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Alpha Flight
AlphaFlight

First Appearance

X-Men vol. 1 #120 (April, 1979)

Original Publisher

Marvel Comics

Created by

John Byrne & Chris Claremont

Origin[]

Alpha Flight is a fictional superhero team published by Marvel Comics, noteworthy for being one of the few Canadian superhero teams. Created by John Byrne & Chris Claremont, the team first appeared in X-Men #120 (April, 1979).

Alpha Flight is noted for being "Canada's answer to the Avengers." Most team members have distinctly Canadian attributes, such as Inuit or First Nations heritage. Throughout most of its history, the team has worked for Department H, a fictional branch of Canada’s Department of National Defence that deals with super-powered villains.

The team was originally merely a part of the backstory of the X-Men’s Wolverine but, in 1983, Byrne launched an eponymous series featuring the group, which continued until 1994. Four short-lived revivals have been attempted since. After the resurrection of the team in the one shot comic Chaos War: Alpha Flight which was published as part of the Chaos War event, they went on to star in an eight-issue limited series in 2011.

Publication history[]

Pre-regular series[]

Alpha Flight first appeared in Uncanny X-Men #120 (April 1979). They were sent to follow up on Vindicator's first mission to retrieve Wolverine from the X-Men.

The initial makeup of Alpha Flight was pan-Canadian, including:

  • Guardian: Originally Weapon Alpha, then Vindicator, James MacDonald Hudson is a scientist from Winnipeg, Manitoba who wears a suit of battle-armor, allowing him to fly and manipulate Earth's magnetic field. Guardian is sometimes the team leader, and wears a stylized maple leaf flag on his costume.
  • Northstar: Jean-Paul Beaubier, from Montreal, is a mutant with powers of super-speed and light generation.
  • Aurora: Jeanne-Marie Beaubier is Northstar's twin sister who suffers from disassociative identity disorder (multiple personalities). Like her brother, she is also a mutant with powers of super-speed, flight, light generation, and molecular acceleration.
  • Sasquatch: Walter Langowski is a scientist from British Columbia who can transform into a giant fur-covered beast resembling a Sasquatch. This character originally developed his powers from a Hulk-inspired gamma radiation experiment that was affected by a solar-flare. Eventually, it was explained that Sasquatch is actually a mystical monster.
  • Shaman: Michael Twoyoungmen is a First Nations medicine man from Calgary. He is both a skilled doctor and sorcerer.
  • Snowbird: Also known as Narya, she is an Inuit demi-goddess from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, who can transform into animals of the north.

Volume 1[]

Though reluctant to take the job, John Byrne wrote and drew the series for 28 issues before handing it off to another creative team. During that time, the series attracted fans with storylines that dealt with one or two characters at a time, seldom bringing all the members together. This unusual approach contrasted with other Marvel team series like the X-Men, Avengers, or the Fantastic Four.

Promoted from Beta Flight despite Department H being closed down by the Canadian government were:

  • Marrina: An amphibious woman from Newfoundland and Labrador, she was a former member of Beta Flight before joining Alpha Flight. She is actually part of an extraterrestrial invading force known as the Plodex.
  • Puck: Eugene Judd is a dwarf bouncer from Saskatoon with enhanced strength and extraordinary acrobatic abilities.

Heather MacNeil is the wife of James Hudson. After Guardian's apparent death in Alpha Flight (vol. 1) #12, she becomes the leader of the team. Later, she takes a replication of his costume and takes the codename of Vindicator then Guardian.

After Byrne left, the series was written by many others, including Bill Mantlo, James D. Hudnall, Fabian Nicieza, Scott Lobdell & Simon Furman. It continued for 130 issues,and introduced dozens of characters and villains (the most prominent of which were Talisman, Madison Jeffries, Roger Bochs, Diamond Lil, Manikin, Persusasion (later Purple Woman, Pathway and Goblyn), and featured cross-overs with other characters in the Marvel universe. The series ended in 1994.

