In this introductory issue of the recently reformed Canadian super-team Alpha Flight, Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, and Dale Eaglesham hit the perfect balance between a comic that will appeal to all readers and a story that has some fun ‘Canadiana’ shout-out moments.
I’m not sure most American comic readers noticed or cared when Alpha Flight was wiped out during one of the early volumes of New Avengers, but they have recently returned to the land of the living, and the true north strong and free. That said, I’m not sure most Canadian readers noticed their national super-teams change in fates either time. The fact is, Alpha Flight, while enjoying a high-mark of storytelling and sales in the late 80’s, has never recovered from the comics crash of the 1990s.
After their destruction at the hands of the Collective, the few surviving members have cropped up in other Marvel titles. There was Omega Flight mini-series during Tony Stark’s Initiative program, which while a decent enough read, didn’t really have any meaningful impact on the Marvel Universe. Otherwise, the best use of the surviving team members has been with Aurora in the X-title books during Dark Reign. Or with Snowbird in during the Secret Invasion.
The best and hardest part of a great Alpha Flight storyline is trying to balance the Canadian-referencing content while still being interesting and engaging for all readers. This is to say, the Canadian market is too small for a series to pander to it alone. Good thing then that Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, and Dale Eaglesham make Alpha Flight #0.1 a great comic read first and a fun Canadian-set series second. Hopefully this means the seven part mini-series will be the launching pad for even more Alpha Flight storylines to follow!
To help new readers get up to speed quickly, the inside cover features a concise recap of the team’s past and recent rebirth. Having missed out on the Chaos War event myself, I too had only heard of the team’s return, and found this material to be helpful.
On another level though, this issue works without knowing or referencing any of that material. Rather, you can just pick it up and enjoy, as the storyline subtly starts weaving the rich backstory of these characters, promising a wealth of subplots to come. A good start to what I hope will be a title that returns Alpha Flight to greater prominence in the Marvel Universe.