Alpha Flight (1st series) #121

Issue Date: 
June 1993
Story Title: 
The Return of the Brass Bishop

Simon Furman (Writer), Craig Brashfield (Penciler), Frank Turner (Inker), Janice Chiang & Parker (Letterers), Bob Sharen (Colorist), Dan Cudy (Assistant Editor), Rob Tokar (Editor), Tom DeFalco (Editor-in-Chief)

Brief Description: 

Guardian, Puck, Wildheart and Nemesis are attending a funeral for Silver and Auric, who were slain during the Hero Killers debacle. Heather feels terrible that she couldn’t insist that the bodies were brought back to Canada, and that she didn’t know Silver and Auric very well. However, Wildheart breaks open the coffins, revealing dummies inside, not the bodies of the two former Gamma Flight members. Alpha travel to the home of the X-Men, where Professor X and Wolverine help to try and locate Silver and Auric’s bodies, and after contacting Valerie Cooper, Wolverine reveals that a scientist claimed to have seen Silver and Auric alive, and he was soon abducted by the Chess Set. Spider-Man arrives on scene, feeling somewhat responsible for his involvement in their deaths, and he joins Alpha Flight as they track down the Chess Set. Their enquiries take them to an auction, where quite a few villains and criminals are being offered, by the Brass Bishop, power beyond imagination, which includes the bodies of Silver and Auric and the scientist that found them. Alpha Flight and Spider-Man interrupt the proceedings and most of the villains flee, before a new being emerges from the combined energies of Silver, Auric and the scientist. It wants to destroy the Chess Set for preventing it from having life, but Heather talks the being down, for the sake of Silver and Auric, who were heroes and fought for good. The being agrees and departs. Nemesis prepares to kill the Brass Bishop, until Wildheart prevents her from doing so, for Silver and Auric’s memory.

Full Summary: 

Rutherford, New Jersey, the site of Target Technologies, which has an “Out of Business“ sticker across its signpost. Amongst the ruins of the complex, a clean-up crew are going about their tasks. ‘Down there? ... Reading levels far in excess of ... That’s a negative control ... Over there! ... Overtime ... Seriously weird!“ One of the men is holding a small device in his hand which is picking up some form of kinetic energy. He thinks it is strange, as he has never seen anything quite like it - when suddenly - two corpses, one clad in gold, the other in silver, fly towards him and attack him.

(two weeks later)

Brooklyn, New York. Three members of Canada’s premiere super hero team, Alpha Flight - Heather “Guardian“ Hudson, Eugene “Puck“ Judd and Wildheart, as well as their sort-of ally Nemesis, and photographer Peter Parker, stand before two matching coffins in a cemetery, while the priest declares ‘... we commit the bodies of Jimon and Zhao Tang to the ground’. A solemn Heather realizes that she never knew their real names, to her, they were just Silver and Auric of Gamma Flight! ‘And now they’re nothing at all’.

Heather tells herself that she should feel something, departmental politics aside, they were once part of Department H, a part of her team. She feels that she should have done more. She regrets that there are no family or friends that the embassy could track down in China, and feels that she should have insisted that the bodies were returned to Canada, instead of letting them end up here, in a U.S. government assigned plot in Brooklyn.

Heather decides that it is a sad and lonely way to go, for everyone should have someone to mourn their passing. She turns to Nemesis and decides that she cannot see the ice-queen shedding any tears over the loss of her ex-teammates, and thinks that this Nemesis is easily as unsettling her predecessor, adding that she is glad Nemesis made her intentions clear not to join Alpha Flight.

Glancing at Judd, Heather is unsure whether he is mourning them for he keeps it all so bottled up, though she suspects that he is here mostly to keep an eye on Wildheart. Heather looks at the formerly feral teammate and wonders if it is that they all associate Gamma Flight with the beastly Wild Child that Kyle once was - are they afraid this will being that side of him out once more? Judd quietly motions Heather to the photographer, pointing out that he has been here all afternoon, but hasn’t taken one photo.

The photographer in question, Peter Parker thinks to himself that if only he could do more than just be here. Though he knows there is no way he could have saved Silver and Auric from the so-called Hero Killers, but nevertheless ... . Peter Parker is also known as the Amazing Spider-Man, and along with the proportionate strength and speed of a spider, he also possesses an incredible sixth sense, a “spider-sense“ that alerts him to danger.

On cue, Spider-Man’s sense goes off, as Wildheart leaps past him, heading straight for the coffins, where he tears gaping holes in the tops, muttering ‘No scent!’ as Nemesis and Judd try to restrain him, until Peter points inside the coffins and tells everyone to look - for there are weighted dummies in place of the bodies of Silver and Auric.

