Alpha Flight (1st series) #103

Issue Date: 
December 1991
Story Title: 
El Equipo Primero, part 2: Spontaneous Combustion!

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

Brief Description: 

Diablo has changed Heather’s body so she fits inside a test tube, except for her head which remains normal size, and torments her and the chained Weapon Omega. As he reveals his plan to them, Heather and Weapon Omega learn that he is going to sell vibranium he created to the world powers, though the Alphans know that the vibranium wont last long because created by alchemy, it is only transitory. After Diablo leaves to go meet with the world power representatives, Weapon Omega frees himself, then drops the test tube Heather is in, reverting her back to her original size. They defeat the earth elemental, before making their way to stop Diablo and his negotiations with the world power representatives. Sasquatch battles the USAgent, who addresses Sasquatch as a terrorist for getting involved in the affairs of Tierra del Maiz. After he disarmed all the bombs Sasquatch set, the USAgent gives him a run for his money, until Northstar enters the scene, picking up the detonators, he speeds around the countryside putting the bombs back together, just in time for one of them to explode behind the USAgent, knocking him out. Sasquatch and Northstar arrive at the negotiations to help Heather and Weapon Omega, until Diablo unleashes his Elematrix, a combination of the four elements, which attempts to destroy the Alphans when Diablo uses a paralysing gas on them. The injured Jeffries tries to convince Lil to leave him, but Lil isn’t going to, so when Madison asks her to marry him, she accepts his offer. Realizing he still has his mutant powers, Jeffries restructures the broken Boxship into a small craft with a large drill on it, and after putting out the fire elemental, drills his way through the Elematrix and rescues his teammates. Weapon Omega then tricks Diablo and causes him to blow himself up. With everyone safe and Tierra del Maiz free, Alpha Flight warn the world power representatives to forget that they were ever here, before Weapon Omega takes off his mask and reveals who he really is, shocking his teammates. Meanwhile in Canada, Windshear goes on national television where the “Canada A.M.” host informs him that people think Alpha Flight made the wrong decision in aiding Her, thus destroying much of Toronto, to which Windshear claims he didn’t support the decision, and deep within Department H, Headlok searches Aurora’s brain for a split-personality that he detected earlier.

Full Summary: 

‘I don’t know why you’re complaining, Guardian - most women would love to lose a few extra pounds. I call this “Better dieting through alchemy,”’ the master alchemist Diablo remarks to Heather McNeil Hudson, the leader of Alpha Flight, Canada’s premiere super heroes. Indeed, Heather has lost a few extra pounds - Diablo has shrunken her so much that her entire body fits into a test tube, but her head remains the same size, sticking out of the glass. Heather tells Diablo that the jury is going to call this “justifiable homicide” if she ever gets her hands on him.

Pacing around his laboratory in his castle fortress in the Central American nation of Tierra del Maiz, Diablo asks Heather where she got the idea that he would let her leave here alive. Chained to the wall behind them, Alpha Flight’s newest member, the masked Weapon Omega, declares that he doesn’t see that as a problem. Diablo calls Weapon Omega Heather’s boyfriend and walks over to him, and remembering his name, Weapon Omega tells him he has a good memory. Diablo boasts that he remembers all two thousand years worth of changing one element into another, and proceeds to do so to Weapon Omega’s skin, changing it into molten lava, and back again.

‘I’d applaud, but my hands are restrained,’ Weapon Omega jokes, not seeming to feel any pain. Diablo pauses for a moment, before admitting that he is impressed. Stuck in the test tube still, Heather exclaims that if the floor show is over, she would like to know why Canada is the only country opposing Diablo’s dictatorship. Diablo grins as he exclaims that the major world powers are more interested in an unlimited supply of artificially-created vibranium than the civil rights of the people of Tierra del Maiz.

Heather tells Diablo that he is insane, as alchemy is a transitory science, so the vibranium would never last. ‘You might want to bring that up at the trade negotiations…that is, if you were invited!’ Diablo grins, telling Heather that she is not invited, jokes that the world representatives will have to figure that out on their own. Diablo disappears in a cloud of smoke, leaving the leader of Alpha Flight to get better acquainted with her newest team member. ‘What are you staring at?’ Heather snaps at him.
Several miles away, Diablo’s roaring fire elemental traipses across the jungle of Tierra del Maiz, destroying everything in its path. Unfortunately, two members of Alpha Flight happen to be in that path - Lillian Crawley a.k.a. Diamond Lil, and the injured Madison “Box” Jeffries. Jeffries is still urging Lil to leave him and save herself, pointing out that although she has diamond-hard skin, she still needs to breathe, so that fire-thing will fry her lungs if she doesn’t go. ‘Mr. Jeffries, you say the most romantic things!’ Lil jokes.

