Thursday, June 23, 2011

TWT Checks out Van Lente and Pak's new Alpha Flight!

Phil Jiminez is providing stunning covers for the series
While I work on finishing the next trade I’ll be reviewing, I thought I’d share some thoughts on one of the few monthly comics I’m currently picking up - Marvel’s new take on ALPHA FLIGHT.
I bought and read John Byrne’s original run on ALPHA FLIGHT back when it was first published, and have always had a very soft spot in my heart for these characters. As brilliant as Byrne was, I have always thought he did the book a bit of disservice by dismantling the team too quickly through various deaths, departures and changes. I was happy to see that CHAOS WAR: ALPHA FLIGHT #1 (one-shot) was revisiting the original team, many of whom were long dead, and was surprised by the fact that it ended with the resurrected characters returning to the land of the living. It also left them in a bit of limbo until Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak were announced as writing a new series for the team.
The returned team laps up the Canadian limelight - while it lasts.

Right up front, let me say that if you haven’t picked up Issues #0.1 and #1, you need to buy them now! This book should be very enjoyable to readers new to Alpha Flight, but will also be quite rewarding to avid fans. Van Lente and Pak have accomplished a great “jumping on point” without alienating those who know the characters well - quite a feat!

When Issue #0.1 opens, we’ve jumped forward from the end of Chaos War to a time when the team has been reestablished within Department H and the characters have started to reestablish their lives. I think starting with action instead of protracted exposition was a great move. It keeps the pace brisk from the beginning. We aren’t left confused as we do get glimpses of what the characters are up to in their own lives as the action progresses. There is a great deal packed in to the first two issues, and it’s a nice balance of action and character.  I liked the fact that they felt like decent reads instead of something you flicked through too quickly. It’s well written stuff.

The approaches to the characters are very faithful, but with some new dimensions. I especially like Van Lente and Pak's take on Marrina. She's been through a great deal in her life, so while her more agressive personality is new, it's also an understandable evolution of the character. Gone is the demure and naive junior member of the team, and in her place is a strong, aggressive and sometimes volatile young woman. She’s also had a redesign which looks fantastic. The “new” Marrina is certainly not going to be a wallflower on this team - in fact she may well be the breakout star! I do hope that we see her connections with Namor addressed at some point - after all, the last time they met, he was forced to kill her.....
Van Lente and Pak's take on Marrina is a highlight of the series so far. 
The one thing that has made me sigh a little so far is an very early reference to Aurora's mental stability. It's an important part of Jeanne-Marie's character, but it's been SO done. I hope we get to see her do some different things in this new series.

The fate of one of the team’s most popular characters, Eugene “Puck” Judd, remains unknown at present, but I have no doubt this will be explored shortly. Van Lente has also hinted on Twitter that Shaman’s daughter, Elizabeth “Talisman” Twoyoungmen, will also be seen. I’m very excited about that, as Talisman was always a favourite of mine.

Ben Oliver provided the pencils for #0.1, while Dale Eaglesham is on interior art duties for the limited series with Phil Jiminez on covers. I’m a fan of both artists, so that’s a win / win. I do find Eaglesham’s facial expression and conveyance of emotion a bit lacking at times, and would love to see this improve. Jiminez seems to be channeling Byrne on his covers, which are stunningly beautiful.
Northstar and Aurora revisit some familiar territory.
I won’t go into further detail now as I’m sure I’ll end up reviewing this when it’s collected. At present, this series is limited to eight issues. I sincerely hope it gets the reception it deserves and becomes an ongoing. If you agree, please spread the word by linking this review around the interwebs!


If you'd like to keep up with Trade Waiting Tales, you can sign up for the TWT Twitter feed and “like” the TWT Facebook Page.
Happy reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment