Issue: CHAOS WAR: ALPHA FLIGHT #1 (One Shot)
Writer: JIM McCANN
Artist: REILLY BROWN, SALVA ESPIN
Cover: SALVA ESPIN
Date Published: NOV 2010
Welcome Back Alpha Flight To The Land of the Living – But At What Cost?
The issue begins with a recap of what's happened thus far in CHAOS WAR, detailing how the Chaos King has destroyed the Dream Dimension by killing Nightmare, and thus plunging the living into Eternal Sleep. Next the Chaos King destroyed the Underwold; and as a consequence, some of the undead spirits have fled to the surface world; caught in a limbo between dreaming, living and death. Now the Chaos King seeks to destroy every pantheon that has ever existed. And this is where our story begins...
Quidlivun, Home of Inua, the Northern Gods. We see Snowbird is with her mother, attempting to help defend against the Chaos King's onslaught. The Gods know that they're doomed. Snowbird's mother, Nelvana, as her final act saves Snowbird by shoving her through a dimensional portal that teleports her back to Earth, just as the Chaos King shoves his velvet black poisonous talons through Nelvana's chest and heart.
The scene takes a shift, and we see the Great Beasts in their Realm (Tundra, The Land Beast; Somon, The Great Artificer; Kariooq, The Corruptor; Kolomaq, The Beast of the Snows; and Tolomaq, The Fire Beast). None other than Sasquatch stands in their Realm, listening to what Somon has to say. Somon explains that the Chaos King seeks to destroy every pantheon that has ever existed; and that the Great Beasts, the Gods of Elder Night, will be the next to fall. He goes on to explain that should they be the next to fall, that there will be nothing that could stop the Chaos King. But, should Sasquatch, who shares the body with their “brother” Tanaraq, lead the Great Beasts to Earth, where they can truly regain their full potential, they will help Earth against the Chaos King; and that they will have the power to defeat the Chaos King, if they're bought enough time to recharge their powers on Earth.
Somon goes on to sweeten the offer by explaining that Death itself has fled from the Chaos King, allowing them to have the ability to restore Sasquatch's loved ones; implying through numerous glowing visuals, that they could bring back the deceased members of Alpha Flight, to help Sasquatch buy the Great Beasts enough time to recharge their powers on Earth and help defeat the Chaos King. Sasquatch, dubious, asks how is he to know that once the Chaos King is defeated, that the Great Beasts won't turn on Alpha Flight? Somon makes a sacred vow to not lay siege on Earth for at least one hundred years. Sasquatch, knowing that Alpha Flight has defeated the Great Beasts at every turn, accepts the offer.
The scene shifts to Alberta, Canada, where we see Snowbird walking through the streets. Bodies of humans lie slumped on the ground, in various positions, trapped in their dreamless state, caught somewhere between dreams, nightmares, life and death. She's suddenly surprised to see a similar portal that she had only recently been shoved through appear before her; hoping it was her mother, she's surprised to suddenly see Northstar and Aurora flying around her; and then Sasquatch steps out of the portal. Northstar explains that he was far enough away and suddenly summoned, for which Sasquatch apologizes for. Snowbird explains the urgency of the Chaos King's attack, but a calm Sasquatch explains that everything's been taken care of; and gestures to the portal where we see Vindicator (Heather Hudson), Guardian (Mac Hudson), Shaman (Michael Twoyoungmen) and Marrina – all of which had previously died. Everyone was caught in the moment, and Sasquatch explains that he only survived the attack by the Collective because of his connection to the Great Beasts. Northstar asks how it is that they're alive and Shaman explains that they're not “alive in the medical sense” - but that Shaman, like his Grandfather before him, had used his Sarcee Shaman powers to keep their spirits from passing into The Great Home. He explains that he was able to rescue some (Marrina), while others were lost to him. Sasquatch mentions Puck, and Shaman explains that Puck slipped from him and went to a place that not even Shaman dared follow. (A Reviewer's Note: During this time Puck was appearing in Hell, along side Wolverine in Wolverine's newest series “Wolverine Goes To Hell” which explain why Puck probably couldn't be used). Northstar asks about the others, and Shaman explains that they slipped away when the doors to The Great Home were ripped apart by black razors – which Snowbird recognizes as the work of The Chaos King.
Snowbird explains to Shaman that both Hodiak and Nelvana perished in the Chaos King's attack. At that moment, the skies open up and the demonic minions of the Chaos King pour out of the Heavens. Alpha Flight figures that it's the Chaos King sending his minions to finish off Snowbird; but Sasquatch tries to explain that Snowbird isn't their target, and to get Alpha Flight back he struck a deal. Shaman helps Snowbird up and the sight she sees, she can't believe. The Great Beasts walk the Earth once more. But they're fighting Chaos King's demons. Sasquatch tries to explain that they have to defend the Great Beasts while they get to full power; because only they have the power to truly stop the Great Beasts. Shaman notes that their powers had been augmented, no doubt by the Great Beasts to help defend them.
