Happy Canada Day!

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Happy Canada Day to all our readers who live in Canada! In addition to being our great neighbor of the north, Canada has been a favorite place of mine because of its impact on the comics world. I’m not talking just about the characters who call the country home–like Wolverine and Sasquatch–but for the creators who are from there!

There is a wide variety of Canadians who have made great contributions to the comics world, from Todd McFarlane to John Byrne to Ty Templeton, all of whom have done a great job contributing to the medium. Most important might be the late Torontonian Joe Shuster, who along with Jerry Siegel created Superman!
Me with Bret HartNot only is Canada important for comics, but the country’s contributions to sports. This is the country that brought us hockey and basketball. Clearly you can see the country’s impact on the ice rink,but if it wasn’t for James Naismith (from Almonte, Ontario) none of us would have enjoyed the awesome NBA Finals this year.

And you can’t forget professional wrestling. Here I am with my favorite professional wrestler of all time, Bret “The Hitman” Hart. Canada has produced so many great wrestlers, from the Hart Family to “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, to Chris Jericho, the Rougeaus and more recent favorites like Kevin Steen and El Generico!

So Canada, my hat is off to you! Thanks for everything!

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Alpha Flight #1-6

Alpha Flight had a brief reintroduction during the Feat Itself storyline. Canada’s favorite (and only)  team comes back, this time in what can only be described as a super powered political thriller.

The Unity Party has come to power in the Canadian government and has Alpha Flight in their sites. The city of Vancouver was heavily damaged by the Fear-powered Attuma, and the super hero team has been blamed for failing to protect the city. Alpha Flight is on the run from the government. This kind of reminds me a lot like the Civil War storyline, except this time it’s across Canada.

It’s revealed that the Unity Party is secretly led by none other than longtime nemesis Master of the World (who simultaneously has the coolest and lamest name of any super villain ever). He’s dispatched a squadron of old Alpha Flight villains out to take them out.

While this is going on, the team is having their own personal difficulties to overcome. The Vindicator has begrudgingly teamed up to hunt her former teammates in exchange for regaining custody of her daughter. Northstar’s boyfriend Kyle has been taken prisoner by the Unity Party and is undergoing some sort of mental reprogramming that all non-Unity Party members are being forced into. And to make matters worse, Northstar’s sister Aurora is having a relapse with her split personality disorders. As a light Alpha Flight reader, even I know that isn’t good.

At least the team had the good sense to put out a call to Wolverine for some help and assistance in liberating Canada. What makes this

This was written by the team of Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, both of whom I’ve been a big fan of. I really liked that this wasn’t heavy on prior Alpha Flights history. I’ll admit, I was never that big of a fan. But I was able to pick up what had happened in previous volumes. Dale Eaglesham’s art was great as usual, and I’m sure him being a Canadian made the depictions of the cities more accurate. Fun stuff; you should check it out.

Honoring Our Armed Services On Veterans Day and Remembrance Day

DSC_0050Today in the United States we honor the men and women who have served in our armed forces through Veterans Day. Up north in Canada (and in many parts of the Commonwealth of Nations) they honor members of their armed forces who died in the line of duty with Remembrance Day.

With these brave men and women being our real world heroes, its no secret that our fictional heroes show the same level of courage, bravery and selflessness that our armed forces do every day.

That said, its no surprise that comics creators have looked to our servicemen as inspiration for the basis of several characters, going back to Captain America being a product of and serving in World War II. Some characters, like Flash Thompson, are defined by their actions in combat. He’s a paraplegic due to injuries suffered during the Iraq War, but he still wants to protect his country by volunteering to be a host of Venom. Granted they don’t bond with an alien symbiote, but many of our veterans choose to still serve our country after suffering from serious wounds.

DC has its share of proudly serving military heroes, two of which are Green Lanterns. Hal Jordan was an Air Force pilot and John Stewart was a Marines sniper. Captain Atom is always depicted as being in the Air force.

Anyway, this is enough about our fictitious military heroes. Go out and support our veterans. Vote for politicians who stand up for veterans services. When you see vets collecting for charities, donate what you can. But most of all, thank them.

30 Things I Like About Comics—#20 Happy Canada Day!

Sasquatch and Wolverine belt out "Oh Canada"

Sasquatch and Wolverine belt out "Oh Canada"

So how does Canada Day count as something I like about comics? Canada is a very important part of the comic book world for many different reasons!

The first and most obvious way is that the comic book world has seen its fair share of prominent comic book creators! This goes back as far as Joe Shuster–one of the co-creators of Superman! Did you now that John Byrne, Todd McFarlane, David Sim, Stuart Immonen and Hal Foster are just some of the great comic book artists that the Great White North has produced? Just imagine how much less fun comic books would be without them.

Although there are many Canadian super heroes (and super villains), Marvel has the most elaborate Canada in comics thanks to Byrne, who is graduate of Alberta College of Art and Design in Canada. Byrne’s first high-profile work was on Uncanny X-Men with Chris Claremont, where he created Alpha Flight, a super hero team mostly made of Canadians!

Sasquatch is one of the many proud Canadian super heroes.

Sasquatch is one of the many proud Canadian super heroes.

Alpha Flight was a project of the Canadian Department of National Defence’s Department H. Although the team’s lineup rotated, it usually featured Aurora and her twin brother Northstar (the first gay super hero), Arctic tundra goddess Snowbird, the gamma-radiation created man monster Sasquatch, and the diminutive Puck. Alpha Flight was the best of Canada’s three government organized super hero teams, ahead of Beta Flight and Gamma Flight. To continue the flightiness, there was even an Omega Flight, which was a group of villains who wanted to take out sometimes Alpha Flight leader Guardian.

Alpha Flight has been a staple of the Marvel Universe since introduced back in 1979. They’ve had countless on going and limited series through the years. But that’s not the only way Canada contributed to making super heroes.

The Canadian government also sponsored the ongoing top-secret Weapon X program, which recruits (and sometimes forces) mutants and humans and genetically modifies them into living weapons. Some of the most popular Canadian Weapon X products are Deadpool, Sabretooth and Wolverine, definitely the most popular Canadian super hero and arguably one of the top five!

Wolverine would be a monster on the blueline.

Wolverine would be a monster on the blueline.

Just as the real world Canada is allies with the United States, the same goes for the two nations in the Marvel Universe. Weapon X is the Canadian branch of the Weapons Plus Program, an agreement between the two nations to create super soldiers that goes back to World War II.

Grant Morrison added this new wrinkle to Weapon X during his run on New X-Men in the early 2000s. On the American side, their biggest success was the creation of the Super Soldier Syrum which powers Captain America.

So let’s celebrate Canada Day by honoring the country’s great comic creators and characters! Crank some Rush, drink a Molson if you want and have a great day!