Sunday, 22 November 2009

That Is Why: Omega Flight Should Have Been An Ongoing Series

And so with my return comes the second instalment of my multi-purposing That Is Why posts! For those of you that have forgotten or are new to the blog, That Is Why is a series of articles focused on voicing simple opinions under the guise of a well thought out essay. The first instalment delved into why Sub Mariner: The Depths Isn't What You'd Think and subsequently why it was awesome, and this time around I'm looking at why Omega Flight should have been an ongoing series. Simple enough?


Now I can already hear the people telling me that Omega Flight was originally supposed to be an ongoing series, but between one reason or another it just didn't happen and got reduced to an admittedly great five issue limited series. I know that. In fact that's exactly the reason why I'm writing this: to explore the possibilities presented within this opening arc and appreciate what elements it did throw onto the table before disappearing.

You're Witnessing The Death Of A Dream. My Dream Of Omega Flight Having Been An Ongoing Series.
For those who don't know, Omega Flight is one of many new series that span out of Civil War in 2007, alongside such successful and totally not cancelled hits as The Order, Immortal Iron Fist and Heroes For Hire and ACTUALLY successful titles such as... Mighty Avengers and Avengers: The Initiative... Huh, guess comic-goers only want titles about Avengers... *ahem* anyway, the series presented a replacement team for the dead Alpha Flight, taking on the name of old AF foes... because... er... well let's see:
Oh... That actually IS some great logic behind it...

With that solid reasoning in mind the series all rolls together, throwing elements like who belongs on the new team, the first arc's opponents and the dynamics of the series. One of the most important elements (and the first I'll address as why it should have been an ongoing series) is the use of visions, particularly from Talisman, Omega Flight's resident Sacree Shaman (how many teams have one of those?).

Thevision shown here is particularly interesting, as it stems out from her telling the story of the creation of sweat lodges and in turn the first shaman, developing into her short vision letting her know that 'someone is coming'. It's simple and vague, but stuff like this could be used to great effect to frame each problem that arises in any given arc, or even just provide more beautiful insight into Talisman's peoples history (I mean seriously look at that art. That's just... Amazing. Love it. Also owls.). Not just that, but Beta Ray Bill has been having visions himself that have led him to Canada, the sort of coincidence that can only happen when a great and destined team is being created. I love that sort of thing!

Still, just having a great way to frame the many stories that would surely have come out of Omega Flight being an ongoing series would mean nothing if the series didn't have a solid cast of brilliant and captivating characters. Like SASQUATCH!
He's big, furry and lucky lil' Talisman gets to hug his huge hairy bod. The bitch.

Sasquatch is a character with a frightening level of potential to him. The only survivor of The Collective's attack on Alpha Flight (see the pathetically awful New Avengers volume 4 for that), he's able to be that one character racked by survivor's guilt, trying to cope and lead this new team at the same time. Not just that but a team that has more and more outsiders, from the americans USAgent and Arachne (more on those later) to the horse-faced alien himself BETA RAY BILL (more on him later too) and the former host of the murderous collective Michael Pointer. Actually with Pointer it's more of an issue for Talisman it seems but I digress, can you IMAGINE being in that position, where your team members are unrelatable or can bring back the trauma of the Collective incident? Sasquatch has a lot on his shoulders and if this were an ongoing series he would definitely be the standout character. That and just look at him!
Walter Langkowski, you might well be the best startled character of all time.

Beyond that he's also entertaining and carries the sort of charm that a leader should in a team book (especially one formed of so few people). Oh and basic battle talk, such as this gem of an entrance line:
He's right! He ISN'T Captain America! 5 Points!

... Okay that wasn't so good, but does good ole Cap make good entrance lines? NO! Does Hank Pym? CERTAINLY NOT! Does Captain Britain? Do any Bendis Avengers? AHAHAHAHA NO!... Sometimes. No, leaders have to seem corny and a little awful with one liners and such. After all, we don't come to the leaders for wit, we come for them to assure us and seem awesome, whilst having the neccesary Marvel-Brand Emotional Baggage(tm) that all significant characters must have. In fact the baggage for Sasquatch is so great that he loses horrifically within the first issue of this series (that puts him out of the picture for a fair bit like all good leaders) due to a flashback to that horrible moment of fiery death. Which I might add is beautiful again. Seriously, Scott Kolins was perfect for this series and would have made a brilliant regular artist. Observe:

Still enough on Sasquatch, for it is time to highlight another, far less important character: USAgent!
No, no I'm not.

