• Review - Alpha Flight Volume 1 #3

    Issue: Alpha Flight #3: Yesterday Man / Purpose
    Writer / Artist: John Byrne. But you knew that.
    Cover Date: October 1983
    Period in Alpha Flight's history: between #'s 2 and 4

    Snowbird finds a crashed ship and can't bear waiting to meet up with AF.
    The twins get separated from the others, and Sasquatch and Mac dig into the walls to find them.
    Marrina is tortured by the Master's origin until The Invisible Girl and the Sub-Mariner call shenanigans.

    Mac's origin, pt 2: Heather comes to Mac's place and gets a future husband. Wolverine gets a cameo! Mac gets inspired by the FF! The readers get a pin-up!

    What non-fans need to know:
    John Byrne was doing writing and art on The Fantastic Four at the same time as this series.

    This is the first we see of Aurora's multiple personality. (Or was it hinted at in #1?) In this period of AF history, she has two personalities; shy, retiring Jeanne-Marie Beaubier, and happy-go-lucky Aurora.
    That will get developed further by John Byrne, then misused and undermined by other writers. Which is the norm for Alpha Flight.

    Most of Snowbird's psychic powers will never be revisited (I think she uses post-cogniscence again once) - though she will have another one in a later issue.

    In a thread on covers, I listed this one as probably my favourite. It's so simple, yet so iconic, so evocative. Just plain black-and-white (literally), except Aurora's face - scared, as she's menaced by the bars. It just works for me, and sells the issue.

    The theme here could be the past catching up; we see Snowbird's post-cognitive power, we get the Master's past (and it's very far in the past).
    Or not.

    The aforementioned post-cognition is beautifully done, and Snowbird could use it to cheat at betting. She could successfully postdict the outcome of the horse races of the last few hours! She could make a fortune!
    She senses the corruption in the land, and where Alpha Flight are. These are three bits of ESP that are generally forgotten later.

    Do not ask me how I made this scan...

    The transformation into a bear is also beautiful; and the word 'lopes' is perfect to describe a bear moving.

    I love the technique of setting up the twins' huge amount of light by turning up the contrast so much there's no colour. ('cept the captions.)

    Also the little touches, like that the twins' costumes glow in the dark.

    The readers learn more and more about the base as the team gets deeper into it. The issue paces the way information is given out, as the walls grow, then strike.

    You'll also notice (from the way he's acting) that the Master doesn't know that Marrina doesn't know her own origin. The characters know a realistic amount of information (though there's an implication that Snowbird knows about Vindicator / Guardian's name-change before she possibly could).

    When Marrina gets the Master monologuing, what he tells her isn't his whole plot. It's stuff we, as readers, need to know, but not stuff that makes him look stupid. It isn't his downfall. That's nice.
    He's even willing to call his past self a fool.

    Mac's origin story is good; it's not the most original origin ever done, but it works. There are a few male stereotypes in both stories, which is a little annoying, especially when they go with a Man Smart, Woman Smarter thing (it's Heather who knows enough not to ask about whether the origin is legal.) (and note, it's boys who pin bugs, not children, earlier in the issue.)
    Byrne used this origin to set up major plots later, which I love.

    This is a really good way to get to know characters earlier in the series. It also helps to let us know about the upcoming 'one member at a time' that's part of what makes this book unique. Most of the team is here, but not all.

    Room With A View:
    Comments 4 Comments
    1. DelBubs's Avatar
      DelBubs -
      Another one of those mmm moments. If the Masters intention was to have Alpha to destroy the ship so as to enable his escape etc, why try and shoot their Alpha Jet down?
    1. Le Messor's Avatar
      Le Messor -
      Quote Originally Posted by DelBubs View Post
      Another one of those mmm moments. If the Masters intention was to have Alpha to destroy the ship so as to enable his escape etc, why try and shoot their Alpha Jet down?
      Good call!

      Possible answer:
      Did the Master do that, or did the ship?
      Maybe it was an automatic defense.

      Also, maybe it was his way of making sure they came aboard.

      - Le Messor
      "So, let me guess: Mice. No, wait... you've got cockroaches."
      Bernard: "Yeah, we do, actually, but don't touch them, will you? It would upset the bat. "
    1. DelBubs's Avatar
      DelBubs -
      He being an integral part of the ship could have had some say, but automatic defenses seem feasible. A no prize for Le Messor
    1. Le Messor's Avatar
      Le Messor -
      yay! I always wanted one!
      I would like to thank the Academy, and God, and all you guys in the audience, especially you over there. You with the glasses. Are you his friends? Bring him on up!