FW Team-Up: Spider-Man and Alpha Flight

July 1st is Canada Day, and to celebrate, Siskoid is launching FW Team-Up, and the Irredeemable Shagg is joining him to talk about Marvel Team-Up Annual #7, starring Spider-Man and Canada's premiere super-team, Alpha Flight! Fire & Water was built around the whole idea of team-ups, it's about time it had a show dedicated to the network's philosophy!

Listen to the Team-Up below, or subscribe to FW Team-Up on iTunes!

Relevant images and further credits at: FW Team-Up Supplemental

This podcast is a proud member of the FIRE AND WATER PODCAST NETWORK!

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24 responses to “FW Team-Up: Spider-Man and Alpha Flight

  1. Great debut episode! I have never read this comic (MTU was very hit or miss for me as a title), but the conservation was entertaining nonetheless. Enjoyed all the discussion of representation, and how Canada views itself as a mosaic.

    Team-Ups are such a rich vein of fun for comics, so a show focusing on them–no matter what the title–is a great idea. Can’t wait for future installments!

  2. It’s great to see Alpha Flight and a Canada Day tribute (or Dominion Day as we were still calling it back when I first encountered Alpha Flight in the X-Men) in your inaugural episode.

    Books like Marvel Team-Up, The Brave and the Bold, Marvel Two-in-One and DC Comics Presents were my gateway drugs to the wider DC and Marvel Universes. But it always seemed weird when the X-Men and Alpha Flight turned up in other books. Their dysfunctions were emphasized, the book’s empathy for the characters was minimized. They always seemed like jerks. When the Fantastic Four guest-starred, they put the family drama on hold and looked like heroes. The X-Men and Alpha Flight always seemed crazier outside of their own books. Then again after Byrne left, Alpha Flight seemed off-model to me in their own book.

    So, greatest team-up for Alpha Flight? How about with the World War II characters from Canada’s Golden Age — what are usually called Canadian Whites.


    Imagine this scenario. The Nazis manage to pierce the mystic barriers and summon the Great Beasts from across time and space. The great heroes of the day — Nelvana of the Northern Lights, Johnny Canuck, Lance Valiant (aka Freelance), Brok Windsor, Canada Jack and more — are fighting a valiant but losing battle against these mystical menaces. All of history is in danger.

    Meanwhile, in the present (aka the 1980s), the older version of Nelvana (now spelled Nelvanna) can feel the ripples through time and space. She summons help in the form of her own daughter — Snowbird.

    Snowbird and the Alphans go back into the 1940s to team up with the now-forgotten heroes of the past.

    And just what happens when Puck encounters a younger Eugene Milton Judd?

    Okay, the whole idea plays on the fact that John Byrne paid homage to the great Canadian comic book heroes of the past by naming Snowbird’s mother after one of them. (And Snowbird herself is an updating of the original Nelvana.)

  3. Nice intro show, fellas.

    always liked the idea of Alpha Flight more than what showed up on the page. Like Shag, this was my era of Spider-Man. Hit the sweet spot.

    How about a vow? How about NOT every episode on MTU features Shag? He’s neither brave nor bold.

  4. Thanks for this show, one I am very much looking forward to. As I have said many places, team-up books were my gateway to the bigger universes in the days before Who’s Who and the internet. I love these books.
    And I will do my best to shoehorn my way on as a guest at some point.

    I don’t know anything about Alpha Flight. I really don’t. I have never read the book. I barely know the characters. So this was a nice way to introduce me to some of these characters.

    I have a wish list of MTU, B&B, and DCCP issues I want to see covered here!

  5. I’m a bit behind on my listening (short commute, not mowing the lawn this summer), but I am definitely looking forward TEAM-UP! I loves me some team-up titles!

    Thanks for putting this one together!

  6. I enjoyed this conversation even though I have absolutely no interest in this book. Although my very first issue of X-Men featured the debut of Alpha Flight, by the time they got their own series I was greatly disappointed by Marvel Comics. Also, my personal esthetics and John Byrne’s artistry had sharply diverged. Throw in my complete disinterest in the Black Cat and my utter rejection of the black Spider-Man costume, and I won’t even bother to look at this comic. I am the anti-Shag in this scenario, as I was dropping titles just as he was starting to collect. I wouldn’t have even taken the time to respond, except that Siskoid name-dropped The Comic Treadmill! Oh, what an awesome and much missed comics blog that was! Mag and H, where are you? Are you out there? Siskoid, you should reserve DC Superstars #10 for these guys! I am looking forward to more team-up talk!

    1. If and when the time comes, I’ll try to remember to track them down, see if they’d be interested. They were very gracious to let me use the whole Friendly Farewell concept back in the day.

  7. I feel compelled to thank Fire & Water for this special Canada Day podcast, as one of your cross-the-boundary listeners. I read a lot of Alpha Flight in the day, though for some reason missed this volume. Despite it’s odd meanderings over the years, AF will always have a special place in my heart at least for it’s origins in Alberta, a home which I share with John Byrne. Yeah, it is big enough for both of us, and for the Superman movies, too. The first appearance in X-Men took place in Calgary, with a battle royal set at the Stampede grounds that I have haunted a lot in my days.

    Three AF members were from Alberta – Shaman, Talisman, and Vindicator – who Byrne listed as being born in High River (which doubles as “Smallville” in Superman 3 – was Heather Hudson modeled on Annette O’Toole – or vice versa?) I feel bad for Siskoid that no one ever made a New Brunswick Alphan – so you can borrow Talisman. You can’t have Vindicator – my wife was also born in High River.

