Marvel’s Canadian superheroes return to comic book pages

Canadian comic book fans don't have many spandex-clad heroes from the Great White North to look up to. Even our best-known boy, Wolverine, left his life in a northern B.C. mining colony to join the X-Men in the U.S.

But arguably Canada's most popular group of costumed heroes return on June 15 when Marvel's Alpha Flight hits comic book store shelves. This fourth incarnation of a team assembled to defend the maple leaf is one fans are eagerly anticipating after two less successful relaunches in the past 20 years. It promises a return to the definitive version as characters from the original lineup - including some previously deceased - make their comeback.

For those new to the series, the team includes an interesting collection of characters who represent various elements of Canadiana including a scientist who transforms into a Sasquatch, Montreal twins whose namesake recalls the nighttime northern sky - Northstar and Aurora - and an Inuit demi-goddess that can transform into creatures who inhabit the tundra including a polar bear and snowy owl.

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Alpha Flight exploded into their own book after a popular debut in the pages of X-Men with a first issue that some say sold an astounding 500,000 copies back in 1983.

This new eight-part mini-series is a spin-off from an ongoing crossover comic by Marvel called 'Fear Itself' in which heroes are attacked by the thing they fear most. Based on the short preview Marvel has provided about the series, Alpha Flight greatest fear is having Canada turn on its heroes.

According to canada.com, the story kicks off when an ultra right-wing government takes power in Canada at a time when the country is struck with fear due to an attack on Vancouver by super-powered terrorists. Alpha Flight are put in the cross-hairs by the new government and declared traitors, forcing the team to evade capture by the country they swore to defend. While the story was written prior to the Conservative Party majority win in the recent federal election, the 'life imitates art' angle hasn't gone unnoticed.

While the American writers on the series are long-time fans, there are Canuck roots on the creative team. Superstar artist Dale Eaglesham, originally from Quebec and now residing in Ontario, is the man behind the pencils breathing life into our heroes.

"It's an all-Canadian team of superheroes that takes place in Canada, which makes it totally unique in the superhero world," Eaglesham said recently to canada.com. "This is the biggest comic company in the world putting this in the mainstream, and that's what makes it unique. It's unabashedly Canadian in every sense."

(Screengrab from http://marvel.com)