GUARDIAN I: Page 3 of 4

Publication Date: 1st Jul 2011
Written By: Monolith.
Image Work: Peter Luzifer.


But things were not as they seemed. Faced with the knowledge that his exploding power pack would now kill not only him, but his wife as well, Hudson gambled on a theoretical application of the suit’s properties – by manipulating both gravity and electromagnetic forces in the proper manner, the explosion of the power pack could be used to open a rift in the space-time continuum, bleeding off the full force of the blast extra-dimensionally. The entire plan was conceived of and executed in 7/10ths of a second, as Mac knowingly sacrificed himself to the rift in order to spare Heather’s life. The displacement carbonized the air around him in the blast, leaving behind what appeared to be a silhouette of ash that crumbled into nothing.

The displacement cast Guardian ten thousand years into the past and millions of miles away, as he crash-materialized on the surface of Ganymede, one of Jupiter’s moons. Dying of exposure and lack of oxygen, Hudson was miraculously rescued by colonists of Ganymede, the non-humanoid aliens known as the Quwrlln. Possessing a highly-advanced and organically-grown form of technology, the Quwrlln did their best to preserve Hudson’s life, although their lack of familiarity with human physiology led them to rebuild Mac as a cyborg, incorporating the damaged circuitry of his exo-suit into his body.

The Quwrlln’s trans-optic scanners informed Hudson of just how far he had moved through time and space. Together, they conceived a plan for returning him to his proper time and place in the universe. Guardian was placed in stasis for ten millennia until his world was ready to receive him again. He awoke to find the Quwrlln had long since abandoned Ganymede but had left a starship behind to ferry him back home. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #25, 90]

Guardian’s ship crashed back to Earth only a short time (relatively speaking) after his battle with Omega Flight. Unfortunately, he did not awaken from the suspended animation immediately and his craft was recovered by a RoXXon salvage ship. The company secretly transferred him to their facility in Denver, Colorado and kept him in a comatose state for nearly two years while they tried to find a way to exploit his cybernetic mind for their benefit. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #90]

Unfortunately for RoXXon, Hudson’s mind was more than they bargained for. While his organic brain remained in a deep sleep, Mac’s mechanical self worked diligently to free him from his captivity. Eventually, it managed to integrate directly into the RoXXon facility’s cyberweb and assume control over the building’s mechanical systems.  After trying to solve the problem themselves with their own super-agent, Windshear, RoXXon was forced to take a calculated risk and summon the techno-forming Alphan named Madison Jeffries for aid, despite his known history with James Hudson. Facility coordinator Samuel Higgins kept the cause of their “mechanical difficulties” a secret, hoping Box could solve the situation without stumbling upon Hudson himself. Box sought out the mutant genius Forge to consult on the situation and Higgins realized his chances of hiding Hudson’s presence were dropping fast, so he attempted to execute the man. This caused Hudson’s mechanical systems to strike back in self-defense, turning the whole facility into a massive crater and revealing Hudson at its core. Box and Forge reached Hudson, and Madison managed to reawaken the human side of Mac’s brain by talking to him about Heather and Alpha Flight. Fully conscious, Hudson separated himself from RoXXon and returned to Canada where he rejoined Alpha Flight as Vindicator and was reunited with Heather. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #87-90]

However, their reunion proved to be more than a little bittersweet. Heather had grown in Mac's absence to take the role of Guardian and become leader of Alpha Flight, while Mac’s experience had changed him into a different man, and not just physically. His mind was now constantly balancing its humanity with its mechanical directives, giving him an outwardly cold and unfeeling demeanor. He had difficulty interacting with others, especially Heather, in anything more than a professional capacity. Despite it all, Mac still loved Heather very much and refused to allow their military liaison General Clarke to manipulate him into taking team leadership away from her. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #92] Personal issues aside, Vindicator proved to be a valuable asset to Alpha Flight and the newly-reactivated Department H. He saw through Doctor Doom’s ploy to manipulate the Canadian government into a treaty with Latveria and helped defeat the mind-raper known as Headlok by surrendering to his mechanical side, which could not be affected by the super-villain’s telepathic powers. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #91, 94]

Vindicator’s mechanical side had drawbacks that even he was unaware of, which revealed themselves in the midst of a pitched battle with the alien Consortium in Toronto. The cosmic-powered Her sought sanctuary in Canada from the Consortium, who wanted her head after she helped uplift an alien civilization and cast off their dictator, a business partner of the Consortium. As Alpha Flight and the Avengers fought off the alien invasion, Vindicator received a remote signal from the planet Quwrll and his old benefactors.

During Hudson’s 10,000 year sleep, the Quwrlln had developed an intense, almost pathological fascination with and fear of the planet-eater, Galactus. This myopic interest consumed their culture until their entire civilization became based around a constant study of and preparations for defense against Galactus. When his Herald Nova finally located Quwrll, their scientists activated a trans-dimensional bridge that moved their entire world into another universe to avoid being consumed. When Galactus managed to locate them anyway, the Quwrlln triggered a recall signal in Vindicator’s cybernetics. During his sleep, they had witnessed the Fantastic Four and other Terrans successfully drive off Galactus in past encounters and modified Hudson’s cybernetic programming while he was in stasis so that he could be used as their agent should the need arise.

