The next generation of Canadian superheroes

It's time to rally around a new group of fictional characters who tackle our nation's shortcomings with style and commitment

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Much has been made lately of the arrival of a new Canadian superhero. Amka Aliyak, alias Snowguard, a shape-shifting Inuit from Pangnirtung, Nunavut, will soon be appearing on the pages of a Marvel comic book.

With the assistance of her spirit guide Sila, Snowguard can transform into animal form, a useful attribute as she battles evil in Canada’s northland, as well as struggling with the issues faced by any young person today.

For those who like your imaginary friends categorized as to gender, age, ethnic origin and nationality, she’s apparently the first Canadian Inuit teenage character in the Marvel universe.

The comic book world is not short of Canadian heroes. Marvel, for example, has featured Ontario-based Alpha Flight, whose members have included Sasquatch, a McGill science professor turned into a monstrous shape after being exposed to gamma rays; Aurora, a comely French-Canadian woman with a split personality and super speed; and, of course, Wolverine, the justly-famous clawed mutant from Alberta who has even made it into his own series of movies.

Those with long memories will be familiar with the exploits of Johnny Canuck, who fought Nazis during the Second World War, Captain Canuck (resplendent in red and white tights with a red maple leaf on his mask), and Mr. Canoehead, a luckless insurance salesman whose fateful encounter with a lightning bolt in Algonquin Park turned him into our nation’s finest aluminum crime-fighter – bullets bounced off him like raisins off an Oldsmobile. One might also mention Superman; although he was born on the planet Krypton and raised in Smallville, U.S.A., he was the creation of Canadian artist Joe Shuster.

The list of Canadian superheroes would not be complete without mention of Northstar, an openly gay man and former Quebec terrorist who was gifted with the power to project photonic energy blasts. His wedding was, we are told, the first same-sex marriage in comic book land.

Everyone needs heroes and the appearance of Snowguard may well warm the hearts of Inuit teens, a cohort certainly in need of a boost.

But Canada is more desperately in need of other powerful characters.

Where are the writers and artists who will give this beleaguered country the stories of Pipeline Man, who is able to ram through much-needed energy projects over the objection of David Suzuki and his crew of diehard environmental activists?

I want to thrill to episodes in which he blows away a mob of howling protesters blockading a pumping station with his mighty breath and incinerates the offices of Greenpeace with his toxic oil-sands-powered eyes.

Where is Interprovincial Trade Girl, with her power to smash artificial economic barriers and allow alcohol, milk and other goods to flow freely across borders?

“Look! Up in the air! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s IT Girl carrying a tanker truck of Maritime ale to desperate Prairie farmers!”

The sworn enemy of the evil Dr. Supply Management, she would soon lower prices and encourage the free movement of goods and services throughout Canada.

How much longer can our nation wait to revel in the exploits of Won’t Apologize Boy? Whose patriotic heart wouldn’t burst with pride as he refuses to say he’s sorry for alleged misdeeds in our country’s past?

“I demand an apology for the Indian Residential School system!”

“Nope,” says our hero, “the government did the best it could with limited resources and difficult circumstances. There were no alternatives.”

“Apologize for misgendering me and using the wrong personal pronoun!”

“No can do,” says our unrepentant protagonist. “Compelled speech is unconstitutional.”

I see a whole slew of new Netflix movies coming.

Gerry Bowler is a Winnipeg historian and a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.


Canadian superheroes

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