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Alpha Flight

(Early and classic eras)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Alpha Flight is the main Canadian super-hero team in the Marvel Universe. They were created by John Byrne circa 1980 and featured in X-Men books. After much pressure from Marvel’s editorial they debuted in their own book in 1983. Byrne being at the height of his fame, Alpha Flight sold like gangbusters. However, it was a mess plot-wise and gradually faded, eh ?

This profile is a thorough exploration of the past of Alpha Flight, and covers everything up to the point where Byrne leaves Alpha Flight (vol. 1, #28). It integrates all sorts of flashbacks and historical events in a spirited attempt to have it make sense.

The French names in this article were the ones used in the translated versions of Alpha Flight published in France and other Francophone countries by LUG in their magazine Strange.

This article slowly evolves as we rewrite our ancient Alpha Flight entries. In other words, this a WORK IN PROGRESS, and the methodology of concentrating on one character at a time probably means there’ll be some mistakes here and there that we’ll fix when we research the character in question. Sorry aboot that.


Profile

ORGANIZATION

Full Name: Alpha Flight (Division Alpha in French)

Purpose: Protection of Canada’s population against extraordinary threats

Modus operandi: Team members converge toward the crisis spot when alerted

Extent of operations: Primarily Canada

Relationship to conventional authorities : During this era Alpha Flight, formerly a government-funded team, enjoys a good relationship with the authority but receives little concrete help. Former members of the Department H version retains an unspecified security clearance, and a status as RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) auxiliaries.

Bases of operations: Originally none as such (with meetings held in the Hudsons’s apartment in Ottawa), later on rented company space in Vancouver. Back when Alpha Flight was working for the government their HQ was deep under Parliament Hill, in Ottawa.

Major funding: None known. The source of funding for the Vancouver headquarters and equipment might be Roger Bochs’s firm.

Known enemies: Great Beasts, Master of the World

Known allies: Alpha Flight has an uneasy relationship with the X-Men, and has allied itself with the Spaceknights Rom and Starshine.

MEMBERSHIP


Number of active members:
Variable

Number of reserve members: N.A.

Organizational structure: James MacDonald Hudson is generally recognised as leader. Months after his death Heather Hudson takes the role, though her authority is not established as firmly at first.

Known officers: Heather McNeil Hudson

Known former officers: Dr. James MacDonald Hudson (aka Weapon Alpha, Vindicator, Guardian) (deceased)

Known current members: Puck (Eugene Judd), Snowbird (Narya), Aurora (Jeanne-Marie Beaubier), Shaman (Dr. Michael Twoyoungmen), Sasquatch (Walther Langkowski), Talisman (Elizabeth Twoyoungmen), Box (Roger Bochs)

Known former members: Northstar (Jean-Paul Beaubier) and Marrina (Marrina Smallwood) are not active members during large swathes of this era. Wolverine (Logan/James Howlett) was a Department H and Flight operative. Groundhog (Sean Benard), Saint Elmo, Stitch (Jodi Furman) and Alexander Thorne were Flight operatives.

Francophone code names: Harfang (Snowbird), Véga (Northstar)

Known special agents: None

Membership requirements: The original Alpha Flight members were fully-trained Department H special operatives, with two (Puck and Marrina) having just graduated from a training team. Later members were coopted by the current members.

HISTORY


Founders:
James and Heather Hudson

Previous purposes or goals: Build up Canada’s superhuman defensive resources by recruiting, training and commanding suitable persons living in Canada

Major campaigns and accomplishments: Destruction of all seven Great Beasts, participation to the world war against the Dire Wraiths, driving Loki out of Canada, repeatedly foiling the Master of the World

Major setbacks: Death of Saint Elmo and resignation of Groundhog, desertion of Wolverine, two failed attacks against the X-Men to recover Wolverine, dissolution of Department H by the government in 1980, death of James McDonald Hudson at Jerome Jaxon’s hands.

TECHNOLOGY AND PARAPHERNALIA


Level of technology:
Department H had access to the best technology available in Canada, plus the inventions and engineering prowess of James MacDonald Hudson – the apex being the Guardian suit.
After Department H was shut down, Alpha Flight operated with back-up equipment that was kept in the Hudsons’s apartment, and later on with technology developed by Roger Bochs.
A significant part of their resources were actually magical – particularly the senses and modes of communication available to Shaman and Snowbird.

