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Alpha Flight #29 (1985, December)

May 4, 2015

We finally finishoff 1985. By bill Mantlo and Mike Mignola, “Cut Bait and Run!”

Cut Bait and Run!

The series is all downhill from here.

Hulk smashes Box’s chest open. Bochs starts freaking out, wondering if he’d be able to survive if he phased out. Puck distracts Hulk and tells Bochs to phase out, but Bochs passes out instead, with his robot body falling towards Aurora. Northstar grabs her and pulls her out of the way, and tries to comfort her over Walter’s death while Jeffries tries to fix up Box. Aurora slips back into her Jeanne-Marie persona. Puck actually does pretty well against the Hulk, managing to avoid being smashed for quite a while. Heather tries to get Shaman to help with his mystical powers, but he says he can’t. His recent experiences have made him doubt his worthiness to use those powers. When he reaches into his medicine pouch, he can’t pull anything out. Puck shoves him out of the way of a bit of thrown machinery, and gets a wall collapsed on him for his effort.

Hulk leaves the building, and threatens to smash the city. Heather jumps onto his back. Northstar and Aurora are distracted. Aurora’s crying, and even Northstar starts to cry. Hulk jumps away, leaving Heather and Puck behind to figure out what to do. She says they need to keep trying to stop the Hulk. Jeffries finishes fixing Box, and Bochs phases out. Alpha Flight goes after the Hulk again, with Shaman staying behind only long enough to send a mystic summons before he leaves.

Alpha finds Hulk tearing up downtown Vancouver, and they fight him. Heather is pleased to see Alpha fighting as a team, following her orders. Hulk tears Box’s legs off, and Box just laughs about it. Hulk throws him, and Puck’s taken out. Northstar and Aurora touch to let off their light blast, but the touch instead cancels out their powers. With Alpha down, Snowbird arrives to help. She takes Sasquatch’s form to fight the Hulk. The military shows up, and Hulk jumps away, with Snowbird taking snow owl form to follow. She ends her chase when he crosses the border into the US.

She returns to see Alpha licking its wounds in the wreckage of downtown Vancouver. Puck points out that they brought the Hulk there, so they’re responsible for what happened, and Heather considers calling it quits. Snowbird talks the team out of quitting by saying they’ve protected the country without help or thanks. Gary Cody helicopters in to say that Department H has been refunded, and Alpha Flight will be part of it with no strings attached, and Cody serving as liaison.

This issue isn’t bad. It’s not great, but it’s not bad. Mantlo’s trying to get a handle on the characters, figuring out their important traits. The ones that he will harp on issue after issue after issue after issue after issue after . . . yeah, he doesn’t take long to get annoying. He hasn’t made Puck useless yet – he actually comes across pretty well here. A competent and confident fighter. That doesn’t last. Mantlo does tend towards the verbose, even more than Claremont. He’s not a writer who could shut up, and he never much leaned towards brevity, either. Dialogue, thought bubbles and captions fill every panel, to the point of it actually being a little tiresome. Comics is a medium that’s designed for “Show, Don’t Tell,” but Mantlo insists on telling.

The art is also weak. Mignola was fairly early in his career, and hadn’t developed his own unique style yet. His art here was fairly conventional, and not very strong about it. Certainly nothing to grab the reader’s attention, and a huge step down from John Byrne.

Knowing what’s to come probably does make me a lot more critical of this issue than I otherwise would be, but just the same, it’s really not a great issue, even if it is one of the best of Mantlo’s entire run.


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