Jeffries tells the sultry Lil that he is being serious, reminding her that the Box armor is ruined and he cannot be moved. Jeffries tells Lil that she will die if she stays, but a teary-eyed Lil just asks Jeffries what kind of life she would have without him. Lil holds onto Jeffries as Madison asks her, if they get through this, to marry him. Lil whispers, ‘If we make it through this…yes!’ and places a kiss on Madison’s lips as the fire elemental continues its rampage.

At that moment, the West Coast Avenger known as USAgent is slammed into a large tree trunk by Alpha Flight’s Dr. Walter Langkowski, in his Sasquatch form of course. Sasquatch looms over Agent, ‘You were saying something about hurting me?’ Walt asks. John Walker tells Sasquatch that he didn’t recognize him in his human form, but he realizes now that he is Sasquatch. ‘Wow. You must own a television set’ Sasquatch jokes. Agent jokes that it must be where he got the idea to pull the fuses from those terrorist bombs Sasquatch planted, adding that the five bombs would have knocked out this governments communication-scrambling towers.

A furious Sasquatch asks the USAgent if he knows how long it took him to set those detonators, and kicks a large rock at him. ‘Talk about a waste of a perfectly good afternoon! And who are you calling a terrorist?’ The handsome Agent dodges the rock, informing Walt that the United Nations voted not to get involved in the affairs of Tierra del Maiz, ‘That makes you a terrorist in my book!’ ‘And what book is that - Mein Kampf?’ asks Walt as the Agent’s shield strikes him on the shoulder.

‘Sticks and stones,’ mutters Walker, before informing Walt that Canada has no political right here. ‘And America does?’ asks Sasquatch. Lunging at Sasquatch from a small rise, USAgent claims that it gets a bit complicated there. ‘Let me uncomplicated it for you’ Walt declares, informing Walker that Alpha Flight is involved because people are being hurt. Grabbing the USAgent as he comes down on him, Walt shoves him into a tree, ‘Not the least of which is you!’ he snarls.

Half a world away, on the set of Canada A.M. is the Alphan Colin Ashworth Hume, better known as Windshear. Ms. Hustings, the host, introduces Windshear and explains to the viewers that Windshear is representing Alpha Flight and is here to respond to the charges that Canada’s official super team “dropped the ball” in its recent battle against an unknown army called the Consortium. Windshear tells Ms. Hustings that he is not aware of any charges, to which Ms. Hustings tells him there are no official charges, but that her viewer survey reveals that the Canadian people are severely disappointed in the team’s decision to aid the cosmic being known as Her.

A video clip begins to be played, and Ms. Hustings points out that the battle nearly devastated Toronto. Watching from the sidelines is Windshear’s teammate, Eugene “Puck” Judd, who thinks to himself that this is exactly the type of “ambush interview” he was hoping to avoid when he abdicated the position as the team’s Acting Chairperson to Windshear. Windshear declares that personally, this is now what he would have done, to which Ms. Hustings smiles and tells him that it is reassuring to think someone in Alpha Flight has the public’s best interests in mind. Judd frowns, thinking that Windshear’s comment was hardly very sporting, but what can he expect from Colin’s first time speaking in public?

Back at the castle, Weapon Omega has started whistling. Heather is surprised at this, to which Weapon Omega claims it helps him relax, and suddenly his slips out of his chains. Guardian asks him if he just relaxed himself out of those chains, to which Omega replies that in a manner of speaking, yes he did. Heather asks Weapon Omega if he had the ability to do that all along, why would he let Diablo keep him restrained for so long. Picking up the test tube Heather is trapped in, Weapon Omega asks what better way to gain free access to Diablo’s castle, thereby discovering the extent of his most recent bid for world domination?
Holding the test tube above the concrete floor, Heather asks Omega what he is doing now. ‘Trust me’ Weapon Omega says as he lets the test tube and Heather fall to the ground, which, after the test tube breaks, returns Heather to her regular size. Heather asks Weapon Omega how he knew that would work, to which Omega admits that he didn’t, but figured that since alchemy is transitory science, when Heather’s shrunken body was exposed to air, Diablo’s potions would lose their potency.

Heather puts her mask back on as she tells Weapon Omega that he must surely understand if she doesn’t thank him, because saving each others lives is all part of the business. Motioning to the earth elementals that rise up behind them, Omega tells Heather that if he asks for her assistance battling them, she won’t consider it an imposition. ‘Not at all’ replies Heather as she turns to the earth elementals and unleashes a wide-range electromagnetic force blast on them, ripping them apart.

