Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Death in comics : Alpha Flight prelude

You probably expected the second part of MARVEL VISIONARIES - CHRIS CLAREMONT and I have to say it would have been easier to continue with that since I already have all of the pictures prepared. But I like to write about comics while they are still fresh in my memory and I just finished reading ALPHA FLIGHT CLASSIC 2 so it´s time to do my introduction to the little superhero team from Canada that could a.k.a. Alpha Flight.

Because there is at least one post in my DEATH IN COMICS series coming that deals with deaths - and resurrections - in the series and I have to explain a few things before I can go into that without any tangents. And any day I get to wax nostalgic about John Byrne´s work is a good day.

And before we start I should probably mention that there are going to be some spoilers. So if you want to avoid those better get all three volumes of the ALPHA FLIGHT CLASSIC trades and read them before continuing.


Now when I say introduction I don´t mean that I´m going into all the details how the glory that was John Byrne´s ALPHA FLIGHT came into being or an exhaustive post on the history of the team and its members.

There are other websites out there who do that far better than me and you can find the ones I came across during my research for the post in the link section as usual. No, if you know this blog a bit you might expect a post that´s a touch more personal and the only history I´m exploring here is my own history with this book. As many comic readers and Marvel zombies at a time when that was a term of endearment and pride I first saw James Hudson a.k.a. Weapon Alpha´s debut in UNCANNY X - MEN 109 ( which I probably read in the spanish version by Edicionés Vertice or those awful pocket books by the german publisher Condor Verlag ) when he tried to repossess Wolverine´s ass back for the canadian government.

That didn´t work out too well and all James Hudson managed to do was injure Moira MacTaggert, which peed off all the X - Men but especially Banshee and Wolverine and he narrowly evaded capture thanks to a trick that should not be revealed to comic readers for more than six years. 

Yes, as incredible as it sounds to Today´s comic readers UNCANNY X - MEN 109 was published in February of 1978 ( back then they still came out only every two months ! ) and ALPHA FLIGHT 17 which retold that story from James Hudson´s perspective hit the newsstands during December 1984.

Leave it to John Byrne to recycle almost an entire X - Men comic in the pages of Alpha Flight. But then we´re talking about a guy who had the balls to sell Marvel almost an entire issue of blank pages with word balloons and sound effects. So it should surprise no one that he reused the cover of UNCANNY X - MEN 109 for the cover of ALPHA FLIGHT 17.

Now I think that was around the time when James Hudson changed his hero nom du guerre from Weapon Alpha to Vindicator and as anybody who has ever had to deal with the government or its institutions or officials knows they never forget and they can hold a grudge like nobody which obviously was true for the canadian government in the Marvel universe.

Because in the pages of UNCANNY X - MEN 120 and 121 he was sent back to America to bring those canadian taxpayer´s investment in Wolverine home and this time he was aided by a team of canadian superheroes.

Or at least part of the team that should appear in the pages of ALPHA FLIGHT as neither Marrina nor Puck had graduated from Beta Flight yet.

This also didn´t end well for Banshee who was still suffering from a raw throat after blanketing the entire island of Japan against an earthquake beam of Moses Magnum. He lost his powers for quite some time and it took him years to recover. What ever happened to the luck of the irish ?

Back to Alpha Flight, it seemed like it was the end for the team - and it was at least in the pages of THE UNCANNY X - MEN. But being a canadian himself John Byrne could naturally not let this team of homies from the great north rest and on August 1983 they got their own ongoing series.


Now I would like to say that I was there from the beginning but the truth is that I read most of the first year in those cheap spanish trades that basically were five single issues glued together with a cardboard cover.

The reason why I wanted to write this special prologue post is that the very first american comic I bought of a newsstand was ALPHA FLIGHT 20 which not only introduced villain Gilded Lily but also Aurora´s new look.

She adopted this new look to further distance her from her twin brother Northstar with whom she had a falling out at the time. I don´t think it was yet revealed that Northstar was gay but somehow it was in the open.

Back then her powers were that she could fly and move at great speed and when she and Northstar touched hands they generated a blinding flash of light - which they had no control over. So when Aurora wanted to become more independent from her brother fellow teammate Walter Langkowski a.k.a. Sasquatch was more than thrilled at the prospect of getting rid of her pesky brother ( he was shagging Aurora at that time and I´m sure there´s a joke somewhere in there ) and decided to pimp her powers.

Now while the process managed to retain Aurora´s power of creating a flash - although not as bright as before - the unexpected side effects was that when she ans Northstar now touched both their powers were canceled out for a brief period. It also reduced her speed from potentially above light speed to two times the speed of sound but managed to change her genetic make up to cloak her from mutant detection devices. So I guess you have to take the good with the bad. In any case with the new powers came a new look which has always been one of John Byrne´s strong suits.

