Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Alpha Flight

The first in a series of posts as I re-read bits and pieces of my comic book collection.

Alpha Flight (volume 1) was a moderately well-known Marvel comics series in the late 80s and early 90s that featured a Canadian super hero team. The first couple of dozen issues, written by John Byrne, are really good stuff--most of the issues focus on team members alone or in pairs, saving the full team issues for really special occasions. After Byrne left, the series continued on for years (reaching # 130 before cancellation), but never reached the same heights--indeed, other than the big "Northstar is gay" issue, most of the run is forgotten (and with some atrocious artwork in some issues, deservedly so).

What most comics readers don't know is that Alpha Flight Volume 2--which only lasted 20 issues--is actually a really good comic series. Very different in tone than the previous one, Volume 2 is quite dark, and focusses on a government conspiracy that has sucked the members of Alpha Flight into its web. It's well-worth seeking out even though you have to buy the individual issues because it's never been collected.

I've read the first half of the Alpha Flight Volume 3 run (which only lasted 12 issues--diminishing returns!). It has a really light, jokey tone, but seems pretty good so far--except for the annoying "comic book character knows they're in a comic and breaks the fourth-wall" moments, which attacks years of hard work to build continuity and a "real" universe for the sake of a few cheap and not-all-that-funny jokes.

Apparently, almost all of Alpha Flight was killed off between panels in the New Avengers, leading to a new team called Omega Flight in a six-issue limited series. I'll have to report back to you on that one.

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