Alpha Flight (1st series) #1

Issue Date: 
August 1983
Story Title: 
Tundra !

John Byrne (writer, artist), Andy Yanchus (colors), Joe Rosen (letters), Denny O'Neil (editor), Jim Shooter (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

James MacDonald Hudson, a.k.a. Vindicator, contemplates the Canadian government’s recent letting go of Alpha Flight. Governmental liaison Gary Cody interrupts, and offers any support that he can give, as Vindicator decides that even without the team he will continue to fight for Canada. In Quebec, Olympic skier, Jean-Paul Beaubier arrives to visit his twin sister Jeanne-Marie at the school where she works and lives. After some small talk the two get into a heated argument about Jeanne-Marie's unwillingness at facing up to who she really is – Aurora. Meanwhile, an aging man, slightly deranged, carves a humanoid shape into the Northwest tundra, and begins an ancient spell. In his medical practice, Dr. Michael Twoyoungmen picks up on the spell after being sent a mystic signal by his long-dead grandfather, likewise does Snowbird who is flying across the land. Vindicator arrives at his flat where he lives with his wife, Heather McNeil Hudson. They are contacted by Gary Cody, who advises them to turn on the television. The couple watch strange happenings at Resolute Bay. Much to Heather's annoyance Vindicator flies off to investigate, reminding her that there is no Alpha Flight any more. Heather, not content to let her husband go off alone, contacts other members of Alpha Flight by sending out the signal. Puck and Marrina, members of Beta Flight who were about to be moved up to Alpha Flight receive the signal, just like Alpha Flight veterans Sasquatch, Aurora and Northstar. They all try to make their way to Resolute Bay as quickly as they can. Aurora and Northstar have no trouble flying, while Marrina easily can swim the distance. Sasquatch organizes himself an army helicopter, only Puck has problems getting a transportation, as he is not recognized as Alpha Flight member. Snowbird arrives first and seeing a huge figure consisting of the land itself, she realizes that her opponent is Tundra, one of the Great Beasts, her sworn enemies. She is joined by Vindicator and Shaman, but neither can really harm the Beast. When Sasquatch arrives, he can at least harm Tundra by ripping out some of it’s mass, but he is easily dealt with. Flying around Tundra at superspeed, the mutant twins come up with a way to further harm the Beast. Shaman explains that Tundra consists of the land and has to be defeated by erosion, so he creates a rain storm, but there is not enough water in the area. This changes when Marrina arrives on a spout of water, which Shaman takes control of and unleashes on Tundra, thus washing him away. Back at the Hudson's home, Alpha Flight decide to remain together even without the funding or support of the government. Puck soon joins them and tells them not to change the name , as he always wanted to be part of Alpha Flight. The others agree and as Sasquatch and Puck get into a little fight, Heather wonders if this is such a good idea...

Full Summary: 

James MacDonald Hudson stands alone in the top secret complex beneath Parliament Hill, and ponders over the recent disbanding of Alpha Flight by the Canadian government. He recalls their last battle with the Wendigo in which he, Snowbird and Shaman teamed up with Wolverine and Nightcrawler of the X-Men. He wonders what will happen, not only to the members of Alpha Flight, but their training groups, Beta Flight and the raw recruits Gamma Flight. Gary Cody, Alpha Flight’s governmental liaison, arrives and reminds Hudson that the power is being switched off soon. However he also offers to keep in touch with Hudson, as an unofficial liaison. Vindicator reminds Cody that he will still be there to serve his country, after all he has nothing else to do, and departs, wondering if Captain America ever had problems like this.

Two thousand miles Northwest. An elderly and seemingly mad man sits outside his tent. A small fire dwindling and belongings scattered around. The man is obsessed with death and thinks to himself about those who have laughed at him. He arises and begins to carve a shape into the snow - an enormous shape, one that resembles a humanoid figure. With his task partly completed he returns to his camp and retrieves an ancient metal headband, places it upon his head, and it begins, as magic swirls in the air.

