Monday, 21 April 2014

ALF #26: "If At First You Don't Succeed..."

(Irreconcilable differences.)


Last issue was Guardian's tearful reunion with those who thought him dead. This time around he's thrown himself back into the action, leading the whole team (minus Heather and Northstar) into combat once again. There's no time for convalescence when villainous blue/gold robots are on the loose. They can fly! They can shoot constricting electro-ropes! They can even pull this shit:

which makes me somewhat nostalgic for my childhood.

I only had the arms, though, because my  parents hated me.
Despite this last-minute bid for gold, these two-colour robots remain distinctly unimpressive, but as with Caliber last issue, there's no doubt that this is the point. Whatever else I think of Byrne, I'll say this for him: surrounded by titles which insist on passing off even the most ridiculous ideas as terrifying threats to our heroes, Byrne does pretty well slapping together obvious losers for Alpha Flight to slap around in between the emotional beats. Having Guardian take down two robotic suits/full on robots in as many issues is also a nice moment of foreshadowing for the episode's twist end, so points awarded there.

Speaking of emotional beats, though, the five robots might be dispatched with contemptuous ease, but Guardian's gung-ho approach ends up with Aurora badly hurt and in need of medical attention. To the observer it might seem he is rather too unconcerned about his team-mate, but there's little time to discuss the matter; Heather has just called in for back-up.  Shaman takes Aurora and a very worried Box somewhere they can patch the former up, and Guardian takes Talisman and Puck to back up his wife.

The new battleground proves to be the cavernous interiors of Edmonton Mall (cue Robin Sparkles flashbacks), and the new enemy rather an old one: Omega Flight. Or some of them, at least, Diamond Lil, Flashback, and Wildchild. In theory, our heroes outnumber their foes - Flashback's constant self-multiplication notwithstanding - but somehow Puck, Talisman and Northstar are all quickly defeated by a mysterious assailant working alongside Omega Flight. And each time they strike, they reveal more of their costume. Knowing how this ends, it's hard to tell how many views are needed to figure out it's Guardian, but I don't see how it can be more than two. But I do like the fact that it becomes more obvious visually as it becomes more obvious logically; it's a nice touch.

But what is now clear to everyone else is not yet so to poor old Heather, who has to follow up the indignity of being abandoned in the mall by Northstar with having her newly-returned husband reveal himself to be a robot in a skin suit.  And not just any robot; the same robot who was posing as Delphine Courtney during the last tussle with Omega Flight which got Mac killed in the first place.

The problem with all this is how stupid it makes Heather look. Alright, "Mac" kind of covered himself with the line about being partially robotic following his rebuilding by the space jellyfish, but even so, if you can't tell the difference between a robot with "syntho-skin" covering and your own husband when he kisses you, you have to wonder whether you're qualified to be allowed out of the house unescorted.  I mean, dear God, Chekov was able to suss those early Terminators out in Salvation, and he was like seven years old at the time.

Leave that aside, though, and I rather like this twist.  I mentioned last issue that knowing this was coming renders ALF #25 somewhat lightweight, but I think the reverse holds; without knowing what's coming I think ALF #25 makes what happens here all the more surprising.  By offering an immediate solution to the question of why James Hudson lives - one that I suppose we could even call "plausible" by the standards of superhero resurrections - the story plays into the standard model only to sweep it away an issue later.

Of course, all of that relies on you not having paid any damn attention to the cover art, which Byrne drew himself. Still, maybe it only looks like its giving the game away because I already know which game is being played.

Anyways, definitely an issue in the very top tier of a generally disappointing/aggravating title.


This story takes place over the course of a single day.

It's hard to tell how long has passed between this issue and the last one.  You'd think it couldn't be too long, what with Heather not yet having figured out her husband is now a cut-price terminator.  That said, though, maybe not-Mac has been keeping himself away from her as he set up those training sessions with the Canadian military. Plus, as mentioned, if she can't recognise a robot in rubber skin when it was Frenching her, the woman is clearly useless.

So let's stick this a month after last issue, as we continue trying to make up the time necessary for this title to intersect with "Secret Wars II".


Sunday 24th June 1984.



Contemporary Events

Khloe Kardashian is born into a world desperate for the kind of leadership only she can provide.

Standout Line

"You look like reasonable robots."

Puck refuses to consider the fact that flattery is illogical.

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