From Top to Bottom: Happy Canada Day!

by Matt

Welcome to the 10th edition of the weekly "From Top to Bottom" column! Every week I will look at something within the comics industry and give you my opinion on what I think is the best and what I think ranks amongst the bottom-feeders.

Last week I took a look at the Top and Bottom of Comic Book Robots. Today I am celebrating Canada Day, in honor of my former residence, I thought it would be fun (it might just be fun for me and my fellow Canadians) to look at my Top 3 Alpha Flight characters and those that make Trudeau look cool.

Alpha Flight characters go through a ton of stuff and are always changing. Multiple deaths and resurrections, sex changes, different powers, different personalities, siding with the angels one moment and with the devil the next, it certainly makes for an interesting read. Maybe the reason I am very fond of these characters is because they change so often, and deep down inside I knew that I would lose them at any time. Here are my Top 3 favorite Alpha Flight characters along with 3 characters who I wouldn't trade for a Loonie.

3) Box/Madison Jeffries
Madison has the ability to transmute metal and can make virtually anything. But that was only part of his abilities. He later made himself a cool-looking metal battle suit and could merge with it and transmute his "Box" body. The only thing that I didn't like about the character was his codename. I always thought it be would cool if he joined the X-Men with Forge as a teammate.

2) Guardian
I really liked the original Guardian, James MacDonald Hudson. He didn't want to be a hero and leader. You can tell how insecure he was about it all. I was sad when he was killed, but it certainly progressed the story. He was not killed just to be shocking (like he was the 4th time he was killed). His costume was so simple and so cool. But he has been killed and resurrected more times than Jean Grey. His wife later took the costume and abilities and became Vindicator but she was more assertive in her leadership than James.

1) Sasquatch
Every version of Alpha Flight has a Sasquatch on the team, whether it is Walter Langkowski or a real Bigfoot! When I think of Alpha Flight, I think of Sasquatch. Originally, James wanted to become like the Hulk so he took some gamma rays and became Sasquatch instead, only it was not the gamma rays but it was one of the Great Beasts that was inhabiting his body. Snowbird realized this and killed him. And that is just the start of his strange journey. His spirit was still alive and Shaman put it in one of the Box robot bodies. Then his spirit left the Box robot and he took possession of the white Sasquatch (which was Snowbird who was killed by Vindicator), and when he reverted to human, he became a woman and was known as Wanda. Eventually he was turned back to the oranges Sasquatch and back to a man by Talisman. He's been through every up and down and is still with the team.

There have been many attempts at making Alpha Flight a "cool" book. Marvel has tried to make it like the Avengers, by making them look like "Avengers North" and they tried to make them look like the X-Men by introducing a Wolverine or Cable type character. And now for those "cool" Bottom 3 characters.

3) Manbot
Manbot had some cool things about him but he was as lackluster and creative as his name. The cool thing about him is that he was made up of old Box parts and they tried to reconfigure him. He was also used to spy on the members of Alpha during the 2nd volume.

2) Wyre
I can imagine the Marvel Editorial thinking behind this character. "Let's see, Cable is popular, let's make another character like that. Hmmmm, cable, wire. Hey! Wire! Only let's spell it with a 'y' to make it look more cool. He should have guns too! At least this guy's codename made more sense than Cable's did. Wyre had the creepy ability to make hard wires come out of his shoulders which he could use to pick up things and stab them. Ew.

1) Wild Child
He started out as a decent and creepy little villain, but then Wild Child was brainwashed, became good and joined Alpha Flight -first as Weapon Omega and then *groan* Wildheart. He lost everything that was cool (which was not a whole lot) about him when he became a hero. It seems like back in the '90s, anyone who was evil and had claws became a hero. He joined X-Factor and was the 'one with the claws' on that team (which was another '90s rule; every team had a guy that could cut people). Eventually he became evil again and lost his powers due to M-Day. He has appeared since with his powers.

Alpha Flight is still one of my favorite books. They definitely had some good moments and memorable story lines. They started a Registration Act years before Civil War was even thought of, they were one of the first teams to feature a woman leader, they also had the first homosexual superhero in Northstar. I am sure you can find a ton of them in some quarter bin, give them a try!

*Dedicated to Jon who celebrates his birthday on Canada Day. I drink a Canada Dry in your honor!


Betsy said...

I can't believe you LIKE Box. He'd be on my Most Lame list!

Jon Quixote said...

I just lurve this entry so much.

Guardian's death was almost a fantastic idea. About 5 years ago, I re-read those 12 Alpha Flight issues for the first time as an adult and all I could think of was how squandered the potential was. There was so little to them and then BAM! shock value. I think it would have meant so much more if Hudson had more of a successful and longer arc - like for the 50th issue or so.

Anyway, a great character who has been royally %@%&ed by so much crap over the years. Death/Rebirth/Death/Rebirth/Death/Rebirth and through it all, losing what a cool idea for a "Captain Canada" he truly was.

The General said...

Have they ever printed Essential Alpha Flights? If so, maybe someday I'll look into the series. I remember wanting to like it when I was younger, and not ever really getting into it. But, for some reason I have the feeling that I'd enjoy the series more now.

Chris Ware said...

I only own a few issues of the first volume of Alpha Flight, including #1 and whatever issue it was that was Jim Lee's first Marvel work.

Doug Smith said...

Have they ever printed Essential Alpha Flights?

There is at least one (I think two) volumes of CLASSIC ALPHA FLIGHT, but they're in color and more expensive than the Essential series.

Matt said...

There has only been one trade (issues #1-8) of the original Alpha Flight series.