Alpha Flight (1st series) #101

Issue Date: 
October 1991
Story Title: 
Death and How to Live it

Fabian Nicieza (Writer), Tom Morgan (Penciler), Chris Ivy (Inker) Bob Sharen (Colorist), Janice Chiang (Letterer), Chris Cooper (Assistant Editors), Bobbie Chase (Editor), Tom DeFalco (Editor-in-Chief)

Brief Description: 

Northstar, accompanied by the Avengers Sersi and Vision, arrive at the home of Dr. Strange, in search of the missing Aurora and several other Alpha Flight affiliates. Using the Eye of Agamotto, Strange and the others travel to the Interdimensional Crossroads of Time, where the Sorcerer Supreme attempts to search every single doorway, however the process is very tough for him, and soon demons emerge from one of the opened doors. Northstar and the Avengers use their abilities to send the demons back to where they came from, and realizing this search could take for all eternity, Jean-Paul thanks Strange for trying, for with no luck so far, he doesn’t wish to continue. Hercules, She-Hulk, Quasar and Her have been helping Sasquatch and Windshear with the clean-up of Toronto, and after the Avengers leave, Her takes her leave as well, off to explore the rest of the planet, she thanks Alpha Flight for their help. Guardian and Puck talk about the second loss of Mac, and are informed by Kerry Patrick and General Clarke that now, more than ever, Alpha Flight has the government’s support. At the funeral for Mac, attended by the present Alphans, Heather says a few touching words, reminding everyone that Mac always leaves behind his dream. Diamond Lil undergoes surgery with the alien weapon she discovered that can cut her skin, and after the funeral is given the results - she doesn’t have breast cancer, much to her joy. Lil also discovers that with Mac’s death, Jeffries has no intentions of getting back with Heather, something else which pleases her.

Full Summary: 

Toronto, Canada, ‘Receive the gift, friend Sasquatch!’ exclaims the mighty Avenger Hercules as he smashes the furry Alphan Sasquatch, alias Doctor Walter Langkowski across the rubble-clustered Toronto. ‘Hercules, what kind of a moron are you?’ asks the Olympian’s jade teammate Jennifer Walters a.k.a. the She-Hulk. ‘Um, how many kinds are there?’ Sasquatch’s fellow Alphan Colin Ashworth Hume a.k.a. Windshear asks. The cosmic Avenger Wendell “Quasar” Vaughn just sighs, while the galactic woman know as Her and J’Ridia Starduster just looks on.

Hercules smiles, remarking that for days now, have the Avengers assisted their Canadian comrades in the cleaning of their fair burg - but now the time has come to frolic! Hercules wallops Sasquatch once more, this time angering Sasquatch, who tells Hercules that he is out of his “peanut-sized-muscle-bound-mind”. ‘And Sasquatch is no one’s punching bag!’ Sasquatch rushes Hercules, who is glad that Sasquatch finally joins the fray with zest.

Her admits that she is not well-versed in this planet’s customs and asks if they should be stopping Hercules and Sasquatch fighting. She-Hulk exclaims that they would be better off if Herc and Sas knocked each other out, and asks Windshear if he wants to stop them. ‘I’m out of this one,’ replies Colin. Quasar sighs, before flying over to the battling behemoths and informs them that playtime is over. Using his powerful Quantum bands, Wendell creates two solid lights hands and picks Sasquatch and Hercules up off the ground.

‘Zounds!’ exclaims Hercules, before warning Quasar not to interfere in an Olympian joust. Quasar replies that he isn’t interfering, but stopping it. Sasquatch calls Hercules and idiot and points out that Herc started it, so he just wants to finish it. Hercules claims that he merely sought to lighten the heavy mood on the furrowed brows of his friends.

She-Hulk tells Hercules that there is no need to make more of a mess than the city is already in. Hercules mutters that it is a trivial reconstruction at best, and begins to remind his allies of a time during his many labors. Quasar interrupts, pointing out that there is still a lot of work to do, to which Sasquatch declares that with the way things tend to go for Alpha Flight, it makes him wonder if it is even worth the effort.

