Series Disambiguation (Alpha Flight): Page 7 of 8

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28th August 2023
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Captain Marvel (9th series) – (2016-2017)

In 2015 and 2016, a sprawling, worlds-shattering storyline known as Secret Wars played out, resulting in a soft-reboot for the Marvel Universe, which also jumped-forward six months in time. While Alpha Flight had no role in the Secret Wars event, the use of Alpha Flight post-Secret Wars would change the direction of the team for the foreseeable future. With no explanation, Alpha Flight was re-christened the Alpha Flight Space Program, operating from the low-orbit Alpha Flight Space Station, providing scientific research and strategic defense for the planet and the universe. While not appearing in a comic called “Alpha Flight,” the Space Program and its staff were to be an important part of the 2016 Captain Marvel series. Marvel Comics were pushing the character of Carol Danvers hard in preparation for the solo Captain Marvel film as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe which was planned for release in 2019. Long gone was the time where Carol Danvers was a C-list character called Ms. Marvel, or the X-Men's space-bound ally Binary, or even the struggling Avenger called Warbird. She was now Captain Marvel, and one of the most prominent characters within the Marvel Universe.

Writing duties for this new era of Alpha Flight fell to Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters, a writing duo who had written three episodes of the television series Marvel's Agent Carter. Kris Anka took on penciling duties, having drawn various X-Men comics previously. Throughout this ten-issue series, Anka was assisted by Felipe Smith on several issues, while Marco Failla drew issue #7 and Thony Silas drew the final two issues. In issue #6, the writing team of Fazekas and Butters was replaced with Ruth Fletcher Gage and Christos Gage for the second half of the series. Although Christos Gage had a long history with Marvel prior to this Captain Marvel series, including the popular Avengers Academy series, his wife Ruth Fletcher Gage’s only other work for Marvel was writing an episode the Daredevil TV series. Nonetheless, there was little disruption story wise with the change in writing teams.

Marvel probably realized that they could not use the name Alpha Flight in such a significant way without having at least some ties to the beloved Canadian super-heroes and, as such, arguably three of the most recognizable and popular of the classic Alpha Flight characters were drafted for the Alpha Flight Space Station – Sasquatch, Puck and Aurora. The large space station was populated by a number of other characters, notably Abigail Brand, transferring across from the now defunct S.W.O.R.D. station, and Lieutenant Wendy Kawasaki. While the primary focus of the series was of course the Carol Danvers character, Sasquatch, Aurora and especially Puck (who by the end of the series was officially friends with Carol) were all treated to decent amounts of page time and were characterized well. While references were made to Sasquatch and Aurora's previous relationship, there was little other reference to any of Alpha Flight's history. Even Sasquatch's recent degenerative brain disorder was ignored.

The first five issues of the series chronicled the Space Program finding its footing with the Marvel Universe and detailed Captain Marvel's attempts to prevent an alien invasion. With the Alpha Flight Space Station cemented as an important part of the Marvel Universe, Captain Marvel and her crew found themselves in a wide number of guest appearances, although these predominantly focused on Captain Marvel rather than the Alpha Flight characters. The second part of the Captain Marvel series tied into the Civil War II event playing out across the Marvel Comics at the time. While the original Civil War saw the superhuman community go to war over registration of super beings, this second superhuman war focused on whether predictive justice should be used to prevent crimes before they even take place. The Alpha Flight characters even appeared in the primary Civil War II mini-series, although the most prominent storyline for these characters came when the Inhuman Ulysses, whose power enabled him to predict these crimes before they happened, saw Aurora and Captain Marvel fighting. Aurora disagreed with the use predictive justice and did not hide her feelings about this. This storyline saw the return of the Master of the World, who was masquerading as a member of the Alpha Flight Space Station's Board of Directors. This was part of his plot for revenge on both Alpha Flight and Carol Danvers, who made an enemy of him during the “Kang Dynasty” storyline of Avengers (3rd series).

While Sasquatch, Aurora and Puck were off in space saving the universe and working with Captain Marvel, what happened to Guardian? Snowbird? Shaman? Talisman? That would remain a mystery for some time. Never explored in great detail, it seemed that Sasquatch, Aurora and Puck were still answerable to the Canadian authorities. In fact, a compelling story told in Civil War II: Choosing Sides #4 saw the trio summoned to the Prime Minister of Canada's office to account for their actions. The Canadian authorities must have had some sway regarding the Alpha Flight Space Program, as they had a representative on the Board of Directors, even if that representative turned out to be the Master of the World.

While this series only lasted for ten issues, the Alpha Flight characters were treated with respect and the name of Alpha Flight was brought back to the attention of comic book readers. By this time, no series ran for very long, with Marvel preferring to publish regular, short-run series over longer, ongoing series. Nevertheless, the rise of Alpha Flight would continue when Captain Marvel went mighty.

