• Review - Alpha Flight (Vol.4) #3 - Phil's Take *Spoiler-light*

    Issue: Alpha Flight (Vol.4) #3: Powered & Dangerous
    Writers: Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente
    Penciller: Dale Eaglesham
    Inker: Andrew Hennessy
    Colorist: Sonia OBack
    Lettering: Simon Bowland
    Cover Art: Phil Jimenez & Frank D'Armata
    Variant Cover: Eaglesham, Hennessy & OBack
    Cover Date: Oct 2011

    With #3, Volume 4 approaches it's half way point and very much cements the team's role as a renegade team on the run from the law, as Alpha Flight break out from Parliament Hill.

    The tagline for this series is "Do You Fear Your Country Turning On You?" and the implications of this really hit home as the team are made out to be traitors to the country.
    The plot is a very solid one, although I fear that the majority of readers will just compare it to Marvel's 'Civil War' event, building upon the nation's fear of those that oppose it, and the government's fear of the superheroes that have always defended it turning against them, as well as Alpha's fear of being unfairly accused & hunted down.
    The maxi-series loses it's 'Fear Itself' trade dress (& unfortunately it's Variant covers) after #4 so it'll be interesting to see how much this will continue to play within the final 4 issues.

    The team has always been a dysfunctional one (yes I know I use that phrase a lot, but it's my personal reason for loving Alpha Flight), a melting pot of differing personalities and opinions and, with praise to Pak & Van Lente, all of the team get moments to shine within this issue as they have done throughout.
    Northstar's interactions with Guardian very much in character for both with Mac stepping up into the leadership role he never wanted, showing strategy, planning and, Mac being Mac, a certain naivety.
    Puck continues to become even stranger and more unhinged than last issue, Walt makes jokes to try to lighten the situation and Marrina continues her alien pride.

    As depicted by the cover Aurora/Jeanne-Marie's struggle is a focus of this issue building upon the revelations of abuse from the previous issue.
    In my opinion it's a very interesting storyline.
    Her multiple personlities are written respectfully, building on her origin and she's not made out to be a complete victim as she has been in the past. The outcome of the fight is very intriguing indeed, and part of me wishes I'd stayed away from the internet after the news of the series was announced as solicits and images I've seen so far combined with the issue add up to spoil the revelation for an astute reader. That's the age we live in though.
    The artwork for these scenes in particular are extremely well done, with Aurora fighting herself.
    Sonia OBack's use of different colour eyes is a very nice touch.

    One of the points I raised in my review for #0.1 was that I hoped Citadel & Purple Woman got used more, and they continue to have a small part within this issue, leading up to the debut of Alpha Strike in #4, with the Unity party continuing their brainwashing as seen in the previous issue.
    Hopefully next issue we get to see more of them, and allow Kara some solid development and interaction with the other Alphans.

    The issue ends with the (re)introduction of another character who again due to preview images and interviews we'd figured out the identity of.
    This however doesn't detract from the chilling final page as the character makes their debut within the title, and I hope that this character joins Alpha's recurring rogue's gallery.
    The introduction of this character also features what could be the cameo for fans for this issue, with a definite hint as to who is behind the Unity Party. I'm very excited to see how this plays out.

    The artwork continues to deliver, with Eaglesham hitting his stride with the characters.
    3 issues in he's definitely got down the spirit of Byrne and continues to evolve his own stamp on the characters such as Marrina's new look and Shaman's lack of headband (such a small simple detail, but one that just gives the character a fresh lease of life and seems strange no-one's ever done it before).
    Again the attention to detail is spot on; pointed ears for the twins, individual threads of hair for sasquatches, Mac's stubble, Heather(yup, she's in here as well, though I have a feeling #4 will be her issue.)'s freckles, Puck's teeth... I could go on and on about things that shouldn't be necessary to yet are often overlooked in comics these days. Even the background panels are full of detail throughout.
    And again; the last page is a stunner - continuing the theme of final page reveals from the previous two issues.

    All in all a very solid issue, but definitely a 'middle-chapter' of a singular storyline.
    If you've read the previous 3 issues (Including #0.1) it'll flow nicely and make perfect sense.
    A fan of the characters should get a lot out of the way they're being written here.
    Casual readers will possibly get a lot more out of this in a trade than reading the indivual issues, and maybe that's impacted on the sales figures.
    I do think this will make a really nice collection, if the series doesn't get extended.
    Comments 8 Comments
    1. Flightpath07's Avatar
      Flightpath07 -
      Nice review! I'll leave all other comments for now, as I still haven't read issue 2. Thanx for not giving anything away!
    1. Sypes's Avatar
      Sypes -
      I know I say this about each issue that comes out, but I lOVED IT! I don't buy a lot of comics (AF being my only regular one, with a few Beast Wars books) but the drawings and colors always flooooooooooooor me! The way their suit colors stand out compared to the metallic blues and greys (oh god, that sounded interior designer gay! haha) ! Simply simply simply beautiful.
    1. Sasquatch17's Avatar
      Sasquatch17 -
      Another great issue!

      Marrina is the breakout character by a kilometre!
    1. maniac mike's Avatar
      maniac mike -
      So after reading this issue I'm guessing that...


      Aurora is on both Alpha Flight/Alpha Strike!
    1. Alphan East's Avatar
      Alphan East -
      That would explain the rather hot-looking female silhouette in the background of next month's variant cover.
    1. Imraith Nimphais's Avatar
      Imraith Nimphais -
      Another very well-written and entertaining issue. After 3 issues, Marrina has certainly grown on me. She is now one of my favourites on the team.

      My only nit (a very minor one) which I've stated before...is the inking. It does seem a bit heavy for Eaglesham's pencils...but I know it is just me, and I will live with it.

      More Alpha Flight!
    1. Le Messor's Avatar
      Le Messor -
      I couldn't find the original discussions about this, so I thought I'd put it here.
      We had a discussion about when the last time before v4 is that the whole team - the original 8 - got together.
      I've just figured out the answer:

      All eight have never fought as a team together before now. (That's all eight; the original original six have been together a few times.)
      They were in the same room at the end of v1 #1, but Puck missed the fight against Tundra.
      Shaman and Puck missed the fight against The Master in 2-4.
      Marrina missed the fight against Omega in #12, and against Strucker in X-Men / Alpha Flight 2.
      (And of course Puck and Marrina hadn't been invented yet in the original X-Men appearances.)

      - Le Messor
      "My cup's been run over."
      ~ Mark T. Shirey
    1. Phil's Avatar
      Phil -
      Quote Originally Posted by Imraith Nimphais View Post
      My only nit (a very minor one) which I've stated before...is the inking. It does seem a bit heavy for Eaglesham's pencils...but I know it is just me, and I will live with it.
      I agree, and as luck would have it from #5 they're going to be colouring straight from Dale's full pencils ala his recent FF work.