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Heather Hudson (Alpha Flight) (Marvel Comics)

Heather Hudson

(Profile #1 - pre-Vindicator, pre-Guardian)


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

Context

Heather McNeil-Hudson is probably the core character of Marvel’s Canadian super-team Alpha Flight in its classic versions. This profile covers the Byrne issues (Alpha Flight vol. 1 #1-28) plus all flashbacks that took place during that era or before.

Thus, this is Heather before she adopts any super-indentity. At this point she’s still the bespectacled widow of the old boss-man, who takes charge because nobody else will.

We *strongly* recommend that you read our Alpha Flight team profile before your read this entry, heh ?

Due to length this article is presented in two parts. .


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Background

  • Real Name: Heather McNeil-Hudson.
  • Other Aliases: Guardian.
  • Marital Status: Married – later widowed.
  • Known Relatives: Ramsey McNeil (estranged father), Claire McNeil (estranged mother), James MacDonald Hudson (husband, deceased), six unnamed brothers, David and Yvette McNeil (distant cousins).
  • Group Affiliation: Alpha Flight.
  • Base Of Operations: 138 Laurier Drive, in the suburbs of Ottawa.
  • Height: 5’5” Weight: 120 lbs.
  • Eyes: Green Hair: Red-orange


Powers & Abilities

Heather McNeil doesn’t have any special skill, education, training or power.

However, she has a just-right combination of willpower, subtle charisma and empathic sensitivity. It gives her a unique touch in certain situations – Fingerspitzengefühl, as people say. Thus, if she works on it, she can blaze her way into most people’s heart and become an important presence in their life.

Her intelligence is also obviously above average.


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Heather had very little exposure to violence prior to Mac’s death. Nevertheless, she possesses undeniable courage and will seldom hesitate to take risks to help other people.

When deprived of her huge glasses, Mrs. Hudson was squinting hard to look at persons but a few metres away.

She does seem to have firearms training, though. While her shooting Wolverine was described as a very lucky shot, she operated what seemed to be a bolt-action rifle under extreme stress. Hudson was later seen packing a handgun. Beside, she’s from Alberta, eh ?

Equipment

Near the end of this era, as the Alpha Flight leader, Heather carried some equipment. She had a sort of uniform – red and white clothing suitable for the outdoors and physical situations. It includes a mirrored visor to mask her face, correct her vision and protect against glare (such as snow fields).

She was also armed with an unspecified handgun. It might be an Inglis HP, the Canadian-licensed version of the classic Browning High-Power, which has been the standard Canadian military sidearm since 1944.

The pockets of this uniform are filled with useful consumer electronics. The main one was a Dictaphone to log her records of the group’s activities. Since she also carried a pocket thermometer, she likely had other small off-the-shelf sensors in her jacket’s pockets. Compass, barometer, mini-binoculars, this sort of things.

Before that, her only distinctive piece of equipment was the car she drove in Ottawa. It was a 1960s Volkswagen Beetle named “Schnitzel”.


O time suspend your Flight

The dates used in the History section are NOT official ones – since Marvel has a sliding time scale. They are just used out of convenience. See our Alpha Flight main article for more about this timeline.

Officially Heather was perennially born about 31 years ago, depending on what the current time scale retcons are. So as of this writing she was officially born circa 1980.


History

(Some very minor continuity conflicts — of such thunderous importance as whether Heather and Mac were married when they found Wolverine — have been brushed under the rug. As were the very minor bits of information from Uncanny X-Men that were retconned  away during the early Alpha Flight run).

Onward

Born circa 1942, Heather grew up in Calgary . This city’s rapid growth was fuelled by oil discovery. Between Heather’s childhood and her early 20s, the population quadrupled.

Her parents were probably not from Calgary. Heather described her family as stout pioneers who worked their way Westward over the generations. They may have arrived in the area after the 1947 oil discoveries in Leduc – like most Calgarian families did.

