Alpha Flight

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The team's original lineup.

We're the Canadian Football League of superhero teams! (Except, of course, our best heroes don't go to the U.S. and join the Avengers) But if supervillains ever threaten Campbelltown, New Brunswick, you'll be glad we're here!

Marvel Year in Review 1993

Alpha Flight is a fictional superhero team published by Marvel Comics, noteworthy for being one of the few Canadian superhero teams. Created by comic book writer/artist John Byrne - who is himself Canadian - the team first appeared in Uncanny X-Men #120 (April 1979). It's considered an X-Men spinoff even though they're more like Canadian Avengers. Throughout most of its history, the team has worked for Department H, a fictitious branch of Canada's Department of National Defence that deals with super-powered persons. Most team members have distinctly Canadian attributes, such as Inuit or First Nations heritage. Their name refers to the three levels of training that team members undergo - Alpha, Beta and Gamma - with Gamma Flight being the least trained and Alpha Flight the best. The other flights tend to act as sidekicks for Alpha (though one version of Gamma Flight went rogue.)

The team was originally just a part of Wolverine's backstory; he left Alpha Flight to join the X-Men. Their first appearance was an attempt to force him to return, during which a fight ensued. They proved popular with readers and after a second appearance in the pages of X-Men in 1983, Byrne launched an eponymous series featuring the group, which continued until 1994. Three short-lived revivals have been attempted since, the most recent titled Omega Flight, in April 2007. Most infamously, the entire team was killed off in one panel just to set up how dangerous The Collective, a new Avengers foe, was.

Notable members of the team include:

The original team's dead members were resurrected during 2010-11's Chaos War, and the reunited team has an eight-part maxiseries in 2011-12, tying into Marvel's Fear Itself event. It was boosted to be an ongoing, but Marvel pushed it back to an eight-parter after sales dropped off.

