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. 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.  (He appeared to die in the Emperor Doom graphic novel, when Sub-Mariner flooded Doom’s undersea base and Zeb Killgrave was inside, trapped.). 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. Just an attack from Dream Queen.

Also: Talisman appears to be reconnecting with her powers. Yawn.

I tagged this with Purple Man because fans of the character will want to know of the fake resurrection (which preceded the real one

On to the next one…In New Mutants #64, we are promised the resurrection of Cypher on the cover.

The issue starts 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.

So I started this post by saying both promises of returning-from-the-dead were false, but that’s not quite true.

Warlock, shape-shifted, visit’s Doug Ramsey’s grave site with Rahne and says that a piece of Doug is inside him. We will learn that this is in fact not metaphorical. So Ramsey doesn’t come back in this episode, or as a zombie, but his future return is foreshadowed.

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.

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