Sunday, August 28, 2011

Big Fan Expo Comic Con Announcement: "Alpha Flight" Now An Ongoing Comic Book!

There was an exciting announcement made yesterday at the Fan Expo Canada Convention in Toronto.  It was announced that Marvel Comics' Alpha Flight comic book has been so well received that it has gone from being an eight-issue mini-series to an ongoing series!  Alpha Flight is Canada's premier super-team.  The current creative team, Fred Van Lente, Greg Pak, and Dale Eaglesham, have all done a wonderful job of breathing fresh, invigorating life into the team. 

The new series debuted following the rise of a new Canadian Prime Minister and a fascist new political party, known as the Unity Party.  Through mind control and media manipulation, former team leader Vindicator has betrayed the group and her husband, Guardian, and Alpha Flight have been declared public outlaws and are living on the run.

Comic Book Resources has a great interview posted this morning with writers Pak and Van Lente that's really worth checking out.  Here are some of the highlights for me:

How long have you guys known that "Alpha Flight" would become an ongoing series? How has that affected the book's current storyline?

Van Lente: We had an inkling of this really before issue #1 came out. So we always had a backup plan. That plan allows us to do even more of what we're currently doing. I'm not sure how I can explain this without being spoilery, but we basically have a more robust second act to the "Unity" storyline, which I'm really excited about.

It's fun to be able to work on a broad canvas like this. We were able to do three years worth of stories on "Incredible Hercules," and now it's great that the first act of our "Alpha Flight" story is going to be at least a full year long. That's really exciting...

So there's room to tell some extra tales that tie directly into what's going on, like perhaps the story of how Puck escaped from Hell?

Van Lente: Exactly. Basically it allows us to have a lot of fun with the outlaw status of this former team of government superheroes. That's the place where they're going to end up very soon, and it's a fun status quo for Alpha Flight, which is sort of typified by the cover of October's issue #5 which has them toting guns, '90s-style. They start robbing banks. We have a bank heist scene coming up that's a lot of fun. It's a very different thing for Alpha Flight and superheroes in general, and we get to maintain that status quo even longer.

It seems like Alpha Flight's outlaw status would be a matter of concern to some of the other major players in the Marvel Universe, like the Avengers or the X-Men. Now that your series is an ongoing one, are you able address how the situation in Canada is affecting the rest of the Marvel U?

Pak: Yeah, we'll get a sense of how the things going on in Canada are being perceived around the world and how it affects the wider Marvel Universe. Also we'll see what happens when the wider Marvel Universe starts to take an interest in all of this.

Van Lente: As many Wolverine fans know, one of his first unrequited love interests was Heather Hudson. So part of the reason Wolverine left Alpha Flight was his feelings for a married woman. Now that Mac [Heather's husband, Guardian, aka James MacDonald Hudson] is apparently a criminal in the eyes of his government, he's going to show up and sniff around. So there may be a renewal of that love triangle because now Heather Hudson, Vindicator, is the official superhero of Canada.

What about heroes from other continents? Will they become involved? It seems like another major government-sponsored superteam, England's MI-13, would be especially interested by what's going on in Canada.

Van Lente: Captain Britain and MI-13 will play a role in this series. There's a little organization that's existed for years in the Marvel Universe, but no one has really paid that much attention to it. It's called the Commonwealth Heroes. We're going to be introducing them in future issues of "Alpha Flight." We'll see how Alpha Flight reacts to being a member of a "super" superteam formed from the superhero teams of all these different countries, and the insanity will get ratcheted up even further...

In "Alpha Flight" #4, in stores September 14th, you introduce the team to the Canadian government's new official superteam, Alpha Strike, a group lead by Vindicator that's been tasked with taking down the fugitive members of Alpha Flight. Alpha Strike's ranks include Purple Girl, Citadel, Wendigo and Ranark the Ravager. What made you want to include these characters on the team?

Van Lente: I always got a kick out of Purple Girl, a creation of Greg's personal hero, Bill Mantlo, when he was writing the book. So I definitely wanted to use her, but I thought it would be cool to make her badass and more of a villain. I often bemoan the lack of really good female villains.

Citadel is a character I created in "Wolverine: First Class" with Clayton Henry, one of our "Incredible Hercules" collaborators. He's basically the anti-Wolverine. He has an adamantium exo-skeleton and a healing factor, as opposed to an adamantium internal skeleton and a healing factor. He's the big brawler.

I like having Wendigo on Alpha Strike because Wendigo is this big, scary creature, and anyone who would put Wendigo, a cannibalistic unstoppable monster, on a superteam is obviously insane. That just goes to show you the mindset of the people running Department H.

Lastly, this character is close enough to being an original character, but we have Ranark the Ravager, who is one of the earliest Alpha Flight villains from one of their earliest appearances, which was in "Marvel Two-in-One."

Basically we had Dale totally redesign him because he kind of looked like a knockoff of Apache Chief from the "Super Friends" cartoon. So it was a little iffy in terms of political correctness and design. We went to Dale and said, "Ranark the Ravager is an evil shaman. Go!" [Laughs] And this is what he came up with; this wonderful, creepy, Blair Witch-type character who is covered in bones and has rubbed soot in his skin. He's an undead shaman who -- and this is a retcon on our part -- worships the long-time Alpha Flight foes, the Great Beasts of the North. His presence on the team also indicates that the people running the show up in Ottawa are a little crazy, because Ranark's presence in and of itself may break down the barriers between our world and the world of the Great Beasts. That obviously is a very bad thing.
Check out the rest of the interview at this link.

No comments: