Earlier this year, an eight issue mini-series relaunching the Canadian superhero team was announced. With writing team Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente (who had previously collaborated on Incredible Hercules) joined by Dale Eaglesham, the series has been a knock-out.
Marvel held a news conference last week announcing their “Next Big Thing” was, surprisingly, Alpha Flight getting an eight-issue limited series written by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente and drawn by Dale Eaglesham, a Montrealer who now lives in Vankleek Hill, Ont. Van Lente in particular admits to be a huge fan of the group, which originally had its own series in the 1980s.
“I remember my first issue was No. 5, with (a cover featuring) Puck spinning out toward you, and I was immediately hooked,” says van Lente. “I don’t know when it occurred me to me that they were living in another country.
“I might have clued in at some point, but I just thought all the characters were terrific. They just had this incredible list of dysfunctions. All of the Marvel characters are known for having quirks, problems and issues, but it’s almost like Alpha Flight out-Marvels the other Marvel books.”
Since the series has neared its half-way point, Van Lente has been coy about the possibility that the mini could turn into an ongoing series. Just this weekend the secret was let out of the bag.
There have been a fair few announcements made at the Fan Expo in Toronto, the first being that former DC exclusive writer (best known for his work on Vertigo titles DMZ and Northlanders) has signed up with Marvel for what appears to be some sort of Wolverine related project. Also announced, much to the delight of of the Canadian fans in attendance, was that Alpha Flight has been upgraded to an ongoing series. Originally slated to be an 8 issue mini, the current creative team of co-writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente plus artist Dale Eaglesham will stay on the series.
Remember the somewhat mysterious “DESTROY” teaser released by Marvel last week? Well, ‘The Pint O’ C.B.’ panel revealed exactly what that is. Written by Fred Van Lente, with art by Kyle Hotz, it’ll be a five-issue miniseries titled Destroyers this September, starring The Thing, She-Hulk, Karkas, A-Bomb, The Beast and Devil Dinosaur. Apparently, Van Lente revealed during the panel that, “We find out what really killed the dinosaurs, and they’re coming back for us.” Many thanks to Newsarama for all of the above information. Be sure to head on over to the site for more!
If you have missed out on the new series so far, keep an eye out for a collection of Pak and Van Lente’s Alpha Flight issues. Otherwise, get your local comic shop owner on the horn to get up to speed.
Update via Newsarama:
Nrama: Given that the book has achieved enough success to extend it past issue #8, have you been getting feedback not just from people who were familiar with the original Alpha Flight concept, but also readers new to the team that discovered them through this series?
Van Lente: Yes, and we’ve also gotten the other end of the spectrum, which is also great to hear, people who used to be into comics and have now come back to pick up our new book. That’s always gratifying. You always want to have as big a tent as possible, and let as many people in. It’s cool to see that when it does happen.
Pak: Absolutely. With a property like Alpha Flight, the last thing we wanted to do was run from Alpha Flight. We love these characters because we love these characters. We didn’t want to take the name and do something totally different. The fun was to take those characters and make them relevant again, but be true to the characters and create a book that a new reader could totally jump on board, but would also be a fun thing for folks who are old-time Alpha Flight fans, like Fred said, who maybe have dropped out of reading comics. If you can pull folks like that back in, sometimes you can have a maxiseries turn into an ongoing. [Laughs.]
We’re very happy with the way the book has been received. I don’t exaggerate when I say that when Alpha Flight got announced, I’d never seen that kind of reaction on Twitter. I think Dale, Fred and I were all just swamped by tons of people who were just really excited to hear that Alpha Flight was coming back. There are a lot of fans out there who really care about these characters, and we’ve been lucky enough to be able to come on board and play with them — and folks have been awesome to actually buy the book, and preorder it with their retailers.
I can’t emphasize this enough: It’s totally true, ladies and gentlemen. If you buy it, more books will get made. And preordering makes a huge difference.
Nrama: It sounds almost too simple, but it really is true.
Van Lente: It’s the feel-good story of the year.
Nrama: So now that the book is being extended into an ongoing, how much does that change your plans? Are some story beats that were going to be wrapped up by issue #8 now getting a little more time to breathe?
Van Lente: It’s the same plan, but we’re sweating less. [Laughs.] It’s very different to go from a book that has two main characters, to a book that has, I think at last count, about 17,000 major characters. All with their own distinct storyline. So it’s very cool that everybody’s now going to get the room they need to have their stories property laid out. We have this storyline of Jeanne-Marie taking over Aurora’s body, and Walt Langowski seemingly can’t turn into Sasquatch anymore. And how did Puck get out of Hell? And what really is going on with Heather Hudson? Because there’s clearly something very wrong with her, but we don’t quite know what it is yet. That is to say, you don’t. Greg and I know.
Nrama: Right, it sounds like there will be appearances from a few familiar faces from the broader Marvel Universe — including Wolverine?
Pak: Oh yeah. The nice thing about Wolverine is, the joke, “Let’s have Wolverine guest,” no matter what book you’re working on. But it’s entirely appropriate with Alpha Flight! It’s part of his origin. It’s a slow burn that will have a great payoff, and a perfectly appropriate story/character-related payoff.
Nrama: And the Avengers, too?
Van Lente: It’s quite possible that the Avengers are going to be interested —once Fear Itself has concluded — in what’s going on north of the border, since that is a security situation for the United States, even though I suppose the Avengers are not technically the United States’ official superhero team, they do have some kind of pseudo-governmental role.
We may even be pulling in other nationalities of superhero teams, for example, MI:13. It’s all part of a large story we like to call “The Commonwealth of Heroes.”
Nrama: That team hasn’t really been seen much since their book ended, so it must be pretty exciting to get to work with those characters.
Van Lente: Very much so. Greg and I both love the more obscure corners of the Marvel Universe, and MI: 13 was a justly beloved book, and it’s really exciting to bring those characters back… into our clutches. [Laughs.]
Nrama: Artist Dale Eaglesham is on board for the long haul too, right?
Pak: Oh yeah. We’re really thrilled. He’s integral to the book’s success, on multiple levels. Dale and his partner Louise have saved us from our incurable Americanness. We’re a couple of Americans writing a book about Canada and Canadian superheroes; Dale and Louise are Canadian, and have provided great checks for us, and tons of great information, and saved us from stupendous embarrassment many times.
Dale has just sunk his heart and soul into this book. You can see it on every page. You can also see it on his Twitter feed and his website. He’s always talking about the book, and helping get the word out. That kind of going the extra mile on his part I’m sure is a big reason why the book has done well enough to warrant becoming an ongoing.
Nrama: Fred, Greg, any final words you’d like to share on Alpha Flight becoming an ongoing series?
Van Lente: We just want to say a big “thank you” to all the fans out there who have been picking up the book, and writing in, and supporting it, because this is why good things happen, thanks to you.
Pak: And a big tip of the hat to retailers. Retailers ordered the book in enough quantities for this to happen, so thank you, thank you, thank you.