ALPHA FLIGHT #2 (1983)
Canada’s greatest heroes are FIRED! In the first few pages, James MacDonald Hudson, currently known as Vindicator; recaps and evaluates the importance of the team. Hardship is often improved by a coach and the Canadian Prime Minister expresses great empathy that Department H is no longer going to be government funded. He provides support and offers everything in his power to help Vindicator deal with the challenges being set forth to Alpha Flight.
Meanwhile, in the Northwest Territories, a near starving man obsessed with death, conducts an ancient ritual in which he summons one of the power Great Beasts – an entity known as Tundra. Members of Alpha Flight have reunited and the fight is on! After the success of the mission, Vindicator offers to re-establish Alpha Flight as an independent super-hero team. One more thing, PUCK wants in on the deal and he’s not taking no for an answer!
John Byrne takes his readers to an old Canadian military site near the Albany River, where the members of Alpha Flight, except Snowbird, for a series of combat training exercises. Though we know that Vindicator has self-doubt as the leader of his superhero squad, he does recognize the need for team-building exercises. This sets the stage for work related discussion and at the same time, the members may learn more about one another to build a stronger bond. Vindicator may be a little green as Alpha Flight’s leader, but he doesn’t give himself enough credit on engaging these difficult tasks.
Byrne’s storytelling and his artwork, along with colors by Andy Yanchus feed off of each other as each panel sequencing flow like watching a motion picture. During the training sessions, we see a few mishaps and areas of improvement needed. The speedster twins, Northstar and Aurora take Vindicator by surprise, causing him to lose focus and fall from the sky. Sasquatch is there to catch him, but there’s a problem. Sasquatch is on the opposing team of this training exercise and throws Vindicator without warning or thinking. Shaman uses his magic powders to soften Vindicator’s fall. A funny playful brawl between Puck and Sasquatch is caused by Marrina’s teachings of caution. Byrne’s writing really caught my attention toward the end of the training session between Shaman and Vindicator.
Byrne strategically incorporates Canada’s mission, “To promote and safeguard a non-partisan, merit-based and representative public service that serves all Canadians.” as a means of guidance and structure for Alpha Flight. Also, he brilliantly shows that a team with a communication barrier can never work well together. While a team leader needs to take the required initiative to help break the ice between team members, it is just as important to acquire listening skills to learn from all team members. Promoting communication among each other is essential, as it helps knowing each other, which in turn leads to better coordination of the team. GO ALPHA FLIGHT!
Best quote of Alpha Flight #2: “That’s all I need, a spontaneous bath from our resident amphibian. I swear, Marrina, if you weren’t so sweet and petite...” – Sasquatch
Suddenly, Marrina begins to act strangely. Out of the clear blue, the sweet and petite Marrina lashes out at Puck with her razor-sharp claws. The whole team is in complete shock on this Jackal and Hyde behavior. Puck begins to whimper like a wounded animal, “Help Me”. Honestly, for me, this is totally out of character for Puck. I would expect with an angered clawed up, bleeding face, and scream out at Marrina with something like “Bitch, get the @#$% away from me now before I do something I’ll regret!” However, this was another time and comic books were censored more cautiously. So, in my mind, I will just omit this pussy Puck and replace it with my thoughts. Nobody is more mortified than Marrina herself. The emotionally embarrassed amphibian plummeted back in the waters and fled before anyone could catch up to her. Honestly, beyond the Puck personality dismay, I am in conflict with a two more things on Byrne’s character building in this section. If Shaman’s magic is powerful enough to be an Alpha flight member, then why cannot he heal Puck on the spot? Was Bryne trying to subjectively address concerns between the Native American and the white man’s world? And, if Puck’s injuries are so severe that the doctor needs conventional tools, why didn’t Bryne & Yanchus give us the gore?! Another note, as the team was leaving the hospital to seek out Marrina, James, aka; Vindicator blurted out; “Find her – – and if necessary, stop her once and for all”. This pricked me like a thorn as this behavior is not part of a team leader’s character.
The remainder of the book, we get a taste of Snowbird’s life as her alter ego, Anne McKenzie and an excellent origin story for Marrina. Towards the end of Alpha Flight #2, Marrina is being “called” to an unknown place, which leaves us with a great cliffhanger and leaving the reader excited for the next issue!
John Byrne continues the adventures of Marvel’s premier team of Canadian superheroes and establishes major character building in Alpha Flight #2. James MacDonald Hudson’s final appearance as the Vindicator and now will be referred as the Guardian. Amongst other details, we now know that Marrina is 18 years old. Don’t forget to check out the special feature “The Origins of Alpha Flight: In the Beginning…”
Byrne serves as writer and leads the art team so fans of his will enjoy this collection. There are some interesting twists here as he ushers characters on and off the stage, including killing one of the protagonists. Still, there are some problems as the heroes are often doing their own thing instead of working together, meaning the team has plenty of organizational info structure ahead. But Still, this is a fun read!
Comic book fans-- Byrne fans in particular--will enjoy Alpha Flight #2.
ALPHA FLIGHT #2 (1983): Shadows of the Past
- Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
- Storyline - 8/108/10
- Art - 8/108/10
- Color - 8/108/10
- Cover Art - 9/109/10
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