Retro Review: Alpha Flight #110-130 By Furman, Broderick, Carrasco Jr., & Others For Marvel Comics!

Alpha Flight #110-130 (July 1992 – March 1994)

Written by Simon Furman (#110-112, 114-130), Sven Larsen (#113)

Pencilled by Pat Broderick (#110-112, 114-120, 122-124), Craig Brasfield (#113, 121), Barry Kitson (#122-123), Derek Yaniger (#124), Jim Reddington (#125), Dario Carrasco Jr. (#125-130), Manny Galàn (#126), Keith Pollard (#127)

Inked by Chris Ivy (#110), Bruce Patterson (#110-112, 114-120, 122-124, 126-130), Frank Turner (#113, 121, 125), John Stokes (#122-123), Derek Yaniger (#124), Jim Reddington (#125), Mark Stegbauer (#126), Mark McKenna (#128), Ian Akin (#129)

Colour by Bob Sharen (#110-121, 123-130), Sarra Mossoff (#113), Ariane Lenshoek (#122)

Spoilers (from twenty-five to twenty-seven years ago)

I was disappointed with Scott Lobdell and Tom Morgan’s brief run on Alpha Flight, but my loyalty to the title forced me to keep going with it. When Simon Furman and Pat Broderick came on, I remember being hopeful, but their joining the title happened just as it crossed into the Infinity War event, which I remember not liking.  I don’t really remember what happened in these comics, but I do know that I dropped it within the year, along with a ton of other Marvel books that I’d just had enough of.

Now, of course, the completist in me has me wanting to get the issues I’m missing, and I’ve found a few since starting this lengthy reread.  Will I want to fill them all in? I guess we’ll find out as we get closer to the end of this column.

When he took over the book, I think I generally associated Simon Furman with Marvel’s British comics, where I believe he wrote Transformers and introduced Death’s Head to the world.  He was a general unknown. Pat Broderick I knew from his Firestorm and Micronauts runs, but I don’t think I was much of a fan (I’ve come to appreciate him a lot more now). Needless to say, I wasn’t excited by this takeover.

Let’s track who turned up in the title:

Alpha Flight

  • Guardian (Heather Hudson; #110-124, 127-130)
  • Windshear (Colin Ashworth Hume; #110-112, 114-120, 122, 124, 127, 130)
  • Box (Madison Jeffries #110, 125-126, 130)
  • Northstar (Jean-Paul Beaubier; #110-120, 122-124, 127-130)
  • Puck (Eugene Milton Judd; #110-124, 127, 129-130)
  • Aurora (Jeanne-Marie Beaubier; #110-120, 122, 127-130)
  • Weapon Omega/Wildheart (Kyle, FKA Wild Child; as Weapon Omega #110-118; as Wildheart #118-124, 127-130)
  • Shaman (Michael Twoyoungmen; #110-111, 120, 122, 125-127, 129-130)
  • Sasquatch (Walter Langkowski; #110-112, 114-120, 122-124, 127-130)
  • Box (Roger Bochs, in a flashback; #113)
  • Nemesis (#118-121, 125-126, 130)
  • Diamond Lil (Lil Crawley; #125-126, 128, 130)
  • Wyre (#125-126, 128-130)
  • Vindicator (James MacDonald Hudson; 130)

Beta Flight

  • Talisman (Elizabeth Twoyoungmen; #112, 115, 120, 122-125, 127-128, 130)
  • Manikin (Whitman Knapp; #112, 114-116, 119-120, 122-124, 126, 130)
  • Persuasion (Kara Killgrave; #112, 114-116, 119, 122, 126, 130)
  • Goblyn (#112, 114, 119-120, 122, 126, 130)
  • Pathway (Laura Dean; #112, 114-115, 119-120, 122, 126, 130)
  • Witchfire (#112, 114-116, 122-124, 130)

Gamma Flight

  • Talisman (Elizabeth Twoyoungmen; #110-112)
  • Manikin (Whitman Knapp; #110-112)
  • Persuasion (Kara Killgrave; #110-112)
  • Goblyn (#110-112)
  • Laura Dean (#110-112)
  • Witchfire (#110-112)
  • Feedback (Albert Louis; #126, 128-130)

Villains

  • The Master of the World (#110-112, 129-130)
  • Miss Mass (Omega Flight; #110-112, 129-130)
  • Sinew (Omega Flight; #110-112, 129-130)
  • Strongarm (Omega Flight; #110-112, 129-130)
  • Technoir (Omega Flight; #110-112, 129-130)
  • Bile (Omega Flight; #110-112, 129-130)
  • Brain Drain (Omega Flight; #110-112, 129-130)
  • Firebug (#110-111)
  • Mad-Dog (#111)
  • Thanos (#111)
  • Gamora (Infinity Watch, #111)
  • The Ska’r (#111-112)
  • Magus (#111)
  • Infinity War Doppelgangers (#111)
  • Mauler (#113)
  • Wyre (#114-117)
  • Jackal II (#114)
  • Rok (#115-117)
  • The Children of the Night (#116-117)
  • Hardliners (#118, 120, 128-129)
  • Thunderball (Wrecking Crew; #118-119)
  • The Wrecker (Wrecking Crew; #118-119)
  • Piledriver (Wrecking Crew; #118-119)
  • Bulldozer (Wrecking Crew; #118-119)
  • Judgment (#119-120)
  • Joshua Lord (boss of the Hardliners; #119, 126, 128-129)
  • Robert Hagon (Conservative MP; #119-120)
  • The Rhino (#121)
  • The Brass Bishop (The Chess Set; #121)
  • Over-Knight (The Chess Set; #121)
  • King Coal (The Chess Set; #121)
  • Killer Queen (The Chess Set; #121)
  • Dark Tower (The Chess Set; #121)
  • Caliber (#121)
  • Fenris (#121)
  • The Beetle (#121)
  • The Mandrill (#121)
  • Stilt-Man (#121)
  • Klaw (#121)
  • Witchfire (#122-124)
  • The Goddess (#122, 124)
  • Cleft (The Outcasts; #122-123)
  • Depth-Charge (The Outcasts; #122-123)
  • Flagstone (The Outcasts; #122-123)
  • Belasco (#124)
  • Carcass (#125-126)
  • Reginald Tork (Hardliners leader; #126, 128-129)
  • The Dreamqueen (#129-130)
  • Antiguard (James MacDonald Hudson; #129-130)

Guest Stars

  • Speedball (Robbie Baldwin, The New Warriors; #110, 127)
  • Iceman (Robert Drake, X-Men; #110)
  • Wolverine (Logan, X-Men; #110-111, 121, 127
  • Cyclops (Scott Summers, X-Men; #110)
  • Nemesis (#115-117)
  • Weapon X (Garrison Kane; #115-117)
  • Spider-Man (Peter Parker; #121, 127)
  • Professor Xavier (X-Men; #121)
  • Hercules (Avengers; #124)
  • Archangel (X-Factor; #124)
  • Daredevil (#127)
  • Living Lightning (Avengers; #127)
  • Dr. Strange (#127)
  • Strong Guy (Guido Carosella, X-Factor; #127)
  • Wonder Man (Simon Williams, Avengers; #127)
  • Firestar (Angelica Jones, New Warriors; #127)
  • The Vision (Avengers; #127)

Supporting Characters

  • General Jeremy Clarke (Canadian Military liaison; #117-118, 130)
  • Albert Louis (#118-120)
  • Wyre (#118-120, 122-124)
  • Diamond Lil (Lil Crawley; #122)

Let’s take a look at what happened in these books, with some commentary as we go:

