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Alpha Flight #3 (1983, October)

July 14, 2014

I just learned a couple days ago that the excellent comic book artist Stjepan Sejic has a webcomic full of lesbian bondage. His wife also has a webcomic. That one doesn’t have lesbians, bondage, or lesbian bondage. Neither does today’s story by Byrne, “Yesterday Man.”  (OK, I apologize for that horrible segue.)

Yesterday Man

I actually really like this cover. It’s a nice use of white and black.

Snowbird’s flying over the Arctic, thinking about the black stain she senses. She comes across Alpha’s crashed jet. She uses her post-cognitive powers to “replay” the events leading to the crash. She sees it getting shot down by some weird blast of energy. She lets it play forward from after the crash, and sees Guardian, Sasquatch, Northstar, Aurora emerge. She switches to bear form to follow their scents. She finds a base, which she feels is alive.

Ahead, Guardian and Sasquatch are trying to tear through a wall that came down between them and the twins, but the wall is growing. On the other side, the twins clasp hands to create a flash of light. The room is huge. They fly ahead, and metal rods pop out, smacking Northstar in the head. More rods pop out to surround Aurora, and she panics and reverts to her Jeanne-Marie persona. Which is how Guardian and Sasquatch find her.

Elsewhere, Marrina is strapped down and in agony. The Master decides to share his story. 40 000 years ago, he was a hunter, who got kicked out of his tribe for being a dick. The Master uses the word “bully,” but that’s only because no one wants to admit to being a dick, and also because that probably wouldn’t have been allowed in a comic in 1983. He wandered, and eventually started going north, until he found a giant space-ship. The ship grabbed him, and then started experimenting on him. He went insane from the pain, but eventually started to take over the ship. He then tells Marrina that it’s her ship. His ramblings are interrupted by Namor and the Invisible Woman. Why they’re showing up will be explained when I review AF #4.

The back-up story continues the Origins of Alpha Flight. James Hudson is reflecting on how stupid he is for quitting. Heather shows up with groceries for him, figuring he probably has nothing in the fridge. She’s right. She also lets him know about the suit being stolen and the plans destroyed. He knows about that, and she notices the helmet. He says he’ll probably go to jail, and he doesn’t want Heather to go down trying to protect him. She mentions that a wife can’t testify against her husband. He asks how old she is. She’s 17, about to turn 18. Dammit, Byrne! What the hell was with the ’80s and inappropriate romances? Kitty and Colossus, Heather and Guardian here, and FF revealed that Susan fell in love with Reed when she was a kid, too. All of these happened in Byrne stories, though Claremont probably deserves as much blame for Kitty/Colossus.

Anyway, she drags James to Ottawa, where they get booted from one office to another, until he gets retroactively employed by the government. He’s not sure that’s legal, but Heather tells him not to question it. Then they meet Prime Minister Trudeau himself. This leads to the creation of Department H, the recruitment of Wolverine, and finally learns of the creation of the Fantastic Four, and he turns Department H towards superheroes.

It’s another OK issue. Byrne’s FF work was vastly superior to his AF work. This is still a bit light on character work. Beyond that, the Master was always a weak villain. He’s a bit of a Vandal Savage rip-off, for one thing. But he’s also just not terribly compelling aside from that. He’s got a bland personality. The back-up is actually a little more interesting, though I can’t help but wonder if it’s part of the problem: By taking several pages to tell a different story, it deprives the main story of space for more character stuff.

The art, however, remains excellent. There is really nothing bad one can say about Byrne’s art. He never did substandard work, at least back then. I feel like it’s not even worth talking about the art, because everyone knows what to expect of John Byrne, they know it’s going to be great.

Song of the day: Moves by the New Pornographers. Another Canadian band, and the video features Paul Rudd, John Oliver, Wyatt Cenac, John Hodgman, Bill Hader and others.

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