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Alpha Flight #2

Posted: Monday, April 12, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artists: Clayton Henry (p), Mark Morales (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The Plot:
As Walter makes another bid to secure the services of the super-powered individuals that he visited last issue, we see this time he meets with a greater measure of success thanks to his use of tactics that are decidedly more questionable. We then learn the reason why he's pulled together this new group of heroes is to rescue the member of the original Alpha Flight, who are being held captive by an unknown villain. Needless to say this new group isn't exactly big on performing a daring rescue mission.

The Good:
This issue is pretty much a repeat performance of the first issue but this time out Sasquatch brings more to the table than a tired recruitment speech that these characters can summarily reject. Yes this time out he knocks two of them unconscious and saddles another one of them with a device that will kill her instantly if she steps out of line, but surprisingly when the dust settles it would appear that all the members of this new team, no matter how they were brought on board, seem quite willing to stick with the group, at least for the first mission. Now if you've read the classic X-Men issue where the "all new, all different" team was introduced to the world you have a pretty good idea of the plot that Scott Lobdell has come up with, as a lone member of the original team has escaped while the rest of his teammates have been taken captive, and this forces our hero to quickly assemble a new band of heroes for a rescue mission. However in spite of the familiar plot, I have to confess I did find myself quickly warming to this new group as they openly questioned the wisdom of sending them up against a threat that had managed to capture the original team, when they have zero experience, and are likely to be about as useful as an anchor on a sinking ship. Still, one has to imagine that Sasquatch was set free so he could gather up more victims, and watching how this new, untested group performs now that they've been sent tumbling out of the frying pan should be a lot of fun. Plus nothing acts to grab my attention more than a battle where the heroes are such clear-cut underdogs.

Clayton Henry offers up a lighthearted style that meshes quite well with the writing as the visual gags are well presented, and the characters have a wide range of expressions which is very important on a title that is so heavily dependent of the characters reacting to the situations in an amusing manner. I mean one has to love the sense of nobility to the scene where Yukon Jack is moving through his ancient civilization, as this makes the decidedly mercenary type behavior of the tribal chief all the more amusing. There's also a nice arrival scene as Major Mapleleaf arrives, as there's something inherently goofy about the character arriving on a flying horse. I also enjoyed the panel where we see Walter is quick to dump his new recruits in the hands of Major mapleleaf, as I had to smile at the jump that has him inside the cockpit of his plane when the previous panel had him outside the plane in the middle of a conversation with the confused hero.

The Bad:
Now I was a big fan of breaking of the fourth wall when it was a regular feature of John Byrne's run on the "Sensational She-Hulk" but this book's occasional moment where the narrator breaks away and starts talking directly to the readers was more irksome than annoying. Now I will concede that the "Previously" recap page is a fun rant on the state of the comic book, and while I disagree when it comes to the recap pages, I applaud its rant against the current state of today's covers, and I hope the future recap pages adopt a similar approach, as the "X-Statix" recap pages appear to have fallen back in line, so here's hoping this title will pick up the torch, and make its recap page worth reading for longtime readers. In any event this issue does suffers from the simple fact that the new characters still haven't emerged as anything all that interesting, as there's a detached quality about them that leaves me a bit cold. I mean perhaps this will improve when we start getting issues that offer up some internal character exposition, as right now the only character whose head we've been allowed to get inside is Walter's, and these scenes are entirely devoted to his thoughts of this new cast of characters. I also have to say I'm a bit concerned that there seems to be a fair bit of duplication of powers among this cast, as we have three characters who look to be high agility, and three characters who bring super strength to the table. Still I haven't seen the group in action so it's a little early to be overly concerned about the lack of variety that I see among this new group.

Stop Me If You Heard This One Before:
I have to confess I enjoyed this issue far more than I expected to, as this is a highly entertaining, if somewhat unconventional take on the traditional gathering of the heroes story. Now the plot at the core of this story feels a bit familiar, but the issue clearly recognizes this, and it has some fun playing against this feeling. Sasquatch's recruitment techniques are amusingly unorthodox, and when the team is fully assembled the book offers up a couple fun moments, as I enjoyed the way that the group openly questions the wisdom of sending a band of raw rookies against a threat that took down a team with years of experience under their belt. The less than inspired reactions that most of the characters have to Walter's big pro-Canada speech also made me smile, and if nothing else it served to reaffirm my belief that Major Mapleleaf is going to emerge as my favorite as he's like Dudley Doright with superpowers. Of course the idea that he's so full of goodness leaves me a bit suspicious that we're being set up for a surprise twist.



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