I just got done reading the ‘ALPHA FLIGHT: True North’ Marvel Comics one shot and it got me a bit excited about the possibility of an ongoing series. Yeah Alpha Flight has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid in 80’s and after the first John Byrne series it’s never been quite the same, so hearing that a new one shot was coming out made me decide to head up to ‘Cosmic Monkey‘, (Portland Oregon’s best comic book shop), to grab a copy and see for myself. It’s been a few years since I bought new comic books, I quit a while back cold turkey, as their just too damn expensive and many of them don’t grab me like they used to honestly. However, Alpha Flight always gets another chance!
So ‘True North’ was a pretty decent little dive back into the lives of the diverse Canadian superhero team, it features three short stories with various members of the team. The first featuring classic Alphans Talisman & Snowbird as they travel to a remote area of in the Arctic Circle to investigate a supernatural presence. It’s an intriguing little tale that could have really spanned the whole issue. I definitely enjoyed the artwork in this one by Max Dunbar as well.
The next story is a small slice of life featuring everyone’s favorite little person badass ‘Puck’ and the fish woman ‘Marina’ as they walk a lonely beach on a sunny day. Puck shares a story from his past and the two of them spend some time bonding. A neat little short overall but I wasn’t a real big fan of the artists depictions of Puck and Marina, who basically just made them look like a short guy and a green woman devoid of most of her fish like qualities. The last story features Heather Hudson aka ‘Vindicator’ as she hides from the Canadian government for crimes committed while under the mental control of long time Alpha Flight villain ‘The Master of the World’. It’s a pretty interesting short story too and also features her husband James ‘Guardian’ Hudson with plenty of underlying relationship drama bubbling below the surface. Overall this one was nice refresher of just what an Alpha Flight ongoing series could feel like in 2019.
The other members were missed though, classics like Sasquatch & Shaman weren’t even in it at all and Northstar and Aurora only spoke a couple lines. I was hoping for a cool one shot with the whole team showing their current relationship as a team, but regardless it was still a pretty good teaser, even if it was priced at whoppin’ 5 bucks! DAMN!! I’ve always thought the team under the right writer again could be developed into a great modern series. The team’s super diverse cast has a lot of rich history to explore. ‘True North’ strikes some good chords but I’m not sure it was really quite compelling enough to drum up the magic needed to push Alpha Flight into a new ongoing series. I’d like to see Wolverine return to the team and maybe bring some drama into Heather and James’ rocky relationship. It’s always been softly suggested he might have some feelings for Heather. You never know! I’m also still hoping for an Alpha Flight movie as well, I think they’d be an instant hit in the MCU!
John Byrne’s run on the Fantastic Four in the 80’s is arguably the best the title has ever seen. One of the biggest changes the legendary team encountered during his run was when The Thing left the team & She-Hulk replaced him. It was a risky move at the time, but Jennifer Walters rounded out the female ratio quite nicely with her brute strength, beauty and charming sense of humor. We all know that Byrne was a huge fan of She-Hulk and Fantastic Four #275 features the character in one of my favorite covers. She-Hulk, especially in the 80’s had to deal with a LOT of sleazy men gawking over her, this cover features a prime example of exactly that. I’m also looking at this cover and thinking this depiction of the character would be a great one to base look of the upcoming MCU tv series character on. There’s so much you could do with She-Hulk in a live action series and I’m hoping it adds the comedic elements of Byrne’s classic version of the character. I’ve always loved John Byrne and to this day his iconic 70’s and 80’s comic book art, in my opinion, is easily some of the best of the era. This cover is truly classic SHE-HULK!
1988’s ‘Magic of the Universe’ (Originally released as ‘Salamamgkero’ in 1986) is one HELL of a bizarre horror adventure! Shot in the Philippines and chock full of dark creepy tropical locations, you surely get a lot more than you bargained for with an odd film that clearly must have had a pretty decent budget to work with. The plot itself is pretty sweet & simple, a talented circus magician named Jamir while doing his seemingly routine disappearing act to an eager crowd, accidentally makes his assistant/daughter disappear not only into thin air but from our reality entirely.
