Alpha Flight (1st series) #2

Issue Date: 
September 1983
Story Title: 
<BR>Shadows of the past (1st story)<BR>In The Beginning ... (2nd story)

John Byrne (writer, artist), Tom Orzechowski (letters), Andy Yanchus (colors), Denny O’Neil (editor), Jim Shooter (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

First story :
No longer having an official headquarter Alpha Flight (without Snowbird) are using a top secret military testing grounds, for a training session. Having finished the exercise, Vindicator changes his code name to Guardian. Puck notices something wrong with Marrina, and suddenly she lashes out at him, ripping his gut open. The assembled team are shocked at the sight of their fallen teammate, while Marrina dives into a river, responding to a strange call she feels. Alpha Flight gets Puck into a hospital, and Shaman stays with him, as he is not only a superhero, but also a talented surgeon. The rest of the team proceeds to track down Marrina through the signal chip in her medallion. Aboard Alpha Flight’s Omni-Jet, Mac tells the others what little they know about their mysterious teammate. About 18 years ago, Tom Smallwood was knocked overboard his fishing vessel during a storm. At the bottom of the sea, he saw a strange glowing object – an egg. Taking hold of it, Smallwood buoyed to the surface, where his crewmate rescued him. Later that night, Smallwood‘s wife realized that something inside the egg was trying to hatch, so she broke it and helped the humanoid looking creature out. The Smallwoods named the yellow-skinned female Marrina and raised her together with their grandson Dan. Around her 16th birthday, it was discovered that Marrina could breath under water and that she could swim faster than anyone else, which brought her to the attention of Department H. She passed all of the Department’s psychological tests, and there never was any indication of any violent tendencies. While Alpha Flight is still following Marrina’s trail, the young woman has already reached her destination – a strange cavern, the walls being a mix of ice and metal. Marrina finds the place frightening and familiar at the same time. Venturing deeper inside the complex, Marrina is greeter by the Master, who welcomes her home. Meanwhile, Snowbird receives a psychic from message Shaman at the RCMP, where she works in her civilian identity. She immediately rushes to help her team. However her boss finds out that she again abandoned her post and is determined to find out what the secret of “Anne MacKenzie“ is.

Second story : Ten years ago, James MacDonald Hudson invented a super powered explorers suit for the Am-CAM petroleum company. Much to his anger, his employer Jerry Jaxon informs him that the suit is going to be sold to the American military. James storms out of the lab, and bumps into Heather McNeil, Jerry Jaxon’s personal assistant. She knew what Jaxon was about to do, but wasn’t allowed to talk about it. Sympathizing with Hudson, Heather too quits her job, and invites him for dinner, but James turns her down, he has something important to do. At night, he returns to the lab, destroys the suit’s blueprints and steals the prototype. Testing his invention’s capabilities, James crashes into a field, but is unharmed. He leaves the suit where it can be easily found, but takes it‘s cybernetic helmet with him. Without it, the suit is useless.

Full Summary: 

First story :

Twenty miles out of Fort Albany, Ontario, lies the vast, undeveloped area of land which is in fact, the top secret Albany River proving grounds, where most of Canada’s secret military is tested. This morning, however, it serves a different purpose – it serves as the training grounds of Canada’s premiere super hero team: Alpha Flight! James “Vindicator” MacDonald Hudson flies through the air due to his electro-magnetically powered super suit – when is caught completely off guard by the super fast mutant twins, Northstar and Aurora, whose speed causes Mac’s suit to disable, and he falls – into the arms of Sasquatch – his other current opponent. Sasquatch hurls Vindicator across the training grounds, as he is unaware that his team leaders forcefield is now inactive, and such a throw could kill him!

Luckily, the Sarcee medicine man Shaman is prepared, and throws arcane dust from his medicine pouch at a tree – which magically changes shape to become a sort of net, breaking Vindicator’s fall. Sasquatch congratulates Shaman on his save, but if Hudson wants to play these games he has to realize that some of them will get a little bruised! Marrina emerges from the water – telling Dr. Langkowski to watch out for himself, as she uses her incredible strength to ‘lift’ water out from the river, drenching her teammate. This causes the final present member of Alpha Flight, Puck, to burst into uncontrollable laughter. Sasquatch to get mad – and he begins to chase his teammate, intending to find out if the little guy is as resilient as his namesake.

