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AlphaFlight.net - Blast from the past Alpha Flight volume 1 review
  • Review - Alpha Flight Volume 1 #1

    Issue: Alpha Flight #1: Tundra!
    Writer / Artist: John Byrne!
    Cover Date: August 1983

    (Also reprinted in the Alpha Flight Classic TPB)
    Subscribers to Marvel Digital Comics can read it online here.

    -Synopsis-
    Mac stands in the now-empty Department H installation beneath Parliament Hill in Ottawa, thinking about the department's recent dissolution by the Canadian government.
    In the Northwest Territories, Easton begins a strange ritual, which is noticed by Michael's dead grandfather.
    Northstar visits Jeanne-Marie and yells at her for hiding her beauty and her mutant power. We learn she has a split personality.
    Mac flies off to investigate strange happenings in the Northwest Territories, and Heather signals the rest of Alpha Flight, Marrina and Judd to help him.
    Snowbird sees Tundra rise from the earth, having consumed the spirit of its human agent. She calls on her goddess-mother Nelvanna to aid her against this ancient foe, who attacks her with mosquitoes. It is linked to and controls the land, so the team attacks it with the forces of natural erosion, Northstar and Aurora generating wind, Michael rain, and Marrina a waterspout. The creature dissolves.
    The team decides to remain together, without government sanction.

    -Bonus-
    Probably my favorite Image of any Alpha Flight Series


    -My Review-
    We start the issue with James Hudson who is going as Vindicator, spending his last moments with Department H, dropping a few hints of how human he really is with the simple facial expression of sadness so powerful at least it was for me the first time I read this I was already hooked already feeling for James and I was only 2 panels in. From there we get a little glimpse of the last time Alpha Flight and the X-men teamed up in X-Men 139-140 against the Wendigo, Finally we get to one of my personal favorite panels, when I finally got this easy in early 1992 I only knew alpha flight puck box and marrina I had no idea who the others were as a young little 5 year old I would write bios about them with powers of what I wanted to see, and man was I way off when I found out who everyone was.

    Gary Cody then interrupts Huson's day dream to tell him he is turning the lights off, they speak a little with Cody telling him that he will be their unofficial liason (which I hoped would've been a bigger mini plot but was never explored), Guardian then takes his leave pondering of becoming canadas Captain America.

    From there we find a feeble old man seeming to be angry at the world, why we wont know until I get to issue 7 (Later on that in issue 7), anyways he begins to drag his feet in the ground making the silloette of Tundra in the snow, then after that he sits down rumaging thru a box looking for a irclet which he finds and places over his head to which we get cut off to the next scene.

    Now we are with Micheal Twoyoungmen, which I laughed at the name until I actually found out that their was a Sarcee cheif with the name twoyoungmen, way to go byrne. he is sitting at his desk when he is disturbed he then goes to a box above a shelf opening it revealing the skull of his grandfather adorned with sarcee jewelry.

    We now go to Madame Dupont's school for girls to Jeanne-Marie Beaubier aka Aurora soon after Northstar makes an appearence to which the girls fall for him very easily, to which he doesn't even notice a small hint to his true self, anyways he mentions their last appearance Machine Man #18 which I have yet to get a copy of) to which Jeanne-Marie tells him to be quiet and not talk of that part of her, they tehn go to her private quarters and talk whre they have an arguement which ends with Northstar having Aurora pass out after undoing her hair and forcing her to look into the mirror a great setup to the true relationship between these two twins. From there we go back to Vindicator who is seen looking gloom flying thru the window. Heather then greets him after a little bit heather recieves a call from cody to have James put on the news, turning on the TV they notice what the old man actually did earlier in the issue, jame sthen puts o his helmet and leaves the house as Vindicator.

    Heather knowing James cant do this alone goes into his office which is a mess and summons everyone from alpha including to betans who were ready to go to Alpha Puck & Marrina (alright my favorite ).

    From there we go to a bar and introduce Puck who in this breif intro becomes a fan favorite rather quickly, a bar fight ensues to which Eugene Milton Judd (Love that name) breaks it up and punds on the culprits which he gets the signal soon after and cartwheels away. Now we find ourselves in Newfoundland where my favorite Alphan Marrina makes her appearance, the little plot of Dans feelings really had me rooting for him and made me almost feel in his shoes later on in the series (awe the power of a preteen crush), anyway back to the book.

