Alpha Flight (1st series) #29

Issue Date: 
December 1985
Story Title: 
Cut bait and run

Bill Mantlo (Writer), Mike Mignola (Penciler), Gerry Talaoc (Inker), Bob Sharen (Colorist), Jim Novak (Letterer), Rosemary McCormick-Lowy (Assistant Editor), Carl Potts (Editor), Jim Shooter (Editor-in-Chief)

Brief Description: 

The Hulk attacks Alpha Flight and manages to take them all down, before escaping and trying to return to the desert. Heather tries to get Shaman to help, but after what happened to his daughter, he has lost faith, which means he has no powers to aid Alpha Flight. Northstar and Aurora comfort each other after realizing that Walter Langkowski will not be coming back, before Heather regroups her team, minus Shaman, and they pursue the Hulk across Vancouver. Shaman remains at the lab until he leaves after sending out a psychic call for help. Alpha Flight engage the Hulk again and Box gets both his legs broken off, while Northstar and Aurora realize that they can no longer come into physical contact with each other without negating their powers. Snowbird arrives on the scene after receiving Shaman’s summons and the Hulk flees when the army shoot at him. Snowbird follows Hulk across Canada until he gets closer to America. Snowbird believes America should deal with its own monsters and returns to Alpha Flight, giving a powerful speech, which keeps them together. The speech is overheard by Gary Cody who had come to inform Alpha Flight that they are going to be given funding again, and they accept, Northstar and Snowbird officially rejoin the team and Heather realizes that Alpha has become what Mac always wanted them to be – a family, but she wonders how long it will be before they question her place as their leader.

Full Summary: 

From within the Box armor, Roger Bochs declares that they haven't found Walter Langkowski, but the Incredible Hulk! The Hulk uses his powerful strength to crash down on Box, and the infantile Hulk sees that he has damaged “Metal Man”. Roger sees the gaping hole in his chest and tries to remind himself that it is not his chest, but Box’s, as he has mentally and molecularly merged with the armor and not is really a part of it – but he wonders if he can actually be injured while inside the robot.

Eugene Judd a.k.a. Puck leaps into action while asking to Alpha Flight’s ally Madison Jeffries, who helped build Box, reassure Bochs that he will be all right. Jeffries isn't convinced and informs Judd that he warned Roger of the risks he was taking by becoming one with the robot each time he phased into it. Judd admits that he was afraid that may be the case and realizes that Rogers fear that he may not be able to phase out alive has immobilized him.

Walter Langkowski’s girlfriend, the French-Canadian temptress known as Aurora, asks someone to tell her what was going on, as Box was “fishing” for a body for Walter to have, and she asks if Walter is inside the Hulk …or gone? Judd flips up to the Hulk and kicks him in the back of the head while thinking to himself that he fears most for Aurora, as the emergence of the Hulk suggests that they have lost Walter – forever! Judd tells Roger to phase out of the Box armor, to which Roger replies that he doesn’t know if he can, for there is a hole in his chest where his heart ought to be. Suddenly, Box begins to topple towards Aurora, who is frozen in shock after the recent events, however Aurora’s twin brother, Jean-Paul Beaubier, a.k.a. the handsome Northstar is fast enough to fly to her rescue, saving her from being crushed by several tons of robot.

On the ground, Box tells Jeffries that he doesn’t feel too good, and Madison rushes over to him. Judd wonders what Jeffries can do to help Roger, and whether he can distract the Hulk long enough for him to do what he has to. The Hulk angrily tells Judd to stand still so he can smash him, and while Judd dodges around the Hulk, the Hulk destroys the equipment, which was meant to save Sasquatch. Jeffries tells Roger to stay calm and that he is trying to repair whatever damage has been done. Judd overhears that and realizes that that is why Jeffries was inducted into the now disbanded Gamma Flight, for he is a transmutator, a molder of metal. ‘Pity he can’t heal broken hearts as easy as he fuses shattered circuits,’ Judd adds, looking at Aurora.

Aurora cries out to Walter before slumping down onto the ground and declaring to her brother that her love is gone, and she will never see him again. Sitting near his sister, Jean-Paul realizes that all this shock is causing Aurora to slip into her Jeanne-Marie persona, the meek identity she retreats into whenever pain overwhelms her. He reveals that he feared something like this may happen when she fell in love with Sasquatch – feared for both his sister, and himself.

Hulk grabs Judd, who is surprised, as he didn’t think the Hulk would be able to get him, but as the Hulk tosses him far across the lab, he realizes he was wrong. Grabbing onto a beam to stop himself from a horrible landing, Judd declares that the thing to do with mistakes is to make sure you live long enough to learn from them, and flings himself back towards the Hulk. Hulk tells “Little Man” to stop bouncing so he can smash him, and Judd jokes that he will ‘pass on that invitation’. Judd wonders which Hulk they are fighting, for their have been so many – mindless ones, smart ones, and both at once even!

