link

GRAPHIC NOVEL and TRADE PAPERBACK (TPB) REVIEWS

by The Masked Bookwyrm

Miscellaneous (Superheroes) - "A" PAGE 1

Back to the main listings (including character sections)

Across the Universe: The DC Universe Stories of Alan Moore 2003 (SC TPB) 208 pages

Written by Alan Moore. Pencils by Dave Gibbons, Jim Baikie, George Freeman, Rick Veitch, Klaus Janson, Bill Willingham, Kevin O'Neill, Joe Orlando, Paris Cullins.

cover by Dave GibbonsReprinting: Superman Annual #11, Vigilante #17-18, DC Comics Presents #85, Batman Annual #11, plus the Green Arrow story from Detective Comics 549-550, back up stories from Omega Men #26, 27, Tales of the Green Lantern stories from Green Lantern #188, Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #2, 3, and one of the stories from Secret Origins #10 (1985-1987)

Rating: * * * 1/2 (out of 5)

Number of readings: 1 (some stories more)

Additional notes: intro by Dave Gibbons; some covers.

Published by DC Comics

This has been subsequently re-issued (and possibly re-titled) with some additional material.

One is hard pressed to imagine a comic book writer that has become more revered, critically, than Alan Moore. The very fact that DC Comics has released this disparate collection of stories is a testament to Moore's perceived stature.

Now, the catch is, I've never been that huge a fan of Alan Moore. I like some of his stuff, I certainly find works like The Watchmen impressive, but I just don't think he's as great as a lot of other people do. Perhaps the best illustration of my qualms is in artist Dave Gibbons introduction, in which he states that Moore's work "connects on both an intellectual and emotional level." Although I readily concede that Moore's stuff can be intellectually clever (at least, at times) I find that emotionally, his stuff often doesn't click. His approach to story and characters often seems more abstract than emotive.

Moore rocketed to stardom with a long run on the revived Swamp Thing, but his work in the rest of the DC Universe was more spartan, and I think this collection assembles most of it. The stories here range from super hero stories involving Superman, Batman, etc., to some science fiction tales that filled the back pages of comics like Green Lantern and The Omega Men.

Of his super hero tales, the Batman Annual (illustrated by the all too infrequently seen George Freeman) is probably my favourite, as Moore revisits Clayface III, a Len Wein character first introduced in the 1970s (in a story included in Batman: Strange Apparitions). Even here, Moore kind of sacrifices the pathos of the character for the irony, as the story is largely told from the point of view of this demented misfit, hopelessly in love with a lifeless mannequin. Clayface concocts an entire relationship with a wax figure, a relationship torn apart by jealousy and suspicion that's entirely in his head. Though Batman himself doesn't show up till half way through.

The Superman Annual is one of the most wildly hailed Superman stories around, and was previously included in the 1987 edition of The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told (I review it in greater detail here) but I never quite regarded it as well. Superman also appears, co-starring with Moore's signature character, Swamp Thing, in the team up story from DC Comics Presents, but the story -- about Superman contracting a fatal disease -- is rather thin and weakly resolved and kind of aloof from the characters.

A two part Green Arrow back up story from Detective Comics is O.K. but largely forgettable.

The two part Vigilante story is a reasonably effective suspenser, with nicely realist art by Jim Baikie, but likewise, doesn't entirely stand out. The Vigilante comic was, I think, aimed at mature readers, and with its story of a child molester, and his grisly end, seems out of keeping with a book including Batman and Superman stories. The Vigilante was, basically, DC's answer to the Punisher, and treads the same morally questionable terrain, but I guess I can't criticize Moore for not dealing with that given that it was an established series.

Though it maybe illustrates a problem with this book. Featuring as it does stories from a decade and a half earlier, it might benefit from notes to better orient a modern reader who might be unfamiliar with long cancelled comics like Vigilante, or the existence of a Green Lantern Corps. Nor is it fully explained that Moore's Phantom Stranger origin story was one of four "origins" posited for that enigmatic character in an issue of Secret Origins, and isn't necessarily meant to be taken as the "real" one.

Where Moore's stuff shines best is in the five short science fiction tales, often benefiting from clever twist endings and an imaginative exploration of what alien environments and circumstances might entail. A world without light poses a special dilemma for Green Lantern, Katma Tui, while how does an invading army conquer a planet that exists in a different time frame? Most of these pieces are quite good and memorable.