Transportation: As Department H, aircrafts very similar to the Quinjets used by the Avengers. One such aircraft was retained by unofficial agreement, but shot down by the Master of the World. After that point Alpha Flight relied on individual powers (such as flight-capable members carrying the rest) and teleportation spells cast by Shaman.

Standard accessories: Most or all members (with the exception of Heather Hudson) had a small paging implant in their mastoid bone to receive an activation signal, though in practise those were seldom used. Those were activated from a console that may have been destroyed during the Jerome Jaxon plot.


Earliest history (1959-1975)

This History section covers the early history of Dr. James MacDonald Hudson’s Department H, which is chiefly known through flashbacks.

O time suspend your flight

Officially, the timeline of Alpha Flight is forever sliding in time, within a framework where most of the modern Marvel history occurred over the last 10 years. Since we cannot use this fount of perpetual retcons to describe the stories, we generally use publication dates to establish timelines – see the Leòn Genetic Sequence article for more about it.

This is not terribly important in itself. Mostly, using a timeline allows the History section of the profiles to employ simple, clear dates rather than fuzzy and confusing circumlocutions. It also allows to describe the topical elements of the published story without having to make up a ton of hypotheses as to what the story would have been in the Marvel sliding timescale.

Our possible timeline is used in all our revised profiles for Alpha Flight. One assumption is that most characters age very slowly past a certain age – see the Leòn Genetic Sequence article for more about it.

Crisis of Chronological Captions

The flashbacks in early issues of Alpha Flight include numerous captions that have coherent mentions of time – usually “10 years ago” and “15 years ago”.

A previous version of the timeline made an attempt at using those, so an event described as occurring “10 years ago” in a 1983 story would be placed in 1973 if possible. As it turns out it almost works — though many events have to be pushed back by 2 more years to avoid conflicts — but 2 major problems arise :

  • The clear references to the Fantastic Four’s fateful flight in 1961 as a seminal event for Department H.
  • The retcons about the Flight (Department H’s first superhuman team), and in particular Snowbird’s presence on the team.

We’ve reached the conclusion that the captions are one of the early forms of the 10-year Marvel sliding time scale, and they are now treated as such.

First, a timeline

Again, this is a reconstructed timeline using a lot of guesswork so it holds together, and not anything official.

1914 or before Birth of Eugene Judd
1923 Birth of Michael Twoyoungmen
1927 Birth of James MacDonald Hudson
1936 Birth of Walter Langkowski
1939 Eugene Judd cursed by the Black Blade of Baghdad
1942 Birth of Heather McNeil
1944 Birth of the Beaubier twins ; death of their parents. Jeanne-Marie is sent to a boarding school and Jean-Paul Beaubier becomes Jean-Paul Martin.
1949 Birth of Elizabeth Twoyoungmen
1950 Death of the Martins, orphaning Jean-Paul a second time.
1953 Death of Katheryn Twoyoungmen ; Elizabeth Twoyoungmen estranged from her father ; Michael Twoyoungmen becomes an hermit
1955 Richard Easton taken to the realm of the Northern Gods.
1955 Walter Langkowski meets Bruce Banner at Penn State
1958 Heather McNeil hired by Am-Can Petroleum
1959 McNeil and Hudson leave Am-Can Petroleum
1959 Creation of Department H.
1961 McNeil and Hudson learn about the creation of the Fantastic Four in the press.
1962 Jean-Paul Martin joins the nascent Front de Libération du Québec.
1963 Michael Twoyoungmen starts his magical studies after ten years of eremitic life.
1965 Department H is mentioned during a case worked upon by US agents Carol Danvers and Logan.
1966 Richard Easton returns to Earth a madman
1966 Walter Langkowski learns that Bruce Banner is the Hulk, and decided to reenact the gamme detonation incident.
1967 Michael Twoyoungmen summoned to help with Snowbird’s birth
1968 McNeil and Hudson legally married circa February
1968 Logan found by McNeil and Hudson circa March, and recovers his faculties over the next few months
1969 McNeil and Hudson married in church
1969 Logan starts working as a Department H operative and Directorate of Security and Intelligence (soon to become the RCMP Security Service) agent.
1970 The Ancient One and Dr. Strange observe Dr. Twoyoungmen on his path toward mastery of the mystic arts
1970 October Crisis in Montréal ; a few months later Jean-Paul Martin leaves the FLQ.
1970 or 1971 Dr. Langkowski joins Department H
1972 Heather and James Hudson accidentally discover that Michael Twoyoungmen is a magician, and the existence of his semi-divine ward Narya.
1973 After several years without finding a single suitable superhuman beyond Logan, Department H apparently finds three in quick succession. Those are Alexander Thorne (“Smart Alec”), Jodi Furman (“Stitch”) and Saint Elmo.
1973 Snowbird is physically mature, and Dr. Twoyoungmen cautiously agrees to have her join Department H to further her education.
1974 The Flight – the first superhuman field team assembled by Hudson – is assembled. The members are Wolverine, Stitch, Smart Alec, Saint Elmo, Snowbird and policeman Sean Benard, recruited to wear Hudson’s power armour using the code name Groundhog. The Flight lasts about six months and disperses after the death of operative St. Elmo.
Their encounter with Egghead and his men has to occur in 1974, after Solarr’s appearance but before Power Man (Erik Josten) loses his name to Luke Cage — though Swordsman’s presence is difficult to explain in any case.
1974 Logan receives a distinctive yellow-and-blue costume and, under the code name Wolverine, engages the Hulk and a Wendigo as a solo agent.
1974 or 1975 Jean-Paul Martin becomes a famous skiing champion.
1975 Wolverine leaves Canada to join the all-new, all-different X-Men.
1976 Jean-Paul Martin earns gold for Canada at the Winter Olympics, then goes pro.
1976 Aurora is recruited for Department H by Wolverine.
1977 Jeanne-Marie Beaubier and Jean-Paul Martin are reunited by the government.
1978 The “classic” roster for Alpha Flight was apparently assembled in late 1978.
1979 First clash between Alpha Flight and the X-Men (Uncanny X-Men #120)
1980 Department H shut down despite having just reached the full Alpha, Beta and Gamma rosters
1983 The Alpha team reassembles unofficially at Heather Hudson’s initiative after Richard Easton summons Tundra.

