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Alpha Flight #54 (1988, January)

April 24, 2016

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I went to a thing today. I’ll talk about it on Tuesday. For today, by Mantlo, Haynes, Portacio, Wright and Chiang, “Goblyn!”

Goblyn!

They’re probably all just taking a nap.

Goblyn is outside the base, freezing, and remembering what happened. Her twin, Laura, felt frightened, so fled to Liveworld, and brought Goblyn to Deadworld. Goblyn wants to go back to Liveworld, but knows Laura would die in the snow, so she decides she has to go back inside first.

Inside the base, Alpha is fixing up the holes to keep out the cold. Sasquatch and Box both suggest they can fix the place up, with Sasquatch saying that, as a scientist, she should be able to come up with climate-control and life support systems. It amuses me how casual he is about it. “I’m a physicist, how hard can complex electrical systems be?” Of course, being he’s a comic book scientist, of course he could handle it, no problem. Manikin says the Derangers are dead, and Purple Girl gets all mopey and thinks maybe they were the lucky ones. Angst alert! And a flashback to detail who Purple Girl is. This leads to her declaring they need to find and help Goblyn. So Alpha heads out to search.

Inside, Purple Girl cries on Whit’s shoulder about all the death. Credit where it’s due, it’s a good scene. Purple Girl’s still just a kid – she’s maybe 14 at this point. And she’s a good kid who’s been through a lot. So it’s reasonable that she’d need a good cry, and Mantlo restrains his usual verbosity and need to over-explain things. The scene works.

Back outside, Goblyn ambushes Sasquatch and claws his eyes out, blinding him. Heather follows the screams, and finds Laura passed out in the snow. Heather extends her force field to provide some warmth, and Goblyn reappears and slashes at her. Box finds Goblyn next, shaking and looking scared, and puts her in a little dome to bring her back to the base. Where Goblyn promptly breaks out. She takes out Box, then takes out Manikin, leaving only Purple Girl.

Purple Girl tries to use her power on Goblyn, and they wind up mind-linked as we get Goblyn’s back story. A couple got married and were having twins, but one was a mutant, and since the husband was an anti-mutant activist, they decided to get rid of that one. (Interestingly, the woman goes so far as to declare that it’s her body. Mantlo did slip some progressive stuff into his run.) The mutant twin was bombarded with radiation in the womb, with the non-mutant twin moving to intercept. In the end, one twin was born – Laura, who’s autistic. The other was gone, until she recently started swapping places with Laura.

Kara runs from Goblyn while thinking how shitty their lives have been, and decides to take a stand Her tears distract Goblyn. That’s when Alpha Flight busts in again, looking to put Goblyn down. Purple Girl throws herself in front of Goblyn to protect her, which gets through to Goblyn and makes her stop fighting.

This is a pretty good issue. Mantlo does still have problems with over-explaining, and with unrealistic dialogue. But there is some real emotion in Purple Girl’s desire to save Goblyn. It’s handled well, and is a good shot to the feels. There are some specific moments that are particularly stellar.

The art’s good, too. Haynes was just a fill-in artist, but he was good. It’s a nice, conventional art style. Truthfully, he was probably a perfect fit for the title – largely forgettable. Alpha Flight got a few artists here and there that were just too good for the material – Brigman and Lee being the big ones – but Haynes was appropriately average. There’s nothing about his style to turn readers off, but also nothing to get particularly excited. In the one issue of Mantlo’s run where someone like Brigman would’ve worked perfectly. Ah, well.

So, yeah, one of Mantlo’s better issues.

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