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Alpha Flight #28 (1985, November)

April 6, 2015

John Byrne’s final issue of Alpha Flight, “Cross-Over.”

Cross-Over

Well, the Secret Wars II banner isn’t very promising.

Omega Flight is fleeing the West Edmonton Mall, bashing Courtney for the plan’s failure. Courtney keeps trying to pass off the failure on the Beyonder showing up, even though they had all fled for their lives before the Beyonder showed up. In fact, they all fled because Courtney turned Shaman’s medicine pouch inside-out. Courtney really was responsible for their defeat. Oh well. A car turns into a big robot. Courtney gets scared, because it’s Madison Jeffries. Jeffries was mad when he heard that Courtney killed Guardian. Diamond Lil attacks the car-bot, and gets smacked aside. Jeffries runs over to take care of her. He guesses that Courtney probably messed with the heads of the other Omega Flighters, to get them in on the revenge scheme, since they’d never been bad sorts before.

The car-bot keeps advancing on Courtney, and she throws one of Flashback’s future-men in front of herself as protection. The robot kills the Flashback, which means that Flashback, at some point in the future, is going to die. Jeffries gets fed up with Courtney’s cowardice, so turns her inside-out. Lil asks Jeffries what’s going to be done with the rest of Omega Flight, and he tells her that they’re still accomplices to murder, so they need to be brought in. He wanders into the mall, and sees Alpha Flight chatting with the Beyonder. Talisman wakes up, and after some recapping of what happened last issue, she decks Shaman. She is pissed, and she sends Alpha Flight away, back to their base, along with Jeffries. Everyone’s a bit high-strung, so Heather tells them all to go relax for a couple hours before a de-briefing.

Heather takes a bath while recording notes about the mission, and her concern for Shaman’s emotional state after Talisman rejecting him for failing her again. The lights go off, and she heads down to the lab to see what’s going on. Bochs and Walter are in the process of retrieving a body for Walter. Puck explains the plan, and Heather gets angry that no one actually thought to tell her about it first. She orders the experiment to be ended, but Walter says it’s too late. They’ve hooked the body, but they’re having trouble pulling it in. Walter leaves the Box robot and Bochs merges in. Bochs manages to pull in the target.

It’s the Hulk.

This leads to Incredible Hulk #313, by Bill Mantlo and Mike Mignola. Hulk gets speared by energy, and tries to escape it, but can’t. Another form enters his body, kicking Banner’s spirit out. It’s Walter! Banner is actually willing to let Walter keep the Hulk’s body, and to die himself. Walter thinks Banner’s sacrificing himself, and isn’t willing to let someone else die on his behalf. He doesn’t realize that Banner actually wanted to die. Banner’s forced to re-merge with the Hulk, and the Hulk gets pulled through back to the normal world.

And this sets up Alpha Flight #29, and the beginning of Bill Mantlo’s reign of mediocrity on the title, while Byrne takes over Incredible Hulk.

This final issue of Byrne’s run is a bit of a let-down. The fight between Jeffries and Omega Flight is slow and dull. The conversation between Alpha Flight and the Beyonder is likewise boring, especially since the Beyonder sucks so much. Talisman’s rather emotional reaction to her father’s failure is definitely good. That’s a powerful moment, and Byrne draws her in a way that makes her look downright scary. This gives Shaman a bit of a breakdown, handled well here. Also nice was Heather getting pissed at the fact that no one told her – supposedly the leader of Alpha Flight – about a rather dangerous experiment involving interdimensional interfacing. It’s pretty authentic, actually, for a bunch of guys to go ahead and do what they want without talking to a woman who’s supposed to be their boss. A nice touch is her irritation at Jeffries being involved when he’d just gotten there. So there were still some good scenes. Just the same, as a whole, the issue felt disappointing, especially as the end of Byrne’s run. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like the end of a run should do something to reflect back on that run. It shouldn’t feel like just another issue. Though, as I’ve said before, it’s also possible my enjoyment is hampered by knowing what’s coming under Mantlo.

Song of the day: You Can’t Go Back by Royal Wood.

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