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Thread: Alpha Flight ... No Respect?

  1. #1
    Alpha Flight

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    Default Alpha Flight ... No Respect?

    You know, this is really sad.

    I remember when Alpha Flight was first introduced, way back in 1979, that fans were excited about it and treated it with as much respect as the Uncanny X-Men. I even had it from John Byrne himself (at the 1979 New York Thanksgiving Con) that Marvel had received "a lot of positive feedback" on the team. From then on, the question constantly asked at cons and in Marvel letter columns of books where Alpha guest-starred was, "When will Alpha Flight get its own book?"

    Finally, Alpha got its own series in 1983. I can initially remember how enthusiastic fans were over the book, and how they regarded it on a level with the X-Men, Avengers, and Fantastic Four.

    And then, John Byrne left the book. The series struggled along for awhile under Bill Mantlo, (who, as I've mentioned before, started off with good ideas and a united team -- and then went downhill from there).

    It wasn't until 1991 when I went to a then-AF writer's guest appearance at a comics store, that I learned an awful truth. Said writer, (who shall remain nameless), said that everyone at Marvel "hated" Alpha Flight, that he "hated" it also, and that he only took the book because no one else would touch it. (The writer left the book not long after that.)

    I was discouraged to hear this. Why has Alpha, a once highly-regarded team and title, lost so much respect? When did it happen, and why? (I have my suspicions that this may have happened during Mantlo's run, but then I'm prejudiced. :P )

    Any opinions on why Alpha Flight gets no respect?

  2. #2
    Alpha Flight
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    It was definitely Mantlo's run that iced the book. John Byrne's constant statements to the effect that they were all one-dimensional characters probably hasn't helped. Statements like the one you quote (if 1991, probably Nicienza) don't help. The artwork by John Calimee hurt a lot, especially as a follow-up to Jim Lee.
    The biggest slip was probably the Byrne-Mantlo switch, because it was a switch between AF & Hulk of ENTIRE creative teams, including editors. The change in editors left Alpha without a guiding hand who had already been there. Both Byrne and O'Neil left Marvel shortly afterwards, so that might not have been prevented for too long anyway.
    The original characters lend themselves well to humor, so maybe it's not a stretch that they became a joke.
    Northstar's sexuality before it emerged as political correctness to have a gay character probably hurt as some writers or artists probably didn't want to get associated with "the gay book."
    Editorial policy over time has also hurt. Alpha is not the Avengers. Avengers in other media has always been mixed. As in the Repo-Man episode of the X-Men cartoon, Alpha has a generally defined team that most people think of. That team is barely seen in v2 or v3, so the editorial decisions that harkened back to v1 #51 that allowed writers to so casually make their own team and call it Alpha has probably hurt the most.


    The character's rep as a team in the confines of their fictional world is probably not much better. I think it became gradually known that they were an A-list team who kept themselves on the C-list behind Avengers, FF & X-Men because they couldn't stop fighting among themselves and their casualties didn't make them look "professional.". Look at the power base of the original team. They can handle dimensions, magic, raw power...anything but psychic attack. They have a few respectful allies... Sue Richards, Doc Strange, and a biased Wolvie among others... but I swear I remember Captain America scowling to himself through most of the times he's personally dealt with them, particlarly in the #97-100 arc.
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  3. #3
    First Flight

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    If I remember correctly, AF v.2 was selling around 40 000 in Canada only when they cancelled it.

    Today these numbers would be seen as not too bad!

    I think Marvel was hoping on getting these 40 000 back and thought they were people who would pick up anything as long as the words "Alpha Flight" was in the title.

    I think a lot of Canadian fans stuck it out through the bad times because they were just so happy to have a "Canadian" comic book. Unfortunately, I think this lead to Marvel taking the loyal readers for granted.

    Its frustrating for me because we all know how GOOD AF COULD BE!

  4. #4
    Alpha Flight
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    Its frustrating for me because we all know how GOOD AF COULD BE!
    Me too.
    I think everyone needs to keep in mind that every year there is more competition for people entertainment time and money. Comics in general have dwindled, with readership nothing like there was back when video games were solid bars playing tennis with a single blip.
    This day and age, you just CAN'T compare current numbers to the numbers of 5, 10, or 20 years ago, because the proportions are much different.
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  5. #5
    Alpha Flight
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    You're right. I don't know the numbers but the amount of comics sold today is much less than 1990. Too much going for the quick buck (crossovers galore, reboots, new universes, relaunching current titles, expanding current title lines, 'hot' artists and 'hot' writers...) has hurt, as it always does and always will.

    Alpha Flight will appeal to fans who dropped X-Statix; fans who hate Marvel for Excalibur as it stands; fans who liked the old Excalibur; fans who liked Deadpool when Gail wrote it; fans who liked Thunderbolts before Marvel wrecked it. And of course regular comic fans.

