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Alpha Flight #62 (1988, September)

August 9, 2016

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). My pull list is posted. But now, by Mantlo, Lee, Milgrom, Sharen and Chiang, “A Real Gone Daddy!”

A Real Gone Daddy!

Yeah, it’s a zombie issue.

Zebediah Killgrave pulls himself out of the grave in which his killed body was laying. He was killed in the Emperor Doom Graphic Novel. He’s back as a zombie, summoned from his rest by his daughter’s summons. He raises a horde of zombies to follow him. Kara wakes up screaming. She’s back living with her mom, with Laura and Goblyn also living with them.

We get a flashback to Sasquatch telling the rest of Alpha that, now that he’s “Wanda,” he can’t get his money, so Alpha’s broke. (As I’ve mentioned before, I use male pronouns when speaking about Sasquatch during this time, despite the female body, because there was never any real sense of Sasquatch being comfortable in a female body.) They get harasses by a horde of journalists, and Alpha proves the government’s concerns about them being menaces is true.

Alpha Flight #62

This is literally why people want Alpha controlled.

These are the heroes of the story? Are you frigging kidding me? “Hey, these reporters are asking questions! Let’s assault them!” What a bunch of dicks. Anyway, Alpha breaks up. Kara, Laura and Goblyn left first, after tearful farewells. Back home, things didn’t go great, and then she heard her father was dead. Kara felt bad about that, because he was her father, and she never got a chance to meet him. She thinks that, if he’d known she existed, he could’ve been better, and she wished he was alive so she could prove it.

Anyway, this was all a flashback, and now we cut back to present, right after Kara woke up. And Killgrave busts in with his zombies. So, here’s what I don’t get: Kara and her mom live in Toronto. Purple Man isn’t Canadian, and he wasn’t killed in Canada. So why was he buried in a Toronto graveyard? I genuinely do not understand this. Did Mantlo not know that Purple Man’s not Canadian? Or did he forget that this whole story takes place in Toronto? Anyway, Canadian zombies turn out to be as inconsiderate as American zombies, without a single “sorry.”

Kara tells her mom and Laura to leave, while she helps Goblyn. Goblyn deals with the bulk of the zombies, but Kara’s left to deal with her father as he chases her. Kara wonders why, if she’s the one who brought him back, she can’t put him back to sleep. She wonders if maybe her power didn’t do it, and who else might have. Either way, the chase leads to a panel I’m not really comfortable with.

Alpha Flight #62

Reminder: She’s 14.

I don’t know. Does this panel seem a little sexualized to anyone else? I don’t think it was Lee’s intention. And really, in-context, it does make sense. Her sleeping dress was torn up during the chase, and her pose is fairly natural. But even so . . . it feels weird. Maybe I’m over-analyzing it? It might actually be too much knowledge of Lee’s later work, in the ’90s. On its own, I’d probably think this is fine. But in the context of Lee sexualizing women throughout the ’90s, this ends up feeling a little skeevy.

But moving on. During the chase, Purple Man gets covered in gasoline. So Kara uses that tire iron there to create a spark to ignite the gas.

Alpha Flight #62

Forget women, Lee draws sexy fires.

Yeah, that’s the sexiest image in this entire comic. It’s one hell of a fire. So Purple Man is dead. Again.

And as an epilogue, we pay a visit to Elizabeth Twoyoungmen. It’s Talisman! Though she’s not Talisman at this point, her father is. So Liz is on a dig in the Yukon. She gets a feeling like she used to get as Talisman, but dismisses it, without knowing the glowing rocks behind her. Dun dun duuun!

I actually like this issue. Aside from a few weird bits – Alpha Flight assaulting reporters, Purple Man being buried in Toronto, a couple other little things – this is good. I do feel like the flashback should have been shortened just a bit, and a few more panels of Goblyn shredding zombies could have been added. I’m not normally one for demanding more action panels, but honestly, Jim Lee drawing a monster-girl tearing apart zombies? Yeah, that’s something that probably deserves room to breathe.

And actually, I want to say that Jim Lee just destroys on this issue. This is easily his best work on the book to date. Milgrom and Sharen deserve plenty of credit, too, of course, I suspect Sharen more than Milgrom. (Not a knock on Milgrom, I just suspect that Lee’s pencils left him little to do with the inking.) The issue is dark, and moody, and tense, and exciting. It’s phenomenal work, a gorgeous issue. And aside from the one panel I mentioned, it never does feel like the women in the book are sexualized. They’re attractive, sure, but it doesn’t feel male gaze-y.

But back to the writing. Mantlo does a good job. Kara’s grief at a father she never knew is really believable. Her terror and anger at his return is also done effectively. Perhaps most notably, though, is that Mantlo lays a couple really nice hints at what’s going on. Kara wakes from a dream about the Purple Man rising as a zombie. In that dream, and when he first attacks Kara, he seems fairly intelligent and eloquent. As the chase goes on, he becomes less and less so, until, by the end, he’s just shouting “Kill! Kill!” And also, during the chase, Kara wonders if someone else is responsible for his rising from the dead. All hints that there’s more going on than it seems. The next few issues add to that, and build-up to a very effective reveal.

So, yeah, Mantlo has a strong start to his final arc.

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