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Alpha Flight #4 (1983, November)

July 19, 2014

We’ve got more Marrina today, with “Resolutions!”


Doesn’t seem like much of a trap. The more the globe crumbles, the easier it’ll be for her to get free. What happened to classic death traps like tossing Ant-Man in a bathtub?

Before I get to it, I should talk about Fantastic Four #260, to explain how Invisible Woman and Namor got there. It starts with Namor exploring the Arctic after hearing about something weird going on. A bunch of barbarians had shown up at Atlantis asking for refuge. Namor dives into the water, and his wristbands start dissolving, and he gets weaker. At the end of the issue, Namor shows up, asking her for help. Now, to AF #4.

Sue and Namor are in the Arctic, and he explains about the toxic waters. The Fantasticar’s sensors pick up something, and Sue manages to get better resolution. It’s the Master’s base. The car is shot down. Snowbird, in bear form, hears it happen, then enters the base. Inside, Guardian explains to Sasquatch that Aurora is a split personality. She wakes up and runs off, and Sasquatch follows after revealing that he’s been boning Aurora. He talks to her, telling her about the fact they’ve been boning, and she remembers it, and gets angry. Guardian manages to find Northstar, and says they need to shut the place down.

Outside, Sue and Namor land after she protected them with a force field. Namor tears out a chunk of ice, and they go into the water to reach the base. They eventually reach the Master, in the middle of lecturing Marrina. He tells her about an alien race whose planet is dying due to overpopulation. They colonize other planets, stripping them bare. Their strategy is to send a ship to a planet, drawing in the dominant lifeform, and then its genetic pattern fed into millions of eggs, which will then be launched to every corner of the world, to hatch and eventually conquer. The one sent to Earth had a problem, and one of its engines exploded, and when it crashed, it launched out the eggs early. One of the eggs was Marrina’s.

Sue and Namor drop in, and the Master has his ship attack them while he escapes, thinking about how everything goes according to his plan. Snowbird shows up to free Marrina, and Guardian and Northstar damage the power plant. The various heroes regroup, and the base blows up, with everyone saved by Sue’s force field. Namor and Marrina search the waters for the Master, but there’s no sign of him or the base. Snowbird heads back to her job, and Marrina leaves for Atlantis with Namor. Guardian goes to let Marrina’s adoptive brother, Dan, know about it.

John Byrne was continuing to kill on Fantastic Four. On Alpha Flight . . . less so. It’s not that this was bad. It’s that it wasn’t really great. Way, way too much exposition. There’s a little bit of characterization here and there, and it’s very good where it appears. But there’s an insane amount of exposition, and it’s not very interesting exposition. Like I said last time, the Master was a goofy villain, and a lame one. Marrina leaving with this issue may have also potentially hurt her character. We didn’t get much time to get used to her and figure out who she is, and we never really wind up getting that chance in the years to come, where she makes fairly sporadic appearances in Alpha Flight and later Avengers. Also, the finale of this issue, with Dan Smallwood, ends up feeling really weak, because we never really saw him and Marrina together. It’s supposed to be sad, that he lost the girl he loved, but we have no reason to care about him or his unrequited love. (Also, they were raised as siblings, so should he really have romantic feelings for her? That feels weird to me. The Westermarck Effect should’ve come into play to stop that. Though the same criticism applies to the Nightcrawler/Amanda Sefton romance.)

On the plus side, Byrne’s art is always excellent. Has Byrne ever done a bad drawing? He’s got a very distinctive style, but it’s also a very, very appealing style.

Song of the day: A Whole Lot Better by Brendan Benson.

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