The Sarcee Reserve, just outside of Calgary Alberta. In his office, Dr. Michael Twoyoungmen sits at his desk - but is suddenly startled by subtle mystic signal from his grandfather. Knowing some trouble stirs, as his grandfathers' spirit only contacts him when modern science cannot be a match for the peril, Shaman opens a box, with his grandfathers' skull inside it. He waits to be spoken to.

LaValle, Quebec, more specifically, Madame Dupont's School for girls. Jeanne-Marie Beaubier walks through the quiet old school, when she is mobbed by schoolgirls, asking if the rumors regarding her famous brother's visit were true. As if on cue, Jean-Paul Beaubier, famous Olympic skier, arrives in a sports car. It is he who then becomes the center of attention as the schoolgirls bombard him with questions. Jean-Paul mentions to his sister the two's recent adventure in New York with the Machine Man, but Jeanne-Marie quiets him and leads him away from the schoolgirls to her room.

On the way they are stopped by Sister Anne, a nun who reminds Jeanne-Marie of the rules regarding men in her quarters. Jeanne-Marie replies: “This is not a man - I mean of course he is a man, but he is also my brother.“ The nun apologizes and the siblings enter Jeanne-Marie's room.
Northstar asks Jeanne-Marie why in the two weeks since Alpha Flights disbanding she has not left the school to live with him. Jeanne-Marie replies by saying that she is home, with the nuns who raised her. Jean-Paul tells her this is not a home, but a prison. Someone with such a free spirit as her should not be caged, nor should she hide her mutant powers. Jeanne-Marie disagrees, should she use her powers as Northstar does, for personal gain? Northstar angrily tells her that one should use any gifts they are given to their fullest. Jeanne-Marie tells him he is cheating, but Jean-Paul tells her it is she who is cheating by hiding behind reading glasses she does not even need.

Jean-Paul tells his sister that he has no love for James Hudson, other than the fact that it was he who reunited the twins and set Aurora free, and that she shouldn't be denied. Jeanne-Marie angrily remarks: “Deny her? I hate her ! She is a devil, a foul imp who uses me. She is perverse !“
Jean-Paul drags his sister in front of a mirror and tells her that Aurora is her true face as Northstar is his. Jeanne-Marie is no contest for Northstar, though she knows the words he speaks are true and that he is concerned for her. She passes out. Northstar contemplates: “What could be greater harm, than which you do yourself ?“. He curses Hudson for bringing them back together, when all they can do is fight, and he curses the government for closing down Department H, for while he hates Alpha Flight in general, he fears Aurora can have no life without it.

138 Laurier Drive, Ottawa, the flat of James and Heather Hudson. Heather waters her plants after neglecting them for some time, when Vindicator flies through an open window. They talk about Hudson's last day at Parliament Hill before cracking a joke about getting married. “How about ten years ago next Thursday ?“ The phone rings and it is Gary Cody who suggests the Hudsons turn on the television. The scene they see is of Resolute Bay, where a brilliant light, which scientists have confirmed not to be a manifestation of the Northern Lights, is visible. The Hudsons learn it started about forty minutes ago, though no one knows for sure what is happening. Vindicator tells Heather that he is going to investigate. Heather suggests he contact Snowbird or Shaman, as it is more their field of expertise. She really thinks he should contact the rest of Alpha Flight. As he leaves the same way he came in, James tells his wife that there is no Alpha Flight.

Not one to sit by idle, Heather pulls back a book from a bookcase, opening a secret room. Computer cards that hold the signal to contact the rest of Alpha Flight, as well as cards with Beta, Gamma and potential recruits lay scattered on the floor. Heather searches through for the gold-edged Alpha Flight cards in doing so discovers two whom she has never met, labeled Puck and Marrina. She realizes they must have been Beta Flight members who were ready to move up to Alpha Flight had they not been disbanded. She inserts the cards into the computer: “So as of now you're all officially active !“

Toronto, Corky's Tavern, in a run down part of town. Mary, the waitress, is being hassled by two drunks. The barman asks Eugene Milton Judd if he will do something about it. The short man agrees to, and tells the revelers to lay off. The men just laugh at him - until he easily knocks the two of them out. Suddenly a microscopic implant within his skull is activated - Puck has received the Alpha signal. Ecstatic he rushes out of the bar and cartwheels down the street.

