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AlphaFlight.net - Alpha Deaths - a new perspective (opinion piece)
  • Alpha Deaths - a new perspective (opinion piece)

    Something I've noticed lately is the habit certain P.C. types have of trying to prove that they're picked on and victimised by showing how comic book members of whatever group they're P.C.ing this week are treated; every slight, every nastiness that happens to a member of that group becomes cause for a cry of 'bigotry!'

    One particular list had members of their groups with horrible fates ranging from the worst -- dying several times within a few months, being generally beaten up and abused -- to the just plain bad --
    being largely ignored and left to limbo. I found the list got lamer and lamer, until the last, which I could only conclude was an uninteresting character.

    What it made me realise about comics was that you could do that for any group. Any group at all. Why?
    Because that's how all comic book characters are treated; at least in superhero universes. The only thing that could save them from a horrible fate, and probably death, was being too boring to notice. Okay, maybe some of the white males will never be killed off; people like Superman, Captain America, or Batman; but that's more due to popularity than white supremacy or misogyny, or whatever else you want to put it down to.

    The reason I'm posting this is, I think we've been feeling this for Alpha Flight. The members have been through the wringer - I'm not going to argue that. What I will argue is that that doesn't prove any sort of bias on the part of the PTB at Marvel; just that "We seem to be made to suffer, that's our lot in life," as C3P0 put it. They'll go through a lot of garbage, get killed off, be beaten up, etc... but they're comic book characters. That's what they do.

    The entire X-Men team has been killed off (and returned to life again the next issue). Spider-Man has been cloned, reset, and buried under peat moss for several issues. Robins have died.
    It's nothing personal.

    So, next time something bad happens to an Alphan character, let's put it in perspective.

    - Le Messor

    But nothing excuses New Avengers #16. Alpha Flight, portrayed realistically, are much better than that.
    Comments 17 Comments
    1. Legerd's Avatar
      Legerd -
      Respectfully disagree. Characters being made to suffer during a story is part and parcel for superhero comics, but the ridicule that is heaped on AF has nothing to do with that.
      In one issue of Generation X Banshee travels to Dept. H looking for help in finding the kids, because Emma has hidden them away for safety. Upon arrival at a rundown HQ, he is greeted by a small, comical robot that says: "Welcome to Dept. H, would you like to join Alpha Flight?" He finds Sasquatch still there amidst the rubbish of a lab, but Walter is written as a bumbling, absentminded professor throughout the story and, with the exception of helping to locate the kids, is nothing more than comic relief. Somehow I don't think any of the Avengers or the Fantastic Four would be written into a story in that way.
      That's one example of how the characters have been "misused", we all know there are many, many more. Do I even need to mention how Marvel writers and editors have crapped on the team and the fans at the Toronto Expos?

      When the team appears again as heroes I'll be okay with them being made to suffer, but don't try to make it out that the heroic struggles of Captain America or the Parker luck that is a mainstay of Spiderman comics is what's happening to AF, 'cause it's not.
    1. Le Messor's Avatar
      Le Messor -
      Yeah, but...
      but, but,...

      damn. I hate it when my 'opponent' has a good point. I wasn't thinking about the Generation X issue (Scott Lobdell, iirc).

      - Le Messor
      "God is on the side of the big guns."
      ~ Ney
      "God is on the side not of the heaviest battalions, but of the best shots."
      ~ Voltaire to Ney
    1. MistressMerr's Avatar
      MistressMerr -
      Funny how you mention Generation X, another team that's been put through the wringer and abused ridiculously in the years since that book ended, with characters getting depowered, unceremoniously killed off, and shuffled off to limbo left and right.

      LM, totally agree with your article! This phenomenon definitely isn't unique to AF, and the 'poor us' martyr attitude that goes around can be really off-putting, I find.
    1. DelBubs's Avatar
      DelBubs -
      Just one question I would like to ask, would the Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four be killed off, of panel, in another book title?

      While I agree that the 'Marvel hate Alpha' thing is wearing a little thin, I do think that AF are treated as second rate characters who are held in the same regard as the Great Lakes Avengers and others of their ilk. If Marvel treat AF in this way, then surely readers will see them in this way and treat any AF book with the same disdain. For AF to be viable, Marvel need to make them viable and not throw away characters.

