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Alpha Flight #7 (1984, February)

August 14, 2014

Today’s story, by John Byrne, is “The Importance of Being Deadly.”

The Importance of Being Deadly

That smile is both weird and kinda arousing.

Jeanne-Marie is being led out of a psychologist’s office. The psychologist sees nothing wrong with her, and wonders why Jean-Paul thinks there is. Jean-Paul doesn’t figure that telling the doctor that they’re Northstar and Aurora is a good idea. He decides against it in the short-term, but figures he has a lot to think about. He and Jeanne-Marie go out for lunch, and he mentions a friend on the street they go to. A Raymonde Belmonde. As they walk, a purse-snatcher snatches Jeanne-Marie’s purse, and Aurora flashes ahead of him. She punches the guy a hundred times in about a second. Northstar and Aurora take him to a police station, but he’s released on bond before he even arrives. He works for Ernest St. Ives, nicknamed Deadly Ernest, a crime boss with Maggia connections.

Outside, Northstar and Aurora are greeted by Raymonde. Raymonde mentions being surprised that Northstar’s told her about him. At Raymonde’s restaurant, Raymonde guesses that Northstar hasn’t told her all about him. Raymonde’s restaurant is empty, and he mentions it’s because of Ernest. His daughter interrupts him. Northstar’s surprised he has a daughter. He starts to ask how. Raymonde says she’s a part of the man he once was.

The conversation is interrupted again when a couple goons come in and grab Raymonde and Aurora. Raymonde says he’s not going to sell his business, and Ernest grabs him. Then Raymonde dies. Aurora is mistaken for Raymonde’s daughter, and shoved into the limo. Northstar’s not happy. Raymonde had been, “more than a father, much more than a friend.” It’s all very, very clear that Northstar’s gay and had an affair with Raymonde when he was younger. Byrne couldn’t just say it, but he made it as obvious as he was allowed.

Meanwhile, in Winnipeg, at a just-opened mall, a guy is playing 9 chess games at once. He goes for his lunch, and a woman recruits him. His name is Smart Alec, and he used to be in Gamma Flight.

And now, the continuing origins of Alpha Flight. We go back 15 years, to an archeological dig site in the Arctic circle. A Richard Easton finds a fancy headband. He files it. But that night, he feels it calling to him, and he puts it on. Then he sees gods. Nelvanna, goddess of the Northern Lights, wants him to knock her up. But she looks like an old lady, so another goddess makes her look young, so Easton’s eager to bow-chicka-wow-wow. After, he’s back where he started, but the dig site’s gone. He’s found by a couple guys, and one recognizes him. Apparently, he’s been missing for at least 9 years. He freaks out. A year after this, Shaman journeys to the area, and acts as midwife to Nelvanna as she gives birth. He binds the child to the land. Snowbird!

This is a very good issue. Northstar and Aurora were always really cool characters, at least under Byrne, so it’s nice seeing them get some focus. The switch from Jeanne-Marie to Aurora is handled well. It’s interesting seeing how she changes in every way. She even looks a bit bigger as Aurora, which is a really nice, subtle touch. I also like how obvious Byrne made Northstar’s homosexuality. He said it without saying it. He was Marvel’s first gay superhero, even if it took another few years for him to be open about it. J.M. DeMatteis had already introduced Arnie oth, a supporting character in Captain America, who was also pretty clearly gay. And shortly, in Defenders, DeMatteis would have Cloud fall in love with Moondragon. So despite the ban on openly gay characters, there were a few around. I like that writers worked around the ban, including LGBT characters. Byrne was the first to have an LGBT superhero, though, with Northstar.

The back-up story’s OK. I kinda wish Nelvanna had actually been modeled after the Nelvana from the comics. But that is such a minor, petty thing to pick at. The story itself was neat. And we also learn a bit more about the guy who summoned Tundra in the first issue. The art, as usual, is excellent. I already mentioned the difference between Jeanne-Marie and Aurora. Raymonde’s daughter, Danielle, looks really cool; it’s a shame she never shows up again after the next issue. Byrne’s art was always great. It’s really not even worth saying it any more. But I still do.

Song of the day: Sweet Jane by the Cowboy Junkies.

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  1. Alpha Flight #31 (1986, February) | xmenxpert

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