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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comic Book Moments – Day 235

Here is the latest cool comic book moment in our year-long look at one cool comic book moment a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we look at a classic bit from John Byrne’s Alpha Flight run (so classic that it’s getting a panel on the Iconic Panel list)…

Brutal and surprising – very cool moment.


Boy, he sure drew that one out as long as he could.

Tom Fitzpatrick

August 24, 2009 at 4:37 pm

Didn’t they have a nickname for Mr. Byrne who had a reputation for killing off his characters back in the ’80’s?

Bwahahahah! I mean… yeah.

At least he killed his own characters, not like Geoff Johns and Brad Meltzer…

Yeah, Ricardo, good thing death in comics is permanent.

Re: The last panel.

Alright, alright. I’m convinced.

I so want to have outgrown Byrne’s 80s work, but even his later career can’t take away from how good he was at this time. I gave all my Alpha Flight issues away years ago, but I may have to go buy that Alpha Flight Classic trade now.

(And not to pick a fight with Bill Reed, but I will never understand his love for Mantlo, as my first sustained exposure to Mantlo’s work was his frankly awful Alpha run. See all those nice things Mac thinks about Roger Bochs? Forget it, because none of them apply to the whiny, morally disgusting character that Mantlo turns him into.)

All my love for Mantlo derives from his ROM Spaceknight run, and, to a lesser extent, the Incredible Hulk. I’ve barely read any Alpha Flight in my entire life.

This Byrne sequence here is pretty good– I love the countdown panels– but the panel where he explodes would be a punchline in a Garth Ennis comic, and I can’t help but find it darkly humorous.

this kind of reminds me of the sequence in Chuck Austen’s X-Men where one of Gambit’s cards explodes in his face and blinds him; I know this is not nearly as stupid, but it’s still a massive ” Uh Oh, Spahgetti-Os ” treatment for a gruesome fate.

Guardian is dead, but he got better eventually.

I never knew how Guardian ‘died’ so was curious how an issue of Alpha Flight made it onto the list – but this was a great moment! (Especially considering how little Byrne seems to think of his work on Alpha Flight). I think I will go looking for the trade.

Hey, speaking of Byrne, how about something from Batman/Captain America? Have we done that yet?

Byrne’s work really faltered in the 90s IMO, but Bat/Cap was like…I dunno…an 80s Byrne had been thawed from suspended animation.

When you said a classic Byrne Alpha Flight that was getting a panel in the iconic list, I thought for sure it would be Snowbird fighting in the blizzard. I guess it’s too late now for that one to make the list. Too bad. I really thought that issue was genius. (But only if done once, of course.)

The sooner Alpha Flight classic v2 comes out the better !

One of THE great and unexpected death scenes in comics. I loved the original Guardian and was really sad to see him go like this.

Used to be, the more thought ballons the character got, the least chances of his/her getting killed off. Byrne clearly turned that angle on its ear here. And despite Hudson’s various comebacks (and subsequent demises) there is NO WAY that he could have been teleported anywhere during the scene as we are later told. The guy literally burned down to the freakin’ ground in a pile of ashes. Guardian was “Uncle Ben” dead here for sure. At least old Jerry Jaxon’s brain remained fried last time I checked. He was one sick SOB. I hated how Bochs turned bad after this, though. It made no sense whatsoever and only took away from Hudson’s sacrifice and this whole storyline.

Ironically, he is still six feet under…again. But none of the later deaths can ever hold a candle to this one, especially Bendis’ with his God-awful “hip talking” Shaman. In a perfect world, Guardian would have bought it here for good and Heather would be proudly carrying on the mantle.

The countdown and the thought process really works. You think he has a chance of surviving until Heather distracts him.
I would have to say that is one of the better death scenes. period. Byrne did a good job with AF. I don’t think anyone else really understood the characters that well.

Alpha flight comics are usually pretty awful. But this was pretty damn good.

Stephane Savoie

August 25, 2009 at 6:24 am

I really love this sequence.
I really don’t see any humour here – dark or otherwise – though. Mac is working under a brutal time constraint, and is distracted by the woman he loves. He uses his last moment to warn her away, so she won’t be killed as well (or perhaps have to see his own death). It’s beautifully shocking and poignant at the same time.

Bill: Ah, I see. The only ROM I read was a random issue in Steve Ditko’s run, which I enjoyed mainly on the level of “Wow, what the hell is Ditko doing on ROM?”

In the interest of comity though, may I recommend Mantlo’s best issue of Alpha? It’s his last, #66. I don’t mean that in a snarky way; he went out with a wonderful meta-textual issue, which just barely predates Morrison’s work on Animal Man. If you can find it cheap, you should really pick it up. It’s worlds away from his other work on the series and gives me an indication of what he was capable of when he was on his game.

Byrne’s Alpha Flight may not have been the most innovative piece of work, but it wasn’t as bad as people think. It was consistently entertaining, which isn’t the worst thing you can get from a title. But I agree, I’d have gone with the Snowbird scene someone mentioned earlier.

As I recall, Steven T. Seagle’s “Alpha Flight” relaunch paid homage to this countdown in its 12th issue as well. I can’t remember who–if anyone–bit the dust in that issue. I just remember the countdown…

Sorry, reading this at the time, it was one of the most ridiculous things I’d seen in comics – it reminded me of an “I Love Lucy” episode gone terribly wrong…

“Don’t come in , Lucy, I’ve almost got my suit deactivated!”
“But, Ricky…”
“Oh, Ricky…!”

One of the most shocking deaths in comics, and finely told. I always loved this scene, artwise, narratively, and in characterization. And guess what, the issue after is haunting and brilliant, and frankly as much unhappiness as Byrne claims to have for this series, I adore it and revisit it quite a bit- its a realistic look at a ‘super-team’ with flaws, foibles and consequences that I believe outshines ‘Next Men’ which became completely unhinged.

Another cool moment from this series? Mr. Jeffries casually strolling in and pissing in Omega Flight’s milkshakes over what they did to James Hudson- a man he respected- didn’t wear a costume, didn’t have much to say, just walked over to Omega Flight and kicked their teeth in.

Later on in the series (post-Byrne) Hudson’s name would get dragged through the mud with all the covert shit he was supposed to have done (much like they do once a year with Professor X), and Jeffries vengeance on Omega was one of those scenes, where like Jimmy’s faith in Roger Bochs, you could see the impact a character had on another, beautifully illustrated.

But this moment remains one of my favorites, not only in Alpha’s history, but in comics. I don’t know about ‘iconic’, but its a personal highlight.

Worth pointing out as well, Guardian was dead whether or not Heather walked in- he’s at the one-count commenting that there’s still work to be done- Heather’s interruption had nothing to do with it, but the guilt she carried over what she saw as distracting him left some nice emotional ramifications for future issues.

…And he should have NEVER been brought back- Byrne was very deliberate in having him burn to death in front of Heather, and even tried to cut future writers off at the knees from bringing him back by ‘bringing Guardian back’ himself in a very clever plot shortly before the end of his run, which a later, horribly lazy writer decided to cannibalize to ressurect James. Shameful and Shameless.

A great moment. Any chance on the lazy artist’s fight scene making the list?

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