Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wednesday is Foreign For All I Care #113

Alpha Flight: Fear Itself #1 (2011)
Daomu #5 (2011)

Alpha Flight #1 (Marvel, 2011, $3.99)
You’ll pardon me for being a tad hyperbolic, but I think Alpha Flight is a fine example of everything that’s wrong with comics. Let me explain. The Sub-Mariner was one of the first comic book superstars, but he got cancelled along with most everybody else in the Post-World War II bust. I think he had a brief revival in the ‘50s, and he definitely helped usher in the Marvel Age in the 1960s. Thing is though, I don’t understand how sailor fucks mermaid equals immortal scion of the seven seas, or whatever the fuck Namor’s tagline was. Over in the X-Men book, they had another somewhat eleven foreigner asshole with a rage-on against humanity in the 1960s named Quicksilver. Pietro was never a fraction as popular as Namor, but he was still the 1960s model of the type, so maybe one or the other needed to shuffle off by the 1980s. Instead, we got Northstar, who never to my knowledge actively pursued widescale death of homo sapiens, but otherwise looked exactly like a young Namor with all the douchiness of Quicksilver. His only distinctions were that his powers were slightly different than Quicksilver’s, he had a crazy sister, the least awful of the trio’s costumes, he’s Canadian, and he’s queer. That means we now have three of the exact same guy in the same universe, none of them are going anywhere, and Northstar is one of the least useless members of Alpha Flight.

John Byrne was an extremely popular creator in the 1980s, which I guess is why Alpha Flight #1 came into existence, and I bought the thing. Byrne was an okay writer if you were a kid reader, but even by his standards (a.k.a. “this comic is so pretty that it makes up for the tepid script,”) the title was pretty stinky. The characters were all very polite and somewhat more diverse rip-offs of other Marvel characters who in the ensuing years have all been killed off at least one (usually many more, though) with no one much caring except people who believe being the only Canadian super-heroes of note earns them more respect, a sentiment not always shared by actual Canadians. They’ve got Wolverine and a strong claim to Superman, so why should they give a fuck about Snowbird? I’m sure Alpha Flight is at least a little embarrassing, eh?

So anyway, Alpha Flight managed to eke out an existence as the only alternative X-Men spin-off book to New Mutants for a while, but as the X-Factors and X-Forces and such piled up, the Alphans only reason for existence was wiped out. Marvel has repeatedly tried to relaunch the series based on the shaky premise that there’s nostalgia and inherent conceptual value in Alpha Flight, and this latest mini-series has actually enlisted solid talent, tied the book in with a big event, and restored the “iconic” team after a bout with mass deadness. I will say that this is a solidly okay effort, although after three years distance from the Bush Administration, it’s hard not to think a Canadian retread of their politics feels like old news. The big bad conservative brother to the north has turned on the nation’s wimpy ass heroes, and even the quippage of the writers behind Incredible Hercules can’t make the individual members matter to anyone. Alpha Flight has never been worth a damn, and the longer the industry carries this kind of obsolete baggage on its back, the more apparent corporate comics themselves being antiques becomes. Kill Alpha Flight, kill Quicksilver, consider killing Sub-Mariner, and then figure out what the Namor-type of the twenty-teens should be like.

An aside: a sketchbook and an interview? Not worth an extra dollar. Hold the line, bitches.

Daomu #5 (Image, 2011, $2.99)
The inside front cover of this book featured brief character bios for all the major players in this story. I think it's great when publishers make that kind of effort to reach out to potential new readers. Unfortunately, there isn't a basic plot synopsis offered, so all those bios might as well be written in a fucking foreign language for all their content meant to me. This must be what it's like for normal people when some inarticulate geek starts rambling a bunch of insider bullshit at them. I don't even understand whether some of the nouns mentioned are people, places, or things, it's so goddamned obtuse, and I've had motherfucking decades of experience reading this kind of shit. So screw it, I had to read the actual story pretty near blind, and I didn't give a queef about most of it.

A bunch of Asian people (to narrow it down: not East Indians, but that's the best I got) are involved in some organization. Two of them do some tomb raiding. One's a heroic type, and the other is a two-faced fat asshole. They kill a mummy, and their friends find them in time for the tomb to try to revenge up their asses. Everybody escapes, but the action is really muddy, so I had trouble deducing the means by which that escape occurs. Also the dialogue is b-movie shit, but there's all these pretentious "Confucius say" caption boxes throughout. The art isn't great, and the story is either really flat or impenetrable, because I only catch pieces of what's going on.

Oh wait, the plot synopsis was on the back cover. That makes everything better. Highest possible recommendation.

1 comment:

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