Wednesday, 24 October 2012
ALF #4: "Resolutions!"
It's crossover time! I figured the arrival of Sue Storm and Namor at the end of last issue was some kind of fake-out, but no, it's them, trying to figure out what drove a barbarian horde south in Fantastic Four #260 (or so we're told). Namor's preternatural senses lead them to a massive structure buried under the Arctic ice, but their only reward is to be shot out of the sky in exactly the same manner as Alpha Flight was between issues 2 and 3. Outside the complex, Snowbird hears the resulting explosion, but decides to follow her team-mates inside rather than investigate.
Under the surface, Guardian and Sasquatch have their own problem: Jeanne-Marie. Sasquatch is appropriately angry that James was prepared to sign up someone with multiple personalities to be part of a superhero squad, and Hudson's defence that he met Northstar's sister as Aurora first doesn't really get him anywhere, as indeed it shouldn't. Fortunately, Jeanne-Marie recovers in time to interrupt the brewing argument with her outrageously stereotypical Frenchiness. "Do not call me zat name!", etc. This sounds like something that could get old fast - even given the likelihood of Byrne using the woman's speech patterns as a way of demonstrating which personality is dominant - but the angry Quebecois quickly runs away, which is probably for the best. Guardian wants to go after her, but Sasquatch argues that he's the best man for the job, because he totally fucked her once, or something.
And what do you know, it works. All that it takes to reach the lady with MPD is to be reminded of the time a nice guy did her in New York. This really isn't one for the sisterhood, right here, even if the memory of doing the nasty with a clump of orange shag-pile doesn't so much placate Jean-Marie as cause her to punch Walter in the face.
While all this is going on, Guardian has found Northstar, and convinced him to leave his sister with Sasquatch so they can find out what's going on in the heart of the complex. Bryne then winds the clock back a few minutes, partially to show Sue Storm and Namor extricating themselves from the crashed Fantasti-Car and entering the ship, but mainly to allow "the Master" another opportunity to fire exposition at poor old Marinna, who at this point might be happy to have the pain dials on the machine torturing her cranked up all the way to 11 if it would shut this guy up.
Long story short: Marrina is the scion of a race that attempted to seize control of every primitive world in the galaxy. The plan was to land a ship in inhospitable terrain, use hypnosis to draw life towards it, and seize whatever poor mook with enough wherewithal to arrive so it could be dissected and studied as the presumed dominant species. The results could then be used to massage the DNA contained within the egg-sacs carried by the colony vessel, which would then be spread across the world. This would have been Earth's fate, had not the ship crashed rather than landed, causing premature ejaculation. Apparently only Marrina survived, partially conditioned and abandoned underwater; hence her current amphibious state.
I'm not sure how this fits in with the idea of her "brood-mate", suggested all of one issue earlier, but then Byrne clearly has no interest whatsoever in ensuring the two books match up; there's no continuity at all between last issue's arrival of Sue and Namor and this one. That always annoys me in comics, but it's particularly galling here because I don't see any reason for the change being necessary. It's just pointlessly sloppy.
In any case, the Master realises he's out of his depth here, and throws a few giant mechanical arms at his opponents as a distraction whilst he flees the scene. Apparently letting the heroes think they "control their own destiny" is critical to his plans. Also of seeming importance: letting Guardian and Northstar beat the crap out of the ship's vital systems, which they prove only to happy to do. As explosions rock the complex and entire sectors go dark, Snowbird arrives and frees Marrina, and all eight heroes assemble to decide on their next move.
Finding the Master or fleeing from the rapidly collapsing complex seem the only options. Guardian is for the latter choice, there's not much point looking for the Master if whilst they're doing it the entire complex explodes.
Then the entire complex explodes.
Actually, it's more like it dissolves, and along with it any trace of the Master. Sue uses a forcefield to keep everyone alive through the collapse, but it's still not clear whether the team can chalk this up as a win.
At least Marrina was saved, of course, although she decides to follow Namor home to Atlantis rather than stay with the team, reasoning the underwater kingdom is a more logical place to explore exactly who and what she is. This leads to a rather nice little scene where James Hudson has to explain to Marrina's sort-of brother that she won't be coming back. It's difficult for me to feel much regarding her departure, since as a long-time reader my only response to Marinna in the first place was "Why haven't I heard her name before?", but there's still something affecting in watching James struggle to explain what's happened.
According to the opening narration, it's still summer, but we've already dismissed this as impossible back during ALF #1. This story takes place over the course of a few hours.
Wednesday 10th of December, 1982.
That stuff what happened last time.
"Hold, "Master". Namor of Atlantis forbids this action!"
That's just begging to get the internet treatment.