ALPHA FLIGHT #62 and NEW MUTANTS #64 (1988)

Two comics, completely unconnected, with very similar stories.  Both on the cover promise that dead characters will return as zombies, but neither deliver on that promise.

One is good, one isn’t.  Guess which is which?

In Alpha Flight #62, Purple Girl is haunted by her father’s death.  It starts with a long dream sequence, which we are led to believe is actually happening, until she awakens and we see there was no zombie Purple Man after all.

Also: Talisman appears to be reconnecting with her powers.

In New Mutants #64, we start with Rahne being haunted by the death of Doug Ramsey during Fall of the Mutants.  She is reliving the event of his death using the Danger Room to recreate the sequence, over and over, and has convinced herself she could have prevented his death–and the guilt is driving her mad.

Simultaneously, Magik is obsessed with the death of the X-Men–also during Fall of the Mutants–and is watching a VCR tape of the broadcast of their deaths to figure out what happened.  She is driven by grief over not having been there to help.

The New Mutants “resurrection” is terribly creepy–and it’s not a dream.  First of all, using the Danger Room as a way to beat oneself up with guilt is downright brilliant.  Louise Simonson’s work on this book continues to be fantastic.

There’s also an element of adult “denial,” in the form of Magneto lying to Doug’s parents about how their son died–to keep their mutant life a secret, but it’s a skilled way to show the “adults vs. kids” dichotomy that makes this book work.  (It’s also what made Power Pack work so well in Louise Simonson’s hands–probably the best writer of children in the history of Marvel.)

Warlock–the alien life form who has trouble understanding human concepts and emotions–is alerted to Rahne’s overwhelming grief, and realizes that he can actually animate the dead corpse using his powers.

He takes “Doug” to visit his mother–scaring the hell out of her (very disturbing scene)–and then goes back to the Mansion to bring Doug home.

Obviously, the other New Mutants are shocked and horrified.

Throughout this fairly gruesome story, Simonson writes multiple comedic beats–including a slapsticky scene when the team returns Doug to his coffin in the funeral home.

At the end of the issue, Magik has freeze-framed the televised broadcast of the X-Men’s “death” and sees Forge.  She assumes Forge’s magic is what killed her brother and the rest of the team, and vows to get revenge.

Great panel by Bret Blevins, who also drew many issues of Power Pack.

Alpha Flight: Bill Mantlo and Jim Lee.  Grade: D
New Mutants: Louise Simonson and Bret Blevins.  Grade: B+

For the complete history of the MU, year by year, go here.
And see my Ratings of Runs on comics here.

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