Retro Review: Alpha Flight Vol. 2 By Seagle, Clark, Rouleau & Others For Marvel Comics

Alpha Flight: In the Beginning #-1, Alpha Flight Vol. 2 #1 – 20 , Alpha Flight/Inhumans ‘98 (July 1997 – March 1999)

Written by Steven T. Seagle (#-1, 1-20)

Plot by Joe Casey (Alpha Flight/Inhumans ‘98)

Plot Assist by Joe Casey (#11)

Co-Plotted by Duncan Rouleau (#13, 17-20)

Script by Steven T. Seagle (Alpha Flight/Inhumans ‘98), Mark Bernardo (Alpha Flight/Inhumans ‘98)

Pencilled by Anthony Winn (#-1, 10), Scott Clark (#1-5, 7-8), Martin Egeland (#4), Brian Denham (#5), Bryan Hitch (#6), Roger Cruz (#9), Ariel Olivetti (#11), Duncan Rouleau (#12, 14-20), Ashley Wood (#13), Tom Raney (Alpha Flight/Inhumans ‘98)

Pencil Assist by Gus Vazquez (#17), Andy Smith (#18)

Inked by Mario Alquiza (#-1), Will Conrad (#-1), Chris Carlson (#1-5, 7-9), Howard Shum (#4), Paul Neary (#6), Aaron Sowd (#10, 12, 16), Pier Brito (#11), Troy Hubbs (#12, 14), Rob Hunter (#12, 15-17), Ashley Wood (#13), Cabin Boy (#16, 18), Joe Rubinstein (#17), Andy Smith (#18), Jaime Mendoza (#18-20), Harry Candelario (#20), Jimmy Palmiotti (#20), Rich Perotta (#20), John Beatty (Alpha Flight/Inhumans ‘98)

Assistant Inked by Christy Stack (#14)

Colour by Tom Smith (#-1), Lee Ann Garner/Lee Ann Denham (#1-20), Gina Going (Alpha Flight/Inhumans ‘98)

Spoilers (from twenty to twenty-two years ago)

I’ve talked before about how much I admire Steven T. Seagle’s slim body of superhero work, and his independent and Vertigo work, when I wrote about his Primal Force series.  His run on X-Men remains a favourite of mine, but it was his Alpha Flight that spurred me to begin this whole run of retro review columns. I wanted to revisit it, but decided to go through the 130 plus comics that preceded it first, because I wanted to revisit Byrne’s run, and wanted proper context.

When this series began (properly, I’m not talking about the annoying -1 gimmick, I remember being annoyed that so much of the screen time was given over to new characters, when I felt that Alpha already had such a rich vein of characters to tap into.  With time, though, I began to really like what Seagle added to the book, and I was pretty disappointed when the series got canceled.

The question I have is, was this book just good in comparison to everything else being put out in the late 90s, when the bar was so low, or was it legitimately a good comic?  Let’s find out…

Let’s track who turned up in the title:

Alpha Flight

  • Guardian (James MacDonald Hudson; #1-5, 7-20, Alpha Flight/Inhumans ‘98)
  • Vindicator (Heather Hudson; #1-20, Alpha Flight/Inhumans ‘98)
  • Puck (Eugene Milton Judd; #1-20, Alpha Flight/Inhumans ‘98)
  • Madison Jeffries (#1)
  • Radius (Jared Corbo; #1-20, Alpha Flight/Inhumans ‘98)
  • Flex (Adrian Corbo; #1-5, 7-20, Alpha Flight/Inhumans ‘98)
  • Murmur (Arlette Truffaut; #1-16, 18-20, Alpha Flight/Inhumans ‘98)
  • Sasquatch (#1-7, 9-10, 12)
  • Manbot (Bernie Lachenay; #1, 3-5, 7, 9-13, 15-20)
  • Sunfire (Shiro Yashida; #7-9, 12-13)

Villains

  • Scorpio (Zodiac; #1, 7, 12)
  • Taurus (Zodiac; #1, 10, 12)
  • Virgo (Zodiac; #1, 5, 10, 12)
  • Pisces (Zodiac; #1, 12)
  • Sagittarius (Zodiac; #1)
  • The Ecliptic (Zodiac; #1, 7)
  • Chinook (#3)
  • Mesmero (#3-5)
  • Sauron (#9)
  • Baron Zebek (#10-11)
  • Capricorn (Zodiac; #12)
  • Leo (Zodiac; #12)
  • Aries (Zodiac; #12)
  • Gemini (Madison Jeffries, Zodiac; #12)
  • Aquarius (Zodiac; #12)
  • Libra (Zodiac; #12)
  • Cancer (Zodiac; #12)
  • The Brass Bishop (#14-16)
  • Dargil (#16)
  • Mephisto (#16)
  • X The Unknown (#17)
  • Weapon X (Huxley’s experiment; #17-20)

Guest Stars

  • Weapon Alpha (James MacDonald Hudson; #-1)
  • Weapon X (Logan; #-1, 1)
  • Stan Lee (#-1)
  • Eugene Milton Judd (#-1)
  • Chinook (#-1)
  • Sunfire (Shiro Yashida; #1-5, 17)
  • Wildchild (Kyle; #3)
  • Shaman (Michael Twoyoungmen; #3, 15, 17-20)
  • Diamond Lil (Lil Crawley; #5-6, 11, 18)
  • Northstar (Jean-Paul Beaubier; #6, 8, 12-13, 15, 17-20)
  • Wolverine (Logan, X-Men; #9)
  • Rogue (X-Men; #9)
  • Cannonball (Sam Guthrie, X-Men; #9)
  • Maggott (X-Men; #9)
  • Storm (Ororo Munroe, X-Men; #9)
  • Arcturus Rann (Micronauts; #10-11)
  • Marionette (Micronauts; #10-11)
  • Dexam (Micronauts; #10-11)
  • Bug (Micronauts; #10-11)
  • Aurora (Jeanne-Marie Beaubier; #12, 15, 18-20)
  • Sasquatch (Walter Langkowski; #13, 15, 17-20)
  • Guardian (the original James MacDonald Hudson; #13, 18-20)
  • Modred the Mystic (#16)
  • Honey Lemon (Big Hero 6; #16-17)
  • Hiro (Big Hero 6; #17)
  • Baymax (Big Hero 6; #17)
  • Silver Samurai (Big Hero 6; #17)
  • Gogo Tomago (Big Hero 6; #17)
  • Black Bolt (Inhumans; Alpha Flight/Inhumans ‘98)
  • Medusa (Inhumans; Alpha Flight/Inhumans ‘98)
  • Karnak (Inhumans; Alpha Flight/Inhumans ‘98)
  • Gorgon (Inhumans; Alpha Flight/Inhumans ‘98)
  • Triton (Inhumans; Alpha Flight/Inhumans ‘98)

Supporting Characters

  • Heather McNeill Hudson (#-1)
  • Gary Cody (government liaison; #-1, 1)
  • General Jeremy Clarke (Canadian Military liaison; as Major Clarke, #-1, as General, #1-12)
  • Coordinator Proctor (Super Hero Youth Acceleration Program; #2-4, 14, 18)
  • Beatrice DeLaSalle (Headmistress, Hull House; #2-4)
  • Dr. Horatio Huxley (Helios Project; #2, 6, 8, 13-20)
  • Dr. Ko Bin Su (Chief Engineer; #2-3, 7-8, 14, 18)
  • Director X (#2, 11, 14)
  • Lt. Oculus (#2, 8, 14)
  • Lilli/Ghost Girl (as Lilli; #4-5, 8-9, 11, 14; as Ghost Girl; #16-20)
  • Dr. Myra Haddock (Prometheus Division; #4-6, 10, 12, 18)
  • Basil Kilgrew (Beta 1, 13th Floor; #13)
  • Mr. Gentry (new Department H supervisor; #14-20)
  • Hames (Gentry’s assistant; #14-15, 17-20)
  • Ouija (Alpha trainee; #14)
  • Flinch (Alpha trainee; #14)
  • Lieutenant Power (#18)

Let’s take a look at what happened in these books, with some commentary as we go:

