Alpha Flight #52-53
Issue(s): Alpha Flight #52, Alpha Flight #53
Issue #52 has Cody searching a computer disc that he pulled off of Alpha Flight's Alphanex computer last issue, and he thinks to himself that James Hudson may have already created the means by which the Canadian government could use to control Alpha. As Cody runs through the files, we see a number of scenes from Department H's formative past, including what i think is new information: the H in Department H stands for Hudson.
We also learn that Hudson, when he was having trouble finding super-heroes to recruit into Alpha Flight, decided to make them. Wolverine was aware of this.
The files don't go further than that, but provide the location of Hudson's secret lab, where Cody finds something in a creepy cocoon.
Cody figures it's a good idea to go ahead and open that.
After a jump away to look in on the current Alpha Flight team (the big news is that Heather and Madison Jeffries formally begin their relationship), we come back to find a comatose Cody and then we see Wolverine getting a call from "Hudson" telling him that "Bedlam is free".
Wolverine shows up at Alpha's headquarters to find it in ruins. Only Madison Jeffries is around, and he's a mess.
He tells Wolverine that they were attacked by "Bedlam the Brain Beast" while they were all in a training session.
We learn that Bedlam has taken the rest of Alpha Flight up to a new complex in the "Artic".
There are a few new faces among the captives. Bedlam introduces everybody with a brain meld of some kind.
Bedlam reveals that after Hudson activated him, he turned on him, and Wolverine and Guardian forced him back into the cocoon. Bedlam now takes the four new characters, calls them Derangers, and tells Alpha Flight that they have to fight.
Heather helpfully spells out their powers and origins for us.
Wolverine and Box show up during the fight...
...and we learn in a really dumb way that James Hudson actually wasn't responsible for the creation of Wolverine.
Heather takes down Bedlam.
Most of the Derangers are also killed, but Goblyn gets away, and Alpha Flight decide to make the Arctic base their new home.
Wolverine is teleported home by Manikin's future self.
The most interesting thing about these issues is seeing Jim Lee's early Marvel art.
I said above that the government conspiracy angle had merit. The problem with these issues is that they're terrible. The idea that James Hudson was some kind of manipulative guy flies in the face of his early appearances. Bedlam is ridiculous. And it's just amazing how Mantlo is completely tearing down the status quo - after some decent horror stories in the beginning, he's been tearing down the characters one by one and totally revamping the team, and he's now at the point where he's tearing down his own previously established ideas (Alpha's headquarters and association with the government). There's nothing wrong with keeping things fresh, but the speed at which things are moving, and the degree of destruction left in its wake, smacks of desperation, and the stories read accordingly.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP has Wolverine here between Uncanny X-Men #220-221, same as his appearance in Daredevil #248-249. Kind of funny that right after Storm makes him leader he goes off on a bunch of solo missions.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showBreakdown, Freakout, Gary Cody, Goblyn, Janus (Deranger), Madison Jeffries, Manikin, Pathway, Persuasion, Sasquatch, Vindicator (Heather Hudson), Wolverine
I didn't like the way Heather found out Mac had nothing to do with Logan's adamantium. Bedlam encountered Mac briefly years ago- why would he have taken the time to read Mac's mind to see if he had anything to do with Logan's adamantium and then remembered that years later? I was half-expecting him to add "Oh, and Mac always hated it when you cooked roast beef."
Posted by: Michael | April 20, 2014 12:10 AM
It's not noted in the review, but the Derangers are the New Life patients Aurora encountered being held by Scramble in AF 48.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | April 20, 2014 1:18 AM
Yes, the seventh scan from this review:
Posted by: Midnighter | April 20, 2014 6:56 AM
Thanks guys. Heather does say that in one of the scans i've included. But i've now added a Reference for that. I was also on the fence about tracking the Derangers as Characters Appearing but i've now added them here and in #48.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 20, 2014 9:11 AM
The Derangers were actually first announced as getting their own Marvel/Epic comic in 1985. Mantlo was the writer, and Butch Guice(and later Ken Steacy) was the artist. For whatever reason, the book didn't happen and Mantlo apparently decided to give his creations to Marvel and immediately kill most of them off. Considering how Mantlo's been criticized for depicting mentally ill people in previous stories, it's probably best we didn't see him handle an entire bookful.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 26, 2014 11:18 PM
Since the book's identity is heavily based on the team's association to Canada, the obvious theme is that of "government conspiracy." Might as well include the Mounted Canadian Death Squads as well.
Mantlo's earlier work was serviceable. Usually acceptable with the occasional mediocore issue, but just as frequently an above average one. I find his run in AF to be just awful, and we are reaching the nadir here.
Posted by: Chris | May 11, 2014 8:43 PM
June Brigman penciled #52.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | July 8, 2017 5:00 PM
Updated the credits. Thanks Vin.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 20, 2017 3:04 PM
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