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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 317: Alpha Flight #16

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Alpha Flight #16, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated November 1984. Enjoy!

Kirby would be proud

John Byrne dug him some splash pages, and he begins the sixteenth issue of Alpha Flight with a fairly goofy one, but that’s just the way it is. The title of the story is “… And Forsaking All Others …”, which is kind of odd, as nothing in the story has anything to do with a wedding. I mean, I guess Namor is sweet on Marrina, but it’s not like he hooks up with her in this issue or anything. Strange.

Anyway, Byrne explains what’s going on – we’re in Lake Ontario, that “fish” is a submarine, yadda yadda yadda. As we’ve seen elsewhere in this year, Byrne could phone in his splash pages, but this is a fairly detailed drawing. It’s just not very exciting. The submarine is moving the “right” way, from the left to the right, and its overabundance of lines, showing the welds (presumably), evoke Kirby, which I imagine was Byrne’s point. The “mouth” is hilarious, frankly – the Master of the World (yes, that’s the Master of the World in silhouette, and I guess he has no self-esteem problems) is standing in the “teeth,” and it honestly looks like the fish has something stuck in its teeth. Byrne draws the “mouth” downturned, so the “fish” even looks grumpy that this megalomaniac is standing in its “mouth.” Or at least that’s how it looks to me. The bubbles on the right side of the page form a natural panel border and help keep us from turning the page too fast. There are credits to read, man!

I’m really not sure why Andy Yanchus colors the background magenta. I guess, since we’re at the bottom of the lake, it’s supposed to be murky, but Yanchus didn’t want to obscure too much, so the purple is a compromise. As we’ve seen, colorists over the years use the “wrong” color to highlight certain things or set moods, and I imagine Yanchus simply wanted Byrne’s submarine to stand out. The shadows on the sub wouldn’t stand out too much if the background was darker, but the purple helps evoke a deep, dark place. I guess.

Byrne digs those splash pages, doesn’t he? At least he gives us some information along with the fancy drawing!

Next: If Greg Hatcher doesn’t own this already, he better get on it! Find more comics Other Greg probably owns in the archives!

10 Comments

I’m sure there are probably submarines in the Great Lakes, but damn is that an amusing image.

I imagine that Mr. Byrne STILL digs himself some splash pages, even!

I’m sorry, it’s that sillouette a man wearing a billowing cape or is it the head of a duck?

Toozin: Ha! Yeah, it’s definitely a dude wearing a cape. But it sure looks like a duck!

This a classic example of older American comic books having narrative panels that are totally redundant. All the page would’ve needed was the first panel, as the info on the second and third can be obtained from the art. That the vessel is shaped like “the natural form of the denizens of the water” is evident by looking at the picture itself, there’s no need for the text to emphasize that fact. That it’s a submarine becomes clear when you turn the page and see the Master of the World inside it, so the text actually spoils that (admittedly minor) surprise.

I’m not the biggest fan of later, decompressed superhero comics, but at least they got rid of this kind of pointless narration that was still the norm in the 80s.

The title of the story is “… And Forsaking All Others …”, which is kind of odd, as nothing in the story has anything to do with a wedding. I mean, I guess Namor is sweet on Marrina, but it’s not like he hooks up with her in this issue or anything. Strange.

Continue the quote in the title….. “till death us do part”

No he effectively thinks she’s dead in this issue ending their relationship for some 2 1/2 years till he discovers that not the case

Tuomas: Definitely. That was the trend back in those days, and I’m glad we’ve moved away from it a bit. Like you, I’m not the biggest fan of decompression, but that’s a good thing about modern comics – writers seem to trust their artists a bit more.

Philip: Ah, good point. I hadn’t thought of that.

I have a complete accumulation (I’d hesitate to call it a collection) of AF. It was the first comic that I actively searched for on a monthly basis. Byrne had some amazing splash pages and covers. Sadly, this wasn’t one of them.

“Canada’s Most Amazing Heroes”

Not like there’s much competition….

Bite your tongue, Travis! Have you forgotten Mister Canoehead? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnhCghc4wHU

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