Series Disambiguation (Alpha Flight)

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Last Updated: 
28th August 2023
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years issues series name brief description
1983-1994 #1-130 Alpha Flight (1st series) The adventure of Canada's premiere super-heroes
1991 #1-4 Alpha Flight Special (1st series) reprints Alpha Flight (1st series) #97-100 for the direct market
1992 #1 Alpha Flight Special (2nd series) Takes place prior to all previous Alpha Flight stories
1994 #1-4 Northstar solo series
1997-1999 #1-20 Alpha Flight (2nd series) Alpha Flight reformed under Department H
2004-2005 #1-12 Alpha Flight (3rd series) "All-New, All-Different" team led by Sasquatch
2007 #1-5 Omega Flight Force Works in Canada
2011 #1 Chaos War: Alpha Flight Alpha Flight resurrected
2011-2012 #0.1, 1-8 Alpha Flight (4th series) Alpha Flight fights to save their nation from fascism
2016-2017 #1-10 Captain Marvel (8th series) Alpha Flight takes to the stars
2017 #0, 1-9 Mighty Captain Marvel Earth's last line of defense
2019 #1 Alpha Flight: True North team finds closure
2021 #1-5 Gamma Flight Responds to Gamma beings


Historically, American comic books have been, by their very nature, U.S.-centric. With rare exception, each hero was a US-citizen and their adventures took place in a US-city. Even more insularly, most Marvel Comics took place (even to this day) mostly in the New York City area, and even more specifically in Manhattan. Were there no heroes in Europe? Latin America? With over half the population of the planet living in China and the area of the Indian subcontinent, surely there were serendipitous accidents to bestow powers to at least a few of its populace, or a few of their citizens with the X-gene present in all mutants.

One of the earliest attempts to create characters from outside of the States was made by Len Wein. Early in his 44-issue run on Incredible Hulk, in issues #180-181, Wein had the “jade giant” wander into the wilderness of the Canadian province of Quebec. There, he encountered and fought the Wendigo, a monstrous, feral creature who was nearly the Hulk’s equal in strength and whom the Hulk had fought two years before. In the middle of this story, Wein introduce “Weapon X,” also known as the Wolverine.

Although the all-new, all-different X-Men are rightly associated with Chris Claremont, it was Len Wein who would introduce the team with Giant-Size X-Men #1 in 1975. In this double-sized one shot, Wein would again focus on the international when introducing characters. Along with Wolverine, who had first appeared the year before, Wein utilized established non-American characters in the Japanese Sunfire and Irish Banshee. He would also create new non-American characters in the Russian Colossus, the Kenyan Storm and the German Nightcrawler. Final among the group was Thunderbird, the first significant Native American character since the introduction of the Fantastic Four’s Wyatt Wingfoot from years before.

Although Wein had introduced the team, Chris Claremont took over the book with its first ongoing issue with X-Men #94, with Dave Cockrum as his artist. Cockrum would last for twelve issues, replaced with #108 by John Byrne. Although born in the UK, Byrne’s family had moved to Canada when he was 8, so the “Great White North” held a special place in his heart. When Claremont mentioned an idea that Cockrum had had about the Canadian government not being happy about losing their super-soldier and possibly sending someone to bring him back, Byrne offered an updated version of a character he had envisioned some years before – Guardian. However, to avoid confusion with the Guardians of the Galaxy team, the character was renamed Weapon Alpha and later, in his second appearance, Vindicator.

“Weapon Alpha” first appeared in X-Men #109, in which he attempted to take in Wolverine single-handedly. However, the solitary Weapon Alpha was no match for the entire X-Men, so when he turned up again in X-Men #120-121 he was not alone. By this time, John Byrne was credited as co-plotter, as well as artist. In this two-part story, Weapon Alpha (now Vindicator) led a group of super-heroes called Alpha Flight, two of which (Snowbird & Shaman) were variations of characters he had designed but not yet found a place to publish. Others, such as Northstar, Aurora and Sasquatch, were created to be counterpoints against specific members of the X-Men. Although the team were ultimately unsuccessful in their bid to bring back Wolverine, Alpha Flight held their own against the X-Men.

Over the next few years, a few of the characters appeared in scattered titles, however the team would not appear together again until X-Men #139-140. In this story, the encounter from Wolverine’s first appearance was revisited when the Wendigo reappeared, terrorizing the Canadian wilderness. With the help of a few of the X-Men, Alpha Flight managed to capture the Wendigo’s human form. Unfortunately, the reward Vindicator received on behalf of his team was bitter, when the Canadian prime minister informed him that, due to budget cuts and public sentiment, Alpha Flight and their entire ministry, Department H, were being disbanded.

Although the story ended in a downer for them, the final caption of the Alpha Flight portion of the story hinted at a “new, brighter future” for the team. Most likely, this was Marvel editorial teasing the possibility of Alpha Flight earning their ongoing series, something Marvel pressed John Byrne himself to launch. Although he was their creator and a proud Canadian himself, Byrne didn’t seem enamored with the characters he had created and only deemed them a foil capable of going toe-to-toe with the X-Men. However, Byrne ultimately came to the realization that, if he didn’t write the Alpha Flight series, Marvel would eventually assign someone else. Rather than allow the characters he created to be shaped by others, Byrne relented and agreed to an Alpha Flight series.