  • In the summer of 1997, Marvel held “Flashback Month”, where most of their comics were given the number -1, and were set before their actual runs began.  In the case of Alpha Flight, this came out a month before Seagle’s series was set to launch, and it feels like he had to scramble to come up with anything.  The issue opens with Logan helping James MacDonald Hudson get ready for his wedding. Weirdly, Stan Lee is officiating. As they enter the church, Heather is waiting, and Mac seems to be suffering from cold feet.  We then flash further back, to when Heather first introduces herself to Mac when they both worked for Am-Can Petroleum. Mac barely notices her, caught up with ideas about an exploration suit. Later, when he learns that the suit is being sold to the American military, Heather quits in protest, and Mac steals the helmet.  Heather helps introduce him to people in the Canadian government, and the idea of Department H is born. As they get closer, Heather is often treated like Sue Richards, ignored whenever Mac has an idea or work to do. As they both work at the Department, Heather finally blows up at Mac one day for ignoring her, and on the spur of the moment, he declares his love and proposes.  Immediately afterwards, Mac is called in for a meeting with Gary Cody to discuss a Cosmic Ray Collector project, which Mac disagrees with because of the danger involved. We see construction of the collector called off, and one of the workmen, Eugene Milton Judd, heads back to his other job. Heather and Mac get married at city hall, which angers Heather’s parents and which Heather doesn’t see as real.  Out of the blue one day Mac tells Heather they are going on a honeymoon – hunting up north. It’s not really what Heather wants, but it’s free. On that trip, they are attacked by the feral Logan, and Heather has to shoot him to protect Mac. On the day that Heather and Mac are supposed to be properly married, he calls to say that he has to postpone, as he needs to work to save Logan’s life (we see him in a medical vat of some sort).  Later, Logan and Mac are training when they get a call they need to go to Orloo, the fictional town where the cosmic ray collector was being built – it was completed and is not malfunctioning. Of course, this is the day that the MacDonald’s are supposed to have their wedding ceremony again. Heather drives up as Weapons Alpha and X fly off. In Orloo, Judd is playing basketball with the kids that live at the orphanage he works at (not really how earlier comics have portrayed his life before Department H) and when he sees explosions in the distance, he rushes off to help.  A Major named Clarke is responsible for restarting the project – I presume he’s the guy who later becomes General Clarke. Logan wants to attack the collector, but it’s too dangerous to get close. He’s stopped by the sudden appearance of Chinook, a WWII Canadian hero who doesn’t seem very old. This guy flies into the collector, and is painfully transformed into a big monster that starts rampaging. Logan and Judd attack him. Mac figures out that Chinook is still drawing mass from the collector, and might cause a black hole to form. Mac tries fighting him, but it’s Logan and Judd that figure out the best thing to do is to knock Chinook back into the collector.  They do this with an early version of the fastball special, but Mac is almost pulled in. Judd grabs him, and Logan grabs him, but they aren’t able to pull Mac out. Suddenly, Heather arrives in her VW Bug, and grabs Logan. Together they pull Mac back as the nascent black hole closes on Chinook. Judd refuses to tell them who he is, but does tell them where he works. Cody shows up and Mac yells at him. Heather insists on getting married right then (she has her dress in the car) so they go to the closest church (the one where Stan Lee is priest). They get married, and Logan catches the bouquet. We are not off to a good start here, people.
  • The first issue is double-sized, and full of content.  It makes use of a second person narrator who talks about each character’s zodiac sign, a conceit that gets a little annoying.  The issue opens in the past, when Weapon X and Guardian were training, and Logan ended up gutting Mac. In order to save him, Clarke had him agree to sign a consent for something called the Prometheus Division.  We see that Mac, in the present, was dreaming about this. At the same time, Heather is dreaming about Mac’s first death. Judd, meanwhile, dreams about Heather and how he could never show her his feelings. He wakes up in an alley and heads home, where he finds a voicemail message telling him that Mac has been reported missing.  He decides he should go see Heather, who is now working in a flower shop (and is apparently wearing contact lenses). They go for lunch to talk about how Heather and Mac have drifted apart since his most recent resurrection, and how she doesn’t really miss being in Alpha Flight now. As they talk, the café where they are sitting is approached by a few men in armored suits, calling themselves Epsilons.  They bust through the window and order Heather and Judd to come with them. When they resist, they knock them out. Heather and Judd wake up in Department H, with General Clarke waiting for them. He explains to them that a Quebec separatist terrorist cell (even Heather recognizes that this is not a thing in 1997) is threatening a chemical attack on Vancouver unless he gets his wishes. Clarke points out that Scorpio, of the Zodiac, is in the video, and that the group has already gassed one small town, killing everyone.  Clarke tells them that Alpha Flight has been reformed, and that they are needed. He shows them that he’s already recruited Jeffries and a very transformed Sasquatch, as well as finding four new recruits. Guardian enters the room, and everyone is surprised to see that he’s been de-aged to the point where he looks to be about nineteen. No one seems to notice that the maple leaf on his uniform, which has some redesigns, looks nothing like the one on the Canadian flag. Sunfire, Shiro Yashida, is attempting to enter Canada but is stoped at the border because he doesn’t have proper ID.  He attempts to fly in anyway, and is shot down by some Epsilons. Puck and Vindicator (I guess she and Mac have swapped codenames again) are introduced to the new Alpha Flight. Madison seems to be eschewing codenames now, and we are introduced to Radius, his insecure half-brother Flex, and Murmur (who seems to have Persuasion’s power set and Aurora’s sexiness). Sasquatch is a long-toothed beast now, chained to a wall. Manbot, the last member, is not there. They have a new battlesuit for Heather, that is green, and that taps into geothermal energies for some reason. Heather wants to turn them down, but Puck is already engaging in a sparring match.  Later, the team continues to train, and we get to see a little of how dysfunctional this group is. Vindicator comes in her new suit, and asks Mac how he de-aged. He explains that Department H has a device taken from the High Evolutionary that de-evolves people. That’s how he was saved from his fight with Logan. When he used it to get rid of his mechanical parts, he went back too far. Clarke arrives with Manbot, which is a giant armless robot body with huge feet and a tiny human head. Scorpio is at his base with the Zodiac. We learn that he’s kind of a hero somehow, and that he doesn’t want Taurus going near Virgo. Pisces and Sagittarius let him know that he’s being summoned by the Ecliptic, an old lady who tells him to move up his timeline.  The terrorist we saw earlier makes new demands at arrowpoint; it turns out he’s a hostage being used by Scorpio. When Alpha gets word that they have to act quicker, Heather argues that the team is not ready, but Clarke insists that they all go. Flying their new jet, we see that Radius likes to pick on Flex, and that Puck’s headgear looks different in almost every panel. The team lands and prepares to attack. Heather and Judd question Mac’s orders, and the team splits into two squads. Madison asks Adrian to watch his back. As the first squad enters the observatory where Zodiac is hiding, it becomes clear that Manbot is there to record their actions. The teams attack, Heather can somehow summon lava with her suit, and the hostages get rescued. The team begins to fight the Zodiac, and they do it poorly.  Heather doesn’t follow Mac’s orders, and Sasquatch goes wild, hitting members of his own team. Mac is resentful when Heather saves him from Pisces, and Manbot locates the launch controls. Murmur makes Virgo teleport away, and Radius pushes Taurus into Flex, who maybe kills him with his knife hands. Madison tries to keep Flex’s mind in the mission, but also needs to stop Sasquatch. Scorpio blasts Madison, and the rest of the Zodiac teleport away with him. Manbot stops the chemical weapons from being launched. Later, Heather and Judd talk to Clarke about how they want to leave the team. Heather wants to go after Jeffries on her own, while Puck doesn’t want the team to have so much government control. They leave. In another part of Department H, someone we don’t see meets with Scorpio, and we learn that they hired him to do what we’ve seen him do.  Scorpio leaves announcing that they are enemies. Somewhere else, Clarke watches Manbot’s tapes of the battle. As they leave, Heather and Judd are shot by two Epsilons and dragged back into the facility.
  • At five AM, an alarm goes off gathering most of Alpha Flight (Radius doesn’t wake up, Sasquatch is tranquilized, and Manbot is nowhere to be seen this issue).  Clarke lets the team know that there’s an intruder on the roof, and they scramble. On their way, Heather notices a door marked “Beta Flight Wing”. Arriving on the roof, they find The Master of the World.  Puck questions Mac’s orders, and the team has trouble fighting their most persistent foe. Finally, it’s Radius who swings in on a rope and kicks the Master, knocking him over the side of the building, who saves the day.  Everyone heads back to bed but for Heather and Mac, who take the chance to chat. We learn that Mac’s de-aging has effectively erased Heather from his emotional memory; we also see that they are being monitored. In Orloo, someone named Coordinator Proctor arrives at Hull House, the orphanage where Puck used to work, because a woman that works there summoned him to point out that a “legacy” has begun to exhibit powers.  There’s a girl who appears to have Kitty Pryde-like powers. The ground shakes a little. Heather and Judd work out for a bit together, and as they chat, Madison Jeffries’s name comes up, which makes them both pause as if they’ve forgotten something. The people monitoring them are concerned by this, and discuss reconditioning them once they fall asleep. Murmur finds Radius in the hydroponics lab, and they talk about how she can’t touch them.  They walk by the Helios Project, wherein we see Sunfire running through tests that hurt him. Dr. Huxley, the guy running this department, tells Shiro that he can’t leave, as the radiation of his powers is killing him. Alpha Flight engages in a training session (again, without Sasquatch or Manbot) when the alarm goes off again. Clarke arrives to tell them that the Master is in Department H, and orders them to split up to search. Each member of the team comes across the Master in a different place, and in each instance, he’s changed his appearance to better counter their abilities.  They begin to maneuver their Masters to a central location, where Puck orders them to “switch partners”, and they defeat them quickly. Clarke shows up with Chief Engineer Su, and we learn that these were training synthoids. Heather’s not happy about being tricked, and as she leaves, Mac asks her out. Clarke dismisses everyone, with a comment about Heather’s subordination. He goes to a meeting with Director X, who we still don’t see but realize is the guy who hired Scorpio. At this meeting is Huxley, Proctor, and someone named Lt. Oculus (who is the guy who coordinates spying on the team).  Someone named Myra is not at the meeting. From it, we learn that Manbot is going to be back tomorrow, that problems continue with controlling Sasquatch, that they are going to harvest the girl at the orphanage, and that no progress is being made with the Betas. The Director suggests regressing Heather if she continues to be a problem. Puck goes to visit Sasquatch, promising to help him. In Orloo, where the cosmic collector was, a hand busts out of the ground.
  • The weather is getting weird and windy in Orloo.  Puck is in his room at Department H, reading a lingerie catalogue, when someone slips a paper under his door.  It’s classified, and discusses the death of a Legacy from Hull House. He goes looking for Heather, who is trying to figure out how her new suit works, although Dr. Su isn’t giving her a lot of answers.  She chats with Puck about how Mac doesn’t seem to be aware of her feelings for him (which kind of bites, considering how Puck feels about her). He is about to talk about the note when they are summoned for a briefing.  In Washington, Wildchild, who has regressed, appearance-wise, learns about Alpha Flight’s return, but he’s with X-Factor now. Likewise, Shaman is in the Northwest Territories, working for a local tribe, when he discovers that the team is back.  General Clarke tells the team about problems in Orloo, and we learn that Radius, Flex, and Murmur all lived there, in Hull House. Due to the strange high winds, Clarke wants the team to investigate. They decide to leave the novices home, so only Guardian, Vindicator, Puck, Sasquatch, and Manbot head out.  As they approach the town in their Alphajet, they reminisce about the last time they were in Orloo, when Heather and Mac got married. Mac doesn’t remember this. The winds pick up and the pilot is injured by a rock. Mac manages to bring the jet down. Adrian goes to Jared’s room, where he finds him shirtless and hanging out with Arlette.  She leaves, and somehow Jared’s uniform is on in the next panel (how, if he cannot be touched due to his force field, does he get clothes within the field?). They argue, but hear shouting from the door marked Helios Project. Using his field, Jared opens the door a crack, and they see Sunfire blowing off steam and arguing with the radiation-suited scientists trying to help him.  The team splits up to investigate Orloo. Puck heads for Hull House, wondering about the kids he used to work with (looking back at issue -1, it turns out that he was friendly with young Jared and Adrian, who clearly would remember him). Headmistress DeLaSalle turns him away, under the hidden eye of Coordinator Proctor. Heather and Sasquatch deliver the injured pilot to the hospital, and Sasquatch takes off running.  Manbot and Guardian arrive at the site of the cosmic collector, and find a hand sticking out of the ground. Chinook, still kind of monstrous, but looking very different from his previous appearance, emerges and starts ranting. Jared chats with the others on the roof, not aware that he’s being observed, and tells them he wants to bust Sunfire out of his room and go to Montreal (previously, in the last volume, the identical Department H building was just outside of Toronto, so this doesn’t make sense).  The others don’t agree at first, but go along with him. They go grab Shiro, who is reluctant to go with them, so Murmur uses her powers on him, and they head to the motorpool. Chinook attacks Guardian, and Manbot tries to help. Sasquatch shows up and starts fighting the former hero, who talks a lot. We learn that Mac doesn’t remember fighting him before. Puck arrives, as does Vindicator, and Sasquatch rips Chinook in half, causing a weird explosion. We can see that something like a crop circle was formed, looking a lot like the key that Scorpio uses. The team is going to start investigating, when Manbot receives orders for them to return to base because the novices are missing.  The kids, with the kind of angry Shiro, stop at an all-night diner, where they find that the villain Mesmero is hanging out or maybe the proprietor. He intends to take control of them for his generic world-controlling purposes.
