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Northern X-Posure—ALPHA FLIGHT Flies Again

With all of the various X-Men spinoff books that have been floating around over the years, there is one that often gets forgotten, probably because of the lack of an “X” or the word “mutants” in its title.

Or maybe it is because the team that stars in the book does not feature marquee names and has not had a long running series since the mid 1990s.

Or possibly it is because the team is, well, Canadian.

Alpha Flight fans with their beady little eyes and flapping heads so full of lies…

For those unfamiliar with the Canadian superteam, Alpha Flight, you are about to get reacquainted with them courtesy of a new maxi-series tying directly into Marvel’s event du jour, Fear Itself.

We’re super-heroes, eh?

Alpha Flight first appeared back in 1979 during the classic Claremont/Byrne run and seemed to be originally just a piece of fellow Canadian Wolverine’s past.

Butting heads with the X-Men in an attempt to bring Wolverine back to Canada to serve in their secret Department H, the team boasted members from across the superpowered spectrum, including brilliant scientists and inventors such as Guardian and Sasquatch, magic wielders like Shaman, and the mutant twins, Northstar and Aurora, that would play fairly large roles in the greater tapestry of X-Men history, with the former also becoming something of a cultural icon as the first openly gay superhero in Marvel Comics.

One of the most controversial and socially important panels in comic history.
Years after their debut, they were given their own series, which lasted just over a decade, but they then faded into relative obscurity, with successive attempts at a relaunch falling short.
The team made appearances here and there over the years and enjoyed a few more short-lived series, yet never seemed to resonate with American audiences who apparently did not see Canadians as badass superheroes, but rather as stereotypical crazy hockey hooligans, drunk on their maple syrup and Labatt Blue.

Way to break those stereotypes, Vancouver…

After a time, it seemed Marvel just did not know what to do with them, so they killed off almost the entire team, mostly off panel.

Flight fans were not pleased.

But there was a light at the end of the tunnel when, recently, Marvel had a Hercules centric event known as the Chaos War, in which the Chaos King (who may or may not have a Chaosmobile, wield Chaosarangs, and own a Chaos Cave to hang out in) destroyed the barriers between the dimensions of the living and the dead, allowing the dead Flight members to return.

While the culmination of the event saw most resurrected characters returned to the grave, Alpha Flight was restored, all save the diminutive Puck, who was last seen helping out Wolverine in Hell, of all places.

C’mon, Alpha Flight, I’m really trying to make people take you seriously here…

Now with Marvel’s massive Fear Itself event, Alpha Flight is officially back in action with an eight issue tie-in, showing the Canadian perspective of the overall struggle and pulling the team back into the spotlight, this time as major players against one of the Serpent’s Worthy, the main villains of the piece.

With most of the original team reunited, the Flight not only has to deal with the slam bang heroics of fighting the newly upgraded Attuma, now dubbed Nerkodd (which sounds like an insult a seven year would hurl at a younger sibling) as one of the Worthy, but also the government of Canada falling under the fear being sown by the Serpent and suspending or outright eliminating the rights of its citizens in favor of increased police and security powers.

While the whole “Rightwing Politicians Are Always Bad Guys” angle has grown rather stale and tired in comics over the past few years, the political aspects have been a part of Alpha Flight’s history over the years (they even fought against a Canadian version of the Superhuman Registration Act towards the end of the first series, years before Civil War hit the main Marvel U) and are a necessary evil to illustrate just how much is at stake for the newly returned heroes.

Northstar was NOT pleased at the Canadian Government’s registration ideas…
Whether this latest iteration of the book will be enough to keep Alpha Flight around for a new series remains to be seen.

But as one of the first true X-Men spinoffs, and one that features very fun and complex characters with a varying range of powersets, this is the perfect time to jump aboard and see what the Flight is all “aboot.”

Maybe it will make you appreciate the Great White North, and all its glorious exports, even more, eh?

Avril Lavigne: Nooooot helping Canada’s cause…
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