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Alpha Flight #70 (1989, May)

April 25, 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). My pull list post is up. But now, by Hudnall, Calimee, de la Rosa, Barta, Nyberg (three inkers is never a good sign), Sharen and Chiang, “. . . Is But A Dream Within A Dream.”

. . . Is But A Dream Within A Dream

Boring cover.

It starts with some admittedly pretty cool narration about the people in Edmonton dreaming about bad stuff, and the arrival of Alpha Flight. In Ottawa, the Prime Minister (Brian Mulroney, at the time) is being briefed on the situation. The General briefing him says they don’t know if it’s a plague or chemical attack or something else, but the US can’t spare any of its super-teams, so Alpha Flight is all Canada’s got, despite the government’s efforts to break them up. The Dream Queen is in her penthouse, angry that Alpha’s coming for her, and that Talisman is protecting their minds. Alpha enters the building, and Talisman . . . might not be a great tactician.

Alpha Flight #70

“Let’s make ourselves easier prey.”

Liz, you’re dealing with a horror movie villain. Why would you suggest splitting the party? Wouldn’t it be safer to stick together, where it’s easier for you to protect everyone? Talisman also says she’s going to go off on her own, and that as the most powerful person there, she can take care of herself, and she knows what she’s doing.

Alpha Flight #70

People who say that should clearly be trusted.

Heather’s suspicious, but still thinks splitting the team is a good idea. But . . . dammit, did no one on this team watch any horror movies? Sasquatch, Laura and Goblyn go up to the 10th floor, and the elevator opens onto a restaurant, where Aurora is waiting for Sasquatch, and Laura’s parents are waiting for her and Goblyn. Heather, Jeffries and Shaman go up to the 15th floor, and a greenhouse, and Jeffries sees Heather and Shaman making out. While Jeffries yells at Heather, Shaman sees Talisman threatened by monsters.

Back at the mall, Kara wakes up, and wonders why Alpha left her behind. Aw, poor girl, she feels abandoned. Meanwhile, we find out Aurora is a monster.

Alpha Flight #70

People who laugh at their own terrible jokes are awful.

That is actually pretty cool. That panel of her eyes popping out actually reminds me of Michael Allred’s style. Shaman rushes to Talisman’s aid, and falls out the window. Sasquatch beats up Aurora, but Laura gets thrown out the window before he can get to her. Jeffries admits he probably didn’t actually see Heather and Shaman making out, but then they get attacked by vines, and Jeffries can’t get back to his armour, and they get dragged towards carnivorous plants.

The Dream Queen is pleased. Her power’s growing. Nightmare shows up to tell her she’s about to be killed by Talisman. The Dream Queen was actually prepared for Talisman, though, and has her buff sexy boytoys grab her. And they are boytoys. She says she brought them up pleasure her. Since they had no say in the matter, this does mean the Dream Queen is a rapist. But since she was raping men, it’s not a big deal. Because a lot of people haven’t yet realized it’s possible for a woman – even an attractive woman! – to rape a man. Mystique routinely commits rape by deception, and never gets called out on it, and it’s arguably part of the reason she’s so popular. Always uncomfortable when that pops up in a comic.

Anyway. Shaman’s rescued Laura, and Heather and Jeffries have freed themselves, and Sasquatch and Goblyn break for an elevator, and they all head for the top floor, figuring that’s where the Dream Queen’s likely to be. Why none of them thought of this before isn’t addressed. It’s sloppy writing, frankly. Hudnall wanted to have the dream fights, so he half-assed a justification, even if it made no sense. Talisman frees herself from the boytoys, but the Dream Queen manipulates Alpha into starting to attack her. Laura opens a portal behind Dream Queen, Talisman punches her through it, the day is saved. By a good right hook, which amuses me. I like the idea that Elizabeth, for all her mystic power, is kind of a brawler at heart. It’s not like there’s any real evidence of this. She did seem to enjoy sparring with Puck in another issue.

Regardless, with Dream Queen vanished, Heather yells at her for lying to them, and Talisman explains that the closer they got to her, the stronger her control would be, and that by trying to help her, they almost killed her. Well, you know, it’s a great point, but I kinda wonder if maybe telling them that from the start might have helped?

On a side note, the letters page has letters reacting to #66, the issue where Manikin told off Bill Mantlo. I noted the issue as the best of Mantlo’s run, something that was fun and clever and great. The letters about it were mostly negative. Apparently, people hated the entire idea of a character being aware of the writer. Hilariously, the same month Marvel printed letters complaining about it, they also launched Sensation She-Hulk #1, by John Byrne. A series built on the idea of She-Hulk routinely breaking the fourth wall, including talking to Byrne, and to editor Bobbie Chase.

But this issue! The finale of the Dream Queen arc. It’s mostly OK. There is some pretty good narration early on. There’s a few good character moments. Talisman’s dishonesty and bloodlust is actually pretty interesting. She fully plans to kill the Dream Queen. Of course, that’s nothing new for Alpha Flight – “kill ’em all and let god sort ’em out” is Heather’s default strategy for villains. And children. (To be fair, it tends to be my strategy for children, too. Never ask me to babysit.) But still, seeing it from Elizabeth is interesting, and does set her apart from normal superheroes. Man, I miss Talisman. I would kill for her to be part of an ongoing book again. A new volume of Alpha Flight would be wicked. Get Ryan North to write it.

While the dream stuff is inserted awkwardly, most of it is actually still really good. There’s a nice horror element, particularly with Sasquatch and the girls. Being attacked by monsters who resemble people you love? Great nightmare scenario.

The art is . . . not great. Calimee’s style is a bit odd, and not particularly expressive. The body language is pretty generic, too. I do not know nearly enough about art to judge the inking, but when multiple inkers are applied to an issue, that usually means the issue was being rushed a bit, and there are parts of the issue that do seem rushed.

All in all, it’s an OK issue.

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