I've muttered before that one could construe, perhaps unfairly, an uncomfortable misogynist streak in some of Moore's work, and seeing these stories all lined up together, you can't help but notice it more. To be fair, if you're looking for anything you can probably find it, even if it's not there. But women seem to bear the brunt of the violence -- Wonder Woman gets the stuffing beat out of her in the Superman story, Black Canary ends up in the hospital in the Green Arrow story, the Batman-Clayface story turns into a long diatribe (by an, admittedly, disturbed villain) about the wantonness of women. Etc. Viewed in that context, one of the twist endings to Moore's sci-fi tales is more uncomfortable than clever.

I'm not really saying any of that was Moore's intent, or even there, but Moore is a writer who demands to be taken seriously, and his work be analysed -- so that's all I'm doing.

Ultimately, Across the Universe doesn't change my opinion of Alan Moore, but it's a decent enough collection of different stories, giving you a glimpse at the DCU circa the 1980s, with the short SF tales often more memorable than the longer super hero stories. Though, interestingly enough, nowhere, not even in Dave Gibbons intro, is it mentioned that Moore had a bitter falling out with DC, and the reason all these stories are from years ago is because he hasn't worked for the company since.

Cover price: $32.95 CDN./$19.95 USA. 


Adam Strange
stories are reviewed here


The Aladdin EffectThe Aladdin Effect 1985 GN 64 pgs.

Written by David Michelinie (story by Jim Shooter). Pencils by Greg LaRocque. Inks by Vince Colletta.
Colours/letters: unbilled.

Rating: * * * (out of 5)

Number of readings: 1

Published by Marvel Comics in over-sized tabloid format; Marvel Graphic Novel #16

A Wyoming town finds itself cut off from the rest of the world -- literally. Surrounded by a force field the town is threatening to degenerate into a no man's land of street gangs as the limited resources of food and power gradually become exhausted. Why this is happening, or how it can be combated, no one knows, not even the local sheriff. The sheriff's eight year old daughter, Holly-Ann, meanwhile, is a big fan of super heroes and wish some would rescue them. Pretty soon, the She-Hulk, Storm, the Wasp, and Tigra mysteriously find themselves in the town, with no memory of how they got there. And then the bad guys show up...

The Aladdin Effect is a solid, slightly off-beat adventure, teaming some of Marvel's second string heroines in a tale that shows they can take centre stage pretty well. Writer David Michelinie does a good job of capturing their various personalities, which isn't always the case with a team up by a writer who might not be that familiar with all the characters. The graphic novel starts out particularly nicely, with its grim, moody portrait of desperation, gradually developing its story even before the super people show up. Once the villains make themselves known the story loses some of its eerie mood, but it nonetheless maintains interest, even turning into a paean to the Human Spirit -- albeit a hokey, heavy handed one -- as the town folks themselves rise up against their oppressors.

Interestingly, it could be argued the story bears more than a few similarities to the Stephen King-scripted mini-series, Storm of the Century, which was made more than fifteen years after this was published. In both stories you have a town cut-off from the outside by a malevolent force that says it wants something from the town, but won't say what, and where a central character is the local sheriff. There's even another parallel, but I won't say what for fear of giving too much away.

There's a difference in spirit though (well, aside from the obvious of one being a super hero adventure and the other a horror tale). The Aladdin Effect, as noted, is about people triumphing over their baser instincts, while King's mini-series was more about people being defeated by their baser instincts.

The art by Greg LaRocque and Vince Colletta is of a kind of unspectacular but reasonably effective, unstylized comicbook art. The kind that tells the story. Which means, though it could have been better, it could have been a lot worse, too. The painted colours, uncredited, are also nicely effective in an unsplashy way.

These early Marvel Graphic Novels often flirted with the idea of being "mature readers" stories, perhaps as a way of justifying the "prestigious" format. On one hand, the Aladdin Effect doesn't go where you might expect with a book featuring a bunch of heroines -- LaRocque doesn't indulge in cheesecake poses and there's no actual nudity (though it comes close in a couple of panels). The main indulgence is the way nipples seem to project against the fabric of shirts with a little more frequency than in a Comics Code Approved comic. However, there's one scene involving the attempted gang rape of a temporarily amnesiac Wasp, a scene that seems more graphic than one would expect in a regular comic. The point about all this lurid dwelling on any perceived raciness is that the Aladdin Effect features as one of its focal characters, perhaps the focal character, eight year old Holly-Ann. Telling a story with a child as protagonist would seem to imply a story aimed at younger readers...as such, some of the grittier material, however subtle the distinction between it and what might appear in a regular comic, is...awkward.