Foundation of H

Canada has been involved in the development of superhuman resources before the creation of Department H. This started in the 1950s at the latest. This early involvement existed at the highest level of secrecy, and was a heavy investment in the international Weapon Plus super-soldier development project.

Canada’s role in Weapon Plus was out of proportion with, say, its weight in NATO. But the first success of Weapon Plus (dubbed Weapon One or, using Roman numerals, Weapon I) occurred South of the border, when Project:Rebirth resulted in Captain America.

Only two Canadian super-heroes are known to have operated in the 1940s – Major Mapleleaf (Louis Sadler) and Chinook. They both seem to have retired after the war. Some adventurers such as Logan, Puck and possibly Saint Elmo were active nationally and internationally, but weren’t thought of as having powers or were eluding government detection.

Alpha Flight group shot from an ad

In 1959, an engineer for Am-Can Petroleum, James MacDonald Hudson, got into a conflict with his employer. The problem was the power armour  he designed for oil search. Am-Can wanted to sell the design to the American military, which Hudson refused for political reasons.

As the conflict escalated, Hudson destroyed his plans in anger, and absconded with the irreplaceable cybernetic helmet that made the suit possible.

(As the events were presented in the original story, the implicit subject of disagreement was the war in Việt Nam in the early 1970s. For a timeline set in 1959, a good replacement would be a US project to invade Cuba with a small force to oust Castro within months of him taking power. When denied the Hudson technology, the CIA had to opt for the different approach of Operation Pluto, which became the Bay of Pigs invasion .)

Hudson received assistance from Am-Can underage secretary Heather McNeil, who was attempting to woo him. McNeil had access — presumably through familial channels — to decisions-makers in the Canadian intelligence community, who immediately demonstrated a strong interest in Hudson’s work.

Within a startlingly short time, the government reached an agreement with Am-Can to drop the matter. The Prime Minister requested that Hudson work for them and found a project called Department H to locate, recruit and train superhuman agents to protect Canada.

Given how rapid the process was, it seems likely that the decision to create Department H had been taken prior to learning about Hudson’s work.

(As the events were presented in the original story, the topical Prime Minister is Pierre Trudeau . For a story set in 1959, the PM would be John Diefenbaker .)

