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Marvel cancels Alpha Flight with January’s Issue 8

Alpha Flight #8

Less than two months after announcing the title had been upgraded from an eight-issue miniseries to an ongoing, Marvel has canceled Alpha Flight — with Issue 8.

The blow was delivered this afternoon in Marvel’s January 2012 solicitations, where the publisher labels “the big showdown between Alpha Flight and the Master of the World,” somewhat uncharacteristically, as “THE FINAL ISSUE!” (Marvel tends not to telegraph a title’s cancellation.)

“Fans and friends, I’m sorry to confirm that #AlphaFlight will indeed end with issue #8,” co-writer Greg Pak said on Twitter, “but the book was originally conceived as an 8 issue mini, so we’re still telling the big, fun story we intended from the start. THANK YOU, #AlphaFlight fans — you guys are the best and have provided us huge amounts of fun and inspiration. And have no fear … the story’s heading for a huge, satisfying ending that @fredvanlente and I have been champing at the bit to unleash for months.”

Featuring the creative team of Pak, his Incredible Herc collaborator Fred Van Lente and artist Dale Eaglesham, Alpha Flight had a strong debut in June, selling an estimated 45,850 copies and claiming the 20th spot on Diamond Comic Distributors’ Top 300 for the month. Sales dropped off dramatically with the second issue, to 26,860; by September’s Issue 4, that number had fallen to about 23,400, barely hovering above Marvel’s traditional line of death.

The cancellation, however, seems par for the course for Alpha Flight, a property that’s had a difficult time finding its footing, and an audience, since the end of its original 130-issue run in 1994 (some might argue since creator John Byrne left in 1985 after 28 issues). The four subsequent revivals were short-lived, with the longest lasting just 20 issues.

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29 Comments

If they ever give it yet another go, Marvel should just brand this as an X-book and tie it more closely to the X-men universe. It’s never really been the same since John Byrne fumbled the ball on the books original run. Let’s kill off a major character one year in and expect people to care. Even though it lasted 130 issues on that run it might as well have stopped at #12.

Wow. Why push so hard to tell the world you wanted to make this an ongoing? Sure, hindsight is always 20/20, but they would have been better off just releasing it as a mini and surprising folks with the ongoing aspect if they saw numbers to justify it. I guess they figured if they said it was an ongoing, that would help juice sales, but that obviously didn’t work.

Feel bad for the creators and fans on this one.

Okay, can they just give up on Alpha Flight as an ongoing series and just make them recurring characters in the Marvel Universe? They’ve tried this like 5-6 times and it never works.

I’m a little surprised by this one. I assumed when I read the solicit that it was the final issue of 8, but then we’d get an ongoing the next month. Oh well.

At least it sounds like Iron Man 2.0 is going away… what a dumb name for a comic book that always should have been called “War Machine.”

I also worry that the prevalent “Fear Itself” tie-in that took over more than half the book’s run hurt it. Fear Itself was no Civil War, made all of the covers look alike in a crossover that seemed to never end or find a point. A dollar says the cancellation bug bites Ghost Rider next — which is also too bad, but then again, whoever thought “Let’s make Ghost Rider a woman!” was a good idea?

I really don’t think a “yeah it should be cancelled” attitude is really a sane view to take to any comic that isn’t exceptionally bad – people complain that Marvel only ever publishes Wolverine/Spider-man/Deadpool/Avengers but when they do put other characters out there they complain about them because they try a new name or a new gimmick. You can’t have it both ways.

Aside from some radical character changes (Heather, Puck, Marrina) this was the most faithful version of the original Byrne/Claremont roster. Looking back at Byrne’s run, it’s still amazing how the team never actually worked together until the events of #12, only to split into smaller groups for a while. Yet, the book outlasted Byrne and went on for over a decade.

I don’t believe that’s going to ever happen again. Just make them into recurring characters as seen in the years between their debut and first ongoing series.

The one-shot showed so much promise, but this relaunch was an unfortunate victim of Fear Itself. Alpha Flight can and should stand on its own, and not be a spin-off of an overrated event comic that was so disappointing that every title that included that horrid logo made me cringe. This isn’t Alpha Flight’s fault. This is where big-selling, low quality events poison otherwise potentially great comic books. RIP until next time Alpha Flight – I’ll be waiting.

