As a teenager I was one of those guys that loved Alpha Flight first and, later, Guns n Roses. Just as I waited faithfully for years and years for a new GnR album, (Chinese Democracy is soooo good. Honestly.), so too have I waited for someone, ANYONE, to relaunch Alpha Flight. I have not cared what their take might be so long as it would be well written and, hopefully, feature clean, clear art in the spirit of John Byrne. Yes, i am still waiting, with that waiting breeding more and more conspiracy theories in the deepest reaches of my mind, (Marvel hates AF and all it's fans). Then it hit me...why not throw some ideas out there myself and see what happens? Ah-ha! I quickly realized with the shoe on my foot instead of Marvel just how much pressure it is to look at the Alpha Flight franchise and find a way to make it's convulated, contradictory team and character history work.
After a while I gave up on trying to smooth over it's many wrinkles and quirks. I decided that whatever characters are known to be dead would just have to stay dead for awhile. I also decided that trying to re-establish the series along it's long held framework as Canada's official super team was not only treading over territory that has consistantly flopped in the marketplace but it also brings all that complicated history to the forefront again. New readers simply do not want to trudge through explanantions for Alphas masochistic relationship with it's parent country. How many more times does anyone really want to see the heroes they pay $3.99 or more for manipulated by, lied to, and outright abused by a shadow national security agency? The only thought that came to mind on how to address this was to have an outlaw Alpha waging open war on the government and very nice people of Canada, ( In truth that idea could work. It re-establishes Alpha as the foriegn X-Men adversaries they were originally, and, in a modern twist, would allow a good writer to explore some themes between anti-hero freedom fighters and "terrorism". plus, beating up canadians could be fun,lol).
Another obstacle in my little fantasy world is that even though I would toss out these ideas in hopes of a professional being able to make good use of them it is me "writing" all these ideas and I know next to nothing about Canada. Knowing a little bit about the main setting for a cast of characters is important for a book like Alpha Flight I think. Without that ambience, what's the point?
I began to slip into a slight depression as I realized my favorite super team might just be a lost cause. "There's just too much baggage", I told myself, "I mean, how could anyone ever explain the things Bill Mantlo came up with?" Then it hit me...the baggage is the story. Bill Mantlo was poorly received as Alphas writer back in the day. Combined with what was below average standards for artists at the time, many Alpha fans would argue that Mr. Mantlo essentially ruined Alpha Flight. or, at least, set it off down it's path of putridness.
That was then however. Comic book fans have grown more sophisticated since those days. Grant Morrison himself would have a hard time topping some of Mr. Mantlo's Alpha stories and todays fans eat up Mr. Morrison's every idea. I began to think that embracing those funky. weird idea's and presenting them to todays readers might be Alpha's only hope, and I began to plot and plan how to make Alpha weird again.
I decided to really return to the beginning of the original series. Then the team had been officially disbanded. It's members were scattered across Canada, each living their lives, and having their own adventures until called together to face a bigger threat. I would begin there, spotlighting a few central characters that factored into early storylines. I really wanted Heather Hudson as she was always the heart and soul of the team, and the one that allowed it to have elements of Fantastic Fourish style family vibes, but, alas, she is deaders. I took a look at what characters are available and which I found interesting. I wanted someone that could be tied strongly to the original team on one hand and on the other could be seen as the future for a revived team. I decided Elizabeth Twoyoungman, aka Talisman, was perfect.
Talisman is not only a powerful mystic, which suits my ideas for how the series should be structured, shes also basically a legacy heroine as daughter of the deceased Shaman. She also was close to the Hudsons and Snowbird. Plus shes a female and I like the idea of a strong female as readers viewpoint character. With her background in archeaology I also had a starting point for my first story.
After I settled my mind that talisman was the way to go I needed to come up with a few more characters for the first storyline. I knew the main star would be Elizabeth and that the story itself would feature some characters only seen once before. Those characters and the setting would require much of the spotlight to maintain interest so the other Alphans would have to be strong enough to keep readers interested as, basically, role players initially. Sasquatch, Northstar, and Aurora are all still alive as far as i know. I would feature Sasquatch for sure and one of the two speedster twins. lets say Northstar to keep the male qoutient up as many of the other characters would be female. Dont ask me why. They just seem to have the most room to work with.