Later, at the School for Gifted Youngsters in Salem Center. Home of the Uncanny X-Men, a place where people born with powers that set them aside from “normal“ humans can live in safety, most of the time that is. Nemesis leans against a wall as two of the X-Men, Cyclops and Beast walk past, while Wolverine and Judd are catching up on recent events. ‘ ... turns out to be Wyre!’ Judd exclaims. Logan, a close friend to most of Alpha Flight, tells Judd he must be kidding, because he thought Wyre was dead.

Wildheart stands with his arms folded near Professor Charles Xavier, mentor to the X-Men, who is currently using his Cerebro machine. Heather thanks Charles for letting Alpha gather themselves here, and for helping them like this. Xavier tells Heather that even if she wasn’t a very old and dear friend of Wolverine, that Alpha Flight would always be welcome. However, as for helping her, he is afraid that he cannot, for Cerebro’s ability to detect mutants does not, sadly, extend to dead mutants.

Heather mentions that it was a long shot anyway, and adds that she isn’t quite sure how to proceed, for someone went to a lot of trouble - and presumably expense - to steal the bodies of Silver and Auric, but why? What possible value could they have to anyone? After all, they are dead.

Soon, Wolverine leads his friends and Nemesis across the sprawling Xavier estate, informing them that he has just spoken to Valerie Cooper, X-Factor’s government liaison and she informed him that a scientist on the Target Technologies clean-up thought he saw Solver and Auric alive and claimed that they had given him “the power“. Logan adds that the scientist was quietly put out to pasture by means of a padded vacation. However, it seemed that someone believed him because a week or so later he was kidnapped by a group calling themselves the Chess Set.

Judd looks shocked, ‘The Chess Set? But that means -’ he is cut off when Wolverine suddenly smells something, and announces that they are not alone. Wildheart also smells the intruder in the trees. Logan tells him to back down, for it isn’t an enemy ... just a nuisance. Spider-Man drops down from the trees. ‘You guys take all the fun out of eavesdropping!’ he complains. Logan asks Spider-Man what it is he is doing here, for this doesn’t concern him.

Spider-Man reveals that he was there, a part of the battle that cost Silver and Auric their lives. Spider-Man warns Logan not to give him any of that “intruding on private grief“ bull, because he hasn’t noticed many tears shed yet. Wolverine is about to attack Spider-Man for that comment until Heather calls him off, pointing out that Spider-Man has been an ally in the past, she suggests they keep this friendly. Heather adds that Alpha Flight could use a hand, especially as Wolverine has X-Men business to attend to.

Judd tells Spider-Man that he can help him by showing him a few of the Big Apple’s tourist attractions, while no one hears Nemesis whisper to Wildheart that what has been done to their comrades can only be paid for in blood, so when the time comes, she expects him to back her up.

Shortly after, at Happy Harry’s, a misnomer of a bar just a stones throw away from the Hudson River. A man is thrown through the front window, shattering glass everywhere, as Spider-Man tells Judd that this is not the sort of thing he thought he wanted, before kicking two men over in one hit. Judd is on the shoulders of another man as he tells Spider-Man that he is doing great, and points out that he just needed the seediest, nastiest lowlife hangouts in Manhattan because if anyone knows anything about the Chess Set, then this is where they will find them.

Spider-Man dodges a man with a knife as he decides he should introduce Judd to Daredevil, for he thinks they would get on famously. Kicking someone over then flipping onto the pool table, Judd remarks that it is funny, for they always get the information in the end, so it makes him wonder why the lowlifes even bother fighting. Though personally, he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Soon, all of the men in the bar lie piled in a heap, with Spider-Man exclaiming that none of them knew a thing, and asking Puck what he suggests now. Gulping down a large glass of beer, Judd wipes his mouth, ‘Aah, next bar,’ is all he says.

A few bars (and a few brews) later: Heather, Judd, Wildheart, Nemesis and Spider-Man are in a helicopter which hovers above a large warehouse which has several other jets and modes of transport parked around it. Spider-Man wonders if what is going on down below is such a big deal, then why has no one down there noticed them up here? Wildheart informs him that they are in “silent running“ stealth mode, so at this height, no one down there will hear a thing.

Heather remarks that for a supposedly abandoned airstrip it is rather busy and tells Judd that she supposes his information was right on the money. Judd replies that whatever is going on down there is certainly happening tonight, and motioning to the view screen where the criminal known as the Rhino mutters ‘How many guys you think look like this?’ to someone, Judd adds that it is major league and asks Heather how she wants to play this. ‘Wing it?’ suggests Spider-Man, but Heather tells him that they are going to do it by the numbers first, meaning she wants data on everyone they have seen going into the hangar - abilities and weakness - whether they floss before going to bed. Turning to Judd, Heather tells him that she wants to know everything about the Chess Set and their leader ... the Brass Bishop!

