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Alpha Flight #63 (1988, October)

September 1, 2016

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). This issue marks the end of October 1988! Hurrah! What a long-ass month. At least November will only have, uh, 10 posts. Help. Well, today, by James D. Hudnall, Hugh Haynes, Mike Gustovich, Don Hudson, Bob Sharen and Janice Chiang, “Technomancer.”

Technomancer

Something seems off about the plane he wrecked.

We open with a flashback, to Alpha Flight #16, when Jeffries met Bochs. The actual first meeting, not the weird ret-con Mantlo tried to shoehorn in and which I guess everyone decided to just ignore. Meanwhile, some dude with no job and a lot of bills is working at his computer, making a virus. Actually, it’s a virus and a worm, since it moves from computer to computer. That was two years ago, he made this worm. He uses a payphone to upload it to a Colorado bank. Remember that this comic came out in 1988, well before the Internet became a household thing. Based on some very cursory Google research, apparently acoustic couplers could be used to send non-voice signals through phones, and it looks like that’s what he used here, combined with what is essentially a laptop, as shown here:

Alpha Flight #63

The pinnacle of 1988 computer technology.

This also gives more information on his plan. Next we see how Jeffries took over the Box armour. And then we catch up with the virus programmer in the present, in Boulder, Colorado, where he’s rich as a result of the program stealing funds from various banks. He worries about what’ll happen if it ends up in a non-bank computer, when there are no funds to transfer. That . . . seems like the kind of thing he should have thought about ahead of time? Oh well, I’m not programmer. I’m sure it’ll be fine. I’m sure that won’t literally be the plot of the issue.

The scene changes, presumably for no real reason, to Strategic Air Command Headquarters, in Kansas, as they transfer money, via computer, to the Bank of Colorado. And this might be the most hilarious moment of the issue:

Alpha Flight #63

This is so un-subtle, I love it.

“Sir, I think something’s happened that’s going to lead to disaster.” “Screw it, we have to advance the plot.” They are so very much characters in a story. Anyway, Heather and Jeffries are in the home she used to share with Mac. He’s set up a high-tech computer centre in the basement. Remember when he used to be poorly-educated? Now he’s a computer genius. He tells Heather he’s been putting together a database of known supervillains, and has gotten permission to tap into Air Force files to download their data. Something, predictably, goes wrong. Box transforms into a freaky robot monster, knocks out Heather, and then blasts a hole in the wall and flies off. And then things get freaky.

As the Box armour is flying over a forest, Jeffries is in a trippy “computer” mindscape. He tries to talk with the virus, but it just speaks binary, so he turns his watch into a translator. Meanwhile, the armour has flown over the border, into North Dakota, so American fighter jets are sent to shoot it down. The virus explains that it’s designed to transfer units, and needs to transfer the nuclear weapons from the Missile Control Network. Which is, uh, a plan.

The armour reaches the North Dakota Air Force base, and gets in a fight with the armoured suits there. I guess the Air Force has powered armour. Who knew? While they keep the Box armour busy, Jeffries phases out and uses some spare metal to build a new Box suit, which he uses to blow up the old suit. The day is saved, hurrah, and on his way home, he hopes Heather’s OK.

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