• Review - Uncanny X-Men #140 (/Classic X-Men #45)

    Uncanny X-Men #140
    Writer : Chris Claremont
    Plot & Pencils : John Byrne
    Inks : Terry Austin


    Story : When we last saw our intrepid heroes. Oh I'm getting ahead of myself. With the cliffhanger left at the end of Uncanny #139, you may have thought that we would have been straight into the action, nothing of the sort. We have some X-Men interaction first, Colossus with Angel and Storm with Kitty Pride. It's not until page 6 that we revisit our intrepid heroes and we find Nightcrawler trying to evade the Wendigo.

    The Wendigo is tearing trees asunder, growling while Nightcrawler is bamffing like a good un. Wolverine, heightened senses, Shaman 'Mystic
    intruder alarms', nobody picks up on the turmoil outside. Wolverine really needs to learn to park closer to his destination. Anyways, bamf, bamf bamf, growl, growl, growl, smack. Nightcrawler in keeping with his trapeze artist background, flies through the air with the greatest of ease, until his progress is impeded by the cabin. This our other heroes hear. Home run for Wendigo, headache for Nightcrawler. Wolverine and the three Alphans rush outside and find an unconcious Nightcrawler and Wendigo showing Wolverine, how, with a little application, a vehicle can be parked properly. Cue the mayhem. Vindicator squares up to Wendigo and blasts the vehicle that has been thrown at him. This causes a fire and Wendigo uses the confusion to disappear into the woods. Wolverine follows and Vindicator orders Snowbird to pursue while he and Shaman deal with the fire.

    Snowbird catches up. She asks Wolverine why he left Department H, this leads to a flashback that shows a little more of the relationship shared by Wolverine and the Hudsons. Thay trace Wendigo back to his lair and Snowbird, at Wolverines behest, transforms into an 'Artic Owl' and flies back to get Vindicator and Shaman. Wendigo opens the boulder to his lair and it is obvious to Wolverine he is about to chow down on one of the missing campers and her baby. Snikt, snikt, snikt, growl, growl, growl. Wolverine and Wendigo go at it and Wolverine believes Wendigo to be unconcious. He tries to lead the lady and her baby to safety and Wendigo, obviously a little peckish comes back on the attack. Wolverine gets slapped about a lot and things aren't looking good, but the cavalry arrives in the form of an awakened Nightcrawler and Vindicator. Wendigo is by now, more than a little miffed. The Blue furry fella he hit out the ball park is back and poking him with a stick. The fella he threw a vehicle at is blasting him, his lunch is disappearing at a rate of knotts and the fella with the claws is out of reach. Shaman tells Snowbird that for his magicks to remove the Wendigo curse, Wendigo needs to be unconcious. Snowbird decides to change into a creature she believes can render Wendigo unconcious, A Wolverine. What follows is a battle of primal forces (not my words, Claremonts). Wendigo is no match for Snowverine and is soon unconcious. Wolverine has to talk Snowbird back as the bestial side has taken over. With Wendigo unconcious, Shaman does that mystical stuff he so good at and removes the curse from the host 'George Baptiste', who is promptly arrested, as he chose to take on the curse. Alpha Flight go one way, X-Men the other. Back in Ottawa, Vindicator goes to the Parliment building and thanked for the job he and Alpha Flight did in regards to the Wendigo. He is also informed that Department H and Alpha Flight are being disbanded.

    View : Unlike todays comics, this is not a story you can put down halfway through and go back to later. Well not me anyway. As soon as I open the comic I'm sucked into the story. The pacing is just right with character interaction and action scenes getting equal air time. I would recommend the Alpha stories from this period of the X-Men tales as essential reading for anyone wanting to know about Alpha Flight and how a comic should be written.
    Art : I've run out of superlatives (sp) for John Byrnes Alpha art, but to sum it up, just take a look at the Snowbird to Wolverine transformation. One panel only!
    X-Men Characterisation : Apart from the two main characters, we only get to some other X-Men briefly, but the characterisation is spot on and we get to learn a little more about them as people and not just heroes. As for Wolverine and Nightcrawler. Nightcrawler remains one of my favourite X characters. Vulnerable, but at the same time heroic. Wolverine is Wolverine, but at this time, before he became so overused, he comes across as a very likeable character, who's atitude is understandable given his treatment previously.
    Alpha Flight : If Alpha Flight had been written like this all the time, we would probably onto #330 by now. James Hudson is a good leader, he is a hero, he has nothing to reproach himself about, you lot know this, but it would seem some writers don't. Apart from the Moira MacTaggart thing in Uncanny X-Men #109 , he hadn't really messed up. Shaman doesn't really shine (again) in this issue, it isn't really until Alpha get their own series that Byrne seems to get a feel for him (just an opinion). Snowbird takes centre stage when it comes to Alpha characters in this, we learn that even though she can transform into various animals, she can lose herself to the bestial side.
    Story 9/10
    Art 9/10
    Alpha Flightedness 9/10

    Wendigo is an excellent villian for Alpha Flight with the mystical aspect they have, also in this issue Blob escapes from a prison in New Mexico.
    Comments 4 Comments
    1. cmdrkoenig67's Avatar
      cmdrkoenig67 -
      Nice review, Del. This was another great issue, guest-starring Alpha. The Wendigo needs to be in an actual Alpha Flight series storyline, some day (I mean besides a one-shot).

    1. Le Messor's Avatar
      Le Messor -
      Quote Originally Posted by DelBubs View Post
      Art : I've run out of superlatives (sp) for John Byrnes Alpha art, but to sum it up, just take a look at the Snowbird to Wolverine transformation. One panel only!
      The detail, the way he worked it. It's beautiful.

      Quote Originally Posted by cmdrkoenig67 View Post
      Nice review, Del. This was another great issue, guest-starring Alpha. The Wendigo needs to be in an actual Alpha Flight series storyline...
      I dunno, I've always liked the idea that they have a major villain who's never actually shown up in their series ('cept in Flashback... and the One-Shot).

      - Le Messor
      "I'm sorry, I didn't catch that last part on account of her neck snappin' and all, but did she say that the end is near... or here?"
      ~ Caleb
    1. Phil's Avatar
      Phil -
      I really had forgotten how good that Snowbird transformation panel was.

      Considering I've got this issue in 4 formats I really don't read it enough.
    1. Le Messor's Avatar
      Le Messor -
      Original, Classic X-Men, Marvel Masterworks, and Essential?

      Or is there another format it's been published in that I didn't know about?

      - Le Messor
      "I’d love to, but having fun gives me prickly heat."