When you think of Canada, you probably think of amazing beer (Molson Canadian), amazing donuts (Tim Horton's) and superior fast food (Harvey's). You probably also think of really polite people playing hockey and living in igloos, with an odd little superhero team called "Alpha Flight" waiting to protect them. Unfortunately, Alpha Flight recently met its end in the pages of Marvel Comics' "New Avengers," seemingly leaving only the Mounties and that guy from "Due South" to protect the country. As we reported yesterday, that isn't the case, as 2007 will see the launch of "Omega Flight," featuring an all-new Canadian superhero team. While we spoke with writer Mike Oeming and editor Andy Schmidt yesterday, today CBR News caught up with artist Scott Kolins to learn about his involvement with the book.
"I heard that a new 'Alpha Flight' book might be getting kicked around, so I asked Tom Brevoort to pass my name along and see if I could be involved," Kolins told CBR News. "At the time, Mike Marts was the editor and after my 'Excalibur' fill-in, Mike asked me on board. I talked it over with Mike Marts and Mike Oeming and jumped on full throttle. I'm a huge old school Alpha Flight fan so I couldn't pass this up."
Thought Alpha Flight has always been a well-known team since their debut in "Uncanny X-Men," and their self-titled series by John Byrne drew quite a bit of acclaim, it's always seemed as though 'Flight never quite made the top tier of Marvel's superhero team hierarchy. However, for fans like Kolins, there was no doubt that Alpha Flight was the epitome of greatness. "It was just a great group with wonderful variety and an interesting and 'unique' theme. Very different from the Avengers, X-Men or FF. At the time, these were the 'new, hot' characters. A fresh face, but they also had some real depth as the series grew during its first year. An alien with orders to kill humankind, a pair of feisty (some say, unstable) speed mutants, a child-like demi-godess, a mystic father figure, a fun-loving dwarf, and two scientists that could probably keep up with the best minds in the Marvel U – how doesn't that sound cool?
"Issue #12 of the original series is obviously a milestone in several ways, but the whole first year had these great origin stories that just blew me away. If I had to pick a favorite of the group, I guess it would be Sasquatch – but not just because he's the big strong guy. There's a side to him that was completely undeveloped that I just thought was the real key to the character. Huge profound stuff. But all the characters were awesome – again in that respect they could go toe to toe with any group in the Marvel U. Just as interesting as the FF or Avengers or X-Men."
Some old school "Alpha Flight" fans have been worried about the sweeping changes to the team, namely the death of much of the old cast and a very unusual new cast in "Omega Flight," concerns that Kolins understands. But as a devoted 'Flight fan, he's quick to re-assure fans that this book is true to the spirit of Alpha Flight. "I do have some input on the story – as Mike's such as nice guy – but once they filled me in on the theme and direction, most of my 'wait's it's not called Alpha?' went away," he admitted. "Believe me, I'd be first in line for a book on the original characters, but there's been so much unpopular baggage for many years now, this fresh start is the strongest public way to get the ball rolling again. And this new group is interesting, too. Again, setting up it's own uniqueness. Not like Avengers, FF, X-Men or even old Alpha. Mike's got some really cool stuff planned. I hope everyone will agree."
Though some may be concerned about the new direction for Canada's superteam, there's a lot of excitement over Kolins' planned redesigns for the team. The penciller earned both critical and fan acclaim for his work on DC Comics' "The Flash," where he infused new life into the looks of some old villains. Expect to see similar creativity here, intertwined with some authentic Canadian inspiration. "I've worked a bunch of redesigns into this group – where needed. I'll be working on some villains next," he explained. "Can't wait. I'd say I get about a 30% vote – maybe 40% if Oeming is being extra nice.
"What I like most about the look of Canada is the city next to the mountains and expansive forest. The combination of the two next to each other is really appealing. So I think of the group in a similar manner. There will be techno or even sci-fi aspects of the book next to woodsy and possibly mystical stories. There's also the angle of Canada being neighbors with America and how that flows - especially out of the Marvel Civil War storyline. Border issues/stories are very much on everyone's mind these days and this book is a natural for that topic."
Before "Omega Flight" debuts, fans will see Oeming and Kolins re-team in "Civil War: Choosing Sides" later this year. Featuring USAgent, who many believe to be a member of the new 'Flight (which Oeming hasn't denied or confirmed), Kolins said, "You'll have to read the 'Civil War Choosing Sides' Agent story to see if it fits in with Omega. I like John Walker as quirky good guy. He's not the standard peace loving good guy like Steve Rogers [Captain America], but he's a helpful good guy when people are in trouble. Just a different view on what it means to be a hero. Not every hero is perfect. Like the movie 'Crash' - where the cop has personal issues and problems but in the end it doesn't matter who's in the burning car, the right thing to do is get them out to safety."
For Kolins, the "right thing" includes working with Oeming, with whom he shares a unique bond. He calls his creative partner "great" and says he's one of the easiest people with whom to collaborate. "Even when he and I don't come at the same situation the same way, we both allow for the other to get what he wants across," said the artist. "We both had such a great time on 'Thor: Blood Oath' that it's cool to come together again for this book. We're around the same age and have many of the same influences and same aspirations. We're sorta like long lost comic brothers."
From his run on "The Flash" (no pun intended) to Kolins' work on the well-received "Earth's Mightiest Heroes," the artist has shown a new side of his talents to fans with each project he's completed. When asked what new nuances might become apparent in his "Omega Flight" work, Kolins said he wasn't sure, but promises it'll be something special. "I work very organically and it's only once I've started a project that I find my hook or new angle I want to try. You will find me very energetic as this book has been a dream project of mine or many, many years. This book will get everything I have to offer. I do feel like some smaller panels and more staccato moments creeping into my thoughts when Mike tells me what's will be happening to the characters. Little emotional moments and stuff like that. But I may not go that way once I start drawing, we'll see. I can't wait to get going."
When 2007 rolls around, Kolins hopes you'll check out "Omega Flight," promising something special for fans new to the world of Canada's superheroes and for those who've been with the Canucks for some time. "You'll find out a lot of stuff about old Alpha Flight and new Omega Flight stuff. Crazy cool new stuff. And even though we have a mostly new roster, I think Mike and I are very much trying to get some of that old AF feeling into the book. Like Indiana Jones or Star Wars – where action, romance, comedy and fantastic things all mix together to give a really awesome story."
And now you can discuss this story on CBR's Marvel Universe Forum.