(Topically, the story describe the O’Neils living in the Haysboro neighbourhood. In our suggested non-sliding timeline this isn’t possible – the area only becomes available for construction in 1958. But it just means that she grew up in an older area such as Sunalta .)

The McNeils got themselves a big house – they needed room. Though they had but one daughter, the family would eventually count seven children. And one gets the impression that most of Heather’s brothers are older than she is.

The neighbours

The neighbours were the much smaller family of a highly reputed young physician of Sarcee heritage, Dr. Michael Twoyoungmen. Heather often baby-sat Elizabeth Twoyoungmen, and spent much time at the Twoyoungmen household.

(“Sarcee” — or “Sarsi” for Francophones — was still used back then to call the First Nation folks living in the Calgary area. But the proper name is “Tsuu T’ina” . “Sarcee” actually is a Blackfeet  slang term for the Tsuu T’ina nation.)

Heather Hudson exits her VW Beetle

For a while, Elizabeth Twoyoungmen came to live with the McNeils. After her mother Katheryn died of an incurable disease, the four-year old had flown off her handle. She had come to irrationally hate her dad for failing to save her mom. The McNeil and their daughter were apparently the caretakers for Elizabeth for months if not years.

It is even possible that Elizabeth never agreed to return to her father. One scene implied that she was still living with the McNeils during her college studies.

Childhood

Ramsey McNeil had robust contacts among senior functionaries and the Canadian intelligence agencies. He seemed affluent, though not ostentatiously so. He may also have had ties with the Canadian oil industry.

His only daughter seemed quite confident that her father would fix any problem she couldn’t find a way out of by herself.

As to Claire McNeil, one would assume that raising seven children — eight during the time when Elizabeth Twoyoungmen stayed with them — was at the very least a full-time job.

Heather McNeil dropped out of high school, presumably at 16. She was soon hired by the Am-Can Petroleum Company in Edmonton. She became the assistant of senior executive Jerome Jaxon – doubtlessly giving Personnel Administration fits over Jaxon’s decision to hire a minor.

Mac

Heather’s career as a private secretary lasted about one year. During that time, Heather McNeil developed an interest in the brilliant and handsome engineer Dr. James MacDonald Hudson. Deeply buried in his work, Dr. Hudson barely noticed her blatant signals. The teenager apparently took this as a challenge.

She swiftly grew convinced that Hudson, despite being a workaholic with indifferent social skills, was the man of her life.

Heather Hudson reactivates Alpha Flight

When J. Hudson got into a row with J. Jaxon for selling his technology to the American military, McNeil saw an opportunity to impress the man of her dreams. She quit her job, telling her boss that she couldn’t accept their treatment of their best researcher, and confiding about it to Hudson. This youthful gambit didn’t work either. Dr. Hudson was too agitated to pay attention.

Undeterred, McNeil bought groceries and showed up at Hudson’s apartment. She correctly assumed that he had none left. After unloading her groceries, Heather discovered that Hudson was now a criminal. In a fit of anger he had spent the night raiding Am-Can facilities to prevent his inventions from being handed over to the American military.

Undaunted, she then proposed – as had been her intent all along. Which is all perfectly reasonable, really.

She knows people in Ottawa

Already in serious trouble after his nocturnal raid, Dr. Hudson now found himself with a minor he barely knew from work proposing marriage. Overwhelmed, he let Heather bamboozle him into meeting government officials who would help.

In Ottawa, the youth had Hudson meet a number of influential civil servants interested in his work, presumably through familial contacts. These men requalified Hudson’s intellectual property as belonging to the government rather than Am-Can. They then settled the Hudson case out of court.

Hudson and McNeil were then introduced to the Prime Minister. He asked Dr. Hudson to spearhead the creation of Department H, a super-secret R&D facility to develop superhuman assets to defend Canada.

(Topically the scene depicts PM Pierre Trudeau. In our suggested timeline it would have been Diefenbaker  instead. See the Alpha Flight main article for more.)

