Chris Yost and Craig Kyle’s tale about an army of Wendigos spreading across Canada, continuously growing in number, trudges along in the penultimate issue. This issue adds an interesting new level to the story by turning what could be summarized as a zombie story with werewolves, and adding more mystical, godlike elements that should vastly increase the scale and tension to this arc. So, how does issue 11 set things up for the final battle in issue 12?
We begin this issue with the Avengers and Alpha Flight testing out what happens when the Wendigos leave Canada and enter the United States. Since the curse only works on Canadian soil, right when they cross the border, they revert back to human. Captain America states that the Avengers will control the Wendigo plague as best they can and allow the X-Men enough time to stop the problem at the source. We then get to see Wolverine/Wendigo screaming…again…doing nothing otherwise. Hopefully he will actually get to do something in the final issue.
Cutting back to the X-Men and Alpha Flight members who entered the spirit realm last issue, we are introduced to the true villain of this series, Tanaraq. He is one of the godlike beings that draw their power from the land itself (I assume this is limited to Canada), whether it’s the snow, the tundra, or (in Tanaraq’s case) the beasts. Using the spread of the Wendigo curse to vastly increase his own power, Tanaraq intends to wipe out the rest of these beings, become the ruler of the spirit realm, and then conquer Earth itself. The major problem I have with this plot reveal is that it was introduced way too late in the game. If they had introduced this idea of the spirit world around the second or third issue, the writers could have done something cool with the idea of Gods who have been locked in an eternal conflict are suddenly thrown into complete chaos by one God taking control. Unfortunately here it reads as an easy way to up the stakes, and give the X-Men a simple method to end the Wendigo curse.
Something I found rather interesting, and I don’t know if this is because I’m not fully read up on Alpha flight, but a lot of them seem like jerks. I mentioned this last issue about Northstar (a former member), which he comes off a lot better this issue, but Aurora has a really bad attitude this entire issue. Not complaining, it’s just I’m curious if this is the best way to introduce people to Alpha Flight.
Carlo Barberi’s artwork is still good at presenting the battles between the X-Men and the Wendigos, and he also does a good job of depicting the spirits (what little they get to do here). While I do enjoy his artwork, I really wish this arc didn’t begin with Ed McGuinness because no one can draw over-muscular characters like he can, and unfortunately his first issue casts a shadow over the rest of the arc.
Overall this issue is alright; not bad, but nothing great about it. It moves along at a nice clip, there are some nice character moments here and there throughout the story, and the artwork was nice to look at. Unfortunately, nothing really stands out about this arc either. The giant plague of Wendigos started out strong, but we haven’t seen how big this thing truly is. The spirit war is cool, but it was introduced in the second to last issue. And of course the Wolverine/Wendigo who was introduced in the second issue of the arc has done a grand total of nothing this entire time. Maybe issue #12 will deliver a truly slam-bang finale to this arc, but it may be a case of too little too late.
CBH Score: 3 out of 5