(Diefenbaker took power after 22 years of Liberal PMs, and all Canadian involvement with Weapon Plus started with his predecessor Louis St. Laurent. A likely scenario is that there was a conflict between PM Diefenbaker and the men put in charge by PM St. Laurent, and that Mr. Diefenbaker wanted his own project to counterbalance Liberal appointees.)

Early years of H

Hudson set up a small research lab and engineering facility with government specialists. He started recruiting and building up Department H. Heather McNeil, later to become his wife, was hired as the lab’s administrative assistant.

Early in the history of the Department — in 1961 — the couple read in the press about the birth of the modern super-hero, as the Fantastic Four made their debut. This had a considerable influence on Hudson’s work, who started envisioning the future agents of Department H as a team of super-heroes (tentatively called the Flight) with a modus operandi and look inspired by the FF.

In 1968, while scouting for an isolated site for a new, much larger lab and base, the Hudsons stumbled upon a naked savage who attacked them. Heather shot him in the head, but the primitive survived and James realised that he had superhuman powers.

Elated to have finally found a potential subject, James Hudson had him secured. Heather established a rapport, determining that the man was in shock and amnesiac. The couple helped the savage, named Logan, survive his physical trauma and recover his humanity.

Logan became Department H’s first superhuman field agent and a personal friend of the Hudsons. They and a number of Department H psychiatrists and psychologists helped him bring his awful berserker rages under better control. They also helped him recover his memories, though most of those were actually implanted fakes.

Logan worked for several years as an active intelligence agent and special military operative, and was Hudson’s greatest success.

(Ironically, the Hudsons had stumbled upon Logan after he escaped from the Canadian Weapon Plus labs, which were at that point running the Weapon X program. Hudson apparently never knew about the Weapon Plus work and their test subject, but an unrevealed person in the Canadian military or intelligence services code-named Logan Weapon X, indicating knowledge of his provenance.)

Death of Chinook, transformation of Bedlam

In 1969, military liaisons within Department H launched unauthorised tests of an experimental device developed by Dr. Hudson. He called it the Cosmic Collector. This was a near-disaster, as an uncontrolled energy buildup threatened to trigger a catastrophe. Logan responded, as did Hudson – wearing power armour that he later refined as the Groundhog exoskeleton.

Retired super-hero Chinook and mysterious and diminutive adventurer Eugene Judd came to assist. Chinook was mutated and warped by the energy, and had to be destroyed. The 3 other heroes were nearly killed when they made the dimensional breach implode, but the timely intervention of Heather McNeil prevented them from being sucked in.

Eugene Judd discreetly left, though he would be recruited by Department H some years later.

Alpha Flight group shot

The reckless test may have been a sign of the growing impatience of the military. In a decade, Department H had only located one superhuman agent, and there was growing pressure to close Department H as a wild goose chase and waste of funds.

Hudson had access to an experimental process that could activate certain sorts of mutants, presumably developed as part of Dr. Langkowski’s research. It was crude enough that finding a potential subject for this technology proved a challenge.

The only solid match turned out to be a psychotic killer imprisoned in Nova Scotia. Desperate to save Department H, Hudson decided to take the chance, though Logan was very sceptical.

The process went awry, with the prisoner secreting a sort of disgusting cocoon around his body and mutating into a H.R. Giger-esque humanoid. Code-named Bedlam, the psychotic superhuman attacked when he awoke, determined to kill Hudson for having created him.

Wolverine and Hudson, again using his exoskeleton, narrowly took Bedlam down. Bedlam was shoved into a hidden lab, in suspended animation in his cocoon.

Department H wasn’t closed. Presumably Bedlam had proved that there was *something* out there. Perhaps more importantly, Logan started working for the Canadian military and intelligence services, who were enthusiastic about his capabilities. This brought Department H a reprieve.

It was presumably in 1970 or 1971 that Department H recruited Dr. Walter Langkowski. An expert in biophysics and gamma radiation, Langkowski had been working to recreate in controlled conditions the explosion that had created the Hulk. It would take several more years until his project was ready, and he seemingly also worked with the Department H science team during that time.

The Flight

Thankfully the early 1970s saw a sudden influx of recruits – enough to build a team. Heather Hudson’s familial contacts against played a role when she and her husband visited Dr. Michael Twoyoungmen, a highly reputed physician who had become a hermit after the death of his wife. Heather discovered that Dr. Twoyoungmen was a magician, and that his ward Narya was a sort of nature spirit.