    Fans of solo titles and action/gore won't like AF. But they never have anyway. As this comic develops and grows it can only get better, so as long as we help promote it then that growth will happen. It's not like I'm helping Disney make another $150 billion, after all.
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  6. #6
    Alpha Flight
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    Do you think it might have anything to do with how Canada in general is seen today? I mean, anytime I hear Canada mentioned on tv or on movies, it seems like the entire Country is seen as a joke. How many times have I heard "They're not even a real country anyway" a la South Park movie, among others. I still hear the word "Hoser" even to this day! This was a comedy skit from the 70s! Is this how some think of us? "eh", "aboot", "hoser", "Dudley Do Right"?

    How is our military seem throughout the world today? We have one or two 40+yo submarrines. For every hour our helicopters fly, they need 60 hours of repair. How do you think this effects other peoples vision of Canada? Do you think some may see the maple leaf on the cover and just chuckle to themselves? "What's the point of a Canadian Super team?" I certainly hope not!

    Anyway, just a thought. I know most people are smarter then that, but it might be enough for a few to not bother with the series. It also doesn't help that Alpha hasn't made many appearences outside of the X-Men over the years. And everytime they seem to be sent for some stupid reason and be seen as jacka$$es.

    Again, just a thought.
    D.

  7. #7
    Alpha Flight
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    Not being Canadian, I have never linked Alpha to Canada as intrinsically as I probably should have. I think to Americans, the team's being Canadian made them exotic as every other team in the day (except WCAvengers (and short lived Champions & a brief later run of Defenders) was in New York. The Hulk was in the desert most of the time, and international heroes did nothing more than make brief appearances and then go home.
    Byrne, being Canadian, set a few stories in specific areas, and he often gave great countryside scenes like the multipager of Sasquatch clearing the woods. He did give a sense of Canada as a vast and varied place. I could picture the Quebec Northstar grew up in and the neighborhood the Hudsons lived in.
    Unfortunately, Scott has perpetuated the stereotypes of both "hosers" and "eh." With Puck 1 it was a characteristic. With Puck2, it's been a nauseating parody. I don't think there's any mean spirit behind that, only attempted humor, but I doubt that the trend does anything to allay your concerns.
    In one way, dripping with caustic sarcasm, I don't think you have much to worry about because we Americans tend to be pretty ignorant of things beyond our borders.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by kozzi24
    Unfortunately, Scott has perpetuated the stereotypes of both "hosers" and "eh." With Puck 1 it was a characteristic. With Puck2, it's been a nauseating parody.
    a) Scott hasn't mentioned hosers - Scott doesn't write the solicits.
    b) Even I use "eh"

  9. #9
    Alpha Flight

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    Like Phil, I say 'eh' a lot to in my normal speach pattern. it's not just a 'Canadian' thing...trust me. I think any country with strong ties to the UK (ie: the commonwealth) has a bad habit of using the term...and often. ^^
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  10. #10
    Alpha Flight
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    a) Scott hasn't mentioned hosers - Scott doesn't write the solicits.
    b) Even I use "eh"
    a) I don't know that he does, but the solicits do seem to be in his style. The AF solicits have been as different from the norm as the recap page in Alpha has been different from the others. Both seem to be in Scott style.

    b) I'll bet you use it more like Judd does, not with the nauseating frequency of Puck2.
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  11. #11
    Alpha Flight

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    I figure with the solicits, they keep in tune with the rest of the book, becuase if you look at a lot of them, they do flow with title they're in...not just the one book.
    Hell was full, so I came back.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by kozzi24
    b) I'll bet you use it more like Judd does, not with the nauseating frequency of Puck2.
    So you've actually vommited from reading the dialogue?

  13. #13
    First Flight

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    Puck2 has used "eh" in phrases were it just didn't sound "natural" to this Canadian.

    That's alright though because other writers did the same with Puck1.

  14. #14
    Alpha Flight
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil
    Quote Originally Posted by kozzi24
    b) I'll bet you use it more like Judd does, not with the nauseating frequency of Puck2.

    So you've actually vommited from reading the dialogue?
    No, I just felt discomfort in the stomach and the urge to vomit, and felt disgust, which suits the definition of nauseated in both American and my UK dictionary.

    Is everything OK with you, Phil?
    Maybe I should PM this, but I'm not taking it personally.
    You've been outright hostile to a lot of people this week.
    Talk it out, son. You'll feel better.
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    recent publications in M-Brane Science Fiction and the anthology Things We Are Not.
    Forthcoming stories in Breath and Shadow, Star Dreck anthology and The Aether Age: Helios.

    ~I woke up one morning finally seeing the world through a rose colored lense. It turned out to be a blood hemorrhage in my good eye.

  15. #15
    Alpha Flight
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    I've always hated hearing "Canadians" say "eh" outside of real life (movies, comics etc). They over use it and never in the right circumstances. At least here in southern NB "eh" is used as a replacement of "isn't it" or "aren't they".

    Ex.
    Nice day, eh? -good
    Hello, eh? -bad

    D.

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