Alpha Flight (1st series) #20

Issue Date: 
March 1985
Story Title: 
Gold and Love Affairs!

John Byrne (Writer and Penciler), Keith Parker (Background Inker), Andy Yanchus (Colorist), Rick Parker (Letterer), Don Daley (Assistant Editor), Denny O’Neil (Editor), Jim Shooter (Editor-in-Chief).

Brief Description: 

After clearing an area ready for construction in which he hoped to test his strength to wonder what has been setting off his rages, Sasquatch is visited by his girlfriend, Aurora, sporting a revealing new costume. After she flirts with some of the construction workers, Sasquatch suggests to Aurora that she leaves, and he soon follows her Sasquatch and Aurora go to inspect a mansion on Tamarind Island, the whole island belonging to Walter’s family, which he thinks would be a good place to set up a new permanent headquarters. While there they discover it appears as if someone has been living in it, but there is no sign of anyone. While thinking that Aurora seems to be developing a third personality Walt falls through a trap door. Aurora begins to search for him when the mansion is plunged into darkness, and scared of the dark, Jeanne-Marie tries to break through, but together they find light, and Aurora remains dominant, and discovers eight statues whom seem to be alive. Aurora bumps into a mysterious woman who introduces herself as Gilded Lily and takes Aurora to Walter – who is encased in gold, like the statues! . Snowbird tries to convince both Elizabeth Twoyoungmen and Shaman of the responsibilities of the Talisman, and when Elizabeth tries to take the tiara off, she is told much to her horror that she cannot take it off ever. Heather Hudson and Puck get to know each other and later Shaman warns Judd that Heather may not be ready for another relationship, but that when she is he must not turn her away, no matter what he has to give to her.

Full Summary: 

Sasquatch, the super-strong and super-furry member of Alpha Flight, lets out a might roar as he rips a huge tree from the ground it has rested in probably for a very long time in the Canadian Rockies, British Columbia. Using his incredible strength he swings the massive tree as if it were an axe, using it to cut down smaller trees in one mighty sweep. Using the same tree he begins to make a clean-sweep of the area, landscaping it, moving rocks and other natural things over the course of five hours, until his labors pay off, and a waterfall flows down the side of the mountain he had just been reshaping.

Suddenly, a voice calls over to him to ‘hold it right there!’ but its not an angry voice, but the voice of a construction worker, and others surround him, as he congratulates Sasquatch on doing what would have taken them five months to do. Sasquatch replies that it was his pleasure as he needed the exercise, while thinking to himself that he hasn’t learnt exactly what he wanted to learn for himself out of this little “experiment”.

Sasquatch asks the foreman, Calvelli, how long it will take to complete the sanitarium now that the land is cleared and running water available. The foreman replies that it should be completed within eight to ten months, and his attention is suddenly drawn away from his blueprints by a blinding flash of light streaking across the sky, which darts towards the ground, and lands meters in front of them.

The light is none other than Alpha Flight’s Aurora, sporting a revealing sleek new costume to go with her recent cropped hairstyle, she asks her boyfriend, Sasquatch, if he has finished with all the sweaty work, reminding him he promised her a night out on the town. Sasquatch leans down to Aurora and reminds her that he told her what time to expect him home so there was no need to come looking for him. Aurora replies that she got bored and wanted to test her powers out also.

A handsome construction worker walks up to the super-heroes and comments that Aurora doesn’t look like she does in all her pictures. Glancing back at the man, she tells him that everyone needs a change now and then and as she is no longer in partnership with Northstar she sees no reason to continue to dress like him. As he checks her out, the handsome man smiles saying he isn’t complaining about it! Surprised, a young female worker mentions to Aurora that she was hoping her brother might show up. Aurora smiles, telling the girl ‘not this time’.

Several other male workers gather around the French-Canadian mutant, one of them declaring that they don’t need her brother when they have her around. The handsome worker mentions that he heard she was a lady who knows how to have a real good time and another asks her if she could share some of that ‘Joy De Veever’ with them. Aurora smirks, asking if they think she is “that kind of girl” – then they are right, and she grabs the man and kisses him passionately on the lips.

The older worker asks whoever it was that said, “All super-heroes is all purity and light?” The handsome blond worker tells him not to analyze as they have been stuck on the rock for a month with only the boss’s daughter to look at and that they should strike while the iron is hot. Which is when Sasquatch picks up the two men, telling them sarcastically that he is sure they realize Aurora was just teasing them – ‘Aren’t you Aurora?’ he says sternly to his flighty girlfriend.

Arms folded, Aurora glares, telling Walt he has a way of taking the fun out of life. And with that, she lights up and takes to the sky, shouting back that she sees no reason to hang around with such a ‘stick in the mud’. Sasquatch waves goodbye to the construction workers and lumbers away, watching Aurora’s speed as she goes, he decides she is not as fast as she was since they modified her powers, but she is still fast nonetheless.

