Thanks to the upcoming round of Marvel cancellations (or the Marvelcution, if you prefer), comics like Alpha Flight seem to be in danger of becoming a thing of the past. Rather than let creators run wild with some of Marvel's C-list characters, it's more likely we'll be drowning in extra issues of Spider-Man, X-Men and the Avengers before we see another obscure book like Alpha Flight.
Back at Fan Expo, Alpha Flight was officially made into an ongoing series and we were told that it would get at least12 issues. Cut to a few months later, Alpha Flight is a miniseries again with only two issues left after this one.
The biggest tragedy in this mess is that Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak are delivering one of the best Alpha Flight stories since the John Byrne run from the '80s. This is just pure superhero fun, complimented by great art by Dale Eaglesham.
For those of you who haven't been keeping up with the book, the Canadian government has been taken over by the fascist movement, Unity. And behind Unity is none other than the Master of the World, one of the most prominent Alpha Flight adversaries. In practically no time at all, the Master had Alpha Flight branded as traitors and he formed his own superteam, Alpha Strike, in order to hunt them down.
Which brings us to the present, where Northstar's boyfriend, Kyle Jinadu has undergone the Unity process and is now loyal only to the Master. Of course, Northstar and his Alpha Flight teammates stage a daring rescue, but they're soon stunned to find that Unity is more than just a brainwashing technique. Kyle is physically different, in addition to the mental rewiring. This issue also neatly recaps the Master's origin as he lays out his reasons for transforming the human race. The entire sequence is drawn by Eaglesham as if it was imagined by a young child; which fits since the Master is explaining it to Heather Hudson's daughter at the time.
But Eaglesham shines throughout the issue, especially during the initial attack by Ranark, as he takes humanoid form from a murder of crows. There's also a great visual representation of Persuasion's mental power, when her latest victim practically turns purple while he obeys her simple command and almost kills himself in the process.
Thus far, the rebooted Marrina remains my favorite character in the book. In her new persona, Marrina isn't shy about telling humans and mutants how much she doesn't like them. And Marrina is also hilarious when she feigns surprise that the giant squid she dragged into the battle would be pissed about it "for some reason."
Even the perennially unlikable Northstar comes off well in this book, as he shows a more supportive side to Guardian while also trying to cure Kyle. The entire cast gets moments to shine and the story is just fun to read. But if these Canadian superheroes aren't enough for you, feel free to hold out for the inevitable guest appearance of everyone's favorite Canuck in the next issue.
Plus, now that Fear Itself is over, Alpha Flight is more of a standalone story than ever before. I wish we could get more comics like this. Alpha Flight may never set the sales charts on fire, but it is well worth your money.
Crave Online Rating: 9/10