Wednesday, 16 January 2019

X-Factor 49 - Acts of Vengeance

This issue doesn't carry an "Acts of Vengeance" banner but does contain a couple of pages that touch on the crossover. Otherwise it's a chapter of an ongoing storyline with the regular characters off world. Perhaps some other issues might have taken a similar approach. Oddly two of the worst offenders have the same writer and editor.

X-Factor #49

Writer: Louise Simonson
Layouts: Paul Smith
Finishes: Allen Milgom
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colourist: Tom Vincent
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

This issue is faced with the difficulty that it's not possible to have the heroes take part in the crossover because of where the regular storyline has taken them. Nor is there a regular member or associate left behind on Earth who can carry the show. So instead the task of participating in the event falls to the book's main villain, Apocalypse, as he monitors the situation and finds the central alliance bizarre. His comments are telling:
Most of these evil masterminds would not, of their own wills, associate with each other. They behave oddly, so much out of character -- in some cases as to be baffling. Someone else is behind this conspiracy. Someone whose motives are quixotic and strange... but whose will... and powers... are overwhelmingly strong.
It's hard to disguise the author's commentary on the situation, pointing out the plot holes in the centre of the story and, perhaps, criticising the mastermind behind it in real life as well as the one in fiction. "Acts of Vengeance" created more problems for both X-Factor and New Mutants than for most titles and Simonson's irritation at what was no doubt a compulsory participation (whereas it seems to have been voluntary to take part in "Inferno", for which Simonson wrote the majority of the core titles) is understandable. The arrival of the mysterious stranger with an offer to join the alliance suggests further discussion on the subject.

Otherwise the issue is the penultimate part of "Judgement War" in which X-Factor have been transported to a planet with a technologically advanced but culturally mediaeval society. In this chapter a brainwashed Iceman has to fight Archangel in the arena as part of the power struggles, whilst the Beast and Cyclops work with rebels to free their friends. It's amazing to realise this issue is by the same writer as New Mutants #84. Both are the penultimate parts of long running sagas with the team away from Earth and both have just two pages taking part in "Acts of Vengeance", although New Mutants is the only one to include a banner on the cover. But whereas that issue is an impenetrable mess for new readers brought in by the crossover, this one is careful to introduce the characters and situation through narrative captions to make it clear just what's going on. It's almost a pity it doesn't have the banner, because this is how to make the best of such a situation.

This is a series that's firmly sticking to doing its own thing and bluntly saying so. However it's also doing it in a way that any extra readers brought in by the broader event are catered for. The Apocalypse scenes are good in themselves but the issue as a whole isn't that essential to the crossover, but does get credit for doing the best it can to meet the conflicting needs of the varied readership.

X-Factor #49 has been reprinted in:

Monday, 14 January 2019

Thor 413 - Acts of Vengeance

This issue may not carry an "Acts of Vengeance" banner, yet it includes one the key moments for the entire arc. It's a surprising omission, especially given the issue is written by the-then editor-in-chief Tom DeFalco.

Thor #413

Words & Plot: Tom DeFalco (all)
Pictures & Plot: Ron Frenz (lead)
Finished Art: Joe Sinnott (lead)
Pencils: Ron Lim (back-up)
Inks: Mike De Carlo (back-up)
Lettering: Michael Heisler (all)
Colouring: Nel Yomtov (all)
Editing: Ralph Macchio (all)

Once again, the issue follows the two-story format, with the back-up feature concluding Beta Ray Bill's encounter with space pirates as he seeks to free the slaves whose mind power is tapped to fuel the ship. It's a good combination of action and willpower.

The lead story sees Thor trying to get the bottom of his recent problems to discover why he has been suffering spells of weakness and just who is behind the attacks on the super heroes. Meanwhile his alter ego of Eric Masterson is trying to get control of his own life as he faces a battle with his ex-wife for custody of their son. And Hercules is experiencing moments of sudden fear. Then a magazine cover inspires Eric to seek help from Doctor Strange to try to sort out Thor's problems and this leads to the "Inner Questing" ritual as Thor and Strange venture into the thunder god's subconscious to discover the answers. Elsewhere the mysterious strange monitors Thor's actions and sends his henchman to deal with Thor, Hercules and Strange. However Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum is protected by magic and so the henchman withdraws, followed by Hercules.