  • Radius, Murmur, Flex, and Sunfire sit in the restaurant talking to each other.  They are now in their uniforms, where last issue they were shown as wearing coats.  They chat for a bit, and we learn that Flex was Adrian’s nickname long before it became his codename.  We also learn that Jared needs an eating filter in order to eat, but he left it back at Department H. They notice Mesmero, sitting in his full costume, looking at them, and challenge him.  Radius starts to fight him, and it takes a while before he looks into Mesmero’s eyes and becomes controlled by him. Murmur’s powers don’t work on Mesmero, so he captures her as well, before catching Flex too. He also manages to grab control of Sunfire.  At Department H, Mac is upset that the kids were able to leave so easily. Heather questions the narrative, as she knows that the whole building is monitored, and calls into question if they should even be on the team. In the Beta Flight Wing, two Epsilon guards chat for a bit, and we learn that they are guarding beings in tanks that occasionally move.  Mesmero talks to his new thralls, explaining how he escaped after his last encounter with Alpha Flight, and then talks about how he escaped his apparent death at the hands of the Dark Riders (I’m not sure where this took place). He learned that he can stay inside someone’s head for as long as he wishes, and claims he has plans for his new army. At Hull House, a small party is held for Lilli, who is getting adopted.  Mrs. De La Salle says goodbye, as does her friend Claire. When she gets into her new parents’ car, she finds instead Coordinator Proctor, who tells her that she is going to be part of Alpha Flight. She’s taken to Department H, where she is fitted for a costume, tattooed on her lower back, and told she has to leave her old life behind. Guardian, Vindicator, Sasquatch, Puck, and Manbot arrive outside of Montreal, where the Hummer the kids took is located.  Mac and Heather head into the restaurant to look for them, and are seated by Arlette, who doesn’t recognize them. Jared cleans their table, and they notice Adrian and Shiro cooking. Heather yells for Mac to get the others, and Mesmero realizes who they are. He has his Jared attack Mac. In Department H’s Prometheus Division, Myra Haddock, the division’s director, holds a meeting that gets interrupted by the news that someone got their Prometheus Pit to work.  The new Alphans attack Heather and Mac, who hold them off until the others squeeze their way into the restaurant, with Manbot recording everything. After some sparring, Heather grabs Arlette’s hand, and has her order herself to remember. She comes to, and Heather tells her to free the others the same way. Mesmero makes himself known and takes control of Vindicator. Murmur frees Adrian, but Mesmero grabs Mac, and then Puck. Murmur frees Sunfire, Mesmero controls Sasquatch.  Mesmero can’t get ahold of Manbot, but Jared gets freed. In the end, the newbies are all back in their own minds, but the veterans are captured, and Mesmero orders them to attack.
  • Mesmero shows signs of cracking up, as he has the other diner customers engage in a food fight as he pits the Alpha veterans against the rookies and Sunfire.  Shiro tries to take command, but Jared does what he wants, confronting Mesmero and getting blasted by Guardian. Murmur, who is upset to have pie in her face, literally, tries to get Sasquatch to remember who he is, but it doesn’t appear to work.  Diamond Lil turns up at Department H’s reception area, looking for Madison Jeffries. As the receptionist calls it in, Lilli approaches Lil for help in leaving. Some Epsilons lead Lilli back inside while others escort Lil to the infirmary. Sasquatch, who we learn isn’t under Mesmero’s control anymore, is still rampaging.  Guardian flies Radius high into the air, planning on dropping him, but Jared instead makes it hard for him to breathe. As Sunfire and Vindicator fight, he questions just what powers Heather’s new suit, since Canada doesn’t have easily-accessible veins of lava for her to tap; he suggests that it’s magical in nature. Radius takes down Guardian, while Sunfire blasts Vindicator.  Flex manifests knives on his leg, which stops Puck from grabbing him, but he still gets punched out. Sasquatch turns on Manbot, who is prohibited from using lethal force against him. Instead, he uses a nerve toxin to take Sasquatch down. At the Prometheus Division, Haddock has her people test the Prometheus Pit, which causes a blackout through much of the building. She pulls a small man (clearly associated with the Micronauts) from the Pit, but when General Clarke calls, she claims her test didn’t work.  Murmur gives Flex false courage, and then goes after Mesmero herself. Radius maneuvers Puck so he gets blasted by Guardian, and Vindicator blasts away at Manbot. Adrian’s courage is gone, and he remembers being attacked by a monster back when he was a child at Hull House. Puck is back to normal, and Murmur manages to free Heather. Mesmero gets Mac to hold a knife to his neck, which gives the heroes pause, but Sasquatch sneaks up behind Mac and punches him, which allows Murmur to free him. Everyone is themselves again, and they turn towards Mesmero, who somehow disappears.  In Paris, an old bickering couple run into a young woman with their car. It turns out to be Virgo, and she is calling for Scorpio. 
  • Bryan Hitch and Paul Neary contribute the art for issue six, which is a nice break from the more frenetic art that’s filled this series so far.  Sasquatch has escaped, and General Clarke wants to send Puck to find him on his own, citing their friendship (which I don’t remember ever really being a thing).  Puck notices some suspicious signs that Sasquatch’s bounds were weakened, allowing him to escape, and the guys monitoring everything at Department H confirm for us readers that there was footage of him escaping, despite what Clarke says.  We see Sasquatch, calmer than usual, travelling west by hitching rides on trains. When he climbs on one in Saskatchewan, he scares a railyard worker. Diamond Lil, still in uniform, is in some Department H lab, where Dr. Huxley keeps knocking her out, for unclear reasons.  Puck is brought to Prometheus Division, where Myra Haddock gives him a modified flight platform to use in searching for Sasquatch. While they talk, a bunch of Epsilons respond to an alarm coming from the Prometheus Pit, but Haddock doesn’t talk about it. Puck heads out, but stops to take tracking tech out of his clothes (although he knows there’s one on his platform too).  Sasquatch arrives in Alberta, where an amateur photographer gets a picture of him before he breaks into a house (where a woman has just left her husband or boyfriend), and eats some food. Puck, in Saskatchewan, learns that Sasquatch is headed west. An apparent shooting star falls from the sky and lands on a fishing boat; it turns out to be Northstar, who is unconscious. Sasquatch keeps moving west, towards the North Thompson River, where Department H found him.  Puck investigates the house that Sasquatch trashed, and finds the guy who lives there (who has a name like Dan Ron), who is convinced that Sasquatch stole his wife. Puck finds her note, and leaves it at the local bar for him; the amateur photographer shows him the picture he took. Puck figures out Sasquatch is using the rails, and calls in. While Jared works out, Arlette tries to flirt with him, and he pushes her away. Heather tries to console her, by warning against intra-team romance, but Arlette points out that Heather’s a hypocrite in that regard.  Puck is close on Sasquatch’s trail, and when he finds him, Sasquatch attacks. Puck realizes that this isn’t Walter Langkowski at all, but a real-life Sasquatch, when he sees his family in the woods. Puck tries to calm the creature, but then some Epislons show up and tranquilize him. When Puck tries to stop them, they tranq him too. General Clarke is there, and he orders the Epsilons to load Sasquatch and Puck, and to forget that they saw the other Sasquatches.
  • Adrian wakes up at night needing to go to the bathroom, which makes him a little nervous due to the conditioning he received at Hull House as a child.  Walking down the hall, he sees a glowing ball of energy with an eye in it (it looks a little like the Proty aspect of Manikin’s past self). He yells, and then runs to the bathroom where he rebukes himself for not yelling (the editing is not what it could be here).  The next morning, Jared is heading for the shower when he runs into Mac and they have a terse conversation about getting ready for a training session. Mac tells Jared to find his brother, and Jared finds him sleeping in the shower. He doesn’t believe him that he saw the creature the night before, and tells him to have a shower so he can go train too (why would you shower before working out?).  Heather tells Chief Engineer Su that she wants changes to her uniform, requesting something to protect her eyes and to make it easier to turn her head. She says she won’t wear the uniform again until these changes are made, but later she’s wearing it and it looks the same as before. She asks General Clarke’s secretary to tell her about Beta Flight, and is turned down. Mac takes her outside for a talk.  He wants to talk about their relationship, but are interrupted by Arlette, who, while wearing a skimpy bikini, starts to flirt with Mac. He instead grabs Heather and they head to the roof, where he suggests that he wants to get to know her better and maybe start dating her. Heather is annoyed by this, as she misses the man she actually married. As they talk, Heather sees the energy being, and Mac grabs her and kisses her, thinking she’s trying to get out of their conversation.  Some Department H types are watching this when General Clarke comes to complain about the quality of their work, and the way they weren’t monitoring Lilli when she tried to leave. Manbot is shown walking through the hall, recording Clarke’s conversation. The team, which apparently now includes Sunfire somehow, are running through some practice drills, hoping to improve on their performance after the Mesmero affair. During the fight, Murmur flirts with Guardian, Sunfire shows that he’s weaker than normal, and Vindicator tells Manbot he reminds her of Box, which awkwardly is just a foil for making her remember Madison Jeffries again.  Adrian talks about the energy monster again, and only Heather believes him. Heather shares with Mac that she suspects that Department H is behind this. Somewhere else, The Ecliptic tells Scorpio that Virgo is in Paris. Adrian tries to find his and Jared’s parents on the internet. Arlette shares that her mother went looking for her father, the filmmaker Francois Truffaut and never returned for her. As the three head for the cafeteria, Adrian spots the energy being again and they begin chasing it, before losing it around a hallway corner. Puck is undergoing some kind of memory reordering, so the knowledge he received last issue about Sasquatch is gone.  He finds Heather while still in a fog, and they talk about the gaps in their memories, and how they keep forgetting Jeffries. The novices try to eat with Shiro, but he declines, and returns to his room to check on the progress of his radiation poisoning. We see the glowing creature watching him. Heather and Judd go looking for Clarke, wanting to confront him on a number of things, and manage to spy into the Beta Flight room due to a malfunctioning door. They see the bodies in tanks, but are turned away. Jared is shy about eating in front of his friends, since he needs to wear a weird contraption to get food through his forcefield. The energy being comes up behind him and grabs him, dragging him away.  Murmur and Flex try to free him, but can’t. They find Puck along the way, and follow as the being drops Jared off in his own bed and disappears. Murmur heads outside and finds Mac standing and brooding. She tells him that he should enjoy being young, and kisses him just as Heather approaches. Puck chats with Sasquatch, and while doing so, hears a voice telling him that the energy creature is made by the Department, and to ask about someone named Patrice Trask. The team is summoned for a briefing, and Clarke tells them they have to open the Weapon X files, while standing in front of an image of Logan.
