Or – “I’m Not Sure How I Feel About The Overall Effect Of This Series…”

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Alpha Flight, as an entity, has had a difficult run. The original series wasn’t really effective when they were doing standard-issue superheroics, but didn’t quite gel when they went another direction. The second run was marred (in my opinion) by trying to turn it into an X-Men riff, and the third series’ tongue-in-cheek tone didn’t seem to go over with the readers, leading to the team being fed to a villain to up the ante for the New Avengers. Given the fact that most of their members were eviscerated in that story, I expected a return to drama this time around. What I DIDN’T expect, given the solicitations, was the experimental nature of the plot and characters…

Previously, on Omega Flight: In the wake of Civil War, hordes of American super-villains, including the Wrecking Crew, have come to Canadia, Tony Stark loaned two minor OF1.jpgForce Works members to try and control the border, Beta Ray Bill and Talisman had strange dreams, and Sasquatch was ordered to restart Alpha Flight using the name of their greatest enemy. ‘Sqatch fell afoul of the Crew, got tortured, the others talked a lot, and finally decided to do something, tracking the Wrecker and friends to Toronto… and now we’re cha-cha-ing. The plot has felt a bit dislocation thus far, but looking at the membership (the mystical nature of Talisman, the mystical/scientific hybrid that is Sasquatch, the essentially powerless brute force of U.S. Agent, the pseudo-psychic-part-Peter-Parker-powers of Arachne, the repository of all the lost mutant powers that is the new Guardian, and the merge of cosmic and mythic forces that is Beta Ray Bill) and you can see why there’s a patchwork feel to the characters. Now, Sasquatch has been possessed by the Great Beasts (who have also boosted the Wrecking Crew’s powers) and Talisman, U.S. Agent, Arachne, Guardian and Bill have converged to try and stop their respective reigns of destruction. Interestingly, it’s only Arachne who figures out what’s going on with Sasquatch’s rampage…

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Beta Ray engages Walter (Sasquatch) Langkowski in battle, but late arrival The Guardian misunderstands. “I’ve shattered planets with this hammer!” yells Bill as Walter tries in vain to kill him, and Guardian leaps into action, a moment too late. Beta Ray Bill nails Sasquatch with a fullbore blast of Asgardian lightning, knocking the big orange feller for a loop. Finding his huevos at entirely the wrong time, The new Guardian interjects himself between the last son of Korbin and the gamma-spawn of the Great Beasts.

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Talisman uses her powers to try and reach Walter, possessed once again by Tanaraq of the Beasts, but she isn’t quite getting through to him. “Walter… I know you can hear me. I know you’re in there… I can’t lose you now. The rest of our friends are dead. There’s been so much LOSS In my life… You’re all I have left.” As she tries to break through his programming, U.S. Agent and Arachne are triple-teamed by the Wrecking Crew. As for Walter, he can hear Talisman, but the message he’s getting is a bit garbled… When he sees that the man who killed Alpha Flight is with her, he panics, backing away from Elizabeth, screaming “You’ll kill me!”

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Walter flexes his will, and with help from Talisman, the powers of the Great Beasts are drawn into the medicine bag. Elizabeth realizes that in order to save the world, she has to give up the last bit of her father that she has. “To trap this evil, I must destroy his gift!” As for the Crew, the bag also drains their energies, leaving them little more than four morons in tight pants. And there’s nothing that John Walker, the U.S. Agent, loves more than beating on losers in tights…

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Boy, it never rains but it pours for Talisman, huh? She saves her friend, but has to sacrifice the last vestige of her dad, then the demons come to eat them all. With luck like this, she better stay away from the Keno tables… Luckily for Canadia and the world, there’s one being who combines the quick wits and powers necessary to figure out what must be done. Beta Ray Bill leaps into action, grabbing the pouch and launching skyward. “Take [this pouch] from Beta Ray Bill, last of his people, brother-in-arms to the MIGHTY THOR! I have battled in the vastness of space and bled in the depths of hell!”