Meanwhile, across the border, in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, standing outside the large mansion belonging to Doctor Stephen Strange the world’s Sorcerer Supreme, are three rather unique individuals. Jean-Paul Beaubier a.k.a. the handsome Northstar of Alpha Flight, the Eternal Sersi and the android Vision in his human form of “Victor Shade”, both of the Avengers. Jean-Paul remarks that he still could have flown himself here as they do not have time making this such a formal visit. Sersi informs Jean-Paul that when one is visiting an old friend one must always treat it as a social visit first and business as second.

Northstar knocks on the door of Dr. Strange’s Sanctum, informing Sersi that he doesn’t care for her pretentious preferences, especially not when his sister could be in grave danger. The door opens and Strange’s servant, Wong, greets Jean-Paul, Sersi and “Victor”, adding that the master is expecting them. Sersi supposes that if Strange is expecting them, then they may as well eliminate the trappings of civility, and snapping her fingers, Sersi and Jean-Paul appear in their super hero costumes, while the Vision returns to his true form.

Sersi gloats as she tells Wong that a little molecular clothing manipulation is nothing - parlor magic of a minor sort. Dr. Strange enters the room, announcing that if they have come seeking magic of a more tangible nature, then his Sanctorum is the place to be. His cloak flowing behind him, Strange asks his allies how he may be of assistance. Straight to the point, Northstar informs Strange that they need to find his sister Aurora, and other missing associates of Alpha Flight.

Jean-Paul explains that his sister and the others disappeared during the course of a recent battle and no one has any idea where they are. Sensing how tense Jean-Paul is, Sersi tells him to relax and suggests that they discuss this over tea. Annoyed, Jean-Paul turns to Sersi and points out that while she may be immortal, his sister is not, therefore they do not have time to waste in trivialities. The Vision explains that Aurora and the others were teleported away by a young mutant child called Laura Dean who was just recovering from a catatonic state.

Strange replies that he is familiar with Laura’s nascent abilities, however, that creates an understanding of the rather unpredictable nature of her powers, as they could be anywhere in the cosmos - if that is the case, then there is only one place to being the search, Strange explains, opening the Interdimensional Crossroads of Time. The four heroes stand on the Crossroads, as Strange informs them that they may search here without the static generated when looking beyond their dimensional plane from within.

Simplifying his explanation, Strange declares that here in the Crossroads, all dimensional paths converge, so they simply have to open the doors and look. The Vision says to the Doctor, if he isn’t mistaken, that there are approximately one billion, seven hundred million, three hundred and forty thousand doorways available to them. ‘Uhm…give or take a few, Vision,’ Strange replies, pointing out that there are also trillions of worlds within each of those doorways.

Annoyed, Northstar asks what it is they hope to accomplish here, to which Strange explains that they can hope to try - no matter the degree of difficulty or the seeming hopelessness of the situation, to do as best they can for their friends - that is what they can hope to accomplish. Strange asks Jean-Paul to allow him to concentrate while he uses the Eye of Agamotto to pierce the dimensional veil, and find those that they seek!

Back in Canada, this time at a cemetery near Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Dressed in black, two more of Canada’s premiere super hero team - Heather McNeil Hudson a.k.a. Guardian and Eugene Milton Judd a.k.a. Puck stand over the grave of James MacDonald Hudson a.k.a. Vindicator. Leaves blowing all around them, Heather remarks that she never thought she would be back here, and that it is odd, for it always felt so empty knowing that the first time her husband died, the funeral was merely a token gesture.

Judd reminds Heather that there was no body to bury, adding that traditionally, funerals are performed for the living, and not the dead. Heather replies that she knows, but that when Mac returned from the “dead”, she never thought to rectify the mistake of having an existing tomb for him, and now, now they are back to where they began - Mac is dead and they have no body to bury.

Judd grasps Heather’s hand and tells her that he knows this must be difficult for her, but Heather smiles and claims that it is different than last time, as she feels more a sense of sadness than despair - more a feeling of inevitability than tragic loss. The long-serving Alphans begin to walk away from the marking, Heather recalling that the first time Mac died, she felt a tremendous guilt and felt it had been her fault for it seemed so senseless, but this time, she doesn’t know how she feels, which she thinks must sound awful.