USAgent is a very polarising figure, in that most people think he's awful and I love the ever-loving crap out of him. He's an extreme representation of the atypical American gun-toting, flag-loving, commie-hating, liberal-beating thugs, going to whatever means neccesary to get his mission done and offending everyone while he's at it. Whilst I can understand that this offends the sensibilities of a fair amount of everyone's favourite westerners, It comes across as an entertaining and over the top insight to a lazy, apathetic limey like myself, providing that ever-popular caricature of Americans that is present constantly around here. But I digress it is not time to attack people in this post, merely to compare them to someone who will beat the shit out of any opponent he faces, be it monster or muscley muscley cheesecake.
... No comment on the cheesecake... Drawn well.

and now observe our sexist arsehole in all his lovable glory! TRYING TO BEAT A WOMAN! AND GETTING PUNCHED IN THE GUT! WOO!

Anyway, you may be asking just what USAgent could do over an ongoing series of Omega Flight, so I'll tell you!... Not much! No, USAgent fills a very specific void that any successful or decent team book needs: comic relief. Pretty much everything he does in the first arc (and yes I will keep calling it a first arc, for it was meant to be and I'm a bad writer) is purely entertaining, even if it doesn't intend to be anything more than throwaway, such as his weirdly entertaining potty mouth:
The time it took for USAgent to censor himself isn't really gotten across here. He's actually saying "AMPERSAND CLOSE BRACKET HASH UPWARDS ARROW PERCENT DOLLAR ASTERISK HASH AMPERSAND AT! ASTERISK DOLLAR AT OPEN BRACKET PERCENT MATT AMPERSAND!" I mean that has to be a helluva single shot he's firing there!

Not to say there isn't a potential arc here for the sap. In fact he has the joy of being the worst punchline I could think of for a 3-4 issue arc entitled -wait for it- CANADAgent!


... *ahem* Sorry about that. Anyway the sole development I can imagine for the character is that following a VERY slow learning curve over a fair amount of arcs USAgent become disillusioned with his beloved United States (this would fit ideally within Dark Reign, though his Mighty Avengers character is apparently an admirer of Osborn and how much of a patriot he is) and starts to lighten up, embracing his new country to an extreme degree, becoming CANADAgent, a swear-free, equality-loving pansy who is essentially a massive middle finger to liberals and the canadian people at once due to his skewed vision of all people that don't fit his old right-wing no nonsense approach to the world. In the end this madness escalates to him destroying all the weapons, including his own shield, within Omega Flight's base and shutting all of his team-mates inside of said base and roaming around Canada trying to disable all of their defences and weapons. Chaos reigns and only a representation of some of the things USAgent hated when he is confronted by Northstar, a gay former terrorist and Canadian mutant (not that USAgent hates mutants, just probably has issues with the other three facts due to how despicable his views on the world are) which snaps him out of his peace-loving hippyness and results in him fighting and losing to Northstar. Fun, stupid and reasonably offensive, just like Marvel should be! So, whaddaya think?
*sniff* JERK!

And with that image we make the clumsy leap over to the next character: ARACHNE! AND HER DAUGHTER! Uh... YAY!
Arachne's daughter played in this scene by Brian Michael Bendis in a wig

I think I have to admit some stuff here. First up is that I've only read two comics that aren't Omega Flight that feature Arachne: Secret Wars (which I didn't like) and a Civil War one-shot or something that led to her being in Canada (might have been an issue of Ms. Marvel, which shows what I know). Any and all other knowledge of the character comes from the Iron Man 90s cartoon, where I'm pretty sure she was just a reminder that Force Works existed and that there was a Spider-Woman that didn't have her own awful cartoon from the late 70s. So understand when everything I suggest for her future in Omega Flight is based upon her relationship with her daughter as shown in this series.

Indeed, everything that Arachne does in this series is motivated by her daughter's existence and how much she needs to fight for it to be a nice lovey-dovey world for her satanic spawn to live in. Yes, I hate child characters, thanks for asking! As such her role throughout the series is to be in every battle helping somehow and in the downtime helping her daughter understand the world... and maybe... *sigh* and maybe she'll learn some things from her daughter at the same time...
Arachne's Daughter: because children teach life's TRUE lessons

Beautiful. But I won't dwell on one of the admittedly weak (if essential) elements of the team and shall try to push my way through the other three-four protagonists and EVENTUALLY get to villains and the approach Omega Flight could have taken to missions and themes. Are you tired yet? Well take a break, here's a convenient marker point to remember where you are:


Wow, useful right? Speaking of useful, let's talk GUARDIAN!
... Wait did I say useful? I meant compromised heavily.

