Friday, August 19, 2005

Blinded By Snow(Bird)

Alpha Flight was never the world's greatest comic - let's be up-front about that. In fact, it was never better than mediocre on its best day. But at least in the beginning, it had a certain charm... back in the days when super-hero books could be safely lightweight (and not horribly portentous as a matter of rote), it was a satisfying entertainment.

But what happened to the book is almost a textbook example of everything that can go wrong with a book. I hardly wish to speak ill of those who can no longer defend themselves, but Bill Mantlo's run on the book is proof positive that you can't write a book ... at least write it well ... if you don't at least have some degree of fondness for the basic premise. Mantlo's run succeeded in taking everything that was even vaguely charming of the original Alpha Flight premise - hardly the most weighty material to begin with - and chopped it into little itty bitty pieces. What was left was something of a mess, to say the least. The late 80s and early 90s saw a succession of increasingly desperate creative maneuvers - and considering the fact that this was a book that actually had a reason to have the occasional obligatory Wolverine cameo, that's saying quite a lot. There were some really bad Alpha Flight comics, and the fact that the concept still contains enough juice to inspire the occasional ill-fated revivial is a testament to misguided nostalgia.

Why am I thinking of freakin' Alpha Flight? Well, my buddy Matt does a good job of encapsulating just how the series took such a bad turn for the worse here. Perhaps the best quote possible when you're discussing bad comics:
"... [A] comic book that started with the premise above ... still found somewhere downhill to go.
My friends, there's always room to be found under the bottom of the barrel.

And if you're still in the mood for some Alpha Action (and who isn't?) my homie Dave checks out Alpha Flight #121 here. A splendid time is guaranteed for all!

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