Inside Thor's subconscious he encounters a foe wearing his old armour, leading to a classic "my enemy - myself" fight that Strange and Eric can only watch. Finally Thor subdues his foe and removes the masked helmet to reveal the cause of his weakness. It's Loki. Elsewhere the stranger confirms this, revealing his true form for the first time in the crossover.

To put it mildly, this is not a particularly dramatic revelation. (It was also given away in What The--?! #6 but this is the first confirmation it's the same in the regular reality.) The mysterious stranger has various magical abilities and has been shown monitoring things from a throne room with monitor screens in flames. He has an especial hatred for the Avengers, identifying in particular the Wasp and Hank Pym. And the most blatant giveaway is the central alliance of super-villains. Consisting of the traditional strategic archenemies of the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man & Daredevil and the Human Torch, it's an alliance that could have been put together at any time since the mid-1960s. The absence of Thor's archenemy, who also caused the Avengers to be formed in the first place, was highly telling and there was no attempt to give Loki any alibi elsewhere. (Other candidates, such as Baron Mordo and Immortus, have been shown during the crossover.) The only unclear point is just how Thor determines that Loki is behind the "Acts of Vengeance" as well as the loss of strength, since he doesn't see the scenes the readers do.

This is a surprisingly key moment in the crossover, yet it went out of its way to hide it from contemporary readers, perhaps so another moment that we'll come to could serve as the official discovery. This is a pity as Thor is the title with the strongest retro Silver Age feel to it, especially thanks to Frenz's Kirby homage artwork, and "Acts of Vengeance" has a strong Silver Age throwback to it. This really deserved to be put on a stronger pedestal.

Thor #413 has been reprinted in:

Friday, 11 January 2019

Avengers 313 - Acts of Vengeance

"The Ultimate Super-Villain Team-Up!" proclaims the cover. It's a phrase that many in Marvel have long wanted to use over the years, echoing the 1970s series, and here it makes an appearance in all its glory as the action heats up. But at times this is less of a team-up than a squabble.

Avengers #313

Artists: Paul Ryan and Tom Palmer
Writer: John Byrne
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colourist: Mike Rockwitz
Editor: Jim Salicrup
Ed.-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

This issue, written by John Byrne and drawn by Paul Ryan, sees the Mandarin go on the direct attack. Outside of the X-Men issues, which have barely acknowledged the wider event, the Mandarin hasn't done a great deal in the crossover. For that matter the central alliance of villains hasn't made its major follow-up assault against the Avengers yet. Instead there's a lot of squabbling which comes to blows here as Doctor Doom and the Red Skull briefly fight before the Kingpin walks in and dismisses them as children. Meanwhile the Wizard has followed the Mandarin, hoping to seize the initiative. If the intended message is that super-villains ultimately can't work together for long because of their egos, conflicting interests and different ideologies then it's been presented subtly over a long period. Such is the lack of loyalty that the Mandarin thinks nothing of firing his rings at the Avengers when the Wizard will be caught in the crossfire, then fleeing to leave his ally to be captured. The Mandarin here may be dismissive of an onlooker's "petty racism", but he's coming as a modern-day wizard in armour and is much more of the traditional cackling villain here than he was in the X-Men issues.

The Avengers continue to struggle with collapsing public support for super heroes, but this aspect of the story would work so much better had it been more integrated into the crossover rather than largely serving as a sideshow in a handful of issues. Thus once the Avengers arrive to tackle the Mandarin the crowds disappear and there's no comment at all as to what effect this has on public opinion. Instead it's largely an action piece with the Mandarin and Wizard using their powers and weapons to provide a strong challenge.

The issue also sees Magneto capturing the Scarlet Witch, stealing an entire wooden house in the process. Although he's been part of the main alliance, that effectively ended with his attack on the Red Skull and these events are more progressing a storyline that will come to a climax in later issues of Avengers West Coast. Though having writer co-ordination between the two Avengers team books is a good idea, they're still by definition set in different locations and attempts to tell a single story across them don't work well outside of formal crossovers. And this is very much looking beyond the end of the event.

It's not the only one. The issue sees Doctor Doom shot by the Red Skull and eventually explode, revealing him to have been a Doombot, perhaps all along. This is a very well-established practice of Doom, with more than one writer retconning appearances of Doom into robots (making for difficulties in constructing a chronology, though it gets much worse with Kang), but it also neatly takes Doom out of the equation, as though he's bored of the whole thing. It's slightly surprising that the Red Skull is shocked given the recent revelation that he too has an army of identical robots.