The Hudsons convinced the two to join Department H, though Dr. Twoyoungmen did not take a field role right away and apparently remained a consultant for some years. He cautiously agreed to have Narya be trained by Department H for educational purposes, and she was code-named Snowbird.

Over the next months Department H recruited Stitch, Saint Elmo and Smart Alec. Furthermore, Hudson found a policeman who would be a good pilot for his power armour – Detective Sean Benard, who was code-named Groundhog.

Hudson had LOgan start training this rag-tag team. However, he chose to deploy them in the field months before they were ready. The villain Egghead and his super-powered henchmen came to Canada to run a nuclear blackmail scheme against the US. Since Canada had no known super-heroes since the 1940s he picked this country to delay any super-powered response.

The intervention of the unready, under-trained, inexperienced team went poorly despite Logan’s presence.

  • Smart Alec discovered that he completely froze under pressure, making a promising agent much less useful.
  • Saint Elmo sacrificed himself to disintegrate Egghead’s nuclear missile
  • Stitch vanished in unrevealed circumstances some time after the mission
  • Groundhog quit in anger, disagreeing with Hudson’s decision and management

As he left Benard challenged Hudson to wear the suit himself if he was so keen to send people into the line of fire. Hudson agreed and started redesigning his suit to be much more compact, intending to be its next user.

In 1974, Logan received another code name — Wolverine — and a yellow-and-blue super-hero-style costume. His first mission as a Canadian super-hero was to intervene in a fight between no less than the Hulk and a Wendigo. However, in 1975, the still-unstable Wolverine abruptly left Canada to join the X-Men.

This was a major blow to Department H, which had lost its best agent by far and was left with very little superhuman manpower.


Early history (1975-1980)

This History section covers what is known about Alpha Flight from the time the first members started training to the 1980 closure of Department H.

A time for rebuilding

Department H rapidly rebuilt its superhuman manpower. y the time Wolverine left, at least one operative had already been found and several in-house projects were near completion. By 1978 at the latest a full team was up and running ; by 1980 two more had been assembled.

The failure of the Flight had convinced Hudson to adopt a 3-tiers system, where only the most experienced and best-trained team (Alpha Flight) would be sent in the field. The second team (Beta Flight) was a training one, though by 1980 the first two members were ready to graduate to Alpha. A team of raw rookies, Gamma Flight, was assembled in 1980.

Alpha Flight early cover

It is difficult to say when Alpha Flight was assembled. Logan stated that he was away on field missions when the team was being assembled, but recruited one member — Aurora — himself. Presumably the full roster was gradually assembled and trained from 1975 to 1978 ;

  • At this point Snowbird (Narya) was mature – though taking on animal forms was still risky.
  • Dr. Twoyoungmen had been persuaded to operate in the field as Shaman, though he felt uneasy about it did not yet have full mastery of his spells.
  • Dr. Langkowski, of the Department H science staff, had completed his years-long gamma radiation project and turned himself into a superhuman code-named Sasquatch.
  • One recruitment was made by Logan not too long before he left, when he stumbled upon a young mutant named Jeanne-Marie Beaubier.
  • In 1976 or 1977 Heather Hudson was struck by the resemblance of ski champion Jean-Paul Martin to Jeanne-Marie Beaubier, and Department H established that Martin and Beaubier were twins, separated after birth. Jean-Paul had the same powers as his long-lost sister, and the pair was code named Aurora and Northstar.

As to James Hudson, the new generation of his power armour, now looking much like a skintight costume, was fully operational and he was trained for field action as Weapon Alpha. He would soon change his code-name to Vindicator – then to Guardian. Weapon Alpha was apparently the first fully-operational Alpha Flight superhuman agent.

As part of their training, Alpha Flight members have been known to help the military with unusual problems. One imagines that they also helped with civil engineering, disaster relief and other issues.

For instance, Sasquatch and Weapon Alpha once helped the Canadian Armed Forces with a damaged destroyer, with Sasquatch towing the boat ashore and lifting the front end so Weapon Alpha could weld the breach shut. Amusingly, said destroyer was the HMS Diefenbaker.

By that point Department H seemed to have at least a hundred employees, a large hidden high-tech base, and a number of collaborators detached from the military and intelligence services for coordination purposes.

