X-MEN/ALPHA FLIGHT #1-2 (1998)

A two-issue microseries with brilliant art by John Cassaday, who also gets a cowriter credit.

The 1998 reboot of Alpha Flight has been pretty good, but not great. The original team from the original series stopped being good near the end of John Byrne’s run–over a decade ago–and was downright awful for around 100 issues.

Fortunately, this is about the original team! This story takes place at some point after Jean Grey’s death and before Alpha Flight #1.

In their own, current, 1998 book, Alpha Flight has split from the Canadian Government’s Department H–which formed, funded, and managed them–after sinister insiders sent Alpha Flight on several sketchy missions (including hunting Wolverine) and developed their own Sentinels. In this series, we see James Hudson working for Department H and developing an armored army–back in the ’80s.

It is sent to attack the X-Men, without Mac Hudson’s knowledge.

Very cool to use an “untold tale” to give context to a new storyline. Marvel has been doing the “untold tales” thing quite a bit lately–notably with Spider-Man–but usually it’s just to fill in gaps in past chronology. These issues use the untold tale to fill in gaps in current chronology.

Vindicator watches the attack on the news and recognizes the armor as his own design.

The X-Men are captured, and kept in tubes!

Professor X summons members of Alpha Flight to rescue them. It turns out, Dept H had been infiltrated with Hydra, and so the fledgling Canadian team–under X’s supervision–storms Hydra’s base and frees them.

Then it’s big fight time. Complete with a fastball special.

I found this a wonderful break from the overly serious and usually sloppily drawn X-books of the late 1990s.

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