Thursday, April 3, 2008

A 25th Anniversary Salute to Alpha Flight # 1 (April 1983)

Alpha Flight originally appeared in Uncanny X-Men #120 (April 1979) where the team was meant to simply be a part of the back history of the X-Men’s Wolverine, but they became noteworthy for being one of the few Canadian superhero groups. Throughout most of its existence the team has worked for Department H, a branch of Canada’s Department of National Defense that deals with super-powered threats.

In 1983, creator John Byrne reluctantly launched the team in their own self-titled series that was patterned somewhat after the old TV spy show, “Mission: Impossible”, with story lines that dealt with one or two characters at a time, seldom bringing all the members together. Although this unusual approach contrasted with other popular Marvel team series during that time, Alpha Flight attracted many fans and the series continued past Byrne’s involvement (he exited with issue # 28) for 130 issues until 1994; although three short-lived revivals have been subsequently attempted.

The initial makeup of Alpha Flight included Guardian: (Originally Weapon Alpha, then Vindicator), James MacDonald Hudson was a scientist from Ottawa who wore a suit of battle-armor which allowed him to fly and manipulate Earth's magnetic field, Heather MacNeil was the wife of James Hudson. After Guardian's apparent death in Alpha Flight #12, she took his costume and became field leader of the team, Marrina was an amphibious woman from Newfoundland, who was actually part of an extraterrestrial invading force known as the Plodex, Northstar: Jean-Paul Beaubier was a mutant with powers of super-speed and light generation. He was the first openly homosexual superhero in the Marvel Universe, Aurora: Jeanne-Marie Beaubier was Northstar's schizophrenic twin sister. Like her brother, she was also a mutant with powers of super-speed, flight, light generation, and molecular acceleration, Puck: Eugene Milton Judd was a dwarf bouncer from Saskatoon with enhanced strength and extraordinary acrobatic abilities, Sasquatch: Walter Langowski was a scientist from British Columbia who could transform into a giant fur-covered beast. This character originally developed his powers from a gamma radiation experiment that was affected by a solar-flare, but eventually it was explained that Sasquatch was actually a mystical monster, Shaman: Michael Twoyoungmen was a First Nations medicine man from Calgary, who was both a skilled doctor and sorcerer, Snowbird: (Also known as Narya) was an Inuit demi-goddess from Yellowknife who could fly and transform into animals of the north.

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