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Ben's Bit - Alpha Flight #3 Review
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  1. #1
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    Default Ben's Bit - Alpha Flight #3 Review

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    [img=right:a33be87045]http://www.alphaflight.net/reviews/af3_3_review_1.jpg[/img:a33be87045]
    Writer: Scott Lobell
    Artist: Clayton Henry
    Story: You Gotta Be Kiddin' Me! Part 3 of 6



    OVERVIEW:
    [img=left:a33be87045]http://www.alphaflight.net/reviews/af3_3_review_2.jpg[/img:a33be87045]We start off with a battle between two of alien members of the Plodex race, on their homeworld. It would appear that they are the two plodi left standing from a giant free-for-all battle. One of the combatants showed himself to be the clear victor, he spared the life of the other. Speaking to the masses who observed the battle, he suggest that their race should use their great skills of battle to dominate over others, rather than continuously waging war on their own kind. The crowd cheered his idea as he is struck down by the one who's life he had spared. That one, then victorious, took up the proverbial torch of leadership, and urged the crowd to the same end.

    It is then that we learn that this is a history lesson that Walter Langkowski is giving to the new members of Alpha Flight. He is educating them on the ways of the Plodex so that they know what it is that they are up against. Both Zuzha Yu and Major Mapleleaf are shocked, and don't seem to think they are up to the challenge. Yukon Jack acts disinterested, while Nemesis seems far too keen on the stories of carnage. General complaints begin to break out until Centennial (who until this point appeared to be asleep) blows up at the young members telling them to let Walter speak, and if they don't like it, to leave. They all seem to take his chiding to heart, and quiet down to allow Walter to continue with his lesson.

    [img=right:a33be87045]http://www.alphaflight.net/reviews/af3_3_review_3.jpg[/img:a33be87045]The Plodex continued to develop and hone their art of war, until they became capable of space flight. They spread from planet to planed killing and dominating the inhabitants. They had become impatient with how slowly their domination was taking them, so they endeavored to discover a better form of expansion. Eventually their scientists developed the technology to imprint their DNA into eggs. When the eggs came in contact with a planet's sentient species, they would form a Plodex hybrid, that could quickly adapt to the conditions of the planet and dominate it. The method was successful, too successful as the hybrid eventually made their way back to the Plodex homeworld, and lead to it's destruction in war. Piece by piece the Plodex's own nature crumbled their empire. One ship remained, stocked with Plodex eggs. It crash landed in Earth's north polar ice cap; 98% of the eggs were destroyed in the crash landing. Several hungered years later, the last of the eggs to have survived was discovered by an ice fisherman. As Walter explains how lucky Earth was in this, we are shown a picture of Marrina, a former member of Alpha Flight, presumed dead.

    The story being told, Centennial asks Walter when the training will begin. Walter explains that he had no plans on training these new recruits, that he figured he had chosen people who did not need it. On the last page we are the members of the new Alpha Flight rather bloodied up.

    REVIEW:


    Wow, Scott Lobell did a fabulous job of outlining the history of the Plodex. Everything about this race was very vague before, even though they had a significant tie to Alpha Flight. I really came out of this issue feeling like I knew more about the race in a whole, or at least their history. Even though this was an other issue with very little action, there was enough in the early Plodex scenes to give me my fix. I know this is culminating to a battle royal in the next several issues.

    [img=left:a33be87045]http://www.alphaflight.net/reviews/af3_3_review_4.jpg[/img:a33be87045]I enjoyed seeing Rutherford step up to the plate to put those complaining young whipper-snappers in their place. I would like to see his age and experience used in such a way as time goes on. I was hoping however that we would learn a little more about the powers these new characters posses. We still really don't know what powers, if any, Zuzha and Yukon Jack have. I'm sure in time this will be shown. The stage seems well set, and I'm ready to get into the mission it's self. We know the characters, we know the enemies, and we know the goal.

    I LOVED seeing that one shot of Marrina. What really did bother me was when Lobell said that she was found by an ice fisherman...which was not how it was written originally. Perhaps we could just pass this off as Walter being misinformed, but I was a little bit disappointed by that.

    Clayton's art was superb in this issue. He does indeed just keep getting better and better with each panel. I don't doubt that he'll become a major name in Marvel at the rate he is growing. He sure did make Marrina look like a purty little thing

    A great issue, awsome history of the plodex. It's nice to see some good hard facts put down to avoid confusion later on, as is often the case.


    RATING:


  2. #2
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    He's definitely on a roll now with the way he's building up momentum for a showdown. I'm really liking the fact that there hasn't been any action as yet. Most books try and jam down your throat just how tough their heroes are. Not this one. Lobdell is fleshing out characters first, cultivating a story that you know eventually will lead to a big brewhaha.

