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Northstar of Alpha Flight (Marvel Comics) high-angle shot

Northstar

(Profile #1 - Classic)


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

“Is this a trial then ? If so, I see no one here whom I acknowledge to have the authority to pass judgement over me.”


Context

Northstar is one of the classic members of Alpha Flight. For all the necessary context, see our Alpha Flight team profile and history.

This profile covers the “classic” Northstar. By which we mean his early biography, his early appearances, and the Byrne run on Alpha Flight vol. 1, from #1 to #28.

Northstar is also noted for being one of the first gay male heroes in mainstream super-hero comics. But at this stage this a study in writers making allusions to material they’re not allowed to write about, not a depiction of a queer character.

His early life also takes place in a very specific historical and geographical context. Our profile explains this backdrop and its impact, as these events in Québec aren’t well-known in the anglosphere.  Also, fixed the mangled French featured in the comics.


Background

  • Real Name: Jean-Paul Beaubier (formerly Jean-Paul Martin).
  • Note: Using English phonemes, his name is more or less pronounced Jaw Pohl Bow Byeah.
  • Marital Status: Confirmed bachelor.
  • Known Relatives: Jeanne-Marie Beaubier (aka Aurora, twin sister), Louis Martin (adoptive father, deceased).
  • Group Affiliation: Alpha Flight, in an off-and-on sort of way. Former member of the Cellule Combattre and Department H.
  • Base Of Operations: His private estate in Laval, north of Montréal.
  • Height: 5’11” Weight: 165 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Black, in a shiny way.
  • Other Distinguishing Features: Pointed ears.


Powers & Abilities

Jean-Paul’s main power is that he can fly at supersonic speeds (reportedly up to Mach 10 in Earth’s atmosphere) through a simple effort of will. It is theorised that in a vacuum he could approach .

His body can withstand the enormous resultant stress. Yet he doesn’t appear to otherwise be particularly durable – a strong guy can knock him out with a good blow to the head.

Northstar can carry people in flight even at speeds where that isn’t realistically possible. Thus, some sort of “friction aura” is presumably involved in his durability. However, if he carries someone at supersonic speeds that person will have to be superhumanly durable or wear a sort of vacuum suit.

Northstar (Jean-Paul Beaubier) flying, over a white background

Northstar can fly upright and extremely close to the ground. In practice, this is indistinguishable from running at super-speed like the Flash or Quicksilver do. He can also punch at super-speed – either as a run-by superhumanly powerful punch, or as a barrage of normal blows hitting within a single second. In combat he moves too fast to be hit by most attacks, especially ranged attacks.

Northstar’s reflexes allow him to react to obstacles in his path. He can navigate with the same precision as if he were running or skiing at an ordinary speed, even when he’s going at supersonic speeds. However, his reflexes at rest are those of an ordinary athlete. He doesn’t seem to perceive attacks and opponents as going in slow motion.

Northstar flies so fast that he can displace large masses of air in his wake, and angle his flight to have them follow a specific trajectory. This is normally done in conjunction with Aurora. At this stage Northstar doesn’t do air control stunts when working alone.

Examples include forming a destructive tornado around Tundra (by circling around him in opposite directions) or parting a river by grazing it at high speed and letting air pressure do the rest.

Other abilities of note

Whenever he and his sister join hands, a tremendous flash of white light occurs. This can blind and dazzle even very large and robust creatures.

Beaubier is a professional Alpine skier and celebrated champion. He’s thus in excellent physical shape, with good reflexes and a robust musculature. However, he didn’t have any special combat experience or training before becoming an Alphan. He’s quite agile, and had training as a trapeze artist.

His pro skiing career also made him a rich man. He has an extensive private estate in Laval, complete with live-in house staff and assistants (Maurice and Rhonda).

Northstar’s black-and-white costume can endure his flight (presumably, it’s made of unstable molecules). For some reason the white parts are slightly luminescent in the dark.


History

Jean-Paul Beaubier and his twin sister Jeanne-Marie were presumably born circa 1944. Their parents were killed in mysterious circumstances a few months later. Jean-Paul was adopted by his mother’s cousins, the Martins, and became Jean-Paul Martin.

Since the Martins couldn’t afford to raise two children, Jeanne-Marie was handed over to a Catholic school for girls. Jean-Paul was never told about his sister, or his actual family name.

(The dates in this article are from our suggested Alpha Flight timeline — see the main Alpha Flight article — which doesn’t employ a sliding scale for clarity’s sake. Officially, Jean-Paul was perpetually born about 30-ish years ago and his biography is thus in a perpetual state of retconning . This is particularly problematic given his well-defined ties with historical events and cultural shifts in Québec).