As he makes his way swiftly through the forest, Walt decides that while it had been an interesting day. It was unproductive, for he only volunteered to clear the land, which he completed, so he could test himself. He had been suffering recently from uncontrollable rages and was hoping that if he had psyched himself up he could generate one of them her – but he didn’t even come close, and was completely in control the whole time. This worries him as much as the attacks, because to him that suggests some outside force is responsible for his rages, though to his dismay he cannot think of a common factor that was present in all cases.

Meanwhile, at the home of Heather McNeil Hudson’s parents, the sumptuous Snowbird stands before team-leader, Heather Hudson; the diminutive Eugene “Puck” Judd and Dr. Michael “Shaman” Twoyoungmen; while she tries to convince them that the coming of the Talisman has long been anticipated and that Elizabeth Twoyoungmen must be made to understand her responsibilities. While Snowbird points at the attractive young Native American woman, Elizabeth holds her hands up, reminding Snowbird that seventy-two hours ago she was just an art-college student, and tells the ice-cold deity that she is coming across like she is giving her messianic delusions.

Unimpressed, Snowbird tells Elizabeth that her allusion is not appropriate and reiterates that her coming has been foretold for centuries, adding that all the evidence points to her being the Binder of Spirits. Sitting on a couch, Heather watches the two immensely powerful young women “battle it out” remembering how when she used to baby-sit Elizabeth when she lived next door to her she was such a normal child. However, even Heather agrees that from what she has seen and heard there is indeed something special about Elizabeth.

Shaman tells Narya matter-of-factly that she is wrong to emphasize the messianic qualities of the Talisman, reminding her that Elizabeth was raised in white-man’s culture, adding that in Elizabeth’s mind there is only one place in history for one messiah. Coldly, Snowbird asks Twoyoungmen if he denies the facts. Somewhat annoyed with Snowbird, Twoyoungmen informs the goddess that he only denies the terminology, stating that while his daughter is clearly the promised one, this is very confusing for her to be hearing herself spoken of in such lofty terms. Shaman adds that they must be careful with the terminology used if Elizabeth is to be ready for the task ahead of her.

Elizabeth speaks up, informing her father and his teammates that she does not like being discussed in the third person, adding that she has more say in this than anyone else. Reaching the coronet that sits on her brow, Elizabeth reminds everyone that she didn’t volunteer for this task and was drafted. She starts to take off the headband when suddenly she cries out in excruciating pain. As Shaman goes to her and holds her steady, she asks what happened, informing them it felt as if a dagger was being driven into her skull. Shaman apologizes to his daughter, informing her that he wished they had more time to explain to her what she fully faced, revealing that the coronet of enchantment cannot be removed.

Leaning against a couch, Judd mentions to Heather that he is beginning to feel a little out of his league, for while he has come across some interesting witcheries in his life, but this tops it off. When a seemingly pre-occupied team leader doesn’t respond, Judd asks Heather if she is all right. Heather tells the aged Alphan that she finds it strange being in her parents’ house after not being in it for ten years. Judd reminds Heather that she mentioned once how rocky it became between her and her parents when she and Mac eloped. Heather tells Judd that now that Mac is dead she keeps expecting her mother to come through the door carrying a sign that says, “I told you so”.

As the two walk into the kitchen, Judd tells Heather that Elizabeth mentioned that her parents are away on vacation and not due back for ten days. Pausing, he asks if there is nothing else bothering her. Pouring herself a mug of coffee, Heather tells Judd that there might be something, for she has enough on her mind to fill up a couple dozen normal lives! Heather supposes though that normality is the automatic first casualty when one starts hanging around with super-heroes.

Sitting on a seat at the kitchen table, Judd suggests to Heather that she may find what most people consider “normal” occupies a very thin line on the spectrum of human experience. Judd tells Heather that if anyone strays a couple of steps either way from that narrow path and one is liable to find themselves in a very different world. He should know, he used to live there. Sipping her coffee, Heather tells Judd that Mac had told her a lot about him, that he has walked parts of the world few men ever dreamed about. Heather tells Judd that that is one of the reasons she is glad he has decided to stay with the team, adding that if she is going to make any kind of an impact as leader of Alpha Flight she will need his wisdom.

As Heather sits down, Judd tells her that the wisdom is hers for the taking, adding that if there is anything he can do to help her, in any way, all she needs to do is let him know. Heather smiles and tells Judd that he is a good friend, but that right now she needs to give Walter a call and let him know they are nearing his way. Getting up from her seat she turns back and smiles at Judd, telling him she will see him soon, he replies that he is counting the moments.

