Comics In Context

What's so great about comics? Well, a BUNCH of things, pilgrim, and that's what this blog aims to tell you about. So just sit tight. And maybe buy some of the merchandise over at my eBay store. Maybe.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Alpha Flight (1983 – Marvel Comics – Iss. 1-28 of continuing series)

G’day, and welcome to Alpha Flight, the Canadian superteam.

It all started within the pages of X-Men #120, when the maple-leaf-themed WEAPON ALPHA (later known as Vindicator, later known as Guardian) was sent to recapture the escaped WEAPON X (almost entirely known as Wolverine, the most popular X-Man), presumably to subject him to more horrendous governmental experimentation. And those Mounties seem so nice, too.

This was during the early days of the X-plosion of interest in mutant-based titles, so anything remotely related to any X-Men titles (especially Wolverine) was quickly given its own book. Alpha Flight (named for the superhero team led by newly-humbled Guardian) would almost certainly have just been a forgettable flash-in-the-X-pan … except that the writing and art duties fell to John Byrne.

Byrne was already breaking new narrative ground in his run of Fantastic Four, and he didn’t want Alpha Flight to just be more of brand X. The book was structurally different than most comics of its day. While nominally a “team book”, Alpha Flight rarely featured more than 2 or 3 members in a given issue. Stories revolved around such dark themes as schizophrenia, addiction, sex and betrayal and frequently seemed more like a soap opera than a superhero book. Some truly imaginative plot twists kept readers on their toes, and even angered them once or twice by breaking some of the unspoken rules of the medium.

For all its eccentricities, Alpha Flight wasn’t exactly revolutionary. It still retained that overblown, campy Marvel sensibility in its scenarios and dialogue. John Byrne left the title after issue 28, and all traces of quirk immediately vanished from its pages. Still, the book is remembered fondly and there is a new Alpha Flight revival currently on store shelves.

The entire John Byrne run of Alpha Flight (Issues 1-28) is available for sale at the Comics In Context eBay Store. Quality runs from Near Mint down to Fine, but it’s all fully intact, very readable and quite collectible.

And if you care, Wolverine does appear in issue number 17.

There are no graphic novel collections of Alpha Flight available. However, there are several collections of John Byrne's very fine work on Fantastic Four available at Amazon.

Wanna learn more?

Here's the Wikipedia entry ...
Here's a Toonopedia article ...
And here's John Byrne's official website.