Alpha Flight by Jay Stephens

Alpha Flight by Jay Stephens
Characters: Alpha Flight
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Artist: Jay Stephens
Reviewer: Dean Trippe

In this piece, Jay Stephens has taken the premier Canadian superteam and turned the retro vibe up to eleven in a way that makes them look both fun and powerful. He’s really amplified their design elements. Because I agree with his decisions, I’ll let Jay explain his choices:

“Puck is a lovably tough little hoser, but I never could stand the look of his Tie Domi mug. This new, full body hide looks much cooler, and helps him take even more of a beating. Shaman needed to look more imposing than a long-haired guy in green leotards, and a little more authentic. I always thought Snowbird ought to look more like the totemic, shape-shifting deity that she is. Guardian is like the Canadian Iron Man, so I shined him up a little, and Aurora didn’t need to be wearing a black turtleneck body-suit if you ask me… it’s not as cold as you all think it is up here! Sasquatch is still perfect, but I wanted to draw him anyway, so there.”

Good calls all around. Everybody looks a little more accurate to their character traits and roles, and that’s the goal of any good character revamp. I also could see these costumes drawn in various styles and retain their visual impact. I’m way impressed to see someone do such a good job on a team overhaul.

18 comments to “Alpha Flight by Jay Stephens”
  1. This really really works in a retro way… but only retro. I couldn’t see these introduced for a new team in a modern day setting even though it’s done so well. Maybe it’s just the style of the art or the look of PUCK and SHAMAN that does it.

  2. Nicely done. I think it’s only retro because that’s the style that Jay uses in his work. I think the redesigns are done in a way that would work with almost any style, from the more realistic (Bryan Hitch) to the more cartoony (Humberto Ramos). I will say that Shaman looks a bit like a Scooby Doo villain, but I think someone like Hitch could actually make that look pretty creepy.

  3. Don’t change a thing…

    Add a Trudeau/Nick Fury/Phil from “Harvey Birdman” clone as Department H’s dispatcher…

    Have them fight a redesigned Tundra…

    And put it all into a retro-comic book!

    If only Marvel would be open to ideas like this.

  4. My only reservaton is that I wish there was a bit more “informaton” in the feature. I get that Puck is in an allover supersuit, but is it really just brown with red bracers?

    Alpha Flight is Canada’s answer to the Avengers, correct? While Snowbird may be suitabe as ethereally monochromatic, and Shaman takes on a more indigenous and esoteric appearance, I wonder if Guardian/Vindicator’s linework is still reminiscent of a maple leaf? As Canada’s premiere superteam, I would expect a more vibrant palette.

    Still, I applaud the entire return to simplicity in comic art. There’s a utility in the art that works to convey ACTION! as opposed to simply motion. Very Johnny DC. I’d like to ask the designer if that was his intention: to revise AF for the JLU audience.

    I’ve begun to see everything in terms of Warcraft pick-up groups. There’s your tank with Sasquatch, and healer and DPS with Shaman and Puck. With Aurora and Guardian as the team’s nukers, I suppose that leaves Snowbird as the wildcard “druid”. A solid company.

  5. Chad dude you need to get off playing Warcraft.

    I agree with Kentl and others. Yes the outfits are retro but they would work for any artist -from the retro art styling we see here to more realistic artist to downright cartoony. It would be interesting to see someone else with a different style to tackle it and see what happens.

  6. I’ve got to be honest…this doesn’t remind me of Alpha Flight at all—with the exception of the red-and-white of Captain Canuck…I mean “Guardian”. Not so much a retro-look as a re-design that doesn’t look like the original designs.

  7. Chad: As Canada’s premiere /retro/ superteam, I love this palette… it brings to mind all the warm hues of the CBC’s “pizza” logo, back when sportscasters wore bright orange blazers. This is a superteam that would guest-star on Front Page Challenge. Well done, Mr. Stephens.

  8. Well, yes, retro stylings + retro colouring = tasty to some. But Alpha Flight doesn’t extend as far back into nostalgia. Isn’t it a Byrne product of the 80s? There’s a point where retro, for retro’s sake, becomes gratuitous. Not that that is what’s been done here.

    I like the strange palette, don’t get me wrong, it’s merely surprising, and leads me toward inquiry.

  9. This looks great,I love Jay’s work.I kinda wish he went a little crazier with the retro cross hatching and Kirby-esque inking.Jay does a good job of keeping things simple and appealing.

  10. I’d be interested to know how many of Jay’s retractors are actually Canadian… and of those, how old they are.

    This redesign SCREAMS “Canada” to me… Dovjenko got it right when he mentioned the former CBC logo; and I can think of a few more Canadiana designs that Jay’s Flight reminds me of…

    Off the top of my head, The Inuit and Haida art craze of the seventies and the ’76 Olympics spring to mind…

  11. I love the redesign of Shaman and can appreciate Snowbird. Both look more unusual, even creepier, which is good for the primal/mystical vibe. But Puck looks less interesting to me, and I think the extra-shiney buff on Gaurdian is uneccessary. I don’t know what Aurora’s costume looks like these days, but I still miss when she and Northstar had the mirror-matched black and silver costumes. That looked sleek and elegant. And, as Jay says, Sasquatch is perfect as is.

  12. I really like the Shaman and Puck! Guardian’s traditional wrap-around maple leaf is what I prefer, but otherwise I like the simplified designs here.

  13. Oh my god…this is the greatest re-design I’ve ever seen. I can’t believe how good the entire team looks. I totally agree with the full-body Puck suit. Gawd…I’m drooling…

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