With that being said, the use of a youngster doesn't alienate an adult reader, Holly-Ann avoiding being too cloying or cutesy a personality.

The Aladdin Effect may not be a classic, per se, but it's a slightly off-beat, nicely absorbing read.

Original cover price: $6.95 CDN./$5.95 USA


cover by ByrneAlpha Flight Classic 2007 (SC TPB) 192 pages

Written and illustrated by John Byrne.
Colours: Andy Yanchus. Letters: various. Editor: Denny O'Neil.

Reprinting: Alpha Flight (1st series) #1-8 (1983-1984)

Rating: * * * (out of 5)

Number of readings: a few times over the years

Published by Marvel Comics

Alpha Flight, the American comic about a Canadian super team, has always been a bit like the way a lot of Americans think of Canada -- they sort of like it, but they aren't entirely sure what to make of it.

The team's creation was an evolution involving happenstance and necessity. It began when writer Len Wein wrote a Hulk story with the Hulk in Canada and decided to face him off against a Canadian super hero, and so created Wolverine. Then, when Wein was helping to revamp the floundering X-Men comic, and it was decided to give the "new" team a more international flare, he recruited Wolverine as one of the team. Then, to give background to Wolverine, a later X-Men comic had him square off against a fellow Canadian super hero, Vindicator, and, still later, to have the whole X-Men fight a Canadian team -- and Alpha Flight was born.

And a legend began. Despite only having the occasional guest appearances, Alpha Flight developed a bit of fandom, so, eventually, they got their own series -- multiple series, actually. The first run ran a healthy ten years, then the team (with major cast changes) was tried for a couple of less successful runs (including a critically poorly reviewed humourous take on the team). The team now exists, mainly only as an echo, in the current Omega Flight -- a kind of offensive concept in which the new "Canadian" team is actually comprised mainly of American heroes come to Canada to deal with a burgeoning super villain problem that Canadians are, apparently, unable to deal with.

But getting back to the original series. Despite running for a decade, even a lot of fans seem to regard it as a mixed bag, creatively speaking, most citing the earliest issues by John Byrne as the series at its best. Byrne, a British-born, Canadian-raised, American comic giant, co-created the team during his tenure on the X-Men (actually, he is usually credited as the sole creator -- yet those X-Men issues were written by Chris Claremont). But even Byrne, apparently, had mixed feelings about the team -- I believe I read that he hadn't really been interested in doing the monthly series, but was kind roped into it by the Marvel brass. And, ironically, though Byrne was the only person with a Canadian background to ever work on this "Canadian" team -- I believe he subsequently moved to the States and has occasionally made derogatory comments about Canada in editorials and letters pages (a Next Men letter column comes to mind).

Anyway, maybe because of the Omega Flight series, Marvel has now collected the first eight issues of the original series as Alpha Flight Classic (presumably with other volumes down the line if sales warrant -- though why Marvel didn't just go for one of its massive "Essential" collections, I dunno). And it starts out pretty good. I say that as someone who has become rather ambivalent about Byrne over the years. I loved his detailed, meticulous art on the X-Men and such as a kid, but when Byrne became a writer-artist, I was never as fond of his writing, in general, and found that the more hats he wore (writer-artist-inker) and the more projects he took on (at the same time he was doing Alpha Flight, he was also doing Fantastic Four and a few other comics), he just seemed to be spreading himself too thin, his art getting rougher and sloppier, his once detailed backgrounds more and more Spartan, etc.

Still, the opening double-sized issue is pretty good, as the team (which had recently disbanded in an X-Men comic) reunites and takes on a giant monster. This is followed by a three-part tale that is also fairly strong, with the team in the desolate Arctic and taking on their first original super foe -- the (blandly named) Master. Though here we see Byrne's unfortunate trendency to throw in guest stars willynilly, as both the Sub-Mariner and the Invisible Woman crop up in the final issue (Alpha Flight's second solo adventure and already they're being shoved aside for guest stars!) and Byrne's art begins to get a bit less polished. Still, the plotting is reasonably interesting, and the development of the characters and their interaction promising. And the art is still more good than bad.