Shaman enters the kitchen as Heather leaves and Judd asks how Elizabeth is. Shaman replies that Snowbird is talking to her, before asking if he may have a word with him. Judd gets up from his chair and asks if there is a problem. With a neutral tone so as not to upset Judd, Michael tells him that there is a potential one. Shaman states that Heather is vulnerable right now, for the death of her husband struck her to the core, they were after all, very much in love. Shaman adds that because Guardian’s death was so total and all happened before her very eyes has left Heather with scars that may never go away.

As Shaman sits on the floor to become eye-level with Judd, Judd tells Twoyoungmen that he is not telling him anything he doesn’t already know. Shaman replies that he is aware of this, but is also aware of his fellow eldest-Alphan’s feelings for Heather. Shaman states that Heather has an incredible strength of spirit and a great inner beauty which few men could be unmoved by – especially in her present emotionally bruised state.

Judd grits his teeth and turns away as he tells Twoyoungmen that he knows what this is leading up to, and that he need not worry, for even if he was not twice Heather’s age. He realizes Heather needs more than he can offer her, for she has had enough pain in her life and he does not want to add to it. Shaman tells Judd that he misunderstands him, for what he means is that there will come a time, perhaps soon, when Heather will need someone again, someone strong and kind. He warns Judd that he believes Heather will reach out and that it will be to he, informing him that he must not turn away from her, that he must be prepared to give as much of his self that Heather might need to take.

The next day, on the straits of Juan De Fuca, Vancouver Island, where the handsome Walter Langkowski and an unimpressed Aurora are on a speedboat going across the lake. Aurora asks her boyfriend how much further it is, for she did not expect it to be this cold. Walt pays more attention to Aurora’s scantily clad body – bikini and a revealing jumper – than to his driving, and smiling he reminds Aurora he advised her to wear something a little warmer. Aurora reminds Walt that she never used to be bothered by the cold or the heat, and wonders if this is something caused by her new biology.

Walter suspects that it is and he reminds her that he warned her there may be some unpredictable side-effects of the altering of her mutant genes, for while her powers have changed, so too has her physical resilience. Aurora tells Walt that she doesn’t care much for the sound of that, and that she simply wanted him to make her powers different from those of her brothers, but must she anticipate them bring weaker? Walt replies that only time will tell, before motioning to an island and informing Aurora that they have arrived.

Holding herself from the cold, Aurora stands on the dock as Walt ties the boat up she asks where exactly “here” is. Walt informs Aurora that they are at Tamarind Island, which has been in his family for years, but had always seemed too out of the way for the city-folk like he and his parents. As they walk up the sprawling grounds to the huge mansion, Walt reminds Aurora that when Heather rang them yesterday to tell them that she and the rest of Alpha were headed this way with the idea of setting up a permanent headquarters, something reminded him of the island, so he thought they should check it out.

When the lovers come in full view of the huge mansion Walt asks Aurora if she could imagine a better potential headquarters. Amazed, Aurora proclaims it is ‘fantastique!’ Walt smiles as he reveals that it was built around 1896 by a great-aunt on his mothers side, who was something of a character by all accounts. He tells Aurora that his great-aunt disappeared around 1929 just before the Great Depression and a few years later she was legally declared dead. The house and property was then passed to his maternal grandfather then to his mother.

Standing on the sprawling veranda, Walt admits that they came here once when he was a child as his father thought they should find out what they were paying so much real estate tax for, and his mother took an instant repulsion to the sight of the place. Adding to that the rumors that the mansion is haunted pretty much explains why they never came back, and it has remained empty ever since. Opening the door easily, Walt expected to have more trouble with it, but it seems that the hinges have been oiled.

As the couple walk into one of the rooms, Aurora tells Walt that from the way he described it she expected covered furniture and cobwebs everywhere, but the place is practically spotless. Walt agrees that it looks like someone has been keeping the place neat and tidy, adding that his mother made a similar comment when they came here thirty years ago.

Langkowski watches as Aurora walks down the hallway, and he thinks to himself that Aurora seems particularly taken with the place, which is good as he wanted an excuse to get her away from the city. He tells himself that he is still trying to work out what is going on with her and that the new hairstyle and the new costume must have something to do with it. It is almost as if she was fighting, struggling to hold onto the Aurora side of her personality, and not wanting Jeanne-Marie to break through.

Walt thinks that that is exactly what is happening, for Aurora has always spoken flawless enough, without any trace of her French accent almost, while Jeanne-Marie has trouble even with basic sentence structure in anything but French! However, Walt thinks that lately Aurora has been sounding more and more like Jeanne-Marie, dropping her “H’s” and saying “zis” and “zat” instead of “this” and “that”. Leaning against a wall, Walt suspects that some kind of spontaneous fusion is taking place, and the two opposite sides – his thoughts are cut off when suddenly the wall swings open and closes quickly behind him after he falls through.