    Henry's pencils are magic once again. I really cannot wait to see his depictions of the classic team in action whenevr that happens.

    8 Maple Leafs as well.

  3. #3
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    Well, I haven't picked up the issue yet, but I look forward to reading it. Seeing Marrina was interesting (and here's hoping that she comes back). Here's hoping that this series sticks around for more than 20 issues (which is more than likely the way things are going now).

    Cheers,
    -Mystic

  4. #4
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    This was the first issue I've actually got my hands on so far.... and I must say... WOW!

    I'm really impressed. Great art, good writing, I'm very happy with this. It was great to see expansion on the formerly 1-dimensional Plodex. I only had 2 problems. One was the ice fisherman thing.... and the other was inappropraiate 'eh?'s. Personally, I use the word, a fair bit actually. But I found it used in bad places, where it doesn't fit right. I think Scott needs a Canadian 'advisor' for things like that.... (and the $1 bill....)
    But all in all... minor things.

    I can't wait for Issues 1 & 2 to arrive... and 4 & 5 & 6 and.....

  5. #5
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    How COOL does Marrina look!!!! Didn't read the review as didn't want to poil it for myself, but very much looking forward to it.

  6. #6
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    Yeah, I'm really looking forward to #3 as well, thought I was gonna get it today, but as it was pointed out to me, Monday was a bank Holiday so deliveries are a day late, so I gotta wait until tomorrow now.

    In the words of the great bard "Bolloxs"
    Del

    Driftwood: Well, I got about a foot and a half. Now, it says, uh, "The party of the second part shall be known in this contract as the party of the second part."
    Fiorello: Well, I don't know about that...
    Driftwood: Now what's the matter?
    Fiorello: I no like-a the second party, either.
    Driftwood: Well, you should've come to the first party. We didn't get home 'til around four in the morning... I was blind for three days!

  7. #7
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    I clean forgot that and went to the shops anyway.... Bollox indeed.

  8. #8
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    Default Alpha #3

    I'm a little disappointed that (A) Everything that's happened in the past three issues could have very easily been done in issue one, and (B) Mr. Lobdell made such a grievous error regarding Marrina's origin.

    Granted, there have been a number of stupid continuity errors over Alpha's lifetime (any of which could have been solved by simply READING what had gone before) but to see this trend continue is most disheartening. When the amateur afficinados have a better understanding of the material than the professionals paid to produce the works, it doesn't suggest Marvel is putting much effort into the book.

    On the positive side, I adore Mr. Henry's art! I hope he sticks with the series for a very long time.

  9. #9
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    Though it would have been possible to squeeze the content of the last 3 issues into one, it would have been a huge mistake in my mind. It would have been incredibly rushed, and the character developement, and rounding of the plot would have been nil. We would have been left with a flat story, with a bunch of flat characters. Personally, I love the way Lobell is shaping the book.

    I do agree that they error on Marrina's background is a bit dissapointing, as I said in my review, however if you take into consideration how much care Scott has shown for the book, it's characters, and it's fans, I'm willing to aceept one error in continuity. And I beg to differ on the suggestion that Scott isn't putting effort in on the book, he's putting more in that we've seen in a very, very long time.

    Ben

  10. #10

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    I'm glad it wasn't crammed into one. I've read old X-Men and Iron Man comics and the pacing is so quick that there's never a point at which I can connect with the characters and care. I actually find alot of the Byrne Claremont run to be really dull because of the pacing.