Inside the hangar, the man known as the Brass Bishop stands on a stage before roughly two dozen villains of varying threat and welcomes them to what he dubs the auction of the century. He tells them that they are all here to bid for the ultimate prize, and the curtains behind him are pulled back, revealing power beyond imagination ... the Chess Set! Over-Knight, King Coal, Killer Queen and Dark Tower stand in front of a strange contraption which holds the bodies of Silver and Auric in some tubes, and the scientist that claimed to have found them is wired up to those tanks.

The Brass Bishop apologizes for the postponement until tonight, explaining that to complete the lot it became necessary to procure the bodies of Silver and Auric. Suddenly, someone in the audience leaps to his feet, it is Caliber, asking what they would want with corpses, before remarking that he is not known for his sense of humor. The Brass Bishop smiles, explaining that the bodies are mere husks, but it is what they contain which is valuable.

The Brass Bishop informs everyone that when the Sphinx imploded within the Target Technologies complex, he released a highly potent cocktail of energies that sought refuge first within the lifeless forms of Silver and Auric, then in a government scientist. The Brass Bishop declares that all have had contact with the power are one and the sum of those energies now awaits a new home.

Motioning to an empty chamber which is attached to the contraption, he asks the criminals and villains which of them would step forward tonight and taste omnipotence. ‘Thanks, but I’ll pass!’ exclaims Guardian as she bursts into the room with Spider-Man in tow, remarking ‘Yeah, we ate already’. Guardian blasts Andrea von Strucker, one of the Fenris twins, meaning her brother Andreas is out of action, too, for the Fenris twins are ineffective without the other.

Spider-Man shoots some webbing into the Beetle’s face, before swinging himself round on the Rhino and shoving the Rhino towards Mandrill, who Spider-Man thinks looks rather lonely. Spider-Man knows that their element of surprise is now up, and wonders where Puck and Wildheart are.

Judd and Wildheart are currently outside, where several of the villains, including Doctor Octopus, are making a hasty getaway. Looking into the main hangar, Judd decides that Heather was right to put Spider-Man up front, for a lot of the guys inside he has tangled with in past. Puck sees that Caliber is about to fire his weapons, so leaps into his back, telling him to watch where he points that thing, for he could do someone an injury.

Over-Knight of the Chess Set sees that Heather, Judd, Wildheart and Spider-Man are swiftly cutting through the villains and tells his three fellows to move in, but the Brass Bishop tells them not to, ‘They intend to strike here! Stand your ground, protect the goods at all costs!’ he orders. The Chess Set comply, which is when Nemesis drops down upon them, her sword slicing through the arm of King Coal as she exclaims that it is has been too long since her sword drank deep.

Nemesis takes on all four of the Chess Set, telling them that they have much to answer for, she warns them that retribution is at – ‘Hand! You cut off my hand!’ King Coal shouts as he punches Nemesis in the face, asking her if she knows how long it takes to grow a new one. Nemesis is shoved into the empty compartment of the device holding Silver, Auric and the scientist. Heather mutters to herself that she told Nemesis to wait for a clear chance, which distracts her, enabling Klaw to strike Guardian with sound converted into a pure concussive force.

Spider-Man comes to Heather’s rescue, but Heather reminds him that the scientist is their priority, and that he needs to help Nemesis. Spider-Man does so, when the Brass Bishop approaches him, ‘Alas, wall-crawler, I cannot allow you to intervene!’ he proclaims. The Brass Bishop grabs Spider-Man by the ankle and swings him hard against a wall. Spider-Man remembers that Judd warned them all that the Brass Bishop demonstrated some form of sixth-sense, which is why he knew exactly which way he was going to leap.

The Chess Set surround Nemesis, with the scantily clad Killer Queen ordering the men aside, declaring that she needs room to sow her death dust. Over-Knight warns Dark Tower to be careful as he doesn’t want to damage the nexus, which Nemesis realizes is the compartment she is backed up against, so slices it with her sword, the result being a mighty explosion. ‘No ... it cant be!’ exclaims the Brass Bishop.

Despite the pain it caused her, Heather has absorbed the bulk of Klaw’s raw emissions into her battle suits ultrasound generators - it is not time to return it, with interest! Heather unleashes a massive amount of energy, knocking a lot of the villains off their feet. Heather hopes that has bought Alpha Flight some breathing space, when suddenly, a brilliant light fills the room, and a being appears before them. ‘At last we are whole. For so long we were fragmented, alone, without sight, but now ... we understand. We are reborn!’ the being declares.

