TITLE: Marvel Comics vol. 1, Issue #1
YEAR: August 1983
COMPANY: Marvel Comics
Creator/Writer/Artist: John Byrne
Letterer by Joe Rosen
Colorist: Andy Yanchus
Editor: Denny O’Neill
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
While we often saw superhero groups from America, Europe or superheroes from other planets show up on the pages of Marvel Comics, rarely have we seen any other country’s superhero group that would gain in popularity with their own series.
Back in 1979, the Canadian superhero group, Alpha Flight, made their debut in “X-Men” issue #120. Created by John Byrne, the series would last from 1983 through 1994.
Originally created as a backstory for X-Men’s Wolverine, Alpha Flight was part of the government’s Department H and led by Vindicator (aka Weapon Alpha, Guardian), James MacDonald Hudson, other members included the super quick Northstar (Jean-Paul Beaubier) and his twin sister, Jeanne-Marie Beaubier a.k.a. Aurora (who suffers from multiple personalities), Sasquatch (the scientist, Walter Langowski), First Nations medicine man, Shaman (Michael Twoyoungmen, a doctor and sorcerer) and Snowbird (Narya, who can transform into animals of the north).
Fir the first issue, the series picks up not long after Wolverine and Alpha Flight defeated Wendigo. But despite their usefulness as superheroes in Canada, Department H was disbanded and Alpha Flight along with it.
As Hudson realizes that he is now unemployed, he worries about Alpha Flight team members, including the upcoming Beta Flight and Gamma Flight and now, it’s all over. The HQ’s power is shutting down to the entire building and Hudson ponders what his life will be.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the Northwest Territories, a mad man is planning to revive something evil and when he manages to do the enchantment and sacrifice his life to bring this monster to life, Michael Twoyoungsmen feels the soul of his grandfather’s presence warning him of danger.
In Quebec, Jean-Paul goes to visit his twin sister Jeanne-Marie and Jean-Paul is surprised his sister has taken up an identity like an elderly teacher. Jean-Paul tries to bring out his sister’s true personality and tries to fight it (she feels her Aurora persona is perverse) and through the strain, she collapses but Jean-Paul feels that Aurora is the true nature of his sister.
As Hudson returns back home to his wife Heather, while watching television, he watches on the news of how a manifestation of Northern Lights have appeared in the Northwestern Territories. Still in his Vindicator outfit, Hudson leaves immediately to check things out. But Heather worries that he has left alone, since Alpha Flight had disbanded. She manages to find his emergency codes to contact members, including current Alpha Flight members and Gamma Flight members Puck and Marina.
Meanwhile, Snowbird is the first on the scene and she sees the remains of a human which suddenly forms with the ground and becomes the monstrous entity known as Tundra.
Vindicator, Shaman, Sasquatch, Northstar and Aurora show up in time to take on the monstrous Earthen beast.
This issue alone, I have bought three times. Twice in my childhood, the third time in my college years, which is the version I have read.
Growing up, I always felt Vindicator had the most awesome outfit and I thought this team was exciting, fresh and provided something different than the Avengers, Defenders and X-Men. And sure enough, I was also enticed to know about Canadian culture through reading this comic book series (although, thinking about it, did John Byrne know much about Canadian culture pre-Internet?). Of course, the primary reason that led me to this comic book series is my love for John Byrne’s work and stuck with it for a considerable time, until the books proved hard to find ala newsstand.
But overall, this first issue of “Alpha Flight” is one of the more memorable issues I can remember in my childhood, especially with its yellow cover and its cover with both Alpha flight and popular Marvel characters alongside with them on the front cover. A recommended issue!