Volume 2[]

In 1997, Marvel restarted the series as a Volume 2, with largely different characters. The series was written by Steven Seagle, then known mainly for his work for DC Comics' Vertigo line, with art mostly by Scott Clark and Duncan Rouleau. One issue, #13, featured guest art by Ashley Wood in an unusually conventional style for him, but still very distinctive for a Marvel superhero comic. This series ended in 1999 after only twenty issues and an annual. The new additions to the roster included:

  • Flex: Adrian Corbo is a mutant with the ability to transform his limbs into sharp weapons. He is the half-brother of Radius.
  • Manbot: Bernie Lechenay is a human/Box robot cyborg.
  • Murmur: Arlette Truffaut is a young mutant from Quebec City with powers of mind-control and teleportation.
  • Radius: Jared Corbo is a mutant with the ability to create a force field.
  • General Clarke: Sinister new director of Department H, responsible for many of the dark plots surrounding the team. Gains some measure of redemption with his sacrifice in issue #12.

Returning members were Vindicator (Heather Hudson, with a new costume and new geothermal powers), a de-aged Guardian (who turned out to be a clone of the original James Hudson, set at age 19), and Puck. Sunfire was also briefly a member while looking for a cure to a crippling illness.

The focus of this series was on Department H's consistently hidden agenda and Alpha Flight's reluctance to comply thereto. The conspiracy plotline saw Weapon X allowing an incarnation of the Zodiac Cartel to kidnap Madison Jeffries, who was subsequently brainwashed into becoming the group's "Gemini". To keep the group from interfering with their "deal", Department H employed its own brainwashed onto the membership of the team into forgetting Jeffries' kidnapping. Also, Department H employed an actual sasquatch as the new team's version of Sasquatch, without telling the team that it was not Walter Langkowski as their teammate. Department H also arranged the kidnapping of Diamond Lil, another former Alpha Flight member and Madison Jeffries' wife, when she began to enquire about the location of her husband, with the intent on using her as a test subject for illegal medical experimentations.

Despite initial positive buzz, the series never took off and the conspiracy plotlines were downplayed for the remaining six issues of the series. The series itself ended with issue #20 with most of the major storylines (such as the identity of the younger version of Guardian) unresolved, until Wolverine V1 #140-142, when the plotline was resolved with the return of the real Guardian and the heroic sacrifice of the clone version.

Volume 3: "All-New, All-Different" Alpha Flight[]

In 2004, Marvel started a new volume of Alpha Flight, with the "All-New, All-Different" prefix.

The first six-issue story arc, which shows Sasquatch attempting to construct the new team, is called "You Gotta Be Kiddin' Me."

The new team recruited by Sasquatch includes:

  • Centennial: Rutherford B. Princeton III is a 97-year-old man whose mutant powers of superhuman strength, invulnerability, flight, and heat vision manifested after being awakened from a coma by Sasquatch.
  • Major Mapleleaf: Lou Sadler is the son of a World War II super-hero of the same name. He is secretly a normal human who rides a superpowered horse.
  • Nemesis: Amelia Weatherly is both an adversary and ally of the old Alpha Flight. She has the power of flight and is skilled with a magical blade.
  • Puck II: Zuzha Yu is the daughter of the original Puck. She has superhuman strength, speed, and agility.
  • Yukon Jack: Also known as Yukotujakzurjimozoata, he is a mysterious man from a primitive tribe, bought from his father by Sasquatch.

The second six-issue story arc, entitled "Waxing Poetic," saw the return of some original team members as both the original versions visited in the past, and temporal copies brought to the present. These members were Guardian, Vindicator, Puck, and Shaman.

The series was canceled with issue #12.

Omega Flight[]

Sasquatch, Guardian, Vindicator, Shaman, Major Mapleleaf, and both Puck's are attacked by a new villain, the Collective (inhabiting the body of U.S. postal worker Michael Pointer, in The New Avengers #16. Pointer continues on to the United States, leaving their bodies in the Yukon Territory.

