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Alpha Flight #71 (1989, June)

May 22, 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Happy Victoria Day, to Canadian readers. Appropriately, I’ve even got a Canada-based comic for today. By Hudnall, Calimee, Manley, Sharen and Chiang, “Powerplays.”

Powerplays

“The Sorcerer.” What a generic name.

Alpha Flight’s trying to relax in the penthouse, discussing the future of the team, when the Canadian military drops in. A brief scuffle is ended by Talisman, who advises surrender. Elsewhere, a married couple are camping in the woods. The husband tells the wife about how humanity, as we think of it, has existed for 20 000 years, and almost all our progress has come in the last 150 years. Which really is pretty remarkable, honestly. Like, humanity has been constantly making advances for our entire history, some of them pretty massive. Like, writing was a big deal. But for the most part, yeah, life didn’t change that much, from one generation to the next. But since the invention of steam power, developments have come faster and faster, and life has changed with them. And these developments create problems, which new developments fix, and it cycles, and honestly, I do believe the future is bright. Anyway, the dude trips over a rock, digs it up, and uncovers a small statue.

Back to Edmonton! General Brian Winslow comes in to thank Alpha Flight for saving Canada, and let them know the government is ready to welcome them back. Heather refuses, and Talisman agrees, saying the team will be setting themselves up in Edmonton. Which annoys Heather.

Alpha Flight #71

Liz is totally just trolling Heather, at this point.

Talisman then points to some dudes in suits, who no one even realized were in the room. Back to the married couple. The wife wants to have sex, the husband says he’s not in the mood and rolls over. He dreams of the statue, telling him that they’re going to do great things together. It tells him the insurance company he works for is helping companies to damage the environment, and that his wife is cheating on him. And that the Earth is going to die in 20 years. It’s been 28 years since this issue came out, so its estimate is off. Also, nothing humanity does can kill the Earth. We can make it less hospitable for a while, but the planet will continue on just fine without us. Hell, we’d have to really work at it just to make it completely inhospitable to us. Still, we’re making it a tougher place to live, so we should probably try to be a little less awful.

Back to Alpha Flight! Heather feels like she’s losing control of the team. Remember when Mantlo had her routinely declare herself a better leader than Mac was? Yeah. Anyway, the dudes in suits included the mayor of Edmonton, who wants them to stay in the city. After Heather gets rid of the military and the mayor, Jeffries reminds her about Kara, still hanging out at the mall. She’s annoyed at them for leaving her behind, then says she wants to live a normal life. She takes Laura and Goblyn with her. Writing out the kids was probably a good idea. I could definitely see an Alpha Flight series that brings back the Beta and Gamma Flight concepts, and kids would fit that. But this series is still trying to be a fairly standard superhero adventure comic, and the kids just felt out of place for that. They lacked the charm of Kitty Pryde.

Back to the woods, where Dex yells at his wife to leave him alone, then talks to the statue. It’s actually kinda unsettling.

Alpha Flight #71

He seems fine.

Back to Ottawa. Jeffries is waiting for Heather, but Diamond Lil shows up instead. She gives him a kiss, which Heather spots through the window, and she turns away, even as Jeffries asks Lil to back off and says he’s in love with Heather. Of course Heather sees it wrong and chooses not to see what’s actually going on. It’s the most predictable outcome, and probably the least believable, so obviously, it’s what she does. Then she goes home to Talisman waiting for her.

Alpha Flight #71

I don’t care how hot you are, Breaking & Entering is not OK.

The obvious joke here is “there are worse things to come home to,” but you know what? No. Elizabeth is totally in the wrong here. How would you feel if you got home, and one of your friends had let themself in? Especially if they sat staring at your door so they could say something as soon as you got in. So bad Talisman. Bad! Don’t do this! Anyway, back to the woods, where Dex murders his wife, because the statue told him to. No big loss, frankly. Then he hangs her from a tree and slits her throat so her blood drips into a bucket where the statue’s been placed.

Alpha Flight #71

This is a really weird infomercial.

While Dex drinks the blood out of the bucket, Talisman explains some things to Heather. She says all the weird mystic creatures they’ve fought lately – the Great Beasts, Pestilence, the Dreamqueen – were all warnings. Every 10 000 years, the planets enter a certain configuration, which makes physical laws change so evil gets the upper hand. Guys, I’m not sure this is comic scientifically accurate. Regardless, Dexter is transformed, and he goes to kill Heather and Talisman.

Alpha Flight #71

What a terrible design.

This issue is, uh, something? Probably? Maybe? There’s kinda not a whole lot going on. Heather bitching about how the government’s treated Alpha Flight in the past, and bitching about how she’s in charge, her, not Talisman, Heather’s in charge, so there. I do like how few shits Talisman gives about that. It amuses me. But there’s quite a few things about the story that feel weirdly contrived. The mayor of Edmonton just appearing out of nowhere. Heather seeing Lil kissing Jeffries, and misinterpreting it. Does she have no faith in him? She seemed to just automatically assume the worst. The stuff with Dex and the statue were pretty interesting. Well-written, and it gets increasingly creepy as it goes on. A shame, then, that the Sorcerer ends up being so lame. Terrible design, stupid name, and as we’ll soon see, a pretty bland personality. He’s a lame villain.

The art here is . . . it’s OK. It’s not awful. But it’s also not particularly great. It feels flat and lifeless. Not much dynamism to it.

On the whole, this is a pretty boring read.

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