“Mac” Hudson and Heather McNeil were by now an item, and got themselves a large apartment in Ottawa. McNeil handled the administrative and secretarial duties at Hudson’s governmental lab. At that point it was a small department with a half-dozen researchers.

First attempt at marriage

Heather had caught the fish she wanted. While she knew that Mac was a complete workaholic, she apparently had youthful delusions that she could change him. Yet Mac was perennially buried in engineering work. Heather essentially had to drag him away from his job to do couple-type things.

When she angrily confronted him over this in public, all he could think of to assuage her was to propose.

As often in social matters, Hudson handled this poorly. He opted for a quick ceremony with a judge of peace – triggering the hostility of the very Catholic McNeils, who wanted a full marriage in church for their only daughter. The civil ceremony took place, but without the McNeils. And Heather herself considered that it didn’t count.

As Heather was organising the church ceremony, Mac invited her to a sort of impromptu pre-honeymoon. His bosses wanted him to assess remote spots in the frigid Canadian wilderness to find a site where a much larger lab could be built. Mr. Hudson got a budget for two travellers, and took the wife along.

Things get hairy

While deep within the Buffalo National Park , the Hudsons ran into a half-naked savage. The hairy man wrestled Mac to the ground and was about to kill him. Heather shot the aggressor right through the neck with the rifle they had been carrying for protection against bears. Seeing the bullet wound of the still-living madman close before his eyes, Mac secured him to study him.

The radio being useless, Dr. Hudson had to leave on skis to get some help. This left Heather alone to monitor their captive. On the next day a blizzard started, leaving Heather trapped in an isolated cabin with some sort of primitive cannibal.

Heather Hudson and Mac on a couch

The psycho soon broke his restraints, then unsheathed long metallic claws from his knuckles. However the sight of these weapons was scarier for the savage than for Mrs. Hudson. He panicked and tried to remove them from his hands. Realising that he was more disoriented than aggressive, Heather managed to calm him down.

Thus did Heather Hudson bag Wolverine (James Howlett aka Logan) for Canadian intelligence. That was at the expense of the church ceremony, as the date passed while she was still stuck by a blizzard in Buffalo Park.

Logan

After Mac came back to the cabin, he worked to stabilise the worst of Logan’s medical condition. Heather helped Logan regain a hold of himself despite his complete amnesia and rampant psychosis.

Over the following years the Hudsons — and particularly Heather — played a key role in allowing Wolverine to recover, reaffirm his humanity and rebuild himself as a person. They have sometimes been jokingly called Wolverine’s adoptive parents. While Wolverine was obviously attracted toward Heather, he never made a move out of genuine friendship with Mac.

The Hudsons were never quite rewarded for all their work and care in re-humanising Wolverine. Logan still had decades of growth to undergo to become a good person. But despite all the problems and occasional bouts of physical violence they resolutely stuck by him.

Biggest day in her life

Even with his powerful healing factor , recent Adamantium  implantation had left Logan with severe medical problems. Curing those forced Dr. Hudson to delay the third attempt at a marriage ceremony by months.

On the day scheduled for the ceremony, a critical accident was reported. Hudson had to respond as Weapon Alpha, with Wolverine at his side. Heather spotted them flying out as she was driving to work, and in anger gave chase in her VW Beetle. Adventurer Eugene Judd also responded, as did the retired wartime hero Chinook.

Heather Hudson and Mac on the phone

The accident went bad and cost Chinook his life. Dr. Hudson, Judd and Wolverine would likely have been killed too without Mrs. Hudson’s intervention. Heather stormed on the scene just in time to see everyone getting sucked into an energy vortex. She grabbed Wolverine’s ankle, preventing the three men from going over.

Still furious she returned to the church after an ultimatum to her husband. With Logan’s help, Dr. Hudson narrowly made it in time and the religious marriage finally took place.

