Saturday, 24 August 2013

HerOh Canada

So, today, DC Comics announced a Justice League Canada title, spinning out of their Justice League of America book. It will be written by Canadian comic author Jeff Lemire and Mike McKone, one of my favorite artists, will be providing the pencils.

 Excellent news.

Since the demise of the most recent Alpha Flight book, Canada has been forgotten by the "Big Two" and independent comics have been the only source of superhero adventures in the Great White North. Though considering the quality of those books put out, things are in good hands.

 I, myself, wanted to create a superhero team based out of Canada, and set about it a few months ago, the end result being Canada Corps, a loose-knit group of heroes who band together in times of need to save the day. Unlike American cities, with higher populations, larger cities, and therefore, more prevalent (at least SEEMING so) crime rate, Canada is a more spread-out population and a crime rates, for he most part, are lower. Canada is closer to what one would have found back in ancient Greece- a loose collection of city-states, who all identify themselves as TRUE Canadians, feuding amongst themselves yet banding together against outsiders. Like the Athenians and Spartan putting aside differences to fight off invaders.

Canadians heroes are cut from a different cloth than the "traditional" American heroes. Whereas most American folk heroes are individuals whose excellence, ambition and skill propel them to heights, Canada is a nation of regular every day people who are thrust into extraordinary circumstances and do their best to rise to the challenge. Heroes who's quiet strength is their greatest asset and their compassion a key component to what makes them tick. Batman or the Punisher would never have been Canadian. The rage and drive to punish, although there, is not what motivates most Canadian heroes, both real and fictional, but a desire to make things better, to seek and understanding and to improve quality of life. It's no wonder a Canadian-born person came up with Superman.

That's not to say Americans are bloodthirsty gun-toting killers- far from it, but if you look back throughout history, American heroes are much more celebrated for their drive and personal achievements than their Canadian counter-parts. Here's a guy you've probably never heard of, Peter Lemon. You can read up on him here: A remarkable individual, indeed.

And that's where my characters that make up Canada Corps come from- a place where every day people, though some may have superhuman abilities, step up at times of need and make the sacrifices that they need to for the greater good. They don't ask for accolades, in fact most shun them, and for the most part they just want to do the job and go back to their lives. A housewife, a police constable, a mechanic, a student, a former street gang member, a first-generation Canadian, and a couple of teenagers make up Canada Corps. They all come from different backgrounds and have different reasons for doing what they do; standing on guard against any evil that might threaten their nation, or the world.    

How do they differ from the Big Two's heroes?

Well DC's new title, as excited as I am by it, ISN'T mainly populated by Canadians, but by American heroes who are forced to relocate (much like during Marvel's Civil War which saw USAgent, Arachne, and a couple others flee north of the border to escape persecution- sort of how it sounds for the JLC too...) in much the way that men trying to avoid the Vietnam draft did, back in the day. 

Marvel's Alpha Flight is, in many ways, very much representative of how Canadians view themselves. Nowhere else would a team be comprised of a French-speaking schizophrenic, her brother (who later would be revealed as one of the first gay characters in comics), a former CFL football player turned scientist (who would later inhabit the body of a woman, making him one of the first transgendered characters), a person of short stature (named after a piece of hockey equipment or a sprite from a Shakespeare play- either works), a Native American doctor, a goddess who could take the form of any animal found in Canada, and led, originally by a scientist who left a big American corporation over moral grounds. Later they would be taken over by his wife (who did a far superior job of leading, even). Add to that their biggest name (Wolverine) would leave to go south of the border to join the X-Men (shades of Wayne Gretzky or any other athlete, or actor, that wants to make it big, it seems), and Alpha Flight became the quintessential Canadian superhero team. They never got much respect in their own world, but in ours, their fans were passionate and kept the team coming back every time the series was cancelled. Even getting KILLED wasn't enough to keep them down, and the members have returned time and again to serve a country that they love and believe in.

Canada Corps will see to it that they are not alone.

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