Alpha Flight #30
Issue(s): Alpha Flight #30
The art is one thing. Today, at least, i can recognize the stylistic flair of Mike Mignola.
But the writing! The depression in this book falls out and sits on you.
On the other hand, the one thing definitely in the book's favor for 10 year old me was that the team was getting a formal headquarters and we even get to see the floorplan.
I'm still a sucker for these kinds of things. Although now i recognize that one of the strengths of Byrne's Alpha Flight was its haphazard non-team status; Mantlo is at least superficially making the team much more traditional, which raises the "What makes them more than a second-rate Avengers?" type questions. I don't really have a strong opinion about that type of question; if a book is well done, it doesn't matter if it has a unique overarching theme or setting. But it does mean Mantlo now has the harder task of making Alpha Flight a distinct book without relying on the non-team format. But to be fair, that format had probably played itself out by this point and it was time to do something like this or have the team disband.
After showing the team moving into their new base, we see Heather look in on Puck where Mantlo again highlights the "pain" that Puck experiences.
More on that in a few issues.
Heather then walks in on Madison Jeffries (we learn his first name is Madison this issue) and Roger Bochs using "Dark Guardian's" robot remains to reconstruct the Guardian suit.
Heather kind of flips out when she sees that but soon realizes that she needs to "stop letting every little reminder of Mac set me off like that... and pick up the pieces of my life and learn to go on without him". But probably that incident plus some needling from Northstar earlier about her qualifications as team leader is what has her acting a bit irresponsibly in the set-up for the main plot of this issue. Heather decides to do some research on Jeffries, and finds information about the brother that he mentioned last issue. Seeing that he's a doctor, she goes alone, taking Alpha Flight's only "Omnijet" to the hospital where he's at. But it turns out that he's not on staff there; he's actually a patient.
When Heather reaches out to touch Lionel Jeffries, the book takes a macabre twist. Alpha Flight arrives to find that Lionel (aka Scramble) has been twisting the staff and patients at the hospital into malformed monsters.
Lionel's powers, we learn, are just like Madison's, except his work on human flesh instead of mechanical parts.
The rest of Alpha Flight arrive to fight through the warped creatures and find Heather, who has also been twisted.
Puck stays with Heather while the rest of Alpha spread out to find Scramble. Box encounters a "brobdingnagian" monster composed of multiple merged bodies.
Madison eventually makes it to his brother, and forces him to turn his power inward, (a bit too conveniently) healing his mental sickness and making it possible for him to accept that he can't restore the dead, which is what drove him mad in the first place.
At the end of this issue, we see that Lionel had actually succeeded in resurrecting at least one corpse: Deadly Ernest.
Regarding Madison Jeffries, i've always had a little trouble distinguishing his powers from Magneto's. In theory, Jefferies has the ability to convert mechanical parts into other mechanical parts. But in practice, his powers seem a lot more open ended, especially in this issue. Converting falling mechanical parts into toys fits the basic description of his powers, i guess.
But here in flashback, he's just manipulating metal to restrain his brother, which seems to step on Magneto's turf.
In the end he converts a hospital gurney into a gun, which i guess is fine, assuming it's a purely mechanical weapon and not some sort of energy gun. It's hard to tell from the images.
There's some good stuff in this issue. Scramble is certainly a unique villain. But it's unfortunately weighed down by Mantlo's maudlin tone.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Next issue begins soon after the end of this one, with Alpha still at the hospital at least "an hour" later.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): show
I'm guessing "Dark Guardian" was either an attempt to grab some inattentive X-Fans or just plain laziness.
I don't think Jeffries had any power over magnetic fields; just over metal itself.
It's probably coincidence, but Scramble's mask looks very much like the one on covers of Algis Budrys' SF novel "Who?".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 15, 2013 6:14 PM
This was a big indication the series was not heading in the right direction. "Morose" is not one of the adjectives used to describe Alpha Flight despite some personal angst in the aftermath of Guardian's death.
Mantlo totally misunderstood (or choose to ignore) the pain associated with Puck's dwarfism (as Byrne has noted on many occasions) for a more over-the-top explanation.
And the association of the Jeffries brothers in Vietnam shows Mantlo really didn't care about AF's Canadian associations. Sure, many Canadians did cross the border and join up, but rather than use it to show that Madison is either a staunch anti-Communist or just that he was out for adventure when younger, it smells like lazy writing.
Posted by: Chris | October 15, 2013 10:08 PM
Somebody can correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the second floor, the twins, Heather and three guys who will end up in love with Heather? Maybe they didn't do such a great job picking bedrooms.
Posted by: Erik Beck | June 5, 2015 11:36 AM
Roger Bochs never fell in love with Heather. That was Aurora, down the hall.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | March 14, 2016 6:34 AM
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