So over the past week I went through a longbox-diving binge and re-read the first run of Alpha Flight (1983-1994). I remembered it being an interesting comic that took a lot of standard superhero conventions and kicked them to the curb - this team actually had to worry about government oversight and funding, main and supporting characters got killed off at a rate rivaling A Game Of Thrones, and unlike most comics it tied itself explicitly to real-world people and events. But holy cow, as a youngster I had no IDEA how absolutely bad most of the writing was. When I have to admit that John Byrne - John "barely-sentient cave-dwelling misogynist troglodyte" Byrne - was not the worst writer on the title, I feel a sense of quivering shame. Bill Mantlo, you used to be awesome - what happened to you here? There's some great stuff in the early run - the backstory for the team and characters is well-done and cohesive. Guardian's death in only the 12th issue was a perfect came-out-of-nowhere shocker. But then things started to go off the rails a bit. Guardian's widow, Heather, gets elected to lead the team out of sentimentality. Not a single issue goes by without recapping Puck's unrequited love for Heather or Shaman's estrangement from his daughter - which she expounds upon every single time they're in the same panel together. If you thought Claremont's reliance on over-repeated catchphrases was bad, this puts "the focused totality of my psychic powers" to shame. Also, if people couldn't figure out that Northstar was gay from about the third issue onwards - holy cow were they dense. This wasn't subtext, this was all just plain text. Talk about a transparent closet. Also - he and Aurora were apparently elves? Because Asgard and Canada are... wait, what? Since that was never referred to again, chalk it up to "Loki lied." Once the series hit the 1990s - oh my god, the horrible factor went exponentially off the scale. The Dreamqueen arc (hey kids! It's Jim Lee! Hi, Jim Lee!) was hands-down some of the worst comics storytelling ever. Almost every single character becomes a single-faceted strawman for a political cause or vacillates almost Sybil-like between characterizations. There were some high points - the Box/Scramble plot was brilliant: genius amputee inventor creates a robot suit for himself, but has an emotional breakdown when his new girlfriend ditches him for her recently-resurrected ex. So he goes to the flesh-manipulating brother of his best friend, gets new legs (made out of corpses, yum!) and then when they start decomposing, he begins to lose his mind and eventually gets merged with said fleshcrafter as a horrible Clive Barker monstrosity and gets lobotomized and then mercy-killed by his best friend, who takes over piloting the robot suit. Of course, said metal-manipulating best friend proceeds to immediately fall in love with the team leader and the series goes back to having the emotional depth and complexity of a CW teen drama. Northstar! Talk about a character that I just cannot STAND in most modern comics. But back in the day, he may have still been loathsome but at least he was well-written with deep characterization. His personality sucked, but at least he had one! And now he's just "the gay X-Man". He was a grade-A jackass, but at least he was a believable jackass. And the art. When John "sketchy scribbly everyone-looks-the-same WHY ARE YOU STILL ALIVE YOU HORRIBLE GOBLIN" Byrne is the high point of art on the series... yeah. I don't know. It's obvious when the early 90s hit because suddenly everything is oversaturated flat colors, everyone wears leather jackets, mullets (for men and women) and lantern jaws are everywhere... if it had been intended as parody that'd have been one thing, but this was earnestly terrible. The series ended in 1993 - and a well-deserved death it was. It'd been on life support for years, and was easily among the lowest-quality book Marvel published through the early 1990s AND THAT'S SAYING SOMETHING. It's been relaunched and rebooted three times since, never making it past the 20 issue mark. I guess sometimes nostalgia colors stuff and makes it look a lot better in memory than it actually was. I'd say out of 130 issues of the original series, maybe about 20% of that was what I'd call "good comics" and the rest was Oh My God Crap. Blame Canada.