• Review - Uncanny X-Men #109 / Classic X-Men #16

    Issue: Uncanny X-Men #109 / Classic X-Men #16
    Writer: Chris Claremont
    Artist: John Byrne / Kieron Dwyer
    Date Published: February 1977 / December 1987
    Alpha Appearance: Weapon Alpha
    Period in Alpha Flight's history: Right before Uncanny #'s 120-121, after Northstar's origin

    The X-Men want to rest up, as you do when you've been to space.
    They spend time with each other like they're people, not machines, which means they're way unprepared for 2010 issues.
    Wolverine hunts a deer, Weapon Alpha hunts Wolverine, the past hunts Weapon Alpha, the future hunts the past... uh, where was I?


    Note: this review is based on the Classic X-Men version of the story, but I had the original open to the same page at every point during the re-read, for comparison.

    This is it. The issue that introduces James MacDonald Hudson to the world.

    As it goes, it's mostly a cool introduction; he's not portrayed as a villain, though he is hunting Wolverine. He's tough enough to take him on, too, and clearly a personal foe. They were friends.
    It certainly caught the public imagination enough to bring in an entire team 11 issues later.

    The writing, the art, the colouring were all excellent. It should be noted that the Classic X-Men version was re-coloured, not always for the better. The art on the new pages is jarringly different to Byrne's (isn't Kieron Dwyer the stepson of John Byrne?), but the writing is still Claremont, so it flows.

    Da Juice :

    Weapon Alpha. James MacDonald Hudson. Jimmy.


    Only, he makes mistakes. He knocks Moira out - at least, he shoots Colossus, who deflects the beam and it hits Moira. Come to think of it, after all these years of Mac taking all the blame for it, it occurs to me that Peter owns some, if not all of it.
    She doesn't get killed by the beam at this time.

    He teleports away - unexplained in the original, but it talks about his power to render himself 'at rest to the Earth's rotation' in a bonus page. I've always liked that he's had this power and used it several times, but never in an issue of Alpha Flight ('cept in a flashback to this one). Heather did once, but never Mac.

    A few things that are weird in hindsight:
    Mac bursts forth from the ground, having 'flown' under there (I guess, we don't see it). A power he never uses again. He calls Dept. H 'Control', again something we don't see again (though maybe Wolverine followers do). It's weird that Logan doesn't recognise the suit; but he's only seen the Groundhog version by then. (Ironically, Mac calls him 'groundhog' here.)

    The Classic X-Men, as intimated has two extra pages of Mac. The first is a bunch of exposition about Wolverine - kinda dull, really. The second has caused years of controversy. Many deaths. Very bad.
    Okay, I exaggerate a little. Mac goes home to Heather in the bonus page - and to this day you'll find sites that claim Uncanny X-Men #109 is her first appearance. It's actually #139, almost five issues later, but people will insist on making that last page part of the original issue.

    This issue loses points for having only one of the team, and for bringing in ideas that were never used again. (Hey, give it a break, me! They were just finding their feet.)