Weapon Omega looks at the dirt and remarks that stopping them is one thing, and asks if killing them was necessary. Heather tells Omega that “them” was nothing but animated dirt, they were never actually alive. Heather begins to fly off, telling Weapon Omega that if he is going to survive as a member of Alpha Flight, then sometimes you have to make difficult decisions. Omega mutters to himself that making difficult decisions is exactly what got him into this mess to begin with.

Elsewhere in the jungle, Sasquatch lets loose a mighty roar, telling himself that it was so realistic he almost scared himself, before smashing Agent into a tree. Agent grabs Sasquatch and flips him over, declaring that he is not impressed by his growling or by his “super strength”. Walt compliments Walker on his judo toss, before telling him that if he thinks he has fallen and cannot get up, then he is wrong. Agent tells Sasquatch that he will get up all right - right in front of the United Nations where he will be tried for his attempted terrorist actions. Agent adds that if he hadn’t defused the bombs they would have exploded by now.

Suddenly, there is an explosion - the comm-scram tower blows up right behind USAgent who is tossed aside. Just as suddenly, the handsome Jean-Paul “Northstar” Beaubier of Alpha Flight appears at Sasquatch’s side and helps him to his feet, saying that according to Department H intelligence, USAgent is quite resilient, and though he will be bruised, he will live. Jean-Paul asks Walter how he is, but Walter just wants to know what happened.

Jean-Paul reveals that he arrived in time to see Walker drop the fuses, so he took a few moments to race around the countryside and put them back in the detonators. Jean-Paul points out that with the comm-scram towers destroyed, time is of the essence, for they must stop Diablo and leave Tierra del Maiz before the rest of the world learns of Canada’s involvement.

Diablo stands on a podium before the world-power representatives and smirks, declaring that before the bidding begins, he wants to take a moment to thank the people who made this coup possible. He lists the United States, Russia, Japan and other world powers who have turned their collective heads from his own humble political aspirations, before remarking that vibranium, like politics, makes strange bedfellows. Suddenly, the ground around Diablo is blown apart by an electromagnetic blast courtesy of Guardian, and Weapon Omega declares that it sounds like Diablo has more than just trade negotiations on his mind.

The representatives from the world-power nations are immediately frightened and believe that they are under attack, wondering who would dare attack them. A woman motions up to where Heather and Weapon Omega are, luckily no one recognizes Heather as he is not in her regular costume. Heather informs the people of the world that they are being deceived, explaining that while it is true Diablo is a master of alchemy, and he is capable of producing unlimited supplies of vibranium, the alchemical reactions are only temporary.

Guardian continues, suggesting to the world-power representatives that they would soon become dependent on Diablo to maintain any national defense weapons created with his bogus metal - even vibranium, constructed mass transit, would place them all in his debt. ‘Essentially, Diablo would hold the entire world hostage!’ The representatives all turn and look at Diablo, who strokes his neck and nervously claims that this is not the first time in two thousand years that he has been found out, before a more serious look returns to his face when he declares that there is no reason he should suffer alone, and with the help of the allies he has quite literally at his fingertips, he does not have to suffer at all.

Diablo throws four capsules to the ground, and suddenly a large monster appears before everyone. Diablo smiles as he introduces the Elematrix - an elemental created of earth, fire, wind and water. He tells the world representatives that there is no need to imagine a creature such as this when they can enjoy the fruits of his “labor” first hand. The Elematrix attacks Heather and Omega, and as it shoots flames from its eyes, Weapon Omega jokes that it has quite a menacing stare. Heather tells her newest team member that the flames from the eyes are no doubt the least of its power.

Dropping down beside Diablo, Omega tells Heather that it is never any fun being careful. ‘True. Fun is when I strangle you with your own intestines’ Diablo boasts. Dodging the Elematrix, Guardian mutters ‘Why is it the new recruit gets the sparring partner with all the snappy patter?’ Suddenly, the Elematrix swats Heather towards the solid rock wall of the castle. ‘Then again, actions do speak louder than words’ Heather jokes, when suddenly Northstar enters the fray, grabbing Heather before she slams into the castle.

Jean-Paul informs Heather he has discovered, over the years, that it is best to avoid sudden impacts whenever possible. Heather tells Northstar that it is good advice, as Sasquatch yells ‘Knock, knock?’. ‘EH?’ mutters the Elematrix, to which Sasquatch tells him that the correct response is “Who’s there?’, ‘Then I say…ah, forget it!’ Walt exclaims, as he grabs the Elematrix by the feet and topples him to the ground.

