Paniccia Orders an "Alpha" Strike

Many of the Marvel Universe's heroes are not duly designated law enforcement agents, but they often have good relationships with government figures like former S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury or the U.S. government's current top enforcer of super human laws, Steve Rogers. Other heroes, though, have a more complex relationship with their government, like Alpha Flight, a group of costumed heroes that have been tasked with defending their home country of Canada against all sorts of weird menaces.

In issue #1 of the current "Alpha Flight" mini-series writers Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak and artist Dale Eaglesham had the titular team take on one of the hammer wielding avatars of the fear god known as the Serpent, a malignant and massively powerful entity that's menacing the Marvel U in the pages of "Fear Itself." Alpha Flight's battle with the avatar and his forces was a destructive and dangerous one witnessed by many Canadians. Newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Gary Cody has decided to exploit the state of fear the country is in and he and his fellow members of Canada's Unity Party invoked a draconian law turning Canada into a virtual police state.

This is something that won't sit well with the members of Alpha Flight and in upcoming issues of the mini-series they'll go to war against their own country. Well, at least some of them will be. In September's "Alpha Flight" #4, the title characters find themselves up against former member Vindicator who's now in charge of Canada's newest super team, Alpha Strike. CBR News spoke with "Alpha Flight" editor Mark Paniccia about the Great White North's new defenders.

CBR News: Mark, in "Alpha Flight" #1, Vindicator was revealed to be in league with Canadian Prime Minister Gary Cody. Cody wants Alpha Flight taken down, which leads to the formation of Alpha Strike; a team featuring former Alpha flight members like Vindicator and Purple Woman, as well as some old Alpha Flight enemies like Ranark the Ravager and the Wendigo. That line up seems to have been inspired by the U.S. government's Thunderbolts program, especially when Norman Osborn first took control of it. So how similar and how different is Alpha Strike to the Thunderbolts?

Mark Paniccia: There's a big difference between the two. Gary Cody and his Unity Party have taken control of the country. Osborn gamed the system in the US but Cody has manipulated the government and people of Canada. This makes him a different kind of dangerous for our heroes and the world at large. And Alpha Strike IS the county's officially endorsed super-human team. They're not black ops or operating outside of the law. They ARE the law.

It seems like with Vindicator in charge, someone with intimate knowledge of the fugitive team members, Alpha Strike could be especially dangerous or highly ineffective depending how sympathetic she is feeling towards her former team-mates. What can you tell us about Vindicator's motivations with this team? Is she fully committed to its goals?

There's a secret behind the "Unity Process" that the series will drop hints about in successive issues. And when you find out the whole truth, I guarantee your minds will be blown.

And yes, Heather is especially dangerous.

Only that what Fred and Greg are doing with them makes them much more interesting characters at the end of the story. In a situation like this you have to wonder how deeply they're sold that Unity is the way to go when they were introduced as such violent opponents to it. What is it that makes them sell their souls?

Now the Wendigo is pretty savage and Ranark the Ravager is savage in his pursuit of power. We can understand their desire to hunt down and hurt members of Alpha Flight. Both of these characters are incredibly powerful and bloodthirsty. So, we have to wonder how are these characters being controlled? And just how far are they allowed to go to take down the fugitive Alphans?

When I read Fred and Greg's description of Ranark I thought it was sufficiently disturbing, but then I saw Dale's rough sketch and, even though it's just a doodle, it really creeped me out. This is where Dale excels. He's taken this character to a whole new level visually. Wait till you see this guy in action. And as far as Wendigo goes, just feel bad for Sasquatch, okay? This is gonna really hurt.

These five members are all incredibly powerful and would constitute a huge threat to Alpha Flight on their own, but we understand there's a secret sixth member of Alpha Strike. Just how dangerous is this group when you take into account the potential of all its members?

I'd say they are potentially one of the most dangerous teams out there under any government in the Marvel Universe. And I hope that even our fictionally fascist Canada can keep them contained. They aren't the kind of people you want off the leash. Sorry, Alpha Flight! You're gonna need help!

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