I would begin my story with scenes individually featuring Sasquatch, Northstar, and then Talisman in their roles and lives as they are today. Whatever Northstar is up to these days...I believe he's hanging out with the X-Men, I would show him doing just that, with plans to visit Sasquatch in Canada,. as to why, i havent given that any thought. i just need Northstar to show up in Canada with impeccable timing, lol. Sasquatch would be the one Alphan still working closely with the Canadian government. His research with them would be rooted in his now revealed increasing struggles to control his sasquatch form. We find him diving deep into research. Why is it becoming more and more difficult to control his emotions and thinking, as well as his transformations? Is this related to the Great Beasts or a long delayed side effect of his gamma ray exposure? How concerned should he be that he might "hulk out" ? Those are the kinds of questions he and his small team of researchers have been looking into. When we see Talisman for the first time its as she is accompaning an archealogical/geological team to Cape Evans in Antarctica. She has been requested due to her expertise in mysticism. The team has discovered something near an open thermal vent that has not only bewildered them, but has cost some of the team their lives.
Another character I would want to use is a mature young adult version of Goblyn. How did she survive House of M with her powers and mutations while her sister Laura Dean did not? We find the answer right away when we see Goblyn in Dreamworld where she has become the Dreamqueens top assassin and protector. having lived in Dreamworld all this time the events of House of M did not affect her. I would ask an artist to redesign her and make her a bit more humanoid in form. I picture her as a feral 19 year old that is aware of her somewhat odd "sex appeal" but very, very dangerous. She has the cold detachment of a professional killer and while she has learned to speak, she says little without purpose. Here we see an updated Dreamqueen as well. Shes having some problems keeping her kingdom under control and we see hints of friction between her and Goblyn. Goblyn believes the problems the Dreamworld has been having are due to Dreamqueens decision to anchor Dreamworld to earth, specifically to vast caverns beneath the Savage Land. Dreamqueen ,for her part, believes all her problems would be solved if Goblyn could locate and kill the leaders of the local resistance. During this scene Dreamqueen receives unrevealed communication that brings a smile to her face and she tells Goblyn that maybe their troubles with the rebels would soon be over, "despite" Goblyns failures so far.
Back on earth, or above ground I should say, we catch up with Talisman at Cape Evans. There we see the thermal vent as well as the mystic sigil that guards it's entrance.
As she explores the protections and nature of the sigil it begins to do its job, lashing out at talisman and the crew with fierce mystic power. Believing all is lost one of the crew members puts out an emergency broadcast to the government. Sasquatch happens to be present and volunteers to investigate the S.O.S. personally, annnnd its a good thing i thought of Northstar because thats who is going to fly Sasquatch down there,lol.
Back in Dreamworld we meet the rebels. They are the sultry female Avian, the brutish Crag, and the alpha-male leader Primate. These characters appeared in Alpha Flight Annual #2 wayyyy back when. This is a good thing though because it allows the writer and artist to really play with their looks and personalities. I would present a love triangle between the three even as they rebel against the Dreamqueens invasive despotism. Primate is the honored hero of the rebellion. Crag the quiet but resentful workhorse. Avian the true power behind Primates leadership and, we learn, Crags secret lover. Yup...trouble is brewing there also.
This unnamed savage land area would need a name. Originally presented as vast caverans beneath the savage land where thermal vents had caused the evolutionary mutations of Crag, Avian, and Primate..they were known in that story as Alpha Prime by the way...i would present it as the Savage Kingdom from the natives point of view. The Dreamqueen of course considers it as Dreamworld itself. I would also present it very differently than the Savage Land. The mutations have continued and, combined with the Dreamworlds unusual physics, the Savage Kingdom has evolved into a steampunkish age of its own. (think steampunk set in a mutated prehistoric rain forest...with lots of lava rivers). In this Alpha Prime scene we are really just meeting these characters and seeing their environment for the first time. Establishing each ones roles and hinting at the tensions brewing between them is the main focus, though I do think a brief battle scene with some Dreamqueen hunter-killers would be a nice little action scene for readers. maybe their location has been discovered and the rebel camp has to flee ala Empire Strikes Back.