    We come to the most well known of the alphans next hiking in the mountains Walter Langowski, as he is hiking he gets the signal and transforms into SASQUATCH! another personal favorite, we come finally to teh introduction of our final Alphan the mysterious Snowbird the intro for her is awesome, after her quick intro we see the villian of the story's arm pop from the ground, and slowly rise becoming TUNDRA! Snowbird shows her human side as she thinks to herself Help me mother...im afraid a small quote but powerful.

    From there we get yet another showing of Marrina and my favorite of her powers, whioch was really underused, she is said to be going 900 knots roughly 1000 mph give or take a few miles, she then darts in a 90 degree turn a feat I have seen no one do since Marrina she then jumps straight out of the water with a spout of water behind her. we see a little arguement with aurira and northstar, with aurora acting way different showing the reader something was truly wrong with Aurora, from there we get a quick veiw of puck being denied access into an air force base. now onto the final fight.

    Snowbird starts talking with which Tundra responds with what seems to be a million mosquitos which she succombs to rather quickly in my eyes Hudson then comes and make sthe save destroying the mosquitos with his suit, Tundra responds with rocks being slammed into Hudson. Shaman then comes and trys to do speak with the mortal tool used to raise him to find out the mortal's mind is gone, Vindicator then starts blasting Tundra doing nothing but annoy him. We finally get to see the power of Alpha in Sasquatch as he free falls from a plane lnding on tundra who barely feels anything, he then slwoly throws chunks off of Tundra becoming a threat very quickly, to which Tundra responds by swatting Walt away like a fly, The twins then appear running circles around Tundra attempting to erode him Shaman likes the idea and conjures a quick rain cloud but before any real damage can occur the rain cloud runs out of rain. not knwoing what to do tehy almost accept defeat just at the moment still being followe dby teh water Marrina makes the save, using the wtaer she brought with her Shaman successfully erodes Tundra into a lake, where we see teh skull of the old man sink to the bottom.

    We then cut off to the Hudsons home where everyone is in the room discussing what the future of Alpha will hold, they eventually decide to stay as a group but want a new name at that moment a knock at the door is heard James answers seeing no one until he talkks saying down here James looks down seeing Eugene Judd aka Puck, Judd over hears the others trying to decide on a name he interrupts then saying he wants to be in alpha flight Walt then tells him that they could use a mascot Puck gets offended and knocks Walt thru a table, Issue one ends.

    -My Thoughts-
    This is probably the hundredth time that I have read this issue and everytime it seems to get better and better, probably not the best way to start a series but pretty close, alot of miniplots are thrown into this issue and I am loving it, The part with Puck was simple yet told alot about his character in little then 10 panels, a subplot that I am still angry about being resolved between Dan Smallwood and his feelings for Marrina, the beginning of Aurora's Spilt personality as well Heather Hudson being the reason for Alpha surviving Tundra. so much in just the 1st issue so much promise next time on my reviews part one of Marrina's Origin, yay cant wait to share my thoughts with you and hear yours, so what did everyone else think of Issue 01?
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Blast from the past Alpha Flight volume 1 review started by Mrfurious87 View original post
    Comments 16 Comments
    1. Le Messor's Avatar
      Le Messor -
      Quote Originally Posted by MajorMountie View Post
      Currently on #47 of Volume 1, and I have to say, Byrne's stuff was utterly amazing, while everything afterward, while still good, is just not on the same level. I personally hope this changes.
      It gets much, much better (YMMV), but has never again imho acheived the heights of Byrne's run. I like the Hudnall / Lee run, and indeed the writing for most of Hudnall's.

      - Le Messor
      "I was thinking about how people seem to read the Bible a whole lot more as they get older. Then, it dawned on me, they were cramming for their finals. As for me, I'm just hoping God grades on the curve."
    1. Imraith Nimphais's Avatar
      Imraith Nimphais -
      After twenty-eight years I finally own an original copy of Alpha Flight #1.

      I read it a few times well over the weekend gone and words cannot express how wonderful and exciting I felt as I was reading it. Like appraising an exquisitely cut, flawless emerald. Byrne's run is indeed an absolute classic in every sense of the word.
    1. Legerd's Avatar
      Legerd -
      Quote Originally Posted by Imraith Nimphais View Post
      After twenty-eight years I finally own an original copy of Alpha Flight #1.

