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Hibbs’ some of 5/18

Brian Hibbs

It looks like Graeme and Jeff and I are now playing Chicken again.  Which of us will blink first?

 

(duh, me!)

 

ALPHA FLIGHT #0.1: Ugh, seriously? We’re now attaching fractional numbers to numbers before #1? Given that a rational person might think “Ah, this will be about who Alpha Flight is, and what they’ve been doing since the last time we saw them”, but no, it isn’t.

 

Let’s see if I can make my own version of a “0.1”, then?

Alpha Flight is a reallyreally weird team. They had those great cameos in those Byrne/Claremont X-Men, and everyone thought they wanted more, but then it turns out that no one really has any good ideas for STORIES with them, just the sketched out concepts sound good.  Even John Byrne himself didn’t have the slightest idea what to do with them when he launched a solo series.

 

That series astonishingly lasted for 130 issues despite it really never having much of a direction or voice, which is why they keep trying to bring it back — the problem is that very few people who read any of those 130 issues are reading comics today.

 

Marvel’s latest solution to the Alpha problem is somehow rebooting the team, mostly — we’re pretty much back to the “original” cast, with even Mac Hudson back from the dead… and Heather is there by his side, too. I have a vague recollection of this happening during… “Chaos War”, was it? but I’m utterly fuzzy on the details, but there’s no, zero, none, zilch explanation in this comic of how (OR WHY!?!?!?) they resurrected a 20-something year dead character.  I could see THAT being a compelling story — you’ve been DEAD for 20 years, not just frozen in ice or “presumed missing” or something, but actually deceased, how is that dealt with by the government, or your team mates, or society.

 

But there’s nothing like that here, and, actually, these characters are all portrayed as complete and total ciphers — you’re expected to KNOW who they are and WHAT their backstories are supposed to be… even those those appear to be mostly the backstories of older incarnations of the characters. The only one with half a personality is Northstar, and his half is “he’s a jerk, but a loving gay!”, which… well fine, whatever.

 

Anyway, I think that who this comic is aimed at is “fans of John Byrne’s Alpha Flight, but not fans of anything he DID with those characters” which is actually really probably fair enough when you think about it, but is not a well coveted demographic, really, but I guess it could work somehow?

 

So, yeah, no personalities, just page after page of each member running off to become Alpha Flight (and, no, “… and this one is actually a meter maid; no one likes meter maids!” isn’t actually a personality!), then they fight the some silly enemies in the most illogical manner ever. First up half the team fights some generic “anti-government FANATIC in an adamantium exoskeleton” who isn’t espousing any kind of understandable political position that I can ascertain, and he’s beating them until… until… untillllllll…. man, I don’t know what happens at that point — Marrina says “come with me, LAND MOLLUSK”, then Shaman has swirly things around him, but “Citadel” doesn’t seem to be confined or in any trouble, in fact he’s just spouting off more, and then they vaguely cut away from that team and the enemy with no explanation of what happens next.

 

Next,  it’s Purple Girl, who was once a member of Beta Flight, and she’s the daughter of the Purple Man with the mind controls and everything.

 

PG here, mindcontrols the crowd to form a giant person out of people, and, erm, Alan Moore stories notwithstanding (if you’re going to steal, steal from the best!), that wouldn’t actually, y’know, make any forms of propulsion or combat or anything because mind control doesn’t *actually* change the physical laws of our universe or anything. But, whatev, lets go with it.

 

Finally, Snowbird comes along and Purple Girl can’t actually control her mind because Snowie shapeshifts a bunch and “Gahh – transforming too fast — too many minds — can’t– ” and kapow that’s it — but that’s not how I understand PG’s powers to work, but ah, whatevs!

 

The giant made out of people… well, we don’t know what happens there, they didn’t show it, but presumably it falls apart, and several people fall many stories to their deaths, but whatevs!

 

Alpha then poses for a picture, despite most of them not actually doing a thing here. Anne-Marie has her legs spread. No one mentions the other fight they had, or what happened to Citadel.