There's a real sense of things hotting up with this issue, and not just the Doombot. It's easy to forget that "Acts of Vengeance" ran over only three months, as the large number of issues can make it seem so much longer, but here in the core of the crossover things are now heading for what looks like a spectacular climax.

Avengers #313 has been reprinted in:

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Damage Control 3 - Acts of Vengeance

There are a few series notably absent from "Acts of Vengeance". We've already seen Excalibur and we'll come to Silver Surfer later, but there's some other notable absentees. Most of the titles that don't take part are set in different universes (e.g. Nth Man, What If...), licenced titles (Transformers, Alf), creator owned (Groo Chronicles, Sleeze Brothers) or reprints (Classic X-Men) so have their reasons. But also missing are Nick Fury, Agent of Shield and Sensational She-Hulk.

Damage Control (volume 2) #3

Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Artist: Ernie Colon
Letters: Rick Parker
Colour: George Roussos
Editor: Sid Jacobson
Big Guy you don't wanna mess with: Tom DeFalco

The last on the list is especially surprising as it had only recently been launched with John Byrne writing and drawing the title in a very unique fashion, with the star aware that she's a character in a comic book and having a tetchy relationship with her writer. But Byrne left the series just as "Acts of Vengeance" was getting started, leading to a sudden rush of fill-in creators (such that she began issue #9 not having a clue who the names in the credit box were) for the next few issues until Steve Gerber emerged as the permanent new writer. Amidst all this, an "Acts of Vengeance" crossover was lost.

Whether this was all a coincidence or not is unclear, as She-Hulk briefly turned up an issue early, but this issue goes some way to providing a substitute by guest starring her. The story focuses on the consequences of the new owners causing chaos, with much of the workforce on strike, managers scrambling to find replacement contractors and two disgruntled sacked employees seeking their own act of vengeance. Amidst all this She-Hulk is borrowed from the Avengers to help with the heavy work, including getting the Daily Bugle building back into position. However she's attacked by two armoured guys with no fixed names (they eventually settled on "New" and "Improved") and then has to endure a team-up with Speedball.

Surprisingly this issue contains what should be a major moment in Marvel history. The original Avengers mansion had been relocated to Hydrobase and has now been recovered from the water, with Damage Control commissioned to recover it and return it to its original location in Manhattan. Unfortunately the project falls victim to the weakest of management trying to replace the engineers, with the mansion lost in the river. It's a surprise to find such an iconic building meets its final end as a part of a joke in a comedy series, but it's fun nonetheless.

The corporate commentary is more limited in this story, merely focusing on the cluelessness of the new owners in their approach to both the strike and operations, and the result is a much more madcap comedic piece than before, reflecting She-Hulk's own series. This series continues to be a good, fun distraction.

Damage Control (volume 2) #3 has been reprinted in:

Monday, 7 January 2019

New Mutants 86 - Acts of Vengeance

Given the protracted build-up for this issue it's fair to see expectations are higher than usual. And not only is this the series finally devoting a full issue to "Acts of Vengeance", but this is also a landmark for the creative team. It's the start of the run by Rob Liefeld.

New Mutants #86

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: Rob Liefeld
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colourist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Ah Rob Liefeld. It's astonishing to see that at the end of last issue he was actually billed strongly as about to start on the book. This is incredible for someone whose first published story had only appeared twenty months earlier and who had worked on a grand total of just a dozen issues before getting the gig. It's one thing to try a relatively new artist on a long-running book, it's another altogether to be heavily billing their arrival. Looking at this it seems clear that Liefeld peaked way too early and his style got stuck before it developed. Liefeld has his fans, as his sales over the years certainly demonstrate, but also his detractors, particularly given the way large charge of the comics industry started pursuing the style. I'm invariably biased as in the early 1990s I was largely reading titles that had avoided the trend and only first encountered Liefeld's work on a permanent(ish) basis with "Heroes Reborn", which wasn't the best circumstances.

Here the art shows a dynamism but also the odd awkward poses, extra-long legs and titillating shots that Liefeld would go on to be known for, though given the characters involved and Skids's established costume, the most overt are some of the angles of the Vulture's rear. It may be a theme of his story that he's showing there's life in the old man yet but there are some places better not gone. The multiple lines on faces actually works quite well for both the Vulture and Tinkerer, really emphasising that these are wrinkled old men. However the fight scenes are rather confused, with a limited sense of how the five characters are all positioned in relation to each other, and the explosive climax has captions describing what's happening over a two-panel spread that really fails to show the key moments of the sequence.

