone of Miles Warren, back when he was a minor Spider-Man character from the 70's.