• The Volume 4 Interviews: Mark Paniccia (editor)

    Alpha Flight vol4 editor Mark PanicciaAlphaFlight.net - I'd like to welcome Mark Paniccia, Alpha Flight Volume 4 editor. Thanks for joining me Mark!

    Mark Paniccia: My pleasure!

    AF.net - What is your personal history with Alpha Flight? Were you a long time fan, or late in coming into the "fold"?


    MP: I fell in love with the Department H gang way back in X-MEN #120. I was a huge X-Men fan at the time and was totally shocked when Hudsonís team showed up and had the audacity to pick a fight with my favorite mutants.

    Alpha Flight vol4 #3 variant CoverBut I was totally wowed, too! I thought they were really cool and Canada seemedÖso ďexoticĒ to me at the time. Everything about Alpha Flight was intriguing. I wanted more and was one of the happiest fans on the planet when Marvel finally announced a regular series years later.

    AF.net - Tell me how you became involved in the creation of this latest release of Alpha Flight.

    MP: This is one of those books I always wanted to work on. On my flight to New York after I took the editorial job way back in 2004, I made a list of dream projects and ALPHA FLIGHT was on it. I hadnít kept up with everything that had happened to them over the past few years but always thought there was a way to revisit the magic of the original series. Of course, when I sat down at my desk that first day, I discovered that I wasnít the only one with big ideas. First there was the fact that Marvel had just done a mini-series and then there were all these other AF pitches flying around. I was the most junior Sr. Editor at the time so I had to deal with the reality that it may never happen or take some time.

    Alpha Flight vol4 #3 CoverAnd as they say, good things come to those who wait. The stars lined up just right and there was finally an opportunity bring together the original team. Whew!

    AF.net - With a sorted history, several re-launches, and dozens of characters, what has it been like to balance history and continuity with accessibility for new readers?

    MP: Itís the hardest part of the job. There are so many cool things to touch on but we need to make sure that weíre presenting something that new readers can appreciate. The goal isnít to put out a book only for those of us that loved the original series but to show the world how great the characters are. We want EVERYONE to fall in love with them.

    AF.net - Do you feel that several "failed" attempts to re-launch Alpha Flight are a mark against the future viability of the title?

    Puck HugMP: I donít want to call any of them failedJ They all served the purpose of giving life to the property and good stuff came out of them. From a commercial standpoint, any time something doesnít set the charts on fire it can hurt perception on a publishing and retailer levelÖand with potential readers. But Iím optimistic about this version. I believe it will do better than most people expect.

    AF.net - So far we've seen most of the original Alpha Flight cast. One glaring omission is of course Puck. We've seen the alternate cover for #2 with him, but will we see him back on the ranks of Alpha Flight?

    MP: Yes, heís back and itís a wonderful thing. But his trip to hell has had an effect on him. Heís a little off as youíll see. But damn, itís a treat seeing Dale draw him. The little guyís never looked better.

    AF.net - Can fans hope to see more "blasts from the past" in the book?

    MP: Yeah, there are things in store that will tickle the nostalgia bone but we donít want people to think they need to have read everything in order to enjoy the book. Greg and Fred know how to capitalize on what makes these characters distinctive and unique. And they are very good atcarefully crafting dynamics that are informative. There are nods to the past but you get the characters right away. You understand their relationships and personalities so this is a good series to recommend to your friends who may have never experienced the ďjoy of FlightĒ.

    Marrina AttackedAF.net - Speaking of the past. The Alpha Flight Classics Vol.2 was solicited and then shelved. Should this book prove successful, are there any plans you are aware of to reprint more classic Alpha flight material?

    NorthstarMP: Letís hope so. That Vol. 1 was a great trade (major props to our collections dept.).

    AF.net - Fans have a dream to see one last Byrne cover. Any chance of reaching out to him for a variant? (again, a fan dream )

    MP: Oh, his covers were great. I have the same kind of dreams as you, Ben.

    AF.net - The creative team seems to be very committed to this title. How have you found working with Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, and Dale Eaglesham?