  11. #11
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    I liked Henry's art. That's the positive.
    Let me defend Lobdell on one point here. Marrina's Dad was the captain of a "small fishing trawler." The storm in which the Plodex egg was found was a choppy rainstorm (all this from AF Vol 1 #2 pgs 14 -15.) Obviously, rain off the Newfoundland coast indicates summer, so there is nothing contradictory that Tom Smallwood was not mainly an ice fisherman. Further that with all information in Vol3 #3 being told by Walt, who has worked with Marrina very infrequently so may forget the little details like the exact form of her father's fishing business, so there's no real mistake...there. It begs the question just how Walt learned the background of the Plodex that even the Master doesn't seem to know.
    The egg that became Marrina was found off the coast of Newfoundland.
    The egg that Heather and Puck later encountered was found in one of the Great Lakes. In the recent Kang War, the Plodex wolf-things are land, based but still in that sea-green tint (IF I'M REMEMBERING RIGHT.)
    The point that the writers nbeed to read the stories that establish things they are now working on was very apparent to me, and in using the Plodex, Lobdell missed one of the main authorities on them: the Collector, as seen in Marvel Team-up Annual #7. This issue does have one inconsistency in the writingacross story pages 10 & 11: "an aquarium is the safest place to hold a conversation with a Plodex" (not, with a Plodex of you abilities, Marrina" but Marrina's aquatic abilities are described by the collector as "odd."
    Three other Plodex are shown in suspended animation on page 11, all sea green, An even better range of Plodex adapted to different worlds' dominant species is on page 22 and throughout the following action scenes. All the Plodex have the sea-green coloring, and most show little details of aquatic nature. Even the only other baseform/humanoid one shown (p11) has ears like fins. Great job by Paul Neary, and the story by Louise Jones/Simonson is a good model of good storytelling: everything she needed later in the story was introduced ahead of time in natural ways, not info dumps. She handled the team circa AF #13 very well, even with a hint to Northstar's sexuality from Aurora's dialogue.
    The story itself shows what does NOT happen these days. Details linked to events of other titles of the time, including Thor, The Defenders, The New Mutants and even Rom. Back in 1984, the Marvel Universe was a cohesive place! Obviously, MT-U Annual #7 is a great issue, and should be part of every AF collection.
    The problem I have is that Lobdell and Henry disregarded the Plodex, and also the basic tenets of science fiction.
    The most glaring problem is that the Plodex are depicted as human. This is NOT acceptable to how the Plodex have been established. Not in any way. We're past the model of 1960's movies and TV where budgets only allowed human aliens with cosmetic nose ridges or pointed ears. The Plodex should have been aquatic or amphibeous creatures with a great range of adaptability that allowed them to conquer their environment.
    Instead, Lobdel creates a human race that dominates everything, including each other, indiscriminately. A realistic model of an advanced race (read "species" if you like, but I use "race") would be a pride of lions. There is only dominant ALPHA male that dominates the pride: females and young'ns. If a contender defeats the Alpha and takes over the Pride, he kills the offspring of the old Alpha male to bring the females into heat quickly so that he may impregnate them with his offspring. That's natural dominance that works. Lobdell's scenario is impossible because the way he depicts their dominance wouldn't allow a grouping of them in the arena shown. They wouldn't be watching a battle, they'd be killing each other. His joke, "Who's with me?" >stab< "Who's with ME?" is realistic enough, but that scenario never would have stopped.
    My take: The Plodex would have had an Alpha male who dominated all others. The males beneath him would have recognized their station, and worked on community tasks under the Alpha male, who would have been a mad conquering emperor. It could have worked, but the scenario needed more work on Lobdell's part. A lot more work.
    He also loses me with the Plodex expanding huge swathes through multiple galaxies. Bad joke, the name of their world is "illegal." Bad, absurd, horrendous.
    There are 21 story pages this issue. There is an average of 3--yes three, only THREE--panels per page this issue. (68 panels in the book, your count may be different if you count background non-bordered art or the "aliens shocked at being defeated" insets. Think this is why there hasn't been any action in this title? Issues 1 through 3 could have been combined into one issue. This problem, rampant in today's professional output, isn't just padding for the trade collection market, it's an after-effect of the Image style of showcasing large panels of faulted art at the expense of stories.
    I did not like the first issue. The second issue gave me hope. This third issue fills me with more disdain than the first one did.
    I love Alpha Flight. I really do. The twins, Sasquatch, Heather, Puck, Shaman, Jeffries, Marrina, Snowbird, even Persuasion. But this isn't Alpha Flight.
    There's no motivation for Sasquatch to be recruiting untested people when he could have called the X-Men or Avengers. He could have called Nemesis, Wyre Talisman and other fringe characters that are people he knows. I like his development of Nemesis, except she was never an outright anarchist, but someone with her own agenda that she felt no need to explain to others. As seen during Furman's run, she would help if convinced it was in her own best interests.
    From what I read of his explanations of how this title came about, Lobdell should have been allowed to pursue his Hellions pitch. Instead, he was told to combine that and Alpha Flight, and the result has been pretty bad.
    Off the top of my head, an Alpha Flight title: how about #1: the team defends the world against an alien threat, is defeated and captured. Sasquatch is allowed to escape in order to bring more victims, maybe because he is already a limited Metamorph if Lobdell really insisted on the Plodex angle. (Although with a second thought, the Plodez would want to study a limited Metamorph human most of all!)
    #2: The Avengers and FF don't believe Sasquatch's call for help. Sarcasticvally, maybe they don't believe him because they thought the real Sasquatch now wore armor. Here you can have your comedy issue of Sasquatch travelling New York City and Westchester, finding no one believing him, no one liking him, Jarvis complaining of jumping fleas in the mansion being at a height since the Beast was in residence. He could have bumped into Rhino or someone and done a little NYC super-heroing.
    Issue 3, he searches back home, because without established teams, he must rely on others. He find Nemesis, is lead to Mapleleaf because the father's too old to be bothered so offers up his son. Sasquatch's search for old teammates and associates REALLY clues him in to the Weapon X title problems as they relate to Alpha.
    Issue 4, Sasquatch's assemblage launches their effort to save Alpha. Maybe there's the culling of an extranuous character or two like Manbot or Murmur, but the new team barely manages to free one of the prisoners before being defeated.
    Issue 5, The one free teammate frees the others. Room for character development, what does the one free one REALLY think of each teammate as he frees them. Suspicion of the new Snowbird? Blame to Heather for killing the old Snowbird? Thought that Chuck Moss is the embodiment of lameness with overrated potential? Once I free Puck, I'll have someone with focus?
    Issue 6, the final victory over the core of this threat and a wrap up.
    This title is not on my pull list, but that nostalgia for the characters and stories I loved keeps me buying it. I still haven't seen the letter column explanation for the new team as promised in #1. I bought #2 to have the development of Nemesis. I liked it enough that I didn't puruse #3 when it came out.
    I would like it more if it was another title, although maybe Marvel's marketing department was right and people WOULDN'T BUY IT if it didn't have a nostalgic title. I would even be less hard on this if it was a Sasquatch title, with these new characters being created as supporting cast specifically for Walter. Walt having a friend like Mapleleaf? That would actually be a great foil for Sasquatch, who does sink ethically when it suits his purposes, whether personal or professional research.
    Lobdell's use of the "eh?" is also bad. The Canadians that do use it do so make a question out of a statement, eh? "phew, eh?" is just plain WRONG.
    Sorry for the long post. I want to love anything related to Alpha Flight, but this book loses me between glimmers of hope and interest with bad structure and atrocious details.