  • Issue eight opens in Combat Centrale, Department H’s version of the Danger Room.  Heather is refusing to participate in the activity, but doesn’t have much of a choice as the team (leaving out Sasquatch, Manbot, and Sunfire) start to fight robotic versions of Wolverine as part of their next mission.  While they fight, General Clarke and Chief Engineer Su watch, and Clarke complains a bit about how difficult Heather has become. The exercise moves into the “kill or be killed” level, and Radius expands his forcefield, crushing one of the robots, while teamwork between Murmur and Puck takes out another.  Mac gets a little ferocious, making Heather worry that he doesn’t remember that he and Logan are friends. When one of the Loganbots makes reference to Mac’s deaths, Heather gets angry, and then tells off Su, claiming that mimicking Logan’s abilities and fighting style mean nothing since it’s his mind that makes him so dangerous.  When she sees Murmur fret over a cut Mac got, she gets more angry and storms off. In the hall, the glowing energy being grabs her and drags her away. Clarke tells the rest of the team that he wants to brief them on their Wolverine mission, but Puck also walks out, wanting to check on Heather, who he can’t find. Sunfire’s powers appear to be going out of control.  The novices check in at the medical labs, where they apparently get their blood tested every week. Adrian is in a rush, and we see that after he returns to his room, he’s received an e-mail stating that Jared’s father was located. On the coast of New Brunswick, Northstar has recovered from his injuries. He bristles at perceived homophobia from the man who saved him, and suggests that he had been trying to kill himself by flying to space.  Guardian runs a briefing for the younger Alphans about Logan (referring to him as Weapon Chi), but we quickly see that it’s full of misinformation, portraying Logan as an escaped convict who went on numerous crime sprees before being lost in the wilderness after a helicopter crashed. Clarke and a scientist have Heather in a contraption and start to wipe some memories from her, and generally leave her mind addled. When she wakes up, Clarke tells her that she suffered from a seizure, and mentions that she had childhood epilepsy.  Clarke takes Heather to the briefing, just as Mac explains how Logan was healed by Shaman before he became Shaman, and then later how he was found by Mac and Heather during their honeymoon, but he has the details, such as which of them shot Logan, completely wrong. Heather’s new state of confusion worsens. Puck talks to his neighbour on the phone, having just remembered that he has an apartment. That talk reminds him that Madison Jeffries was abducted, and he rushes to confront Clarke about this. He runs into Lilli in the hall, and tells her she can use the phone in his room when she says she wants to call Hull House.  Mac continues to explain how the Weapon Chi program put adamantium in Wolverine, and rehabilitated him, until he took off on them. Now Department H wants to reclaim their stolen adamantium. Clarke explains Heather’s confusion as perhaps being connected to her suit. Clarke, with the help of Lt. Oculus, explains that Wolverine has become more savage of late, and just as Puck busts in demanding to talk to Clarke, Clarke shows the team footage of Wolverine killing Madison Jeffries, and orders the team to capture him and return him to Canada. As the team leaves, Clarke congratulates Oculus on his doctored footage.
  • Roger Cruz drew issue nine, which is kind of a crossover with Uncanny X-Men #355 (that issue basically tells the same story, but from Wolverine’s viewpoint, which works well since Seagle wrote both books).  Clarke is in the communication centre keeping an eye on his team through Manbot’s eye, while they close in on Wolverine. Heather is tracking his adamantium, and the team quickly locates him driving his motorcycle, with a passenger that is completely wrapped in burlap and chains (I had to read the X-Men issue to learn this is Sauron).  The team lands their jet down the road that Logan is travelling on. Clarke is upset to be called away during the mission, because two Epsilons are having trouble holding onto Lilli. He calms her, telling her she can return to Hull House if she wants, while also injecting her with something to calm her down. Guardian has the team spread out across the highway to challenge Wolverine, and insists on calling him Weapon X.  Logan sniffs Mac, while Manbot’s surveillance flickers in and out, causing Clarke more stress. Logan basically ignores the team and continues on his way. Mac and Jared get into a bit of a pissing contest, and then Mac flies after Logan. Sunfire calls someone in Japan to tell them that he’s coming home, even if that means he may have to go to prison. Mac catches up to Logan again and knocks him off his bike. They begin to fight, but Mac feels like something strange is happening.  The rest of the team catches up outside a gas station, and Murmur and Sasquatch go to stop Sauron, who is still covered up, from escaping. Everyone begins to tussle with Logan, just as Rogue flies by and says she’s going to go get help. They keep fighting, and Logan finally pops his claws when Flex gets pushed into him. Heather realizes that his claws are bone, and questions how she tracked him (this is that period when Logan didn’t have his metal anymore). The rest of the X-Men – Cannonball, Maggott, Storm, and Rogue – arrive and get into the fight.  Storm fights Heather while Maggott’s maggots freak out Murmur. Rogue takes on Radius, and Cannonball has a chat with Flex. Sasquatch uses Sauron to beat on Maggott, Murmur gets scared again, and finally, Cannonball yells for them all to stop fighting. He’s figured out that Logan could not have done what he’s accused of (in the Alpha Flight comic, he says that the X-Men were in Boston’s jail, but in the X-Men comic it was Bastion that had them prisoner, which makes more sense – more 90s editing!). Things calm down quickly, especially since Heather is once again suspicious of Department H.  Logan offers to help if they need it, but the team just gets on their jet. General Clarke is angry about how poorly this all went, but the second person narrator asks how much further he thinks things can go. It’s worth pointing out that the X-Men issue has Logan letting Heather know that Mac smells funny to him.
  • Anthony Winn drew issue ten.  The team returns to Department H, and Heather expresses her anger at being lied to, while Clarke feeds her more lies about how they received bad intel about Wolverine.  Puck doesn’t say much, but agrees with Heather, while Mac questions everything he knows. The rest of the team enjoys the show. Finally, Clarke threatens Heather with breach of contract, and she and the team walk away from him.  We see him calling someone to enact a plan. Later, Puck goes to tell off Jared for not being a team player. Adrian discovers that Jared’s father is Unus the Untouchable (which raises some questions about how he was conceived). Heather starts packing, and Judd comes to see her.  They discuss leaving and how to address the problems within the Department, when Heather receives a message telling her the team is in danger, and asking them to come to the Prometheus Division. In Paris, we see that Virgo has killed the people that helped her, as Taurus comes to retrieve her, and tell her that Scorpio has finished assembling all twelve members of the Zodiac.  Myra Haddock tells Heather that Clarke has been lying to her, and misusing the equipment her division has recovered to control them. She says she wants to take over Department H and make it more noble, and suggests that Alpha Flight hide out for a while. The rest of the team (without Sasquatch and Sunfire, who I guess isn’t actually on the team?) come running in, chased by Epsilons.  Haddock leads them to the Prometheus Pit, and tells them they can hide in the Microverse until she signals, through Manbot, that it’s okay for them to return. They jump in, and Clarke comes to thank Haddock for playing her part so well. The team arrives on Homeworld, in the city of Ant Tica. They are surprised to find that many of the people there are insectivorids, and some priests tell them how Baron Zebek came to rule that land.  The team is taken to meet the Baron, who is dressed in faux-Egyptian stylings. He treats them like honoured guests, and takes them to a gladiatorial contest, where most of the team is horrified by the brutality, and the realization that the insectivorids are an underclass. Most of the team leaves the palace at night to talk, and Heather feels that they’ve made a mistake in coming there. They talk about helping the insectivorids, when they hear some weird chanting.  Mac flies off to check it out, while the rest notice that Manbot (who they somehow thought was walking around with them, is being forced into a pool of ammonia. The team gets ready to help him, while Mac finds the source of the chanting – a temple lab place, where people are building a Quarkarion, basically something like a nuclear weapon, which the Baron wants to use to ensure peace with the other spheres. Mac is concerned that detonating it could destroy Department H or all of Ottawa.  He finds the rest of the team, who are lost somehow, and unable to find Manbot (or the giant pool he was in?). They decide to follow some priests, who lead them into an ally and then identify themselves as the champions of the Microverse, Arcturus Rann, Marionette, and Bug (aka the Micronauts). Also with them is someone named Dexam, who I guess was added to the team to replace the copyrighted characters (Acroyear, basically) that Marvel no longer had the rights to.
  • Ariel Olivetti drew issue eleven, and I like his earlier style more than his more recent approach.  Alpha and the Micronauts talk, and begin to agree that they don’t like the way Zebek runs the sphere now being called Antica.  Baron Zebek shows up with a number of dog soldiers and they start shooting at each other. Dexam calls Flex a “warrior born” which makes him happy, while the rest hold their own against growing numbers.  Rann calls in his ship the Endeavor, and they board it, trying to escape. Ground fire damages the ship. General Clarke is called to the Director’s office, and the Director makes it clear that Clarke is to follow his agenda.  Alpha and the Micronauts have landed and talk about Zebek’s rule, the Body Banks, Dexam’s history in the Body Banks, and their shared desire to help the insectivorids to overthrow Zebek’s rule. Heather pulls Mac away to talk, and begins to tell him that she wants to free him from their relationship, but Mac explains he has feelings for her, and that he doesn’t care about Murmur (who is, of course, watching them).  Diamond Lil wakes up in the Beta Flight wing, still attached to machines, and sees Lilli floating in a tank, before doctors notice she’s awake and put her under again. Mari and Dexam, disguised as priests, lead Heather, Arlette, and Adrian into the Body Banks. They find Manbot, who explains that because he has no organic matter, he wasn’t of use to the Body Banks, which surprises Heather a little. They free him, and then start talking to the Insectivorids, convincing them to rise up.  They do, and storm the gates. At the same time, the rest of the teams head to the place where the quarkarion bomb is being built, and attack the guards. Zebek shows up at the Quarkarion site, and Radius tries to take him on alone. There is fighting there, and at the main throne room. Mac uses an EMP to decouple Zebek from his hands and horse body, and his main scientist/priest guy refuses to launch the bomb. Puck tries to teach Radius a lesson. Later, the Quarkarion is destroyed, as the insectivorids take down Zebek’s statue.  Heather picks up on the ways in which this world is similar to her own, and says they should return home. Dexam agrees to stay in Antica to help rebuild, while the rest of the Micronauts depart. Manbot tells the team that Department H is being destroyed, and they teleport back.
  • Issue twelve borrows the cover design of the first Alpha #12, and promises that someone is going to die, a thread picked up by the narrator throughout the issue.  It also marks the first issue drawn by new ongoing penciller, Duncan Rouleau, who brings a cartoonish aspect to the book. As Alpha emerges from the Prometheus Pit, they find utter chaos, as the Epsilons and Sasquatch fight the full force of the Zodiac.  They wade into the battle, but are distracted and disoriented. Vindicator grabs Dr. Haddock, who is injured, Murmur is badly hurt, and Mac takes a while to agree with Puck that they should retreat and regroup. Scorpio orders the Zodiac to keep the pressure on, but Manbot finds an opening on the floor, dropping them down a large shaft, which makes them sitting ducks as the Zodiac fire on them.  Manbot gets them through a hole in the wall just as a bomb is dropped, sealing the team away. They argue a bit, and split into teams. Manbot, Flex, and Radius head for some monitors to figure out what’s going on, Mac and Puck plan to corral their enemies into Combat Centrale, while Heather takes Haddock and Murmur to the med-labs. Sasquatch keeps fighting on his own. Scorpio finds what he’s been looking for – a large metal box.  Northstar flies to Laval (unless it really is supposed to be Lavelle) Quebec, where his sister used to teach. He finds that the school where she lived has burned down, but he finds her, looking deranged, writing on a blackboard. Manbot takes the brothers to the 13th floor of Department H, which isn’t supposed to exist. Radius takes off to join the fight, while Manbot shows Flex how to use the monitoring system. Heather arrives in the med lab with the injured.  Puck and Guardian move through the halls, and are joined by a holographic projection of Flex that only they can see due to their implants, which Puck didn’t realize he has. They are attacked by some Zodiac, and start to flee, leading them. Heather finds Sunfire, who joins the fight. Radius joins up with some Epsilons who are retreating from three Zodiac who have freed some kind of organism from Prometheus Division, that eats any organic matter it comes across. Sasquatch joins Radius in fighting the Zodiac, who teleport away when Scorpio calls them, leaving the two Alphans surrounded by the organism.  Sasquatch lifts Radius, holding him out of the thing, which kills him, stripping him down to his very bones (yet somehow his arm doesn’t collapse). Mac and Puck lead a number of Zodiac into Combat Centrale, which Manbot turns into a weapon against them. For some reason the Zodiac can’t teleport away, and this keeps six of them out of the larger fight. Heather and Sunfire talk about his radiation poisoning, which has now turned half of his face black. They find Sasquatch’s skeleton, and hear Radius calling for help. He’s holding off the organism, protecting some Epsilons, but then insists that he can stop the thing on his own.  Heather notices General Clarke running off, and follows him. Puck and Guardian keep fighting the Zodiac, while Flex tries to figure out what the Zodiac are stealing. Puck recognizes the power set of one of the Gemini, and pulls off his mask, revealing that he’s Madison Jeffries, their former teammate. He’s thoroughly brainwashed, and the Zodiac teleport away again. Flex figures out what the Zodiac have taken, and Manbot reacts strangely, swallowing Flex into him and running. Guardian flies Puck back into the fight. Radius and Sunfire destroy the organism, and are joined by Guardian and Puck, leading them to the hangar bay. Heather catches up to Clarke, who is wearing a containment suit.  He explains that Department H’s reactor has been sabotaged. He intends to fix it. The Zodiac gather at the hangar bay (I’m not sure why they can’t just teleport their box away) just as some of the Alphans arrive. Clarke isn’t able to cool the reactor, and he burns up. Manbot arrives in the hangar, ordering Flex to the destroy the box. It turns out to have some kind of weapon in it, which Manbot identifies as an Nth Projector, which can open rifts in space.  Heather uses her suit to absorb all the heat from the reactor, fixing it, but her suit starts to overload (sound familiar?).  Scorpio tells Alpha that they have sabotaged the reactor, and that if they don’t get there soon, Heather will die. Rouleau borrows a page from John Byrne as we see numbers counting down as Heather tries to fix her suit.  Mac opens the door, but she’s already managed to remove the problematic part of her suit, so she lives, and they embrace. I guess they saved Department H but let the Zodiac escape with a very powerful weapon.