After all, Mac died in a conscious act of heroism, died saving millions - or billions - of lives. He lost his life performing an act of love. ‘There’s a certain ironic beauty to that, isn’t there?’ Suddenly, General Jeremy Clarke, Alpha’s military liaison and Kerry Patrick, Alpha’s government liaison appear before the two heroes. Heather remarks that she didn’t expect to see them here, to which Kerry explains that they had some business to attend to with the Prime Minister.

General Clarke admits to Heather that he hasn’t been her most ardent supporter, but that he wants to express his deepest sympathies for her loss and his utmost confidence in her now. Kerry informs Heather that the Prime Minister agrees with him in that more than ever, Alpha Flight has the country’s unwavering support. Heather thanks him, replying that it means more than she can say, before voicing her real concern - how does the rest of Alpha Flight feel?

Meanwhile, at Alpha Flight’s headquarters Department H in Toronto. Lillian Crawley a.k.a. Diamond Lil is about to undergo yet another examination. Her lover and teammate, Madison “Box” Jeffries, informs her that they are just about ready to start, adding that it might hurt a bit. Lying on the exam table, Lil reminds Jeffries that she has waited weeks to find out if the tumor in her breast is cancerous or not, so she has already been hurting a “bit” in a whole lot of ways.

Doctor Whitman Knapp, formerly Manikin of an earlier Beta Flight team, reminds Lil that the laser she obtained from the alien during the invasion has proven to be coherent enough to pierce even her diamond hard skin, so basically they are ready to give it a shot. Lil snaps back ‘This isn’t a game, Knapp!’ Jeffries calms Lil down, pointing out that Whitman’s heart is the right place, even if his foot is in his mouth. Lil replies that she knows, but she is just scared, ‘Having a doctor who looks like he is just outta diapers doesn’t help much either‘ she mutters. Jeffries assures Lil that no matter what the biopsy says, they will get through it together.

Lil is surprised, and turns to Jeffries, asking him if he is sure, and admitting that with Hudson having “kicked the bucket” she thought Madison would go back to Heather. Jeffries replies that he and Heather loved each other, but they weren’t in love, adding that he doesn’t know if he ever was. Tears falling from her eyes, Lil agrees, and Jeffries smiles as he tells Lil he was hoping to get the chance to find out though.

Turning to Knapp, Jeffries asks Lil if she is ready. ‘As I’ll ever be’ Lil replies. From the control booth, Knapp announces that he is regulating the laser’s intensity from the control booth, and tells Jeffries that he has to manipulate the machinery himself. He explains that they were not able to smoothly integrate the alien technology into their own, which is why they need Jeffries’ mutant powers to manipulate the machinery. Knapp explains to Jeffries to just follow the holographic display that appears on Lil for the incision pattern. ‘Man this kid just won’t shut up!’ mutters Lil, and as the laser starts, Jeffries smiles and tells her to have patience, before excitedly exclaiming that he is getting a clean break through Lil’s skin.

Seven miles away, an orientation of a different kind concludes. An Avengers Quinjet arrives to collect Hercules, who bids farewell to his Northern friends, admitting that these feats rivalled many labors of yore. ‘A clean city beats clean living in my book’ Windshear exclaims. Quasar turns to Her and asks if she is going to stay here for a while. ‘In this metropolis? No’ replies the golden girl, revealing that she is planning to see more of this planet though, adding that there is much she needs to learn of Earth and the people who populate it. Quasar takes to the air and tells J’Ridia that if she ever needs a personal guided tour, then she knows who to call. Her smiles and replies ‘Indeed’ before telling Quasar that he might be hearing from her soon.

Her turns to Sasquatch and Windshear and thanks them for their help in her time of need. ‘It’s what we get paid the big bucks to do’ Walt replies. ‘Do we? I haven’t seen a bloody pay check yet!’ mutters Colin. Her takes to the skies, asking the Alphans to give her thanks to their teammates. ‘Hasta la vista, goldie!’ Sasquatch shouts back. Colin asks what they should do now, to which Walt suggests they go home and see if Northstar is back. Colin adds that they can check up on Lil, before Walt remarks that they could go to the “Loose Moose” and have a pint. ‘Or two.’ ‘Or three’.

