Sunday, June 13, 2010

1985 - Alpha Flight

Alpha Flight #18-29 (1985)
John Byrne, writer and artist

Unfortunately, the series declined from issue #17 as it seemed Byrne couldn’t keep his interest in the title. However, he did persevere up until issue #28 and moved over to The Incredible Hulk. Interestingly, the creative team on The Incredible Hulk, writer Bill Mantlo and artist Mike Mignola, had swapped places with Byrne. Byrne told Jim Salicrup (Comics Interview #25, 1985) why he left the title:

“There has not been half the fun doing Alpha Flight that there has been doing the Fantastic Four. Number two has been the fact that the general response from the fans and the readers is that I set out to do something different with Alpha Flight and they don’t like it . . .  When Alpha Flight was announced the reaction was,  ‘Oh, Gawd, another group book.’ And I said ‘Okay, we’ll give you something different. This is not going to be a group book, this is going to be individual issues of their own titles.’ And they didn’t want it. The readers didn’t want it. Because of my particular frame of mind on the book, I couldn’t turn it into what they wanted.”

Also, being a Canadian myself, it was nice to see that Byrne was genuinely convincing in his representation of Canada and Canadian culture. He used just enough Canadiana in his stories to be realistic, and I don’t just mean adding an “eh” to the end of each sentence. He provided accurate depictions of Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, touched on the French-English language tensions, and used a broad variety of settings like the Parisian streets of Montreal, Toronto’s Ontario Place, and the West Edmonton Mall.

Alpha Flight #19 introduced Elizabeth Twoyoungmen (Shaman’s daughter) as Talisman.

Alpha Flight #24 featured the death of Langowski/Sasquatch, and brought in Box as a legitimate member of the team.

Alpha Flight #25 featured the return of Vindicator. And before you sigh and think: “another dead hero back to life…” you have to remember that heroes returning from the dead wasn’t the revolving door that it is now.

2 comments:

  1. Loved Alpha Flight. I can't imagine how Byrne ever got the impression fans didn't like it. It does seem that Byrne has never enjoyed making his own characters as much as playing with other people's, so his dissatisfaction with Alpha Flight at least makes sense from that perspective.

    While I've enjoyed many things Bill Mantlo wrote, his run on Alpha Flight was NOT among them. If Byrne could not convince himself to continue, I wish the reins had been handed to anyone else.

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  2. Now, as far as fans not wanting it---this was the #3 title on your Sales List for Jan. 1985, no?

    Okay, I can say it: I found the initial story arc weak and too decompressed, its best part being Aurora's personality crisis. I also appreciated inclusion of Sue and Namor. The Puck issue then underscores why I don't think he can handle the big leagues of battle, and #6 & 7 I've missed. But the Super-Skrull in 9 and 10? Completely awesome! And #12 was my first issue---imagine my shock!!! I liked the later Byrne issues I found, not the least of the reasons being I liked Omega Flight's designs and remained fascinated by the sights of Canada---a big mystery when one hails from the South.

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