  • Issue thirteen, drawn by Ashley Wood, is different in that it focuses on a man named Basil Kilgrew, who works in secret on Department H’s thirteenth floor.  He’s a meticulous man, who has to keep complete control over every aspect of his life. As he prepares for work, he finds that his son has been in his briefcase, a security breach that could be fatal.  When he arrives at Department H, he bumps into Puck, who thinks he can recognize his voice. In his lab, we learn that Basil, known there as Beta 1, has been overseeing various projects, including an attempt to extract DNA from Woodgod.  Checking into his computer, he finds a file waiting for him that shouldn’t be there. In Antarctica, Walter Langkowski has discovered the frozen, but not yet dead, body of James MacDonald Hudson, and works to save him. Radius and Flex are getting tested, although Jared gets angry and storms out of the med lab.  Basil runs into Manbot, who doesn’t recognize him; Basil uses a verbal override to delete Manbot’s memory of him. He next goes to check in on Murmur, who is being visited by Heather, Mac, and Judd. Arlette is still in rough shape, and Basil overhears the heroes talk about figuring out the secrets of Department H, which they want to do after Sasquatch’s funeral.  Sunfire tells off Dr. Huxley, and leaves Department H for good, claiming they made his condition worse. Northstar is lying on the floor of the burned out school, and is visited by a nun who thinks that he is the one who wrote “Help me!” on a blackboard. As Basil waits for an elevator, he sees two Epsilons escorting one of his associates away for being a traitor. Basil says nothing, but once he’s in the elevator, we learn through the narration that he plans on doing something.  He drops a vial, that shatters on the floor. When his elevator reaches the 13th floor, he is confronted by an Epsilon Black, who pushes past him, and notices the vial on the elevator floor. Returning to his lab, Basil is told that Beta 3 was taken, and goes to his computer. He transfers the file marked “Curiosity”, which we can see is about Beta Flight, to Puck’s computer. He prepares to leave work early, and we learn that he’s planned his escape for a while. He intends to grab his wife and son and leave the country, but as his elevator drops, killing him, we learn that Department H already knew that his son had opened his briefcase.
  • Sasquatch’s funeral is about to take place, and Jared is struggling to decide how he feels about what happened to him when Adrian arrives, pushing Arlette in a wheelchair.  Heather starts to tell Mac that she wants to release him from their marriage, and Mac is annoyed that she made the decision without consulting him. An unassuming man arrives for work at Department H, and surprises the Epsilon guards when he has the highest level of clearance.  This man, who we learn is named Gentry, is there to replace General Clarke as the main supervisor of Department H. He enters his first meeting by telling off Dr. Huxley for speaking poorly of Haddock (who is attending the funeral), before making it clear to all department heads that things are changing.  Huxley rubs him the wrong way, and Gentry makes it clear that the Director has given him complete control to fix things. Speaking at the funeral, Heather recounts her memories of Walter Langkowski, believing that’s who they’re burying. Gentry and his new assistant, Hames, tour the residential wing. Gentry doesn’t like that there are guards present, keeping the trainees from leaving.  We meet Ouija, who doesn’t like his codename, and Flinch, who appears to be very unwell. Next he sees Lilli, and tells her that she and the others will be moving to the Alpha Wing, which makes her very happy. Mac speaks about his memories of Walt, and things seem a little stilted, like he’s remembering a script. Judd keeps an eye on him, since as his memory clears, he becomes more and more suspicious of Mac.  He’s surprised when Mac tells a story that only he, Judd, and Walt would know. Gentry arrives at the Helios Project, and after a bit of a pissing contest with Huxley, ends up shutting down the project and firing him. Puck speaks next at the funeral, and we see more memories of Walt. Gentry meets with Su, who is only now making the changes Heather requested to the Vindicator costume. Gentry notices that her boots and gauntlets are bigger, and calls out Su on the fact that he didn’t consult Heather on those changes.  Gentry makes it clear that Alpha is to be respected more. Puck hands the mic to Radius, who instead of praising Sasquatch, points out that he was just doing his job, before losing his temper and storming off. Puck tries to console him, and offers to talk. Gentry next meets with the Director, who questions his firing of Huxley, but ultimately supports him. When Gentry says he wants to go to the end of Sasquatch’s funeral, the Director tells him that it wasn’t Walter that died, but another creature. The Director says it would be too complex to tell Alpha the truth, but also tells Gentry that it’s up to him to tell them or not.  Gentry arrives at the outdoor funeral and introduces himself to the team, assuring them that he’s making changes. He books a meeting with them for the next day, to tell them some things. Off the coast of Labrador, some people work to blow up icebergs so they don’t interfere with shipping. They are approached by a ghostly boat, and the man on it, who we barely see, claims their vessel for himself, the Brass Bishop.
  • Three helicopters arrive at the iceberg, looking for survivors.  They find two men attached to their dynamite, who blow up the iceberg, killing all the rescuers.  Gentry tells Alpha Flight about this (apparently they aren’t meeting to discuss Sasquatch, as was expected), and sends them to investigate.  He further informs them that the iceberg workers’ boat, the Navigator, went on to a small town in Newfoundland, and subsequently, all contact with that town has ended.  Furthermore, the Prime Minister’s wife was visiting the town at the time, and she is, improbably, Gentry’s sister. The team, minus Murmur, prepares to leave, and Gentry has a talk with Mac about his leadership style.  In Alaska (which is not part of Canada, and as far from Antarctica, where we last saw him), Walter Langkowski has tracked Shaman down. The team arrives in White Cross, and as Mac is about to give search orders, Heather and Judd decide who they will be working with and head off.  Heather talks to Manbot, and he rather strangely plays her back a holographic recording of Clarke badmouthing her and wanting to change her conditioning program. They all hear a sound like a fog horn, and Judd and Adrian, checking out the docks, find the Navigator, with its captain strapped to the bow.  He starts to spout some Biblical-sounding stuff, and then tells them to run away, and dies. At Department H, Huxley, who apparently wasn’t fired, complains that Gentry moved the trainees without consulting him first. Gentry runs down Huxley’s resume, and tells him he’s washed up, before challenging him to a fight.  Next, Gentry checks in on Arlette, who is frustrated with her leg injuries. Gentry suggests he can help her, and we see that Huxley is monitoring him. The team finds that they can’t communicate with Department H. The horn sound is coming more frequently. Jared finds all the women and children of the town, standing immobile in the church.  Manbot doesn’t register them as alive. They find a little girl, who runs from them. Mac and Heather catch her, and she offers to take them to the horn sound. Northstar flies around looking for his sister, and somehow finds her at the magnetic north pole, before she flies away from him. Alpha flies their jet, following the girl’s directions.  Puck has Mac fly right just before they hit something none of them have seen. They crash, as the girl start speaking in the strange speech we saw before. They find a large tower, which Puck recognizes as the Tower of Babel, based on some barely remembered memories. The Brass Bishop makes himself, and the enslaved men of the town, seen.
  • Back in issue five of the first Alpha Flight series, Puck made reference to some kind of incident involving the Brass Bishop, and an editor’s note mentioned that that story was still to be told one day.  Later, during the latter days of Simon Furman’s run, the team faced off against the Chess Set, a completely bland themed group of villains, including a Brass Bishop, but I don’t remember there being any real connection to Puck’s earlier adventure.  Seagle puts all of this to rights with issue sixteen, which opens with Dargil, the demon head the Bishop keeps on a chain, narrating the first time that Puck fought his master, with Modred at his side. We learn that centuries before, the Bishop fell in love with a young woman named Beatriz.  Apparently such things were forbidden (although this is very much the era of Popes fathering multiple children), so he made a deal with Mephisto to keep her by his side. Mephisto being who he is, agreed, but turned Beatriz into a nun. The Bishop didn’t want to pay for that with his soul, so he encased himself in a suit of brass to hide himself from Mephisto, although he needed to kill Beatriz to seal the suit.  This hid his soul from Mephisto, who, after the Bishop took the head of Dargil, who was sent to search for him, agreed to free him of their bargain, but only for Beatriz’s soul. Thus the Bishop has built a Tower of Babel to reach heaven. Puck and Modred stopped him from finding the Seal of Solomon, which is needed to open the gate to heaven, and Modred hid it. That catches us up (without explaining why the tower is in Newfoundland) to where the team faces the Bishop, who has the enthralled citizens forming their own tower with their bodies, raising the Bishop into the tower.  Radius jumps the gun, and Dargil starts to eat his soul until Puck gets him free. The townsmen attack the team, and Vindicator stops Manbot from shooting them with missiles. The Bishop enters the tower, and Flex uses his power in a new way, turning his whole body into a big metal shape, to push everyone off them. The team enters the tower. Gentry confronts Murmur for trying to use her powers on him before, and threatens to kick her off the team if she does it again. Lilli shows up in her new guise as Ghost Girl, and seems happy to meet Murmur (I guess she doesn’t want to go back to Hull House anymore).  The inside of the tower looks like an Escher painting, and while the team debates theology, the Bishop shows up right next to them. He has Dargil grab Puck, who knows where the Seal is, and begins to turn him into a thrall. The team tries to fight, with little luck. Puck leads him towards where he remembers the Seal being. Gentry talks to the Prime Minister, but their conversation is interrupted by Huxley’s attempts to get Gentry on the phone. The team takes a bit of a break, until they remember that they can track Puck by his implant. Meanwhile, Judd’s true personality finds itself in a sort of limbo, surrounded by the other thralls.  Thrall Puck leads the Bishop to the Seal, and he grabs it as the team arrives. He uses it, and we see the gates of heaven. He commands Puck to go tell God (I guess?) that he’s there for Beatriz’s soul, but Puck is tapping the willpower of the other thralls to resist. The team tries to hold the Bishop back from the gates, and Puck turns the Seal, which can unlock anything, onto the Bishop’s armor. Souls come flying out of Dargil’s mouth, Puck is restored, and Mephisto shows up, grabbing the now-naked Bishop. Everyone is back in Newfoundland, the tower is gone, and the people are back to normal.
  • The Statement of Ownership for 1998 (I thought they’d finished doing this by this point) lists an average press run for this title of 107 000, with average newsagent returns of 36 000.  Twenty years ago, that put this title in the cancellation zone, apparently. Amazing.