  12. #12
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    Finally got to read the issue...

    The book's written really well IMO.
    A solid tale of the Plodex that works for me.

    A few discrepencies here and there, but nothing too major.

    My only problem was that the history lesson section took up slightly too much of the single issue, and again that horrible voice of "written for the trade" is creeping into my head.

    I probably enjoyed #'s 2 and 1 more than this issue, but because of the Alpha action in them.
    I still enjoyed it though, and it's very much in keeping with the AF spirit.
    It's probably a better read than #1 as well.

    I'm optimistic.

  13. #13

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    I'm glad to hear the optimism here... and frankly, I think the continuity error can be overlooked. Why? Because for the interests of keeping this book alive and such, I think some people need to stop dissecting it so thoroughly, and just enjoy it. I mean, come ON... Alpha Flight's a great team, and most of us here love them to pieces, but they're not all that marketable. Two cancelled series can attest to that. And I think Scott's approach to this series is a good one. It's fun, the characters are varied, and because most of the characters are new, people who have never read Alpha Flight before aren't bogged down with continuity.

    And frankly, people that ***** incessantly about the botching of Marrina's origin should shut up for two reasons. One, at least you got to SEE Marrina! And two, at least you've got Alpha Flight. Shut up and enjoy it.

  14. #14
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    One thing that came into my mind since I wrote the above - I wondered why Walt didn't mention The Master.

    My first thought was that it was down to Marvel's no Flashback policy, so as to not confuse new readers.

    My second, and this is what I'm hoping, is that The Master is behind the Plodex attack on AF.

    To this you may say, 'Well why didn't Walt brief them on The Master?'
    My idea - simply that he didn't want to scare them/put them off, especially after the result of Alpha's initial meeting with him.

    *shrugs*

  15. #15
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    I managed to pick it up today, so what did I think? While I can take Kozzi's concerns , which he highlighted and explained very well, I still feel that AF needs to be different from the herd to actually make any head way in the world of comics. There are so many questions from Alpha's past that need to be answered, but I've been following this team for nearly 25 years and I'm just happy to see a comic on the shelf with the AF logo on it.

    If you look at any Hero, there are always more unanswered questions than answered, this includes everyone from Avengers to Champions. Alpha is on the shelves, it's funny, different, while there may be discrepencies, there is nothing that will get me to bent out of shape, once they describe Puck 1 as a 6 foot giant with penis envy then I'm going to get narky. I wish Alpha could be back in it's heyday, but I'm also a realist and feel that this route is Alpha's best chance for survival.
    Del

    Driftwood: Well, I got about a foot and a half. Now, it says, uh, "The party of the second part shall be known in this contract as the party of the second part."
    Fiorello: Well, I don't know about that...
    Driftwood: Now what's the matter?
    Fiorello: I no like-a the second party, either.
    Driftwood: Well, you should've come to the first party. We didn't get home 'til around four in the morning... I was blind for three days!

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