Characters Appearing: Angel, Belasco, Goddess, Hercules, Manikin, Northstar, Puck, Sasquatch, Talisman, Vindicator (Heather Hudson), Wild Child, Windshear, Witchfire, Wyre
Alpha Flight #123-124
Issue(s): Alpha Flight #123, Alpha Flight #124
The situation here is being presented as a polar opposite to what is going on with the Goddess. if the Goddess (supposedly) represents goodness out of control, what we have here is Witchfire bringing Hell to Earth on behalf of her (not yet revealed) father, who is going to oppose the Goddess.
The Alphans have to fight their way past some pretty cool looking demons.
Meanwhile, Witchfire lurks around in Paradise Omega where the brainwashed Alphans are, a serpent in Eden.
From that we get a little insight into why we haven't heard about Sasquatch's religion before.
Sasquatch and Talisman do manage to overcome Witchfire's seeding of doubt, but despite the seemingly inspirational feel to that, it just means that they're back under the control of the Goddess.
Wyre and Manikin were previously defeated by Witchfire, but Wyre (who was thought dead) recovers, and Manikin gets his powers back in a new way, allowing him to actually transform into his other selves instead of just summoning them all.
So they're able to distract and defeat Witchfire. The big question is whether Wyre is going to kill Witchfire or let Manikin try to bring her back to normal.
Wyre relents and Manikin uses whatever his future self's power is to restore Witchfire. She's remorseful, but the Goddess-brainwashed Alphans show up to try to take her back for punishment.
Heather is able to convince Puck to withdraw his team.
Witchfire doesn't explicitly name her father, but we see at the end that it's Belasco (although even then he's not named).
I'm not so sure about this use of Belasco. It's true that he was the ruler of the pocket dimension of Limbo and he has a demonic form, but i feel like him trying to set himself up as the "Supreme Being of the Multiverse" is on the ambitious side. I generally think of him as more of a cultist serving the Elder Gods than a Mephisto level Hell God, which is how it feels like he's being used here. I suppose his most recent appearance in Punisher shows him moving in this direction (who knew that would turn out to be character development!). And it's always good to have stretch goals.
I know Witchfire's "evil" form is standard goat-hooved demon stuff, but i can't help thinking of Magik during Inferno and tracing that back to Limbo and Belasco.
The upgrade for Manikin makes him more practical, if less unique. One problem with Manikin is that he made it seem like Alpha Flight had four new characters on the team, and on top of all the other post-Byrne characters it just really contributed to the feeling of the book being an out of control mess. But even with this change, he's still Manikin.
As i've said before, i think part of the focus on Witchfire and Manikin is that the core characters are not really usable since this book has been in constant crossover mode. So it's safer to mess with the secondary characters, introduce Wyre, etc.. That's not entirely a defense, since time has also been taken to put Wild Child through these various changes and the Infinity books have been able to reflect them (and even Windshear is included in the crossover this time around). I'm just looking for some reason why so much time was devoted to this secondary stuff especially when we're theoretically in the middle of the important superhero registration storyline, which had potential.
A back-up story shows Windshear fighting alongside fellow Goddess converts Hercules and Archangel. They are, i don't know, subduing infidels for the Goddess or something. Seems to not really fit with what was going on in the core book.
The point is really to set up a contrast with a flashback scene.
Windshear more or less drops out of existence after this series is cancelled, so i'm not too interested in his background. I'm more focused on how obvious it is how little coordination happened on these crossovers, with stuff like this bearing no resemblance to the core story.
*As an aside, one of the annoying things about Alpha Flight is the identity switches. Vindicator is sometimes Guardian and vice versa. Shaman is sometimes Talisman. And then we've had the cases where one character has taken on another's identity (Sasquatch/Snowbird and Madison Jeffries/Box). And not really on the same scale, but Wild Child goes through two other identities (first Weapon Omega and currently Wildheart), the point of which is that i don't think he was immediately recognizable to people picking up these crossovers as the character that readers might have had a lingering interest from the Byrne days or the stories that tried to associate him with Wolverine. Overall, it has a kind of 're-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic' feel. I'm not saying it contributed to Alpha's poor sales, necessarily, but from personal experience i know that the few times i picked up the book in the post-Byrne years i spend half my time scratching my head about who was who now (and that's on top of all the new characters; see above about Manikin). And since i hadn't been following all the developments they just seemed like arbitrary and meaningless changes. If i'm going to give a book that i'd left behind another try, it should bear some resemblance to when it was good!
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place while Aurora is being allowed to go to the Goddess in Infinity Crusade #2. It's said that Alpha Flight gets back in time for Infinity Crusade #3.
The back-up from #123 is covered in a separate entry. The back-up in #124 can take place the same time as the main story here.
Crossover: Infinity Crusade
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
I kinda liked Alpha's secondary cast, so these issues, while incredibly slight, were still ok with me. But I still remember the next couple issues as some of the worst comics I've ever read in my life
Posted by: George Lochinski | December 2, 2016 5:32 PM
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