History lesson time (I’ll try to keep it brief): post World War II was a challenging time in Canadian comic book publishing. Crime stories in comics lead to the Comic Magazine Industry Association of Canada (CMIAC) being formed, just as the American Comics Code Authority was later formed for the same reason. By 1949, only 23 out of 176 comics that were available on Canada’s newsstands we published in Canada and, for almost 25 years, there would be virtually no original Canadian newsstand comic books until Richard Comely’s Captain Canuck was released in 1975. Being mostly published independently, Canuck would come and go from the publishing sphere for the next 35 years or so. It was during one such hiatus that Marvel Comics introduced Alpha Flight and the similarly garbed Guardian character. Despite his sporadic publishing history, Captain Canuck has remained an important part of Canadian comics history, and was even put on a postage stamp, along with a number of other notable Canadian heroes.
A a few years ago, IDW released Captain Canuck The Complete Edition, followed shortly by the announcement of a rebooted animated webseries. The show was so successful that Chapter House Comics decided to bring the Captain back to the printed page in his newly designed form. This new series features the original Captain Canuck, Tom Evans, alongside a more diversely designed team of operatives than his original incarnation. The origin of his powers remains very much the same as in the earlier version (not a secret, but I’m still going to make you read it yourself).
Captain Canuck Volume 1: Aleph collects the first six issues of this series, and is less of an “origin story” and more of a “(re)introduction story”. Writer Kalman Andrasofszky drops us straight into the middle of the action as an Equilibrium helicopter flies towards a fire at an oil refinery. The first two issues are mostly action. In Issue #3, we start getting some background on Lt. Evans, Redcoat, and the Equilibrium organization. Issue #4 finally confirms more of the “origin” of Captain Canuck’s powers, #5 gives us more of Kebec’s background, and everything wraps up in Issue #6, leaving us on a beautiful final scene.
Andrasofszky’s original character (re)designs give the team a simple, modern update to some characters, while making more drastic changes to others. Leonard Kirk’s artistic style blends in well, as he transitions into that role part way into Issue #2, giving a good flow.
My only complaints are over the panel layout. Some pages are traditional, some are more modern, and some cross into two pages. In a standard individual printed issue, crossing pages wouldn’t be a big deal but the binding of a trade paperback doesn’t allow the pages to lay flat, making it occasionally difficult to notice that the layout has changed from one page to two page. The resulting confusion, however small, pulled me out of an otherwise wonderful story.
The first six issues of this series are great. I expect the following issues to follow suit, and I’m giving Aleph a 4 out of 5. It’s definitely something to check out!