What Byrne starts to do, though, is an unusual, but problematic idea. As Alpha Flight was a team basically existing in its own universe (well, its own geographic area), Byrne starts to play with the idea of it being less a team, than a group of individuals, as the next few issues tend to focus on the characters in various solo adventures -- but his plotting isn't really that interesting, and the characters often work less well in isolation from each other. Still, the next few issues give us a solo Puck story (recovering in hospital, he uncovers criminal activity), a solo Snowbird tale, and a two-parter forcusing on siblings Northstar and Aurora. And also some "gimmick" ideas that can be more annoying than entertaining, such as the Snowbird tale in which much of it takes place during a blizzard so Byrne, cheekily, presents much of it in blank white panels, with only word balloons and sound effects -- a gimmick I might've objected to less if it was incorporated into the story, such as having Snowbird be as blind as the reader, so that the trick can seem intended to let us experience it from her perspective -- but she and the villain can see fine, Byrne just doesn't bother to draw anything (told ya he seemed as though maybe he was being overworked with too many comics).

Along the way, Byrne also fills in some of the origins of his cast with short back up tales.

It's interesting reading some of this in light of later revelations. Northstar would eventually be outted as one of comicdoms first gay heroes. I once saw an interview with Byrne where he claimed, though he intended Northstar to be gay all along, he objected to it becoming open, preferring it more as cryptic hints (a kind of oddly reactionary attitude -- Byrne proudly admits to creating a gay character, but feels the character should've stayed in the closet?) Anyway, in the Northstar/Aurora tale, they encounter an old friend of Northstar -- a friend whose past relationship to Northstar is rather ill-defined, who dresses somewhat effeminately, and who Northstar is shocked to learn has a daughter -- though why he should be shocked is not stated. In other words, read in light of later revelations, you can infer that Byrne really was laying hints of a homosexual background for Northstar.

Ultimately, though I have mixed feelimgs about these issues, I guess I'd actually have to say this is an okay run, with the opening two stories pretty good. Of course, this doesn't form a story arc, per se, with a few sub-plots introduced and left dangling. And I still think a massive Essential Alpha Flight collection would've made more sense, as Marvel could've then collected the entirety of the Byrne run between a single cover.

This is a review of the stories as they were published in the original comics.

Cover price: $ __ CDN./ $24.99 USA.


coverAlpha Flight: The Complete Series by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente 2012 (SC TPB) 200 pages

Written by Fred Van Lente & Greg Pak. Pencils by Dale Eaglesham, with Ben Oliver. Inks by Andrew Hennessy, Dale Eaglesham, Dan Green.
Colours: Sonia Oback, Jesus Aburtov. Letters: Simon Bowland. Editor: Mark Paniccia.

Repriting: Alpha Flight 0.1, and Alpha Flight 1-8 (2011-2012)

Rating: * * * 1/2 (out of 5)

Additional notes: covers; character design sketches; comments and interviews with the creators (most previously published).

Number of readings: 1

Reviewed: Nov. 2012

Published by Marvel Comics

The TPB is technically titled Alpha Flight: The Complete Series by Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente (quite a moutful) -- which is on the spine -- but it just says "Alpha Flight" on the front cover. This can make things confusing because Marvel released the first four issues also under the title Alpha Flight. Though they never ended up releasing #5-8 as a follow up. In other words, an eager fan might have bought the first collection...and then to get the conclusion, has to buy the "complete" TPB, reprinting issues he already had! That may have indicated some problem in the sales.)

Alpha Flight, the Canadian super team, has been through various revisions, revivals, and reinventions since first catching fandom's attention as quasi-adversaries for the X-Men some thirty years ago. Indeed, in the sometimes insanely convoluted mythos of comic book super heroes, Alpha Flight's history is perhaps more convoluted than many. At one point or another, it seems as though almost every member has died and been resurrected.

And this mini-series was an attempt at another revival.

TPB collections could benefit from a text page recapping what needs recapping -- particularly as the intent of a TPB is that it will stay in print for years, so whatever the surrounding events might have been are long forgotten. Aside from a casual fan maybe wondering about the status quo of the team prior to this, this mini-series was set amid some cross-title saga Marvel was engaged in and you can wonder a bit about references to "hammer-wielding" villains that seem to be striking throughout the world.

Still, that's not really the core plot.

The core plot is that a new political party gets elected in Alpha Flight's Canada. And faster than you can say, "Take off, eh?" Alpha Flight finds itself on the run from its own government, and branded criminals in the eyes of the general public, while dissidents and intellectuals are carted off to work camps.