    MP: Iíve worked with Fred and Greg on a lot of stuff and they are ALWAYS committed to telling the best stories but they are very passionate about this as is Dale. And Daleís wife, Louise, is another boon to the book. Her enthusiasm helps keep all of us going when weíre perhaps worn down a little from the demanding schedules. There are a lot of creators I love to work with but this team is really perfect on many levels.

    AF.net - What can you tell me about how this creative team was assembled?

    Sasquatch AttackedMP: Fred and I had talked about ALPHA FLIGHT here and there over the years. When we worked together on the All Ages books there were a few stories he did that co-stared our favorite Canadian super heroes (MARVEL ADVENTURES IRON MAN # 11 and WOLVERINE: FIRST CLASS # 5). Those stories showed how effortlessly Fred could write those characters and his genuine love for them. So that was kind of the first piece.

    Over on HERCULES, the acclaimed series that Fred co-writes with Greg, Snowbird was brought in for the SACRED INVASION arc. That kind of tantalized me more but the time just wasnít right.

    Then we cut to CHAOS WAR (which I have to say is one of the best smaller ďbigĒ Marvel stories out there). We were fortunate enough to have Jim McCann and Reilly Brown lend their talents on a one-shot that reunited the original team during the event.

    And thus began musings of a new series. Soon all the elements of the current approach began to fall into place.

    Alpha Flight FightSomewhere along the way, we found out that Dale was a big ALPHA FLIGHT fan. He was working with me and Greg on INCREDIBLE HULKS. He really dug Gregís scripting so things fell together nicely there.

    AF.net - With past publications of Alpha Flight, Fans have felt that Marvel has not beet fully in support of the book. This time around that seems to be quite the opposite. What can you tell me about Marvel's willingness to support and publicize this volume?

    MP: Sales and Marketing always do their best to support everything that we produce so I donít know if I can agree that they havenít supported the property in the past. But I do think they saw the potential in this as we kept them in the loop every step of production and made sure they had the tools they needed to properly promote the series. Jake Thomas (my trusty assistant on the book) and I have worked very hard to have as much art and story as possible available for press releases and interviews.

    AF.net - How does this Alpha Flight publication differ from those that have failed in the past?

    MP: Weíve got the original team and God help them because Fred and Greg are going to put them through the ringer more than anyone else since Byrne!

    Northstar RunningThatís one of thethings that Fred, Greg and I would talk about all the time, how it seemed like these guys were just never gonna catch a break. It was one struggle after another. Thatís the magic I think this version has going for it. You see all these characters as very human. You relate to them, sympathize with them and you like them. Then you see these horrible things happen that tug on your heart strings and thatís when you know youíre reading something special.

    AF.net - With the various incarnations and volumes of Alpha Flight over the years, many fans have given up, or lost interest. Why should they now come back to Alpha Flight?

    Aurora AttackMP: I donít mind bragging a bit and saying that besides this a well-written project with fantastic and appealing art, weíve also got amazing color art by Sonia Oback. Inker Andrew Hennessy and calligrapher Simon Bowland are giving this their all as well. Everyoneís doing top notch work here. Those covers by Phil Jimenez are killer. So youíre getting a quality product as far as craftsmanship goes.

    On a dramatic level, a lot of the ingredients that not only made the original series so interesting but also early ALL NEW, ALL DIFFERENT X-MEN compelling and successful are present.

    AF.net - Some mention has been made to the possibility of this series continuing beyond the initial 8.1 issues slated to be printed. Do you see this being a realistic hope for fans? How do you judge the chances of this happening?

    MP: Thereís a good chance that can happen. I know everyone involved would love to go beyond whatís planned. Some of the conversations Iíve had with Fred and Greg have me tingling with delight so if thereís great demand there will be supply!

    AF.net - Alpha Flight fans as a whole tend to be ridiculously loyal. What has been you impression of the fan community?

    Aurora AloneMP: It says a lot about the resonance and draw of the characters and all the creators whoíve contributed to their mythos. And, of course, that the fans have excellent taste!