Aurora turns back, and rushing to where he was standing sees only his hat, lying on the floor. Picking up his hat, Aurora calls out to her boyfriend, telling him that if this is some kind o joke she doesn’t find it funny – suddenly the lights cut out, and Aurora is plunged into darkness – something she fears. Aurora wonders why the darkness why the darkness is so absolute, as there are windows in the hallway, but this is like being submerged in ink!

Aurora crashes into something which frightens her, her heart jumps and it seems to be amplified, desperate, the scared young woman tries to find a way out. She calls out to Walter, pleading with him not to leave her in the darkness, for she is Aurora and must be let free to roam in the light of the sun, that darkness is only for Jeanne-Marie! She cries that the darkness which gives Jeanne-Marie freedom only gives Aurora imprisonment, for the sisters at the orphanage used to lock her away until Jeanne-Marie would come back, crushing Aurora’s very spirit!

Aurora cries out that Jeanne-Marie has been so very close to the surface as of late, so close to breaking free, for she escaped during the battle with the Collector. Aurora won control back, but recently Jeanne-Marie almost broke free again, and Aurora won control just barely. Aurora feels Jeanne-Marie clawing at her very mind and ripping at Aurora, for Jeanne-Marie was after all the master of the body for many years before Aurora broke free- suddenly, Jeanne-Marie seems to break free. Calling out that the treacherous imp broke free and forced her down – Aurora fights back, proclaiming that she is Aurora and not Jeanne-Marie!

Jeanne-Marie spies something in the darkness, Aurora sees it too, a sliver of light, Jeanne-Marie believes it to be a door – its not locked and it opens – and Aurora walks through it, into a passage filled with eight golden life-size statues of men. Examining the statues Aurora remembers that Walt said his great-aunt had been married eight times and she wonders if they are statues of her husbands. Aurora wonders what each successive spouse must have thought if he saw the monuments to those who were before him. She thinks there is something very strange about them – suddenly one of the statues opens it eyes.

Aurora realizes they are alive and turns to escape the madhouse she is in. Turning around she finds standing before her a woman with a golden face, cloaked in white. The mysterious woman extends a golden hand and grabs Aurora by the wrist. Aurora pleads with her to let go, and asks what she has done with Aurora. The woman replies that Walt is going to be safer than he has ever been and pushes Aurora forth so she can take her to him. Aurora walks with the woman and asks who she is.

Her glassy stare and cold features remain as she introduces herself as Lillian von Loont, though in past times she was called Gilded Lily! Gilded Lily reveals that Walter is near, and points her finger to the once-handsome man, now encased in gold, and Aurora screams.

Characters Involved: 

Aurora/Jeanne-Marie, Puck, Sasquatch, Shaman, Snowbird, Talisman II (all Alpha Flight)

Heather Hudson

Gilded Lily / Lillian von Loont

Calvelli and other construction workers

Story Notes: 

First appearance of Gilded Lily, an ancestor of Sasquatch’s with a penchant for alchemy.

First appearance of Tamarind Island, which will go on to become the headquarters of Alpha Flight for just over 20 issues. [Alpha Flight (first series) #29-51]

Aurora underwent a change in powers at a molecular level, by which her powers would be differentiated from those of her estranged brother and former teammate, Northstar, and in the process her genes were changed so that she would not be recognized as a mutant by sensors any longer. [Alpha Flight (first series) #17]

Elizabeth Twoyoungmen, Shaman’s daughter, was revealed to be the long-prophesied Talisman, a mystic of immense power when she pulled from Shaman’s medicine pouch a magical cronet. [Alpha Flight (first series) #19]

Heather and Mac’s elopement and wedding, and Heather’s strained relationship with her parents, while mentioned frequently throughout the series, was not shown until years later in the Alpha Flight: In the Beginning Flashback issue.

After Elizabeth disowned her father [back-story in Alpha Flight (first series) #5] she went to live with the McNeil’s, which as it seems this issue is where she was still living at.

Judd and Heather’s oft-confusing relationship would last for years, which would mainly consist of him pining over her, while Heather was involved with Madison Jeffries, or too pre-occupied with other issues. When they finally decided to give it a go, [Wolverine (second series) #142] their relationship did not last long, possibly something Judd was not responsible for, as Heather returned to Mac and they had a baby together. [Wolverine (second series) #173, X-Men Unlimited #45]

Here, Walter hints at a third personality developing within Aurora/Jeanne-Marie, this was never fully developed as writer Bill Mantlo disregarded this concept and practically merged the Aurora personality with that of this new third one.

Aurora would be locked away by the sisters at the orphanage during her youth. For the full account of Aurora’s tragic childhood, see her origin story in Alpha Flight (first series) #8.

Aurora, Northstar, Marrina and Sasquatch joined up with Spider-Man to battle the Collector in Marvel Team-Up Annual #7.

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