Monday, September 10, 2018

Retro Review: Alpha Flight #1 (1983) - "Tundra!"

Canada’s Greatest Heroes!

Written by: John Byrne
Art by: John Byrne, Andy Yanchus, and Joe Rosen
Cover Price: $1.00
Release Date: August 1983
Review by: Pauly P

Sure, make fun of Canada all you want. It’s funny and trendy to poke fun at America’s Northern neighbor. And when Canada produces such amazing talent as William Shatner, Justin Beiber, and Robyn Sherbatsky, well really who am I to pile on?

America’s greatest heroes, the Avengers, have almost single-handedly faced down Thanos, Korvac, The Masters Of Evil, Kang... and we see in this first volume of Alpha Flight, the Canadian equivalent, face down an ancient tundra monster... and beat it using the rain. Yep, a small rain storm. Let’s have a closer look.

Explain it!

It’s been a rough few weeks for James Hudson- leader of Alpha Flight. Two weeks ago (in comic book time) three of his team were playing with the big boys (as they say) tangling with The Hulk, Wolverine and the Wendigo (see Incredible Hulk 181 for more details!). But now? His crack Government team has been disbanded. They do get to keep their security clearances and status as Mounted Police auxiliaries, however. Good old Canadian Hospitality! James contemplates unemployment as he flies back home. Meanwhile, a crazy old dude starts to summon the Tundra spirit.

Two brief vignettes follow- we are introduced to Shaman, then to brother and sister duo Northstar and Aurora. James makes it back to his flat in Ottawa and gives his wife (complete with sexy, SEXY glasses) a kiss hello, and flops down to watch some TV... but wouldn’t you know it?
Some mischief is going down in Resolute Bay! Despite Alpha Flight being disbanded, Heather Hudson decides she knows more than the Prime Minister and activates he rest of the team using their individual signals contained on 3.5” floppy disks. Sacre Bleu!

We are then introduced to the B team: namely, the closest you can come to having a Wolverine on your team without... you know, a Wolverine. We meet the pocket rocket named Puck, followed by a weird sort of fish woman called Marina, then longtime members Sasquatch. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: super smart secret identity, super strong, and prone to fits of rage. Never mind though! We then meet shapeshifter Snow Bird, who conveniently for the story has a blood feud with this ancient Tundra monster. All the Flight head towards the Bay, where the Alphas are beaten back by... mosquitos and rocks. In the nick of time, twins Aurora and Northstar arrive at the same time as Marina, then fly really fast and Shaman uses a spout of water to literally turn the fearsome Tundra monster into a muddy puddle of dirt.

The team then meet back in James and Heather’s flat for a cup of tea and pat each other on the back. And guess what? They decide to just keep super heroing without Government funding or blessing. Probably doesn’t cost anything to run this sort of team anyway, right? Puck arrives on the last page and the rest of the team (mostly Sasquatch) poke fun at his stature.

What could go wrong?

Bits and Pieces:

All kidding aside, this double-sized issue is a lot of fun. The art is on par with a comic from 1983. Despite the battle being... anticlimactic, we get a good sense of everyone’s individual powers and we get just enough of their past to know enough about them to care about them. You don’t get that much in modern comics. If I had just picked this up, I’d buy another for sure. Not the best comic of the era, but certainly not the worst.


1 comment:

  1. I love Alpha Flight. Such interesting characters a human first justice league. A leader in doubt a member battling mental health issues. A goddess restricted by geography and confined emotionally. That's just three members.