I won´t lie, part of the reason why I decided to buy this comic instead of an issue of THOR written by some guy I never heard of ( I think his name was Simon Walterson or something ) with art by Sal Buscema was Aurora.

Don´t get me wrong I was a diehard John Byrne fan at that time as most readers of american super hero comics were and it didn´t exactly hurt that she was mostly wearing a bikini in this and the following issue. 

Although I didn´t get to read issue 21 until much later since it was still a few months until I had found out how to get issues of US comics through the foreign press newsstand at the main railway station in Stuttgart.

When I became a regular customer the next issues of ALPHA FLIGHT I could lay a hand on where between issues 25 and 27 which was long after Guardian´s death in issue 12 ( yes, James Hudson had changed his name again ) and smackdab in the middle of their rematch with Omega Flight. 

Like with most comics from this period I´m not entirely sure in which order I read them and where I bought them. But it´s a safe bet that I found ALPHA FLIGHT 21 either at the Comicbörse in Stuttgart or the International Comic Salon in Erlangen because those were the main sources of american back issues for me at that time. What I DO know is that I definitely got issue 25 at the newsstand as well as issue 28 which not only was the end of John Byrne´s run on the title who switched with the creative team of INCREDIBLE HULK, Bill Mantlo and Mike Mignola.

ALPHA FLIGHT 28 also crossed over with one of my favorite companywide Marvel tie - in stories, the granddaddy of them all : SECRET WARS II.

Granted, it only crossed over for all of two pages but it was apparently enough that the money grubbing bastiches from Disney - or was it still Marvel at that time - chose to include it in the SECRET WARS II  omnibus. Which means that I get an extra issue with gorgeous John Byrne art out of the deal. It looks like Gordon Gecko was right : greed really works.

And that´s where this post ends and we will continue talking about ALPHA FLIGHT 28 either in an upcoming SECRET WARS II post or in an upcoming DEATH IN COMICS post since there are still many ALPHA FLIGHT issues to cover concerning the death and possible return ( curious ? stay tuned ) of James Hudson a.k.a. Weapon Alpha a.k.a. Vindicator a.k.a. Guardian.

Next up is the final installment of my Hollywood casting the JLA movie which includes actresses from Italy, Argentina and J.A.G.s Catherine Bell.

Now I know some people will be relieved about that but don´t skin the cat before the baby has fallen into the well or something like that because we still have the JLA CASTING : SPECIAL SUBZERO EDITION coming up which are eight more posts, not counting the Andy Sidaris special and the Janet Jackson post which I decided to retroactively post on Janet´s birthday. So you see we still have plenty of hot cult sirens to uncover before continuing our regular more comic related posts with the second part of MARVEL VISIONARIES - CHRIS CLAREMONT. Or something completely different.

Before coming to the usual bells and whistles at the end of the post I want to do something I haven´t done in a long time, namely pimping a book. I recently purchased three books from Fantagraphics new artist centered EC collection and one of them, Sucker Bait and other stories by Graham Ingels is still available at a bargain price of 16.53 EUROS at 

The regular price tag on this book is 28.99 Dollars so it´s almost at half price. As usual you should not wait too long before ordering it because there are only two copies left. Now if you don´t know who Graham Ingels is you can check out this page from Fantagraphics which has a video of the book or you can read this post by Jason Sacks on COMICS BULLETIN which has many art sample pages from the book by Graham Ingels :

Graham Ingels is the poet laureate of the EC horror comics. His stories are some of the most iconic of the entire line, full of newly revived corpses, horrific villains and some of the scariest moments that have ever been put down on the comics page. When fans think of EC horror, chances are that they think of " Ghastly "'s phantasmagorias.

Along with his brilliant depiction of the dead, Ingels was equally adept at drawing the lives of the living (
and those who were soon to be dead ), nearly always in the midst of a spell of fury, confusion or fear. Leafing through Fantagraphics's glorious collection of twentyfive of Ingels' 110 EC horror tales, Sucker Bait reveals page after page of characters screaming at each other, or crouching in fear, or screaming in unfathomable horror. The most fearsome images may have been Ghastly's famous animated corpses, but the real terror was in the faces of those dealing with evil.

Link time : COMICS IN CONTEXT has a short recap of of the Alpha flight series with covers from the John Byrne run although it seems the site hasn´t been updated since 2006 - which explains why it says there are no trades of the book. BIFF BAM POP also talks about Titanic Teams : John Byrne´s Alpha Flight and my spanish readers might want to check out 

Our first video is an X - Men / Alpha Flight fan film I found a while back. Not the worst fan film I´ve seen although it needs a bit of polishing.