Back at the Crossroads of Time, Dr Strange has built up quite a sweat, not helped by Northstar standing behind him and asking ‘Anything yet?’ Sersi tells Jean-Paul to lighten up on Strange, asking him if he cannot see how taxing this is. Strange declares that he cannot find them, he cannot see their passing, like the scent of flowers scattered to the winds, but he cannot isolate their whereabouts, for every doorway he opens, a dozen more he must pass through.

Strange explains that all he can do is continue onwards, opening the dimensional doorways and peer through to catch a fleeting trace of the missing Alphans. Sersi gazes through the doorways and asks if this isn’t a little dangerous to the structure of the crossroads. Strange replies that it is very dangerous, but that he must leave all of the gateways he peers through open, lest by shutting them, he is forced to come around and open them again.

The Vision asks Strange if by keeping these portals open they are also allowing access to any living beings on the other side looking into them. ‘Yes, why do you ask?’ replies Strange. The Vision states that he believes they have opened a door and allowed unwanted guests in. ‘Incroyable!’ exclaims Northstar, as hundreds of demons start emerging from the gateways, uttering a loud growl. ‘Communicative group, aren’t they?’ Jean-Paul jokes. The Vision points out that while their language is unrecognizable, their intentions are not.

‘I know, robot, I was being cynical. Facetious. Flippant,’ mumbles Jean-Paul as he starts engaging the demons in battle. Sersi and the Vision also enter the fray, with the Vision telling Northstar that he doesn’t know if this is the proper time for such circumspect traits, adding that he is a synthezoid, not a robot. Dr. Strange tells his allies to keep the demons away from him, to push them back to the portal they came from, for if the demons are allowed to disrupt the Eye of Agamotto’s all-seeing stare, it could irreparably damage the Crossroad’s integrity.

Northstar begins circling the demons using his super speed, exclaiming that this should keep them nicely under control. ‘Indeed,’ exclaims Sersi, before telling Jean-Paul that despite how ill-mannered he is, she cannot fault his cleanliness, before declaring that she has the same retentive impulses as well - whenever she sees a mess she wants to clean it up! ‘And these dreadful, hairy things are most certainly a mess!’ she exclaims, encasing several of the demons in a globe, before asking the Vision if he has found the trash-can yet.

The replies by telling Sersi that if she is asking if he has isolated the dimensional portal from which these creatures emerged, then the answer is yes. ‘In that case, why don’t we scoot all these ill-mannered brutes out the door!’ declares Sersi. The Vision tells her that if she maintains her molecular field, then he can increase his density to sufficiently accomplish the task, and pushes the globe of demons back from where they came.

Sersi announces that it is all done, and asks Strange if he is doing all right. Sweat still pouring down his face, the Sorcerer Supreme replies that he is fine, but that there are still so many doorways to open, so many avenues which he has yet to exhaust. The Vision makes Strange realize that he will not be able to exhaust himself, but Strange protests that he cannot stop now, for they have come so far. Northstar walks up beside Strange and tells him that he has done all he can, but Strange wants to search a few more doorways.

Jean-Paul places a hand over the Eye of Agamotto, informing Strange that he would not serve the interests of his sister or the others if he killed himself trying to find them. Strange knows Jean-Paul is right, and closes the Eye of Agamotto, which in turn will close all the dimensional doorways. Dr. Strange is about to say something to Northstar, who tells the Doctor that he did as much as he possibly could, as much as anyone could have done. He tells Strange not to fault himself, and asks to be taken home.

Strange returns himself, Northstar and the Avengers to his Sanctum Sanctorum, and Northstar shakes his hand, thanking him for his assistance. Dr. Strange offers to continue to locate Aurora and the others, for they are alive, he felt that much, but finding them will prove to be laborious. Northstar replies that he will leave with no expectations, before turning to Sersi and the Vision and telling them that he appreciates what they have done and anything else that they may attempt, before biding them adieu. Sersi wishes Jean-Paul luck. With that, Northstar takes to the air and speeds back to Canada, thinking that he has lost Jeanne-Marie, after so many years of recriminations and wasted opportunities, he has indeed lost her.