 

Then, suddenly there’s an inset panel at the bottom of the group shot where Marrina (I think?) inexplicitly starts shouting that she’s an alien, and “BITE ME, EARTH MEDIA!” Wait… what?

 

We cut away from that from-nowhere outburst to re-establish that Northstar is a good gay and he kisses his boyfriend, but uh oh, he forgot to vote. I think what they mean to imply by the final shot is that Gary Cody is the new… well, I’m guessing Prime Minister of Canada, but it’s not actually made clear anywhere in the text what he’s running for, so it could be Ottawa Dog-Catcher for all I know, but it actually looks like he’s just finishing the speech he’s started at the beginning of the comic, and not actually won an election, so I don’t really know for sure.

 

Wow, lousy lousy comic. CRAP.

 

 

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #504: That may be the most violent comic book I’ve read since that issue of Miracleman where KM destroys London while he waits for MM to return. Gross. Also very effective in actually conveying that horror, which is rarer than rare in a crossover issue, but, still mostly gross. OK

 

ROCKETEER ADVENTURES #1: Look, there’s absolutely no reason whatsoever to try and do “more” of Dave Steven’s fun little character… but IF you’re going to do it, then doing it with John Cassaday, Mike Allred and Michael Kaluta is probably the way to go. Not one of those stories was of an particular weight or consequence, yet I very much enjoyed looking at them all. Pretty pretty stuff. Fluff, too, but sometimes pretty wins. GOOD.

 

 

IN the “I don’t have anywhere else to put it” department, I want to publicly boggle at the Giant game of Telephone that the internet is.

 

Whenever a new tilting comes out, I always spend a few days googling “hibbs tilting” and “latest results” looking for blogs and message boards I don’t normally read, but even I am kind of shocked by Comic Book Resources.

 

A member over there took the latest tilting and decided the point of wisdom to glean from it was to decide what books should be cancelled right now. He posted threads in both the Marvel and DC sections of CBR’s forums that were “WHAT SHOULD BE CUT RIGHT NOW!” and linked to the column.

 

People then start posting, without, I believe, reading the underlying column.

 

4 or 5 pages into the DC one a user from Sweden says

“I dont care at all for some american comic shop owner and that he want to sell more of the big superheroes. I enjoy many of the smaller dc comics and if they were cancelled i would vote with my wallet,punish dc by buying less Batman type.”

 

the next reply:

“I still don’t see how canceling a bunch of books is going to help anyone other than this guy who doesn’t seem like he can even run his own store.”

 

the Swede again:

“Exactly but he isnt a reader who wants a good story no matter how small or big a comic is. He just cares about selling, he doesnt need smaller,acclaimed series for that.”

 

Which is almost exactly the direct opposite of everything I think and believe, stand for, and present in my store… wrapped up in one comment thread. Yay Internet!

 

 

 

As always, what do YOU think?

 

-B

12 Responses to “ Hibbs’ some of 5/18 ”

  1. Didn’t Clive Barker do the giant made out of people first?

  2. anybody seen CALIGULA #2 ?!?

  3. I hope none of you blink.

  4. Man. That review of Alpha Flight was amazingly entertaining. I haven’t read the comic, but now I kind of want to check it out. Mostly because I’m curious about the Canadian election reference. This is a pretty sore point for me, since I’m Canadian and the Conservative Majority win was the most depressing political moment of my life so far. (I’m 32.) And you’re saying this gay Canadian superhero FORGOT TO VOTE?! Arrrrggh!

    I definitely don’t want to pay money for this comic, but, yeah. This is relevant to my interests, even if it probably means it would piss me off. A lot.

    And, ugh, that part about morons on message boards completely misrepresenting what you said or wrote or stand for. I feel your pain. The internet is depressing.

  5. Your excellently entertaining review makes that ALPHA FLIGHT comic sound exactly like a John Byrne issue of ALPHA FLIGHT! Sadly it isn’t 1983 and tragically (for me) I’m not 13 anymore so I won’t be buying it.

