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    Multiversity Comics Presents: Fred Van Lente and THE RETURN OF ALPHA FLIGHT!

    By | February 15th, 2011
    Posted in Interviews | % Comments

     In 2006, Canada’s premiere superhero team met a gruesome end at the hands of the Collective, aka all the mutant powers that had disappeared at the end of House of M now resurgent in a single being. Since then, fans have continually asked – When is Alpha Flight coming back? Despite most fans actively not wanting dead heroes to come back, it seems that this is one team that fans just do NOT want to stay dead. It is then appropriate that at the end of Chaos War, the team stood alive on the shores of Montauk in the shadow of New Olympus, next to a now de-powered Hercules and just as confused as to how they managed to make it out alive as we were.

    “The story reason I am telling anyone is just that Hercules – the very very non-omniscent Hercules – put the multiverse back together, and he did the best he could,” said Fred Van Lente in a chat with Multiversity. “He did 99.999999% right of putting the dead people back to being dead, the living people brought back to life again… you saw Nightmare obviously at the end of Chaos War. The original idea for Chaos War was that he was simply going to put everything back to how the world was before Chaos War #1 started, so you have that plus the exception of Alpha Flight.” And now the news is officially out – Alpha Flight has returned! These are not robots, aliens, time traveling clones – this is the real deal. And on top of all that, they’re back for their own series, just in time for Fear Itself!

    Spinning out of the events of Chaos War and straight into Fear Itself, Alpha Flight will be launching in May with a brand new .1 issue, with the series launching in June. Fred Van Lente will be writing it along with Herc partner Greg Pak, with art by the wonderful (and Canadian!) Dale Eaglesham, as well as featuring covers by Phil Jimenez, which Van Lente notes are ready to knock your socks off. “Marvel has probably gotten a pitch per week for Alpha Flight since the last time they got canceled, so it’s great that this is the one they chose, and that they’ll do this and launch it out of Fear Itself which is really exciting.” Guardian, Vindicator, Shaman and Marina have all been resurrected and along with fellow team founders Northstar, Aurora, Sasquatch and Snowbird, they will be returning to their beloved Canada to find their way back into the world. Van Lente also notes that for all intents and purposes, this will be an in-continuity reboot. “You don’t have to have read Chaos War, you don’t have to have read any Alpha Flight to enjoy this book. The characters aren’t going to be standing around saying, ‘Hey! Remember that time we were dead? That sucked.’ I’ve seen superheroes do that a lot! There’s gonna be none of that in this book.”

    As Alpha Flight returns, it seems that the Canadian government – driven mad by the new God of Choas, who is causing fear to spread through the Marvel U in Matt Fraction and Stuart Immonen’s summer event Fear Itself – have been swayed against Alpha Flight, branding the group as traitors and calling for their arrest, causing the government-run superhero team to go on the run. “It’s a superhero political allegory and it’s very special and very exciting and to me,” Van Lente notes. “To me, (in the real world) you see all these interesting upheavals like in Egypt and we’re going through interesting political times here in America (too) and I hope the Canadians don’t feel like we’re beating up on them, but if you change the government of the United States, that changes the entire Marvel line (Note: See Civil War)… whereas if you go outside the United States you can actually do something catastrophic like this and only have it affect that one book. So you have a nice little pitri dish you can play in and tell lots of interesting superhero stories.” Van Lente promises lots of surprises, including “possible traitors” in the midst of the story to work against the team from inside. He also notes that while Northstar will be with the team, it shouldn’t effect his appearance in the X-Men books (although he will be technically a fugitive from justice, so any sharing the character gets between books will be appropriately coordinated if need be).

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    Van Lente and Pak are also hoping to give Alpha Flight back a fair amount of prominence in their upcoming story. “It’s the metaphor for national service and the changing politics of the time and facing fascism growing in one’s own country,” said Van Lente. “The difficulty I think people who weren’t already in love with Alpha Flight have with Alpha Flight is that the pitch they get is the Canadian Avengers… which I’m not sure works. I don’t think you can even pitch the Avengers as the American Alpha Flight, or even the American Super Hero Team. So we’re trying to change the script and have people look at it differently and say what’s interesting about these characters. It’s not just the fact that they’re wonderful characters in their own right with their own dreams and personalities and aspirations, but you also have this added element of them being the national superhero team whose government turns against them and is trying to hunt them down, and they have to deal with it. They have to deal with being these beloved figures in their own country to becoming reviled people who fight for the very people who despise them and are persecuting them. And you also have that added twist of, what does it mean to be involved in politics?’What does it mean to be involved in a society as well as be a symbol of that society?”

    The team have put in a lot of research into the title as their bromance of a writing duo continues to expand now that they’ve been working together for quite some time. “It’s hilarious, it’s awesome, and some great stuff is coming out of it particularly because we’re trying to understand the Canadian political system, which has many interesting quirks.” Van Lente also insists that the book will be a great place for new fans to come in to the book as well as old fans due to the polar opposite nature of the writer’s mutual understanding and appreciate of the characters. “What’s hilarious is – I hope I’m not outing him here, but Greg knows nothing about Alpha Flight, so it’s kind of hilarious because he knows nothing about the characters and I’m the world’s biggest Alpha Flight nerd. So hopefully what comes out of that is something somewhere in between. We’ll have a book everyone can enjoy because it’s not written by someone who is totally ignorant of the characters, but it’s also not being written by someone who is an Alpha Flight cartesian either.”

    As of right now, the book is slated for 8 issues as a maxi-series according to Van Lente with the first 4 issues featuring the Fear Itself branding, but there is certainly the possibility to have it go beyond that if sales permit (“So buy 20 copies!”). For more of our chat with Fred Van Lente, be sure to look for a next week’s episode of Multiversity’s very own podcast Spoiler Alert, in which we talk Power Man and Iron Fist, more Alpha Flight as well as the upcoming Herc book and a few other things!

    Matthew Meylikhov

    Once upon a time, Matthew Meylikhov became the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Multiversity Comics, where he was known for his beard and fondness for cats. Then he became only one of those things. Now, if you listen really carefully at night, you may still hear from whispers on the wind a faint voice saying, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not as bad as everyone says it issss."