The plot is straightforward though we get a further dismissal of the wider crossover from Simonson with the Vulture receiving orders from an unseen stranger (but no doubt that particular mysterious stranger) to attack Speedball but decides this is beneath him, later bemoaning "Where's the villainy in that? Where's the prestige? Where's the vengeance?" and instead sets out to free Nitro, another old man being help sedated in a cannister to prevent him using his exploding powers. The Vulture aims to use those powers to show he's a force to be reckoned with. Meanwhile Rusty and Skids escape jail in the hope of capturing the Vulture and proving the value of mutants. However at the end Freedom Force show up, seemingly working for the government once more (another sign of the series's reluctance to integrate well with the wider crossover) to take them away. Later there's an attack on an energy research facility by a new terrorist group, the Mutant Liberation Front, and we also get our first glimpse of the mysterious Cable.

Given all the build-up to this issue and the high billing given to the series's new artist, expectations are flying higher than the Vulture. Unfortunately they're not met with a somewhat simplistic tale let down at key moments by the artwork. However it's good to see some villains rejecting the stock structure and heroes the overall scheme has assigned them as well as to show a villain at times written off as a feeble joke (and subject to more attempts at replacement than just about any without "goblin" in the name) striving to restore his reputation.

New Mutants #86 has been reprinted in:

Friday, 4 January 2019

New Mutants 85 - Acts of Vengeance

"Acts of Vengeance" continues to be an unwanted nuisance in this issue, which otherwise concludes the Asgard war storyline, but there is at least some awareness that there will be more less familiar than usual readers with captions on the first three pages quickly summarising what's going on and introducing all the key players in a two-page battle spread.

New Mutants #85

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: Geoff Isherwood
Inker: Bret Blevins
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colourist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Back on Earth the plot continues at snail's pace as the Vulture throws off Rusty Collins and flies away to release Nitro the exploding man. Rusty in turn frees Skids. It's a quick scene but spreading it over multiple issues just makes it stand out how much this has been forced upon the wider story and Louise Simonson is doing the bare minimum. It's also unfortunate that there's another fill-in artist this time, Geoff Isherwood, and he draws the Vulture in his conventional flight suit rather than the prison uniform and modified wings seen last issue. This is building up for the next issue, but being such an afterthought in the series is continuing to be annoying given the way it's drawn people in.

The conclusion to the story in Asgard is mostly an action piece as just about everyone battles against Hela's army of giants, trolls, dwarves, dark elves and dark Valkyries, including Moonstar possessed by a cursed sword. Whilst everyone else is fighting Moonstar seeks to assassinate Odin and the New Mutants have to stop her, trying both words and physical force. There's a poignancy as Wolfsbane confronts her, trying to appeal to her true self but getting nowhere and it takes Eitri, a dwarf-lord, to expose the vulnerability of the sword, leaving Cannonball facing how to put an end to it all.

This issue is a step up from the previous one as it actually makes some attempt to explain the situation in Asgard and as the concluding part of a storyline there's a real sense of closure to it. But it's still first and foremost an issue of its own series resenting the imposition of a crossover and only giving away a few pages to slowly advance a subplot. It would probably have been better all-round if neither this nor the last issue had carried the "Acts of Vengeance" banner and so not exposed them as one of the weakest contributions to the whole arc.

New Mutants #85 has been reprinted in:

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

New Mutants 84 - Acts of Vengeance

In one way or another, every single one of the four mutant titles has a somewhat awkward relationship with the "Acts of Vengeance" crossover. None has a conventional style story in which the heroes are targeted by foes they haven't fought before. Sometimes the story could just as easily have been told without the wider event. And in most cases the titles were telling multi-part stories that had moved the heroes away from their normal spheres, with the event becoming an irritating intrusion.

New Mutants #84

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: Terry Shoemaker
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Ken Bruzenak
Colourist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Thus this is really the penultimate chapter of one of the series's own storylines, with "Acts of Vengeance" now announced via a banner on the cover but confined to two pages set on Earth; the intention presumably being that the two stories can be separated for reprints if necessary. The "Acts of Vengeance" sequence is extremely straightforward, continuing events in the prison that Rusty Collins has been sent to for reasons not given here. Another inmate is the Vulture, taunted for being past it and having been ignored by the organisers of all the attacks on the superheroes. But then he discovers a new set of wings with modifications made to his designs and determines to prove everyone wrong by breaking out with a supplied explosive then reasserting his name. Rusty tries to stop him but gets carried out as the Vulture flies off. It's a straightforward sequence setting things up for a later issue but feels like it was shovelled in to meet an editorial dictat to maximise the additional sales that would come from the crossover. It also implies that the organised nature of the attacks is either rather more obvious than other series imply, or recruiters have visited the jail (which seems more likely, given the presence of the wings).