Mac tells the team to take a break, and asks Aurora to calm Walt down. Shaman tells Mac that this was a good session, as the team was getting out of practice. Vindicator agrees, though he wishes that Snowbird could be present, however she was tied up with her RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) duties. Mac feels she needs to get more involved in team activities - and that she should loosen up. Shaman agrees to disagree – after all, Snowbird is not human. But Hudson is, and the doctor continues, he looks like he could use some cheering up.
Vindicator tells his friend that it is not all that easy – he never wanted to be team leader, especially after he nearly killed a civilian on his first mission, which is something that he thinks about often. It is a lot for him to vindicate. Shaman explains to him that is why he changed his codename from Weapon Alpha to Vindicator, and suggests it is time he claimed and identity of his own. Mac asks not for a lecture, he knows what he is doing, and with no Wolverine, it is he that leads the team, and he has accepted that. Shaman suggests that because Mac wears the flag of Canada as his costume, perhaps he should wear Canada’s spirit as well. Hudson is puzzled. Shaman continues - while saying that Hudson is Canada’s own Captain America, he feels he has much to vindicate, however, Canada does not. Hudson picks up at what Hudson is getting at – he should pick a new codename, more in keeping with Alpha Flights image – like Guardian …

At that moment, Northstar, Aurora and Sasquatch return. Northstar tells his teammates that his sister has “succeeded in soothing our orange oaf”. Sasquatch tells Jean-Paul to watch his mouth – or he may suddenly get a craving for frog’s legs! And peacemaker Aurora tells him to stop bickering – after all, they are not the Avengers!

Guardian suggests the team leave – when Puck notices something wrong with Marrina. He asks her if she is all right. She says that she feels very strange. Puck thinks to himself that he always thought there was something ‘fishy’ about Marrina, and that he hopes this isn’t where they all find out. He tells her to take it easy – and she tells him not to touch her as he places his hand on her shoulder. Puck tries to soothe her. She removes her hand that was covering her face - and lashes out at her friend. Alpha Flight are frozen in shock – none of them have known her very well, and they wonder if this is the real Marrina? Puck holds the contents of his stomach in, choking for help, and Marrina, albeit uncontrollably, dives into the river – with a sense for…home? However, as Marrina enters the river at super speed, she suddenly realizes she doesn’t know where home is anymore.

On the riverbank, Northstar and Aurora leap into flight. Guardian tells them to wait, but they do not hear him and they speed across the river, parting the waters as they fly. But the mutant twins return soon after. Guardian tells them it was a nice try, but a wasted one, as Marrina was doing over 900 knots the moment she hit the water. Northstar is amazed – Marrina would have been a dozen kilometers away before they even moved. Guardian confirms: while the twins are infinitely faster than Marrina, their reaction time is not, and she was way out of reach before they could react. Aurora is surprised – even the Sub-Mariner cannot swim that fast!

Sasquatch worries that she is going to get away, though Guardian tells him they can track her via her Flight signal in her medallion, but right now he is more concerned with Puck. Shaman tells him he has used his magicks to ease the pain, and stabilize him, but he was nearly disemboweled, and he has lost a lot of blood. In this case, Eugene Milton Judd needs Shaman’s medical skills, more than his magical ones. Within minutes, the team’s dwarfen member is carried onto Alpha’s Omni-Jet, headed for Fort Albany.

Two hours later, at a hospital, two staff members are discussing what Dr. Twoyoungmen is doing there, as they believed he had given up medicine. Yet at any rate, he is still the best surgeon in all of Canada! Michael tells Mac and the others, all dressed in civilian clothes, that Judd is stabilized, but he is just as human as everyone else, and has no more physical defenses than they. Walter suggests that they have more pressing things to attend to now, such as finding Marrina. Mac agrees – they must find her, and if necessary, stop her once and for all. And with that, Mac, Walt, Jean-Paul and Aurora run out of the hospital, and Shaman invokes the aid of the Great Spirit to help them.

At the same time, only a thousand miles away, at a desolate RCMP post in the district of MacKenzie, NWT. Corporal “Anne McKenzie” sits at her desk, and does a very human thing, for a goddess that is, as Narya, a.k.a. Alpha Flight’s Snowbird, distresses over her current predicament - something she does not have control over, and that is something she is not very well accustomed to. Her current boss, Chief Inspector Hamilton, Narya is certain, hates her and is determined to frustrate her. She has already spoken to Hudson about it, and he told her she can do nothing, though Mac fears Narya may use her powers against her boss, and she wishes she could.