      I read it a few times well over the weekend gone and words cannot express how wonderful and exciting I felt as I was reading it. Like appraising an exquisitely cut, flawless emerald. Byrne's run is indeed an absolute classic in every sense of the word.
      Nice way to phrase it Imraith. Welcome to the boards!
    1. Le Messor's Avatar
      Le Messor -
      Quote Originally Posted by Imraith Nimphais View Post
      After twenty-eight years I finally own an original copy of Alpha Flight #1.
      Congrats! A great issue, indeed... Though, have you read it before? In the trade paperback?
      (You say this is your first copy of the *original*.)

      Welcome to my dream.
      I think you're gonna like it.

      - Le Messor
      "I’d love to, but I’m attending the opening of my garage door."
    1. Imraith Nimphais's Avatar
      Imraith Nimphais -
      Yes, Le Messor...I got a chance to read it early 1984...a friend of mine at the time had allowed me to read it just that one time. And while I was able to collect all of Byrne's run from issue two onward,eventually, the double-sized number one issue always eluded me...until now.
    1. Le Messor's Avatar
      Le Messor -
      Quote Originally Posted by Imraith Nimphais View Post
      a friend of mine at the time had allowed me to read it
      Funny... that's kind of how I got started.

      Again, I congratulate you.

      - Le Messor
      "When you're on top of the world, you should remember it turns over every twenty-four hours."
      ~ Tamie Fraser
    1. dbutler69's Avatar
      dbutler69 -
      I bought these when they first came out, and am re-reading them for the first time in decades. Great stuff! I really enjoy Byrne's characterization, and his art (except for women's faces). Of course, #1 would be one of the few early issues where the whole team is actually together.
    1. dbutler69's Avatar
      dbutler69 -
      I didn't like what they wound up doing with Marrina. Puck is great, though.
    1. Tawmis's Avatar
      Tawmis -
      Quote Originally Posted by dbutler69 View Post
      I didn't like what they wound up doing with Marrina. Puck is great, though.
      Which part with Marrina?
    1. dbutler69's Avatar
      dbutler69 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Tawmis View Post
      Which part with Marrina?
      Her basically going psycho twice in the first 16 issues, which was virtually all we saw of her, except a few brief scenes in a couple of other issues. She was obviously a sweet girl, but I wish we'd gotten to know that sweet girl a bit more before they turned into, as Marrina called it, an inhuman monster. Worse yet was a bit later (in the Avengers, I think) where she became an actual monster, leviathan. I thought her origin very interesting, but I wish there'd been a better resolution, one where she could have overcome her "programming".
    1. rplass's Avatar
      rplass -
      Her current incarnation seems to be in a state where she's overcome her programming. That's good! Too bad she had to die first, etc. Oh well. All's well that ends well.
    1. Le Messor's Avatar
      Le Messor -
      Quote Originally Posted by dbutler69 View Post
      Worse yet was a bit later (in the Avengers, I think) where she became an actual monster, leviathan.
      Correct! That was in The Avengers.
    1. Phil's Avatar
      Phil -
      I think at least with Marrina she was always intended to be that monster rather than a sweet girl, from Byrne's first concept.

      If she'd been retconned into a monster years later fair enough, but the fact that she was 'turned' the very next issue, playing on the classic beauty & the beast trope worked.
    1. Flightpath07's Avatar
      Flightpath07 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Phil View Post
      I think at least with Marrina she was always intended to be that monster rather than a sweet girl, from Byrne's first concept.

      If she'd been retconned into a monster years later fair enough, but the fact that she was 'turned' the very next issue, playing on the classic beauty & the beast trope worked.
      Agreed.

      Actually, seems to be one of Byrne's favourite tropes when it comes to Alpha Flight: Marrina looks sweet but is a monster, Wild Child is cultured (under Byrne) but looks like a monster, Aurora hides a repressed and 'monstrous' duality within herself, Walter the scientist turns into a raging beast...we could go on and on.
    1. dbutler69's Avatar
      dbutler69 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Phil View Post
      I think at least with Marrina she was always intended to be that monster rather than a sweet girl, from Byrne's first concept.

      If she'd been retconned into a monster years later fair enough, but the fact that she was 'turned' the very next issue, playing on the classic beauty & the beast trope worked.
      I agree, though I think her transformation would have had more impact if we hadn't only known her for one issue at that point.
    1. dbutler69's Avatar
      dbutler69 -
      Quote Originally Posted by rplass View Post
      Her current incarnation seems to be in a state where she's overcome her programming. That's good! Too bad she had to die first, etc. Oh well. All's well that ends well.
      Yes, that's a good thing. Hey, death comes with the territory if you're a superhero.
      Nice avatar, by the way.