  • Furman starts off his run with a tie-in to the Infinity War event, which I remember not liking.  Someone, likely the Master of the World narrates the story of the Ska’r, a race of creatures that were offshoots of humanity, but were locked away in another dimension, where they ate everyone that was sent away with them, and then went into hibernation.  The Master is in his ship, talking to someone, about how with all that’s going on at a cosmic level, he’s afraid there will no Earth left to be Master of. It’s hard to tell who he’s talking to (he did kill his falcon, remember), but he knows that Alpha Flight is meeting with Earth’s other heroes to face the threat.  Elizabeth Twoyoungmen is shopping in a mall, and feels very strange, as she’s still recovering from the effects of being Talisman. She is attacked by a group of five villains (of whom we only recognize Brain Drain, who now has a body), who identify themselves as Omega Flight. Alpha Flight is in Four Freedoms Plaza, still waiting for Reed Richards to start his big meeting.  Guardian checks in with Windshear. Talisman tries to fight off Miss Mass, Sinew, and Strongarm, who manages to kick her and knock her down. Technoir, who doesn’t get introduced, points out how the mall security guards are made sick by Bile, and then brings Brain Drain forward to try to get some knowledge out of Elizabeth, namely how to open a door and set “them” (the Ska’r?) free.  She refuses, and mystically changes into a Gamma Flight outfit. Her powers aren’t enough, as Miss Mass knocks her out, and Technoir commands Brain Drain to get the information from her mind. Whitman Knapp is in a seedy waterfront neighbourhood with the rest of the newly-changed Gamma Flight – Persuasion, Goblyn, Laura Dean, and Witchfire, who all just returned and got demoted. The women are all out to fight muggers and lowlifes, and Whitman is nervous that they are going to get in trouble with Windshear, who confined them to Department H.  When Kara gets distracted, Whitman has to use his Mannikin powers for the first time since Bill Mantlo left the book, to save her. Alpha Flight is still hanging out at Four Freedoms Plaza, catching up with Wolverine. Logan can recognize if he’s talking to Jeanne-Marie or Aurora by scent alone. Puck is wearing his classic uniform, instead of the Alpha uniform for some reason. Shaman is with the team, and Heather has no idea where he’s been, or why he’s not explaining anything to them (she isn’t questioning that he’s dressed all in black). Cyclops arrives to tell Heather, Sasquatch, and Wolverine that they are going on an expedition, while Shaman is to meet with the other assembled mystics.  Logan lets Weapon Omega know that he recognizes him, and that he’ll be watching him. The Gamma girls and Whitman continue to walk through an empty neighbourhood when all sorts of mayhem erupts. Two men in a fight fall through a bar window, just as some guy with a white stripe in his hair shows up, surrounded by fire he can maybe control. Two cars come racing by, and collide with a third, which creates even more chaos. Laura recognizes this as unnatural, but Witchfire urges the team to attack the guy she calls Firebug. Windshear arrives at the mall and finds Talisman being treated by paramedics. She starts yelling that “They’re out!”
  • Things are getting weird in Toronto, as people become homicidal.  Windshear saves a woman from being run over, and she tries to sexually harass him.  He is not happy to spot Gamma Flight in the midst of all the chaos. Witchfire works to contain the Firebug guy, who keeps spontaneously exploding.  Windshear starts telling off Manikin, while his Highbrow self spots the villain Mad-Dog lurking in the shadows (his presence is never explained). Heather is on another planet, where the assembled heroes are fighting against Thanos, Warlock, and the Infinity Watch.  She takes some time in the middle of the fight to pause and think about Sasquatch, who is unconscious, and Shaman, who is still not talking about wherever he’s been. Wolverine snaps her out of it, and leads her into an attack on Gamora. Shaman realizes something is wrong with Elizabeth, and connects to her mind, leading her to open a door to understand what has been unleashed on the Earth.  We see that the Ska’r are behind the mayhem in Toronto. Mad-Dog attacks Witchfire, and when Windshear protects her, he ends up allowing Firebug to reform. Windshear fires his hard air at him, and Witchfire and Manikin are almost killed in the blast, except that Highbrow teleports them to safety. Witchfire begins to argue with Windshear, and then Persuasion takes him over (apparently she doesn’t need to say anything to people to possess them now).  The Master and Omega Flight watch all the madness; The Master wants to sacrifice Canada to the Ska’r so he can better take over the rest of the planet. We learn that he’s been talking to the Magus, who he hopes to stop in whatever mad scheme he’s involved in (I don’t really remember the premise of the Infinity War event). The rest of Alpha are in New York, fighting against the demonic doppelgangers that were a big part of this event. Weapon Omega feels like he’s become the leader, but when he kills a Daredevil doppelganger, it awakens something in him.  His doppelganger confronts him, and they fight. Aurora faces her demonic double, and uses Jeanne-Marie’s light powers (I didn’t realize the different aspects of her psyche had different powers now) to kill her. Gamma Flight regroups, and Witchfire tries to figure out what’s behind all the chaos. They are confronted by Omega Flight. Talisman finds herself in a place full of bones, while the Ska’r sense her, and decide to feed on everyone.
  • The Master continues to have a one-sided conversation with the Magus (who remains unseen).  We learn that in the Infinity War series, the universe is merging with the doppelganger universe, and that Professor Xavier, Jean Grey, Moondragon, and another psychic I don’t recognize (Sersi?) is fighting it off.  Somehow, the Master is convinced that letter the Ska’r take over Canada will allow him to stop the Magus, but first he needs Omega Flight to kill Gamma Flight (this is all very convoluted, isn’t it?). The Gammas hold their own against the Omegas, with Persuasion eventually using her power to take control of Bile and send him chasing after Miss Mass.  Talisman finds herself viewing the past, when the Ska’r were originally causing problems on Earth. She learns that it was one of the earlier Talisman wearers who locked the Ska’r away, and that it was her lack of experience as Talisman that let them out. She wakes up in the hospital determined to stop them. Omega Flight continues to flee from Bile, while Gamma regroups and point out how effective they were to Windshear.  Witchfire tells them that the Ska’r are behind the mayhem in Toronto, and that they need to stop them. The Master tells them that they can’t stop them, and having collected bits of Firebug, tries to burn them all. Witchfire saves everyone in a mystic bubble, but they are mostly unconscious. The Master makes a comment about Witchfire being her father’s daughter (we still know absolutely nothing about her), and considers not killing everyone, before doubling down on his megalomania.  Technoir comes to tell him of a problem, but he tries to ignore her. The Ska’r show up, chasing Omega Flight, and Technoir fires hand missiles at them, killing a bunch of them. Talisman contacts Gamma Flight and Windshear, and wakes them all up, making it clear to them that they have to work together to stop the Ska’r. Distracted, the Master reminds the Ska’r that they can have Canada if they leave him alone. They renege, and somehow the Master loses touch with his psychic fight against Magus.  He teleports away, just as Laura Dean opens a dimensional rift back to the Ska’rs’ prison. Windshear pushes them through. Later, Weapon Omega stands in a room with his head down, deeply affected by confronting his Wild Child doppelganger. Later still, Windshear introduces the new Beta Flight to the rest of Alpha. Basically, this is the exact same Beta Flight that Nicieza introduced in his run, and that Furman demoted to Gamma Flight. Now, though, they have new matching uniforms, and even Manikin’s other selves get to wear them.
  • Issue one hundred thirteen is basically a fill-in issue.  Guardian and Weapon Omega are practicing at Department H (mistakenly called Mansion Alpha in the first panel), and Kyle is worried about losing control again.  Heather mistakes that for him being generally overwhelmed by the cosmic nature of the Infinity Wars, and tells him she’s faced bigger (although, really, has she?).  To make him feel better she tells him a story about when she first became Guardian (although she means Vindicator). She and the rest of Alpha were invited to a hockey game in Montreal against the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs (although it’s not clear why the Montreal Forum would have multiple union jack flags hanging there).  The game is interrupted by four iterations of the Mauler. The team (Vindicator, Puck, Aurora, Northstar, and Box (presumably Roger Bochs, although it’s not made clear)) jumps into action and quickly take out three of the Maulers. The fourth flees, and Heather gives pursuit, tracking him with her suit. As she closes on him, he fires some blasts at her that damage her suit, disabling most of its weapons.  She figures that he is flying along the highway 401, looking to return to America at the Detroit border crossing, and figures she has to stop him before he gets to the border. It’s worth pointing out that this scenario is similar to someone in Dallas wanting to get to Mexico, and travelling to San Diego to do it instead of heading straight south. She catches up to him and hits him, but he knocks her into a lake.  She pursues again, but somehow they are both off course and are in Ottawa. Mauler busts through a museum, and Heather follows, which draws the attention of the military. She has to give a code to stop them from disabling her suit (this story must be set during the time when Department H was funding Alpha, and before Bochs went crazy). She uses the weird gravimetric function of the suit to get ahead of the Mauler (although she refers to Department H training we know she never received to do this), and catches Mauler above Toronto.  They fight again, but end up near the Detroit border (the distances in this issue are nuts). She takes him down right before reaching the border, and then punches him out. In the present, Heather finishes telling Kyle this story, which I’m not sure ever supports her purpose in telling it, and instead we learn that she never figured out who sent the Maulers after Alpha Flight in the first place. Way too coincidentally, we see some guy at Roxxon’s New York tower talking about the data they retrieved in that fight, and showing that he has more Mauler suits at hand.
