Alpha Flight #50
Issue(s): Alpha Flight #50
The hope is that whatever the source of the magic was that gave Madelyne Pryor her healing powers in the X-Men/Alpha mini, it might still be available.
A spell alerts Loki that Alpha Flight has returned to the area, and although he vowed to Those Who Sit Above In Shadow that he wouldn't extract vengeance on Alpha, he does mess with their quest, ensuring that they wind up in the wrong place.
The source of the magic from the previous minis were the Light Elves of Alfheim, but Loki ensures that Alpha will instead encounter the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim.
After a lot of showing off of the new Box's abilities...
...and an interminable amount of running around in underground caves and fighting Dark Elves, Puck gets knocked into the "Firefountain" that was seen in the mini-series, and he grows again and releases Raazer.
Meanwhile, Loki shows up to reveal... oh god... that Aurora and Northstar are actually half-elves. Their father was an archaeologist that found elves and mated with one.
Loki says that they could have been cured if they wound up in the Light Elves realm. Aurora is able to use her light power to cure Northstar, though. Then, in a big mess of a fight including Alpha Flight, the Dark Elves, and Raazer...
...Vindicator ultimately decides to seal off a portal to the lower realm, trapping Aurora and Puck as well. Northstar then exhibits light powers of his own and enters the Light Elf realm.
And then Those Who Sit show up to admonish Loki...
...who quickly teleports Aurora to safety. Using her light powers on Northstar apparently also cleansed the elfiness from her body, and removed all her memories.
Loki deposits her at a monastery. And he's also teleported Puck, now purged of Raazer, to Tibet.
But Those Who Sit aren't buying Loki's claim that this was his plan all along, so they teleport him to fight with Raazer.
This is all just face-palmingly awful. The damage to Puck was already done, and while Mantlo passes up on an opportunity to say "just kidding", if he wants to get Puck off the team, fine. But the revelation that Aurora and Northstar are really elves... just terrible. I understand that Mantlo's original plan to reveal that Northstar had AIDS was rejected, and that may have meant he had to scramble for a resolution to that plot, but saying "fine, then he's an elf" is the sort of piss-taking that you might do in the immediate anger of having your plans change but quickly reject once you sober up. No way this should have gotten past an editor. To say it's damaging to the characters is beyond obvious (and it's clear Mantlo was just trying to get all these people off his team), but it's also damaging to a series that relied in part on a tenuous connection to the X-Men; now none of the original team members were mutants (and Walter Langkowski's effort to change Aurora's genetic structure so she couldn't be identified on mutant scanners in Alpha Flight #17 is looking pretty dumb). The basis for all of this is the characters' pointy ears (i'm hoping that the elf -> fairy association was incidental), which previous lettercol responses have made clear was just a genetic quirk and nothing more. Ugh, i can't go further with this. So dumb.
This will be reversed with Northstar's next appearance, post-Mantlo, in issue #81.
On something closer to grounded reality, we check in with the Beta Flighters that have been left at Alpha HQ.
I'll leave you with some classic Mantlo expository depression.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place soon after, but not directly after, the previous arc.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): showAurora, Black Raazer, Loki, Madison Jeffries, Manikin, Northstar, Persuasion, Puck, Sasquatch, Vindicator (Heather Hudson)
Unfortunately, the later revelation that Loki was lying doesn't explain why Northstar got sick in the first place.
Posted by: Michael | April 16, 2014 7:52 PM
For years I had wondered if maybe Byrne had been overheard as saying that he intended for Northstar to be a "fairy", but Mantlo misunderstood what he meant....
Posted by: Vincent Valenti | April 16, 2014 10:08 PM
"MAY HEAVEN HELP ME!"
Posted by: Todd | April 16, 2014 10:19 PM
About the only thing I can say about Northstar and Aurora being part-elf...
Well, it IS Loki saying it. Why would anyone believe the Prince of Mischief? Who already has an established grudge with you and your friends?
Pretty easy to dismiss this entire story as something Loki came up with while getting drunk.
Posted by: ParanoidObsessive | July 14, 2014 1:45 AM
Steve Saffel, A Marvel promotions rep, said in Comics Journal #130(6/89) that "a writer" tried to introduce a character with AIDS, but the story was rejected. Why? Because AIDS didn't exist in the Marvel Universe. He Actually Said That.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 8, 2015 10:05 PM
Those Whose Name Is A Very Good Description of What They Look Like don't rate Characters Appearing?
Posted by: Andrew | March 13, 2015 8:41 PM
Well, i don't know their individual names and i don't usually tag groups in the Characters Appearing. I have to admit your comment made me debate it again, but i figure people can find them with a regular text search or through the References.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 14, 2015 11:46 AM
Why did Mantlo dismantle this entire book? All of the character are dead / insane / trapped in wrongly gendered body /or government sanctioned killers. The only one character who got off lightly was Northstar, and that's because Mantlo was told Jean Paul getting AIDS wasn't going to happen. Had Mantlo been allowed to go through with that(leaving aside the whole heinous AIDS doesn't exist in the Marvel universe mandate), Northstar would have been dead forever. If you consider that Aurora was going to leave the team with this issue regardless of the AIDS subplot, then you really get an anti-sexuality vibe with Jean Paul dying of AIDS and Jeanne Marie going off to a nunnery as a result. "Sex is bad! Gay people get sick and die. Slutty women are unstable and need to be quarantined from the rest of the world. Don't do sex!" I really don't think Bill Mantlo felt like this as a person either. I just think he was this bad a writer.
As for why Northstar got sick. I took a quick reading of X-Men/Alpha Flight #2 and he was the only Flight member who sided against Loki with the other X-Men to convince the others to refuse Loki's Gift. If Loki was going to get revenge on Alpha Flight, he'd start with the one who defied him first and work his way up. Yes, Loki made a vow not to harm Alpha Flight to They Who Walk In Shadow, but as long as Northstar looked normal sick, Loki figured(correctly) that he could get away with it. As for how, "A Wizard Did It." Northstar must have eaten a crone's apple or something off panel. Works for me.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | April 15, 2016 8:37 AM
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