    Sea Babe MarrinaAF.net - What can fans do to show their support for the book?

    MP: Get a hold of any lapsed ALPHA FLIGHT fans you know and tell them about the book and where to get it or how to have it reserved on a pull list. And we need to get the word out to new readers as well as to the people who love the characters.

    And while itís got awesome super-hero action, there are other great qualities that will appeal to fans of different genres. Romance. Mystery. Suspense. Itís good comics on every level!

    AF.net - Is there anything else you would like to pass on to the fans (past, present and future)?

    MP: Oh, thereís so much more Iíd love to say but I just donít want to spoil the surprises. But itís important to say thanks to all the loyal and diligent ALPHA FLIGHT fans out there who have kept supporting the series in its many forms. I hope we do you right and make you all proud.
    Comments 36 Comments
    1. Phil's Avatar
      Phil -
      I absolutely adore that #3 Variant!
      I love the way Mac's blood forms the second half of the 'distressed' Maple Leaf.
      I'm so happy with this creative team so far.
      Marvel have been spot on with everything this time round.
      Always good to see editorial love for the team/title!
    1. rplass's Avatar
      rplass -
      I may be reading into it but on the #3 variant, it seems as if Marrina's arm is draped over Mac's chest in a suggestive way - as if they are in a lover's embrace. Probably they were fighting, both got clocked and just fell over wherever they were, but there's no way to draw bodies like that with limbs crossed over each other without making it look suggestive. I wonder if there's something going on with her and Mac? The little plodex ****!! I knew it!!

      The image of Aurora doing the one-two punch is great - you get the starburst on her LEFT hip on punch one and then the next punch, she's completely turned around - a nice touch!
    1. Ahab's Avatar
      Ahab -
      This interview was awesome, but one thing posted seems a little spoiler-ish. I wish I hadn't seen it! Maybe it's not as big of a deal as it appears...
    1. Phil's Avatar
      Phil -
      I can see what you're saying, but to me it's just the same as the #4 standard, only from a different angle.
      I don't think it's the end for him, just a badly fought battle.
    1. DelBubs's Avatar
      DelBubs -
      Speculative, nothing more, but if the covers are scenes of the same battle then the only one not seen unconcious is Heather. Probably nothing.
    1. Phil's Avatar
      Phil -
      Possibly.
      I see it as the arm on the #4 regular cover has been blanked out for now to hide the identity of the traitor so it's got to be a pretty big deal...
    1. Le Messor's Avatar
      Le Messor -
      Quote Originally Posted by Phil View Post
      I can see what you're saying, but to me it's just the same as the #4 standard, only from a different angle.
      I don't think it's the end for him, just a badly fought battle.
      Depends on if that's the spoilerish thing or not. There's at least one other pic that could be described that way.

      AF.net - Fans have a dream to see one last Byrne cover. Any chance of reaching out to him for a variant? (again, a fan dream )
      MP: Oh, his covers were great. I have the same kind of dreams as you, Ben.
      Nice answer. Very... diplomatic.

      - Le Messor
      "We do not necessarily improve with age: for better or worse we become more like ourselves."
      ~ Peter Hall
    1. DelBubs's Avatar
      DelBubs -
      I like to think of it as more suggestive than spoilerish. Without speech balloons or definitive text the pics can be open to interpretation.
    1. Le Messor's Avatar
      Le Messor -
      Quote Originally Posted by DelBubs View Post
      I like to think of it as more suggestive than spoilerish. Without speech balloons or definitive text the pics can be open to interpretation.
      Yup, definitely.
      Just sayin', I don't know which panel Ahab referred to originally.

      - Le Messor
      "It is better to live rich than to die rich."
      ~ Samuel Johnson
    1. Ahab's Avatar
      Ahab -
      Quote Originally Posted by Le Messor View Post
      Yup, definitely.
      Just sayin', I don't know which panel Ahab referred to originally.