As for the rest of the issue... Oh dear. To cut to the chase this is the penultimate part of a storyline set in Asgard which Hela, the Norse goddess of death, is about to attack. This issue is focused on getting the New Mutants, the Warriors Three and various other characters plus allies altogether to help the defence. As a result it's a fast-paced piece that moves a lot of people around. In the process it completely fails to explain just what the New Mutants are doing in Asgard or who the various groups are. It seems the story was written before it was realised that the crossover was coming and nobody tried to modify it.

This is a strong contender to be the single worst issue of all the books with "Acts of Vengeance" on the cover as it makes next to no concession for readers brought in by the crossover and doesn't even try to at least wield the theme of fighting other heroes' foes into the existing narrative. As we'll see elsewhere, Louise Simonson was one of several writers who openly expressed their dislike of the crossover, but most still did what they could to accommodate it and the new audience. This issue would have been better off not putting the banner on the corner of the cover and not bringing in extra readers just to confuse them.

New Mutants #84 has been reprinted in:

Monday, 31 December 2018

Avengers West Coast 54 - Acts of Vengeance

It had to happen. With John Byrne both writing and drawing the series and with the original Human Torch having returned, it was inevitable that there would be a cover homage to Fantastic Four #1. And this in turn drives the villains with the Mole Man appearing, accompanied by monsters such as Giganto (seen of the cover), Tricephalous and other beasts underground.

Avengers West Coast #54

Written and pencilled: John Byrne
Inked by: Paul Ryan
Coloured by: Bob Sharen
Lettered: Bill Oakley
Edited by: Howard Mackie
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Of course this brings up the slight problem that the Mole Man has actually fought the Avengers at least twice in the past, with first Iron Man and then the Scarlet Witch on the team. One could rationalise it that the alliance of super-villains regard the west coast Avengers as a separate team from the Avengers (for some members that would be a more hurtful blow than anything else), or that as the Scarlet Witch is comatose and Iron Man is publicly a replacement for the original then it's still an original encounter. It's notable that neither of these heroes actually get to meet the Mole Man himself. And the cover scene doesn't appear in the issue, but then again neither did that of Fantastic Four #1.

The story is based around an attack on Los Angeles by the Mole Man's creatures, with the west coast Avengers quickly scattered into several groups. Thus Iron Man sets out to remove Giganto to a safe distance, determined not to harm the creature despite the urgings of US Agent. Wonder Man and the original Human Torch investigate underground to meet with the Mole Man. And the Wasp and Hank Pym seek to protect the comatose Scarlet Witch whilst their qunijet is attacked by Tricephalous. Meanwhile Magneto observes events, unaware that he in turn is being monitored by the mysterious stranger. There's a slight twist on the regular approach of the crossover in that rather than approaching the Mole Man and offering him a trade of enemies, the leading super villains (or perhaps one amongst them) have instead provoked an attack by staging an assault on the Mole Man's Monster Island pretending to be the west coast Avengers, thus pushing him into reprisals.

This is a relatively straightforward chapter of the crossover that manages a good bit of variety to the structure of foes whilst staying true to the core concept. However this the fourth of the six issues of the two main Avengers titles and only the final page seems to advance the main storyline as the two Avengers teams compare notes and deduce that everything else is a distraction but they're under direct attack. This doesn't feel like the major step forward that the crossover needs at this stage.

Avengers West Coast #54 has been reprinted in:

Friday, 28 December 2018

Alpha Flight 80 - Acts of Vengeance

Again written by James Hudnall and drawn by John Calimee, this issue is a combination of one big battle between three different factions and a massive infodump about Llan the Sorcerer and how he's been manipulating a lot of recent events in order to produce the necessary violence to generate a spell to open the "Eye of the World", also known as the "Gateway of Night", in order to access dark power.