The Wolverine tug-of-war

For years, the Canadian armed forces and intelligence services remained furious about the disappearance of Wolverine. He had proved an invaluable killer – though it was this very kind of mission that led to his departure. Hudson also felt betrayed, and this combined with military and spook pressure — relayed by the Prime Minister — led to two rash, ill-considered attempts at repossessing Wolverine.

In early 1978, a Department H stealth transport flew into US airspace so Weapon Alpha could launch a one-man raid to capture Wolverine. Intelligence was poor, and Hudson unexpectedly ran right into other X-Men – who prevented Wolverine’s capture. In the fray, Hudson accidentally wounded civilian Moira McTaggart, which hastened his retreat.

In 1979, the X-Men and Wolverine were filmed fighting Moses Magnum in Japan. This triggered another spike in the pressure to recover Logan. This time the full Alpha Flight team was up and running, and used magical weather manipulation to force the X-Men’s plane to land in Canada. However, the ambush was badly handled and the uncanny X-Men just sneaked away into downtown Calgary.

Alpha tracked them down until Cyclops decided to just get rid of them. During the fight, Shaman lost control of his weather alteration spell, threatening to plunge Calgary into a severe blizzard.

This forced Storm of the X-Men to bring the weather back under control, making it awkward for Alpha Flight to renew their assault. Wolverine surrendered to facilitate an end to the hostilities, and escaped within minutes – joining the X-Men before they even left Canada.

This embarrassing failure was the last attempt at bringing Wolverine back. At Logan’s behest the two teams would eventually bury the hatchet and even work together.

A brief career

(Alpha Flight volume 1 #1 states that Alpha Flight was shut down in 1980. However, the team actually appears in Marvel books from 1980 to 1983. In most cases these are negligible short appearances were little happen, such as being present in the crowd during Contests of Champions or during the ceremonies that followed the Presidential pardon of the Hulk.)

(For the other appearances, we’ll just assume that the events actually happened in 1979 and 1980, before Department H was shut down. The dates below have thus been modified a bit to accommodate for this.)

After the clash with the X-Men, Alpha resumed training to correct their mistakes. Howbeit Walter Langkowski couldn’t attend, having committed to a series of university lecture. When the Hulk made unassisted reentry from orbit and crashed in British Columbia, Langkowski was thus not too far, and Department H military officers dispatched him to oust the jade giant from Canada.

The prideful Langkowski handled the matter poorly and significant acreage of primeval forest was razed, but the mission was successful as the Hulk gave up and left.

Alpha Flight early roster

Guardian, Snowbird and Shaman were sent to track and stop a new Wendigo — a kind of powerful monster created by a magic curse striking human cannibals — near Hudson Bay. Wolverine had been visiting Heather Hudson for the first time in years, accompanied by his friend Nightcrawler, and as a gesture of good will the two X-Men joined the three Alphans tracking the Wendigo.

The five heroes worked well together, and the decursed Wendigo — one Georges Baptiste, who had deliberately subjected himself to the hideous curse — was arrested by Alpha.

The other 3 members were in the US. Investigations had revealed that the Hulk had ended up in Canada and fought Sasquatch as a consequence of Machine Man’s actions, and Department H mistakenly suspected that this had been a deliberate act.

Machine Man somehow managed to keep the three Alphans at bay. Meanwhile the intelligence agent who had come with them discovered that Machine Man had been the victim of a trick played by a corrupt US Senator. This made further attempts to capture Machine Man irrelevant, and the Alphans stealthily returned to Canada.

The missions were now mostly successful, the Alpha team mature, two Betans cleared to join Alpha, and a Gamma team had been assembled. Nevertheless, the government pulled the plug on Department H right as Hudson came back with a captive Georges Baptiste.

PM Pierre Trudeau had apparently have been under increasing political pressure due to hostility toward superhumans from various quarters and the public, and could no longer spare the political capital.

Dismissed

The members stayed in touch after they were dismissed for government service. However it was a series of individual friendships rather any sense of still belonging to a team, since things had never quite gelled that way. Most members retained an interest in defending Canada as volunteer heroes.

Thus, Dr. Twoyoungmen and Dr. Langkowski discovered an ancient mystical cache from an unspecified First Nations culture, and opposed Ranak the Ravager, an evil shaman who had been imprisoned therein. They unexpectedly received the help of the Thing, who had been looking for Langkowski to enlist his help to cure his friend Giant-Man (Bill Foster).