Suddenly, she is startled – she has picked up on Shamans words invoking the Great Spirit. Believing that something must threaten Alpha Flight, Narya transforms from the uniform clad human guise of Anne McKenzie, to the sultry Snowbird! As she flies through an open window, Chief Inspector Hamilton, just missing her by a split second, walks into her office asking for some files. Hamilton is joined by RCMP officer Doug Thompson, who reminds him of Anne’s open hours that were arranged by his predecessor. Hamilton doesn’t care – Chief Inspector Cramner is dead – and he will have Anne McKenzie brought up on charges – and have her secret – whatever it is! While this discussion occurs, Snowbirds ultra senses guide her towards Alpha’s Omni-Jet

Meanwhile, aboard the Omni-Jet, Guardian talks to Alpha Flight‘s unofficial team liaison, Gary Cody, via secret communications, and he relays to Cody the recent events about Marrina, and tells her she seems to be heading for the magnetic North Pole. Gary Cody is relieved – at least that is still in Canada, if she goes over the Pole, there could be major diplomatic repercussions for invading Soviet waters. Guardian agrees, and tells Cody that he will keep him posted. Northstar, Aurora and Sasquatch ask their leader to tell them about Marrina, they feel they are due for some information. Guardian agrees – though he says even what they do know, is not a lot.

(flashback, 18 years ago)

Somewhere off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland., a small fishing vessel, the Mary D, gets tossed about in a seriously bad storm. The man at the ships wheel tells his skipper, Tom Smallwood, not to go outside, he won‘t last two minutes. Smallwood tells his first mate that neither will the nets if he doesn’t tie them down, and his insurance doesn’t cover him in a mad trip like this! Smallwood in fact lasts five minutes before being swept over board, though he is a strong swimmer, the messy sea engulfs him and he was caught in the nets, while the sinkers pulls him down.

At the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, a drowning Smallwood sees a light. Freeing himself enough to reach out to it, he grabs the light – which is actually solid, and not at all a light. It pulses in his hands as if it were alive… and freed from the mire of the bottom, it buoys to the surface of the ocean – with Tom Smallwood attached. Smallwood is rescued from the ocean by his first mate.

Three hours later at Smallwood’s home, a mile away form the coast. Smallwood's wife Gladys asks her husband what it is. He replies that he has never seen anything like it in all his years. Their grandson, Dan, pipes up saying it is an egg, and there is a chick inside it! His grandmother tells his he is right – but it is not a chick inside it - something else, which is alive though! Gladys Smallwood sees the creature inside the egg move, and realizing that it is trying to hatch, she breaks the egg. While she would eventually tell James Hudson that she was sure the creature wasn’t’ human before she opened the egg – the creature she pulled from the egg resembled that of a newborn humanoid baby.

(various flashbacks)

The Smallwoods named her Marrina, and within a year, she was very much like any other one-year-old child. She was accepted by the local townspeople, despite her yellow-green complexion, because of the closed nature and frequent inbreeding of the community. ‘Freaks’ were not uncommon. Marrina attended school, proving her intellect was above average. When she turned sixteen, things changed. Marrina swam – and swam. Though swimming was nothing new to her, or anyone else in the community, no one had ever swum like she did.


Back aboard the Omni-Jet, Hudson tells his friends that ten months after that, Marrina's ‘brother’ Dan Smallwood contacted the Ministry of Defense. From there, Marrina was inducted into Department H, and she became one of the first members of Gamma Flight, and was soon move up to Beta Flight. Walt acts surprised - wasn’t she given all the standard psyche tests as they all were? Hudson tells the doctor that she was, and passed with flying colors. Whatever has happened to her now – well, there was no indication of it on any tests…

A hundred miles ahead, and in the close-to-freezing waters, Marrina swims easily through them…she approaches a cavern sensing it is the place that calls to her. The silence is eerie, yet she still senses the call that pulses through her entire body. In the strange melding of ice and metal, she does not feel out of place – more like comforted. She creeps forward – until she comes across a seated man - who tells her there is nothing to fear…for she is home! Marrina is confused – home? Her home is three thousand miles away! She asks him what he has done to her. The mysterious being tells her he has done nothing – save revealing her true nature…and she may call him Master! And with this, Marrina’s memory and any sense of control she had remaining fades away…

Second story :

(ten years ago)

James MacDonald Hudson, Jerry Jaxon, and an American military General are in Hudson’s lab at the research and development section of the AM-CAM Petroleum Company, Edmonton, Alberta. Hudson has just discovered the superhuman research and exploration suit he designed is going to be sold to the American military, and is naturally, extremely angry. Jaxon apologizes to the General, who understands Hudson’s anger. However Jaxon is not so kind, and reminds James that his ‘toy’ would never have been built if he (Jaxon) and AM-CAM had not been prepared to take a financial risk. He continues that the majority of their funding is American, and their parent office has made deals with the American army before. Hudson storms out of his lab saying they haven’t made deals with him!

