schmidty207's Alpha Flight #32 - Short Story! review

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Puck Part 28: Alpha Flight #32

We learn a lot about Puck this issue, including the secret behind his pain.
 
Judd is about to test out the newly constructed Danger Room at Alpha Headquarters when he gets a surprise in the form of Heather entering the room wearing a new version of her late husband’s Guardian uniform. He was expecting to show her some basic fighting techniques, not teaching “Super-Heroing 101”, and argues that it is too dangerous for her. She disagrees, and has Bochs and Jefferies start the training exercise.
 
All goes well until Heather gets her glasses knocked off, rendering her essentially blind. Judd leaps to her aid, but is cut down when the pain hits him again. Heather figures out how to stop the exercise herself, and Judd calls her a fool for wanting to get into super-heroing at all. She leaves, intent on seeking another person she’s confident will train her, and Judd is upset over his hurt feelings.
 
Judd broke his promise to James Hudson when he killed Ernest in Alpha Flight #31, and that act has bothered him, which has affected his ability to focus past the pain. The desire he felt from Nemesis’ blade made things worse, and in his weakened state, Judd collapses. This causes the source of his pain, an ancient sorcerer named Razor, to be released from Judd’s body.
 
Aurora and Northstar are the first to encounter the Arabian spirit, followed by Box. Jefferies stumbles upon Judd’s body – now six foot six inches tall and seventy-one years old – as he regains consciousness.
 
Judd explains that he was born in 1914, and spent his youth as a soldier of fortune when certain dealers told him about the Black Blade of Bagdad in 1939. Upon finding it, Judd decided he was going to keep it instead of selling it to dealers. In that moment of selfishness, Razor was released. The Blade was created by mystics as a source of light in order to trap Razor, a fellow mystic who corrupted men’s souls and made them smaller. They succeeded in confining Razor within the blade, and over the millennia, Razor’s presence turned the Blade black. Having no intention of being confined again, Razor fought Judd. While no mystic, Judd recalled some of the things he had learned from his travels and realized that the Blade turned black because it couldn’t control Razor’s influence, whereas a living vessel could. Judd sacrificed his own soul to contain the dark mystic. Judd gained an extended lifespan, but it cost him his height and resulted in his being in constant pain.
 
Back in the present, Judd witnesses Aurora’s battle against Razor and notices that he reacts to her ability to generate light. Northstar creates a whirlwind to contain Razor while Aurora’s light weakens him and Judd then sacrifices himself and contains Razor within him once more, reducing him in size and constantly causing him pain. 
 
Notes of Interest: 
1) Bochs is aware of Judd’s feelings towards Heather.
 
2) When Judd returns to his full height, his right ear is still disfigured.
 
3) This is the first we learn anything of Judd’s past prior to joining Beta Flight.
 
4) While we never see Judd killing anyone, it is implied here that he’s done it quite a few times before confronting Razor. 
 
WTF? Moment: This issue is significant in that it features Judd’s origin, but not the one Byrne intended. Byrne merely wanted Judd to be an acrobatic dwarf who could fight but had no superhuman powers, and his pain was simply caused by his condition – achondroplasia. The whole “Arabian Genie in Judd’s body” thing was Bill Mantlo’s idea. I’m not exactly sure how I feel about this. Mantlo’s story explains Judd’s age, how he could have known Hemmingway as well as his worldly travels. But Byrne’s plan to just have Judd deal with the regular problems real people with this disease suffer has a certain appeal. The main thing is that what Mantlo did had no affect on Judd’s character or personality traits. It does support Byrne’s plan that Judd was in trouble with the law prior to joining Beta Flight, as well as the fact that Judd has killed people in the past. This also explains in an indirect way how Judd could have that continual crossing of professional paths with Logan. My one concern has to do with Judd’s height. Apparently, Razor’s blade has the ability to reduce the height of anyone it passes through. So it makes sense that when Judd uses his body to contain Razor, using the blade to do so, causes him to shrink in size. However… 
 
WTF? Moment #2: …Judd’s costume isn’t affected by the sudden height changes. Unless it’s made of those famous unstable molecules, it would have either (most likely) torn significantly when Judd grew, or (least likely) sagged off his body when he got short again. 
 
WTF? Moment #3: Despite what the cover leads us to believe, Heather leaves the mansion before Razor appears, missing the battle, and Judd’s story, completely.
 
WTF? Moment #4: Judd makes a passing comment to Bochs about a cripple helping a cripple. That was cold, even for Judd, but I’ll chalk it up to being in both emotional and physical pain at that moment.
 
WTF? Moment #5: Yes…I know that on Comic Vine the character is listed as Black Raazar, but in the comic itself, he’s called both Razor and Razer. I’ll go into that when I go into that character sometime down the road. 

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