Ranak overpowered the three heroes, who doggedly pursued him to stop him from razing Winnipeg. Guardian, Aurora and Northstar came to help, and Ranak was eventually taken down.

Dr. Langkowski was also the one who responded to the appearance of a new Wendigo (François Lartigue). Though the mighty Wendigo was too strong even for him, an incredible stroke of luck resulted in Sasquatch receiving the help of the Hulk – or rather Dr. Banner, who had just gained the ability to retain his intellect whilst in Hulk form. The two men-monsters defeated the Wendigo.

In 1983, a torrent of strange energies occurred near Resolute Bay. Being that day in a bitter mood over the dissolution of Alpha Flight, James Hudson decided to go check alone. Sensing that it was a terrible idea, his wife scrambled the entire Flight – including 2 persons she had never seen, Puck and Marrina, who had been recruited and cleared for Alpha deployment after she left Department H.

As it turned out it was an excellent initiative. The energies were marking a manifestation of the Great Beast Tundra. The whole Alpha Flight roster only destroyed it through their combined efforts and more than their fair share of luck.

Based on this crisis, the members decided to resume working together with as close to a full roster as the circumstances allowed, on an unofficial basis. James MacDonald Hudson agreed to lead this almost-team, though of course the means at his disposal were negligible compared to what Department H used to be.


Classic history (1983-1986)

This section covers the events from Alpha Flight #1 to 28, plus contemporary appearances and flashbacks.

O Canada !

In practise, the Flight seldom managed to operate together. Individual problems and priorities kept besetting the members. Most cases ended up being tackled by a small number of operatives, though training sessions were occasionally organised in the wilderness.

Alpha Flight consolidated their alliance with the uncanny X-Men when they discovered that James Hudson’s designs had been handed over to Baron Strucker, who used those to kidnap the mutants. Ashamed, Hudson offered his services to Professor Charles Xavier and they stormed Strucker’s base, helping the X-Men in breaking free and defeating Strucker.

Beta Flight early roster

Team member Marrina was lured in by the Master of the World, unwittingly disembowelling Puck and forcing him to spend months in a hospital. However, the ever-resourceful Puck ended up busting a drugs-trafficking ring there. As to the rest of the team they haphazardly located the secret base of the Master, and blew it up with the help of the Invisible Woman and Namor the Submariner.

Freed, Marrina decided to accompany Namor to Atlantis so Atlantean scientists could help with her condition. However, she swiftly returned to Canada on several occasions to assist Alpha Flight.

Snowbird went on to defeat the Great Beast Kolomaq, confirming that the time for the return of these devastating monsters was happening. The battle led to the loss of the cover identity she had been given by Department H.

Jean-Paul Martin, who had reclaimed his birth name as Jean-Paul Beaubier, continued to care for his mentally ill sister Jeanne-Marie. He took her on a visit to Montréal and to a restaurant run by one of his exes, Raymond Belmonde. The Beaubier twins discovered that Mr. Belmonde was beset by the dreaded criminal Ernest St. Ives, who murdered the restaurateur.

Seething with anger, Northstar decided to kill St. Ives, but was beaten to it by the undead vigilante Nemesis (Ms. St. Ives). Aurora deduced that Belmonde’s daughter Danielle was an ally of “Deadly” Ernest St. Ives and had her arrested, but a verbal blunder on Jean-Paul’s part led to the twins being estranged for several months.

Marrina returned for a bit – perhaps to help cope with the Beaubier twins being unavailable. She, Sasquatch, Snowbird and Shaman joined the Spaceknights Rom and Starshine in an attempt to save the NWT town of Beaver Falls from Dire Wraith plots.

Though the heroes fought valiantly, they could save but a fraction of the population when the Wraith destroyed the huge dam overlooking the city.

Sasquatch then resumed working in the far North – but the scientists he had been working with were murdered by the Super-Skrull. Determined to avenge them, he trapped the Super-Skrull in an energy beam, dispersing his molecules across the Earth’s radiation belts.

Our home and native land !

The Hudsons then moved to New York City, where Mr. Hudson had been offered a job by energy giant Roxxon. While this bode ill for Alpha Flight, the results were even more devastating than expected.