Perplexed, Jamir decides to search for answers, heads off in search of a creepy, mysterious shaman whom he’s heard rumor of residing deep in a nearby forest. The Shaman mixes him up a concoction of some sort from the severed head of a monkey (some serious ‘Temple of Doom’ tones here) and then ventures into a danger filled alternate dimension, to try and rescue his lover & kid sidekick who also go missing shortly after his daughter does. I’m guessing the monkey brain drink (some sort of DMT type concentration) opened some sort of portal, enabling Jamir to cross over. Once on the “other side” he discovers his loved one are captives of a powerful witch named “Mikula” who’s got a huge, sweaty pulsating head and commands a grotesque army of freakish animal people minions, swamp monsters and a plethora of gooey, gross things that go bump in the night.
The whole romp is a giant, cheezy ass fever dream, full of fog, colorful yet dark sets draped in blue & pink lighting and of course some unsettling puppet creatures. One in particular is “Globo”, a weird ass gremlin type puppet with a tv screen for a stomach. Globo’s even featured in the opening credits as “himself” as they decided to show every actor in their role, with their characters names in the opening credits of the movie, something you’d expect normally at the very end. There’s so much weird shit going on here once Jamir heads off into the alternate dimension that whatever story it’s supposedly trying to tell becomes utterly lost, making the whole thing seem even more dreamlike with every minute that passes. There’s even a weird ass party / dance scene with a full band that curiously resembles GWAR in all their monster glory. I guess I’d say this flick also brings to mind a more demented & confusing version of ‘Labyrinth’ and I mean that in the best way possible. Also at a lean running time of 84 minutes the pace rarely lags, there’s easily enough eye candy to go around here to keep horror fans guessing what oddities will present themselves next onscreen. It’s main villain, (the witch Mikula) is pretty damn entertaining too, I never got tired at looking at her fleshy bulbous head bubbling and come the end of the movie you get some great gooey, 80’s style neon action in the final battle.
If you’re a fan of weird ass cinema ‘Magic of the Universe’ definitely won’t disappoint, it’s tropical, humid nightmarish sets are worth the price of admission alone. Director Tata Esteban is fully ambitious here with his grand horror fantasy vision, perhaps not the most easy to comprehend but hey, this is a perfect movie to check out with a few too many drinks & a gang of trashy cinefiles on a Saturday nite! No one will need to pay too much attention to plot either! It’s available to watch on Youtube or you can also hunt down the dvd version of the movie on a horror double feature! I’m certain there’s a VHS copy of this one out there somewhere still but it’s probably a challenge to track down. I watched this one from my Netflix DVD service (yeah, I still do that! For movies like this!) Check it out if you’re feelin’ crazy..
One of the things I really enjoyed about ‘Avengers: Endgame’ was the “Professor” Hulk finally making his big screen appearance. I’ve gotta admit I was a bit disappointed that this version of the Hulk really didn’t do any smashing and even more of a let down was that we never got to see Hulk and Thanos get a rematch. Just because the Hulk’s got Banner in the brain doesn’t mean he still can’t kick some major ass! Regardless it brought back memories of the character as a kid when “Banner Hulk” was introduced and for me it was shocking to see the character this way. Incredible Hulk #285 was always a favorite of mine, where we really see Banner Hulk in full effect.
I mean the cover and the first page feature Hulk with his classic Banner attire and even some sweet ass combed hair!! Back in 1983 I was in awe that this could even ever be a thing for Hulk, the character during this period feels a lot like the ‘Endgame’ Banner Hulk, where he was a lot more reserved about doing any serious ass kickin’. Later in the 90’s we got Professor Hulk yet again, though he was much more of a bad ass often using guns instead of fists to fight his enemies. Still this great cover is a total classic from artist Ron Wilson and inker Joe Sinnot and of course who doesn’t love a classic showdown with one of his greatest villains-ZZZAX!!! Check out the first page of this issue, it’s one of my all time favorite depictions of the Professor Banner Hulk! He never looked so damn smart and sophisticated!!
So one reason it’s fun to be a blogger is because there’s always that slight chance something you write about could ignite a spark on a certain topic, and one thing I’ve been hoping forever is that we’ll some day get an ‘Alpha Flight’ movie! Some of you all might be asking who the hell is Alpha Flight? Well let me just start off by saying they at one time had much more notoriety in the Marvel universe than The Guardians of the Galaxy! So as far as Marvel movies go anything is possible, I mean I never thought we’d get TWO damn Ant-man movies either! For those who may not know, Alpha Flight is a Canada’s answer to the X-men & The Avengers, who made their first appearance 40 years ago in X-men #120.