Like Sasquatch, Michael Pointer is a character with great potential that's barely touched upon within the first arc presented to us. The only positive thing to come from The Collective (HATE HATE HATE HATE), Pointer is now incredibly powerful and stuck inside the suit of one of the members of Alpha Flight he brutally slaughtered when he was possessed by the retcon that is COLLECTIVE XORN. Understandably this leaves our new Guardian in as much of a state as ever and wishing he could either be dead or do something, anything to help make up for the pain he was forced to inflict upon people. Basic, simple and to the point, not to mention how well it plays against Sasquatch and Talisman, two people whose very lives have been deeply affected by the events that were outside of Pointer's control.

The character has a very singular direction he COULD have gone, trying harder and harder to both be the hero he has the capability of being and to try and, if not redeem himself, bond with the team-mates he has managed to wound so badly. In fact towards the end he gets a valuable first step in this path, proving how important such things are to the character:
... What? You want a punchline?

Of course this is one of the characters where any and all possibility of further development is thrown into the air. Why, you ask? Matt Fraction. I love the man, but god damn has he altered Pointer into some insane freak coerced into joining the frankly crazy team that is the Dark X-Men. This might change in the near future however, with Paul Cornell already making steps to make him complex and interesting again in the frankly flippin' awesome Dark X-Men limited series. Read that for the best Michael Pointer 'Weapon Omega' fix, and pretend my complete lack of ideas are better.

Peddling backwards somewhat, I feel I should address more to do with Talisman, who I've only glanced over earlier in this article. She's a character who has a rich, storied history with the Flight comics and enough room for extensive growth and development now that Alpha Flight has been blown to kingdom come. And she's some much needed cheesecake to the proceedings, fitting a multitude of fanservice roles, from the Dani Moonstar style 'native charm' (oh I'm going to hell for how that sounds) to the geeky glasses look charm, or even the feisty deity looking stuff when she goes full on Talisman. She's a wonderful piece of fanservice disguised as one of the best characters on the team.
Uh... Not that you aren't ACTUALLY one of the best characters on the team... Wait am I apologising to a comic panel?

Outside of the now beaten into the ground concept of her interactions and potential forgiveness of Michael Pointer, Talisman can develop personality-wise in many aspects, especially her motivations for co-operating with Canada's last superhero team. Starting out as an uneasy alliance purely to help find and save Sasquatch from the Wrecking Crew, it evolved into a pleasant parting at the end of the first arc staying with her family for the moment. Given the right incentive she could be the quintessential reserve member in an ongoing series, coming to the team with new visions or information that could lead to new arcs or sub-plots (see the vision stuff about 1500 words ago), or even just appear on the larger missions to bond with characters on one-to-one or team basis's. A personal favourite idea I've been shooting about has been for Talisman to fit into Marvel's new $3.99 + backup approach as the star of a back-up in an ongoing of Omega Flight (or even the ongoing that was supposed to exist), going on vision quests in the ghostly world of... Wherever this place is described as (Spirit Canada?):
Admittedly not the best picture of Spirit Canada, but I'm understandably limited by laziness after getting together 80 images from the comic to use. So sorry but trust me, Spirit Canada is awesome

On the note of visions, I'll close out this overly stuffed character focus with that horse-faced sonuva gun that we all love to love, BETA RAY BILL!

Drawn to Canada by potent visions of a giant evil Sasquatch destroying a city, a giant demonic gateway and a strangely familiar owl (read as: that owl in the vision Talisman had) calling him to a museum in Canada. We find all this out in a creepily well drawn notepad page Bill's doodling on whilst on a coach journey, but none of this is important. The fact is that fate and weird owls have drawn Beta Ray Bill to Omega Flight, making him a destined member of their team right?

... RIGHT! Sure by the end of the first arc he's been thrown into a mysterious demonic dimension, but that's even less permanent than death, as we all well know! I mean in the post-Omega Flight world he just turned up in Secret Invasion: Thor and no-one batted an eye-lid, so him finding a way back sharpish in the ideal ongoing series wouldn't be too infeasible. Though the events he HAS gone through under the masterful pens of Matt Fraction (ugh, that guy again?) and Kieron Gillen (a true genius in Marveldom) are miles above anything that could have happened to him under the banner of a team book, so perhaps the direction of Beta Ray Bill should have stayed the same course as the non-Omega Flight ongoing world, and added him into Omega Flight again with his creepily hot wife in tow. Unless he becomes a recurring cast member of Gillen's S.W.O.R.D. in the future in which case you can essentially disregard any thoughts on him belonging with Omega Flight. Still he does manage to pull of the most indisputably awesome transformation in any comic ever (from his black alter ego, Simon Walters):
I feel there's a 300 joke here, but I just don't know what... Spar... something...