The rise of a fascist state is a nicely dramatic concept, full of potential for deep themes and emotional soul searching. And it's not exactly unfamiliar terrain for super hero comics. Though the fact that Alpha Flight lives in Canada allows the story to unfold in its own way (as opposed to wondering how this is affecting Daredevil and the Fantastic Four).

The creators made no bones about the fact that they are Alpha Flight fans, and this was intended both as an epic adventure for a team without a regular series, and also an attempt to re-boot them, and reignite fan interest. And by re-booting them...they go back to the beginning. Alpha Flight has undergone myriad cast changes and new directions over the years, but this employs what many regard as the "classic" team -- a line-up not seen in its entirety since the very earliest adventures back in the early 1980s! (It's a bit like defining The Beatles as being John, Paul, George...and Stu Sutcliffe and Pete Best). So it's Shaman, Snowbird, Sasquatch, Northstar, Aurora, Puck, Marrina and headed by Guardian a.k.a. James "Mac" Hudson (who has been killed off and resurrected more than most!). Vindicator a.k.a. Heather Hudson is also around...but ends up opposing the team, which obviously creates some emotional drama...but could also be seen as part of the creators wanting to focus on the founding crew (even though, technically, Heather's association with the team has been much longer, and more consistent, than "Mac"s).

(I like the line-up but, to be fair, I also have fondness for a 1990s revival with a slightly different cast mix).

I'm not sure how much this line-up was already in play, and how much Van Lente and Pak just decided to use them, continuity be damned. Certainly in an afterward, it's indicated that Marrina's new personality was simply an arbitrary revamp, re-imagining her as the rebellious youth wing of the team, with piercings, tattoos, and defiantly embracing her alien heritage (her battle cry: "Die, human scum!"). I'm not sure it gels with continuity...but it does make her a kind of fun personality. And it uses the "alien" idea as a kind of race metaphor, like a teen who decides to rebel against conformity by almost over-emphasizing her ethnic heritage.

And the overall result is fun...but mixed.

On the plus side: as mentioned, it's a grandly epic sort of concept, with the characters not just battling super villains (though there are those too) but their own government, with accompanying speeches about freedom and patriotism (the team fighting for the people...not the system). It clips along, never dragging or seeming stalled. Despite the "deeper" themes, it remains steadfastly a fun romp, with quips and daring do. And it remains about Alpha Flight...as opposed to cramming in guest stars. Well, other than Wolverine cropping up for a bit, but his roots with the team are legitimately deep. Frankly, given Wolverine's intrinsic popularity, maybe Marvel should just try an Alpha Flight run with him as temporary member to get readers buying it.

The creator's enthusiasm is obvious and infectious. And, as a Canadian, I appreciate how hard they've tried to make the series Canadian (helped by google and kibitzing from artist Dale Eaglesham, who is Canadian himself). To be fair, Alpha Flight comics have always made the effort to seem Canadian (and not just like a 51st State), but with mixed results. I can quibble here and there, but I applaud the nuances. Little, subtle things like a character referring to the prime minister as his MP (an allusion to the way the Canadian political system differs from the American one). And in-jokes that an American probably wouldn't even notice (like a politicial slogan: "Just watch us" or an issue titled: "Born on the 1st of July").

For fans of Alpha Flight, they are clearly appealing to nostalgists with the classic line up, the classic costumes, and with some recurring foes -- including the mastermind behind the villainy. I have a couple of dozen comics from various eras, but I'm no expert...yet even I felt a kind of nostalgic tingle at times! (With that said: things might be lost on someone completely unfamiliar with the team)

And you know your country has joined an elite list when a dramatic scene involves the destruction of government buildings (just like all those old Japanese, British, and American sci-fi films!)

But the hard truth is that as much as I liked Alpha Flight...I didn't quite love it.

For all that it's dealing with a big, dramatic premise...the execution didn't quite live up to it. Maybe it's pretentious of me to say, and the creators would counter this wasn't their intention, but it's not like this is another Watchmen, or Squadron Supreme, or Alan Moore's Captain Britain run. And yet, it had the potential to be just that. For a 9 issue epic...it can feel a bit perfunctory at times. It keeps a sprightly pace, but as though we are just getting a Reader's Digest version of the story. Key scenes of the characters breaking in (or out) of facilities, or going rebel and robbing banks, could've used more build up.

For all that Van Lente and Pak clearly love playing with the team...it can feel a bit as though they don't know what to do with them. Some aren't really in character, or are written too glibly. Puck is almost comic relief while many are written rather juvenile (Shaman hardly sounds like a middle aged surgeon). And this can also apply to powers: I thought Snowbird could turn into various Canadian animals. But as if feeling that wasn't "super" enough, here she seems to transform into a lot of made up creatures (giant owls, or a bird that spits fire!)