      - Le Messor
      "It is better to live rich than to die rich."
      ~ Samuel Johnson
      I think I was referring to the other panel that you were referring to.
    1. Phil's Avatar
      Phil -
      That could quite easily come down to mind-control, clones or just general Alphan-esque disfunctionality!
    1. Le Messor's Avatar
      Le Messor -
      Quote Originally Posted by Phil View Post
      That could quite easily come down to mind-control, clones or just general Alphan-esque disfunctionality!
      I'm figuring the last. It looks like it's in a training room, after all, which implies that to me. Somehow.

      Also, if it was a genuine spoiler, would they have posted it?

      Also also, Van Lente has always made a huge deal out of a feud between two of those (and they've both been said to be in love with the third), so... (and Pak and Van Lente have worked together on Alpha.)

      - Le Messor
      "Enthusiasm is the greatest asset in the world. It beats money, power, and influence."
      ~ Henry Chester
    1. Phil's Avatar
      Phil -
      Quote Originally Posted by Le Messor View Post
      Also also, Van Lente has always made a huge deal out of a feud between two of those (and they've both been said to be in love with the third), so... (and Pak and Van Lente have worked together on Alpha.)
      Now you've lost me
    1. Le Messor's Avatar
      Le Messor -
      The troubles of talking spoiler-free. well, no more!

      S
      P
      O
      I
      L
      E
      R
      I
      S
      H

      The image shows Aurora decking Snowbird and Guardian.
      Van Lente has usually shown a bitter, nasty feud between Aurora and Snowbird (I don't know where he gets it from, but it's in First Class, among other things).
      Both Aurora and Snowbird have been said to have a crush on Guardian. (Heather: "If I see that hussy making eyes at you once more..." Mac: "Aurora's... troubled." The Snowbird never really showed up in the comics, but Birdysue told us that Byrne told her about it.)

      - Le Messor
      "A hedge between keeps friendships keen."
      ~ German proverb
    1. DelBubs's Avatar
      DelBubs -
      That image could be interpreted as Aurora moving Snowbird out of the range of Macs blast and then turning to confront Mac. Bit of a stretch, but possible.
    1. rplass's Avatar
      rplass -
      There are a few techniques to show super-speed in a battle:
      1) Multiple copies of the same character in different positions in the panel simultaneously
      2) Blur lines to indicate speed on one edge of the body or one body part
      3) Multiple instances of a limb in several positions to show rapid punches
      We've all seen these before in various incarnations for Aurora, and Northstar of course as well.

      That panel's got all three of the techniques! I'm so tired of seeing Northstar's super-speed underutilized in the X-Men books recently so I'm thrilled to see Eaglesham drawing a speedster correctly!
    1. Phil's Avatar
      Phil -
      Quote Originally Posted by Le Messor View Post
      The Snowbird never really showed up in the comics, but Birdysue told us that Byrne told her about it.)
      Ahhh, that's the bit I didn't know/get.
    1. Wolfie's Avatar
      Wolfie -
      Quote Originally Posted by rplass View Post
      There are a few techniques to show super-speed in a battle:
      1) Multiple copies of the same character in different positions in the panel simultaneously
      2) Blur lines to indicate speed on one edge of the body or one body part
      3) Multiple instances of a limb in several positions to show rapid punches
      We've all seen these before in various incarnations for Aurora, and Northstar of course as well.

      That panel's got all three of the techniques! I'm so tired of seeing Northstar's super-speed underutilized in the X-Men books recently so I'm thrilled to see Eaglesham drawing a speedster correctly!
      rplass, I keep walking into his office and seeing him draw this stuff... and I'm thinking, DUDE, draw some speed lines and come spend some time with your wife already!!! But nooooooooooooo, gotta draw ALL the multiple figures..... Pfffft.

      Wolfie, the husbandless artist's wife...
    1. DelBubs's Avatar
      DelBubs -
      Totally selfish on this Wolfie, but your loss is our gain
    1. suzene's Avatar
      suzene -
      Quote Originally Posted by rplass View Post
      That panel's got all three of the techniques! I'm so tired of seeing Northstar's super-speed underutilized in the X-Men books recently so I'm thrilled to see Eaglesham drawing a speedster correctly!
      Preach!