As he storms through the corridors a woman, who apologizes, interrupts him. She says she wanted to warn him, but Jaxon wouldn’t let her. Hudson realizes who he is talking to - Jaxon’s private secretary, Miss McNeil. Heather tells James she was Jaxon’s private secretary, but quit when she found out what Jaxon was going to do. Hudson is surprised, but flattered nonetheless. He tells her she shouldn’t have. Heather interrupts him saying she couldn’t work for Jaxon, after knowing how he betrayed a great man like him. Heather asks Mac if he would like to come to her place tonight, and she could make him her famous lasagna, and they could talk – James seems taken aback, but refuses, telling her he other plans. Perhaps some other time though?

That evening, alone in his apartment, James distresses some more – four years of his life he dedicated to that suit, which was designed to increase efficiency in exploration and development, not to be used for violence. Why must science be perverted by warmongers? Mac becomes determined though - not to let it happen to him.

Later sat night, AM-CAM’s security guard is surprised to see Hudson return to the company. Hudson tells him he has got one more job – then he will be really done. Inside, James thinks about how he trusted Jaxon, thought he was a friend, someone he thought he could trust - only to find out he’s a corporate viper. Putting on his invention, Mac realizes substantial argument could be made that the suit belongs to AM-CAM, and if needs be, he will return it – once he has finished one particular job.

Though the suit was not really designed for interior use, Mac blasts a hole in the floor, and the next and the next…ten floors down until he reaches the sub-basement with the maximum security safe. Using the considerable strength this exo-skeleton suit possess, James rips the vault door out, also realizing that there is a glitch in the suit, as it seems weaker than anticipated. Anyhow, Mac finds the blue prints to the suit, and the helmet that operates the suit. Thankfully also, the seals are unbroken, meaning Jaxon could not have made copies. Hudson then fries them with an electromagnetic blast to burn them.

Hudson now ‘tests’ the suits flight capabilities – by flying through the roof of the building. Manipulating the electromagnetic fields of the earth, it is a simple enough process to lift and carry a man. Steering the suit is accomplished the same way, though he is a little more concerned about how he is going to land…and crashes! Emerging from the flames, Hudson discovers that the suit is intact, and that the forcefield protects the armor as well as the wearer. Climbing out of the suit, Hudson decides to leave it there, where someone can easily find it. After all, he only really wants the cybernetic helmet that he designed and built before he came to AM-CAM. And without it, the suit is useless. And in the dead of the night, James Hudson walks away…

Characters Involved: 

First story :

Aurora, Guardian / Vindicator, Marrina, Northstar, Puck, Sasquatch, Shaman, Snowbird (all Alpha Flight)

Gary Cody, governmental liaison

Chief Inspector Hamilton, Doug Thompson (both RCMP)

Hospital staff

The Master of the World

In flashbacks :

Tom and Gladys Smallwood

Dan Smallwood, their grandson


Angus, first mate of the Mary D shipping trawler

Second story, set in the past :

James MacDonald Hudson

Heather McNeil

Jerry Jaxon

American military General

AM-CAM security guard

Story Notes: 

The civilian that Guardian is referring to that he almost killed, was none other Moira MacTaggert. It happened Uncanny X-Men #109, Hudson’s first appearance. By then calling himself Weapon Alpha, Hudson tried to get back Wolverine from the X-Men.

While Northstar and Aurora are two of the fastest beings alive, their reflexes are NOT proportionally as fast, thus their reaction time is a lot slower, giving Marrina the chance she needed to get into the water. Had Marrina remained on land, she would have been no match for them.

All of the original Alphans and Betas were somehow traceable by a signal. Guardian, Sasquatch, Northstar, Aurora, Puck and presumably Box and Flashback were implanted with a homing chip, which was placed in their skull. Shaman didn’t need one due to his mystic senses. Snowbird has similar senses, besides she is not allowed to bleed, so she can’t receive an implant. Marrina has hers placed in her amulet, possibly because of her alien physiology. Northstar had his implant removed in Marvel Fanfare (1st series) #28.

It is unknown whether Gamma Flight members were implanted with a chip (in Diamond Lil’s case it would have been impossible anyway), though as it never comes up, it would be safe to say they do not have these implants. The same can be said for the First Flight members.

This issue marks the first appearances of Alpha Flight‘s greatest and most constant enemy - the Master of the World, Snowbird’s future husband Doug Thompson and also Jerry Jaxon (in the back-up story), who later returned with a grudge against Hudson.

The back-up feature is subtitled “The Origins of Alpha Flight“. The concept continues in Alpha Flight (1st series) #3, 5-11. All six founding Alpha Flight members have their origins told in these back-up stories.

The exo-skeleton suit that Hudson designed for exploration and research was later be worn by Detective Sean Bernard, who joined the flight program as “Groundhog“. However he resigned from active duty when one of his teammates died in their first mission. [Alpha Flight Special Edition #1]

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