Weapon Omega lunges at Diablo, telling him that this would seem an appropriate time for him to surrender. ‘To ALPHA FLIGHT?’ Diablo asks with a mocking tone, before telling Omega that he obviously is new to this team. ‘I’d sooner surrender to POWER PACK!’ Diablo admits, though he believes neither is a viable option, especially when all he needs to do is release a paralyzing gas into the air. Diablo points out that it is rather effective, as Guardian, Jean-Paul, Sasquatch and Weapon Omega find themselves suspended and unable to move.

Diablo explains that none of them can move unless he allows it - ‘And I definitely do not!’ Trying to free himself from the frozen Weapon Omega’s grip, Diablo mumbles that once he has done so, he shall order the Elematrix to fry them all where they stand. Once free, Diablo shouts ‘Now my pet, now!’, but before the Elematrix can react, a large drill comes up from beneath it and drives right into it, destroying it in a very effective manner.

From within the “Box-drill”, Jeffries tells Diablo that he is going to have to postpone his victory celebration, at least until he can piece together the remainder of his buddy. The door to the drill opens and Northstar asks if it is Box, to which Sasquatch adds that if it is him, it is just barely. Heather points out that they are free from Diablo’s paralysis because once the Elematrix was destroyed, the water cleansed the gas.

Inside the drill, Lil smiles as she still holds onto Jeffries, who declares that they are glad to be of service. Lillian remarks that today seems to be the day for last minute rescues. Jeffries elaborates, informing his friends that he and Lil were trapped by the fire elemental, as the comm-scram towers caused them to crash and he was surrounded by his broken Box armor. Jeffries slyly explains that a “deal” between him and Lillian inspired him to use the scattered remains of the Box armor to form this “Box-Bug” he calls it, adding that as luck would have it, there was enough fire extinguishing material released by the explosion to obliterate the fire elemental.

‘Two in one day?’ screams Diablo, ‘Do you people think elementals grow on trees?’ he asks. Diablo grins and declares that he thinks it is time to go back to basics with good old fashioned, time-honored cyanide! However, Weapon Omega throws something else into the mix - lots of things actually - part of Diablo’s cloak which he grabbed that contained several other capsules. Diablo exclaims that dozens of chemicals will be exploded at once, when suddenly he goes up in a cloud of smoke, screaming, before muttering ‘Do you have any idea how difficult it is to create new body parts from scratch?’

With that, Diablo is gone, and as Sasquatch points out, his exit inspired a mass exodus. Heather sarcastically thanks the world power representatives for stopping by, and adds that they will call for their help next time some Central American country desperately needs their help. Jean-Paul points out that he thinks the Canadian government was afraid they would be causing an international incident with their involvement, so he thinks it is fortunate that no one was “here” to see them. ‘See who?’ asks one of the representatives as she and the others make a speedy getaway.

Heather informs Weapon Omega that he may have saved them all with his quick thinking and tell him that they owe him a great deal. ‘On the contrary, Heather’ replies Weapon Omega, before taking his mask off, revealing his true identity and claiming ‘It is I who am indebted to Alpha Flight. More than I can ever hope to repay’. Alpha Flight just stare at Weapon Omega in horror at who he really is….

Back in Canada, at Department H in Toronto, deep in the sub-basements of the mighty building is the detention facility and treatment center, where currently, a decidedly twisted detention treatment is in progress. The diabolical Headlok stands over the missing Alphan Jeanne-Marie “Aurora” Beaubier, searching through her head, blood streams down Aurora’s face as Headlok plays around, remarking that it is odd, because he remembers seeing a split-personality around here somewhere, but for the life of him he cannot remember where it is. ‘No problem, Headlok. Take your time,’ Aurora tells him in her zombie-state.

Characters Involved: 

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





Ms. Husting (“Canada A.M.” host)


The Elematrix

Story Notes: 

Alpha Flight began investigating the take-over of Tierra del Maiz in Alpha Flight (1st series) #102.

USAgent attacked Sasquatch in Alpha Flight (1st series) #102.

Alpha Flight’s battle against the Consortium took place in Alpha Flight (1st series) #97-100, in which the city of Toronto was badly destroyed after Alpha Flight agreed to defend the cosmic alien known as Her.

The team Power Pack that Diablo would rather surrender to than Alpha Flight was, at the time, a group of young siblings, Alex, Julie, Jack and Katie Power.

Issue Information: 
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