Louis Martin, a RCMP officer, then moved to a new posting to Northern Québec. When Jean-Paul was 6 his adoptive parents were killed in an accident, and he moved to another foster home – presumably in Montréal. Apparently this new foster home did not work out. One flashback shows the teenager living as a petty criminal and stealing purses in Montréal.

La révolution pas si tranquille, part 1

Jean-Paul Martin grew up during the Quiet Revolution  in his native Québec. This was an era of major changes as French-Canadians battled discrimination and relegation as second-class citizens. They also rejected the twin yoke of a deeply conservative ruling class and the Catholic Church.

Northstar (Jean-Paul Beaubier) and young admirers

Feeling bereft of roots and struggling with the gradual realisation that he was gay, Jean-Paul found a home in the nascent sovereignist movement. He found an identity in the struggle for dignity, enfranchisement and secularisation. However in his late teens he joined the Front de Libération du Québec , a new splinter movement willing to use terrorist tactics.

(Due to the early 1980s publishing policies, it couldn’t be stated or shown that Northstar was gay. The narration instead used numerous signals about his lack of interest in women – and numerous allusions to the difficulties of living in the closet and having grown up as a gay youth.)

(In the proposed timeline, Beaubier grew up during decades when gay men were seen as, *at best*, mentally ill in most circles. For younger readers, this short article from the MIT Thistle  offers a compact summary of the evolution of public views through the proxy of articles in US magazines from the 1960s onward.)

La révolution pas si tranquille, part 2

Jean-Paul was part of what was arguably the most hardcore terror cell of the FLQ, the (fictional) Cellule Combattre. This cell had 6 members, code-named Numéro 1 (Jacques Paradis), Numéro 2 (Clémentine d’Arbanville), Numéro 3 and Lettre A, Lettre B and Lettre C (Yves – no last name given).

Jean-Paul himself was more of a helper and courier, though he participated to several bombings and was a friend of the “official” Cellule Combattre members. During that time Jean-Paul discovered that he had mutant speed powers, though their emergence was apparently gradual. He explained his ability to perennially escape from the cops as luck.

It is also presumably during that time that he began his relationship with Montréal restaurateur and literature enthusiast Raymond Belmonde. Mr. Belmonde greatly helped Jean-Paul come to terms with his sexuality and mutant powers.

The October Crisis

The FLQ situation came to a head during the October Crisis in 1970. At this point, the escalation of violence resulted in something much akin to martial law in Montréal. In the wake of the October Crisis, popular support for the FLQ’s extremism largely went away.

However the Cellule Combattre had escaped the authorities, and wasn’t about to lay down arms. They made that clear in December, raiding a RCMP outpost and killing all police therein.

Not too long after this incident, Jean-Paul abandoned direct action, though he remained friends with the cell’s members. Clémentine d’Arbanville, who was mostly in for the thrills, also left. Eventually B and C also gave up – they married, had children and returned to civilian life.

Canada’s own Jean-Claude Killy

During the 1970s, Jean-Paul Martin reinvented himself. First he became a circus trapeze artist. Apparently he had accompanied Clémentine, who now wanted to be a carnie and eventually became a circus owner.

After this stint under the big top, Martin became an Alpine skiing champion. Though he wasn’t actually that great a professional skier, he used his speed powers to cheat and win every race, quickly ascending to the status of world champion and gold medalist. Jean-Paul presumably won his gold medals during the 1976 Winter Olympic Games, in Innsbruck.

(There are contradictions as to whether Jean-Paul was with Cell Combattre before he was a skier or after, mostly due to a nonsensical caption about his becoming a champ “in the last year of his puberty” while in the captioned flashback he’s clearly an adult. This biography ignores this caption, since everything works out just fine this way.)

Northstar (Jean-Paul Beaubier) crashes through a window

He then went pro, earning significant wealth and fame. He had numerous young female groupies in Canada due to his good looks and dashing style, which complicated his remaining closeted.

His relationship with Mr. Belmonde apparently ended at that point. Raymond disapproved both of Jean-Paul’s wish to remain closeted as a gay man, and of his use of his mutant powers to cheat.

Department H steps in

Jean-Paul’s success in sports attracted the attention of James McDonald Hudson. Hudson was a government researcher who had spent years scouring Canada to find superhuman operatives. He had recently recruited Jeanne-Marie Beaubier, and he and his wife noticed the striking resemblance between Beaubier and Jean-Paul Martin.

Hudson soon deduced that Jean-Paul had flight powers identical to his sister’s. He had government agents approach the champ with information about his past.