  • Weapon Omega is running through some woods somewhere, remembering when he was being trained, and was made to hunt down homeless men in a forest under scrutiny of his father, who was hiding behind a waterfall.  Kyle remembers this, and continues to struggle with his fear that he has not been cured of his feral nature. Apparently he had an argument with Puck and stormed off. As he thinks about his confrontation with the Wild Child doppelganger in the Infinity War, he is observed by a fanged man (everything points to Sabretooth).  Heather flies home to Department H, thinking about how well Beta Flight has been operating as a team. Windshear meets her, surprised that she left the Betas to handle a situation on their own (really, it’s not like her to duck out on a mission). We see that Beta Flight (minus Talisman) is in Sudbury, where a local police chief is unhappy to see that they are the only heroes who came to help him.  We learn that there’s a hostage situation. Manikin, who seems to be the leader now, is not happy when Persuasion possesses the cop. Manikin asks Pathway (which is apparently Laura Dean’s codename now) to take them to where the hostage taker is, but she explains they’ll have to cross through another dimension first. It’s not clear why they can’t just use the teleporting powers of Manikin’s future self, but I guess this way there’s a reason for Laura, who no longer appears to be at all autistic, is on the team.  Back at Department H, Walter runs some tests on Aurora, trying to figure out why her powers are different from Jeanne-Marie’s. Of course Aurora is naked, and when she switches to her Jeanne-Marie persona, she’s upset about this. Jean-Paul comes to take her to lunch, but she refuses to go with him and storms off. Walt points out that Jeanne-Marie is not comfortable with Jean-Paul’s sexuality (this is the first this has been mentioned, eight months after it was revealed), but Jean-Paul just gets mad at him. Beta Flight has entered the complex, and the hostage taker, the Jackal, slashes Whitman with his claws through a window, and he drops immediately.  Heather wool-gathers some about Mac, when Judd comes to see her (I guess he’s completely over her now) to talk about Kyle, and how he can find no proof anywhere that he was actually cured. Judd thinks Kyle is acting more like Wild Child again. Goblyn tries to fight the Jackal, but holds back when she sees he has a hostage. He starts to talk about how his father, the first Jackal, raised him to be terrible. Persuasion and Witchfire worry that Whitman might be dead, so Witchfire magics up and confronts the Jackal, who Laura had almost talked down. She fires magic into his mouth, making him choke, while Laura tells her off for not being understanding. Weapon Omega is hunted and shot, and we see that his assailant is not Sabretooth, but some hairy guy in camo pants, holding a typically 90s gun.  He claims to be family to Kyle, and that he’s going to kill him.
  • Issue one fifteen is the first chapter of the Extreme Prejudice arc (which started last issue).  It is clearly 1992. Wyre continues to shoot at Weapon Omega. His narration makes it sound like he was responsible for creating a number of monsters, and he includes Kyle among them.  Wyre makes it clear that he doesn’t want to kill Kyle, but has no choice. Kyle starts to fight back, and Wyre sends a bunch of long prehensile quills (wires?) from his shoulders and upper back to try to either catch or cut Kyle.  He runs away. Three members of Alpha Flight – Guardian, Windshear, and Aurora, find Kyle’s car. Puck, Sasquatch, and Talisman are also searching. It’s not so easy for Talisman to track Kyle because she seems to feel two Weapon Omegas.  Elizabeth thinks about how she went to visit her father and found his room empty. Aurora becomes impatient and starts searching at her own speed. Kyle hides and attacks Wyre, and then tries to talk to him, wondering why this man knows more about his past than he does.  Wyre uses his wires to string Kyle up, and then Kyle tells him to kill him, thinking that Wyre and his doppelganger must be right about him. In Sudbury, Witchfire tries to get through to Department H to get help for Manikin, but no one answers her call. Persuasion tells her that Manikin isn’t getting better, and Pathway makes it clear that she blames Witchfire for frying the Jackal’s brain.  It looks like hairs are coming out of Manikin’s face, and Witchfire agrees to let him go to the hospital. We learn that Northstar is supposed to be on monitor duty (which makes no sense, as Department H has a huge number of support staff) but is instead running around processing the response he’s received from the public about his sexuality. Kyle asks Wyre to kill him again, which makes him believe that maybe he isn’t a monster.  Jeanne-Marie has taken over Aurora, and she attacks Wyre, as does Sasquatch, who arrives with the rest of the team. Wyre takes off. Kyle tells them he had answers about him, and Heather says it’s time for them to talk about Wild Child. Later, Alpha has returned to Department H, where they learn about Jean-Paul’s absence and Manikin’s problem just as Jean-Paul returns. At a hospital in Toronto, we see that Manikin is in a cocoon of webbing, which doctors try to cut into.  Puck tries to research Kyle’s history. Kyle, standing naked in a room full of screens, questions his humanity, and decides that he should go to Nemesis to find out about his past. At the same time, some big guy with a sword has Nemesis chained up in the sewers. This guy tells her that he wants to hurt her, but is waiting for Wild Child to join them. Weapon X (the guy that can shoot his hand like a weapon) stands outside Department H, thinking about how he wants to make a reckoning with his past.
  • Alpha Flight decides to move Whitman to Department H.  As they move him, they are beset upon by the press. Guardian tries to not make a comment, and Sasquatch has to scare off some persistent reporters, which makes Windshear unhappy.  Kyle arrives in Montreal, still thinking about how little he knows about himself, including whether or not Kyle is his real name. He is looking for Nemesis, who said she would always help him.  He knows of a basement with access to some tunnels, where she took him once to help her fight a man who tried to take her position of leader of the Children of the Night away from her. This is the first we’ve heard of this.  As Kyle enters the dark, he is attacked by some children with bats and knives. Weapon X is outside the building, thinking about the fact that his bosses in Department K want Kyle followed, but doesn’t want the two to come into contact.  Puck keeps searching through government computers for Kyle’s story, and gets nowhere. He decides to check Mac Hudson’s old diary files, and learns that Walter was somehow involved in Kyle’s development. Kyle keeps fighting the kids, which starts to awaken the beast in him.  He decides to stop fighting and try to talk to them, but when he does, he gets punched in the head from behind and attacked. Walter examines Whitman, who is in a cocoon still, and thinks that with his odd mutant physiology, removing the cocoon could kill him. Kara watches in tears, while Witchfire continues to blame herself for Whitman’s condition, and vows to save him.  Kyle comes to chained up the sewer in front of Nemesis, who is also still chained up. She is angry that he came. Just then the big guy, who calls himself Rok, comes and tells Kyle that he wants revenge on him for cutting up his face and smashing his teeth. Rok attacks Kyle, who begins to remember him. We learn that Rok took over the Children of the Night, and has turned them into assassins.  Kyle is upset that he is once again being used as a pawn. Rok takes Nemesis’s sword, and is about to kill Kyle when he is attacked by Weapon X. Heather and Colin return from a press conference to find the main Alpha team waiting for them on the roof. They say that they are worried about Weapon Omega, especially with what Walter has told them. Rok and Weapon X fight, and Kyle taps into his anger to free himself.  Kane keeps hitting Rok, Rok gets angry (and we learn that Weapon X knows Nemesis, or at least her sword). Kyle knocks Rok out, and figures that Kane is with the government. He says he’s tired of people wanting to kill him, and just then Wyre shows up, and aim his laser-sighted gun at Kyle’s head.
  • Wyre talks about his memories of Wild Child, who we see in a very tiny thong after killing some ninjas.  We learn that Wyre was involved in creating and training Wild Child and others like him. Since then, he’s been tracking down and killing his “children” as a way of assuaging his guilt.  He’s shot Kyle, but it turns out it was a tranquilizing “mercy” bullet, but now that Kyle’s awake, he’s going to kill him (because that makes sense). Kyle tries to get him to keep talking so he can heal.  Closeby, Weapon X digs his way out of the rubble that Wyre buried him in. After he shot Kyle, he shot down a wall on Kane, who is weirded out by seeing Wyre for the first time in twelve years. Kane remembers Wyre, and believes he’s fighting a “false war”.  As he moves to help Kyle, we see someone, likely Nemesis, pick up her sword. Alpha Flight is on the way to help, and Heather is angry with Walter, who we learn, helped ignore evidence that Kyle was not stable when he was inducted into Department H at its founding.  Walter believed he was giving him a fresh start, like Mac would have done. Walter, who is not a psychologist, found that Kyle had two personalities, one of which was tapped into the genetic memory of wild animals or some such nonsense. Windshear interrupts to let them know that something is happening in Montreal.  Wyre is still yelling at Kyle about how much he’s done to try to make amends, and Kyle finally is ready to fight back. As he begins to fight, he goes wild. In Ottawa, an unrecognizable Prime Minister (sitting under a terrible portrait of the Queen) talks to some advisors about Alpha’s recent bad press, and speculation that Northstar has a disease.  Some politician discusses how the Conservative Party has a bill on the table, designed by someone named Hagon, which will basically make Canada a police state. General Clarke, who we haven’t seen in ages, thinks that Project Omega is a failure, and that the bill might allow them political salvation. Alpha arrives in the sewers and begins tracking Kyle.  They find the injured and mostly-buried Rok, who is rambling, and then they are surrounded by the Children of the Night. Wyre continues to fight Kyle, but Kane arrives on the scene. He fires at Wyre, but his arm is moved by Northstar who has just sped into the picture. Those two fight, and then Kane is about to shoot at Wyre again, when he is again interrupted, this time by Nemesis.  Clearly, they know each other. Alpha continues to fight against the kids, until Jeanne-Marie uses her light powers to blind everyone. Alpha continues to look for Kyle. Kyle gets the upper hand in his fight with Wyre, and finds that he is both in his feral state, and in complete control of himself (or something). He tells Wyre he won’t fight him anymore, and they argue about whether or not he’s an animal.  We learn that Kyle was abducted off the street and turned into Wild Child, through the use of Wyre’s DNA. Nemesis asks Kane if he is really making his own choices or just following orders. The team arrives, surprised to see Nemesis. Kane leaves. Kyle tells Wyre to let his anger go, and he forgives him.
