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John Byrne abandoned Alpha Flight after issue #28, leaving behind a remarkable run; Bill Mantlo stepped in with #29, having to solve a cliffhanger. Around this time, The Hulk had been banished by Doctor Strange to a mystical place called the Crossroads, a cool storyline that lasted more than a year. Byrne finished his run with Alpha Flight bringing a mindless Hulk back to Earth 616, who proceded to beat up several of its members. Others, meanwhile abandoned the team for personal reasons. This left the team weakened and in dire need of new recruits. In #30, Heather Hudson, AKA The Guardian, starts looking for said new recruits. Byrne had previously introduced a character, a mutant, called Madison Jeffries, who could control machines. Mantlo has Heather find out he has a brother, Lionel. Thinking he may have mutant powers too, she decides to reach out to him.

And then things turn mysterious...

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... and creepy.

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The Alpha Flight teams up and arrives at the hospital and we get a glimpse of Scramble's mutant powers:

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And then his chilling origin story:

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When they find Heather, she's been turned into this:

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Madison, of course, is the one to find Lionel:

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And thanks to some shoehorned explanation about how powers works, Lionel starts healing his own deranged brain:

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I do love that he uses his powers to change his own brain, but I'm crazy for neuroplasticity; it's just the execution that could have been better.

Once sane, he sets out on a path of redemption:

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But don't worry, it didn't take long before Lionel went crazy again on a massive scale.

I've never loved Mantlo's run, but Scramble is one of my favourite villains, even if he's only showed up in like two storylines behaving as a villain. But reading issue #30 as a kid left me a bit queasy. His powers were so horrifying to me: a guy who could manipulate people's body at will, changing their appearance. It's like something out of a David Cronenberg movie. Everything in him is creepy: the origin, the powers, even the metal mask he wears. I always hoped a creative writer would bring Scramble back and explore his powers in more twisted, complex scenarios, but that hasn't happened yet.

Date: 2017-06-12 12:14 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
A mutant whose basic powerset is "body horror", it's perhaps a little amazing that Claremont never used him... Masque is an amateur by comparison.

Date: 2017-06-12 12:35 am (UTC)
beyondthefringe: (Default)
From: [personal profile] beyondthefringe
I hope we'll see the other storyline in which he appeared... because it was also pretty messed up.

Alpha Flight was always such a strange, strange title, which seemed to exist in its own little corner most of the time even though it interacted with most of the Marvel Universe. I have a real fondness for the glory days and some of the weirder characters it spawned.

I wish Marvel would find a way to make Alpha Flight viable as a series. I don't even know why it's been shoehorned into Captain Marvel as a space program with only Aurora, Puck, and Sasquatch to represent it.

Date: 2017-06-12 12:39 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Yeah, his next appearance also gave rise to two (or six) new Alphan's (Goblyn (who counts as two) and Manikin (who counts as four)

Date: 2017-06-12 05:24 am (UTC)
sarahnewlin: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sarahnewlin
How messed up was it? Like Carol Danvers pregnancy messed up?
Edited Date: 2017-06-12 05:25 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-06-12 09:33 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] remial
it cranks up the body horror to 11

Date: 2017-06-12 04:45 am (UTC)
katefan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] katefan
I remember how quickly the bloom came off the rose of this title after Byrne left. I wasn't impressed by Mignola's artwork and my favorite character, Puck, sounded so...off. Byrne did a neat thing where Puck's vocal lines were in a heavy slang, whereas his thoughts were more articulate. But Mantlo had no idea how to write Puck, thinking all he had to do was add "eh" to most every sentence. And don't get me started on that horrible, horrible "I'm not really a little person, I have a demon in me that robs me of my height" storyline.

Date: 2017-06-12 10:10 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Which was particularly annoying since Puck had always been quite specific about his dwarfism... the whole Razer the Djinn thing was just... painful.

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