      Just an opinion.
    1. Legerd's Avatar
      Legerd -
      Quote Originally Posted by MistressMerr View Post
      Funny how you mention Generation X, another team that's been put through the wringer and abused ridiculously in the years since that book ended, with characters getting depowered, unceremoniously killed off, and shuffled off to limbo left and right.
      Even if that's true (not doubting you MM, I just never followed Gen X all that much) how does that disprove that there is bias against AF?
      Look, I'm not calling for anyone's head on a plate, but as someone who has put money into Marvel for 30+ years, I have finally decided to not sit here any longer and pay to see my favourite characters written as jokes, nor have Marvel employees taunt me at fan expos. You may be cool with that, but I'm not.
    1. DelBubs's Avatar
      DelBubs -

      One thing I have learnt from years of being around Alpha fans, we may have differing opinions, but at the end of the day that is all they are, opinions.

      As re Marvel staff taunting AF fans, this would again reinforce the opinion that AF are viewed as throwaway characters which would seem to have been proved by New Avengers #16. I don't think there is a hate AF/Canadian mindset, just that AF are not held in the same esteem as other teams.

      I am of the opinion that this wasn't always the case. So I would be interested in peoples thoughts on what circumstances, time this happened?
    1. MistressMerr's Avatar
      MistressMerr -
      One thing I have learnt from years of being around Alpha fans, we may have differing opinions, but at the end of the day that is all they are, opinions.
      Excuse me, but I will have you know that I take everything said here personally and automatically think less of everyone I disagree with.



      BUT SERIOUSLY...

      Just one question I would like to ask, would the Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four be killed off, of panel, in another book title?
      Well, no, because they're A-listers. And Alpha Flight isn't, which is what all of this grief comes down to.

      Even if that's true (not doubting you MM, I just never followed Gen X all that much) how does that disprove that there is bias against AF?
      Because it proves that this happens all the time! This is not a problem that only targets AF, thus there is no bias.

      As re Marvel staff taunting AF fans, this would again reinforce the opinion that AF are viewed as throwaway characters which would seem to have been proved by New Avengers #16. I don't think there is a hate AF/Canadian mindset, just that AF are not held in the same esteem as other teams.
      Like I said, it all comes down to AF not being A-listers. They never were, from the day they were first introduced. It's the characters/teams that aren't top tier that get ignored/written off as jokes, except on those rare occasions when they have a creator that cares about them at the helm.

      I am of the opinion that this wasn't always the case. So I would be interested in peoples thoughts on what circumstances, time this happened?
      Oh my god, I didn't mean to get so rambly. XD AF was never on par with the other big name teams, but they were solid B-listers in their heyday, major players in the Marvel U in their own right. I'd say ever since Byrne left the book, though, it was a long, slow slide from there until the book was cancelled and they faded neatly into obscurity. Having an ongoing title was the only thing keeping it from happening much sooner. Throw in another cancelled title to the mix, and bam! Instant has-beens, ready to sit at the bottom of the barrel until some hack writer runs out of ideas and has to scrape it *cough*Bendis*cough* or until a writer who also happens to be a fan gets a shot to pull them out. One of these days...
    1. Legerd's Avatar
      Legerd -
      Quote Originally Posted by MistressMerr View Post
      Because it proves that this happens all the time! This is not a problem that only targets AF, thus there is no bias.

      Like I said, it all comes down to AF not being A-listers. They never were, from the day they were first introduced. It's the characters/teams that aren't top tier that get ignored/written off as jokes, except on those rare occasions when they have a creator that cares about them at the helm.
      Sorry, but one other example does not mean this kind of bias happens all the time. And from what I found regarding Gen X they were never treated as badly as AF.

      Jubilee was depowered, but continues to still be written in a heroic manner. She's most recently been seen in the X-23 one-shot were she's portrayed as a strong and independent character.

      Husk is with the X-men and is currently active in the Necrosha storyline.

      Monet is considered to be "perfect", and was seen in all the major crossover events recently. Granted her current fate seems grim, she's not dead and therefore easily brought back.

      Chamber (now called Decibel) has been completely healed, has upgraded powers and it's hinted he is an omega-level mutant.

      Sync may have died, but he did as a hero saving lives.

      Mondo was revealed to be evil, granted and Skin died in a bad way, but as you can see Gen X has hardly received the same bad treatment as AF.

      Luke Cage was a lower tiered character for a long time, now he's one of the main characters in the Marvel U. Wolverine started off as a bad guy who fought the Hulk, later he was written as a joke in the X-men. However, when he was given the "star treatment" he became the most popular character in comics. Saying AF aren't A-listers is not an argument for why they've been used so badly over the years. Any character can be popular if they are written well and used as major players, that just hasn't been done in this case. "Why" is the real question in all this.
    1. MistressMerr's Avatar
      MistressMerr -
      Quote Originally Posted by Legerd View Post
      Sorry, but one other example does not mean this kind of bias happens all the time. And from what I found regarding Gen X they were never treated as badly as AF.