  • Some guy named Albert Louis was hanging out in a bar in Halifax when three very 90s-armored guys called the Hardliners busted in and started a fire.  They scanned for Albert and prepared to kill him, when he released an energy being from inside himself (think Doom Patrol’s Negative Man) and killed them.  Albert narrates this part of the issue, and we learn that after that night his whole life had to change. In the present, Heather is arguing with General Clarke at Department H about Weapon Omega.  He tells her about Hagon’s super-powers bill, which would require registration of everyone with powers. Windshear tells us that Hagon, who is a Progressive Conservative is pretty extreme, and was linked to the Front de Liberation du Quebec, which makes absolutely zero sense, as they were separatists and not in operation in the 90s.  Clarke says this is why Heather shouldn’t be rocking the boat by asking questions about Omega, which also makes no sense, but she pushes the issue. Kyle, meanwhile, goes to visit Wyre, who is sitting naked in a cell. We learn from their conversation that the Secret Empire was behind the program that developed Kyle and the others; Kyle wants Wyre’s help to get his life back.  The rest of Alpha Flight (strangely, including Nemesis, who is maybe on the team now?) are in Toronto, where Thunderball of the Wrecking Crew, is on a mad destructive rampage. Puck is field leader, but no one is listening to him, as Sasquatch and Windshear’s attacks don’t work. Nemesis is unable to cut Thunderball’s ball with her sword, and she gets tossed. Nearby, someone who looks like one of the Hardliners (in shadow) is watching, reporting back that the tranquilizer he tried to use on Thunderball instead threw him into the rage that we see.  Clarke and Heather keep talking, and we learn that the Canadian government found out about the Secret Empire’s plans, but when they went to their base, it was destroyed. They found Kyle in the wreckage and brought him back, and tried to rehabilitate him. Kyle rejects the codename Weapon Omega, and instead asks to be called Wildheart. Puck gives Nemesis a lecture on teamwork, and Northstar’s attempt to stop Thunderball goes wrong. Aurora uses a new light power, and knocks him out. It looks like things are over, but then the rest of the Wrecking Crew – the Wrecker, Piledriver, and Bulldozer appear.
  • The Statement of Ownership for 1992 lists Alpha Flight as having an average press run of 81 000 copies.
  • Issue one eighteen was the last one that I bought off the stands, but since I’ve started reading Furman’s run, regardless of how unimpressive it is, I’ve become curious to see how it all ends, so I’ve picked up a few more back issues, and have acquired everything else I need to see this column through to the end of the run.
  • Issue one nineteen opens a week before the rest of the story, as a guy in military-style garb watches a news broadcast that hypes up the threat of a superhero disease being spread by Alpha Flight.  He’s with a group of people, and either he is called Judgment, or his group is, but that’s what they want to pass on the Flight. The Wrecker is apparently upset that Thunderball has usurped his leadership role, so he takes his anger out on Sasquatch, while Northstar fails to stop Bulldozer. Puck does better than the rest, and narrates the fight, sharing his thoughts on vigilantes and how much he’s changed since his old days.  At Department H, Guardian tries to get Persuasion to leave Manikin’s cocooned self, to go help the team, but she refuses. Manikin, meanwhile, finds himself in the Mindwell, and chats with his other selves, who worry that his mind is about to collapse. Someone watches Alpha’s helijet depart, and they give the order to move in. The fight against the Wrecking Crew continues, with little success. Aurora can apparently shoot lightning from her hands now, and Nemesis decides to confront the Wrecker, who is surprised by the strength of her blade.  Recovering, Thunderball provides some backstory, and worries about how he’s going to stave off Wrecker’s leadership move. A pizza van approaches Department H, and the guards outside are shot from it. Wrecker keeps fighting Nemesis, when they notice a portal opening. Goblyn, Pathway, and Wildheart have arrived (although weren’t they in a helicopter before?). Wildheart starts to fight the Wrecker. At a racquet club in Ottawa, the Conservative MP Robert Hagon is talking to a guy he calls Lord, who we learn is in charge of the Hardliners. Apparently Hagon had him set up the fight with Thunderball, but now he’s not happy with how it’s all going, although he knows this debacle will help him pass his Registration Act.  Guardian and Windshear have joined the fight (where has Colin been this whole issue?), and working together, Alpha Flight is able to bring down the Wrecker. Thunderball picks up his bar, and uses its power to teleport him and his Crew away. Heather feels good that they won, but Puck questions it. At Department H, we see that it’s Judgment making his/their way through the facility. They’ve apparently taken out Witchfire, and we see him knock out Kara. He’s about to destroy Whitman’s cocoon when Wyre interrupts. The last panel shows that Albert Louis has come to Toronto looking for help from Alpha Flight.
  • A news broadcaster (Carol Brunett is a terrible name and/or joke) continues to drum up fear of the powered, and shares that Hagon’s registration bill is being read in Parliament and expected to pass.  Some of Alpha Flight is standing around in the aftermath of their battle with the Wrecking Crew, watching firefighters put out blazes (despite the fact that Windshear, Guardian, Aurora, and Northstar would all be pretty helpful with that), chatting.  Puck feels like they should have contained the fight faster and prevented so much damage. He is pretty critical of them. Albert Louis is in Toronto, looking for Alpha Flight, and gets attacked again by one of the Hardliners. Back at Department H, we see Wyre consider his options before fighting the Judgment guys (in the nude for some reason).  As he kills the main guy, Manikin’s cocoon is shot. In the Mindwell, Whitman feels his body begin to die. Highbrow and his other selves give him their life force so he can live. Wyre is surprised by the intense glow coming from the cocoon. Heather and Puck debate Hagon’s bill, and Puck raises the interesting question of whether or not they will be expected to enforce it.  Albert Louis runs up to them, and warns them he is being followed. Five or so Hardliners approach, and demand that Alpha remand Louis into their custody. They talk as if the Registration Bill has already passed, and open fire on the team. Heather gets angry and uses all of her suit’s weapons at once, frying (I guess?) all of the Hardliners. She could have done that in the fight with the Wrecking Crew.  Later, back at Department H, we learn that Whitman is totally fine, but his other selves are gone. Heather asks Wyre why he helped out, and he says he wanted to start being more constructive. Puck announces the news that the Registration Act has passed. Heather calls for a team meeting. At the meeting, she explains to the team that they might be made to hunt down unregistered mutants and the like, but also points out that it’s better they be the ones doing it than people like the Hardliners.  She tells her teammates that they can decide to stay or go based on this new system. Weirdly, Shaman, who has been missing for many issues, is at the meeting, as is Talisman, but there is no sign of Persuasion, who we last saw being attacked by Judgment. Everyone agrees to stay but Nemesis, who wasn’t really on the team anyway.
  • Issue one twenty-one opens in Rutherford New Jersey, at the sight of a battle involving the New Warriors and Spider-Man.  Some people are cleaning up the sight, and one of them sees the dead corpses of Silver and Auric, the Chinese nationals that were in Gamma Flight for a minute.  They seem to be animated, and they grab his head. Two weeks later, Guardian, Puck, Wildheart, and Nemesis are in Brooklyn to attend their funeral, alongside Peter Parker.  Heather questions why she can’t properly mourn these two, despite the fact that they were more enemies than teammates, and even still, she barely knew them. Wildheart smells something odd, and jumps on the coffins, tearing them open to reveal that the bodies are not there.  Alpha visit the X-Men for help, and Professor X tries to search for the corpses using Cerebro (it doesn’t work). As they leave, Logan tells them that he talked to Val Cooper, and she tipped them off that the scientist who was attacked by their corpses has disappeared, and that a group called The Chess Set (seriously) is involved.  They notice that Spider-Man is eavesdropping on them, and offers to help. Logan is too busy to help (I mean, he was appearing in every Marvel book each month at this time), so they decide to work with Spidey. Nemesis tells Kyle that she wants revenge. Puck and Spidey beat up lowlifes in a bar, but don’t learn anything. After a few more bars, they discover that something is happening on an abandoned airstrip, where they observe a number of costumed villains, such as the Rhino, arriving.  It turns out that the leader of the Chess Set, the Brass Bishop, is running an auction. The Bishop was first mentioned back in Byrne’s run, and we know that Puck has faced him before, but none of that has any bearing on what happens in this issue. The Bishop is auctioning off a contraption that holds the bodies of Silver and Auric, and the living scientist. They are all connected, and surrounded by the other members of the Chess Set, who are some of the dumbest characters I’ve seen in a while.  The audience at this auction is pretty much the entire list of Marvel villains below the Magneto/Doom level. Caliber, the guy who was as F-list as you can get in his first Alpha appearance, asks why he’d want to buy corpses, and the Bishop explains that the corpses contain the power of the Sphinx, and can confer omnipotence on the purchaser. Guardian and Spidey bust in and start taking on villains that usually take them anywhere from a single issue to a whole arc to defeat. Puck and Wildheart enter the fray from the door, while Nemesis goes for the corpses.  She cuts the hand off one of the Chess Set, who then punches her into the machine. Guardian tries to help, but gets into it with Klaw. Spidey fights the Brass Bishop. Nemesis, surrounded, cuts into the machine, which explodes. Heather uses her suit a new way to stop Klaw and the bad guys around him. A new glowing being comes out of the machine, and we learn that it contains the spirits of Silver, Auric, and the scientist. It wants to kill its enemies, but Heather gives a speech, and it leaves. Wildheart stops Nemesis from killing the Brass Bishop, and Heather starts to grieve for her dead non-friends who have been reborn.