Writers Artists
  • #1-5 – Michelle Fazekas & Tara Butters
  • #6-10 – Ruth Fletcher Gage & Christos N. Gage
  • #1-2 – Kris Anka
  • #3-5 – Kris Anka, Felipe Smith
  • #6 – Kris Anka
  • #7 – Marco Failla
  • #8 – Kris Anka
  • #9-10 – Thony Silas

Mighty Captain Marvel (2017)

Shortly after the conclusion of the previous Captain Marvel series, the character returned in a new series, Mighty Captain Marvel, which kicked off with a lead-in #0, before lasting for nine issues. This series was written by Margaret Stohl, who had three writing credits to her name before taking on the Mighty Captain Marvel title. A rotating team of pencilers were responsible for the artwork. The tone of this series was immediately much different than its previous one. Captain Marvel's status amongst the real-world of Marvel was explored much more, along with Carol's quest to find a mysterious alien child and deal with a villain called Dr. Eve. While Sasquatch and Puck returned to support Captain Marvel, Aurora was nowhere to be seen. It wasn't even until #2 that Aurora's absence was addressed – she was mentioned as being transferred to NASA. Any hope for exploration of the strained relationship between Captain Marvel and Aurora resulting out of the events of Civil War II was gone.

Instead, Stohl populated this book with an assortment of frequent guest stars, such as the Guardians of the Galaxy, a squad of cadets and a human called Hopper. Sasquatch and Puck received little development during this period, too. While Captain Marvel dealt with an assortment of aforementioned personal issues, this series also tied into the Secret Empire storyline, and saw the Alpha Flight Space Station cut off from Earth, unable to help with events transpiring on the planet below. Over the course of this series, the characters made guest appearances in an assortment of other titles. Unfortunately, not all of those creative teams were made aware of Aurora's departure from the Alpha Flight Space Program, and she appeared occasionally alongside Puck and Sasquatch.

The issue of a Canada-based Alpha Flight, long-absent from the pages of Marvel Comics now since the rise of the Alpha Flight Space Station was finally addressed during this era. However, this was not done in the pages of Mighty Captain Marvel, but in two separate, compelling stories told in Champions (2nd series) #21 by Jim Zub and Sean Izaakse, and in Old Man Logan (2nd series) #46-47 by Ed Brisson and Damian Couceiro. Both stories established that an Earth-based Alpha Flight was still active and that the members of the Alpha Flight Space Station were still affiliated with them. In Champions (2nd series) #21, Captain Marvel, Puck and Sasquatch found themselves working with Snowbird and Talisman to deal, once again, with the Master of the World. Meanwhile, in Old Man Logan (2nd series) #46-47, Puck returned to Earth to work with Guardian, Snowbird and Shaman to help Old Man Logan, and attend to a mysterious alien entity at the same time.

While Mighty Captain Marvel concluded with #9, a Marvel Legacy style re-numbering saw the storyline continue with #125-129 of Captain Marvel (7th series). This five-issue story saw Captain Marvel and her allies attempt to deal with the fallout from the destruction of the Alpha Flight Space Station. However, Puck and Sasquatch only appeared briefly, as this storyline took Captain Marvel to an alternate reality, where she worked with strange alternate versions of her Space Station crew. A further relaunch of Captain Marvel with Captain Marvel (10th series) saw the character depart the Alpha Flight Space Station and return to Earth... but what would that mean for Alpha Flight?

Writers Artists
  • #0-9 – Margaret Stohl
  • #0 – Emilio Laiso, Ramon Rosanas
  • #1-3 – Ramon Rosanas
  • #4 – Brent Schoonover, Ro Stein
  • #5-8 – Michele Bandini
  • #9 – Ro Stein

Alpha Flight: True North (2019)

To (quietly) celebrate Alpha Flight's 40th Anniversary (they debuted in X-Men (1st series) #120, 1979), Marvel released a one-shot called Alpha Flight: True North. Set in present-day continuity (although one story predominantly featured a flashback segment), the three stories explored some of Alpha Flight's unique history and also resolved a modern and very significant unresolved plot. The issue was marketed as being specifically Canadian, with the writers and pencilers all hailing from the Great White North.

The first story was written by popular Marvel writer Jim Zub, who had enjoyed stints on the third Thunderbolts series and the epic story told in Avengers (1st series) #675-690, along with its follow up series Avengers: No Road Home. Zub also wrote the revitalized Champions series, in which he used several members of Alpha Flight in Champions (2nd series) #21. On penciling duties was Max Dunbar, who drew several issues of Champions (2nd series). This story saw Snowbird and Talisman work together to free a small village being haunted by demonic creatures. The cause of this haunting was revealed to be Richard Easton, whom Snowbird discovered was her long-lost mortal father. Easton had previously only appeared briefly in early issues of the original Alpha Flight series. This story enabled closure to an Alpha Flight deep cut long thought forgotten.