      Jubilee was depowered, but continues to still be written in a heroic manner. She's most recently been seen in the X-23 one-shot were she's portrayed as a strong and independent character.

      Husk is with the X-men and is currently active in the Necrosha storyline.

      Monet is considered to be "perfect", and was seen in all the major crossover events recently. Granted her current fate seems grim, she's not dead and therefore easily brought back.

      Chamber (now called Decibel) has been completely healed, has upgraded powers and it's hinted he is an omega-level mutant.

      Sync may have died, but he did as a hero saving lives.

      Mondo was revealed to be evil, granted and Skin died in a bad way, but as you can see Gen X has hardly received the same bad treatment as AF.
      If you go through it that way, looking at just the good, the exact same case could be made for AF. Just because Jubilee and Husk have received decent treatment in the last couple of months doesn't make up for years of being ignored. M and Emma Frost are the only members who've done halfway decent for themselves. Chamber's (or Decibel, lol lame) usage has been absolutely ridiculous and he's not even recognizable as the same character anymore. The deaths of Skin and Banshee (a higher profile character than any member of AF has EVER been) were total lame 'put on the bus' deaths.

      The point is, name a C/D-string team and I will show you a team that has been written off, discarded, and paid no respect at some point in their history, just as AF has been. China Force ("They got Alpha Flighted," anyone?), Big Hero Six (something about the country-specific teams, maybe?), the New Warriors (turned into a reality TV show before their 'inexperience' got Stamford blown up and kicked off the Civil War, despite being veteran heroes), Power Pack (in the main Marvel U, when they're not being marketed to little kids, anyway), and those are just off the top of my head. There is no bias against AF, just against lower-tier characters as a whole, it's the way things have always been.


      Quote Originally Posted by Legerd View Post
      Luke Cage was a lower tiered character for a long time, now he's one of the main characters in the Marvel U. Wolverine started off as a bad guy who fought the Hulk, later he was written as a joke in the X-men. However, when he was given the "star treatment" he became the most popular character in comics. Saying AF aren't A-listers is not an argument for why they've been used so badly over the years. Any character can be popular if they are written well and used as major players, that just hasn't been done in this case. "Why" is the real question in all this.
      All it takes is one high-profile writer with a passion for a certain character (Bendis and his pets like Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman are perfect examples of this) to elevate them to that level, and Alpha Flight just hasn't had their shot. There's no other reason, it's just that simple.
    1. DelBubs's Avatar
      DelBubs -
      I think that maybe AF had it's opportunity. Under Byrne it was a top five seller and maybe if he had stook around a bit longer then maybe they would have survived his eventual leaving.

      I think it's recorded somewhere that even Byrne didn't envisage anything past AF #12 and the extra 16 issues he did where done reluctantly.
    1. Legerd's Avatar
      Legerd -
      Quote Originally Posted by MistressMerr View Post
      If you go through it that way, looking at just the good, the exact same case could be made for AF. Just because Jubilee and Husk have received decent treatment in the last couple of months doesn't make up for years of being ignored. M and Emma Frost are the only members who've done halfway decent for themselves. Chamber's (or Decibel, lol lame) usage has been absolutely ridiculous and he's not even recognizable as the same character anymore. The deaths of Skin and Banshee (a higher profile character than any member of AF has EVER been) were total lame 'put on the bus' deaths.

      The point is, name a C/D-string team and I will show you a team that has been written off, discarded, and paid no respect at some point in their history, just as AF has been. China Force ("They got Alpha Flighted," anyone?), Big Hero Six (something about the country-specific teams, maybe?), the New Warriors (turned into a reality TV show before their 'inexperience' got Stamford blown up and kicked off the Civil War, despite being veteran heroes), Power Pack (in the main Marvel U, when they're not being marketed to little kids, anyway), and those are just off the top of my head. There is no bias against AF, just against lower-tier characters as a whole, it's the way things have always been.



