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Alpha Flight #1

Posted: Tuesday, March 9, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artists: Clayton Henry (p), Mark Morales (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The Plot:
Charged with the formation of a new Alpha Flight we follow Sasquatch as he pays a visit to a variety of super-powered individuals across Canada. After he's turned down by a wild man living in the woods, we see his offer is also rejected by a highly agile young woman. After making the offer to a dangerous sword totting felon who would freely kill her teammates if not for a control chip, we follow Walter as he pays a visit to a rest home, where his offer is turn down by an old man with superpowers. We also see he contemplated making the offer to a regular Dudley Doright hero by the name of Major Mapleleaf.

The Good:
I like the idea that this book is supposed to be Marvel's answer to the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League, as if nothing else it's nice to see the Blue and Gold League being seen as something that other titles would be looking to emulate. Now Scott Lobdell doesn't offer up any laugh aloud moments, but there's are a couple funny moments that made me smile, like the scene where Sasquatch attempts to awaken Princeton's dormant powers by giving him a good scare in the middle of what looked to be a respectful speech on ageism. I also have to say I found the white bread attitude of Major Mapleleaf to be quite charming, and frankly of the new cast members I find him to be the one character that I can see myself becoming quite fond of. I mean there is something rather endearing about a character who is so unabashedly embraces the cheesy elements of the super-hero genre. As for the other cast members, having a elderly man blessed with superpowers is a character type that I don't believe I'm ever seen before, and the wild man of the woods with the unpronounceable name looks like he could be fun within the confines of a team. As for the female cast members it would appear that Nemesis is going to play the team's Wolverine, as she looks to have a considerable chip on her shoulder, and a desire to do violence that I'm sure will make her a fan favorite. I'm not sure about the new Puck though, as being a big fan of the original, I find myself a bit disappointed that he's been replaced by what looks to be a tough chick with a baseball bat.

Clayton Henry came on board the "Exiles" shortly before Chuck Austen's writing drove me away from that title, so I've seen his work before, but since he's working on this title, I guess his run on Exiles didn't last all that long. This naturally leaves me a bit concerned about his commitment to this title, as another element that can act against a new title is an artist who drops off the map after delivering the first couple issues. Still, I'm going to cross my fingers and hope for the best, as Clayton Henry offers up a style that lends itself quite well to this book's lighthearted approach, as his characters are quite expressive, and for the most part the visual gags are well presented, with Sasquatch's "Boola, Boola" moment being the highlight. The scene where Walter comes to the realization that he's dreaming was also rather cute, as the readers are come to the recognize that this is all a dream at the same time as Walter. The book also delivers a couple solid action sequences, as the new Puck's display of agility is nicely done, as is the scene where Sasquatch is punched into the water-tower.

The Bad:
I'll never quite understand why they would bring back a title and fail to include the cast members that the fans of the previous series would enter this series hoping to find. It becomes even more curious when one realizes that this is the second attempt at reviving Alpha Flight, and one could argue that the last series struggled to find its audience because most of the cast was made up of completely new characters, and the members that were carried over from the original series were sporting personalities that were so different from their established personalities that they might as well have been new characters. One could also argue that the original series was killed by the injection of a wealth of new, one-dimensional characters who all seemed to be in direct competition for the role of the dark loner with the mysterious past. Now with these concerns pressing on my mind I have to say I was a bit concerned that this issue introduces us to the cast, and wouldn't you know it they are all new creations, except for Sasquatch, and while next issue looks like it'll address the question of where are the rest of the original members of the group, the simple fact of the matter is that rather than appealing to the readers of the original series, the absence of most of the characters that made them fans of this title is likely to act as one strike against to book in a market place that is not all that forgiving to new titles. If nothing else I'm annoyed that the book has replaced Puck, as he's by far my favorite cast member of the original cast.

One Of The Common People, A Vulgar, Coarse Person:
This book's not off to the impressive start I would hoped for, as Scott Lobdell does little more than give us a rough introduction to the characters that will presumably make up the book's cast. Now, the issue ends by leaving us with a somewhat engaging mystery of how these characters are going to get together, as this issue manages to put an amusing spin on the gathering of the heroes plot by having all the characters flatly refuse toSasquatch's offer to join his new team. However, the old Alpha Flight fan in me is disappointed to see the cast looks to be made up almost entirely by new characters, and while Major Mapleleaf, and Princeton look like they could be promising characters, I have to say I would preferred to see at least a couple additional members from the original team, as frankly it doesn't feel like Alpha Flight without Puck. I'm also a bit concerned by the humor elements of this book, as while there are a couple funny scenes, there's a few too many moments where the book feels like it's trying too hard to be cute, and there's nothing quite as off-putting as a humor title that isn't able to recognize when it needs to pull it back, and not come across as feeling desperate to generate funny moments. Still, I'll give it until the end of this opening arc to convince me to stick around.



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