At any rate, when sasquatch and Northstar arrive at Cape Evans they find a massacre. The sigil has been broken but there are many dead bodies lying about. A weakend survivor tells them Talisman entered the thermal vent hours earlier. Sasquatch has a vague memory of cape Evans and that vent but beyond an ominous feeling can only recall that Heaher Hudson once had an adventure there. The throwaway character of course croaks after warning them and off our heroes go down the vent into the Savage Kingdom. Here we get our first great look at the expanse of this massive caveran. we see the prehistoric elements intertwined with the steampunkish...or...on second thought...Flintstonish technology. Flintstonish as in machines and such that are based on stone age themes. Or steampunk. Whichever. its a sight to behold and sasquatch remembers just in time how dangerous a world it is. The two struggle with not only mutates but Dreamworld denizens too in their first battle in this odd world theyve journeyed into.
Dreamworld has so much potential simply because its a dream-based world. The artist can let his imagination run wild as he or she combines and blends the savage Kingdoms prehistoric themes Dreamworld influenece.
They discover Talisman being held prisoner by the Dreamqueen herself and only then do they realize that the Savage Kingdom is something a little more serious than a hidden place of wonders on earth. They battle with Dreamqueen and her forces, only securing Talismans freedom and sending Dreamqueen running when Goblyn betrays Dreamqueen to help people she once served with in Alpha Flight. Goblyn makes it clear she doesnt like any of them, and has never forgotten how they all treated her like an animal way back when, but that she wants to return topside and locate her sister. Plus she snarls, shes just plain tired of Dreamqueens crap. Talisman and the others agree to escort Goblyn back to Canada and help her find her sister if she will help them figure out a way to detach Dreamworld and Dreamqueen from the Savage Kingdom as they all see that giving Dreamqueen access to Earth is a dangerous idea.
The four of them begin hunting for Dreamqueen and considering ways to banish her. Talisman believes she has a way but only a very small window to attempt it, so time is of the essence. Along the way they encounter and briefly battle Alpha Prime before joining forces with them.
In the climatic confrontation Alpha Prime and The Flight characters directly confront Dreamqueen and her various warriors, eventually gaining the upper hand. talisman attempts to banish Dreamqueen and remove Dreamworlds earth anchor only to have Avian betray them all. Avian lashes out, nearly killng Crag, whose spirit is crushed by his lovers betrayal. Primate, stunned into rage by Crags betrayal and Avians double betrayal, launches at them both, causing chaos that allows the Dreamqueen to escape with Avian, and costs Talisman her chance to set the Savage Kingdom, and earth itself, free. Why did Avian betray her lovers and Alpha Flight for the Dreamqueen? Was she a sleeper agent? Did Dreamqueen promise her power? Was she mind controlled? Was she dreamqueens lover as well? those questions can be answered during the story or revisited later because as the Alphans leave the Savage Kingdom behind we are left with those kind of open plotlines...Crag and Primate are the splintered rebellion and now sworn enemies...Avian perhaps steps into Goblyns place by Dreamqueens side...and the heroes still have to figure out a way to free the Savage Kingdom from the Dreamqueens control.
That would be my basic approach to relaunching Alpha Flight...use a small cast that slowly, very slowly begins to resemble an unofficial team...introduce one or two other former Alphans each storyarc...have fun revisiting obscure underused Alpha characters, updating them as the creative team wishes..and, finally, every chance, do something weird like Bill Mantlo. For example, I cant decide if I would have Sasquatchs problems due to the Great Beast becoming stronger or his Wanda side trying to re-emerge. Probably wanda if we could get grant Morrison to write it up.
Those are my basic ideas for an early AF story, and the general guidelines for future stories. How does any of that sound?