Alpha Flight #39
Issue(s): Alpha Flight #39
We've had build up for it in both Alpha Flight and Avengers, but this issue marks the formal cross-over between the two teams as they unite to help Sub-Mariner rescue Marrina from Attuma.
Alpha Flight arrive back from their battle with Pestilence to find Namor's cousin Byrrah waiting for them. After enduring the first of several disparaging "dwarf" comments this issue directed at Puck...
...Alpha Flight agree to go to Namor's aid to rescue their former teammate. Snowbird decides to go with the group, despite a plea from Doug Thompson that they go look for their son instead. Snowbird tells Doug that her marriage and pregnancy were her "undoing" and she hopes that if she now rejects her family, she will again be welcome in heaven again. Give it to Bill Mantlo for flipping every mortal/god romance trope on its head.
Talisman has also returned with the group but she doesn't say a word during the sequence with Byrrah and doesn't go with the group to save Marrina (understandable, since she is powerless now).
After making their decision to leave, government liaison Gary Cody suddenly pops up on a monitor. He's been listening in on them the whole time, and he tells Alpha that they are forbidden to attack Attuma since he's the rightful ruler of Atlantis and Canada doesn't want a diplomatic incident. Vindicator reminds Cody that Alpha is funding them with "no strings attached" and she blasts the monitor screen.
The scene is handled with the usual Mantlo histrionics (Northstar reflexively blames Cody's spying on Vindicator) but it's an interesting point that is being raised, especially after Atlantis was formerly recognized as a nation by the United Nations in the 1984 Prince Namor miniseries. The good news is that Attuma is a barbarian and would probably never even consider bringing a grievance to the UN.
Madison Jeffries creates water-suits for the members of Alpha Flight that need one and then their ship is hit by a surprise attack from underneath the sea. The super-team makes short work of the Atlanteans that rise up to attack them...
...and then they see an Atlantean ship tossed out of the water.
We'll learn in this issue that the ship was tossed by Hercules and Namor, but we'll see that scene in more detail in the Avengers issue.
Before Alpha heads undersea, we learn that Madison Jeffries has a "mortal fear" of water and Puck also can't swim (his only "shortcoming", if you'll pardon the pun, eh?). Snowbird can swim though, because she can turn into a giant albino whale.
If you're wondering how Snowbird is able to operate outside of Canada, it's said that "becoming mortal allowed Snowbird to pass beyond the borders" and she can also assume the form of any creature, indigenous to the Arctic or not.
I understand the reasoning behind the first change, to a degree, but i don't really like it. As for the second, i think it's really a dumb and unnecessary expansion of her powers. Being limited to creatures from the land of her pantheon's worshipers made her unique and reinforced her mystical origins. With this, she's Beast Boy.
Alpha continues their incursion and run into the Avengers.
I've never seen such joy in Namor's face. He must really like Puck.
Captain America makes a little faux paus and calls Heather Guardian instead of Vindicator, and she explains that Guardian was her late husband. Vindicator defers to Captain America's "aura of assertiveness", to the dismay of Northstar, and Captain America says that the goal is only to rescue Marrina, not to overthrow Attuma. These scenes will play out slightly differently in the Avengers issue, with Vindicator starting off by saying that they want to avoid an international breakdown, and (a little later), Vindicator admiring the Wasp's leadership with no mention of Cap's. There's nothing necessarily contradictory, and if you look at any character's listing at the MCP for these issues, you'll see they've done an admiral job of almost a panel by panel breakdown. I'm not getting into that level of detail but it's interesting to see the writers' different points of emphasis, some of which is for exposition (Vindicator's concern about the international incident), but not all.
The united teams renew their assault against the Atlanteans...
...and Namor begins his one-on-one fight with Attuma. But the issue actually ends with the team surrounded by the tridents of the Atlanteans.
In fact, we'll find the Atlanteans defense against the super-heroes fairly ineffective, but i'll talk about that in the Avengers issue. I will note that this is probably the most useful the Atlanteans have ever seemed, beginning with their ability to repel Namor last issue. Normally Namor has to protect the entire kingdom all by himself, and whenever he's not around the entire city gets demolished. At least for a little while, the Atlanteans get to prove that they can take care of themselves (although they are buffed by Attuma and his horde).
This is the most straightforward super-hero story that we've had since Mantlo came on board as writer. It does feel a bit rushed - Alpha Flight's main chance to shine happens before they meet the Avengers and then there's mostly talking and not a lot of action (Ross' art feels a bit rushed too - weird faces, no backgrounds or attempts to make the characters look underwater, and sparse detail for the Atlantean hordes). So it serves more as a handoff to the Avengers issue, where Alpha Flight will definitely feel a bit like second stringers. But it's still the start of a fun crossover that works thanks to the Namor/Marrina connection.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is more or less concurrent with Avengers #272, with some scenes overlapping books. This issue starts a littler earlier (with Alpha returning from their last mission) whereas Avengers ends a little later, so this book works better first. After Avengers #272, the story continues more or less directly in Alpha Flight #40 although at that point it's no longer part of the crossover.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showAttuma, Aurora, Black Knight (Dane Whitman), Box, Byrrah, Captain America, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), Doug Thompson, Gary Cody, Hercules, Madison Jeffries, Marrina, Northstar, Puck, Shaman, Snowbird, Talisman, Vindicator (Heather Hudson), Wasp
An ADMIRAL job? Was that a pun or a typo?
Posted by: Michael | January 15, 2014 8:27 PM
It's always best to assume typo. But now i have to leave it. ;-)
Posted by: fnord12 | January 15, 2014 8:41 PM
In real time, there was never any indication that us Avengers collectors were missing anything by not buying the Alpha Flight issue. And that was correct, unless I was missing some very weak art. There is a bit more of the Alpha Flight story, but for the overall story of Namor coming to rescue Marrina, there is nothing in this issue that is necessary.
Posted by: Erik Beck | June 26, 2015 7:21 AM
The look on Namor's face upon greeting Puck is hilarious! Who knows? Since Puck and Subby are extraordinarily long-lived, and since Judd was friends with Ernest Hemingway (the one nugget I personally liked in Mantlo's telling of Puck's origin), maybe Namor, Puck and "Papa" had some misadventures down in the Florida Keys back in the day?
Posted by: Brian Coffey | October 26, 2017 4:55 PM
Minor correction: It was Byrne, in Alpha Flight #15 who said that Puck had known Hemingway.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 26, 2017 6:23 PM
Thanks, fnord. Checked out the page for issue #15 and that cleared things up.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | October 26, 2017 7:15 PM
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