Though writer Brian Michael Bendis heavily implied the deaths of the above-mentioned roster of Alpha Flight at the hands of the Collective, later writers backpedaled from this sweeping declaration. Sasquatch resurfaced alive and well, with only Shaman, Vindicator and Guardian officially being acknowledged as being dead; it is later confirmed that the original Puck died at the Collective's hands in the Chaos War special featuring the team.

The Alpha Flight title was relaunched as Omega Flight in April, 2007 as a five-issue mini-series. The new series was written by Michael Avon Oeming and drawn by Scott Kolins. The current roster includes Beta Ray Bill, U.S. Agent, Arachne, Talisman, and Michael Pointer in a suit that looks like Guardian's uniform. Sasquatch appears as the group's recruiter and leader. Since the mini-series the team has ceased to exist losing Beta Ray Bill, U.S. Agent (joining Hank Pym's new Avengers team), Pointer, now calling himself Omega, who has joined Norman Osborn's Dark X-Men, and Julia Carpenter (who has recently become the new Madame Web).

"Chaos War"[]

In the 2010 storyline the "Chaos War", the four mainstay Alpha Flight members alive (Snowbird, Aurora, Northstar and Sasquatch) are reunited with Guardian, Vindicator, Shaman and Marrina Smallwood returning from the grave after Amatsu-Mikaboshi's victory in the death realms. The group comes together to fight the Great Beasts until Amatsu-Mikaboshi impales the Great Beasts. The resurrected members of Alpha Flight remain among the living after the defeat of Amatsu-Mikaboshi.  At the same time Puck also appears in the "Wolverine Goes to Hell" storyline in Wolverine (2010), beginning in issue #2. The whole original team could thus return in a new ongoing or miniseries.

Volume 4[]

In 2011, the team appeared in a series tied to the crossover storyline Fear Itself, with the newly-alive team to be joined by Puck. Alpha Flight provides rescue efforts for the victims of a tsunami unleashed by Attuma in the form of Nerkodd: Breaker of Oceans. As Sasquatch, Shaman, and Vindicator help save victims of the water itself, Guardian saves a news crew when their helicopter is shot down by Nerkodd. As Marrina Smallwood and Aurora also arrive to help fight Nerkodd, the female reporter that Guardian saved comments to the television viewers on why Northstar isn't with the team. After providing rescue efforts for victims of the disaster, Guardian ejects Nerkodd from the country by dumping him off the coast of Cape Race. Once Nerkodd is defeated and repelled, Alpha Flight returns to their headquarters, only to end up betrayed by Gary Cody and his newly-elected Unity Party. To make things worse, Vindicator has sided with him. It is shown that six weeks ago, Guardian and Vindicator were unable to regain custody of their child Claire. In the present, Marrina is dehydrated, Sasquatch's gamma energy is drained enough for him to revert to his human form of Walter Langkowski, and Aurora and Snowbird are taken down as well. While bringing Guardian to the Box Units for imprisonment, Vindicator is ambushed by Puck. After knocking out Vindicator, Puck tells Guardian that he had just returned to life after his fight with Ba'al. At Parliament Hill, Walter is informed by Agent Jeff Brown that the concussions he had when he played football will cause him to act less human when he changes back into Sasquatch. Jeff also tells Walter that he will soon achieve Unity. Meanwhile, Marrina pretends to give in to the Unity treatment so that she can break free. Shaman manages to knock out Jeff and frees Walter, while Guardian frees Snowbird. Northstar and Puck manage to find Marrina, who has knocked out the guards and scientists present. After Alpha Flight escaped, they learned that Gary Cody and his Unity Party are group of fascists. Northstar abducts a Department H operative and uses aerial torture in order to learn where Department H took Kyle Jinadu. After reclaiming her daughter Claire from her cousin, Vindicator assembles Alpha Strike consisting of Purple Woman, Ranark, a Wendigo, and a brainwashed Citadel in order to spread the Unity program and take down Alpha Flight. It is soon discovered that the so-called Master of the World is behind the Unity Party, the formation of Alpha Strike and what has happened to Department H as he introduces himself to Kyle Jinadu. Alpha Flight ends up robbing a treasury in order to fund a special tactical training from Taskmaster in an isolated Yukon Territory. While overseeing the formation of a revolution against the Unity Party, Guardian, Sasquatch, and Shaman hatch a desperate and dangerous plan that involves the bad personality of Aurora. Aurora's personality begins to cause her to become unstable to herself and Alpha Flight. Meanwhile, Master of the World explains his history involving the Plodex to Claire. Alpha Flight manages to rescue Kyle Jinadu and end up running into Wolverine. While at a beach in Ontario with Claire Hudson, Vindicator is visited by Wolverine who states that the people in the United States are starting to be concerned about the Unity Party's actions and him seeing Vindicator call the rest of Alpha Flight traitors causing him to investigate. Wolverine ends up finding Alpha Flight and learns of their revolution against the Unity Party. Wolverine agrees to help them take back Canada just as Alpha Strike attacks. During the ensuing fight, Alpha Flight managed to capture Persuasion as she is a component for a cure that would be used against the Unity Process. Alpha Flight, Wolverine, and Taskmaster are then prepared to take Canada back as Master of the World comes out of hiding. Master of the World begins his attack on Parliament Hill with Agent Jeff Brown and Claire Hudson present in his spaceship. He even manages to kill off Gary Cody upon him is serving his purpose. Guardian continues to fight Vindicator as she orders the rest of Alpha Strike to free Persuasion and destroy the machine she is hooked up to. Alpha Flight managed to defeat Alpha Strike. Vindicator (still under of Master of the World's mental control) helped Alpha Flight against Master of the World when he attempts to kill Claire. Alpha Flight has success creating the machine to free the people that Master of the World had under his mental control. They manage to kill Master of the World, but Vindicator flew off with Claire to an unknown destination. Afterward, Alpha Flight celebrates after the Unity Party is abolished.