    So now that I’ve inserted enough Ranger Gord into Alpha Flight, let me commend you all for finally launching a dedicated Team-Up podcast. It’s always been one of my favorite comic formats, and I look forward to a ton of Zany Haney genius in the Brave and Bold episodes, and whole lot of clobbering time from Unca Benjy Grimm.

    Also – don’t forget the Bronze Age World’s Finest team-up where DC briefly experimented with a Superman anchored team-up title before returning to old Bat-Ears permanently.

    1. First thing I would do if I were handed Alpha Flight is make an Acadian superhero from NB.

      I HAD forgotten about that era of WFC, but Xum put me on the right track… on air while taping episode 4. Bet you can’t wait.

      1. Being the neighbor to Saskatchewan, I was also fond of the characters of Puck and Box. Roger Bochs’ powers of mechanical transmutation was a perfect metaphor for farm machinery – though I’m sure that Byrne was thinking more of Transformers than prairie agriculture.

        In my younger days, I created a concept for a Canadian team of non-powered adventurers. My Acadian was a very large lumberman turned outlaw biker turned non-violent (unless pushed) outcast. I called him “Tall Timber.” If you get the reins of Alpha Flight, you can have him.

  8. Top debut!

    Oh Shagg, it’s not ‘Mariner’, it’s ‘Marie-ner’. Because I say so.

    Fun recap but I wasn’t keen on the background music, it got in the way.

    I read Alpha Flight from the beginning, the Byrne years were great and I wanted to punch Northstar. Anyone for AF vs the Force of July?

    The black costume was OK as a Big Change but it’s better as a villain piece. It seemed to be inspired by Black Widow’s new look.

    Hey, if you ever do Captain Britain’s US debut in Marvel Team-Up you could maybe have a Brit on (am soooo subtle).

    More pretendy Amalgam comics please!

    1. I always said Mareena too, but Shagg made me doubt, so I went with it in the spirit of the team-up. Bob Haney was writing me, possibly.

      Your lack of subtlety noted.

  9. Sorry I’m late to the party! Catching up on FW podcasts from the long holiday weekend.

    Great start to the series! I bought a lot of Marvel Team-Up back in the day, but missed this one. Honestly, Alpha Flight was one of those titles off my radar. But then, I was that one guy who never bought X-Men either. Northstar’s obsession with his sister seems a bit…icky. Like Ultimate Pietro and Wanda icky. Brrr.

    Speaking of strange relationships, when I was a kid reading Spectacular Spider-Man, the Spidey/Black Cat romance weirded me out. Here was this (gasp) unmarried couple doing things I didn’t quite understand. PLUS, she only liked Spidey in the mask. Even then I think I picked up on some of the rather kinky connotations. That didn’t stop me for liking the Black Cat, although I couldn’t quite explain why. Probably some of the same reasons I liked Shag’s favorite character Starfire and her relationship with Robin over in New Teen Titans.

    Even though I was buying plenty of Marvel titles off the stands, I missed most of the issues where the heroes returned from Secret Wars somehow. Maybe that one other collector in town bought them before me? Either way, I learned of Spidey’s black costume from…a house ad with the Hulk promoting a free comic offer from Cookie Crisp cereal! What a way to find out about such a drastic change!

    Again, great show fellas! Can’t wait to hear more (and to come on the show and play!).


  10. I will gladly join the “great show” bandwagon. Great debut episode, Siskoid! I never read this issue, but can’t go wrong with MTU, Spider-Man, and classic Alpha Flight, my favorite version of the team. And Shagg wasn’t half bad.

    I collected plenty of MTU, but I never saw this one on the news stands. I tended to buy team books only back then, and started AF with issue #2. I had never even heard of them before (wasn’t buying X-Men yet), but was hooked immediately, and loved the non-team approach later. It was almost like these characters were just doing team-ups in their own series. Lots of fun.

    But about Marrina, there’s one other major story featuring her in … Power Pack. She teams up (see why this show is a natural? it happens everywhere in comics!) with the Powers to stop the giant snake from this very Annual, nicknamed Snake-Eyes. Since I was following G.I.Joe as well, i was annoyed at the name, but whatever. So I’m not sure if those PP issues count as a “Plodex story” or not. It’s spins out of this annual’s “Plodex story”, but doesn’t involve the Plodex directly. I say it isn’t. Other opinions?

    Now, serious business. Of all the MTU series mentioned, you did *not* include the spin-off from Ultimate Spider-Man: Ultimate Marvel Team-Up. Like all other team-up titles, it was a fun way to explore and expand the Ultimate universe. Since Shagg didn’t mention it, if Siskoid ever does an episode with one of those issues, I CALL DIBS!!

    Looking forward to the next show! Same Team-time, same Team-channel!

  11. Still behind on commenting to FW podcasts, but only a week or so back in listening. Enjoying the Team-Up show. I mostly make fun of Alpha Flight to get Shag’s goat, but also because they do kinda suck and I can’t think of any good stories about the team. I’ve enjoyed comics with Alpha Flight in them, but not comics about Alpha Flight. They don’t Outsiders-suck though. They’re just lame. I was buying MTU and Spidey-titles in general during this period. I vividly remember picking up this issue on the newsstand, giving it a toss, then going “naaah.” That annual sat on the shelf for weeks and weeks. I got sick of looking at it.

    1. That’s a shame. But yes, I agree with you that Alpha was never as good as I wanted it to be. I think part of the problem was that they put the X-angst formula on it, but unlike the X-Men, they weren’t already established characters. So they never had time to develop that they were already on high drama. Think about it. The leader is dead by issue 12. Aurora has a drastic makeover in the first couple years (and many even worse ones over the next few years). Changes in status quo for Sasquatch and Snowbird in the first two years… It never settled into a proper shape before Byrne started breaking the toys. That said, the Van Lente series is the “good Alpha Flight story” we were denied as kids.

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