‘What ... who are you?’ Heather asks, ‘Are you them? Silver and Auric?’ The being replies ‘They are ... a part of us. We are new life, what you call energy ... given thought and shape. We are they - Silver and Auric, and the one who was called Hedison, but we are so much more ... and we are ANGRY!’ the being exclaims. ‘These being sought to deny us our life. Now we will take theirs’. With that, the being begins blasting the members of the Chess Set and the Brass Bishop, until Heather calls out, telling it to stop.

Heather tells the being that if it owes its existence to Silver and Auric, if in any way they are part of it, then not to do this. She declares that Silver and Auric fought for good, for life, but their deaths were empty and without meaning. ‘You can give them that meaning’ she tells the being, ‘Let them rest in peace, knowing that their legacy is life ... not death!’ The Chess Set all fall to the ground as the being releases them, remarking that Guardian has given them much to think about, ‘Perhaps we will meet again. Until then ... we will honor your dead!’ With that, the being vanishes.

The room returns to normal, and a solemn Heather turns to Judd, who informs her that most of the bad guys beat it when the light show started, while the rest are packaged up and ready for a trip to the Vault. Nemesis holds her sword to the throat of the Brass Bishop, ‘Now ... for Silver and Auric,’ she thinks to herself, but before she can slice into the Brass Bishop, Wildheart stops her, remarking that they have witnessed something wonderful, something akin to a birth. ‘New life has been celebrated with life. I will not allow you to sully that’.

Heather, Judd and Spider-Man look up at the corpses of Silver and Auric as he Heather remarks that she was afraid to grieve, afraid of the old wounds it would open up, the hurt and pain that comes with it. However, she feels that today, the death is perhaps merely a stepping stone to something better. Taking off her visor, Heather shows tears falling from her eyes, as she reveals she can grieve and it doesn’t hurt at all.

Characters Involved: 

Guardian III, Puck, Wildheart (all Alpha Flight)


Nemesis III

Bodies of Auric & Silver

Hedison (Scientist)

Beast, Cyclops, Professor X (all X-Men)


Brass Bishop

Dark Tower, Killer Queen, King Coal, Over-Knight (all The Chess Set)

Arcade, Beetle, Caliber, Constrictor, Dr. Octopus, Fenris, Grey Gargoyle, Jack O'Lantern, Klaw, Mandrill, Mysterio, Ringmaster, Rhino, Taskmaster and other villains


Clean up crew

Men at bar

In Illustrative Image:

Auric, Nemesis III, Silver, Wild Child, Witchfire (all Gamma Flight)

Story Notes: 

This issue serves as an epilogue of sorts to the 1992 crossover “The Hero Killers“ which ran through the Spider-Man and New Warriors Annuals that year.

Silver and Auric first appeared in The Agent Graphic Novel, before joining Gamma Flight, Alpha Flight’s replacement team, where they remained until its disbanding. Following that, they departed to return to China, though apparently, got apprehended on their journey.

Heather’s concern over the deaths of Silver and Auric is somewhat unfounded, for although Heather is a nice person, Silver and Auric were part of Gamma Flight, Canada’s replacement heroes when Alpha Flight went missing, and although Alpha Flight and Gamma Flight eventually teamed up, there was a lot of animosity between the teams. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #76-90]

Two errors occur at the funeral of Silver and Auric, when Heather mentions that they were part of her team and part of Department H. Gamma Flight were, as stated above, Alpha Flight’s replacements, and Department H was not restarted until Alpha Flight (1st series) #90, the same issue which Silver and Auric left to return to China.

Heather’s comment about Nemesis being as unsettling as her predecessor implies that the Nemesis Alpha Flight met in Alpha Flight (1st series) #7-8 and #32 is different to this one. The letters page this issue also announces that the two Nemesis’ are different. However as revealed in Alpha Flight (3rd series): The All-New, All-Different Alpha Flight, they are one and the same.

Nemesis rejected the offer to join Alpha Flight in Alpha Flight (1st series) #120.
It is absurd to think that Puck could mourn Silver and Auric because during the whole Sorcerer Affair, he was MIA and never even met them.

Notably absent from Silver and Auric’s funeral is the fifth member of Gamma Flight, Witchfire. Presumably, because she is recovering from the injuries sustained when her quarters was blown up with her in them in Alpha Flight (1st series) #119.

The Brass Bishop was first mentioned by Puck in Alpha Flight (1st series) #12, where Judd was thinking that he hadn’t had much action since his battle with him. That story however was never told, and wouldn’t be until Alpha Flight (2nd series) #16. However, that Brass Bishop is an entirely different one to the one which appears this issue, though Judd seems to know this one also. The title “The Return of the Brass Bishop“ seems to imply that this one is the same Judd previously fought also.

Actually, Caliber isn’t known for much at all, except for getting the bash from Alpha Flight in Alpha Flight (1st series) #23 and #25.

Final appearance of Silver and Auric.

Issue Information: 
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