Alpha Flight #29
Issue(s): Alpha Flight #29
Why is the art such a sloppy sketchy mess?
Why isn't Puck wearing pants?
Where are Heather's eyes?!?
And why is everyone so depressed and wordy?
Today, i appreciate Mike Mignola's art. I understand that his semi-abstract style is deliberate, i like it for what it is, and i think he does really well with the action scenes.
I'd still prefer Heather to have eyes.
He definitely had a different idea about Puck's costume and the colorist just missed "correcting" it in one panel (and in Hulk #313, which i also had. i didn't understand creators but i understood the importance of a cross-over).
Anyway, i'm on board with Mignola nowadays (i still prefer Byrne!) but i was dead-on about Mantlo. Ugh. You'd think Alpha Flight was fighting D'Spayre, not the Hulk.
I know that the assumption here is that Walter Langowski is dead. But they don't know that for sure, and even so: get it together, people!
Then there's Roger Bochs, who just has a nervous breakdown. The concern he has about the relationship between his physical body and his robot suit is actually interesting; i just have never seen Bochs act so weirdly, and Puck's maudlin thought bubbles make it worse.
And the talking. Jesus H. Christ. Lookit Snowbird:
I'd almost think that Mantlo was so excited to be writing a book with characters that can do more than growl again that he couldn't contain himself, but it's not like he wasn't also writing ROM at the time.
Snowbird turning into Sasquatch for this fight is cool...
...but is it going to the well again too soon? Mantlo does make sure to remind us that using the form of a Great Beast is especially dangerous (in Snowbird's earlier appearances, using any form for too long put her at risk of losing her mind to that of the animal shape), but it raises the question of why ever turn into a polar bear if you can be a Sasquatch?
Anyway, a major shift in creative direction, and also a change in status quo as Gary Cody shows up to grant Alpha Flight official government support. So, can we end on an equally melodramtic positive note?
In an expository recap panel, Shaman refers to Delphine Courtney as Dark Guardian.
Fortunately, Mantlo never decided to bring him back bring the character back and refer to her as that officially.
Looking at the grief-wracked Shaman (who, unlike the rest of Alpha, never does get it together for this fight), Jeffries says "Too bad I can't put people back together the way I did Box. Usedta know somebody who could, but he's in worse shape than you right now!" That's a set-up for next issue.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place directly after Hulk #313. The Hulk leaps across the US/Canada border at the end of this issue (which prevents Snowbird's pursuit), and will next appear back in Hulk #314 (and Hulk annual #14).
Continuity Implant? N
Reprinted In: N/A
I'm surprised Mantlo lasted so long on Alpha Flight. Sales must have dramatically declined. Mantlo, as a writer, to me was always someone who could be counted to produce a decent, enjoyable story, but was never one of the greats. He really misfired on Alpha Flight though. To be fair, even after Mantlo left the title, no future writer seemed to understand what made the book and characters enjoyable. I think for many fans, the only real Alpha Flight was #1-28.
It took a long time for sales figures to decline. The statement of ownership listed Alpha Flight's sales for 1986 as 239,584 and as late as Alpha Flight 45, the book was selling in the top 25. But yes, by the time he was done, the book was reduced to being a direct-sales only title because of poor sales.
"Since the death of my husband, GUARDIAN..." That's some classic Mantlo clunk there. The exposition dance performed in combat boots. In a thought balloon, no less!
He scripted CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS too, didn't he? I remember that panel of Alpha Flight obligingly identifying each other and themselves -- the entire team, down the line -- in dialogue, presumably for the benefit of people who hadn't read X-MEN. "Speak for yourself, NORTHSTAR! SNOWBIRD likes it in the wild!" (That's not an exact quote, but it was all of that quality.)
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