  • In the late 90s, Marvel often had characters or teams combine for Annuals, such as the Alpha Flight/Inhumans offering, which fits perfectly here in continuity, except for the fact that the changes to Vindicator’s battlesuit aren’t included.  This came the same month that Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee started their goth classic Inhumans miniseries that I should probably do for one of these columns some time. There is a sudden flood in a coast town in Labrador that Alpha Flight is sent to investigate.  While everyone else (Murmur is back on the team, but Manbot sits this one out and isn’t even mentioned) starts working on rescue and recovery, Heather heads out to try to figure out what is causing seismic disturbances and tidal waves. She gives them the heads up that another big wave is coming, which Radius decides to use his forcefield to surf, angering Puck.  As Heather keeps investigating, the team finishes rescuing everyone. Puck heads to the jet to check in on Heather, but can’t find her. They fly out to her last coordinates, but see no sign of her. Mac needs to use his suit in some way to search for her, but however he manipulates the electromagnetic field to do so, endangers the jet. Puck is mad at him now. We see that Heather is sinking into the ocean, but is grabbed by someone with purple gloves.  The team still flies around looking for her, and Mac tries the same trick as before, this time setting off an EMP and causing the jet to go down. Just as they are about to crash into the water, they are rescued by some flying women. They head towards a large fog bank, which hides a massive city, Attilan. When the jet is put down, the team is met by the Royal Family – Black Bolt, Medusa, Gorgon, and Karnak. They are also joined by Heather, who seems fine, except that she feels like she should stay with the Inhumans.  She explains that while flying over the ocean, she went to investigate the purplish fog, and realized it wasn’t normal air. Holding her breath, she lost control of her suit and fell into the water; she also felt like she heard a voice calling to her. Mac goes to speak to the royals, and learns about Terrigenesis, and a family that had tried to expose their child to the Terrigen Mists twice, once in utero, and when that seemed to do nothing, again in the temple. There was an explosion, and the mists headed over the ocean.  They think that the tremors that caused the waves have nothing to do with any of this. The child, whose parents are upset that he has no powers, suddenly somehow takes control of the statue of Randac that takes up a lot of the city. While the Inhumans and Alphans chat, Flex notices that the statue is moving, but the rest notice when it starts trashing the place. The team and the royal family try to fight it. Black Bolt figures that the baby is involved, and goes to see it, trying to manipulate its energy. As Black Bolt shuts the statue down, the teams stop fighting it.  Later, Heather continues to talk to Mac about how she feels she needs to stay with the baby, who has connected with her telepathically. She goes to see Black Bolot, who makes it clear that she doesn’t belong on Attilan, and severs the baby’s ties to her. The team is getting ready to leave, and Heather joins them, which makes them happy.
  • Issue seventeen is, continuity-wise, if not in terms of publication, the first appearance of Big Hero 6, making this issue the most valuable in the run.  That team, without Sunfire, is hanging out in their headquarters in Japan, which is in the Cool World Amusement Park. They are surprised to see a giant monster ravaging the park, which tosses their headquarters.  The team scrambles to try to stop the monster and save people, while also introducing us to Hiro, Baymax, Honey Lemon, Gogo Tomago, and the Silver Samurai, who is wanting to be a leader. Honey Lemon uses a communicator from her purse to try to reach Sunfire for help.  Sunfire, meanwhile, has arrived at Department H, where he’s blown through the wall and is demanding that he speak to Dr. Huxley. We learn that Huxley lied about Shiro’s radiation poisoning as cover to experiment on him. Gentry promises hold Huxley accountable, and the team backs him.  Shiro receives the call from Honey Lemon, which needs help from Manbot for some reason, and he returns to Japan. Thinking that the crisis is over, Jared goes to train some more. When Huxley arrives, Gentry dismisses the rest of the team. Huxley tells Gentry that Shiro was exposed to something called Zero Fluid, accidentally, and that he could explode.  Flex, rushing to check his e-mail, runs into Ghost Girl in a romantic comedy meet cute kind of way. Northstar approaches Department H, but is stopped from entering by Sasquatch, who is with Shaman. They tell him that they have Aurora with them. Alpha is sent to Japan, and overtake Sunfire along the way. They land at the Amusement Park, and meet Big Hero 6, and begin helping them to recover people injured by the monster’s attack.  Hiro sees similarities between Manbot and Baymax, which he built, but Manbot denies this. Vindicator, Gogo Tomago, and Hiro learn that a school boy predicted or caused the monster, which he calls X The Unknown’s actions, since he drew them as manga. Mac thinks the kid could be predicting things. The teams split into squads to try to find the monster, who they think is heading to a nuclear power plant. There’s a lot of travelling around, before it’s revealed that Gogo, Flex, and Radius, who stayed at the amusement park, are really in danger, since X changed shape and hid as one of the mascots.  It swallows Radius whole, and turns into a two-headed dragon. It flies towards the nuclear plant, where the others begin to fight it. Sunfire shows up, and the fight ends up on top of Mount Fuji, where the monster is dumped in lava after the top of the mountain is ripped off. Radius pops out of it, unharmed, Honey Lemon says she has a volcano cover in her purse, and Sunfire announces he’s going to stay in Japan. Back in Japan, Huxley heads to a secret basement, where he discovers that his secret project, a new Weapon X, has escaped. We see him/it sitting outside the Department building. The letters page in this issue reveals that the series is set to be canceled with issue twenty, citing poor sales.
  • Alpha, again without Murmur, face off against Weapon X outside a nuclear power plant near Calgary.  They tell him to surrender, but Weapon X, who speaks with an approximation of a New Zealand accent, refuses.  The team tries to fight him, but they show concern about cutting open his containment suit (he’s covered head to toe in a suit, and has two jet manifolds attached to his shoulders.  When Radius tries to squash him with his force field, he ends up pushing him into an electrical transformer that gives him even more energy. Then we flash back to how the story got to this point.  Gentry is furious with someone named Lieutenant Power (the word is spelled Leftenant, a phonetic spelling of how the word is pronounced in Canada and Great Britain) because a group of Epsilons were dispatched on a mission without his permission.  It seems that Huxley, who can’t be found, told Power that he had approval from Gentry. We see that Huxley is flying somewhere with a jet pack he stole from Prometheus Division. Mac has accompanied Heather on a house hunting expedition, but she is made uncomfortable when he suggests that they share the apartment she likes.  Adrian wants to tell Puck something he learned about his parents, but Puck is too distracted looking at the “curiosity” file he received on his computer. Huxley catches up with the Epsilons he sent out, and learns that Weapon X is siphoning energy sources. Su lets Adrian know he is supposed to be in a training exercise, and he rushes to Combat Centrale, where he finds Murmur and Lilli.  Arlette now speaks in a terrible approximation of a French-Canadian accent, without any of the usual “ze” type spellings. It’s awkward. Jared is running a punishing training session on his own, but Adrian jumps in to help him. When Adrian questions his self-destructiveness, Jared storms off. Arlette points out that Jared is getting more dangerous, and Adrian tells them that he learned who his father is, but the scene cuts before we learn it.  Puck finds some information that shocks him, and goes running to show Gentry. Gentry is asking the others, like Su and Haddock, where Huxley is, when Puck comes and shows them the information he received about the Weapon X project. They, with Guardian and Vindicator, head into the basement area called The Dungeon, where they find Huxley’s secret lab. Diamond Lil is in a tube, in stasis, infected with something called Thetagen-24, a bacteria. Puck tells them about Weapon X, but they are surprised to see that he’s gone.  Gentry orders the team to find him, while he himself is going looking for Huxley. That brings us to the present, where the team is facing off against Weapon X again, and are interrupted by a flash of light. The team continues to fight him, while Gentry can’t watch because Huxley has hijacked Manbot’s video feed. The bright light flashes again, Weapon X, who speaks in first person plural, tells them they’re leaving, and is the only person not surprised to see the original Alpha Flight – Shaman, Northstar, Aurora, Sasquatch (!), and Guardian (!!) arrive on the scene.
  • Huxley, who in this issue starts talking like he’s been snorting lines of Stan Lee’s dandruff, watches from a tree as the two Alpha Flights confront one another.  The two Guardians are most confused, while Puck has Manbot confirm that the new arrivals are not LMDs. They start to fight one another, while Radius deals with his conflicting emotions upon seeing Sasquatch alive, before deciding that he should kill him on purpose this time.  Manbot is in rough shape, but won’t shut himself down, wanting to stay in the fight, and manages to ensnare Aurora in a net. Sasquatch tosses Radius into the Alphajet, and finally, it is Heather that yells for everyone to stop fighting and points out that Weapon X has escaped.  She says that the two teams should cooperate, but Shaman refuses, seeing Department H as the problem. He teleports his team away. It’s then that Manbot notices Huxley hiding in the tree, and they catch him when he tries to escape. He begins to tell the story behind Weapon X, but of course he lies.  His lies are shown next to the truth that Puck is aware of – basically, Huxley began working on his deadly bacteria project, killing various test subjects before getting his hands on Diamond Lil. Later, he captured a tourist from New Zealand who wandered off from a tour of Department H (it’s not credible that the Department allowed such tours).  In his case, the bacteria took over, forming a collective consciousness. They speculate that if the bacteria is in control of Weapon X, it will try to open its containment suit and spread, whereas if the man is in control, he would try to destroy himself. We see that Weapon X is in conflict with themself. Back at the dam where the Epsilons were injured, Gentry is brought up to speed, and departs with Murmur and Ghost Girl to provide support.  Mac is confused, as is the older Mac. Shaman tries to track Weapon X, while Sasquatch helps Mac figure out what has happened to him. We learn that he was the only member who stuck around when Department H closed (at the end of Volume 1), and then was a part of it reopening, however, when he saw the direction Clark, Huxley, and the others were taking the Department, he tried to leave. They captured him, downloaded his brain, and then programmed his suit to fly to space, to kill him.  Somehow, he changed course and crashed near where Sasquatch was working. We also learn that the Department exposed Aurora to the same bacteria in Weapon X, and that it is somehow eating her different personalities. Shaman figures out where Weapon X is going. Our regular team is heading in the same direction, now in a transport vessel, joined by Gentry and the others. Manbot comes back online, and plays a recording of Huxley figuring out where Weapon X is headed, and then ordering him to delete the recording.  Murmur uses her powers to get Huxley to confess, and he explains that X is going to an atomic incinerator. When Alpha arrives, they find the staff unconscious. They are told they aren’t welcome there by Snowbird, another Alphan who has returned from the grave.
  • Snowbird, in her polar bear form, works to stop our team from pursuing Weapon X, but Gentry points out that it’s just a vision left by Shaman to slow them down.  We learn that the Hellpounder is a device designed to use underground atomic blasts to incinerate dangerous waste, but Gentry says it wasn’t supposed to have been built.  They figure that Weapon X is hoping it will be strong enough to rupture his suit and spread his bacteria. They realize that Huxley has taken off on them, so Guardian heads out to reconnoiter.  Weapon X has captured Huxley, and wants him to run the controls of the Hellpounder. The original Alpha Flight is nearby, and are watching as Aurora communicates what the bacteria are up to. We learn that they think that Department H is trying to get her back to make sure their experiment works.  She takes off, but then collapses into Northstar’s arms. Both Macs keep thinking that they should trust one another. As our Alpha makes plans, Manbot almost fries from an internal electrical fire that Radius is able to put out with his forcefield. The original Alpha shows, and they begin to fight again, until they realize that someone has turned on the Hellpounder.   Puck, Ghost Girl, and Flex are able to use Ghost Girl’s powers to gain access to the control centre. Aurora goes flying through the device, and is caught by Weapon X. The two Guardians start to talk to one another, when they notice that Weapon X has emerged. Puck and his squad find Huxley, who appears to have lost his mind, ranting about how when the bacteria takes over the world, he’ll be able to control it.  He turns on the warhead, while Weapon X rushes to get under it. A containment field goes up around the blast site, keeping Weapon X out, but he somehow gets inside. Aurora shows up, explaining that Weapon X removed the bacteria from her, and we learn that he’s trying to kill himself to protect the world. Puck arrives and updates everyone. The team is not prepared to let Weapon X die, thinking there must be another way to save him.  Puck convinces Huxley to shut down the field, and the Guardians concoct a plan that relies on Manbot, who is only seconds away from total systems failure, holding onto a switch that’s on the underside of the bomb. Things get confusing, Manbot falls, the bomb gets ready to explode, and in the end, Weapon X is killed while the others manage to contain the radiation. Later, at Department H, we see Radius speak to the other Sasquatch’s grave, apologizing for not following orders and causing his death.  Adrian, Lilli, and Arlette worry that they are going to be fired from Alpha Flight. Gentry explains to the two Macs that one of them is a synthoid clone of the other, but decides to not tell them which is which (although, wouldn’t that be a bit obvious?). Heather comes to tell them both that she is going on a date with Puck. Later, the combined teams are taken to a meeting in the hangar bay, where all of Department H has gathered to celebrate them. Gentry ends the run by telling all the Alphans that they are welcome to stay and be part of the team.

