Alpha Flight #65 (1988, December)
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). My pull list for tomorrow is posted. And now, I get to finish 1988! Finally! And then I get to start on the 113 posts it’ll take to get through 1989. Ouch. Anyway, by Mantlo, Haynes, Milgrom, Sharen and Chiang, “When Robots Dream!”
Jeffries is having a dream of being attacked by Bochs and Scramble. He wakes up screaming. The next morning, he fixes Heather’s dad’s car’s engine, making it a fancy maintenance-free engine. Because, apparently, he’s that much of an inventive genius that he can create engines decades ahead of modern technology. Bleh. Heather’s speaking to her mom, who points out Heather hasn’t taken off her costume since she arrived. Of course, we saw her without it earlier in the issue, when she went to Jeffries when he awoke from his dream. But whatever.
Heather tells Jeffries they got a letter from Kara. She and Laura seem to be doing well. Mostly.
Kara tells a bully to suck her sweatsocks. Ew, ew, ew. I’m sorry to people for whom that’s legitimately a fetish, but ew. Though I do like this follow-up panel:
We then cut to Ottawa, where the Jade Dragon is fed up with being watched all the time. He flips out a bit, and some Chinese agents move in on him. But that’s enough of that, back to Heather and Jeffries, who come across a wrecked bridge. They get to the dress-fitting, and Jeffries thinks about how Heather-as-Vindicator turns him on, and wonders what that fetish says. Then he dozes off. In his dream, the Box armour attacks an orphanage.
At home, Heather and Jeffries hear a radio report about an orphanage that was attacked. After taking care of that, they head over to see Father Lloyd, a friend of the family. Jeffries worries he’s going insane. His brother was crazy, and he worries it runs in the family. He falls asleep again, and Scramble and Bochs tell him they’re going to force him to kill Heather. He turns the car into armour and attacks her.
He attacks a plane in order to distract her, then hits her. She’s down, but before he can finish her off, he phases out. The robot is still under the control of Scramble and Bochs, and he can’t affect it, so he makes another metal out of nearby train cars. That doesn’t last long. But Bochs/Scramble can’t kill Jeffries and Heather. Jeffries realizes it’s possessed only by his own guilty conscience. He also senses something manipulating his mind.
A few days later, he and Heather visit the graves of Bochs and Scramble to talk about guilt and grief and yadda yadda.
This is a weak issue. There are some unintentionally hilarious moments, with all the cheesiness. The issue really is cheesy. It made me roll my eyes a lot. It’s not helped by the fact that we just had an issue where Jeffries loses control of the Box armour – Heather even references it. In fairness, that’s probably not really Mantlo’s fault – that previous issue was a fill-in, and I imagine Mantlo had this issue planned already. It’s an unfortunate coincidence, but it is probably a coincidence. Setting that aside, though, this issue is just more of the melodrama I found tiring during Mantlo’s run. This does tie into a larger plot that’s developing, though, so I guess it works as part of that larger plot. As a stand-alone, it’s bland.
The art isn’t much better than the writing. Haynes is an OK artist, but he’s not a particularly exciting one. It is, frankly, rather boring art. He does do a good job in the Vindicator/Box fight, I’ll give him that. He’s a pretty decent action artist. But still, very much a mid-tier artist.
Meh issue, overall.