I agree with joe… sadly being hooked onto that horrible fear itself event is what made me drop the book…actually i dropped all fear itself tie ins! all the stories Made noooo sense whatso ever (dont get me started on the uncanny x-men tie in)! the whole storyline was a bust and a bad event all in all… and nothing ever really happens in Marvel books anyways since they got Bendis and some other writers… Avengers hasent felt like a book to read in the last 4 years… where as it was one that was world shaking when new avngers first started!

@Danny – Really? I know the market has changed a lot since the 1980s but I’m not sure that readers were so slow on the uptake that it took us 118 issues to react to Guardian’s death.:)

Seriously, though, you might be able to argue that there was a drop in quality but I’m not sure that Guardian’s death was why the series wasn’t able to find a solid audience. More readers came to the X-Men after the Death of the Phoenix, no reason to believe it wouldn’t work for Alpha Flight. I think why it failed to gather a broad and solid fanbase is the same reason the Defenders didn’t: readers at that time had certain expectations of team books and the loose structure and lack of “name” heroes were the bigger problem. As much as I personally liked this team of mentally unstable misfits, they weren’t introduced during a time when people would want to see a whole team of them. Somehow, the perception of Alpha Flight by those that didn’t read the series (i.e. 92% of the comic reading populace) is the Canadian Avengers who are the frenemies of the X-Men. That sounds kind of also-ran, second rate wannabes and who would ever want to read that?

So, to the creative team and fans, thanks to all and let’s keep are chins up, we tried, we bought, we spread the word, we gave it all. Better luck next time.

That’s just sad. I wonder if the upgrade to an ongoing then a cancellation at the end of the miniseries story was just a practical joke on Alpha Flight fans.

Darn. This was a good book.

Well, I guess that’s three more dollars I can spend on DC’s new books…

I’ll put Alpha Flight away with Captain Britain & MI:13 and Atlas (more comics launching out of an event, hey Marvel, stop that shit) as comics that were too good for this current age of Avenger/Spider-Man/X-Men overload. Marvel makes me sad. Their cut off line is too high, surely they can afford to publish some lower selling cult following books while the money makers rack in the dough. I won’t even bother pursuing to campaign for a Cloak & Dagger series. :(

Geez. Maybe Marvel’s trying to stay in the good graces with the rest of the majority wanting to continue all the Canada jokes.

And thus, my fledging interest in Marvel ends with #8 as well. Like Obegon Kaine said, it’s back to DC and independent books.

“Okay, can they just give up on Alpha Flight as an ongoing series and just make them recurring characters in the Marvel Universe? They’ve tried this like 5-6 times and it never works.”

Marvel used to do this but now they feel like any character they have in the company deserves a series even if they can’t sustain one. Or they kill them. Rest assured if Bendis likes a B-Lister, they can become a New Avenger.

As a kid, outside of the X-Men I remember a Hulk annual with Alpha Flight and an issue or two of Marvel Two In One. This built their popularity to the point that Marvel gave them their own series. I loved the first 12 issues because I was a big Guardian fan and I was one of the people that was excited when John Byrne swerved us with his resurrection. I stuck with the title during the Bill Mantlo days all the way through the “real” Guardian resurrection but the majority of those issues (even the Jim Lee ones) were not really Alpha Flight as we knew them. Northstar and Aurora as fairies….Heather Hudson in costume…Walter Langowski inhabiting Snowbird’s body…Wildchild as a Wolverine type redemption character? The two rebooted series and Omega Flight couldn’t capture the Byrne run of the first series for me either. I thought this was the one but the Fear Itself aspect and the Canadian Civil War with Gary Cody as a bad guy just did scream Alpha Flight. Ah well, I still have those X-Men, other guest appearances and the first 28 issues of the original series. I hope that the people that are reading Pak and Van Lente’s version are enjoying it though.

@Danny: I’m pretty sure they tried the whole “Tie Alpha Flight closer to the X-Men” bit back in the 90′s already — there was even a Canadian Superhero Registration Act arc, which mirrored the X-Men’s mutant registration. No one took the bait.

