Alpha Flight #8: Take That, Ottawa!

Canada has its heroes back. But not for long.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Since their introduction 32 years ago in the pages of Uncanny X-Men, Alpha Flight has had a pretty bumpy ride on its own. The first series ran for 130 issues before cancellation. And the three subsequent series have lasted only 20, 12 and now 8 issues, respectively.

The current Alpha Flight series byGreg Pak and Fred Van Lente (as well as artist Dale Eaglesham) seemed like it had the best take on the team in a long time. And it graduated to ongoing status for all of a few months before Marvel changed its mind and made issue 8 the conclusion once again.

The good news is that Pak and Van Lente wrap up as much of the story as possible. But there are some loose ends that feel drastically underserved and not everything goes back to the way it was before the series. In a way, Pak and Van Lente broke some of the proverbial toys in their toy chest and it's probably going to fall to another creative team to decide to undo them or pick up where they left off.

The most effective changes came to Marrina and Puck. In short, Marrina is now much more aggressive and hilariously anti-human while Puck is kind of a weird and yet heroic creep with some really funny facial expressions. In their brief page time in this issue, both characters push the story forward and give it the biggest laughs.

But the bulk of the story belongs to Heather (aka Vindicator) and Mac (Guardian), as they finally have it out. Unfortunately for Mac, it doesn't seem like any amount of marriage counseling is going to help him this time. When Heather says that he failed their daughter, it's like a knife to Mac's heart and he never really recovers. Clearly, Mac knows a lot about being a superhero, but he's forgotten how to be a father and a husband. Mac's plan to retake Canada and save his converted friends and countrymen is actually pretty good. He just can't save his family when it counts.

As for the Master, the cramped confines of this issue deal with his threat way too quickly. The Master does out-creep everybody with his plans for Heather and Mac's daughter. Along the way, the Master takes out Parliament Hill and a good deal of Ottawa… in some admittedly cool looking pages by Eaglesham. In fact, Eaglesham's artwork throughout this entire series has been fantastic and a strong reason to pick up this book. His style reminds me of the early work of John Byrne, but Eaglesham has his own take on human figures and technology that gives his art its own flavor. These are very crisp and beautiful pages, despite some occasionally unclear storytelling that seems to be the fault of the script more than anything else.  

Last issue, Wolverine was forced to stick around and continue his guest appearance in this issue. And he appears in a total of four panels across three pages in the finale. I'm not arguing that Wolverine should have stolen the spotlight from his former teammates and it was the right call to give the bulk of the time to Heather and Mac. But c'mon… four panels, really?!

The ending of the issue (and thus, the series) is a little unfulfilling. Some of the characters' fates are left ambiguous and I really did want to see more from this creative team. And we probably will at some point.

Just not with Alpha Flight. 
 

Crave Online Rating: 7.5/10