Newfoundland. A lone figure stands on the rough edge of the ocean staring out, until someone shouting startles her. The strange yellow skinned woman turns around and realizes it is Dan Smallwood. He rushes up to her bringing her a brooch, he tells her he thinks there has been a signal. Marrina is puzzled as she thought Alpha Flight was no more, but agrees something must be amiss as the stone still pulses. She strips off her clothes revealing a green swimsuit of sorts underneath, and dives into the rugged ocean. While Dan looks on, worried about what may happen to her, and what he would do if something did.

The Great Forests of Northern British Columbia. Dr. Walter Langkowski enjoys a pastime hiking, when he receives the signal also. A former grid-iron star he acts instinctively charging forward, stripping his clothes as he goes, and begins the transformation - from man into monster – Sasquatch. The doctor also thinks to himself how painless this recent transformation was, that his body chemistry must finally be adapting.

Resolute Bay. An Ookpik (arctic owl) flies through the sky, however, as the bird moves closer to the strange lights that swirl above the shape on the ground, it too changes shape, into that of a beautiful female humanoid shape, though not the creature’s true form. She is Snowbird, her metamorphic powers are but one of many gifts the demi-goddess possesses. Snowbird invokes her mother, Nelvanna, to give her the strength she will need to battle here, as she senses the energies of her ancient enemy. Narya worries as she realizes the strange shape on the ground will become Tundra, the Great Beast who imprisoned the Northern Gods beyond Earth's realm. If they could not stop Tundra, how could she? Snowbird observes the human agent, whose decayed form lays scarred into the landscape, and whose life-force has been consumed, igniting the spark that will give soul to the Beast. It begins. The rough shape that was drawn into the land begins to rise, out of the tundra that it is. It arises, enormous, and curses its ancient enemies.

Meanwhile the captain of the Weather ship, Tango Delta Nine, discusses, with a crewmate, a sudden anomaly that appeared on the radar - moving at eight hundred knots. The captain is in disbelief - no ship could move that fast. His crewman replies saying that it is not a ship, but organic...."It" is in fact Marrina. She moves through the ice cold depths with ease, and though her speed is extremely fast, she turns up at a 90 degree angle and leaves the ocean - on a water spout, which towers above the Tango Delta Nine.

Northstar and Aurora are flying en route to Resolute Bay. Aurora wants to play games with her brother and go faster, but Northstar tells her to conserve her strength, as they do not know what lies ahead. Aurora tells her brother that he is too cautious and that she must be allowed to fly and be free. Northstar calls her Jeanne-Marie - and Aurora reminds him not to call her that - she is Aurora, not Jeanne-Marie. Northstar tells her she is a puzzle within puzzles and she tells him that he is never content. Jean-Paul asks Aurora why must Aurora and Jeanne-Marie treat each other as strangers? Northstar and Jean-Paul are one and the same. She replies by telling him ”because it pleases us to do so” before flying off and telling him to catch her if he can. Of course he could easily catch Aurora, for while she can fly longer, he can fly faster. Northstar contemplates, and fears that his sister might actually be mad.

Mansfield Airbase, twenty miles west of Toronto. Puck approaches the guard, telling him he is with Alpha Flight and needs a plane as he is on a priority-1 call. The guard shrugs him off. He has seen pictures of Alpha Flight and Puck was never in any of them. Puck flips the guard over, telling him he is called Puck - and the guard laughs - what kind of name is that? He continues that if Eugene Milton Judd wants to get in, he needs written clearance. Though he could sneak into the airfield easily, Puck does not want to have to fight the whole base, and storms off angrily, still looking for a plane.

Back at Resolute Bay, Snowbird reminds herself that she must stop the Beast within twenty minutes, before its power is fully reawakened. In a language she has never spoken, though can speak more easily than English, Snowbird talks to Tundra. Tundra is about to brush Narya off when he recognizes her true stature - that of his sworn enemies. Using his control over creatures of the North he summons mosquitoes to surround Snowbird. Too afraid to use her transmorphic powers (should Tundra wrestle control over her) Narya can only be consumed by the insects.

