Tuesday, January 22, 2013

1982 - Alpha Flight #1

Alpha Flight #1 (1982)
John Byrne, writer and artist

I thought a look back at this landmark issue would be appropriate as I used this timeframe as a setting for our new Marvel Super-Heroes RPG campaign I kicked off this year.

After the début of Alpha Flight, in The Uncanny X-Men #120-121 (April 1979) and several guest appearances by its member in the Marvel, Canada's super-hero team earned its own ongoing title. John Byrne, co-creator of Alpha Flight with Chris Claremont, was handed the creative reigns.

"Alpha Flight was never much fun. The characters were created merely to survive a fight with the X-Men, and I never thought about them having their own title. When Marvel finally cajoled me into doing Alpha Flight, I realized how incredibly two-dimensional they were, and spend some twenty-eight issues trying to find ways to correct this fault. Nothing really sang for me. If I have any regrets, it would probably be that I did the book at all! It was not a good time for me."    http://www.comicbookresources.com/features/byrne/

But, let’s get back to on issue #1. It’s a “Dynamic Double-Size” issue with 38 pages of Byrne goodness. The story opens with “You are witnessing the death of a dream…” as the Canadian government has disbanded Alpha Flight and Department H. Team leader, MacDonald Hudson, also known as Vindicator, takes it rather personally. But, it’s his wife, Heather Hudson who refuses to let the dream of Alpha Flight die and unofficially reactivates the team to go up against the menace known as the Tundra.

The first issue really had a strong X-Men feel to it and you can see that Byrne was starting to push and explore the X-Men stereotypes. Guardian's insecurity matched Cyclops’ early concerns as the leader of the New X-Men, the playful relationship between Sasquatch and Puck was similar to Wolverine and Nightcrawler, and Snowbird was as quiet and powerful as Storm.

Byrne's new contributions to the team’s roster were the surly and acrobatic Puck and the naïve and mysterious amphibian Marrina. Puck was a uniquely Canadian character complete with his "eh" accent, but would be a solid addition to the team despite his underwhelming powers. Marrina was a bit more of a reluctant hero and carried with her an ominous past that would be dealt with in the next handful of issues.

Alpha Flight came together as a team and defeated this mystically-enhanced monster. Building on this success, the team decided to stay together realizing the good they can still do.

Alpha Flight #1 is a fun blast from the 1980s and reminds you that a comic book can have action, suspense, intriguing characters, and can simply be a lot of fun. Take a chance and find out why Alpha Flight #1 was “ the biggest selling comic of its day -- 500,000 copies!!” (http://www.byrnerobotics.com/FAQ/listing.asp?ID=2&T1=Questions+about+Comic+Book+Projects#10)


  1. I think Alpha Flight's first 8 or so issues are quite great, certainly better than contemporary X-Men.

  2. The first new comic I really got into. Issue 12 where Guardian died...still can't believe that. Who kills their main character in the twelfth issue??? And then it was just insult added to injury the way they tried to keep it going. I officially stopped reading when his wife put on the uniform. The Byrne art was great, even though everyone has the same face.



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