Alpha Flight later comes to the aid of Red Hulk when the Mayan Gods appear on Earth. Alpha Flight helps Red Hulk fight them with one of the battles putting Aurora, Sasquatch, and Snowbird in a coma.

Other media[]

Television[]

  • Alpha Flight appeared in the X-Men (TV series)|X-Men episode "Repo Man". It consists of Vindicator (who had renamed himself Guardian in the comics), Puck, Snowbird, Shaman, Northstar, Aurora, Sasquatch, and Vindicator. The episode's story is similar to Guardian's first comics appearance (as Weapon Alpha) in Uncanny X-Men #109, except that in the comics story Weapon Alpha (the same character as Vindicator) went after Wolverine solo. Vindicator and Alpha Flight capture Wolverine. Department H demanded their project back. Either he rejoins their team or they repossess his indestructible, adamantium skeleton. Puck and Snowbird spied on the attempted adamantium-removal experiment and informed the other members. After a fierce fight between Alpha Flight and Department H's security androids, Wolverine warns the Alpha Flight members that if any of them try to seek him out, all bets are off. Later on in "The Phoenix Saga, Part 5: Child of Light," members of Alpha Flight are shown helping citizens as Earth is ravaged by the M'Kraan Crystal.

Film[]

  • Alpha Flight's name can be seen in X2: X-Men United on the computer when Mystique hacks into Stryker's computer.

Video game[]

  • A direct reference to Alpha Flight was seen in the critically acclaimed X-Men: Legends video game. When the player, Magma, visits Wolverine's room, the Alpha Flight's insignia is seen.
  • Guardian, Wendigo, and Sasquatch appear in super hero squad online.

Music[]

  • The Vulcan Dub Squad recorded a song called "Alpha Flight Number 12".
  • The band Courage My Love featured various issues of Alpha Flight in their YouTube video of their song "I Sell Comics".
  • Chicago-based band The Kickback released a song called "Alpha Flight" on their Mea Culpa Mea Culpa EP.

See also[]

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