WARNING: This article contains spoilers for The Immortal Hulk #8 by Al Ewing, Joe Bennett, Ruy Jose, Paul Mounts and VC’s Cory Petit, out now.
After his fight against the Avengers, the Immortal Hulk has seemingly disappeared from the face of the Earth -- at least, as far as the wider superhero community is aware. However, readers knew he's been abducted, carved up and placed into dozens of separate jars on the shelves a secret underground research facility called Shadow Base. Not knowing where one of the biggest threats to the safety of the world is doesn’t sit well with Captain Marvel, however, and she establishes a new task force to track him down, one with a very familiar name to longtime fans.
The Immortal Hulk #7 was an epic, knock-down drag-out between the titular unkillable green machine and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and it’s safe to say, it did not go well for either side. The Avengers were systematically beat down, both physically and emotionally, and were facing a complete defeat until Iron Man unleashed the Helio Laser, a powerful ultraviolet weapon fired from orbit that left Hulk in a state close to death, and decimated the entire Iowan town around him.
Once the Avengers handed the Hulk over to the government, however, he seemingly vanished. In this issue, Captain Marvel states that they followed the procedure to the letter and handed him over to the proper authorities, but since then, any attempt to learn his whereabouts has been met with dead ends and deliberate bureaucratic runarounds. In short, someone doesn’t want Captain Marvel and her Alpha Flight organization finding out what’s happening to Hulk.
The possibility that either the U.S. Government has lost the Hulk or kidnapped him doesn’t sit well with Danvers. Her remit is to protect the Earth, and not knowing where a major threat like Hulk is goes against that, so she creates a task force, one with Walter Langowski at the helm. While she has no doubt that if the powers-that-be want Hulk hidden, he’ll stay that way for a while, she’s hoping that a task force hot on their heels will force them into making a mistake. And, of course, the name of this task force is Gamma Flight.
“What else?” asks Dr. Langowski, noting that it's a pretty perfect name. Fro new readers, not only does it vibe with Alpha Flight, it references the Gamma radiation that courses through Bruce Banner’s veins. There is, however a history behind the name, one completely unrelated to Hulk. In the original Alpha Flight series from the '80s, back when the team was Canada’s premier superhero team and not the global defense force it is now, Gamma Flight was the first level of the training process for new recruits into Alpha Flight. The raw recruits joined Gamma Flight, moved up into Beta Flight and finally, if they were good enough, joined the Alpha Flight roster.
Gamma Flight was later reinvented as a government-sanctioned superhero team created to replace Alpha Flight when the team went missing, and later to apprehend the premier team when it was falsely accused of crimes against the government. Neither of these versions of Gamma Flight, however, were as appropriately named as this latest version, nor has the objective of the team been so dangerous.