Alpha Flight #67 (1989, February)
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Whew, I’m back for a regular post. I’m still a little sick, but I can at least think. So, today, by Hudnall, Haynes, Talaoc, Sharen and Chiang, “Wrath of the Dreamqueen (Part 1): The Ties That Bind.”
Elizabeth and another guy on a dig with her dig into a cairn, and find a skeleton strapped down, with a small sceptre at its feet. Liz tries to touch the sceptre, and her hand bursts into flame, and she passes out. She’s contacted by Snowbird’s spirit for a history lesson.
And now, Dreamqueen’s origin! 800 years ago, a succubus named Zhilla Char was wandering the astral plane, and was spotted by Nightmare. He raped her, then banished her to another dimension. It’s basically a death sentence for Zhilla – apparently, demon mothers become their own children. Once she was born, the Dreamqueen started shaping the dimension to her own whims. Eventually, she got bored. 350 years ago, a now-extinct Native American tribe was suffering a drought, so the shaman went on a quest in his astral form, to ask the gods for help. He came across the Dreamqueen’s realm, and she promised to help him. She lied! She used the connection to attack the tribe with dream monsters. She sent through a nightmare weapon – the sceptre – to see if it would be safe for her to journey to Earth. But one of the tribe’s warriors saw the weapon, and killed the shaman.
Nightmare showed up to taunt the Dreamqueen, and to let her know he screwed up her plans by giving the warrior a nightmare so he’d know not to touch the weapon. Then the tribe built a cairn around the dead shaman. Over the next couple centuries, the Dreamqueen remained pissed, but then, Goblyn showed up. The Dreamqueen watched her to see how she arrived in her relam, and then found out, when Laura swapped places with her. And then it’s just a recap of the last Dreamqueen story. At the end of that story, unknown to anyone, she planted seeds in the minds of Alpha Flight, which turned out to be the bizarre last few issues. In the meantime, she made Puck young, so she could alternately pleasure herself with him, and torture him. Jeez, Hudnall, got enough rape in this story? Anyway, she also sent dreams to Elizabeth to get her to touch the weapon. But Snowbird and the other gods snapped her out of that, so now, she has a choice about what she does next.
Elizabeth wakes up in a tent (in her underwear), and the people with her try to make her touch the weapon. Liz uses her powers, which she apparently still has, to knock the Dreamqueen’s influence out of their heads. Then she runs off to warn Alpha Flight. Still in her underwear. Nightmare drops by to warn the Dreamqueen that the world’s very different, and has beings even he fears.
Meanwhile, Alpha Flight’s gathered at Heather’s house to discuss the last few issues. Then they all pass out as the Dreamqueen shows up in the middle of them.
So. The first post-Mantlo issue of Alpha Flight. And we really don’t see Alpha Flight at all. Which is an interesting choice on Hudnall’s part, to start his run with an extended origin of a villain. The Dreamqueen’s origin is . . . kinda interesting? I’m mostly willing to give a pass on her being the product of rape, because demons. Demons are awful, and rape probably would be a fairly common part of demon “culture,” particularly where succubi are concerned. (Any sympathy for them is complicated by the fact that succubi are, themselves, rapists.) So while I dislike “rape as backstory” tropes, I’m willing to give it a pass in this case. Not, however, for the implication that the Dreamqueen has been raping Puck. No pass on that. Gross, Hudnall.
The other big part of her origin is the stuff with the fake Native American tribe. The “Chickaqua” tribe. And, eh. I’ll admit, I don’t know nearly enough about Native Americans (or First Nations, here in Canada) to be able to judge if their depiction here is racist. My guess? Probably. It does feel at least a little condescending, though certainly not mean-spirited. The bigger problem is that it’s just kinda boring. It goes on a little too long.
The art is fine. I think I would’ve preferred a darker style here, though. Something maybe a little more abstract. I feel like, when you’ve got a story involving dreams, the art should have a certain dream-like quality to it. Haynes is a fine artist, there’s nothing to really complain about with his art. I just think something different would have fit the story better. Still, it’s solid art.
On the whole, though, this is not the most auspicious beginning to Hudnall’s run. I don’t particularly like his run overall, frankly. This issue isn’t even close to being the worst of it. But it’s still a pretty weak start to the run.