Beyond the threshold of the characters and their development in the series is the obvious element of villains, which come in two distinct yet familiar flavours: villains trying to make a name for themselves jumping up to Canada, and crazy demonic stuff that blows your mind and then some. Both of these are given the ideal representation within the first arc, allowing for me to delve into them and continue to not just shut up and end this article. First and foremost to address is the big Civil War effect of villains heading up to Canada to take ass and kick names. Aided by the unusually sinister representation presented by THE WRECKING CREW!
Again, I feel there's a joke here I'm missing. One about Mentos, the freshmaker? Ah, never mind.

A regular laughing stock of the Marvel U, the Wrecking Crew have never been more than the typical first group of villains a team should face (or at least one of the earliest they should encounter to prove their heroism in the face of super-powered stupidity) and whilst they fit that role here they are brutally reinvigorated without any hesitation from the bumbling fools that had plagued comicdom for something upwards of 30 years to startlingly sinister foes with purpose and intent other than smashing things up and other stupid goals. In fact within their first appearance in this series Wrecker comes off as a psychotic murderer, like any good villain should be... Well a fair few anyway. Observe:
I mean God- DAYUUUUM! That's some sinister shit. And weirdly funny too.

Not just that, but the upgrade given to them through the magical forces of... Whatever the hell magic force is responsible for everything (it's a face in a wall in a magic dimension or something, but for the life of me the name eludes me) turns them into veritable powerhouses and cosmic-level threats, with Wrecker taking on Beta Ray Bill in one of the most awesome fight sequences in recent history AND WINNING. No, not just winning, but doing it with enough cockiness to finish the fight on this sentence:
Oh, don't say that you'll make Thunderstrike cry!

I won't dwell on the Wrecking Crew themselves (despite how horrifying Thunderball is, abusing Sasquatch) and just say that any character given a treatment this unusual, this game-changing, this... Amazing, will indisputably become a character to remember. Heck, this could even make someone like Paste-Pot Pete credible (no it couldn't). Just yet another reason that Omega Flight should have been an ongoing series I guess.

The final hurdle to address before concluding this never-ending essay are the magical beings that have the potential to appear and make any fight seem more and more hopeless. Not to suggest that all threats should be magical and result in the characters having to win against unreasonable odds with possible losses along the way. No that would get stale as hell and probably ruin magic for the entire Marvel Universe. No, what I would suggest instead in this crazy dream world of Omega Flight having been an ongoing series is for magic to be an underlying theme, enhancing either the villains or heroes, or being an all-out threat on OCCASION, the sort of thing that can build as a sub-plot or background detail over the course of a couple of arcs before exploding outwards in an epic 6-12 issue extrrrrrravaganza that would make people jump to their wallets to buy it in an oversized hardcover filled with love the second it starts to happen. But then this is a dream world so instead we're reduced to just thinking how great the magic threat managed to seem in this 5 issue beauty.
AAARGH! REAL MONSTERS! Oh? They're in a comic book and probably won't ever appear again? Never mind then.

In conclusion, Omega Flight is truly a well of untapped potential, and I hope that I've shown that to you within this article. With the characters in the story, the potential directions the series could have gone and the presence of significant threats and issues touched upon in the first arc, there is no doubt in my mind that this is the one series that really had the chance to be so much more than anyone could have imagined. The only thing to come close in recent time has been Savage She-Hulk, and that is living on for now as a back-up story in Incredible Hulk. There's so much more I would like to say about this series that I just don't have the time for (mainly because this article has taken me somewhere upwards of a month to produce due to lack of time and hiatus and such) and I will probably return to them more one day with a standard review of the trade paperback. Until then rest assured that THIS is all why Omega flight should have been an ongoing series.

And that dead Captain America jokes will always be funny:
Too soon?

Oh, probably helps to link to the TPB: It's over here!


  1. Comprehensive. Yeah, it's pretty comprehensive, just follow the jump and lose an hour of your life with the pretty pictures, the scarily insightful prose and the jokes, oh my the jokes.
    Good work, mate. Makes me want to rush out to the quarter bins and get what's left of that run. Looks like I'd certainly enjoy it, but rather than petition to bring it back I'm just going to hide and pray that Immortal Iron Fist makes it alive into 2010. Let's all hold hands and think kindly of our possibly departed friend, Danny Rand.

  2. Thanks for the compliments!

    As for Immortal Iron Fist, I hear Joe Q's said that the comics not coming back, but he's in an event... or joining a team. I forget which.