During a conference call this afternoon Marvel announced a new Alpha Flight 8-issue maxi-series written by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente with art by Dale Eaglesham. The series will debut during Fear Itself, beginning in May with a prelude .1 issue drawn by Ben Oliver.
Here are some tidbits from the accompanying liveblog at Marvel.com:
Strommy: Team was resurrected during Chaos War…where will they be picking up the story?
Greg: Some time has passed, but you don't need to have read anything before this to jump on board.
Strommy: Old time fans will enjoy seeing things referenced, but you won't have had to read any past Alpha Flight books or Chaos War in order to pick it up.
Strommy: Last time we saw Alpha Flight, they were the frontlines for national security of Canada. Is Department H still sanctioning the team?
[Comment From Nick] Is the main storyline already thought up? Or is it all in the developmental stages?
UltimateKidNova: @Nick It's all set, Nick, and starting in May!
Strommy: Fred: Yes. But as a result of Fear Itself, there is a change in government, and so Alpha Flight finds themselves as the country's "greatest traitors," and they must go on the run and figure out what is behind the government takeover.
Strommy: What made everyone want to work on this series? It was Fred's favorite comic growing up, so this is a dream come true for him. He describes himself as a walking encyclopedia of Alpha Flight knowledge, while Greg Pak comes into it with a relatively clean slate, but he loves these characters.
Strommy: Will Dale have a different approach to this story than something like his current Hulk run? These characters don't have iconic molds like some other characters, so he can endow them with a lot of humanity.
Strommy: He'll also be paying a lot of attention to the locales, since he's familiar with them.
Strommy: How is Alpha Flight's role different than that of the X-Men or Avengers, given that they are government-supported?
UltimateKidNova: Greg noted that Dale has already corrected them on details about Canada, like the jurisdiction of the Mounties
Strommy: The new series will explore what happens when the government you work for starts doing things you don't like? It's about your relationship to the government vs. your country vs. its people.
[Comment From Pat]
So is it the Canadian Gov't that's ChangEd or the US or both?
UltimateKidNova: @Pat The Canadian government has branded Alpha Flight traitors as a result of events in Fear Itself
Strommy: What is it about the characters that the creators thinks gets fans excited?
Strommy: John Byrne gave them all a lot of flaws and real character traits, such as Guardian who feels slightly uncomfortable leading and dressing up in his country's flag.
UltimateKidNova: Fred just confirmed that Guardian and Vindicator will be in the book. *I* can confirm that Sasquatch, Shaman, Snowbird, Aurora and, yes, Northstar will all be involved.
UltimateKidNova: We will ask about Puck…
Strommy: Greg describes them as a team of Captain Americas in a way, all of them are protectors of a nation. But they're still kind of underdogs.
[Comment From HBCHICAGO]
Are Alpha Flight still bound to the government even though they are back from the dead?
UltimateKidNova: @HBCHICAGO They are still working for the Canadian government when the series opens
UltimateKidNova: @US Agent He will be in every Marvel title this year
Strommy: Greg also points to the diversity and character design of the team as one of the things that's kept them around for so long.
UltimateKidNova: @iamericbass Pak/Van Lente/Eaglesham will be the creative team for the whole run
Strommy: A: They're going to play with the idea of the government going crazy. Fred says they can do this story and do it right since it's taking place in Canada–if they had the America government going crazy, it would effect every other book in the Marvel U.
UltimateKidNova: Marrina is also on the team.
Strommy: Fred also wants to emphasize that this is the original team from UNCANNY X-MEN #120, and we've never seen that team really work together before.
UltimateKidNova: Just asked about Puck
Strommy: Greg says if you add the book to your pull list, you may be pleasantly surprised.
UltimateKidNova: So there you go, Puck fans, there is hope!
Strommy: Will Northstar continue his status with the X-Men? They believe he is leaving the X-Men.
Strommy: In the end, the continuity will make sense. Kyle, Northstar's boyfriend introduced in Nation X, will be playing a big role in the book.
Strommy: Fred says Greg and he are not very protective of their turf, so if someone wants to use the characters, that's great.
Strommy: Will there be a central antagonist? Yes, but they need to phrase it in a very non-spoiler way. The government turns against Alpha Flight, but some members of Alpha Flight side with the government.
Strommy: Part of the point of the series is Alpha Flight trying to figure out who the main villains are.
UltimateKidNova: For those of you just joining us, we're discussing the upcoming Alpha Flight maxi-series by Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente & Dale Eaglesham tying into Fear Itself
Strommy: At the moment, the series is slotted for eight issues with a special .1 issue illustrated by Ben Oliver out in May.
Strommy: Since some time has passed since Chaos War, you won't see much of the characters adjusting to coming back to life.
UltimateKidNova: "If there is demand, I would imagine there will be a ninth issue and beyond." -Fred Van Lente
UltimateKidNova: @Tyler W The Point One issue is out in May.
Strommy: Fred: They're using the clean slate provided by Chaos War to do a ground-level reboot. They're not ignoring everything that's come before, but they're not going to be referring to a character's multiple resurrections or anything like that. They don't want to get bogged down in the continuity.
Strommy: Question for Dale: Is it a challenge to deal with so many characters? He prefers a team dynamic, because he likes having a lot of characters to deal with. All the characters are so unique and odd that he has trouble choosing a favorite one.
UltimateKidNova: I'll actually ask if any guest stars will be making appearances.
Strommy: He can appreciate working on a single-character book, but he's ready to get back to a team book.
Strommy: Did this series spin out of Chaos War and the audience's reactions to their return? It was something they'd talked about and workshopped, and once they realized Chaos War allowed them to bring back all the characters, that's what did it–the realization that they could have the original team back.
Strommy: Greg giving props to editor Mark Paniccia, who really championed the book.
UltimateKidNova: Just asked about Wolverine, Namor, the X-Men and/or the Avengers showing up in the first eight issues. Fred laughed.
Strommy: They're keeping mum on guest appearances–one of those four mentioned is a yes, but you may be surprised which one.
Strommy: Are they looking to modernize the characters at all? They think they can retain some of the magic by going back to the original team members and what made them so special in the first place.
UltimateKidNova: Fred noted that the original Alpha Flight #1 back in the 80's sold half a billion copies.
Strommy: The book will have a modern feel and will be compelling to readers today. It's not a spoof book, it's a crazy action adventure thriller with a big canvas.
UltimateKidNova: And that is the ballgame, folks!
UltimateKidNova: Recap what we've learned, Strommy
Strommy: Alpha Flight by Fred Van Lente, Greg Pak and Dale Eaglesham begins in June, with a special prelude .1 issue drawn by Ben Oliver in May!