Six Canadian Connections to the Marvel Universe You Didn't Know About
Published May 13, 2016
In a comic book universe primarily dominated by American characters, Canadian fans of Marvel Comics aren't afraid to proudly shine a light on the connections the comics giant has with our own country.
While the fact that Wolverine hails from Alberta is the first (and often only) Canadian factoid to be brought up, we dug a bit deeper to find six other instances in which the Great White North features prominently in the storylines of Marvel.
Within the Marvel universe, the Canadian government had branches to support and monitor superhuman activity within the country. The first of these branches was Department H, which was founded to recruit superhuman agents for national defense.
The first team created through the branch was Alpha Flight, followed by two subordinate teams in Beta and Gamma Flight. Department H was shut down following a battle between Alpha Flight and the Collective, in which the members of the Canadian team were killed.
One of the all-time favourite anti-heroes from the Marvel universe, Canadians may not realize how strong Deadpool's ties are to our home and native land.
Not only is Wade Wilson a Canadian citizen, despite moving between America, Asia and a wealth of other places due to his time in the military, but he worked alongside the Canadian government as a covert agent inside special weapons branch Department K. Wilson started his job as a test subject for human advancement program Weapon X, but was soon discharged after killing fellow agent Slayback in the field.
First appearing in 1979 as a member of Canadian superhero team Alpha Flight, Northstar's abilities include superhuman speed, flight and light manipulation. Born Jean-Paul Beaubier in Montreal, he was a member of the Front de liberation de Québec prior to renouncing terrorism to become an Alpha Flight member.
Northstar holds the distinction of being the first openly gay character to come out in a Marvel Comics release, along with being one of the first openly gay superheroes in American comics history. Coming out in 1992 in Alpha Flight #106, the issue generated significant reaction and sold out in one week. He married his husband in Astonishing X-Men #51, released in 2012, also marking the first depiction of same-sex marriage in mainstream comic books.
Though born and raised in New York, the Human Torch's connection to Canada runs as far back as 1940, when he was featured in early series Marvel Mystery Comics. In the fifth issue, the Human Torch flew from the U.S. into Canada to stop criminals who were holding medical supplies on an island in Lake Superior.
In 1942, issue #35 of Marvel Mystery Comics pits the Human Torch and his partner Toro against Nazis led by the self-proclaimed "Canadian Fuhrer," Von Belch. After their train is bombed while vacationing in the country, the pair happen upon a Nazi camp after further fighting and investigating, handily defeating the small army and turning them over the RCMP.
Namor the Sub-Mariner
A perfect hybrid of human and Atlantean DNA, Namor the Sub-Mariner soon became Prince of Atlantis, a pink-skinned ruler over his blue-skinned society. As both a leader and warrior, his fight against the "surface-dwellers" of Earth certainly hasn't gone unnoticed, though his allegiances did shift within a storyline involving the Canadian people.
As part of "War of the Poles" from Sub-Mariner #36, Namor's step-cousin Byrrah questions his pacifism against those on land when he professes hatred for them. Byrrah then takes action into his own hands by assembling forces to blast a glacier from the North Pole down upon North America. Much of Canada is evacuated as a result, though Namor blasts a glacier of his own up from the South Pole to destroy that of his step-cousin, effectively avoiding a war with the country.
Inspired to become a superhero after seeing Captain America in action, Jeffrey Mace fought crime as the Patriot, though he would eventually become the third incarnation of Captain America. His work as the Patriot brought him to Canada in 1943 to investigate a rash of escapes from Nazi prisoner of war camps within the country.
"The Shadow Army of Saboteurs Strikes!" from Marvel Mystery Comics #39 sees Mace travel up north as the Patriot to work with Canadian officials on the case through posing as a jailed Nazi lieutenant. Through gaining the trust of prisoners, he is able to discover and thwart their escape methods, while also subsequently shutting down a Nazi spy cell.
See X-Men: Apocalypse in theatres across Canada on May 27.