It was all an ambush by a personal enemy of the Hudsons, who had even enlisted the former Gamma Flight recruits in his revenge scheme. Alpha Flight was summoned in and won the fight, but James MacDonald was killed by the combustion of his suit.

Dr. Twoyoungmen and Eugene Judd helped Heather Hudson hold herself together, but Alpha Flight essentially stopped to exist.

Hudson and Judd stumbled upon a sort of maritime monster, and requested that Marrina return from Atlantis to assist. This lead to another confrontation with the Master of the World, whom Puck and Namor beat back. In the wake of the fight, however, Marrina decided to become an underwater hermit out of shame over her alien nature.

Judd and Logan convinced Heather Hudson to take over her husband’s work and reassemble the Flight. She did reassemble the team, though on an even looser basis than before – and Northstar refused to rejoin.

Meanwhile Aurora had her powers and costume changed to dissociate herself from her twin brother, and Alpha Flight unexpectedly gained a new member when Dr. Twoyoungmen’s long-estranged daughter Elizabeth was revealed to be the Talisman, a mystical champion of the First Nations .

An impromptu task force made up of Talisman, Shaman, Puck and Snowbird confronted and destroyed a third Great Beast. Heather Hudson, lacking any sort of power or special skill, could only provide her moral support. Meanwhile, Sasquatch and Aurora — both increasingly unstable, albeit for different reasons — survived an encounter with Gilded Lily.

After to a personality shift, Jeanne-Marie Beaubier renewed her ties with her brother, and helped him deal with the menace posed by Pink Pearl. However, during that case, she discovered her brother’s past involvement in terrorist cells, and warned Alpha Flight. Dealing with this revelation was delayed, however, as the Flight again allied with the X-Men.

The two teams discovered the existence of a magic city that had recently appeared in Northern Canada. Built around a magical energy source, the Firefountain, the place could grant great power and cure all ills, promising a golden age.

However, the presence of the city had a deleterious effect on creatures of magic, particularly Snowbird. This led several of the heroes to discover that the Firefountain was drawing energy from magic and creativity, destroying those in exchange for power and happiness.

This discovery triggered dissension in the ranks but the Firefountain was banished after the heroes discovered that Loki was behind the magical city.

Heather Hudson then started making enquiries to set up a modest headquarters for the team in Vancouver, though the logistics (and in particular the funding) remain undocumented.

True patriot love in all thy sons command

After Snowbird recovered from her ordeal, it was revealed to her that Sasquatch had been a Great Beast all along. Furthermore, Walter Langkowski was no longer able to keep at bay the Beast’s psyche. She found him in Vancouver, where half the team had just stopped the armoured terrorist Caliber, and attacked.

Snowbird killed Sasquatch – who at that point had fully become the Great Beast Tanaraq. Puck then had her agree to lead a combat mission to the Realm of the Great Beasts to recover Langkowski’s spirit. Though there were multiple close calls, Alpha made it out by the skin of our teeth, with Langkowski’s spirit and no casualties.

In the wake of this mission Snowbird took a sabbatical, but she ended up returning to duty after but a few months.

During the mission, former Gamma Flight trainee Roger Bochs flew in to see if he could help and joined the team. His super-robot Box was immediately used to house Langkowski’s spirit before it would disperse.

Bochs started working on equipping Alpha Flight’s small compound and setting up equipment — presumably the back-up Department H equipment once stored at the Hudson’s home. The team started using interdimensional scanners (presumably developed by Hudson as part of his old Cosmic Collector project) to locate a suitable body for Langkowski, without quite telling team leader Heather Hudson.

Gamma Flight early roster

Caliber escaped and resumed his rampage, but Guardian intervened and stopped him with Alpha’s help. While everyone — particularly Heather — was shocked by this return from the dead, it was actually a trap set by the robot Delphine Courtney. Alpha Flight was drawn into an ambush in Edmonton, intended to kill them all.

The Alphans narrowly survived the plot, in part thanks to the help of the last Gamma Flight trainee, Madison Jeffries. However a conflict arose between Talisman and Shaman, and Elizabeth Twoyoungmen once again rejected contact with her father, leaving the team.

At that point Heather Hudson discovered the project to find a new body for Walter Langkowski, but it was too late. The conspirators unwittingly fished out the savage, very angry Hulk from his place of otherdimensional exile.

Oh dear.

By Sébastien Andrivet

Helper(s): Chris Cottingham, Pufnstuff

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