You'd think with a team membership, and such an epic premise, there'd be lots of little sub-plots and side stories, a chance for each character to get his or her moment and story line. Some do, but many just seem part of the group. Part of that may be a problem with the team itself...that after three decades, I'm not sure they ever really developed much of a supporting cast, or even alter egos. It's basically just a bunch of guys and gals in spandex.

With that said, the writers do create a character dynamic that would certainly be something for later writers to play with. And that is shown in some good scenes between Mac...and Northstar. Mac as the stalwart glue that holds the team together...and Northstar as the cynic who keeps them honest. A friendship between two guys who might not even consider themselves friends...but each offers something the other lacks (Blake and Avon, to use a sci-fi reference).

Just as an aside, Northstar is gay and it's interesting how frankly and explicitly the comics deal with that -- it's hard to imagine a mainstream adventure movie or TV series that would be so nonchalant (other than the British TV series Torchwood). From panels of guys kissing to Aurora's repressed, conservative Jeanne-Marie persona obliviously insisting some day Northstar will settle down with a girl. Although it's ironic that Northstar is just about the only Alphan depicted with a romantic interest or home life!

As I say, the plot isn't perhaps as complex or Byzantine as you might expect for such a big story, and concept, and though there are twists and turns...the logic is tenuous at times, basically just there to get us from one scene to the next. The saga opens with a couple of characters (including an ex-Alpha Flight member) as villains...but warning of dangers posed by this new party. Ah hah, what a neat hook. Characters who seem like villains...but are actually Cassandra with their warnings falling on Alpha Flight's deaf ears. Except...it's never explained what those characters knew, or how, or if!

The art, too, was problematic -- even though it's neat to realize Eaglesham is Canadian (one of the few times, I think, a Canadian has worked on the series). I mean, the art is certainly okay, it's not distorted or cartoony. As I've sometimes said about other artists: there are certainly worst artists I could image tackling an 8 issue mini-series! But equally, it's kind of stiff, in faces, in figure work. Some artists can imbue their characters with emotion, with personality, just by how they are posed, or their expressions. And some feel as though they're just happy getting the limbs in the right proportion. And some of the action scenes can seem a bit confusing. Still, I like the art more when he inks himself, providing a soft, organic finish -- initial inker Andrew Hennessy being too hard and rigid. And the art problem is not just with Eaglesham. The opening prologue chapter (from AF #0.1) is illustrated by Ben Oliver and Dan Green. And though that issue boasts an impressive, quasi-painted, photo-referenced look...the figures can also seem a bit stiff, the composition of the scenes a bit weak.

What's actually funny about this series is how much it resonated in my brain -- because I'd been toying with a story like this for years. I mean, all comic fans probably have a few story ideas they've played with, a few (badly) doodled comics in a drawer somewhere. Right? Right? And for years I'd thought it would be neat to do a Canadian super hero comic (sometimes using Alpha Flight, sometimes Captain Canuck, sometimes my own made up characters) utilizing the premise of a political coup and the heroes having to take on the government. Honestly, there were scenes here that literally seemed as though they were ripped out of my brain, where I had to do a double take because it was like something I had imagined!

So on one hand -- it was neat seeing it come to life...and frustrating it wasn't the definitive version it could've been.

This is enjoyable enough for what it is: an Alpha Flight epic that, continuity aside, is sufficiently self-contained to be read for itself. And a chance to see the "classic" team in action...a line-up that probably lingers so much in fans' memories precisely because of its unfulfilled potential (Marrina was written out in a few issues, Mac was killed off shortly thereafter...and even in those early issues, adventures with the full team were rare, the comic focusing more on solo tales). But it can be frustrating because you can't help thinking how much potential this story and these characters had that is under-utilized.

The series itself was first marketed as a mini-series, then partly through the run it was announced it was going to become an on-going series. But then it was downgraded back to a mini-series, implying maybe sales started to drop before the end. But maybe that backs up my review a bit. Maybe it shows there is an audience eager for an Alpha Flight revival, and interested in the "classic" team, but this didn't quite manage to satisfy expectation.

But make no mistake -- this is an enjoyable, grand romp that keeps you turning the pages. But it's good more than great.

Cover price: $ __ CDN./ $29.99 USA.
 

Next >

Back to