From the other side of the room, team leader Heather Hudson asks Judd if he is all right, to which the diminutive Alphan replies that he is fine and tells Heather to stay back while he deals with the Hulk. As the Hulk smashes down near Judd, Puck realizes that this Hulk is more like the semi-sentient Hulk he has heard about than the brainless one they went fishing for, and realizes that must be why Langkowski got lost, for if Bruce Banner is back inside the Hulk then there would be no room for Walt. Judd however does not detect any more of Banner in the Hulk than he could detect of Walt inside Sasquatch in the final weeks. Judd hopes that Alpha Flight can survive the curse of the men being lost out to their monstrous alter egos.

Heather rushes forward as Judd is knocked over by Hulk, thinking to herself that since the death of her husband, Guardian, she is supposed to have assumed leadership of Alpha Flight – without any super powers or special skill of her own. The only thing Heather can do is to implore her friends to act together as a team. She turns to Dr. Michael Twoyoungmen, a.k.a. Shaman, who is standing against a wall, away from the battle. Heather tells the founding Alphan that they need his mysticism, but Shaman merely replies that he hears her, and would help, if he could. Eyes closed, he solemnly reminds Heather that his powers are founded on his faith that he is worthy to wield the magic of his ancestors. However, Shaman declares that his inability to save his daughter, Elizabeth, from the battle with Dark Guardian shook his faith in his power, just like the failure to save his wife years ago caused him to doubt his surgeon skills.

Shaman reaches into his medicine pouch declaring that without faith he has no more power than what Heather has. He mentions that Judd is still in trouble and searching in his pouch he pulls out his hand, where once upon a time he would have reached into nothing and used his faith to pull out whatever device he needed, now he pulls out – nothing. Even after praying to the gods of his great-grandfather, Shaman is powerless. He declares that he can offer no help, and Judd continues to dodge the Hulk who is now throwing pieces of equipment at him. Puck declares that aside from the absent Snowbird, Shaman’s magic made him the most powerful of the remaining Alphans, and with him out of the fight, he wonders what hope the others have of stopping the Hulk.

Puck calls out to Shaman to warn him of the Hulk who is about to throw something at him, and both men dodge it just in time. Judd thinks that the Hulk is more powerful than even their deceased teammate Sasquatch as the equipment he threw at him must have weighed at least ten tons, and the lab’s wall is unable to withstand the impact – it is now collapsing. The wall falls on Judd, to Heather’s horror, and the Hulk breaks his way through the lab wall. Realizing he is somewhere he has never been before, the Hulk declares that he must find he desert, his home – or else he will smash this city until it becomes like his home. Heather Hudson tells the Hulk that she has no doubt he could smash all of Vancouver, and defiantly jumping onto him, she tells him that as long as a single Alphan is capable of drawing breath, he will not.

Heather calls to Northstar to help her, but her plea goes unheard, as Jean-Paul is busy with his sister. Jean-Paul tells Aurora not to grieve, to which Aurora reminds Jean-Paul that her lover is dead, her lover who will never come back to hold her in his strong and loving arms, never kiss her lips or caress her again, he is gone – and she loved him so. Northstar begins to cry too, telling his sister that he knows, and Aurora is surprised to see Jean-Paul crying over the man he argued with so much – and realizes that her brother loved Walter Langkowski as much as she.

Hulk tries to push Heather off his body and Judd joins the struggle, clinging to Hulks legs as the giant declares that the city is too small for him and he needs room to move, such as in the desert where he was “born”. He uses his incredible strength and leaps to over the tallest of Vancouver’s buildings, flinging Heather and Judd off as he goes. Heather reaches for her glasses, which came off during the fight and is astonished at how the Hulk just flung them off as if they were less then nothing before he leapt away. Judd asks where he would have leapt to, and Heather tells him that the Hulk said he wanted to go back to the desert, which she supposes is the American Southwest, where he was “born” in the gamma bomb explosion that transformed Bruce Banner into the Hulk. She supposes that this eliminates any lingering hope that it may have been Walter inside the Hulk, to which Judd thinks that when the Hulk sees nothing but city and sea below him he may take his rage out on the Vancouver. Reminding Heather she is team leader, he asks her what they should do next.