Moving on

Though the traditional ceremony Claire McNeil demanded had taken place, Heather’s mother was still incensed over James Hudson’s mediocre people skills. She loudly considered that her daughter had made an idiotic choice for an husband. This resulted in Heather breaking contacts with her parents. They would not speak in more than a decade since Heather knew that Claire would harass her over Mac.

Heather continued to work with Department H. Logan continued to have fearsome animalistic rages, but the Hudsons stuck with him and he became a reliable agent for Canadian military intelligence .

In 1974 he was given a distinctive yellow and blue costume and sent on his first mission as Wolverine. He intervened in a fight between the Hulk and a Wendigo.

The early 1970s also saw a first version of a Canadian team, the Flight. But it quickly fell apart despite Dr. Hudson and Logan’s efforts.

A kind of magic

On her end, Heather was more successful. Circa 1972 she took her husband to visit Dr. Twoyoungmen, who had retired to live in the wilderness of the Banff National Park.

Dr. Hudson was apparently looking for a top physician for his lab. He thus jumped on the occasion to have Heather arrange a meeting with Dr. Twoyoungmen, who back in the 1950s had been reputed as one of the best medical researchers in the country.

Though Heather and Michael Twoyoungmen were happily reunited, Heather was puzzled by numerous details. Dr. Twoyoungmen was now wearing traditional Tsuu T‘ina clothing. And then there was the behaviour and origin of the weird young woman who seemed to be his ward. Snooping around at night, she saw the woman running around naked, then turning into a huge Arctic owl to hunt and eat small animals.

On the next morning, the Hudsons demanded to know what was going on. Trusting Heather, Dr. Twoyoungmen admitted that he was now a magician and that the young woman was an orphaned demigoddess of the land. The Hudsons offered them a job with Department H, where they would be codenamed Shaman and Snowbird.

The letters column in Alpha Flight v1 #1 implies that, during most of Alpha Flight’s development, Heather Hudson was doing much of the managerial and the organisational work despite still nominally being the secretary. It seems likely that Mac was letting his wife take over part of his responsibilities so he could spend more time doing engineering and research work.

Another Flight bites the dust

Dr. Hudson had not planned to take a field role with Department H’s superhuman teams. His early outings as Weapon Alpha were the result of being unable to find agents to recruit early on.

The earliest version of the Flight included one Detective Benard, recruited to wear Hudson’s prototype battlesuit under the codename Groundhog. But Benard left in anger over Hudson’s leadership. Wolverine turned down a leadership role, considering himself unsuited to the job.

Heather Hudson calls for a timeout

Thus, in the end Dr. Hudson had to resume being Weapon Alpha, wearing a dramatically improved version of his suit. This resulted in low-key anxiety for Heather. She knew that her husband wasn’t really a fighter. She was afraid that he would get himself killed.

Her fears were confirmed in 1979. Wolverine had moodily left the employ of the Canadian government to work for Professor Charles Xavier. Department H couldn’t allow that, and Mac was furious and felt betrayed by his close friend. A rash stealth mission was launched to the US and Dr. Hudson, as Weapon Alpha, engaged Wolverine and other X-Men in an irresponsible attempt to drag him back.

Things went bad. Hudson fought unprofessionally and wounded bystanders – though he avoided capture. He came back to his wife in a sorry state, feeling like a complete failure as a costumed agent.

The next confrontation of Alpha Flight with the X-Men was also poorly handled and left Weapon Alpha and his team empty-handed and embarrassed.

H shuts down

Circa 1975, Heather had left Department H to resume working for an oil company, Yukon Oil. This time she was an executive assistant for one Mr. Beresford, seemingly with delegated authority. Heather mentioned that she hadn’t hunted for that job.

Though little is known about this career move, it would prove a good decision. In 1980, Department H was closed with little warning.

This profile is continued in .

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: The first 28 issues of Marvel’s Alpha Flight plus flashbacks to that time or before.

Helper(s): Darci, Capita_Senyera.

Writeup completed on the 10th of October, 2011.

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