Monday, December 29, 2008

Heather Hudson

Heather McNeil Hudson is one of the best female superheroes ever created. Newer readers will not even realize the character exist or think of her as anything special. For me it is very different. I began on a diet of Heather as the almost leader of ALPHA FLIGHT to full fledged commander during an alien invasion of Canada. She has always been one of the plain looking women for most of her character runs. Early own she was downright upstaged in the looks department by Aurora, Snowbird, and Elizabeth Twoyoungman. So just who is Heather Hudson?

We first see her as the supportive wife of Canada's version of Captain America, Guardian, James "Mac" McDonald Hudson. When an alert is given for trouble way up North in the Canadian wilds, it is Heather that uses
Mac's computer and discs to summon him aid in the form of the disbanded Alpha Flight. So in a way she is the person that brought the original members together to handle threats against her nation. It was a good thing she did all that as Guardian faced one of the Great Beasts, Tundra.

As the
back up stories told us about each member and their origins we learn that Mac was working for a company that was going to weaponize his work. He bumps into the Secretary Heather McNeil and learns she quit her job because of what they did to him. Later after he steals and disables his work it is Heather who takes him to a family friend that arranges for Hudson to become a government agent under the Canadian flag and thus created the way for Department H and Alpha Flight.

From there Heather ends up married to Hudson and the two discover Wolverine on their Honeymoon. It is Heather left alone with the wounded and primal Logan that soothes and tames the savage mutant. Yes, she was the first red head to capture his heart.
So Jean Grey, sorry, but the mousy girl was there first. Later we would learn that knowing he could never really love Heather lead him to make his decision to leave and join the X-Men.

Den mother was the next role as she made sure people were fed and taken care of when they met
in the small Hudson Apartment. Soon though the man ruined by Hudson leaving the company that he worked for wanted revenge. It lead Heather and Mac into a trap in New York that was a battle to test the Guardian battle suit to its limits. Damaged, the suit was overheating and Mac was trying to disconnect all the power leads when Heather walked in on him. Whether out of time, distracted by Heather, or pulling so stunt to ensure her safety, James Hudson exploded in so much burnt ash, presumed Dead.

It wasn't long before the widow of James Hudson found herself named leader of Alpha Flight. Like Northstar liked to suggest, it was probably meant to be symbolic in nature. The thing is that Heather never got that memo and too k the task seriously. She lead admirably, but soon
realized a mere human woman among the likes of goddesses and mutants facing threats similar and tougher was in danger and would lose the respect of her team. Thanks to Madison Jefferies and Roger Boches, the Guardian suit was rebuilt and Heather took the name James had once used early on, Vindicator. She sought out Wolverine to train her and really did a great deal of on the job learning. Once she had the power, Heather Hudson grew into the role and surpassed her husband in every way. This woman lead and held together one of the quirkiest and strangest assemblies of heroes ever conceived. She often realized Alpha spent as much time fighting each other as they did menaces.

What really has always struck me is that for the majority of the book no artist ever felt the need to tramp her up. She had those gigantic glasses and really was kinda frumpy dressing the few times she was out of the battle suit. It actually makes her more attractive I think. There was a great deal of focus on the will and spirit of the woman and the leader as on her curves. Yet, she had some very real weaknesses. Having her dead husband constantly return from the dead and die. Holding a team together through betrayals and government manipulations. Falling for and becoming engaged to Madison Jefferies only to have him go back to Diamond Lil who had a hand in her husband's first death. She later would help Lil through her breast cancer scare. The smallest Alphan, Puck was always in love with her. Still, this never diminished the fact that she was the toughest in the Flight and never asked her team to face something she was not willing to face.

She will always be one of my favorite characters. Since the first volume of Alpha Flight has ended no one has ever really gotten that she is the leader, they always want Mac
back. That is sad, because anyone who has read the entire run can see Alpha Flight is as much a team book as it is a solo series for the one and only Guardian to me, Heather Hudson.


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Whenever things seem bleak.....I turn to the Flight.

I have never really understood why, but reading my run of the first volume of ALPHA FLIGHT just feels good. I love this super team. They were always a varied and eclectic groups of heroes. I own the entire run of that first volume. I only ever bought one issue brand new. Issue #106, and I bet some of you know the issue I speak of. The Jim Lee work is the only ones I purchased at any great expense. I bought the rest over about a twenty year period. My Mom bought me my first two issues at the first ever "Just A Dollar" store in our area. I got three comics for one dollar and two of those were Issue #23 and Issue #98 of Alpha Flight. From that day on it was a yard sale and flea market hunt with some three for a buck collections thrown in. It all ended in 2007 at HeroesCon when I at last found Issue #74 and paid the fifty cents it cost. So now it is one of those old comforts I reread from start to finish and just enjoy. It really is better than anything Marvel is publishing currently in my opinion. I will have a more detailed look at the Flight soon.


P.S. I really like Heather Hudson the best, but there are not many good online pics I have found yet.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The end of buying new Marvel?

Well the time has come for some hard decisions. Finances are just too tight and dwindling in this economy. I read only one Marvel comic currently. That book is NOVA. I have enjoyed the book, yet it is at the top of the cut list. Why? Well why read a book that will be drawn into a Universe I have come not to care about anymore?

As I usually do when life sucks I turn to my older comics to read and I guess try to feel better. So I am right now reading ALPHA FLIGHT. It is nice to read an entire run
of a book and to remember a time when Marvel was a company that I could find heroism and enjoyment. Over the years I have grown as a reader. I branched out and tried other things, but the core of my comic love was always founded in Marvel Comics.

