Tuesday, December 22, 2009

1985 - X-Men and Alpha Flight


X-Men and Alpha Flight - 2 issue miniseries
December 1985
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Paul Smith and Bob Wiacek

The Canadian super-hero team, Alpha Flight, made their first appearance in The X-Men #120-121 and were featured a second time in The Uncanny X-Men #139-140. Their popularity eventually earned them their own series, which was written and drawn by John Byrne, who had grown up in Canada and had created them with Chris Claremont.

After the usual super-hero mix up that leads to a battle between the X-Men and Alpha Flight, they team up and travel to Northern Quebec to investigate a downed plane that was piloted by Scott (Cyclops) Summers and his new wife, Madelyne Pryor. They discover that Scott, Madelyne, and the other passengers have had their greatest wishes fulfilled by a mysterious benefactor. However, they’re the usual catch involving their mysterious benefactor, the Norse God of mischief Loki who is still bitter from the X-Men's adventures in Asgard earlier that year. Our heroes are forced to make a moral decision, each believing that they’re doing what’s right, and leading to the climatic, all-out battle.

There’s a lot of characterization by Claremont, who relies on his usual technique of focusing on a character’s identifiable trait. For example, Wolverine has a constant struggle with his animal/berserker side, or Cyclops has uncontrollable eye beams. Unfortunately, if you’ve read a lot of X-books, this technique quickly becomes repetitive.


Another fault is the numerous characters. The rosters of both the X-Men and Alpha Flight, as well as Cyclops, Madelyne Prior, and the rest of the crew and passengers is simply too large. This fault forces several main characters into secondary roles, like Nightcrawler .

The art by Paul Smith is beautiful and lavish. Unfortunately, Bob Wiacek runs out of time and several inkers come in to help with the last issue. These fill-ins upset the feel of the book, but the story does finish well.

4 comments:

  1. i recall liking this one quite a bit. i have a certain soft spot for smith's art and that was a good era for the x-books in general. but even moreso, this makes me want to dig out the claremont/art adams new mutants/x-men annuals which i adore. if only i could remember which box they were in...

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  2. That New Mutants/X-Men story that 'anonymous' above mentioned will be released in a February '10. It's the release that I am most looking forward to right now! I loved that story and that was Art Adams at his peak.

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  3. Agreed, can't wait for that collection. I just hope they recolour it. The original colour is pretty bad and doesn't do Adams justice.

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  4. I've been thinking of rereading the Byrne run on Alpha Flight, starting with the Uncanny X-Men appearances. I'm glad I saw this post, because I will add this mini as well. I remember loving the Smith art, but thinking there was too many characters. I think you are spot on in your review when you mention Claremont's reliance of focusing too much on one trait of each character - over and over again. But, I have to admit that I am a sucker for his X-Men stories!

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