Oct 14, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 232: Alpha Flight v.1 #9, April 1984

It's odd that this short a distance into their own series, Alpha Flight's characters are getting solo stories. As the comic is named after the team, one would think that the focus would be on building the group dynamic, rather than showcasing each individual separately. Today's comic is Walter Langkowski's turn. Sasquatch, that is.

What's quite interesting about Alpha Flight is how many of their members are scientists or doctors. I'm not sure if this is somehow a Canadianism of which I was unaware, but at least two of them are research scientists (Guardian and Sasquatch) and one a medical doctor (Shaman). I feel like that's a higher ration than most superhero teams. But I also wonder if this means that the characters are necessarily a little older than the mid-20s standard of most superheroes. One would imagine that, these three at least, spent much of their twenties getting degrees of some sort. And, as I can testify, getting a degree leaves precious little time for superhero-ing.

Sasquatch's adventure serves to place Alpha Flight into the context of their shared universe, which seems to have been somewhat lacking in the last few issues. One can hardly turn around in Marvel New York without a superhero flying by. As a team based....well, I'm not sure where they're based, but it's not in New York, so it's easy to forget that the team exists in the Marvel U. Except, of course, when members of the Fantastic Four or their enemies show up and wreck stuff. Which is what happens here. It's an interesting story, in that the research team that accompanies Langkowski into the snowy wilderness (of which there always seems to be an abundance in Canada-set stories) gets killed off mercilessly. It's not often that civilians in the Marvel U get killed quite so callously, especially in the kinder, gentler era of the early 80s. But the Super Skrull comes along and does away with them. Whether or not Sasquatch will survive the encounter will have to wait until tomorrow's comic.

One thing that has been bugging me about this team is that they all seem to be based in different cities in Canada. Anyone who's travelled this country will know that, even in the same province, you can often be two to three hours between major cities. If the Beaubier twins are in Montreal, and Shaman is in Calgary, regardless of how quickly Aurora and Northstar fly, it's still going to be a few hours. Canada is big. Really, really big. How a writer deals with that vastness, or if a writer deals with that vastness, is one of the hallmarks of Canadian literature. It's definitely one of the things I've got my eye on with this series. The previous Canadian superhero team book I reviewed a couple of weeks ago got around this conundrum by having a teleporter in the group. No such luck for the Alphas.

More snowy Canadian shenanigans on the morrow. As long as the snow is confined to the comic pages for now, I'm happy.

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