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Alpha Flight #47 (1987, June)

January 21, 2016

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Yesterday, Alpha Flight made a triumphant return in Captain Marvel. So today, I go back to talking about their darkest days: Mantlo’s run. So, by Mantlo, line artists Craig Brasfield, Mike Mignola and Steve Purcell, inkers Whilce Portacio and Terry Austin, colour artist Bob Sharen and letterer Jim Novak, “You Can’t Tell the Forest From the Trees!”

You Can't Tell the Forest from the Trees!

I have a lingering cold. It’s not as frustrating as Mantlo’s Alpha Flight run.

A seed from space comes through the atmosphere, and it ends up at a kids’ baseball game in Alberta. A kid catches it, and it sprouts roots that take him over and make him start walking towards the woods. Meanwhile, Vindicator’s flying towards Haysboro, her home town, where this stuff just happened. She reflects on the falling-out she had with her family when she eloped with Mac, and then they cut her out entirely after they met Logan. In the present, she gets home, and her mom sees her in costume, and is a little shaken. Her parents tell her about a danger in Haysboro. Some kids have been disappearing from town, and the police can’t find any sign of them.

Heather and her dad drive around a bit, and find a bike on the side of the road. She flies around to check things out, and he finds some seeds, which do the possession thing. Heather finds trees are missing, too, and when she goes back to the van, her dad’s gone. The seeds on the ground sprout, but can’t get through her force field.

Elsewhere, the tree-people start summoning other people telepathically, and are attacking the town. Vindicator arrives to help out, while also thinking she needs to figure out some sort of threshold for when Alpha Flight can be called in on a problem. Anyway, the trees say she can’t hurt them without hurting the people inside. Mostly kids, remember. Vindicator decides, “Meh, whatever, good of the many and all that,” and starts blasting them. Mantlo’s Vindicator is stone-cold. Seriously, she jumps to “screw it, kill ’em all and let god sort ’em out” a lot during Mantlo’s run. Even Punisher would be like, “Damn, girl, maybe you should show a little restraint.”

Lucky for her, this is a superhero comic in the ’80s, so obviously, everyone is fine. Though not before Mantlo proves what a hack he is:

Alpha Flight #47

Pretty calm and analytical for someone who thinks she just killed kids.

Seriously, that is bad writing. “Thus incinerating those I didn’t think I could save”? She’s pretty sure she just killed some kids, and that’s how she talks about it? She sounds like a sociopath! Like she’s pretty sure she’s supposed to feel bad about it, but she’s not totally sure how. It’s ridiculous.

Anyway, she does save everyone, Happy ending, except a seed left unnoticed on the ground.

This is filler, obviously. It might even be an inventory issue. Filler issues like this are always a bit rough. It’s hard to enjoy a comic that very clearly has nothing to do with anything, and is only there because a deadline was about to be missed. I understand that sort of thing happens, and I don’t really blame the creators involved. And filler issues are better than reprints, which is what Marvel originally did when deadlines were missed. Just the same . . . it’s filler. It doesn’t matter.

This issue is obviously a superhero take on a horror story. And it’s . . . OK? I guess? Kinda? I’ll admit I’ve never really been into horror. (That said, check out Emily Carroll. She does a lot of horror comics, and they’re genuinely creepy, and often make really good use of the online format. Great stuff. She just posted a new one today! It’s good!) But this story just didn’t end up being all that creepy. There’s too much exposition, for one thing. There’s also the superhero stuff. It just all ends up cutting into any creepiness, not giving it room to breathe.

The art’s fine. No problems there. None of the artists clashed, at least not to my untrained eye. Some panels were pretty effective at the horror element. Then later, when we see the actual tree-aliens, nope! Not scary. Very generic tree-alien-monsters, just like we’ve seen in so many comics.

So, ultimately, this issue is completely skippable.

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