Sep 30, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 218: Canadian Corps #1, 2015

Having tempted fate yesterday by saying that everything I'd picked up in Edmonton so far had been amazing, I was worried that those three capricious ladies would punish me by handing be something bad to read today.

Looks like they didn't hear me.

I may be jumping the gun, but I feel like we're finally getting to a point in Canadian comics where we've figured out how to do a Canadian superteam without having to somehow compare ourselves to the glut of posthumans south of the border. Chapterhouse's new Captain Canuck series is phenomenal, and today's comic from September17 Productions is equally great. There's a nice spread of characters with a good range of power sets, and, one of the things I thought was really great, they're from all over the country. The concentration of heroes in Marvel Manhattan has always bothered me. The US is a huge country. Surely there's other places worth exploring. The September17 team understand this about Canada, and understand that our country is so large that to properly represent its diversity, you can't just focus on one city. Or province/territory.

You can see from the cover that the art style straddles that interesting place between cartooning and superhero comics, which offers a good range of inroads into the genre. There's action, comedy, drama, and the art style allows these disparate takes on the characters to mesh fairly seamlessly. I haven't quite figured out all of the character powers and back stories yet, but I'm definitely invested enough to want to. I think the other thing that really resonated for me is that, unlike something like Alpha Flight, or even Captain Canuck, the characters' identities and powers don't hinge on somehow being Canadian/Northern stereotypes. Yes, Warrant wears a maple leaf, but that's because he's a patriotic hero. The rest of the characters have powers (and names) that are simply superhero powers, not Canadian superhero powers.

(As a comparison, consider Northstar, Aurora, Snowbird, Puck.)

One of the things we talk about in literary studies is how we differentiate Canadian literature on the North American continent from US literature. Actually, it goes even further because we also talk about how to differentiate Canadian culture from US culture. A lot of the time we define ourselves by what we are not, which, most broadly speaking, means that we are not Americans. But when we are faced with the question of "What are we then?" there isn't always a good answer. I'll be interested to follow Canadian Corps and see how it addresses this question in its little corner of superhero comics. There is definitely that "Canadian" quality to it, but, predictably, I'm not entirely certain how to define it. Hopefully we'll see enough issues of the series that it will answer, in some small way, the question for us.

That's it for my Edmonton comics, I'm afraid. I kind of wish I'd bought more now. Perhaps, rather than hitting up Alien Worlds tomorrow, I'll spend the rest of the week looking at some other self-published comics in the collection. In any case, I'll see you tomorrow.

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