His human personality completely submerged beneath the Quwrlln’s pre-programmed directives, Vindicator selected the most powerful Avengers and Alphans present and teleported them with him to Quwrll to battle Galactus. Though angry at being forcibly drafted from the protection of their own world to protect another, the united heroes nonetheless did their best to fight back Galactus. They proved only mildly successful, and even then only because the unique nature of the Quwrlln’s pocket reality played havoc with Galactus’s powers. When Galactus threatened to kill Heather, Vindicator managed to temporarily shrug off his mechanical side long enough to furiously attack the world-devourer in defense of his wife. As both sides rested between attacks, Galactus overheard Alpha Flight’s troubles with the Consortium and proposed a solution – the Consortium were known to power their executive vessels using miniaturized planets as an energy source, an uninhabited planet Galactus could feed on.

Working together, Galactus and the heroes constructed a trans-dimensional projector that would return everyone to their proper place, and enable Galactus to feed on the Consortium’s ships, thus satiating him and saving the Earth. Unfortunately, with Galactus’s powers on the fritz, only Guardian and Vindicator possessed the necessary electromagnetic power to energize the device. To do so, they would have to remain in the void, effectively killing them. Heather was prepared to sacrifice herself alongside her husband for the good of everyone, but the idea of letting Heather die caused Mac’s humanity to re-emerge one final time. Hudson shocked his wife senseless and turned her over to Box to carry safely home. Mac sacrificed himself to complete the trans-dimensional arc effectively saving two worlds, preserving an essential cosmic force and most importantly to James MacDonald Hudson, ensuring the woman he loved would live to carry on their dream. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #97-100]

Once again, death was not ready to accept Hudson. He was rescued from trans-dimensional oblivion by the Master of the World, an old nemesis of Alpha Flight who sought to converse with an equal. He rebuilt Mac in mind and body, expanding his consciousness so that Hudson reached the same level of evolution he himself had gained through his millennia of self-development. Of course, The Master also introduced some subtle brain-washing to the procedure to bring his new “equal” around to his way of thinking. He appealed to Hudson’s sense of order in orchestrating a plot to assume control of Canada and bring it into a new era of peace.

Adopting the new alias of Antiguard, Mac joined the Master in his efforts to control Canada’s augmented populace through the Super-Powers Act. As a a member of the Master’s new Omega Flight team, Mac fought against his former friends in Alpha Flight. However, fighting Heather directly exposed the Antiguard to her passion for Alpha Flight’s original dream to bring order to Canada while still allowing individual people their freedoms. Shrugging off the Master’s influence and his mechanical side’s own preference for logic and order, Hudson turned on the Master and helped Alpha disable his forces. Mac and Heather were reunited once more. Subsequently, Alpha Flight’s official status was suspended as Canada attempted to sort out their national policies on super-powers. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #129-130]

The Hudsons spent some time together away from super-heroing, working with a team of scientists up north. [Wolverine (2nd series) #83-84] They also lent their analytical skills to Professor Xavier and Hank McCoy in diagnosing the ongoing changes in Wolverine’s mutation that Logan was experiencing around that time. [Wolverine (2nd series) #91-92, 95] Despite their great love for each other, Mac and Heather began to drift apart – their lives had gone in two very different directions after his death and they now had trouble relating to each other. When Department H started to reorganize itself again, Jimmy took it as an excuse to take off without Heather for a time to help with the rebuilding process. It was a very different Department H than he was used to and was run by the shadowy figure known as Director X. Their operation included human experimentation, among other legal and ethical violations. Mac wanted nothing to do with this new department but before he could do anything about their activities, he was attacked from behind and taken prisoner.

Reasoning that Canada would always need a Guardian even if it wasn’t the original, Department H took the steps necessary to recreate their own version of Hudson, growing semi-organic synthoid doubles of Guardian and “downloading” his mind for their records. Guardian himself was launched out into space, his battle suit programmed to carry him up above the atmosphere and leave him there to freeze or suffocate, whichever came first. Luckily Mac’s survival instincts kicked in, even in his addled state of mind and he was able to redirect the suit’s flight path to eventually send him crashing back to Earth. [Alpha Flight (2nd series) #19] Landing in Antarctica, Mac would have died of exposure if his suit’s electromagnetic field hadn’t maintained his life signs. Fortunately, he was discovered by his old friend Walter Langkowski who happened to be on a research expedition nearby. [Alpha Flight (2nd series) #13] 

Walt brought Mac to Shaman, who was able to restore him in both body and mind. They were reunited with several other original Alphans and uncovered the dark workings of the new Department H. While hunting down Dept. H’s deadly new Weapon X, Guardian and his comrades ran across the current Alpha Flight team which included Heather and another Guardian. Despite some serious trust issues and unanswered questions, the two Alpha groups managed to work together to stop Weapon X before it could release a bacteria that would threaten all of Canada. In the aftermath, Mac learned that the other Guardian was a 19-year-old version of himself. This younger James Hudson believed himself to be the genuine article, unexpectedly de-aged during an attempt by Dept. H to use a process called the Lazarus Protocols to undo the changes to his body made by the Master and the Quwrrln. The confusion as to which Guardian was the real one and which was a copy was soon cleared up, and it was confirmed that the teenaged Guardian was a semi-organic synthoid duplicate of Hudson created by Department H and fed an edited version of Hudson’s memories to complete the ruse. [Alpha Flight (2nd series) #18-20]

[Note: Based on the revelations about the teenaged Guardian, it’s unclear whether the Lazarus Protocols ever truly existed or if the real Guardian succeeded in reversing his cybernetics. In either case, the original Guardian’s cybernetic enhancements have never been referenced again after this story.]