Speaking of fan projects here´s the trailer for a Captain Future movie by a german production company. So far there has been no further news but even if it will be extremely difficult to fulfill the expectations of Captain Future fans worldwide I´m hoping for the best. This really has potential.

I mentioned the cult horror comics from EC and usually I post the TALES FROM THE CRYPT movie from 1972 which always gets taken down and then I have to re - post it. Well it seems that in 1973 there also was a THE VAULT OF HORROR movie and I hope I have more luck with this.

My next video is in lieu of the passing of Yvonne Craig ( you can find a full post on COMIC BITS ONLINE ) who was most famous for portraying Batgirl on season 3 of the 70s BATMAN tv show. Since I couldn´t find Mars needs women and I´m not so sure about Ski Party here is 7 Women from Hell where she co - starred with Cesar Romero who played the Joker. 

Now this is the point where I usually post a cartoon video, mostly a really bad one from the 80s or 90s. But Today I want to do things a bit different.

After seeing this video by Nostalgic Critic I want to feature some of what I consider to be the best kids cartoon shows. While I agree that there are some really good cartoon shows for kids out there I disagree that shows like ADVENTURE TIME or REGULAR SHOW are among them. So far I have seen some episodes and they not only have some of the worst art I have ever seen I am not sure that kids are really their target audience. While it may be that they contain longer more complex storylines all episodes of ADVENTURE TIME or REGULAR SHOW I have seen so far have to do with dating, girls or a combination of both which is definitely not something kids would be interested in. At this age most boys think girls are yucky and most girls have other things on their minds than boys. I think this is something adults think are interesting for kids, those that have forgotten their own childhood. It´s like in those countless movies people make about their school years that have to do with trying to get the first kiss which is a complete mindfudge because most of my time in school was all about comics, books, sweets, tv shows and toys. Yes, there came a time when I became interested in girls but by that age I wasn´t a kid anymore.

I was what you call a teenager, so these new shows are not really for kids but rather for teenagers. Also, while I don´t think kids will freak out if there is a gay character on a tv show there is a thin line between being unafraid to show a particular sexual lifestyle in a tv show and the gay / lesbian / bi - sexual brainwashing that is going on in the moment and ruining not only young kids minds but also characters like Hercules.  

So the first show for kids I want to recommend is a bit older but one of my favorites : BOB MORANE, based on the french comic which was based on the novel series by Charles - Henri Dewisme. I didn´t know this but there even was a black and white tv series produced in the 1960s.

Back to the cartoon series, here is the first episode in french because all german versions have been deleted by YouTube. Thanks very much, guys.

Now I know that not all of my readers are fluent in french so here is Bob Morane Against The Yellow Shadow a longer video with english dubbing.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest / best of the best


Terry Hooper-Scharf said...

People keep using the word "sh****ng" -the Americans mostly who heard it from Brit films/TV. It is a crude word and you might just as well us the "F" word -no difference (but on UK TV "S" word is not covered by as much legislation as the "F" one!).
Captain Future trailer looks nice. I hope they do get to produce a movie!
The Alpha Flight video when I saw it first I thought "Is that guy TOO old to play Shaman??" But why not. Sure, they needed to find a "dwarf" for Puck, though. But fun and with editing it would be a nice mini film!
Ahh, Byrne's Alpha Flight #4 was what got me buying comics again rather than just making and trying to sell them! And Lily really was a cool character!

SUBZERO said...

I don´t know the f - word just seemed wrong to me. Maybe next time I´ll just call it " sexual intercoursing " or something...

Terry Hooper-Scharf said...

Ahh. Sexual intercoursing. Much better. Ignore me. It's just that the Americans think its a cool word because its British so you have Penny on The Big Bang Theory: "Cus he won't shag the old lady" and Coulson in the first episode of Agents of SHIELD saying to Hill: "You're the one shagging the Norse version of Hercules" -it's so very out of context especially when they have families watching these things. "Mum -what does Penny mean by 'shagging'?" Mum:"Uh, she means kiss dear!"
It's been an awful week and its showing on me. Believe it or not I got questioned about the Zenith book I sent you: "May I ask what it is?" (I resisted the temptation to say "Hard core pornography, mate!")"It's a book". "Does it contain batteries?" (AGAIN I resist the temptation to respond with "Yeah -the ones I just pulled out of your arsch!"). I must really look like a radical.
Off to bang my head on the wall.
If I am now asked to click on all pictures of pies to prove I'm not a robot I'll....I'll bite my hand!!!

SUBZERO said...

Hmm, pie......