ALPHA FLIGHT #3 (1983)
John Byrne continues the adventures of Marvel’s premier team of Canadian superheroes and establishes major character building in the last issue. Though there is some self-doubt as a leader, Vindicator guided the members of Alpha Flight, except Snowbird, for a series of combat training exercises. This has set the stage for work related discussion and at the same time, the members may learn more about one another to build a stronger bond. We learned some major details about James MacDonald Hudson and Marrina. There is a nasty meltdown by a key member and there will be consequences.
Don’t forget to revisit the special feature “The Origins of Alpha Flight: In the Beginning…” in this issue, we are taken back ten years prior to the current events. At the time, James Macdonald Hudson was a scientist working for the Am-Cam Corporation and designed a cybernetic suit of armor. Unfortunately, this project was taken away from Hudson, which led to quitting his job. Hudson returns to the company later that evening and steals the suit and destroys the blueprints. He exits Am-Cam and leaves the suit where the company can find it, but holds onto a major piece. “Let’s just see ‘em try to run that suit with out it”.
The Alpha Flight #3 cover is probably one of my favorite of this series. It’s so simple, and yet so iconic, so evocative. Just plain black-and-white (literally), except Aurora’s face – scared, as she’s menaced by the bars. It catches the eye of curiosity enough to persuade one to pick this issue off the shelf and neatly place it into their collection. Well, after reading it, of course.
Alpha Flight #3, the “Yesterday Man” begins with Snowbird in search for her fellow teammates with great concern for their well-being. If you recall from the last issue, Snowbird can pick up and sense mystical activities, like the one she detected from Shaman. Now, as Snowbird flies across the Northern Territories, she finds the crashed Alpha Flight Omnijet. This is an exciting section, because we learn two other powers for this character. Snowbird possesses the ability to see into the recent past. Through her mind’s eye, time literally rewinds itself, and she can perceive events that have transpired within the past six hours in her current location. She can replay events in an area, but only she is capable of seeing them. These post-cognitive perception powers replay the events that led to the landing of the aircraft.
In this vision, Snowbird observes a red laser beam striking the jet and sending it crashing down into the snow. Each member aboard the Alpha Flight Omnijet survived and walked northward in the brisk air. As the vision fades, Snowbird begins to cautiously follow Sasquatch’s footprints and continues her search. In the first issue, we saw Snowbird change into a snow owl, then in issue two, we saw her human persona, Anne McKenzie, into Snowbird, and now we observe her changing into a polar bear. It is safe to say that she has the ability to shape-shift into artic animals of all sizes and gains the special attributes of that given animal. I am eager to learn about any other powers that Snowbird acquires.
Meanwhile, Guardian guides Susquatch to rip through some sort of wall of a possible technologically advanced structure. Some how Aurora and her handsome brother, Northstar “yes, I have a thing for this dude” were separated from their team. Aurora is not handling the dark well and Northstar locks hands with her, generating a light that illuminates the entire chamber. As they continue their search, large metal poles protrude from the walls and strike Northstar.
Guardian and Sasquatch manage to smash through the walls and find the confused Aurora. This is an important section for readers as Guardian is full aware of Aurora’s DID, but it seems that Sasquatch and maybe the others may not know. I am excited to see more about this story in the upcoming issues of Alpha Flight.
Best quote of Alpha Flight #3: Say – there wouldn’t perchance be something about our favorite French pastry here that you neglected to mention, would there? — Walter Langkowski
The remainder of Alpha Flight #3 follows up mostly on the capturing of Marrina by the Master of the World. While Marrina screams in torment, the Master describes his own origin and how it is connected to Marrina. I noticed (from the way he’s acting) that the Master doesn’t realize that Marrina doesn’t know her own origin. When Marrina gets the Master to monologue, what he tells her isn’t his whole plot. It is stuff us, as readers, need to know, but not stuff that makes him looks stupid. It isn’t his downfall. That’s nice. He’s even willing to call his past self a fool.
For me, John Byrne’s most impressive skill is character building. Byrne strategically structures each character with a rich personality and unique quirks to engage the reader. Let them diverse in their own way with vulnerability that brings out the empathy in the reader. Each character includes flaws and failures to showcase the character’s humanity. Yes, even the characters that may not be from Earth. It seems like each character has a realistic amount of knowledge. However, I do question the implication that Snowbird knows about the Vindicator / Guardian’s name change before she possibly could. 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.) Note it is 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.
We can tell how well that Byrne works with colorist, Andy Yanchus. Each panel flows like a leaf down a calm stream, easily takes the eyes of the reader through the story. Yanchus has an awesome skill of understanding that different colors can affect emotions depends largely on a color’s brightness, shade, tint or tone and whether it’s cool or warm toned. We have seen this consistently through all three issues so far of Alpha Flight.
As we see on page 16 of Alpha Flight #3, it is important to note that it runs congruent to Fantastic Four (Vol. 1) #260 and #261. “How much”, you ask? Well, read both issues and find out! However, before you do, reread Alpha Flight #3 and stretch your imagination!
Insightful and storytelling at its best!
ALPHA FLIGHT #3 (1983): Yesterday Man
Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 8.5/108.5/10
Color - 8.5/108.5/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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