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Alpha Flight #37 (1986, August)

August 18, 2015

I’ve got tomorrow’s pull list up. But now, by Mantlo and Ross, “Death Birth.”

Death Birth

Alpha Flight loses a member. I’d rather it lose a writer.

The issue starts with a flashback and journal entry from 1848. A couple ships have gotten stuck in ice while looking for the Northwest Passage. Apparently, the passage was navigated in a 1903-1906 expedition. Of course, climate change means that pretty soon, the Northwest Passage will be open routinely. Which is not a good thing. Anyway, the journal is by a doctor along on the trip. He leads the remainder of the crew away. They all die, but the doctor drinks an elixir that would leave him a state like death. The surviving men buried him, so that the spring wouldn’t be able to warm him up enough to wake him.

In the present, Alpha Flight is flying towards the spot Shaman chose for Snowbird to give birth. Aurora shows off her winter costume, which has her completely covered. I think we’re supposed to still find its tightness sexy, except that every superhero wears equally tight clothing. Anyway, she flirts with Bochs. That leads to nowhere good.

They come across Talisman, who tells off her father, and says she’s there to watch him fail. She’s become a bit of a bitch. They land, and start the birthing process. Right on top of where that guy was buried in 1848. While Talisman continues acting like a bitch, Shaman worries about her.

Then the Gods of the North show up. Hodiak, Nelvanna, and the Nameless Shaper, named Turoq. Yes, Mantlo named the Nameless. Why? Because Mantlo’s entire run on Alpha Flight was pure hackery. Regardless, the gods offer Snowbird a chance to rejoin them, which she declines.

She starts giving birth, and Dr. Corpse starts somehow using magic to attack Alpha Flight. Talisman says she made the spirits lead Shaman there, because it was a place of both power and death. Northstar gets caught by muck, and Aurora reminds him she can’t help because they can’t touch without losing their powers. An unnecessary reminder, I’d say. Aurora gets covered in maggots, and Box rusts. Vindicator says it’s like they’re being attacked by forces of death and decay, because someone needs to provide that exposition. Then she’s attacked by flies. In the Arctic. I’m not sure how that’s supposed to work. Puck falls through the ice and into the water.

Talisman keeps the spirits from helping Shaman, and says she’s going to step in to save the day herself, because she’s a bitch. Then Dr. Corpse joins with Snowbird’s baby, and calls himself Pestilence. But then it turns out Talisman screwed up – she figured Pestilence was a spirit she could control, but nope! He rips her tiara off and tosses it away.

And then it cuts to Namor showing up in Atlantis.

Meh. As usual, when it comes to Mantlo’s Alpha Flight, all I can say is meh. There’s some relatively interesting ideas, but Mantlo’s writing was terrible, so the comic ended up just being boring. Talisman’s bitchiness went ridiculously out of control. Seriously, she couldn’t be in a panel without saying or doing something bitchy or spiteful. Mantlo took her resentfulness of her father, and made that the entirety of her character here. She has absolutely no other character trait beyond “I hate my daddy.” Mantlo had a bad knack for making characters one-dimensional. Doug continues to be defined by whining about the situation. You’d think Snowbird would get a good role in a comic about her giving birth, but nope! She may as well be a plot device. Aurora begins a flirtation with Bochs, because she needs to flirt with someone, and he was the only guy on the plane who wasn’t old. Just so much bleh.

The art is fine, but it’s nothing special. It’s not the kind of art that makes you buy a comic. It’s the kind of art that’s just there.

Such a mediocre comic.

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