The following contains spoilers for Alpha Flight #1, on sale now from Marvel Comics.
While the X-Men have always been the world’s foremost team of mutant heroes, they are not the only one that the Marvel Universe has to offer. The Canadian superhero team Alpha Flight is now the world’s first superpowered line of defense against mutantkind, sanctioned by their own government to do so. However, it now appears that the team is merely playing the part until it is safe enough for them to actively assist the displaced mutants of Krakoa.
In the wake of Orchis’ assault on Krakoa during the latest Hellfire Gala, mutantkind as a whole has been thrown into complete disarray. The rest of the world, on the other hand, is largely swept up in the newly stoked fears toward the mutants, who are once again facing genocide. As seen in Alpha Flight #1 (by Ed Brisson, Scott Godlewski, Matt Milla, Tom Muller, Jay Bowen and VC’s Travis Lanham), Canada’s super team has been enlisted to safeguard their country from the supposed threat that mutants now pose. Although none of the team’s most forward facing members are mutants themselves, plenty of their closest teammates over the years are, leading to a deep-seated resentment toward Alpha Flight’s current members. However, the end of the issue reveals that these heroes are not the traitors they appear to be.
Who is Alpha Flight – And What Happened to Them?
Introduced back in 1979’s X-Men #120 (by Chris Claremont and John Byrne), Alpha Flight was the brainchild of James Hudson, former engineer turned cybernetic super-soldier and original team leader, Guardian. In response to Hudson’s technology making its way into the hands of the United States government, he took the lead of Canada’s then newly created Department H. After enlisting the likes of Snowbird, Sasquatch, and even Wolverine, Hudson was ready to unveil his team to the world, although doing so initially ended in disaster.
Between an ever shifting roster of failed recruits and a series of early missions that resulted in embarrassment more than victory, Alpha Flight was retooled and refined into a key group of six heroes consisting of Hudson, Shaman, Sasquatch, Snowbird, and the mutant icons Northstar and Aurora. While this iteration of Alpha Flight was certainly imposing, their losing streak simply couldn’t be broken, leading to their government officially disbanding the team. In spite of this devastating blow, Alpha Flight continued to operate on their own. In expanding their roster and operating outside of anyone else’s purview, the team was able to establish a reputation for themselves as the kind of legitimate fighting force that simply could not be ignored.
Alpha Flight’s Legacy Has Shifted in the Marvel Universe
For Alpha Flight, being disowned by their government was the best thing that could have happened. Apart from allowing the team to come into their own, it gave Alpha Flight numerous opportunities to prove themselves over the years. Although the first Canadian super team was a failure on the books, subsequent attempts to recreate the program in the forms of Beta and Gamma Flight allowed for just as many confrontations between the originals and their would be successors. These experiences brought the individual members of Alpha Flight closer together and showcased how much more the team could accomplish when not being constantly harangued by their superiors.
Alpha Flight’s most legitimate successors, the current iteration of Gamma Flight, has proven this beyond a shadow of a doubt by dismantling one of the biggest conspiracies the Marvel Universe has ever seen. Considering Puck was so willing to fight alongside Gamma Flight in their short-lived war against gamma threats like the Abomination, it is hard to imagine how he could ever be convinced to turn on mutantkind today, let alone take a part in what Alpha Flight has now become. However, what the world sees them doing is completely different from what the team is actually doing, as they covertly work to actually assist the mutants.
The New Alpha Flight is the Most Important Version of the Team
While the current Alpha Flight lineup consists of only four members as far as their government is concerned, their old mutant teammates are still very much a part of the internal roster. By pitting themselves against one another publicly, the forward facing half of Alpha Flight is able to put on the kind of show that makes them seem like staunch, anti-mutant soldiers, whereas the rest are able to avoid the kind of confrontations that might otherwise take place. On top of that, the leeway and information that the government sanctioned members are privy to has afforded the others an inside look that will potentially help save thousands of mutant lives as long as they can maintain the deception.
So far, Guardian, Snowbird, Puck, and Shaman haven’t left any great impression upon their handlers, but they have made plenty of headway in securing safe passage off world for mutants in need of rescue. This coupled with the resources presumably at their disposal puts Alpha Flight in the unique position of both the world’s foremost police force against mutants and the ones with the means to help those same mutants avoid any further persecution. Sadly, they still don’t have any meaningful way of pushing back against Orchis or the fear that the villains have instilled in the general public against mutantkind. However, hope still remains that Alpha Flight will still remain more of a help than a hindrance to their mutant allies, regardless of what their government believes to be the case.
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