Later, at a cemetery outside Toronto, Heather stands amongst her teammates - Sasquatch, Jean-Paul, Judd, Box, Lil and Windshear - as well as Kerry Patrick, General Clarke and other government officials. Heather thanks everyone for coming, announcing that there are some things she would like to say, as much for all of them living, as for Mac. Heather declares that the worth of heroes in this society have always been measured by the deeds they accomplish more so than the causes they serve.

Heather exclaims that if that barometer is not to be used, then Mac might not have even been a hero in society’s eyes - for he lost as many battles as he won, he made mistakes, and ultimately died. Heather declares that she would rather measure Mac, in fact all of them, by the cause which they all serve. ‘We serve the cause of justice. We serve the cause of peace’. Heather exclaims that it is something Mac believed in and fought for - with every fiber of his being and it made him a hero, ‘Which only we can turn into a reality’.

‘He passes, but he does not pass by. He has touched all of us to one degree of another. I question his miraculous return to life and sudden demise. I question the justice in that. But in my heart, I know he is not dead - because the memory of the good he did remains with us as long as we remain a team. And maybe that’s the true testament to the life of James MacDonald Hudson. He died leaving behind a dream. Goodbye, Mac. We’ll miss you’.

Back at Department H, the Alphans walk across the foyer, while Whitman Knapp approaches them, apologizing for missing the service, he explains that he was going over the biopsy results. Diamond Lil averts her eyes from the young doctor, when Heather and Box touch her on the shoulders, reassuring her. Lil frowns, urging Knapp to get to it. Going through some files, Knapp explains that they removed the tumor, which after various tests, has proven to be an infected cyst, which resulted in blood clotting, which in turn discolored the nipple… ‘IN ENGLISH!’ shouts Lil.

Whit smiles as he informs Lil that the cyst was benign, so she doesn’t have cancer. Box and Heather grab Lil before she collapses, then Box lifts her up in his arms, the other Alphans equally relieved for Lil. Northstar smiles and asks Lillian if she knows what this means. ‘What, Froggie?’ Lil replies. ‘It means there is always room for hope!’ Northstar exclaims.

Characters Involved: 

Box IV, Diamond Lil, Guardian III, Northstar, Puck, Sasquatch, Windshear (all Alpha Flight)

Dr. Whitman Knapp

General Clarke

Kerry Patrick

Hercules, Quasar, Sersi, She-Hulk, Vision (all Avengers)

Dr. Strange


Her / J’Ridia Starduster

Various Demons

Story Notes: 

The Avengers have been assisting Alpha Flight over the course of the last four issues against various alien enemies including Galactus. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #97-100]

Summoned to help Alpha Flight against the invading aliens, Aurora, along with Shaman, Persuasion, Witchfire, the recently comatose Laura Dean and her parents Susan and Darby all mysteriously vanished - teleported somewhere via Laura‘s mutant powers. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #98]

Mac first died in Alpha Flight (1st series) #12, the “funeral” (shown as a nightmare Heather had) was in Alpha Flight (1st series) #13. Mac’s resurrection occurred over the course of Alpha Flight (1st series) #87-90, only for him to die soon after in Alpha Flight (1st series) #100.

Diamond Lil was shot by an alien weapon that was able to pierce her diamond hard skin in Alpha Flight (1st series) #98. However, after learning that the weapon was actually attached to an alien, she was forced to make a hard choice and “removed” the weapon from the alien. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #99]

Heather and Jeffries dated from circa Alpha Flight (1st series) #50 and were even planning to get married, though those plans were thrown into disarray by firstly the return of Diamond Lil, and secondly Mac. Jeffries and Lil got back together, while Heather tried to rekindle what she and Mac once had though Mac had been changed too much with the cyborg programming now in him. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #71, 90]

Indeed, Quasar and Her do get together and Her, taking the name “Kismet” becomes a supporting cast member of his ongoing solo series.

Diamond Lil was thought to have breast cancer in Alpha Flight (1st series) #95.

This issue is in memory of Louise Lee.

Final issue for writer Fabian Nicieza.

Issue Information: 
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