What better crowd to announce that the Alpha Flight maxi-series would now be ongoing, than at Marvel’s Pint O’ C.B. panel at FanExpo Canada? None, we think. Luckily, we got a chance to chat with writers Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak before the big announcement, to find out how this will affect the arc of the series, what’s going on with the evil Unity Party, and just what part Wendigo plays in all of this:
MTV Geek: So first of all, congrats on getting the go ahead to make Alpha Flight ongoing! How’s that feel? It certainly seems like a huge vote of confidence from Marvel, with only three issues on stands so far.
Fred Van Lente: Well, it's a huge vote of confidence from the readers, which we really appreciate. It's a tough market out there, and we glad they've responded to this series in such a strong way by voting with their dollars.
Greg Pak: Huge thanks go to all the fans who have been talking the book up with their friends and preordering with their comic book stores. This kind of thing only happens because of you guys -- and you're the best!
Geek: When/how did you get the news? At what point in scripting the maxi-series were you when you found out it was getting extended? And has it affected your plans at all?
FVL: It was something that was discussed when the first orders on the first issue started coming in, so Greg and I had plenty of lead time to plan the extension -- and we're glad we got it, because the coming Canadian Civil War is an epic story that needs more runway to fully take off.
GP: We knew it was a real possibility from the beginning, but we just got our final confirmation fairly recently. But as Fred says, we had plenty of time to start that big Plan B, which actually reminds me a bit of our original Incredible Hercules run, during which we got extended a few issues at a time, but decided at a certain point to figure out the big bullet points of our huge storyline, just in case.
Geek: Let’s talk about where we are in the series right now… Issue three has hit stands, and it seems like we’re just getting started in this story. What’s coming up for Alpha, and the Unity Party?
FVL: They're going to start robbing banks in order to afford to pay Taskmaster (whom I am psyched to be writing again, by-the-by) to train their revolutionary army to overthrow the Canadian government.
I am so not kidding.
Geek: There was a pretty big reveal at the end of this last issue, that The Unity Party’s plans are powered, in part, by the Great Beasts… That’s not going to blow back in their face, right? At all?
FVL: Ooooohh... Maybe a little bit. But anyone who puts Wendigo on their government super hero team has got to be fully prepared for collateral damage.
Geek: And as far as Aurora is concerned, it seems like we’re not quite done with her personality disorder…
FVL: No, the Jeanne-Marie personality is now dominant "pretending" to be Aurora. But Jeanne-Marie has no combat experiences, and is particularly naive about other things in the world... Particularly the lifestyle of her brother, Northstar. This will definitely cause some... well, complications.
GP: Do not miss Alpha Flight #6 for some very big Aurora developments.
Geek: Looking forward, now that you’ve gone from eight issues to infinity issues, will we be seeing this Unity Party arc wrap up at the same pace, and a new arc start with issue nine? Or is it all Unity, all the time?
FVL: All I can say is that #8 is a definite resolution to one of the approximately 6000 storylines running through this book. (grin)
GP: I'll just add that the story we're telling has lasting consequences -- it won't end with a neat, safe restoration of the status quo. It all matters like crazy for these characters and for the Marvel Universe.
Geek: Have we seen who is really behind the Unity Party yet? Or is there someone from Alpha’s past lurking in the background? Roger Bochs perhaps hint hint?
FVL: There is a hidden hand behind Unity beyond the public face of Gary Cody, as many fans have suspected, and that will be a big reveal next month.
Also, the true explanation as to What's Wrong With Heather Hudson will be shortly forthcoming. That doesn't mean it will be an easy fix, though.
Geek: Now, not to get super nerdy on you guys, but issue #12 of the original Alpha Flight series is, in my opinion, one of the best issues of all time. With you – presumably – getting extended beyond that, are there plans to top Byrne’s climax there, now that I’ve set up unreasonably high expectations?
FVL: What, you mean that we're going to kill Guardian? Oh... crap.... Is this mike on?
Geek: Just a general question for you, as we’re starting to wrap up here: what, going forward, is your mission statement for Alpha Flight? What makes them different from other teams?
FVL: We're telling a very universal story of what it means to be a government-based super hero team when the government turns against you. What does it mean to embody a nation? At what point does loyalty become treason, depending on what it is your'e asked to do? In a revolution there is always collateral damage, and in war there are frequently no good choices. These are the questions we're exploring in the series, and things will get worse for Alpha Flight and the nation before they get better, that I can promise you.
GP: What principles do you believe in with all your heart and soul and what are you willing to do to protect and defend those principles? The answers can be incredibly uplifting and inspiring or utterly terrifying.
Geek: Lastly, since we’re chatting before the big announcement at FanExpo (time travel!), how much are you looking forward to telling the Canadian fans this news?
FVL: Dale and I will be there when it happens, and I couldn't be more psyched. The love we've gotten for this series north of the border has been nothing short of awe-inspiring and the whole creative team is going to work extra hard to keep earning it.
GP: Alas, I won't be at the Fan Expo in person, so I'll be monitoring the announcement via the Twitter and Google+. I'll just say that the sheer volume of enthusiastic fan response we've gotten so far for Alpha Flight has been overwhelming and inspiring. Fred, Dale and I and the entire creative team are hugely grateful and, as Fred, said, are swinging for the fences every issue to deliver the most exciting and compelling book we can.