Alpha Flight #58 (1988, May)
Blah blah, recap exposition dialogue, whatever. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but the introduction of dedicated recap pages is one of my favourite developments in comics as a medium. Anyway, they’re not sure how to get back to Earth, but luckily, Sasquatch comes up with an idea. He figures that Jeffries’ memory of blasting off from Earth, and the course taken, must be in his computer-brain’s programming. That’s actually pretty clever. On Liveworld, Laura runs into some danger, but Goblyn can’t swap places. Laura runs into the Dreamqueen, Mistress of Liveworld, and a woman with a sense of style.
Come on, look at her. She looks cool. Also, for some reason, I read her with an English accent. I don’t know why. She just seems like she’d be voiced by a well-respected English actress, hamming it up. Anyway, she wants Laura and Goblyn to swap places, but for some reason, it’s not happening. On the Boxship, Goblyn can feel Laura being choked, and reacts as if she’s also being choked, which causes the other Alphans, predictably, to turn hostile towards her. Because that’s always worked so well in the past. Luckily, Kara’s not a goddamn idiot, and she tells the others to back off while she goes inside Goblyn’s mind. And then Goblyn freaks out even more and jumps for the Boxship’s warp relay circuit as the course to Earth is being fed into it. So instead of Earth, they warp to Liveworld.
They warp in on a crash course for a floating island, with Box unable to change course, so Heather blasts a hole and uses her plasma bursts to change the course just enough to mostly avoid the island. But then they crash into a second one. Everyone’s thrown clear of the Boxship, and Goblyn goes running off, much to Kara’s annoyance. Everyone else is fine, but Heather was underneath the ship, and she’s unconscious, but her force field keeps them from figuring out what she’s in. I kinda feel like, once she wakes up, this is something she should start boasting about. “You think I’m scared of some supervillain? I had a space ship land on me, I’m invincible.” “Oh, your arm hurts? Does it hurt as much as having a space ship landing on you?” “Come on, Jeffries, you can be rougher than that, I had a space ship land on me!” Erm, that last one probably wouldn’t make it into print.
Back to Laura, and we learn a little bit about the Dreamqueen. Liveworld is her domain, and everything in it, she dreamed into existence. But she’s tired of dreams, and wants a real world to rule. And she wants Goblyn to take her there. So she summons demonic versions of Laura’s parents to torture her in order to force Goblyn to do it. Goblyn busts in and rips the demons to shreds, and then Dreamqueen tries to convince her to take her to Earth. And Goblyn bites her.
This issue is . . . pretty OK, actually. Mantlo doesn’t dwell on recapping ongoing events as much as usual. He mostly lets things speak for themselves, and the exposition we get is necessary and delivered naturally, without it just being people talking about things they already know, or thinking about the things they angst about. Primarily, it’s Sasquatch explaining her plan for getting them home, and Dreamqueen explaining who she is and what she wants. And Dreamqueen is kinda neat. She’s a rare good villain from Mantlo, whose previous villains in this book have been pretty awful. (Pestilence? Bedlam the Brain-Blast? Yeesh.) It helps that Jim Lee gave her a cool design. It’s not over-complicated, but there are enough details to keep visually interesting. And he imbues her with a certain amount of theatricality that’s really effective. Her dramatic dialogue is effective, too. She’s a lot of fun, and while she’s not the most complex of villains, the simplicity works: She’s spent an eternity in a realm where she’s the only thing that really exists, and she wants a world that’s real. And, obviously, she wants to rule it, because she’s not Dreampeasant or Dreamduchess or whatever. She’s a Queen, and Queens gotta rule. So, yeah, she’s a good villain.
Lee’s artwork is still a bit underdeveloped. There’s a tendency for faces to lose detail in some panels. But backgrounds are usually nicely-detailed, and he’s definitely a good visual storyteller. His potential is very clear. It’ll just take him a little longer to iron out some of the rough bits in his style. But he is already a good artist. My criticisms mostly come from knowing how much better he’s going to get.
So, yeah, a rarity: A good issue of Mantlo’s Alpha Flight.