      All it takes is one high-profile writer with a passion for a certain character (Bendis and his pets like Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman are perfect examples of this) to elevate them to that level, and Alpha Flight just hasn't had their shot. There's no other reason, it's just that simple.
      Yes, all it takes is one high profile writer with a passion, that's what I've always said, but even when AF (or in the latest case OF) did have a good writer who wanted to do a series they were turned down. I'm trying to remember who it was who said this (if anyone can remember please refresh my memory) but one writer said he pitched an AF idea and was given a look "like I had farted in an elevator". No bias there. And thank you for saying it yourself that there are biases, in this case for other characters (Spider-Woman and Ms. Marvel). And if there can be bias for a character, there can be bias against a character or a team.

      Neither China Force nor Big Hero 6 had the audience AF had. China Force never even had their own book unless there was one I'm not aware of. Power Pack is more for kids than adults so you can't compare the teams. New Warriors, despite how they ended up were never written as losers or ridiculed. Oh, and at least their deaths were on panel and had consequences that led to a major crossover story. AF, not so much. Plus, the characters that survived the group, like Nova and Darkhawk for two examples, went on to become major players in the Marvel U, or at least showed up as characters in other titles. Even if you want to look at what happened to Speedball, he became a higher tiered character by going through the suffering that le messor was talking about.

      There is bias against AF if you take all the various incidences into consideration. To my knowledge no other serious team or book has received the amount of crap AF has in all its various forms.
    1. Le Messor's Avatar
      Le Messor -
      Quote Originally Posted by DelBubs View Post
      Just one question I would like to ask, would the Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four be killed off, of panel, in another book title?
      Which is precisely why I wrote what I did after my sign-off. Ugh.
      Also that AF have proved themselves to be up to that level of challenge! They're better than that.

      Quote Originally Posted by Legerd View Post
      ... but one writer said he pitched an AF idea and was given a look "like I had farted in an elevator"...
      Mark Millar? I'm pretty sure he's on the list of high-list writers who's expressed interest in AF. Although if he wrote an AF series (and I don't think he went that far), I'd loathe it with a passion.

      I knew this article would be controversial, but I don't want the forum torn apart over it...

      Quote Originally Posted by MistressMerr View Post
      LM, totally agree with your article! This phenomenon definitely isn't unique to AF, and the 'poor us' martyr attitude that goes around can be really off-putting, I find.
      Is all I'm really saying. (Especially the part about agreeing with what I wrote. I usually agree with me, except when we're fighting. You're just mad because you keep losing. I do not! Shut up! Your mother! She's your mother too! How dare you?!?)

      Yeah, um, sorry 'bout that. Anyway, the immoral of the story is, playing the 'martyr' card, even if it's justified, only puts people off.

      - Le Messor
      "Good fortune will find you, providing you gave directions."
    1. Flightpath07's Avatar
      Flightpath07 -
      Personally, I'd pay (not a lot, mind you, but a little) to have Le Messor write a whole nother article where he just argues with himself.

      ROTFLMPO (yes, that is "P", as in "Pants").
    1. Le Messor's Avatar
      Le Messor -
      It hapens in real life, too, sometimes...

      (Okay, I stole the gag from the Simpsons movie.)

      - LM
      "Good, cheap, quick. Pick two."
    1. DIGGER's Avatar
      DIGGER -
      Just out of curiosity, where did you get the image of ALPHA's demise at the beginning of your article, and yes I feel that Alpha has never been given the proper respect in the comic world.
    1. Le Messor's Avatar
      Le Messor -
      Quote Originally Posted by DIGGER View Post
      Just out of curiosity, where did you get the image of ALPHA's demise at the beginning of your article?
      I don't put the pictures in my articles - Ben does (at least, I assume it's Ben).

      That's a good excuse to do something I've been meaning to do for awhile -- thank him.
      Thank you, Ben. (Or, y'know, whoever.)

      I think that one's from an issue of New Avengers; not #16, of course, but later on when they started to flesh out what happened. A tiny bit.

      - Le Messor
      "Hanging's too good for a man who makes puns; he should be drawn and quoted."
      ~ Fred Allen
    1. cmdrkoenig67's Avatar
      cmdrkoenig67 -
      One could argue that Marvel treats all of it's 2nd and 3rd tier teams/characters as jokes/cannon-fodder (Whether it be Alpha Flight, Generation X, Winter Guard and even New Warriors)....Which is really unfortunate, because all of these characters and groups have such potential to be money-makers, instead they are bad-mouthed, looked-down on and joked about by characters, creators and editors alike. Certainly Marvel does handle some characters and groups well, but there are others that Marvel handles equally badly.

      Why not keep the jokes and put-downs to the villains and superhero wannabees and stop ruining the reps of actual heroes?

      Dana