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Guardian hesitates for only a second, then harnesses his incredible powers to blast the rift, closing the egress to our world and trapping Bill and the beasts on the other side. The lights in the sky even stop U.S. Agent from beating down the Wrecker… briefly, anyway. And speaking of smacking the Crew, Sasquatch has a beef with Thunderball. Grabbing his wrecking ball, he wraps it around T-Ball’s throat, and pulls the chain taut…

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Hmm… I know I overthink these things, and maybe my perception is on the liberal side, but I’m uncomfortable with the overtones of lynching. Yes, Sasquatch was beaten and tortured by this man, and yes, it’s a moment of karma for Thunderball, but I’m just not feeling it, especially given the perverse enjoyment on the face of U.S. Agent. Thankfully, Sasquatch makes the right decision, and the authorities take the Crew into custody. Elizabeth and Walter hug, the last two survivors of the old guard, and he tells her how proud her father would have been of her. Finding her smile again, Elizabeth even finds the wherewithal to thank the new Guardian, a man she professed hatred for in previous issues. Suddenly, Guardian looks way, WAY up as Sasquatch approaches…

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And again with the tears… It’s like watching Feedback all over again! In the aftermath of the battle, Julia (Arachne) Carpenter talks to her daughter, and it is revealed that the future of Omega Flight is uncertain (until the final sales figures are in, I’m sure.) Talisman went back to the Sarcee Nation, the U.S.A. Jerk U.S. Agent is sitll protecting the borders, Sasquatch has dropped out of sight, and Guardian has continued working for/being held prisoner by Department H. As for Beta Ray Bill, much like the Justice Society of America in 1986, he’s not dead… he’s just fighting, somewhere else.

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If the narrative had worked better for me, I might consider that to be a ‘Hell, Yeah!’ moment. In this case, though, it’s more of a “Why the hell would they do that?” moment. If Omega Flight does come back, we’ll either be missing Bill, or have to go get him from the irretrievable alternate universe. I’m not thrilled with either option, honestly. Part of the selling point of the book for me was the presence of Beta Ray Bill, and writing him out kind of irks me.

All in all, my previous complaints about Omega Flight (lack of unity, inaccessible characters, puzzling takes on both heroes and villains, and the fact that they’re not really a team) still stand. This issue puts all the characters in the same place for the first time, in a situation that I suspect was meant to forge them all into better heroes, but it comes across a bit flat. Guardian confronting Beta Ray Bill was kinda cute, and I love and hate the bit where Arachne snubs U.S. Agent, but the whole “medicine pouch” plotline hit me out of left field. There was no really compelling reason for the Wrecking Crew to become so sadistic, and the reasoning behind many of the character moments required a reader to be familiar with Civil War, as well as bits of Alpha Flight lore that were never actually explained on panel. Worst of all, the book ended with the not-a-team members STILL not a team, and with a fan-favorite for some reason written out of the universe. Is it because of Thor’s new title? Are there plans to mount a rescue? The last page of the book advertises the continuation of Guardian’s story in the upcoming Marvel Comics Presents anthology, which kind of bugs me, as well, though I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the fact that we got so little character development here (aside from the repeated victimized crying over his lot in life) but finding out that I’ll have to buy a series I’m on the fence about even wanting to continue a limited series that I’ve been on the fence about caring about rubs me wrong. Omega Flight as a series is a study in unrealized potential, giving us a lot of set-up, but little follow-through, and only ranking 1.5 out of 5 stars. I wanted to like it more than I did, and consistently found myself disappointed and confused throughout…

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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4 Comments

  1. Brent F.
    August 10, 2007 at 3:56 pm — Reply

    U.S. Agent looks like he hasn’t seen a good lynching in years. Seriously, what the hell is the deal with the sadistic grin? Spider-Wo… I mean Arachne’s face is hard to read with the mask, but that could be either an “Ohhh!” face of shock or an “Ohhh!” face of pleasant surprise.

    Also, I’d like to nominate the new Guardian as the worst new super hero of 2007.

  2. Baal
    August 10, 2007 at 4:52 pm — Reply

    I think you gave them one too many stars. Message to Marvel: I do want an Alpha Flight ongoing and will support it, however I will not buya ny project done by these creators and with this team.

  3. Fredy
    August 11, 2007 at 12:54 am — Reply

    The only character i liked in the whole series was Arachne. the entire series. and damn these people dont know how to draw tears

  4. Josh
    August 13, 2007 at 12:15 pm — Reply

    I chalk up the stilted narrative to the fact that it was intended as an ongoing and then Oeming had to rework his opening arc to tell a complete story in 5 issues. Doing that usually never works.

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