At that time, Vindicator arrives, amazed at the giant Beast made from land. He quickly recognizes Snowbird trapped in the black cloud of bugs, and uses his electromagnetic powers (derived from the super powered suit he wears) to create a plasma funnel, thus Snowbird can escape the mosquitoes. In turn, Tundra hurls rocks at Hudson, but he is protected by his electromagnetic forcefield.

Shaman arrives, recognizing the Beast, and tries to reason with the mortal mind within - but Tundra is too powerful for him, and proceeds to step on him, intending to crush the Indian beneath tons of mass. Shaman barely escapes and understands that the mortal man whose spirit gave life to Tundra was weak, for Tundra to wrestle control so easily.

Vindicator tries an electromagnetic blast on Tundra - science versus sorcery - and the Beast screams. The land echoes in agony, and for one hundred miles around, the land is ripped apart. Snowbird flies by and orders Mac to stop, as Tundra is one with the land, and by attacking it Vindicator may shatter all of Canada. Tundra concurs with the goddess, and to prove he is one with the land - he lumbers forward, the earth trembling in his wake, and quadruples in size.

Just above Tundra, a Canadian Armed Forces helicopter drops off Sasquatch, who plummets towards Tundra - something big enough for him to finally test his strength on. Sasquatch lands on Tundra, who doesn't notice the one ton impact, until Sasquatch rips chunks of land out of the Beasts body. Moving quickly, Tundra flicks Sasquatch away - who is pushed past the mutant twins now arriving. While Aurora expresses concern for her teammate, Northstar tells her to forget about him. It is now their turn to act, and they do. Flying at super speed around the Beast, landmass slowly starts to crumble away from it.

Realizing how long it will take, Vindicator is about to suggest something else until Shaman steps in and tells him that only the forces of natural erosion can stop Tundra. Snowbird warns Shaman to act fast before the Beast can protect itself. Summoning mystic forces, Shaman unleashes torrential rain on Tundra, which begins to wash the giant away. While Vindicator thinks it is working, Shaman tells him Tundra already replenishes itself, and that there is not enough water in the air for a second rain.

Snowbird sees what looks like a waterspout, but it can’t be, as they are miles away from any open water. Vindicator notices it too, and also who is responsible for the spout. He wonders what Marrina is doing here. He tells Shaman that all the water he needs is there, and flies towards the waterspout. The twins realize that a diversion is needed so that Tundra does not see it. They link hands, and the most brilliant light floods the entire land.

Hudson pulls Marrina from the spout and Shaman casts a spell again, "grabbing hold" of Marrina's waterspout, and floods Tundra with it...ending it’s control over the land, as it is dissolved. A small salty lake is formed where the Beast stood, and it slowly seeps into the ground. At the bottom of the new body of water, the madman is sinking in the mud.

(twelve hours later)
138A Laurier Drive. The Hudson’s landlady, Francois complains to her husband Georges about all the strange visitors the Hudsons are receiving. He shrugs her off, after all, they pay their rent on time. Upstairs, in the Hudsons flat, Heather tells Mac that she isn't happy with Aurora being here, but she can stay as long as she stops making goo-goo eyes at James. He replies by telling her to be patient with Aurora, as she is...troubled. The join the others in the living room.

Dr. Langkowski tells James that they have an announcement. As the heroes work well together, they have decided to stay together, even without the support of the government. Vindicator is very surprised, especially by Northstar, who will stay, but mainly because Aurora is in the team. Snowbird tells Hudson that some serious organization is needed, and that they were lucky Marrina showed up. Marrina asks if there is a place for her on the team, and Hudson tells her she was ready, there will always be room.