Alpha flight was my sole Marvel book. I picked it up because I enjoy Alpha Flight it was not tied into X-man/Avengers/Deadpool continuity. I won’t bother reading Marvel again.

“Alpha flight was my sole Marvel book. I picked it up because I enjoy Alpha Flight it was not tied into X-man/Avengers/Deadpool continuity. I won’t bother reading Marvel again.”

This is how I feel too. I don’t buy other Marvel titles, because I’m not interested in those characters, or I’m sick of the overload of certain characters/teams. I’ll be back when Alpha Flight is back.

To those who didn’t pick this up, because it was “tied into” Fear Itself, you obviously didn’t even look at the solicits to find out what the story was about before making your decision. Aside from mixing it up with a hammer wielder in issue #1, and the main villain using the effects of the event to pull off his scheme, Alpha Flight has nothing to do with Fear Itself. Once issue #2 rolled around it was its own story. You didn’t need to pick up any other FI books to understand what was happening, and the story has been (so far) completely self-contained.

It’s disappointing when a book as good as this, with a first class creative team, can’t get most readers to even look at it. This, I think, can be laid at the feet of Marvel. For far too long Marvel writers have presented the team as a joke. When they were used it was only as punching bags to make other characters look good. When most readers think of them in that manner they will never stand a chance of growing their fan base.
It Marvel wants to fix this perception then they need to stick them in more guest spots as competent heroes, give them the occasional miniseries, and most of all promote the team. Every day we see Spider-man/Wolverine/Avengers/X-men/FF/Thor/Iron Man/Captain America being pimped up the wazoo on CBR. I can only imagine what might happen if Alpha Flight got the same kind of push whenever they were going to make an appearance.

Alpha Flight (volume 4) was the only comic I bought. I was glad that the original characters were (brought) back.
I knew that a different creative team’s conception of the team would be different from the original version, but freckle-faced Heather as a murderess is probably what undid this series.

Too radical a departure with so little explanation how she got that way.

I know Fred & Greg have a storyline mapped out. It just shows how difficult to sustain a team with 8-to-9 eclectic characters.

This generation of comic readers have had an opportunity to see a contemporary version of the classic line-up. I hope it isn’t long before we see them, again.

I’ve always enjoyed both FVL’s and GP’s work(s). I’m sorry to see Alpha Flight end.

Bummer. Marvel would be wise to follow where Greg Pak leads them. He’s a great writer and definitely one of Marvel’s best talents.

I am devastated by this cancellation and frankly do not understand Marvel’s decision at all. I adore these characters and was thrilled to see them return and then have THIS team take on the series. For the first time in years, these characters have been written well and true to form. The make-over of Marrina was a bold choice but made so much sense after what the rest of Marvel had put the character through.

I had a hard time initially with Heather’s choices, but once I saw the Master of the World was involved I knew what was going on and expect to see Heather return to civilian life at the end of the eight issue arc when she is unable to reconcile her actions as Vindicator.

The potential of this book was HUGE and the creative team was doing an admirable job. The book was outselling X-Factor and Thunderbolts – why on earth could they not allow the book to find it’s cult following. Alpha Flight fans are rabid fans. They would not have deserted the book.

Shame on Marvel for this one.

This is a devasting news. I’ve always been a big Alpha Flight fan. X-Men/Alpha Flight Asgardian Wars was one of my first comic books ever, even if I’m something like a “young comic reader”. When the news of a new Alpha FIight book was diffuse I grew impatient to see it in Italy, but now I wonder if Marvel Italy will ever publish it in my country. Damnit.

So – is issue 7 out? And I guess 8 i ssupposed to be in January? I picked up AF 0-6 at a comic shop that is closing after my long time hiatus from collecting – what brought me back was Batgirl’s relaunch – and I was glad to see an AF mini-series. Love Alpha – Snowbird is my favorite – I’ll agree if Alpha were to be more closely linked to the X-Men it could help…great writing and art would also be a great key…go Alpha!

I am now really sad finding out the Alpha Flight is being canceled! Alpha Flight is one of my fave Marval comics being that I am also a Canadian. I was hoping that the series would have been rebooted. I am looking forward to getting the last issue though.

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