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Alpha Flight #46 (1987, May)

January 7, 2016

Bleh. I’m not really in the mood for this. But I’ll do it anyway. Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Today, by Mantlo, Brigman, Portacio, Sharen and Novak, “Friends . . . and Lovers.”

Friends . . . and Lovers

Is Sasquatch trying to choke a robot?

Alpha is at Lionel’s hospital, so he can turn Walter back into a man. We get a page of exposition shoe-horned in before he can try. Most of it not really important, but whatever. Anyway, Bochs tells Aurora he loves her, and she says she was just lonely and he offered amusement. Harsh. Aurora’s a bitch. And Walter gets a little jealous and makes a comment about Aurora remaining faithful to his memory. Which is just stupid. Of course she wasn’t going to be “faithful to your memory.” What, was she supposed to live alone for the rest of her life? Come on. Don’t be stupid, Walter.

Lionel finally gets around to trying to fix his body, but fails, because of the magic involved in the whole thing. Aurora rejects Walter’s female body, because, again, Aurora’s a bitch. I think it would’ve been great if we got to see Aurora conflicted about it, torn between her love for Walter and her lack of attraction to his new body. Some scenes where she shows a real desire to be with him, and is frustrated at herself for not being able to get over her hang-ups. Regardless, Bochs says she’s fair game for him, because he’s also an asshole. Everyone in this comic is kind of awful.

Once Alpha leaves, Lionel’s intern, Dr. Knapp, expresses concern about the splotches on Bochs’ legs, as if they were decomposing. Lionel gets pissed and threatens to scramble Knapp if he ever suggests Lionel’s control over human flesh isn’t absolute.

That night, Heather updates Alpha’s files, and then looks through their history. Because we just don’t get enough of Heather thinking about how far she and the team have come. It’s not like we don’t get something like this every issue. Hey, maybe next we’ll get some sort of subtle hint about Puck having some sort of feelings for Heather, and doubts about her ability to overlook his disability.

Oh hey look! Aurora goes to talk to Puck and he mentions “yearn[ing] after an impossible love!” Mantlo, you predictable hack. We also see Walter and Northstar, with Northstar saying he preferred Walter as a man, and that he cried when Walter died, and also mentions being doomed. And then we get Kara talking to Jeffries.

Jeffries mentions having been friends with Bochs before they were in Beta Flight. But here’s the thing: They weren’t even in Beta Flight together. They first met in Alpha Flight #16, and it’s very, very clear from that scene that they had never met before. Mantlo either forgot that scene, or decided to ignore it, in favour of a much worse story. And then we see Aurora outside Bochs’ room, but she turns away. By the way, I should mention that we saw all these scenes because Heather was watching them on monitors. Which is creepy. She’s just sitting at her computer, spying on her friends. Who does that? That is not OK.

Bochs is sitting on his bed, scratching dead skin off his legs, and muttering to himself about making Aurora and the others pay. When Aurora goes to bed, she’s attacked by visions of nuns calling her sinful and evil, and she rejects her Jeanne-Marie persona. The scene doesn’t really do much here. I think it’s mostly just a matter of Mantlo deciding he should throw in some reminder of her being a split-personality.

Then Box smashes in and grabs her, and then stands at the top of the stairs threatening to kill her while the rest of the team stands at the bottom of the stairs. I guess they were the only two in bed. Puck and Sasquatch use an elevator to sneak upstairs, and Puck actually gets to be useful for once by getting Aurora out of Box’s hands, so Sasquatch can fight him. It’s one of the few times Mantlo let Puck be useful. Puck also recalls the Clinic for Socially Maladjusted Super-Beings, where he, Jeffries and Box were tested before joining the Flight program. This is the first it’s been mentioned. It will never be mentioned again. And it’s a really goddamn stupid idea in the first place. Mantlo, you colossal goddamn hack.

Anyway, Sasquatch and Box roll down the stairs and flatten Puck. Box shocks Sasquatch, then slaps aside Vindicator, which is enough to get Jeffries into the fight. And Puck once again gets a moment of self-pity because Mantlo was a goddamn hack. Jeffries tries to get through to Box, but can’t, so instead, he ejects Bochs from the armour and takes it over himself.

Ugh, Bill Mantlo was so bad. His Alpha Flight run was so terrible. A lot of things felt really forced. The characterization was two-dimensional. Most of the characters are awful people, with their personality flaws exaggerated way too much. Byrne’s Aurora could be pretty bad, but she still had her redeeming qualities. Here, nope, she’s just a bitch. Mantlo lacks any sort of subtlety. His version of “subtle” is to have Lionel threaten his assistant. Awful.

At least the book looks good. Brigman was a really good artist. Way too good for this book. She has such a soft, pleasant, pretty style. She’s good at expressions, though this issue gives her few opportunities there. For the most part, everyone has their Serious Face on, since the writing doesn’t allow for much else. I will say I love how she draws women. Especially “Wanda.” I’m not sure what it is, but there’s something I really like about Brigman’s “Wanda.” It’s not that “she’s” hot or anything like that. I mean, obviously, “she’s” attractive, it’s a comic so every woman has to be drop-dead gorgeous. But “Wanda’s” general look is really cool. Actually, I should explain something: The comic itself, going forward, with refer to Walter as Wanda, and use female pronouns. I won’t be doing that. I’ll continue to call him Walter, and use male pronouns, aside from a few instances when I’ll be talking about the body itself. The reason is simple: Walter may have accepted a female form, but I never got the impression that he actually felt comfortable with it. I think he still always identified as male – certainly he was happy and relieved when he did eventually get turned back into a man. Despite his body, Walter wasn’t truly a woman, so I’m going to refer to him as a man. His real self.

Anyway. Bad comic. Bill Mantlo sucked.

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