  • Issue one twenty-two crosses into the Infinity Crusade event, which I considered at the time a final straw for a lot of Marvel titles.  It’s main story (there is also a backup) opens with Witchfire fighting against Wyre, Goblyn, and Persuasion in Department H’s version of the Danger Room.  She does well against them, speaking in a mystic language, and looking different from pervious appearances, until Wyre grabs her by the hands. She uses her magic, and he starts to grow some of his wyres out of this fingertips.  Guardian shows up and shuts down the whole thing, angry that the Beta members would enter an unsanctioned training exercise (Whitman, who I guess is still around, tries to take responsibility. Heather is also annoyed with Wyre, who keeps breaking out of his holding cell.  She tells him that he can have free run of Department H now, and makes it sound like she wishes he would just leave. She runs into Aurora in the hall, who is heading out, and she reminds Heather that she should have a life outside of the team as well. Walter is in Algonquin Park, wanting to reconnect with his own life, and decides the best way to do that is run around as Sasquatch.  He makes a weird comment about needing faith in his life, and as he runs, we see a Star of David forming in the sky above him. We see Talisman look in on a floating, meditating Shaman. The narration tells us that there is a vision coming to those open to see it. Next we see Nelvanna, who hasn’t been in these pages in a long time, referring to herself as The Goddess, and telling Sasquatch, Talisman, Puck, and Windshear (I have no idea where these last two came from) that she needs their help to save mankind from damnation, and makes reference to the Infinity Crusade.  They agree to join her. Heather is out having dinner with Lil Crawley, who she used to hate, and who now has taken to perming her hair. They talk about how Heather’s interested in someone romantically that Lil knows (I hope it’s not Wyre – there’s been no signs of anything happening with her and anyone), and we learn that Lil’s marriage to Madison Jeffries is not going so well. Heather gets an alert. Back at Department H, she talks to Northstar and Wildheart about how Puck, Talisman, and Windshear just disappeared, and how the Vision (the Avenger, not the thing Nelvanna sent) got in touch about a new cosmic emergency.  The Alpha team prepares to leave, while Kara and Whitman talk about how they’ll be staying behind. Laura and Goblyn are in some VR school thing when a flaming hand comes at them and they scream. Wyre watches Alpha leave in their helijet, and then is attacked from behind and thrown out of the building. Kara and Whitman come running, but Kara is caught in an explosion and stops breathing. Witchfire reveals herself as being behind this, but she now has horns and is talking about embracing her heritage, like a B-list Darkchylde.
  • The backup story (drawn by a pretty terrible Barry Kitson) is set before Infinity Crusade begins.  A man at a bar in Moosejaw learns about Canada’s new registration act, and starts trashing the place.  Puck reviews footage sent over by the police, and recognizes the guy. He tells Heather he wants to handle it alone, and she talks about how little she knows of his past.  The guy goes on trashing all of Moosejaw when Puck arrives with Northstar and Wildheart as backup. The guy, named Cleft, recognizes Puck, and says he’s surprised he joined the establishment.  Puck makes reference to Heather recruiting him (which wouldn’t have been the case, as Heather was just a housewife back then). He wants to let his friend go, but knows he can’t, so he has Jean-Paul and Kyle take him down.  As they attack, two more people, Depth Charge and an unnamed one, who were also old comrades of Puck’s, show up.
  • Department H’s building has turned all Inferno-style demonic, and Guardian, Northstar, and Wildheart stand outside it, having an exposition-laden conversation that really helps since I’m not rereading Infinity Crusade, maybe ever.  We learn that The Goddess (which Wikipedia tells me is supposed to be Adam Warlock’s good side) has gained control of Aurora, and that the American heroes are using her as a way of finding the Goddess. Jean-Paul wants to go help her, but they need to deal with their base.  Wildheart suspects that this is all connected, and Witchfire, who is eavesdropping, confirms that. The heroes enter the base, surrounded by demonic smiles. Witchfire tortures Whitman, who invokes the names of her now dead teammates, including that Albert guy, which is news to me.  Witchfire claims to have embraced her parentage, and that she is hoping to take over the world after the Goddess is gone. Heather, Jean-Paul, and Kyle fight demons, with Kyle starting to lose his grip. In some place called Paradise Omega, Sasquatch and Talisman walk around feeling good, until Walter starts crying out for his mother, and we see Witchfire watching.  The fight in Department H continues. Witchfire speaks to Elizabeth and Walter, bringing up painful memories (when Elizabeth’s mother died, when Walter rejected religion to pursue science) to plant doubt in The Goddess’s minions (I think – it’s not clear). Is this a good place to ask where Windshear and Puck, who were also taken by The Goddess, went? Or where Shaman, last seen meditating in Department H, is?  As the Alpha trio work their up a staircase, Wyre, outside the building, returns to consciousness. Heather sends Jean-Paul to scout the higher levels of the building, but he is blasted by Witchfire, who wants to suck on their souls. Wyre talks to himself about how it’s hard to kill him.
  • In the backup, Puck is beaten on by his former comrades in The Outcasts.  We get a recap of his life, that leaves out the whole mystical Razer thing, and shows that he used to run with these guys.  They each fight against an Alphan (well, Northstar and Wildheart are the only other ones there). Puck goes through some soul-searching while fighting, and Wildheart gets wilder and wilder.  In the end, Puck takes out Depth Charge and then stops Cleft, who was giving Jean-Paul a hard time. Later, Cleft calls Puck a sell-out, and he feels bad, and wonders if he made the right choice (which makes no sense, as he would never allow a guy to go on a rampage in a mid-sized town).
  • Witchfire has Manikin strung up, and holding Guardian, Wildheart, and Northstar in energy bubbles.  She’s going to kill them all. Manikin keeps trying to appeal to her true self, acting like they’re old friends, which feels very forced.  As Witchfire rants, Whitman sees his arm start to change shape. Somewhere else, Witchfire’s father watches her and gives a soliloquy. Somewhere else, Walter continues to think about how he turned his back on religion.  Whitman turns into his Apeman self, a new manifestation of his power, and punches Witchfire. The rest of Alpha is free, and try to fight her. Whitman defends her, claiming their friend is still in there. Walter snaps out of his reverie, and works to free Elizabeth of the same doubt.  Witchfire doubles her fight against her former teammates, and Whitman turns into Highbrow to teleport himself and Heather away. Wyre shows up and hurts Witchfire with his wires. Heather and Whitman return, and Heather has to threaten Wyre with getting kicked out of Alpha Flight (when did he join?) to get him to stop.  Whitman starts to talk to Witchfire, and the art suggests he’s using telepathy on her. She starts to purge the evil from herself, and then she’s fine, but wracked with guilt. Sasquatch, Windshear, Puck (who now has a massive moustache) and Talisman show up wanting to kill her for crimes against the Goddess, and Heather stands up for Witchfire.  Later, we learn that Heather, Kyle, and Jean-Paul have gone to help the Avengers with the Infinity Crusade nonsense, and that the people Witchfire hurt are going to be okay. We also learn that her father is Belasco, which is kind of weird and probably needed more explanation.
  • In a back-up focusing on Windshear, he’s fighting some aliens on behalf of the Goddess, alongside Hercules and Archangel.  As he fights and kills, he remembers that when he was four, he promised his grandfather he’d never hit someone. We see how his mutant abilities first manifested when he was jumped by two tough guys in an alley, and why he joined Roxxon.  He shakes off the Goddess’s control, realizing that he’s done wrong in her name.
  • Issue one twenty-five begins with a prologue story with nice, if inconsistent, art by Jim Reddington.  Talisman confronts Shaman in the Dreamlands or in Paradise Omega. She is upset that he did not assist the Goddess in her mission (I guess this is an unofficial Infinity Crusade crossover), which Michael attributes to his lack of faith.  This makes Elizabeth angry, and she brings up old grievances, which leads us to understanding (finally) what happened when Laura Dean teleported away all of Beta Flight during the Nicieza run. It turns out that Shaman followed them, and tried to find them, until he was called back for the Infinity Wars crossover.  Elizabeth slaps her father, and then a tree picks her up and throws her, which I guess is Shaman’s fault? They fight, and Michael knocks her down. He says he’s going to offer his service to the Goddess, but not to help her. Instead, he hopes to help Elizabeth.
  • In the main story, new artist Dario Carrasco Jr. makes his very 90s debut.  Box is flying around in his new robot, which marries the original Box design to a dollar store Transformer knockoff.  When he returns home, Lil literally knocks him out of the house, angry that he’s in the robot again when he promised he’d stop wearing it.  Her hair is straight again, making her appearance in a recent issue incongruous. As they argue, Shaman appears to them, more or less wearing his original outfit.  He says he needs them to help stop evil, and with the Goddess’s face in the background, we are to assume he is fighting for her. In Northern Ontario, Shaman sits with his new team, consisting of Box, Diamond Lil (back in her original outfit), Nemesis, and Wyre.  He tells them that a being called Carcass has taken over the place where his people go when they die, and that he will spread into their reality if left there. Shaman tells them they need to put their faith in his hands to travel to the land of the dead, and everyone agrees.  Shaman thinks about how he’s just deceived them, and takes them to the deadlands. They start to be attacked by dead souls, who were all once proud Sarcee warriors. They fight well, except for Wyre, who becomes wracked with guilt that he has perhaps killed some of these former people (I guess he killed a lot of Sarcee?).  Shaman is pleased to see that they are winning, but feels bad for lying. Carcass watches from his throne, and thinks of a way to break Michael. He is confronted by someone he recognizes (I’m guessing his dead wife), and refuses to fight against them. They blast his pouch or something (the art is not clear), and this moment of confusion infects the others.  Lil gets cut and Madison dragged from his robot, while Wyre loses control of his wires, and Nemesis gets cut by her own blade. When Wyre yells for Shaman to get them away, he confesses that he can’t, and that for them to journey to this land, they had to die. We see them all lying dead on the ground back on Earth.
