Black with gray temples
Alpha Flight (1st series) #11
formerly Omega Flight, Beta Flight
• Summon multiple versions of his
own body back in time from
various moments in the future,
animating them to act as additional
manpower for his present self
Gardner Monroe was one of many super-powered Canadian citizens recruited by Department H in an effort to start the nation’s own governmentally sanctioned hero team. Nothing prior to his recruitment has been revealed, not even the circumstances under which he manifested his mutant powers. Gardner’s ability to summon dozens of future versions of himself earned him the codename Flashback and allowed him to act as an on-call army. While his power made him a valuable asset to the Flight program, each of Gardner’s temporal selves was a person of average strength and stamina, a fact he often neglected. Quite cocky and over-confident, Flashback also tended to forget to guard the back of his prime self, which was easy to recognize as each duplicate wore a negatively inverted version of his costume. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #26] For these obvious weaknesses, Flashback didn’t make it past the Beta Flight training squad.
Eventually, the Canadian parliament shut down Department H, and therefore, the three teams of heroes and heroes-in-training. Whereas Alpha Flight continued to serve Canada even without government funding, the members of Beta Flight and Gamma Flight were all but forgotten – until a robot woman named Delphine Courtney came into their lives. Working for James MacDonald Hudson’s (a.k.a. Guardian) former employer, Jerry Jaxon, Delphine Courtney assembled nearly all of the old Beta and Gamma Flight members into a new team - Omega Flight. Jaxon was furious with Guardian over a past encounter, and his ultimate plan was the destruction of Alpha Flight and the death of Guardian.
Equipped with a behavior influencer, Courtney manipulated Omega Flight into attacking Guardian and Alpha Flight when they came to his aid. As none of his teammates were capable of flight, it was Flashback’s task to fight Guardian himself. Gardner had his temporal selves appear in mid-air, and they tried to drag Guardian down to the ground with their weight, but he was knocked out before he could manifest enough duplicates to finish the task. Later on during the confrontation of the two teams, Guardian‘s suit was damaged and he was seemingly killed in the ensuing explosion. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #1, 11-12]
Though Jaxon too died, Delphine Courtney later returned with Omega Flight to finish the job they had started - the destruction of Alpha Flight. Courtney assumed the guise of the late Guardian, claiming to be back from the dead, and then lured Alpha Flight into a set-up. This time Flashback and his teammates managed to defeat Alpha Flight, though when Courtney turned Shaman’s pouch inside out, resulting in a vortex consuming all of reality, they fled the scene. Their getaway was stopped by Madison Jeffries, who used his power over technology to create a robot bigger and stronger than Courtney. As the robot lunged for Omega Flight’s leader, Courtney grabbed one of Flashback’s temporal counterparts to use him as a human shield. The temporal self got killed, and as Gardner cried out in shock, all his other temporal duplicates vanished into thin air. Having witnessed his own death, he knew that at some point in the future he would be summoned back to this moment to die. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #25-28]
The members of Omega Flight were taken into custody and convicted for being accomplices to murder, despite them having been mentally influenced. It is unclear how long Gardner was incarcerated, but over a year later, when the Canadian government decided to pardon the members of Omega Flight in exchange for them agreeing to serve on a new governmentally sanctioned team, Flashback had disappeared. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #76]
Naturally, it was assumed by everyone that his death had caught up with him. Actually, however, Gardner had gone into hiding. Considering that he needed to wear his costume to be summoned into the past (as his counterpart was wearing it when he died), Gardner swore off using his powers and destroyed his costume. [Alpha Flight (3rd series) #9]
After years living in seclusion, Gardner was shocked to find his costume appear in his apartment. Apparently the universe wouldn’t let itself be thwarted so easily, and no matter what he tried, Flashback found himself wearing his costume again. Realizing that it was only a matter of time before he would be called into the past, Gardner turned to the current incarnation of Alpha Flight for help. Nemesis struck Flashback with her enchanted blade, effectively killing him, and then dealt one of her teammates a similar blow to send them into the past in an attempt to alter the timeline. It took Alpha Flight several tries to get the desired result, and fortunately they did so before Nemesis had run out of teammates to slay. [Alpha Flight (3rd series) #8-12]
His temporal cycle broken, Flashback apparently retired from super-heroing, not that he ever really had much of a career in that business. However, if he planned on making up with his family for the years he spent in hiding, he will be too late. The names of his son and his daughter, Malcolm and Jenny Monroe, were among the files in Nick Fury’s caterpillar database. In this database, the former director of S.H.I.E.L.D. collected information on superhumans who have yet to make a public debut and as such are rather unlikely to have been brainwashed by enemy agents or replaced by alien shapeshifters. [Secret Warriors #1]
Just like their father both siblings were gifted with the same power to call up temporal selves of themselves, down to the color-inverted clothes the duplicates were wearing. To afford their luxurious lifestyle, Malcolm robbed a few banks in Toronto. Although Jenny was not involved in her brother’s crimes, she too let herself be drafted into a covert strikeforce led by Nick Fury’s son Mikel in exchange for all criminal charges against them being dropped. In retrospect this was a bad choice, considering that the entire team got killed during a mission. [Secret Warriors #24] It remains to be seen how Gardner will react to these news.
In the Age of Apocalypse, Flashback was among those few mutants who did not prosper under Apocalypse’s new world order. Although mutants were considered the ruling class, Apocalypse made sure that there was none left to challenge him or to undo the circumstances that led to his reign. As such, he had everyone with telepathic or chronal abilities hunted down. Flashback was mentioned to have been missing in action, although quite likely he was killed with there being no witnesses to his death.
Gardner’s counterpart in the reality ruled by Magneto’s House of M didn’t fare any better. Once again, Gardner was not part of the ruling mutant class, but instead served Baron Strucker among a small strikeforce that fought against mutant supremacy. During one of their missions, they were opposed by Kree emissary Genis-Vell. During the battle, Genis’ cosmic awareness interacted with Flashback’s temporal ability in unexpected ways. Whereas Gardner was sucked into the timestream to never be seen again, Genis remembered the world as it should have been before it had been changed by the Scarlet Witch’s reality-warping powers.