Who's in this issue?
The more I re-read this book, the more it makes me realize just how many unresolved issues are left hanging from this issue. And, this book also makes me feel that somewhere down the line, Alpha Flight will reappear in their own regular series again. This latest 3-issue story arc is one where Alpha Flight fans must get if they feel deprived from the recent cancellation of the Alpha Flight regular series. Not only did this story arc help to rebuild the original Alpha Flight team, but also, it would be a landmark issue for Alpha Flight fans in the death of the synthoid Guardian (or Vindicator, as he was being referred to in this issue). Furthermore, the A.I.M. organization, we find out, is still alive and well, which leads me to believe that when Alpha Flight reappears in their own series, A.I.M. will (or at least they should) become a major villian organization for Alpha Flight to face. This issue with what A.I.M.'s research had created is just too big of an issue to brush away, especially for Alpha Flight, and it is my hope that whomever gets to be in charge of writing a new Alpha Flight series, whenever the time comes for it, should remember to resolve this issue.
What really ticks me off, however, is the inconsistancy of how the two codenames "Guardian" and "Vindicator" have been tossed around throughout the years that both Wolverine and Alpha Flight were being printed. When I was first introduced to Alpha Flight, James Hudson was known as Guardian, and Heather Hudson was known as Vindicator. Then, when James Hudson disappeared, Heather Hudson assumed the role of Guardian. When James Hudson reappeared, he took back the codename Guardian and Heather took Vindicator. This was what was used throughout the recently cancelled Alpha Flight series. And now, in this particular book, they've referred to James Hudson both as Guardian and Vindicator at the same time. What's the big deal? As if I wasn't confused enough, they start using Vindicator for both James Hudson and his synthoid in this issue, when the synthoid had been using the name Guardian earlier in this series and throughout the recently cancelled Alpha Flight series. Sorry, but the creators at Marvel NEED to start sticking with some consistancy by giving James Hudson one codename and sticking with it, as with Heather Hudson and the synthoid James Hudson.
With the reappearance of Snowbird, this brings up another annoying part of comic books in general: the reappearance of dead characters who regain life through strange explanations. How many times have we seen a character that was already "pushing up the daisies ... deader than a deadbolt" suddenly reappear? In my opinion, a character who's dead should stay dead, and not brought back. It just makes the whole concept of "death" in comic books a big joke; that is, merely an extended vacation for those characters. I will bet anything that somewhere down the line, when Alpha Flight reappears in their own series, that the synthoid James Hudson who dies in this issue will suddenly reappear without any good explanation. Why? Because after all, death = extended vacation, and not dead-dead.
Okay, now that I've finished my rant, here's my impression of the book: overall, a fairly strong ending to this story arc. There are some great pinups (and since when did Mr. Yu get so daring (and good) in drawing near-nude female bodies in Wolverine? :-) ) artwork in this issue where the artistic crew of Yu, Vines, and Javins really show their stuff. This story arc was a good story arc, which I would think more Alpha Flight fans would have been paying more attention to than Wolverine fans (for obvious reason: with issue #145 around the corner, it really is hard to pay closer attention to these last few issues).
Rating (from 1 dot (not recommended) to 5 dot (highly recommended)
IN THIS ISSUE:
With the rest of Alpha Flight captured, Wolverine was able to free both James Hudson (aka Guardian) and his synthoid double (who I will refer to as Vindicator, as he was called Vindicator throughout this book). The three escape through a makeshift hole (created by Logan) into an unattended lab, where they discover, to their disbelief, a thought-to-be-dead former Alpha Flight member, Snowbird. James Hudson mentions how Snowbird's death was one of Alpha Flight's greatest tragedies, and it was during the time when he was gone and his wife, Heater Hudson (aka Vindicator, but I will refer to her as just Heather Hudson due to the use of Vindicator for the synthoid) was leading Alpha Flight. He tries to gain access to files on Snowbird from a nearby computer, until Weapon X shows up to stop them. Wolverine tells James to free Snowbird while he would handle Weapon X. Wolverine and Weapon X begins to duel it out while James and Vindicator frees Snowbird. After throwing a few good punches and insults at each other, Weapon X is thrown through the tank which enclosed Snowbird. Weapon X gets up to resume his fight with Logan, but Vindicator disables Weapon X from behind with an electromagnetic charge. With Snowbird in their hands, Wolverine, Guardian, and Vindicator heads off to find the rest of Alpha Flight.
Meanwhile, in another room where the Alpha Flight squad is being held captive, Heather overhears two A.I.M. soldiers talking about Shaman and his supernatural powers, and Heather wonders why A.I.M. was so interested in it, especially when in the past, their only interest was in manufacturing weapons. Modok appears, replying to Heather's thoughts (showing his power to read mind), and introduces himself to her. Heather thinks that Alpha Flight could escape from his grasp since Wolverine, to her knowledge, was still free. Modok thought Wolverine was indisposed at the moment battling Weapon X, but before he realizes it, Wolverine appears behind him with a few A.I.M. soldiers knocked out cold. As Modok is busy yelling at his men to kill Wolverine, Alpha Flight was able to break free when Sasquatch reverted to his human form. From beneath the floor, a giant robot appears, with Vindicator at the helms controlling it, to help battle Modok and the A.I.M. soldiers. With the situation getting out of hand, Modok hits the robot with some kind of blast, which disables the robot, causing it to fall and explode upon impact. Modok and a few A.I.M. soldiers were able to scurry away. James, realizing that Vindicator was still in the suit, wanted to resuce him, but due to the enormous fire caused by the robot when it was damaged, prevented anyone from getting close to it, and before long, the entire robot exploded, presumably, killing Vindicator. The rest of Alpha Flight and Wolverine were able to escape, though obviously, more sad after the sacrifice that Vindicator had to make to save them.
Titled "Loose Ends", this epilogue follows the preceding story a few days afterwards. Wolverine was about to leave back for the U.S., while Guardian and Sasquatch were busy trying to determine why Snowbird was still alive, though unconscious, through lab tests. Sasquatch (in human form) theorizes that she was still alive due to her genetic heritage: possessing the ability of an advanced form of cellular rejuvenation. He believes that when her body had begun to decay, her mutant regeneration ability kicked in to regenerate the body. James suddenly remembers why he and the synthoid of himself were captured, and how A.I.M. were trying to extract information from their minds to create other beings like Snowbird and to exploit these beings for their supernatural powers. The upside of rediscovering Snowbird was that Alpha Flight was whole again, but the downside was that the new A.I.M. might now have the information and ability to create beings just like Snowbird and use these beings' powers to their benefit (as shown by a cutaway scene where a heli-transporter lands with A.I.M. soldiers carting out two developing synthoids within containment units).