Heather suggests the team change its name, to assert its independence. Hudson agrees, as with no more Beta or Gamma Flight's it makes no sense to call them selves Alpha. However he thinks their American cousins have taken all the good names. Suddenly a knock on the door - it is Puck! Hudson asks if he got the call too? Puck replies he was ready, wasn't he? Hudson agrees, and tells him to come in and meet the others, that they were just trying to decide upon a new name - when Puck tells him he want to be in ALPHA FLIGHT. Walter picks up Puck by the neck and agrees that Alpha Flight is a fine name, and that the team could use a mascot...Puck gets offended and begins a fight with Walter, while Heather thinks this is suddenly not such a good idea ...

Characters Involved: 

Aurora / Jeanne-Marie Beaubier, Marrina / Marrina Smallwood, Northstar / Jean-Paul Beaubier, Puck / Eugene Milton Judd, Sasquatch / Dr. Walter Langkowski, Shaman / Dr. Michael Twoyoungmen, Snowbird / Anne McKenzie, Vindicator / James “Mac“ MacDonald Hudson (all Alpha Flight)
Heather McNeil Hudson, Vindicator’s wife
Gary Cody, Alpha Flight’s governmental liaison

Dan Smallwood, Marrina's adopted brother
Georges and Francois, the Hudson's landowners
Sister Anne, at Madame Dupont's school for girls
Barman and waitress Mary, at Corky’s Tavern
Thomas Crossman, security guard at Mansfield Airbase
Captain and crewmate of the Tango Delta Nine

Richard Easton

In flashbacks :
Shaman, Snowbird, Vindicator (all Alpha Flight)
Nightcrawler, Wolverine (both X-Men)
Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister

In illustrative image / thought panel :
Aurora, Northstar, Sasquatch, Shaman, Snowbird (all Alpha Flight)
Box, Flashback, Marrina, Puck (all Beta Flight)
Diamond Lil, Madison Jeffries, Smart Alec, Wild Child (all Gamma Flight)

Story Notes: 

This is the first appearance of Puck and Marrina, as well as Gary Cody and Dan Smallwood, who will become supporting characters. It is also the first appearance of Tundra, who is only one of seven Great Beasts.

An illustrative image shows the line-ups of Alpha, Beta and Gamma Flight shortly before Department H closing down. Besides those that make up Alpha Flight at the end of this story, they are unnamed and do not even appear in this issue. Flashback, Box, Diamond Lil, Wild Child, Madison Jeffries and Smart Alec are introduced over the next 10-15 issues.

Vindicator, Snowbird and Shaman teamed up with the X-Men's Wolverine and Nightcrawler to battle the Wendigo in Uncanny X-Men #139-140. In the aftermath of that battle, Alpha Flight was officially disbanded.

Northstar and Aurora's adventure in New York occurred in Machine Man #18.

The hints are already there and the following issues fully establish that Aurora has a multiple personality disorder. “Jeanne-Marie”, aside from being Aurora's real name, is someone who dislikes Alpha Flight and using her powers, though she is able to. "Aurora" is the opposite, she is mostly carefree and loves using her powers. She and thinks Jeanne-Marie is a waif, while Jeanne-Marie calls Aurora a tramp.

Dan Smallwood is Marrina’s adoptive brother. This revelation is made over the next few issues that also deal with Marrina’s origin.

Puck's codename in part refers to a hockey puck, but it's actual intention was to be connected to Shakespeare's character Puck from “A Midsummer Nights Dream”.

Snowbird is Narya's codename. Anne McKenzie is Snowbirds civilian alias, used for her duties as an R.C.M.P. officer (she was given this role to help her adjust to mortal life), though she hardly uses this name and is seldom referred to by it. Narya has no last name.

Shaman arrived at Resolute Bay by means of his levitation. He can not fly, only levitate horizontally or vertically. It is unknown why he did not just teleport to the battle, possibly because of mystical interference.

The man who summoned Tundra is none other than Richard Easton, an archeologist who is actually the father of Snowbird (her mortal side). Snowbird does not think of herself as having a father, and never learned of Easton's existence. Had she known he was her father in no way would she have considered him one after raising a Great Beast. Snowbird‘s origin was revealed in the backstories of Alpha Flight (1st series) #7-8. Easton‘s meeting with the Northern Gods is shown here also.

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