I’m an easy mark for oddball superhero teams. I liked the Motor City League. I enjoyed the assemblage of heroes in “Justice League Task Force.” I practically devoured the “Agents of Atlas” stuff and really enjoy getting a hold of new (chronologically or just to me) “Doom Patrol” stuff. Naturally, that means I have a few “Alpha Flight” books in my collection. Among those I recall most affectionately are the two-part X-Men team-up written by Chris Claremont, with art by Paul Smith and a healthy chunk of John Byrne’s run. The team was different enough to always be dynamic and readable.
In an interview with CBR, the duo calls out “the diversity of the team. Not just in racial, gender, and sexual orientation ways, but it’s very rare that you have a super hero team created whole cloth in which you have a goddess, a magic user, two mutants, a character that's basically a Hulk, a man in glowing battle suit, a brawler, and a merwoman. It's like this little Justice League that's popped out of nowhere.” You can read the interview with the writing duo right here on CBR.
With this issue and the pending limited series, Pak and Van Lente are given a chance to investigate this team as it was once meant to be, but seemingly never had a chance to be. The original team, save Northstar and Puck, answer the call to defend the Great White North, preserving hockey, beer, Rush, and moose for the future of all mankind. Sorry, Canadians, I had to drop that in there somewhere.
In all seriousness, this issue does everything that a “Point One” issue should do: it identifies the team, establishes a storyline and voices for the team and teases developments of stories to come without wallowing in stories of the past. It does acknowledge the past, however, as Purple Girl/Persuasion and a Department H adamantium reject line up opposite the Alphans.
This story just happens to feature some fan favorite characters while doing all this. Almost immediately following their demise in “New Avengers” #16 (from 2008), it seems as though comic book readers were clamoring for a return of the Flight. This incarnation, enabled by “Chaos War” seems to answer the clarion call nicely. Pak and Van Lente give just enough spotlight to every character to put personality, ability, and aptitude on display. There are peeks into what these characters are dealing with as people and how they handle the extraordinary call to serve their country. At the end of this issue, there is no question who the strongman of the team is, who has the most attitude, and what the Hudsons are struggling with while not in costume. It’s near perfect as an exposition.
Ben Oliver’s art is aptly suited to match this story note for note. While his Sasquatch is more mountain man beastly than fluffy fairy Wookie, the rest of his depictions of the Flight members seems spot on. The Sasquatch appearance fits the rest and managed to grow on me by the end of the issue. I might be in the minority here, and I am certain to catch some flak for saying this before seeing any of Eaglesham’s work on the printed side of this series, but I find myself wishing that Oliver continued on into the limited series. His work here is borderline definitive as these characters settle back into life among the living.
I was enthused to read the return of these characters as written by Jim McCann in the “Chaos War” special and more excited once I saw Phil Jimenez drawing the art for a cover or two. Reading this issue has given me reason to check the calendar so I can celebrate Canada Day. This issue is every bit worthy of comparisons to the “X-Men/Alpha Flight” story, except shorter and without Loki. It’s good to have this team back. I hope they get to stick around for a long time.