Though Martin was greatly worried, he realised that the government did not know about his Cell Combattre ties. Furthermore, they revealed to him his actual parentage. Finding roots at last, Jean-Paul immediately adopted “Beaubier” as his last name and requested an official change of identity.

Reeled in by the promise of more information, and despite his strong distrust of the Federal government, Jean-Paul Beaubier came to visit Hudson in Ottawa’s Parliament Hill. There Hudson revealed that he knew about Beaubier’s power and their unethical use, told him about Department H… and introduced him to Jeanne-Marie.

D’un océan à l’autre

Though he was extremely reluctant to work for Ottawa, Jean-Paul had a sliver of interest in becoming a super-hero. More importantly, being reunited with his twin sister was critical to him and he grew extremely protective of Jeanne-Marie – who suffered from unusual split personality problems.

It was his sister’s presence among the organisation (under the code name Aurora) that had him join as Northstar (or rather Véga in French).

Northstar proved one of the most adept of Hudson’s second wave of recruits. He thus became a member of the fully-trained, full-readiness team — Alpha Flight — along with his sister. Alpha Flight apparently went active in late 1978.

With the October Crisis a recent memory Jean-Paul was still very wary of the government. He insisted on only ever talking with officials in French to make his point. Like most Alpha Flight members Beaubier had a double identity, continuing with his skiing career when he wasn’t on-duty.

Shutdown

Northstar considered leaving the team several times, but the decision was eventually made for him when the government shut down Department H in 1980. Though he was relieved, he soon realised that his twin had found some balance in her work as a super-hero. With Alpha Flight gone, Aurora was now back to her stunted life and psychological problems as plain old Jeanne-Marie.

Jean-Paul tried to convince his sister to come live with him in Laval, but she was now too fragile for that.

When Heather Hudson summoned the ex-Alpha Flight members to deal with the Great Beast Tundra, Aurora eagerly flew in. Northstar reluctantly followed her, making him a part of the unofficially reformed Alpha Flight.

Though he didn’t want to associate with Alpha Flight — even with the government ties gone — Aurora kept dragging him in.

When Alpha Flight, the X-Men and allies jointly investigated the Firefountain (actually a deception created by Loki), Northstar briefly fought Rogue (Anna-Marie NLN). She used her mutant power to absorb his memories and powers for a while. The alienated Rogue, also a former terrorist, felt kinship with Beaubier’s life experiences. The two outcasts developed a tentative rapport.

Sister morphing

In 1984, Jean-Paul took Jeanne-Marie to visit Raymond Belmonde at his restaurant. However, tragedy struck. The superhuman crime lord Deadly Ernest (Ernest St Yves), who had been attempting to extort money from Belmonde, killed the restaurateur and kidnapped Ms. Beaubier.

Northstar was ready to kill St Yves in vengeance, but the criminal was slain by Nemesis (Ms. St Yves). Furthermore, Aurora exposed Raymond’s daughter Danielle Belmonde as Deadly Ernest’s accomplice.

In the wake of this loss the shaken Northstar made a very clumsy remark about his sister. Furious, she flew away and broke their partnership. She then started dating Sasquatch (Walter Langkowski), exacerbating the tension between Mr. Beaubier and Mr. Langkowski.

As his sister refused to talk to him, Northstar bailed out of Alpha Flight, rudely turning down Heather Hudson’s offer to rejoin.

Alphan no more

Some weeks later, Aurora had yet another accidental switch to her Jeanne-Marie persona. But for the second time ever she flew as Jeanne-Marie, going to her brother for help as she did not understand what was happening.

Jean-Paul was delighted that Jeanne-Marie decided to stay with him. He decided not to contact Alpha Flight, as he considered that the team had stopped being a good influence on his sister and was now hurting her.

Northstar (Jean-Paul Beaubier) throws Wild Child against a wall

The reunited Beaubier siblings later visited Jean-Paul’s old friend Clémentine d’Arbanville, now the owner of an international circus. There they foiled the terrorist plot of Pink Pearl (Pearl Gross). However, during this case Jeanne-Marie reverted to her Aurora personality, and easily deduced that d’arbanville and her brother were former FLQ terrorists.

She left her brother’s estate, returned to Alpha Flight and her relationship with Langkowski, and told the truth about Northstar’s past to her colleagues.

A few days later Northstar felt a psychic contact and flew in. He assumed that his sister needed him and had changed her mind. However, the contact was actually from Talisman (Elizabeth Twoyoungmen), who was psychically assembling Alpha Flight.

Refusing to associate with the team, Northstar was about to leave when he was magically compelled by Snowbird. She forced him to join their successful invasion of the land of the Great Beasts.