  • Wyre is furious with Shaman for killing them, while the other members of the team do their best to restrain him.  Nemesis suggests that they can return home if they kill Carcass, but when they fight him, he uses his powers and command of the realm to render them ineffective.  Wyre’s hand comes off, while Lil is hollowed out, puking up her guts and skeletal system. Carcass covers Madison with metal, and Shaman’s life force depletes quickly, as he tries to keep his colleagues “alive”.  Carcass’s use of Shaman’s wife has shaken his faith and confidence, or so it seems. In truth, before his pouch was destroyed, he somehow absorbed its abilities, and now starts using them against Carcass, who he almost destroys.  Carcass regains his footing, and starts to hurt Michael, when the others recover and attack him. Shaman surrounds him in “pure order”, but Carcass decides to touch it with his chaotic self, creating an explosion that appears to destroy him.  The team returns to our realm, and Shaman apologizes for not telling everyone the truth about their trip. He feels renewed, and claims he can begin living again.  
  • In the backup story to issue one twenty-six, the focus shifts to Feedback, that Albert Louis guy the Hardliners were chasing.  He’s been inducted into Gamma Flight (I’m pretty sure he’s the only member), and has started training. He gets taken down, and is hard on himself, but Manikin tries to reassure him, while thinking about Albert’s deep well of anger.  Persuasion calls them to the TV, where we learn that the Hardliners that attacked him have their day in court. Albert had been interviewed, and we see him encouraging other powered Canadians to register with Alpha Flight instead of waiting for groups like the Hardliners to take them down.  There is a surprise update, and we learn that the Hardliners had the charges against them dropped after a rich anonymous person volunteered to pay for their damages to the city. We see Joshua Lord watching the same broadcast, and making plans for his “grand designs”, suggesting he has a lot of time to wait.
  • Issue one twenty-seven is another unlabelled Infinity Crusade tie-in, probably the last.  It’s set on Paradise Omega, where the heroes recruited by the Goddess are fighting everyone else.  Guardian takes out Daredevil while Wolverine fights Living Lightning. Shaman and Doctor Strange trap Strong Guy, but we learn that Shaman is only pretending to be following the Goddess’s orders while he searches for a spell that can free everyone from her influence.  Strong Guy busts out of his mystic prison, so he traps him with another spell. Michael wants to free his daughter, but to do so needs more faith or something. He decides to look into the other Alphans’ minds, just as Wolverine closes in on him. Heather tries to protect Michael, but gets distracted by a fight with Wonder Man.  His body knocked out, Michael’s astral form travels into Sasquatch’s mind, where he sees his faith. Next he checks out Aurora’s, where he finds that her two personalities depend on and trust one another. In Puck’s mind, he witnesses his deep desire to look after people. Michael recognizes that Windshear, who is fighting the Vision, has shook off the Goddess’s control already.  Heather finds faith in herself, and uses it to take out Wonder Man. At that same time, something happens where the Goddess abandons her followers and sets everyone on fire or something. Later, Alpha Flight wakes up alive. Michael apologizes to Elizabeth for how he’s been her whole life. The whole team poses.
  • In the back up to that issue, we see Wildheart get attacked by Wolverine, who believes that he’s killed Storm.  They fight, and Logan remembers when Wild Child was first brought to Department H, and hurt Stitch, the girl from the Special.  Logan was opposed to Kyle being a part of Department H. In the present, Wildheart resists his bloodlust, deciding to follow Logan’s trail to figure out why he’s so angry.  When they return to where Storm’s body was, they see it’s not there, and Logan smells Moondragon. He realizes he’s been tricked, and Wildheart feels good for himself.
  • The No Future arc begins, ironically, in the future.  Joshua Lord has established himself as the ruler of a more technologically advanced Canada, where it seems everyone is physically enhanced, healthy, and beautiful.  Northstar walks through New Montreal, disguising himself by being in plain sight. He’s part of a resistance, and goes to meet Guardian, who feels that things are over for Canada, and that they need to escape the country and warn everyone else.  Lord plays chess and waxes philosophical with his Hardliners, before sending them to reinforce the borders. We learn that Lord solidified power after the passage of the Registration Act, and that Alpha Flight tried to stand against him. He’s put a psychic web around the country so that anyone who leaves forgets what’s happening there, and taken charge.  Heather has run the resistance, and has decided it’s time for them to break out. Invisible, thanks to Talisman, the remaining members of the team – Guardian, Northstar, Talisman, Diamond Lil, Wildheart, and Feedback, attempt to take out some of the psi-web so they can get through. Harliners lie in wait under some snow, and begin fighting them. Wildheart is killed by the Hardliners, while Lil is taken down by an invisible outline of a person.  Heather orders Northstar across the border, but he finds the silhouette follows him into New York state. The others do poorly against the Hardliners, and an inexplicable lion-man knocks out Talisman. Heather realizes she’s the only one left, and as the silhouette takes her out, she wonders how it knew how her battlesuit worked. She wakes up in front of the TV, and we learn that she shared it with someone, possibly Wildheart, who stands shirtless nearby.  They get an alert, and go to a briefing meeting, where they see that Reginald Tork, the leader of the Hardliners, has kidnapped Albert Louis, and is demanding that Alpha Flight face him. Heather wants to discredit the Hardliners.
  • The penultimate issue of this series opens with the Dream Queen feeling bored in her realm again.  Next we see that Alpha is standing in opposition to the Hardliners, who now wear the outfits we saw in Heather’s dream.  Reginald Tork, their leader, tells them they’ll have to make their way through the Hardliners’ training course if they want to get Albert Louis back, which doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Starting through the course, Heather shoots at a cardboard cutout of a woman and child, and Tork tells her that Louis is somewhere on the course, so she needs to be careful. Really, he’s in the control room with Tork, who is ranting.  Sasquatch gets electrified trying to bust through the course. Heather thinks about her dream, and the world that Joshua Lord will create if they fail (to rescue their newest trainee? I’m not following). As Alpha continues, they are watched by some familiar villain types.  The Dream Queen is happy to watch two of her enemies, Lord, and Alpha Flight, go against each other. Alpha has a hard time against some flying rocks, some of which aren’t rocks by delivery methods for goop or gases. While the battle rages (or whimpers, if I’m being honest), Puck has infiltrated the Hardliner’s base.  Now the team is fighting robotic lizard alien things (seriously). Sasquatch falls in a hole, and Aurora has more force blast power than we’ve seen before. The Hardliners finally attack them, while Tork rants to Louis about his father issues. Puck shows up and knocks him out with one kick, before being attacked by a figure with a familiar boot and cape combo.  Shaman is protecting the team with a force bubble, until Heather tells him to drop it and the team to attack. Alpha defeats the Hardliners (there are only three or four of them, and they’re lame, so this isn’t really that impressive). Heather almost shoots Albert, but Wildheart stops her. As soon as they free him, they are confronted by Weapon Omega (the Simon Furman version), and then the Master reveals himself, standing next to a black and white version of James MacDonald Hudson, in his classic Guardian suit.
  • Furman opens the last issue with a bit of a joke, as Alpha Flight see their future deaths at the hands of the Hardliners, and then refers to it as ‘canceled’.  The team is surprised to see the monochrome Mac, who the Master calls Antiguard. Mac has come around to the Master’s vision of the future, where he controls Canada and things are boring.  Antiguard attacks Guardian, and the rest of the team begins to fight Omega Flight. The fight is a long sequence, with the Master delivering a speech through the whole thing, and the team starting to despair in the light of the premonitions they saw.  The Dream Queen doesn’t want the Master to win, so she wakes Puck up from where the Master left him on the control room floor. We check in with the various members of the team as they begin to despair, except for Northstar and Aurora. Antiguard tries to convince Heather to give up on their shared dream for Alpha Flight, but she refuses and blasts Mac.  As she gives commands, the team starts to rally. They regroup and fight some more, turning the tables on Omega Flight, taking them all down. The Master thinks about how he saved Mac from death in the other dimension, and helped turn him into the Antiguard (why he became monochromatic is not explained), and starts blasting all of Alpha Flight. Sasquatch tosses Sinew at him, and then tries to fight the Master himself.  He gets trounced, as does Wildheart and Shaman. Antiguard moves on Heather, and she thinks a lot about what she believes in. Just then the training course becomes active, firing at the Master, thanks to Puck, who is badly injured. The Master is about to rally when Beta Flight and Windshear show up, having been called by Puck, and press their own attack. Heather talks to Mac again about their shared dream. The Master rallies against Beta, and is about to attack them, when he is attacked by Antiguard.  Mac is back! They speak to each other as if they were lovers, with the Master feeling hurt after Mac helped him stave off his existential loneliness. Mac, for his part, feels bad about turning on him, but thinks mankind needs to find its own destiny. Mac and Heather blast at the Master, and he appears to have been killed. Mac believes that he disappeared because he gave up, and takes off his helmet to show that his entire face is monochromatic. The Hudson’s embrace while the Flights smile, and Dream Queen feels relieved.  Later, General Clarke informs the team that they are suspended in the wake of the Lord/Master fiasco (oh, now I see it), and everyone is only to serve in training and advisory roles. Northstar, needing to set up his own miniseries, objects and storms out. Mac, who has gotten his colour back, says something lame about how everyone gets to decide their own future, and we end with a group portrait, which includes Box, Diamond Lil, and Nemesis.