Alpha Flight #80

Writer: James D. Hudnall
Penciler: John Calimee
Inker: Mike Manley
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colourist: Bob Sharen
Managing Editor: Marc McLaurin
Editor: Danny Fingeroth
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

The first problem is that the magic used in the story is not made terribly clear in all circumstances. So whilst it's explained that the participants in the fight were all manipulated in order to produce the violence, it's not clear why this has to be done in Winnipeg, a city barely a hundred kilometres from the Canadian-US border and nowhere near the Eye's location way up in the north. If it's because somehow the violence has to be generated on Canadian soil, as the previous issue and Talisman's insistence that the villains be thrown out of the country implies, then it becomes especially silly as the idea ancient magics are tied to modern political entities within artificial boundaries (and it's hard to think of a bigger artificial boundary than the Canadian-US border) is just risible.

Quite a chunk of the story is taken up with the origin of Llan, but it feels a waste as he doesn't directly interact with the fight in Winnipeg. Instead this feels like preparation for future issues of the series which is great for regular readers but there's been nothing in these two issues to encourage people picking them up because of the crossover to hang around. The connection to events elsewhere is tangential to say the least and the choice of villains shows another sign of poor communication as the Owl has been used elsewhere in Fantastic Four and there's no explanation given for him being here as well. The battle itself is intense yet feels strangely inconsequential, with Talisman continuing to manipulate the other members of Alpha Flight to bring a conclusion.

Overall these issues feel very much like they were written parts of a regular ongoing saga then suddenly realised they had to take part in the crossover and so hastily pulled in a few villains from other series with a contrived explanation. The result is another extremely disappointing chapter that just doesn't feel a real part of "Acts of Vengeance" but rather a terrible advert for the current series.

Alpha Flight #80 has been reprinted in:

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Alpha Flight 79 - Acts of Vengeance

We come now to the first issue of "Acts of Vengeance" featuring Canada's superhero team, Alpha Flight. Or maybe not quite, as this issue comes during a period when the team has been ordered to disband by the Canadian government and replaced by Gamma Flight. However the Alphas are still operating independently out of a new headquarters in Edmonton.

Alpha Flight #79

Writer: James D. Hudnall
Penciler: John Calimee
Inker: Mike Manley
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colourist: Bob Sharen
Managing Editor: Marc McLaurin
Editors: Carl Potts and Danny Fingeroth
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

The problem is that this issue, written by James Hudnall and drawn by John Calimee, isn't very good at explaining the current status quo, with most of the key details coming on the penultimate page. And more generally there's not a great deal to introduce the team and explain who the current members are. Alpha Flight does not interact that much with the rest of the Marvel Universe due to their location and so prior knowledge cannot be assumed. Especially as this story implicitly suggests they have been forgotten by the alliance of supervillains since they aren't specifically targeted. Rather the main focus of this issue is about a load of nasty things coming into Canada from the United States, whether villains fleeing the Super-Powers Registration Act or pollution that's destroying the fish and wheat.

Unfortunately these elements seem awfully contrived. The pollution scenes feel especially tacked on - one is the opening page of the story, featuring characters not seen elsewhere, the other is in a field as Vindicator flies over. Both scenes just push the point of greater pollution being created by Canada's neighbour to the south, in an era when there was a sudden explosion in concern about the environment, but it feels overtly preachy. The villains coming as well isn't convincing either. As seen elsewhere, the Act is only draft legislation before the US Congress and most of the villains are high on wanted lists anyway. The story may be trying to evoke the Vietnam War draft dodgers who fled by moving to Canada but again feels odd. And the reaction from Talisman may be focused on the potential for the villains to become agents of some foe called the Sorcerer (another ongoing plot point that isn't explained for crossover readers) but the response is simply "we have to deport them" in an issue called "Outsiders". This attempt at Canadian eco-nationalist propaganda, written by someone from California, feels very awkward and stilted.

The villains in question are Nekra, the Scorpion, the Owl and the Asp, though the last two are only shown arriving on the final page. All are converging on Winnipeg and so Alpha Flight's Talisman starts transporting individual team members to pick the villains off one by one before they can unite. The fights soon attract the attention of Gamma Flight.

This is one of the weakest issues in the whole "Acts of Vengeance" crossover. There's no real attempt to introduce the current situation for readers brought in for the event (most of whom probably won't have stayed around), some terrible attempts at analogies, excessive preachy points in scenes that serve no other purpose and a rather random use of the cast. The result is a rather tedious slog.

Alpha Flight #79 has been reprinted in:
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