And that’s the end of that run.  It was definitely rushed, because it left a lot of plotlines and mysteries unresolved.  Apparently Madison Jeffries being brainwashed by the Zodiac eventually got covered in a Weapon X series, but I’m not sure if we ever learned what happened to Diamond Lil.  As well, we are only left with a vague sense that Gentry is going to continue to clean up Department H, but we never learn who the Director is, or why he would allow a course correction that’s so drastic.  I imagine if there were more time, or had the series continued, these all would have been addressed eventually, but it leaves too many questions.

I think I liked this run, but not as much as I did when it first came out.  The notion that the true enemy of the team is the government that runs and funds them is an interesting one, and I remember looking forward to seeing the original team return to rescue their friends.  It’s weird that it didn’t turn out that way, or that Puck never recovered his memory that their Sasquatch was never the real deal (that was a cool swerve at the time). Canada is not known for its covert actions, so that aspect could have been explored a lot more.  

I was a little surprised to see how okay both Heather and Judd are with all of the revelations of the last few issues.  I would have thought they’d be a lot more annoyed, and a lot less trusting of Gentry. I also would have thought that Heather would be a little more confused by the appearance of the other Guardian.  Let’s take a moment to check in on all of the characters.

Vindicator – In the past, Heather was the heart of the series, and Seagle often tried to maintain that, but not consistently.  She is given a weird suit that is never fully explained, and where in the early issues she consistently pushes against Mac, that kind of peters out as the run continues.  Also, as much as I like Rouleau’s art (more on him later), I can’t handle her big hair in his issues.