Tropes used in Alpha Flight include:
  • The Ace: Mac Hudson, the original Guardian.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Sasquatch fits the Mythical Monster Motif type while Snowbird fits the All Animal Abilities type.
  • Animorphism: Snowbird's best-known ability is to turn into an albino female version of any animal. Her favorite is a human-sized owl.
  • Back from the Dead: Mac was killed in the first year of Alpha Flight and not resurrected until seven years later.
    • After Chaos War, all dead members of Alpha Flight are back.
    • Like a Badass Out of Hell: Puck, who apparently died somewhere between return of his dead teammates and start of the new series. He went to Hell, and teamed up with Wolverine to escape, but only Logan managed to get out, while Puck slayed demon who imprisoned him and took his place. And upon learning his teammates may be in trouble, he immediately gave it up to return and save them.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: Sasquatch
  • Body Backup Drive: The handicapped Robert Bochs has a robot body called Box which he can transfer into and out of at will. During one story arc when Walter Langkowski (Sasquatch) dies his consciousness is transferred to Box until they can find him a new body. They think they found one out in deep space, but it turns out that it's The Hulk. Langkowski decides to let his soul dissipate.
  • Body Horror: Scramble the Mixed-Up Man used his powers to create these, the last of which was Omega, a fusion of himself and Roger Bochs. It was just... messy.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Puck.
  • Braids, Beads, and Buckskins: Shaman and Yukon Jack.
  • Brother-Sister Team: Northstar and Aurora in their first appearances. They had identical powers and generated a blinding light upon physical contact. This was subverted when they fell out early in the book's run, causing Aurora to redesign her costume and even had her geneticist boyfriend Sasquatch alter her powers to further distinguish her from her brother. As a result, she isn't as fast (the difference between Mach 5 and Mach 2, but still), but can generate light on her own in addition to other abilities that seem to come and go with her multiple personalities.
  • Canada, Eh?: given a Lampshade Hanging during the crapload of "unrealities" shown in the 34th issue of What If.
  • Captain Geographic: Guardian and Vindicator always had this going on, though the entire original team plays up some aspect of Canadian culture: Mac, Heather, and Puck are from Ontario; Marrina's from the Atlantic Coast; Northstar and Aurora are from Quebec (with Northstar being a former separatist); Snowbird's from the Northern Territories; Shaman represents the First Nations and the Prairies; and Sasquatch is from British Columbia.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: Mac Hudson's original Guardian suit (which Heather used during the first series) was electromagnetic. After he came back, Heather was given her own suit that had geothermal powers (at which point she took the name Vindicator).
  • Coming Out Story/Very Special Episode: Northstar's coming out surrounded a baby girl with AIDS, from which the original Major Mapleleaf's son died, but because he was gay he didn't become a media darling like Northstar's adopted daughter. In all honesty, the story suffers from bad dialogue and worse art, but it still made history when Northstar became Marvel's first openly gay hero.
  • Conspiracy Redemption
  • Cool Old Guy: Centennial, from the second revival.
  • Cool Shades: Part of Heather's Guardian suit, since she's near-sighted. She later gets laser-eye surgery though.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Jerome Jaxon, who sought to sell his subordinate Mac's original armor (designed to burrow underground in search of mineral resources) as a weapon to the U.S. military; when Mac steals the armor and takes his control helmet (which he designed in college) to the Canadian government, Jaxon is ruined, and after being Driven to Suicide only to fail, manages to join up with evil Mega Corp Roxxon and seeks revenge against Mac by forming the original Omega Flight.
  • Darker and Edgier: The second and fourth series attempt to make Alpha Flight EXTREME. The second lasted a good while but the last was a miserable failure.
  • Diabolus Ex Machina: The first Guardian's death was unwittingly caused by his own wife. After a particularly nasty fight with a supervillain, his suit goes into meltdown and he has to disassemble it, like, fast. At the last second, Heather barges in the room, distracting Mac. Kaboom.
  • Disappeared Dad: Shaman lost his wife. His response? Abandon his six-year old daughter for ten years.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: The entire classic team had just been resurrected plus the two most beloved members of the third series before The Collective killed them in one panel.
  • Face Heel Turn: In the new Alpha Flight book, Kara Killgrave pulled one and now calls herself Purple Woman. Like Father like daughter.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Alpha Flight's members and enemies were always a blend of Badass Normals, Mutants, aliens, robots, magical beings, and so on. There were times when the team's membership was mostly mutants and its enemies mostly magical, but it was always an interesting blend.
  • Fish People: Marrina the poor little fish girl.
  • Flanderization: Ever since joining the X-Men, Northstar has been portrayed as arrogant and snobbish, completely ignoring years of character development over the course of Alpha Flight where he actually became a likable team player.
  • Freaky Friday Flip: Walter Langowski is the king of getting stuck in other people's bodies. He starts out turning into a big orange Sasquatch. When it turns out that this form is actually an evil spirit, his soul gets shoved into the Box robot. When that robot's destroyed, he vanishes into Shaman's medicine bag, only to eventually emerge in Smart Alec's shrunken body. From there he surfs into Snowbird's white Sasquatch body (sort of), which incidentally gender-bends him into a Wanda. Eventually, he gets his own gender and coloration back.
  • Fusion Dance: The Switcher version. Sasquatch originally thought he was turning into a furry beast after replicating The Hulk's gamma-ray incident, but it turned out he was switching bodies with the dark god Tanaraq, whose mind was slowly taking over. Of course Snowbird had a bad feeling about the whole thing from the start, but nobody listened to her until she had to kill him in what was one of the coolest fights in the book. It wasn't until after he got better that he was able to finally shapeshift on his own. How? It's a long story.
  • Gender Bender: Sasquatch's stint as "Wanda" Langkowski.
  • Genius Bruiser: Sasquatch, both a radiation expert and a high-level powerhouse. Puck had elements of this too, especially once he got a power-upgrade to lift upwards of ten tons.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Northstar
  • Legacy Character: The second Puck from the mid-2000s revival, a sprightly Asian-Canadian girl with super-strength.
  • Lighter and Softer: The third series is laugh out loud comedy.
  • Magical Native American: Shaman and his daughter Talisman.
  • Man in the Machine: Originally, Box was a remote-controlled robot, but it was altered to allow its paraplegic creator, Roger Bochs, to physically join with it. It later played host to the spirit of Sasquatch, and then became a variable-form mech with Madison Jeffries.
  • Meganekko: Heather Hudson.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Snowbird's animal shapeshifting was initially limited to animals native to Canada. During a fight where she is rendered unable to see, she mentions that she could use a bat's sonar, but was unable to since bats do not live in Canada. Except that they do.
  • Monster Modesty: Marrina is a rare female example since she's a non-human wearing a skimpy one piece swimsuit. Sasquatch fits this trope in a way. Despite being an educated gentleman, he "wears" a fur loincloth and nothing else.
  • Morphic Resonance: Snowbird's animal forms are always albino.
  • Nice Guy: Major Mapleleaf, often to the point of naivety.
  • One-Robot Army: Madison Jeffries as Box; his ability to morph inorganic materials allowed him to reconfigure the Box robot into virtually any configuration he could think of, basically making him an unlimited-form Transforming Mecha.
  • Remote Body: In early issues Handicapped Gadgeteer Genius Roger Bochs had a robot called Box that he control with a neural interface helmet.
  • Scarf of Asskicking: Notably averted. Aurora would wear a scarf with one of her more revealing costumes during winter/arctic missions. However, the blue scarf visually clashed with the white-and-yellow costume, and at least once a villain tried to strangle her with it.
  • Sharpened to a Single Atom: Nemesis carries a sabre whose blade is only a single molecule thick.
  • Split Personality: Aurora. Whooo boy. At her least complicated, she is split between a free-spirited Femme Fatale who loves her mutant powers and being a superhero ("Aurora"), and a stuffy schoolmarm who would rather lead a quiet life teaching and is religious to the point of bigotry against her own brother Northstar ("Jeanne-Marie"). However, villains who treat this as a weakness learn not to make that mistake twice. Once Jeanne-Marie conceded to helping Alpha Flight, her unique perspective came in handy a few times, and she had energy powers that even Aurora was unaware of.
  • Team Mom: After Mac's apparent death, Heather was chosen as the new leader for this very reason, even though she was still a civilian (she didn't become Guardian till later).
  • Third Line, Some Waiting: Fish girl and Newfoundlander Marrina spent more time in her own subplot than on the team. Most readers know her better as an honorary Avenger and Namor's wife whom he had to kill when her alien powers spiraled out of control.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Heather, when she became Vindicator (and later taking the name Guardian). Even when her husband, the original Guardian came back, he acknowledged that she had built up more experience using the suit than he did.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Wolverine with both Snowbird and Heather. However, both ladies figured legitimately into his backstory before Wolverine Mania started getting out of hand. Heather helped calm him down after the adamantium procedure, while he and Snowbird shared a mutual attraction during his time on the team.
  • Wearing The Maple Leaf As Your Costume: While Guardian (and later Vindicator) wore a unique battle-armor based on the Canadian flag, the entire team would later adorn similar Maple Leaf-themed costumes in the early-to-mid 90s.
  • Winter Royal Lady: Snowbird