This was not a good run at all.  It looks like Simon Furman tried to keep the superheroic big team dynamic that Fabian Nicieza attempted going, but just couldn’t pull it off, leaving out such annoying things as characterization and coherent plot development.

From the beginning, Furman was hampered by the Infinity crossovers, with Infinity Wars messing up his earliest issues, and then Infinity Crusade effectively taking over the book for months, even when it wasn’t labeled as such.  Those stories interrupted the flow of what Furman had going on, I assume, or he really had no plans for this title, and was just moving along as it suited him.  

There were good ideas behind this book.  I liked the examination of Witchfire, and her connection to Belasco, but it was very poorly handled.  We never got any sense of her as a character, and Furman had to rely on characters’ claims of friendship to get us through the story, as we never actually saw Witchfire and Manikin, for example, becoming friends.   

The main characters were little more than archetypes throughout this run.  Heather had doubts, and probably got the most spotlight, but everything about her felt flat, especially when compared to how she was shown back in Byrne’s, and even Mantlo’s, days.  Sasquatch turned out to be Jewish and struggling with his faith, but none of that felt very important. Puck was just there, as was Northstar, until the very end when he suddenly found a voice again.  Aurora kept manifesting new powers, but her mental health issues got swept aside. Windshear might be the least developed character in comics history, followed by the rest of Beta Flight. I’m still not sure who this Albert Louis guy is, and why we should care about him, but he became a recurring plot point.