Wolverine was originally set to be the team’s leader, which led to them having a heavy presence in the X-universe & throughout the years they’ve had their own Marvel comic book series several times throughout the last 4 decades with varying degrees of success. Well I think now’s the time to tell the team’s story on the big screen & I’m certain if they did it right it’d be next the big thing in the MCU, not convinced? Well here are 6 reasons why Marvel’s gotta jump on the chance sooner than later!!
1. Diversity of the Team
Ok so it’s clear that diversity in comic book movies is a topic that’s endlessly being discussed today. It just so happens that they have always been one of the most naturally diverse in the Marvel universe. From native American characters like Shaman and his daughter Talisman, to Eugene ‘Puck’ Judd being a ‘little’ person, to Marrina being a bizarre race of fish creature and Northstar being a gay man, the team undeniably has a lot of interesting characters within it’s ranks. Half have been made up of women and Heather Hudson also known as ‘Vindicator’ stepped in as the team’s leader for over half of the teams comic book existence. They’d easilytranslate to the big screen in a unique way and I think they’ve got a lot to offer up in a way audiences haven’t seen before on the big screen!
2. First Gay Superhero
This leads me to my second point as recently I’ve seen that Marvel was looking to introduce the first openly gay superhero. Well good thing for Alpha Flight, they had the very first mainstream gay superhero, Jean-Paul Beaubier aka ‘Northstar’. Though it wasn’t openly stated in the team’s first series from 1983 it was clear to see the angle of the character presented there. Nearly ten years later in 1992 Northstar officially came out as gay to the public making mainstream headlines and then in 2012 again when the first gay superhero wedding took place prominently in ‘Astonishing X-men’ #51. His husband being Kyle Jinadu, a black male was also notable in featuring a natural diversity within the now iconic superhero storyline.
The character has broken down barriers time and time again in comic book history and if any gay superhero makes it to the silver screen it surely should be Northstar. With all of his sexual identity to the side, the character has always been an interesting one, with one of the biggest attitudes in Marvel comics ranks he’s also got a twin sister “Aurora” whom he’s incredibly protective of. Their relationship has gone through a lot of intriguing states of turmoil as well, especially when it comes to her choices of people she chooses to date. Northstar in general is just a super badass character, possessing the ability to travel at superhuman speeds, fly, and project photon energy blasts. His twin sister, Aurora also possesses similar abilities. He automatically makes the team that much more interesting without even trying. Continue reading
Holy shit it’s Christmas eve!! I thought I take slip in rad holiday themed comic book cover from one of my favorite Marvel comics super teams, The Great Lakes Avengers! Hailing from my old stompin’ grounds of Wisconsin, these midwest misfits don’t ever seem to get the respect they deserve! Aside from Squirrel Girl, who’s now a superstar, these dudes haven’t been given enough respect & deserve in my humble opinion their very own damn movie!! This great cover from 2006 drawn by Paul Pelletier is a ton of fun to behold. The issue itself is pretty damn great as well! A must read this Holiday!!!! Long live the Great Lakes Avengers!!
It’s time too take a look at some cool Holiday themed comic book covers from yesteryear! Here’s a great one waaay back from 1991, the Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special! This crazy Christmas tale feature Lobo as he goes on a hunt to execute Santa Claus, why you might ask? Because the jealous drunken Easter Bunny hired him to do it! A super bizarre Christmas adventure features a total bad ass superpowered Santa to who’s ready to throw down with just about anyone. I love this cover art too by Simon Bisley and the odd disclaimers that can be see on it “Seriously suggested for mature readers” and on the bottom right hand corner reads, “WARNING: Contains Bad Taste In The Form Of Ultra-Violence, Icon-Bashing, And “The Finger.” More Offensive Than Christmas Usually Is.” A total classic 90’s odd ball adventure from DC comics!
Wait but THAT’S not all in 2002 someone made this into a damn short film, no kidding check this shit out!!