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Alpha Flight #74 (1989, September)

September 3, 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Today, by Hudnall, Calimee, Manley, Sharen, and Chiang, “Dark Reflections.”

Dark Reflections

As a Canadian, it’s hard not to cheer a little.

It opens with Lil narrating her disbelief at having killed Spider-Man, while throwing his body into a dumpster. And then we flashback to when they got back to Earth, and saw a newspaper about President Reed Richards disbanding Congress. Jeffries flew off to find a junkyard so he could turn into a plane, while the rest, in their costumes, went for coffee. At the Coffee Bean, where Spidey and his friends always used to hang out! They ask the waitress why everyone’s afraid of them, and the waitress explains no one knows which side they’re on, and when they mention being Alpha Flight, she mentions James Hudson being Prime Minister. And married to Aurora.

We check on Jeffries, who thinks Manhattan looks wrong, and you know what? I like that detail. Something like that is really effective at giving a sense of things being off. Anyway, he hits a barrier and gets attacked by Iron Man. A few hours later, Alpha is arrested by Vision, She-Hulk, and Wonder Man, and they’re taken to an underground bunker, reunited with Jeffries, and Captain America comes in to explain the situation. In 1990, Doom gathered a bunch of other supervillains and conquered the Soviet Union. In 1992, Reed was elected President of the US, Guardian was elected Prime Minister of Canada, and Captain Britain was chosen to run Western Europe and North Africa. Various efforts have been made to sabotage the Eastern Alliance, and lots of heroes have died in the failed coup attempts. Eventually, Cap finishes ranting, and demands they join the fight against the Eastern Alliance, but heather says they just want to go home. So, fight!

Alpha Flight #74

I like that word.

Then Alpha makes it to the streets and gets attacked by just about all the heroes. Lil gets grabbed by Rogue, then dropped into an alley, where Spider-Man goes after her. And is really goddamn pervy. But she manages to grab his ankle, then swings him against a building, breaking his neck and smashing his skull. She climbs up to the top of a building, and is confronted by Wolverine and Colossus.

So this is . . . not bad, really. It’s an interesting world they ended up in. The idea of the villains banding together to take over the Eastern Bloc, giving them cover against retaliation from heroes, is pretty cool. The way the heroes have responded also shows that this was probably always a shitty world. Something like this could easily be its own graphic novel or mini-series, actually. (Of course, there have been tons of similar stories since this one came out. And there were similar stories before it. I’ve no doubt that Watchmen was an inspiration. Hell, I’m pretty sure there had been What Ifs that were probably inspirations for the story, too. Still, for the time, it’s definitely a fairly unique premise.

But the premise is about all the issue has going for it. With Lil narrating, pretty much no one else gets any personality. And Lil’s own personality is weirdly dry. The tone is too expository – it doesn’t provide much insight into who Lil is as a person. Which is a shame. She needed something demonstrating who she is and how she thinks, to give readers more reason to care. Hudnall’s writing falls too flat. The art, likewise, is pretty bland. It’s not particularly detailed, it’s not really exciting, it’s not even all that expressive.

Ultimately, it’s a cool premise but a weak story.

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