I didn’t like the way Furman handled Shaman.  He just turned up, disappeared, and turned up again, portraying almost no personality.  As well, for long stretches, the artists (or maybe it was longtime colourist Bob Sharen, who should know better after being on this book for years) kept showing him in a shoulderless bodysuit that made no sense whatsoever.  As well, his doubts and relationship with his daughter, Talisman, is finally resolved in such an off-hand way as to have no real weight to it.

And then there’s Weapon Omega/Wildheart and Wyre.  The desire to create characters that might compete with Wolverine and Deadpool is so palpable that its no wonder that it fails utterly.  These characters are boring. Having Kyle become a full person, with full, flowing locks, renders him plot-impotent and boring. I feel like by the end of it, Furman knew that, and sidelined him significantly.  Wyre is a weird Cable figure who just never worked for me. He has cybernetic wires that come out of his shoulders and back to attack people in front of him. How is that a power set? His history (along with Nemesis’s) was not explored enough, but also didn’t really interest me.

Furman threw a lot of odd story elements into his stories, such as having Nemesis run a pack of Warriors-like Children of the Night, or having Mad Dog hanging around Toronto for no good reason, just to disappear again.  Plot elements are introduced and never explored, and I don’t believe it’s just because the book got canceled.  

This was endemic at Marvel in this era, and it comes down to terrible editing.  Likewise, the art in this run is pretty sloppy. Pat Broderick was a much better artist before this, and I have fond memories of his work on Micronauts, and Firestorm.  Here, it didn’t even look like he was trying to emulate the Image style, so much as he was rushing and half-assing his way through things. It’s obvious he’d never seen Byrne’s drawings of Sasquatch before.

Dario Carrasco Jr. was actually not as bad as most new artists debuting at the time.  His stuff is a little rough, but easy to follow.  I think it’s hilarious that when we saw Mac back in the classic Guardian battlesuit, Carrasco added buckles to the gloves.  So 90s.

I hated the general look of the team at this time.  The uniforms that were introduced in Lobdell’s run were terrible, and the new looks for Beta Flight and Wildheart were not much better. 

It was sad to see Alpha Flight go out like this, with Mac returning from the dead for the third time (as a story element, if only for the second time in actuality), and the government making yet another big change in its relationship with the team.  Also, with them facing the Master. It was like Furman was checking off items on a list of requisite Alpha Flight tropes. I’m glad I dropped this book when I did, and feel like forcing my way through the last year of the title was something I could have done without.

It would be three years before Alpha Flight returns in their own book, under Steven T. Seagle, but the industry underwent some big changes in that time, of a more positive nature, and I remember being fond of where it Seagle took it.

Before we get to that though, I’m going to torture myself for four more days, and read the Northstar miniseries that followed immediately on this book’s cancellation.  I’ll bet you can’t wait.

If you’d like to see the archives of all of my retro review columns, click here.

If you’d like to read any of the stories I talk about here, you’re going to be looking through some dollar bins.  They’ve not been collected (and really, never should be).

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