Puck – Puck’s connection to Hull House feels poorly retconned, and then is ignored (as is the whole mystery of how exactly the Department spends years locating and nurturing their Legacies).  His love of Heather comes and goes as it pleases, and while he’s suspicious of Clarke, he can’t help but become nurturing of the younger team members. I like the way Rouleau draws Puck – he looks like he belongs in Super Mario Brothers, but it fits the character just as well as Byrne’s original designs.

Guardian – The de-aged Mac (who is really just a clone) is an intriguing character, as he tries to be someone he isn’t, based on possibly faulty implanted memories.  It makes him pretty interesting, but he’s also portrayed as pretty juvenile. It’s an interesting dynamic, especially during the brief fling he had with Murmur.

Radius – Jared became the most memorable new character in this run.  His difficulty as a teammate, and the way in which his forcefield played up his social isolation worked really well, as did the haphazard way in which he tried to establish himself on the team, and to work through his guilt around Sasquatch’s death.  We saw that he needed a special device in order to eat, but we also saw him change outfits often; I think some more explanation of how his powers worked was needed. Sadly, he’s not been used much since this run ended.

Flex – Adrian really grew on me as a character who doesn’t feel like he belongs on the team, and who is always scared of everything going on around him.  I liked seeing him gain some confidence, and some independence from Jared’s shadow. We never did learn who his father was, which might have been interesting, and we also never saw him again past one or two appearances in other books.

Murmur – Arlette never really did much for me.  She basically has Purple Girl’s powers, and spends much of the run completely sidelined.  It’s like she’s there to fill Aurora’s usual role as team sexpot, and that’s about it.

Manbot – Is there a worse character than Manbot?  He’s basically R2D2 with giant legs and a human face, and often appears to have been forgotten by Seagle or the artists.  For a while, we were told he was a person, but as the run continues, we learn he is a robot. His abilities seemed to fluctuate with whatever the story needed, and really, he was just a lumbering plot device.

Sunfire – I can’t figure out why Sunfire was ever included in this book.  For issues he was a prisoner, then he apparently joined the team, before leaving again.  It felt like filler.

Ghost Girl – I had a hard time understanding the change in Lilli.  For months, we watched her try to escape the Department, but as soon as Gentry showed up, she was happy to be there.  It was suggested that General Clark was having her undergo some conditioning, but it was never made clear. As well, it was strange that two other trainees were introduced and then never returned to.

I think that much of my original enthusiasm for this title came from the fact that Seagle was trying something new with it.  I’m not sure if this was one of my earliest exposures to his writing – I remember being a fan of his X-Men run that was concurrent with this series – or if I knew from day one that I’d be down for it, but I have always appreciated the way he approaches long-form stories.  I think that, had he been given five or ten more issues in this run, it would have accomplished a lot more.

The art became both a problem and a joy in this series.  I liked Scott Clark’s slim characters, but often found his work inconsistent and hard to follow.  Things like Puck’s headgear looked different from panel to panel, and I never got a sense of just what Manbot looked like.  The fact that Clark didn’t draw the maple leaves on Guardian and Vindicator’s costumes correctly drove me nuts (although at some point it was described in the letters column as being on purpose).  At the same time, he made Murmur and Flex look great, and I liked his design for Mesmero a lot.  

Things really changed when Duncan Rouleau came on board.  He’s a much more cartoony, and dynamic artist than Clark, and it felt like the energy in his art gave Seagle a boost of energy and creativity.  I thought it interesting that they began to share the plotting credit, and that they are considered the co-creators of Big Hero 6 (I hope they got royalties off the movie).  I would love to see more comics work from Rouleau today, especially if it meant he’d finish The Great Unknown, the excellent Image comic that started ten years ago but was never completed.

After this run, Alpha more or less went away for a while.  They turned up briefly in a two-part Wolverine story that explained that the trainees were moved to Beta Flight, and that killed off the younger Mac and brought back Snowbird, all rather randomly.  After that, Scott Lobdell was given a short-lived series that featured all new characters, and was trying to be funny. I only read the first issue, and hated it. I’m not going to be reading it for this column.  After that, Brian Michael Bendis killed off the team in his New Avengers run, and then they were brought back to life in an event (Chaos War?) miniseries. They were given another miniseries as part of the Fear Itself event, and it was pretty good, but too new for consideration for this column

Most recently, Alpha Flight has become the organization run by Captain Marvel, with jurisdiction over near-Earth space.  I still find it weird to see Puck flying fighter craft and doing Star Trek things. Walter is currently showing up in Immortal Hulk, where he is leading a Gamma Flight team to try to deal with the Hulk.  Northstar shows up from time to time in the X-Men titles (as does Madison Jeffries, with less frequency). I don’t remember the last time I saw either Heather or Mac (if he’s still alive – it’s so hard to keep track).  Characters like Talisman, Diamond Lil, and Nemesis seem to be forgotten.  

I know that Marvel has announced a one-shot for the fall, made by all-Canadian creators.  I hope that this leads to a new, serious attempt at bringing the team back, but by doing something new with them, not by retreading old stories and situations.  Or by turning them into a bunch of joke characters.  

It was nice revisiting these characters and runs, as they meant a lot to me at one point in my life, but objectively, this book never got to be as good as it was during John Byrne’s first twenty-eight issues, and that’s kind of sad.

Next time around I’m going to be looking at a four-issue miniseries that should have been included with an earlier set of columns, as it was a spinoff from a team book I reread a while ago, before I embark on my most ambitious set of columns yet.

If you’d like to see the archives of all of my retro review columns, click here.

If you’d like to read any of the stories I talk about here, you are going to be going through some longboxes.  They haven’t been collected.

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