I remember the gift of comics I received when a cousin gave me those her son was finished reading. There was DC and Marvel comics there, but it was the MARVEL TWO IN ONE starring the Thing and Iron Fist that drew me in as a child. I have loved the Thing as a character ever since. The door was opened to Iron Man and then the best of all Spider-Man of whom I watched on TV.

From that first taste I was hooked. I lived in an area without a comic shop in the area. I had to beg
from the occasional spinner racks and then get them at yard sales and flea markets. It was a different type of collecting. I have noticed that it does make a difference now in my collecting habits. I was never really about the creators and stuff. It was the stories and finding number runs and characters I liked.

My collection grew and there was the time when I would buy a DC book when they looked interesting or had Green Lantern on the cover, but Marvel ruled. When in High School our local grocery started selling comics in the newstand section. I discovered THE NEW WARRIORS and was able to read THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN yet again. IRON MAN and AVENGERS came to me in all the glory of a rising comic industry. I went to college and found a shop and have been steady in my collecting ever since. I was still a loyal Marvel only reader. I even passed up the biggest speculating possibility of that day.

THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN came out while I was in college. I waited in a stupid line for my weekly books as people from hundreds of miles away tried to find a copy. I was just annoyed. I wanted my Marvel comics for the week.

There came a day when I started adding different comics to my reading. I branched out into different companies. I still scoured the flea markets and back issue boxes for many old Marvels. I have the entire run of ALPHA FLIGHT and I only purchased one of those issues new. It was the issue where Northstar comes out. All the rest were bought at flea markets our cheap sale boxes. Well, the Jim Lee first artwork ones cost a bit more, but still, I count it a neat feat.

I do not like spending a great deal on my books. I see the decision of Marvel to increase the price of their
product and not improve quality as a bad thing. Now for me quality is the basic writing partially. Still, to do what podcast and articles I read have said and increase price while only giving about eight pages of new content is suspect. Why pay $3.99 for a reprint with a bit of extra when the original probably is less in a shop's back issue box? I purchase some $3.99 books, not many. They are IDW books and they have in house ads and harder stock covers and the glossy paper that holds up better over the years. Marvel is still giving the old 22 page story count and the other ten doesn't even include a letters page anymore. It is coming down to a matter of content and Marvel may lose as even the die hard sheep lose jobs and income.

They made it easy at Marvel for us to leave. I stayed through the banckrupcy. I bought books and I am one of those die hards that kept the numbers up back then. I cared about the characters and I loved the stories
and face it, I bought almost every 2099 book in the Marvel line. I was a bit miffed when the man that was suppose to be one of us, a comic geek, said that if I didn't like the new Marvel I could go and read the old issues. OK Joe Quesada, I did. Slowly I have divested myself from buying new Marvel comics. I even look at the trades and think, maybe, then I see a cheaper DC book and know I probably will like that trade more, so you can guess where my money goes.

The conspiracy theorist in me thinks Marvel wants the industry to fold in publishing tangible comics and turn to digital only. That would be silly though, but it is as valid as the crap they write. Am I bitter? Maybe. I miss the continuing stories of my favorite characters. I am enjoying learning a freat deal about DC characters.

So soon I may drop the last Marvel title I am reading. I wonder if I am the only one? Well I know I am not. Check this out; Comic Overloadhas a dropping of both companies. This could be the start of a sad time for our beloved industry.

So can I live without new Marvel comics? I think so. Can I live without any comics at all? Let us not go there. I do not want to find that


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

So The Reason Geek Gets Has Dwindled

Much like the rest of America I find the economy impacting my comic book addiction. I passed up going to the shop after Thanksgiving and a sale that had 5 for $1 comics. I know, I am an idiot. Yet, I looked at the wallet and the knowing of a $50 bottle of meds coming up and realized I was not wise to go and face temptation. I have some cash now and soon will get another round and again think on what is a must read. I have to make cuts and I have to be harsh I think.

I might soon have to window shop. Marvel is going to make it easy and so will DC if they blindly follow Marvel's lead. $3.99 is too much. I purchase Fallen Angel from IDW and have purchased other limited series from IDW. I also purchase Echo ($3.50). Each of these has their higher quality covers and paper as well as in house ads. I have one Marvel title and for sure will cancel if it goes to $3.99. The title is Nova.

$3.99 is too much to pay for 22 pages of story. Not to mention 22 pages of the drivel and low quality Marvel is to me personally currently. DC has fared better and
I have always admired the tiered pricing from them. They have fewer titles on the cut list because they are cancelling books I read. So they in some ways are ahead of the game. I will most likely cut Nova. With it going I will have stopped purchasing Marvel Comics consistently since being able to in 1990. Back then all I purchased was Marvel. How times have changed.

I might end up just window shopping.
I did switch to trades sometime back on many books. I will buy Secret Six that way. I have been buying Blue Beetle and Green Lantern Corps that way as well. Many may have to be bought that way. One funny and real clear reason I avoided that sale was the fact my comic book shop places issues of current titles from the past six to eight months in those $1 boxes that were on sale. I would have found much to buy. I do hope that soon my fortunes will turn around and I can be back buying comics again. For now I am reading my run of Alpha Flight. Never bought an issue new except one, issue #106, the one where Northstar comes out. So you might get a bit of Alpha musings soon. I could just do an in depth look at the old Nightwatch limited series from Marvel. Hey, Joey Q said if I didn't like the crap he was putting out I could read back issues as an old time fan, so I am reading back when continuity meant something and Marvel was the House of Ideas.