For the second story, Puck and Marrina, along with brief appearances from Northstar and Aurora, were seen on an assignment preparing to deal with a mysterious beast on Prince Edward Island. This led to Puck revealing to Marrina a previously untold story in which he and other mercenaries encountered a similar beast decades earlier. Of course, this beast turned out to be a Plodex, one of Marrina's alien species. Writer Jed Mackay was relatively new to Marvel, having written several mini-series and one-shots previously. Mackay picked up on Puck's pre-Alpha Flight history as an adventurer to weave into a modern-day narrative. On penciling duties was Djibril Morissette-Phan, who began his work for Marvel with a three-issue stint on the third Ultimates series, before working on several annuals and fill-in stories.

Finally, Ed Brisson, who had used several members of Alpha Flight during his run on Old Man Logan (2nd series), brilliantly picked up on one of the most significant unresolved plots in recent Alpha Flight history – what happened to Heather Hudson following the events of Alpha Flight (4th series) #8. Taking place before Heather's awkward appearance in Amazing X-Men (2nd series) #8-12, this story reveals that Guardian had found Heather and their daughter, and had placed her in a simulated environment within Department H in which Heather thought she was still on the run. Within the simulated environment, Heather thought that Guardian simply “visited” her while she was a fugitive from Department H. Heather also acknowledged the murder of her cousin and the deaths of others, blaming herself, while Mac tries to assure her it was the Master of the World. Scott Hepburn was responsible for penciling duties, having worked for Marvel on and off for some time, his first work being on the Sentinel series back in 2003.

Although Alpha Flight's 40th anniversary went by quietly, things were changing for the heroes of the Great White North within the Marvel Universe. More and more Alpha Flight-related characters were beginning to appear in varying capacities and, with the mutant nation of Krakoa established in 2019, things indeed were looking bright for Alpha Flight.

Writers Artists

#1 – Jim Zub, Jed Mackay, Ed Brisson

#1 – Max Dunbar, Djibril Morissette-Phan, Scott Hepburn

Gamma Flight (2021)

Although various Alpha Flight characters were now appearing throughout the Marvel Universe, the ground-based Alpha Flight team remained somewhat elusive. Up in space, though, the Alpha Flight Space Station was still orbiting the Earth. Abandoned by Captain Marvel, the space station and its crew began appearing as supporting characters in the Immortal Hulk series. There, a Gamma Flight division was established. Unlike previous versions of Gamma Flight that appeared throughout the original Alpha Flight series, this wasn't a third-tier training team, or a replacement team for Alpha Flight. This was a division of the Alpha Flight Space Program tasked with locating the missing Bruce Banner. First appearing in Immortal Hulk #8, the task force was led by a depowered Sasquatch and initially included Puck and other space station personnel. This task force continued to appear throughout various issues of the Immortal Hulk series, its roster expanding to including Absorbing Man and Titania.

Towards the end of the fifty-issue run of Immortal Hulk, the Gamma Flight team were spun off into their own five-issue limited series, co-written by Immortal Hulk scribe Al Ewing, and Crystal Frasier. This is notable for the fact that Crystal Frasier is a trans woman, and one of the main supporting characters of the Immortal Hulk series (and included in the Gamma Flight series) was Dr. Charlene McGowan, a trans woman who was working at Shadow Base. Around this time, Frasier also wrote a story featuring Titania for the 2021 Marvel Voices: Pride special. This limited series was penciled by longtime Marvel artist Lan Medina.

By the time the Gamma Flight task force featured in their own limited series, they had broken away from the Alpha Flight Space Program and were essentially on the run from the Program. Puck was now leading the team, which now included Charlene McGowan on its roster, Leonard Samson – known as Doc Sasquatch having taken over Walter Langkowski's body – and a mutated being comprised of Rick Jones and Del Frye. The team investigated the sudden appearance of new gamma mutated beings, battled Skaar, Son of Hulk, and discovered that the cause of the gamma mutates was thanks to the Abomination, who worked with a scientist to mutate a small town.

So, while this series was very un-Alpha Flight, it does tie into a return for the Alpha Flight series. Writing duties for the new series will fall to Ed Brisson, with Scott Godlewski handling the penciling. The focus of this five-issue limited series will tie into the Fall of X storyline playing out across the X-Men books and will see Puck return to Canada to work alongside Guardian, Snowbird and Shaman when the Canadian government makes a startling decree regarding mutants. This decision will pit them against Northstar and Aurora, along with Aurora's partner Fang and a mysterious new Nemesis.

Writers Artists

#1-5 - Al Ewing, Crystal Frasier

#1-5 - Lan Medina