We are spoiled, egocentric Americans. As if every superhero is ours. We even absorb heroes from other places in the world and put on other teams. (See: Black Panther and the Avengers). But there have been hero teams from other countries that certainly deserve their due.
When Wolverine joined the X-Men, he was a relatively unknown character. He had encountered the Hulk and Wendigo in the mountains of Canada and quickly became a fan favorite. In order to give him some back story, creators Chris Claremont and John Byrne introduced us to Canada’s version of the Avengers or the X-Men. That team was Alpha Flight.
Alpha Flight came looking for Wolverine because he was supposed to be an agent and member of their team. Wolverine owed part of his recovery from being crazy from his adamantium bonding process to James Hudson, leader of Department H. Hudson and his wife nurtured Wolverine back to health and when he left, they came calling. And that let Alpha Flight get introduced.
Who is Alpha Flight?
Alpha Flight has been given several chances to have their own title to varying degrees of success. The first series that spun out their X-Men appearances is some of the best, mainly for the gorgeous John Byrne art. Here are some of the key characters that you should know:
Guardian aka James Hudson, the leader of the team. Guardian is a mixture of Iron Man, gaining his powers from a technological suit, and Captain America, as he fights for his country in a giant maple leaf suit. Eventually, his wife takes replaces him and adopts the name Vindicator.
Northstar is likely the most famous of the Alpha Flight members, having taken a role in X-Men over the years. A mutant with super speed, Northstar is one of my favorites because he gamed the Olympics to win a medal. In skiing. Which may be the most Canadian thing ever.
Aurora is Northstar’s twin sister. Originally they were a match set of powers and when they touched, they could shoot off energy and light. Aurora eventually gains control over that power as well, leaving Northstar to just be fast.
Sasquatch is the Canadian Hulk. He was a scientist who originally gained his powers through a gamma radiation experiment and can change into a very specific large, furry creature. The difference between him and the Hulk was that he always was able to maintain control over his beastly form.
Snowbird is your standard Canadian goddess who can shapeshift and has a weird tragic backstory that eats up large chunks of the plot sometimes. She marries a park ranger.
Shaman is a mystical warrior from among the native tribes of Canada. He is part Doctor Strange and part bad stereotyping. His story is interesting as there is a tension between science (Shaman is a medical doctor) and magic. A Forge/Shaman mini-series could be the stuff in the hands of a great writer.
After their X-Men appearances, there were a couple other additions of note.
Puck is a man who made a deal with a demon and shrank in size but is a skilled warrior, whose major move is that he spins around and knocks people over. That his inspiration is a hockey puck and that people still take him serious is a credit to the way the writers wrote him.
Box began as a controlled robot and was later taken over by a mutant named Madison Jeffries who has the ability to techno-morph metals to his will.
The original Alpha Flight is worth checking out, especially through the first 28 issues, which were drawn and written by John Byrne in an era where he was one of the best people working in comics. They 7 are available in the Marvel Unlimited app.