The results of the confrontation between Northstar and Alpha Flight about Jean-Paul’s past with the Cellule Combattre remain strangely unrevealed. Afterward he seemed back to reluctantly collaborating with Alpha Flight for the good of his sister. There’s a whole missing chunk, which I don’t think was ever filled.


Description

Northstar’s ears are a bit pointed. But apparently it’s not as pronounced as to constantly attract attention or look inhuman.


Personality

Northstar is brash, abrasive and can easily come across as arrogant. He’s had a difficult youth where he struggled to find his place in a society in the middle of sweeping changes. His defensiveness often looks like aggressiveness.

He has a problem with authority due to his background, and will not usually accept to be told what to do, especially in English.

What little roots he has are critical for him, and that chiefly means his twin sister. Aurora is super-important to him, and he wants to take care of her as much as possible. This goes well past the point of over-protectiveness. He considered leaving Alpha Flight numerous times, but couldn’t bear the idea of leaving his sister take risks in the field without being around to defend her.

Jean-Paul is used to operating alone and defending himself against everything. Belmonde and his sister are the only two true friends he ever had, and the authorities were never on his side. As a result Beaubier has a temper, and can be physically aggressive if pushed.

Likewise he has little interest in acting as a super-hero. Though the reasons for this weren’t explored, one assumes that he feels he owes very little to society. He would rather use his recent wealth to enjoy the pleasures and freedom that were denied to him for so long.

Having been one of the extremists of the Quiet Revolution, Jean-Paul insists on speaking French whenever possible. This is particularly true with government workers who are supposed to be bilingual. Though he’ll rudely criticise the poor French of people drawing from high school lessons to speak the language, he does react better when addressed in French. Presumably he continues to see English as the language of oppressors even though the situation in Québec has changed.

Jean-Paul acts in an oddly puritanical and controlling way about Aurora’s sex life. It is a misguided attempt to protect her against… something. Though he generally means well he doesn’t understand his sister’s appetites. He thinks that no man will ever be good enough for her, which of course leads to clashes given how free Aurora wants to be.


Quotes

“If you think I will passively sit back and wait for my fate, you are very much mistaken !”

“Jamie Hudson and the rest of Alpha Flight can go hang for all I care ! I’ve had enough of these silly superhero games ! I’m not answering this latest summons !”

“Whoever has done this had better have a good explanation, or they shall answer for their actions !”

Thug: “Nobody human could do that !”
Northstar: “I’m more than human. I’m French-Canadian.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Northstar

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Seeking belonging
Int: 05 Wil: 04 Min: 05 Occupation: Skiing champ
Inf: 04 Aur: 03 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 007
Init: 021 HP: 035

Powers:
Air control: 13, Cold immunity: 01, Flame immunity: 01, Flash: 15, Flight: 12, Superspeed: 08

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Air Control is Contingent Upon Flight, and is limited to displacing volumes of air in his wake.
  • Air Control has a 4CS Power Loss if it’s not used in conjunction with Aurora’s Air Control. Furthermore the twins usually Team Attack the task at hand when using their Air Control together, by flying in synch.
  • Flash can only be used when Northstar and Aurora join hands.
  • Joining hands uncontrollably result in a Flash, and Flash is always used at full APs.
  • Flight can be used so close to the ground that it essentially doubles as Running.
  • Superspeed is Contingent Upon Flight.
  • Superspeed cannot be used for Tasks or Perception Checks – though it can sub for Acrobatics (Athletics, Skiing) and could conceivably sub for Vehicles (Land).
  • On the other hand, Superspeed can sub for both DEX and EV at the same time.

Skills:
Accuracy (Air control): 06, Acrobatics (Athletics, Skiing)*: 04, Evasion (Ranged only): 10, Evasion (Aerial only): 07, Vehicles (Land): 04

Bonuses and Limitations:
Evasion is Contingent Upon Superspeed.

Advantages
“Insta-Change” (Beaubier can use his Superspeed to make his face very hard to see clearly or photograph), Headquarters (Expansive – his estate in Laval), Language (French), Local Hero (Canadian ski fans and many teenage girls).

Connections:
Alpha Flight (Low), Rogue (Low), Ex-FLQ militants (Low).

Drawbacks:
Dark Secret (terrorist past), Dependent (Aurora, 0 pts), Secret ID (both as a super-hero and as a gay man), MIA toward Abrasiveness, Misc.: Jean-Paul is a mutant, though in Canada that doesn’t mean Mistrust.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Helper(s): Chris Cottingham, Roy Cowan.

Writeup completed on the 20th of September, 2013.

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