    Being “fuzzy on the details” with regard to stuff like the giant made of people is, I have just right now decided, one of the more difficult aspects of writing tights’n’fights comics. I think they all have to do it to an extent but only the good writers can misdirect you so that you don’t notice they’ve done it. Suspension of disbelief! That’s what they call it! I had actually forgotten.

    Say, does Purple Girl do that whole “I can see you!” thing that so impressed everyone when her Dad did it? Well, everyone who hadn’t read ANIMAL MAN. Is “Land Mollusc” an insult or a character name? Is Puck in it? I like Puck. He’s tiny and hairy and bounces about! A bit like a lively testicle with a cauliflower ear! Last time I saw him he was in Wolverine Goes to Hell. Why was Puck in Hell? (Don’t say that fast in front of the kids). Really, why?

    Do you know why God (or Who/Whatever) gave you Free Will, Mr. Hibbs? So you wouldn’t Google yourself! No good can come of that, you silly goose.

  6. Daniel: Yeah, when you say that maybe so… BOOKS OF BLOOD is “1984 and 1985″ says wiki, and that issue of SWAMP THING was probably late ’85?

    At least Barker, as I recall, had ropes and platforms involved…

    John: I’m googling the column, not me :)

    -B

  7. Brian – that’s the reason I shoot over to CBR to read TILTING, then run right back over here to read the comments. I can’t STAND the regulars on CBR.

    Also, and I should have mentioned this in its own forum, but whatever – your latest TILTING was AMAZING. Just wonderful stuff, really detailing the plight of the direct market.

    Anyway, back on track – keep the capsules coming! I agree with Basque – that Alpha Flight review was more entertaining than reading the book could ever be.

    Oh, and BTW – have you been keeping up with GAME OF THRONES past the first couple of episodes? Would love to hear your thoughts as the series has progressed.

  8. Spike recently had a giant Elvis made of Elvises. It was awesome!

  9. I believe the proper pluralization of “Elvis” is “Elvi”. Though I could be wrong. ;-)

  10. Agreed with Basque. I now legitimately want to read Alpha Flight just to see how insane and off the wall it is in it’s own awfulness.

    I’m not sure that’s what you were going for, and I won’t read issue #2 (or #1 or whatever the hell it is) but damn, I’m intrigued.

  11. “That series astonishingly lasted for 130 issues despite it really never having much of a direction or voice, which is why they keep trying to bring it back — the problem is that very few people who read any of those 130 issues are reading comics today.”

    This actually touches on a problem that televsion is dealing with right now. THE MENTALIST’s last season finale got 14.11 million viewers. The most recent MAD MEN season finale got 2.44 million viewers. Which of those shows has a “direction or voice”? Which one gets the most attention, praise and hype from pop culture media? Hint: It ain’t the one people actually watch.

    Likewise, that directionless and voiceless ALPHA FLIGHT series sold better than at least 90% of what Marvel or DC publish today, and it was a 3rd tier title for most of its existence.

    Mike

  12. I stopped reading Marvel comics about eight years ago, and decided there was no need to ever look at them again. Alpha Flight 0.1 broke that resolution.

    The original Alpha Flight series certainly had its ups and downs, like going from John Byrne to Bill Mantlo. But despite it all I still love the concept. It’s so novel having a superhero team book set here at home, with stories taking place in identifiable locations, instead of everything happening in far away New York or generic Big City, USA. And the characters are strong, interesting personalities.

    Alpha Flight is a well built series with a unique concept that was treated badly for many years by a string of mainly American writers, who, as you say, did not know what to do with Canadian heroes. The current writers are also American, but from the interviews and publicity they’ve done it sounds like they have a good handle on what makes the book work. And the regular artist is a very talented Canadian. I think that will make a big difference this time around.

    So I’m sticking with it. This issue was sort of meh, but that’s mostly because of the artist. Things should improve a lot when Dale Eaglesham takes over next issue.

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