Snowbird is not pleased, and swears that anyone who moves to help the Great Beasts, that she can not be held accountable to the harm she will bring them. Sasquatch explains that the Great Beasts are perhaps the only power left to defeat the Chaos King, once at their full power and assures Snowbird that they gave their word (which she rapidly scoffs at the notion of the Great Beasts ever maintaining a promise). Aurora believes that Sasquatch may be right since people seem to be awakening from their slumber; but it's Northstar who reports that things aren't as they would seem. The people “awakening from their slumber” are actually turning into an army of Wendigos, controlled by the Great Beasts to attack Chaos King's demon horde.
Alpha Flight quickly discusses the possibilities, but it's Guardian who finally says that it's not a matter of “Greater Good”, but instead “Greater Evil.” With the Chaos King destroying pantheons, the choices is clear – they must help the Great Beasts so that they can grow powerful enough to put an end to the Chaos King. During the fight, Aurora tells Northstar that their place is with Alpha Flight, not fighting along side the X-Men. With Vindicator and Guardian, even as Vindicator doubts that they're doing the right thing, Guardian assures her that they're alive because of Sasquatch and that they have to do this for the world, and for the daughter that they never truly got to know before dying at the hands of the Collective. When Kariooq falls to the attack of the Chaos King's demons, because there is nothing in them to corrupt, Snowbird, though helping in the over all battle, does nothing to assist the Great Beast. Somon, meanwhile commands the Wendigos to feast on the dead and dying. Shaman and Snowbird now begin to truly doubt their position. Northstar agrees, explaining that once you side with the monsters, you become one yourself. Despite the chance that they would lose their tie to living once more, Vindicator gives the command to retreat, despite the fact that they're winning the fight. Shaman imprisons the Wendigos with magic. Vindicator is forced to stop Marrina, who was turning more beastly in her appearance, as well as her attacks. Northstar is forced to pummel Guardian, explaining that Heather was always the better leader. Shaman is forced to fight Aurora to stop her. Sasquatch tries to plead with Snowbird to reconsider, but there is nothing left to reconsider.
With them fleeing, Snowbird turns on the Great Beasts, using her powers like never before; freezing the Great Beasts. The Chaos King arrives and destroys the Great Beasts while Alpha Flight escapes. The Wendigos are returned to their normal human form as the Chaos King departs, having no interest in Alpha Flight. Shaman casts as spell to return their souls back to the holding; but much to his surprise discovers that it's not possible. He gives it considerable thought and realizes that with Death having fled, that there was no way to return to the Dead. But once the Chaos King is defeated, and Death returns, they might all die once more. Sasquatch explains that it's a risk worth taking. Shaman explains that the Sasquatch never truly needed the deal with the Great Beasts; that with Death itself gone, they did nothing to truly restore the slain members of Alpha Flight. Alpha Flight decides that, until Death comes, should it come, that they will join the fight against the Chaos King!
Alpha Flight can be seen in Chaos War #5.
Honestly, this is what I have been waiting for... for a very, very, very long time. Where do I begin with all the Good?
The writing is fantastic. The way that Alpha Flight is brought back from the dead ties in exceptionally well with what's happening in Chaos War.
The pencils are absolutely fantastic. Clean. Clear. Easy to tell whose who.
Combined with excellent writing and sharp penciling skills – add in a bunch of characters I have adored for a long time – you have yourself a Must Read!
Alpha Flight to me has been handled by too many hands in the Cookie Jar. Because of the numerous writers the handled Alpha Flight, their story lines often got tangled, mangled, slaughtered, and messy, creating an endless horror of continuity errors that each writer either tried to fix (usually making the mess a little more messy!) or simply ignored all together, and didn't ever bother to acknowledge. I have seen these precious characters, whom I first met in Uncanny X-Men #121 (one of my first comics!) come to life in that single issue – then get their own series – and see the rise and fall – repeatedly – of Alpha Flight.
This issue – this single issue – restores my faith that ALPHA FLIGHT can be saved. It can be written well. The mess in the kitchen can be cleaned. It can be polished.
It can be... dare I even say it... Amazing.
We are given a restored Alpha Flight with a very logical method. We are given a clean Alpha Flight to work with. We are given an Alpha Flight, in a single issue, who addressed so many things and made them right. In a single issue.
I pray to whatever pantheon gods that remain (that the Chaos King has not gotten his hands on!) that Marvel sees this as a chance to launch Alpha Flight once more. A good, clean, Alpha Flight. And I would hope that they'd pick up Jim McCann as the writer. Jim has expressed his love and passion for Alpha Flight in various interviews online. It's time that Marvel hand the reigns over to Jim and let him run with a newly launched ALPHA FLIGHT series.
There's honestly only one bad thing about this issue.
The fact that it was, indeed, a one shot.
10 out of 10 Maple Leaves.