Breaking Down The Uncanny X-Men #121 – The First Appearance of Alpha Flight


We’ve seen a staggering number of Marvel heroes and villains introduced within the pages of X-Men (and just about every sister-book to the original series), and we’re going to spend time looking into those books in the future. Today we’re digging deep into the crates to pull Uncanny X-Men #121 into the light.

The book immediately introduces us to the major conflict: Alpha Flight, a gang of Canadian folks in tights, have managed to capture Wolverine (who’s being considered a fugitive on the run), and the X-Men just aren’t having that. So, it’s a showdown at an abandoned fairground, which gives the book a cool almost carnie feel to it. It’s a different look for the X-Men, no doubt about it.

As it turns out, Wolverine isn’t the only one presumably kidnapped; Nightcrawler is nowhere to be found, either. This only compounds the anger of the X-Men, who seem 200-percent determined to bring their heroes home, as they should be.

Before we’ve made it half way through the issue we get the official introduction of “Canada’s Superheroes” – aka, Alpha Flight, which consists of Aurora, Shaman, Sasquatch, Northstar, Snowbird and Vindicator. Given the fact that only Cyclops, Colossus and Storm stand against this group, it’s safe to assume the X-Men have an uphill battle to engage in.

To Alpha Flight’s credit they offer the X-Men the chance to take Nightcrawler and cross back into the country without so much as a “where are you coming from?” In other circumstances this might actually work well, but the simple truth is Wolvie’s become a damn good, reliable friend, and the X-Men aren’t about to leave him hanging out to dry (is that possible in Canada?).

A knock down drag-out fight gets underway, and Wolverine finally makes an appearance. The X-Men are going to need the man’s moxy and claws to help ensure no X-Men are seriously hurt. Alpha Flight isn’t exactly taking it easy on anyone. What’s interesting about their existence is the fact that they’re clearly rough around the edges, yet they’re recognized as heroes… who seem to have a hard time not hurting someone or destroying property (as a few of these individuals – before coming together to form Alpha Flight) wherever they pop up. These clowns could use some advice from Professor X.

One of the comedic elements of the story, which really isn’t illuminated as intentional humor at any point, is the fact that Alpha Flight are so overconfident and inexperienced that a number of these goofballs are inadvertently creating tragedies, basically across the map. Yeah, these Canadian superheroes clearly, clearly need some practice!

The irony? Alpha Flight, for a good portion of this battle, are having their way with the X-Men. Even with the added assistance of Wolverine, one their most feared members.

Ultimately, despite all of their recklessness, the battle comes to an end, and the out of control storm that Shaman started is neutralized by the powerful Storm. The big kicker, though, is that Wolverine eventually surrenders to Alpha Flight, aiming to prevent any of the X-Men from incurring serious injury.

Talk about an “all over the place” book, The Uncanny X-Men #121 is most certainly something of a lovable disaster. I mean, really, Wolverine could have simply surrendered on page one and the X-Men, and countless civilians could have avoided being dropped directly in the path of danger. Then again, if it was all that easy, issue #121 would have been mighty short. As it is, we’ve got enough to assess Alpha Flight, the pretentious rejects who can’t seem to control their own abilities.

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