Heather and Puck walk back into the destroyed lab, Heather declaring that they pick up the pieces and try again, looking around, she sees Shaman leaning against a wall crying, Northstar and Aurora comforting each other and Jeffries repairing the broken Box robot. Helping his sister to her feet, Northstar asks Heather if she is joking, asking her if the loss of their three mightiest members wasn’t enough to convince her of the absurdity of them remaining as a team, then the ease with which the Hulk plowed through those who remained should have been enough. Heather tells Jean-Paul that perhaps if he and Aurora hadn’t been so caught up in their own grief then they may have had a chance. Northstar replies that all these “maybes” don’t count for anything, except for the fact that Alpha Flight is finished!

Aurora manages to stop crying and tells Heather that her brother speaks for himself as usual, for she is determined to get vengeance against the Hulk who killed Walter. Heather looks sympathetically at Aurora, and knows that she talking from grief and anger, as they do not know what happened between Walter and the Hulk at the crossroads, and perhaps they never will. But Heather realizes that if letting Aurora and the others believe that the Hulk slew their teammate and friend will rally them into acting like a team again, then that is what she may have to do.

Heather turns to Box and Jeffries tells her that he is still working on him, as the Hulk bashed him up pretty good, crushing some of the pivotal circuitry. Jeffries reveals that it is a relief Box didn’t shut down from symbiotic shock. Finishing putting some important parts inside the robot before using his transmuting powers to close the hole in Box’s chest up. Jeffries tells Roger that he can phase out of Box now, and the quadriplegic does, announcing when he is out that he is ‘as whole as a leg less cripple can ever be’ before revealing that he felt his “body” had become his coffin, and tells Jeffries that he saved his sanity and possibly his life.

Jeffries helps Roger into his wheelchair and tells him that he doesn’t want to go making a habit out of it, as it took a lot out of both of them. Jeffries adds that if Roger had remained in the Box armor any longer then the symbiosis would have become irreversible and no one would have been able to put him back together. Heather thanks Jeffries and asks Bochs if he is going to help them go up against the Hulk. Bochs asks if Heather really wants him to go up against the Hulk after what he just did to him and tells her that he is scared, for obviously an assault on his robot body cannot affect him physically, but psychologically. He wonders if there is a difference between the two before weighing up the possible harms that may come to him should Box get injured while he was inside it again. Bochs says that it was Heather’s husband – Guardian – who made him, a pitiful paraplegic feel like he had something to offer when he asked him to join Beta Flight and so tells Heather to count him in. Heather thanks Roger as Jeffries tells him not to say he didn’t warn him of the dangers and as Roger phases into Box he replies that wont, before asking what life is without risk.

Northstar stands with the group and declares that he has as much to avenge as Aurora does and so will rejoin Alpha Flight as long as his sister remains with the team. Heather turns to Shaman who continues to stand away from the group and tells Heather again that the loss in his confidence in the source of his mystical powers has left him with nothing to offer her team. Judd says ‘Self-pity from Doctor Michael Twoyoungmen’? Trying to rally his old friend he asks him if he remembers that it was only when he stopped feeling sorry for himself that he found his faith and became Shaman – Heather cuts Judd off, reminding him she is team leader she tells him she will handle it. Heather kneels by Shaman tells him that she understands what has happened inside of him, for he placed his daughter in danger and could not protect her and now he is afraid of failing Alpha Flight. She tells him that if he lets his fear of failure paralyze himself – Twoyoungmen cuts her off and reaching into his medicine pouch again he tells her that he knows all that in his mind, but that it is his heart that has lost courage.

Shaman pulls nothing from his medicine pouch and Heather declares that they will have to stop the Hulk without him. She asks Alpha Flight if they are ready, and Northstar carries her, while Judd rides on Aurora and Box flies behind them out of the building. In the air, Heather tells them that the plan is to goad and prod the Hulk out of the city limits before they try and knock him out, all while keeping the damages to a minimum.

Back inside Boch’s lab, feeling sorry for himself, Shaman slumps to the ground as Jeffries asks him if he is staying behind, before saying it is too bad he cannot put people back together like he did Box, before revealing that he used to know someone who could, but that man is in worse shape than Shaman is now. Leaving the lab, Jeffries tells Shaman this is all too bad, as Alpha Flight needs Shaman as much as Shaman needs them. Shaman puts his fingers to his head, thinking to himself that Alpha Flight needs the mystical might of his medicine pouch, power, which is denied to him. But he still possess a shaman’s knowledge, and having once been in harmony with the ancient forces of his ancestral land, he hopes he can call upon another who is similarly attuned. When Shaman finishes sending out his psychic summons he does not wait around to see whether it will evoke a response, and he leaves the lab.

The five Alphans fly across Vancouver and discover the Hulk right in the main center, roaring that he could leap as high as he could but could not see the desert, all he could see was sea, trees and men, men who Hulk hates and wants to smash. The provincial police begin to move in on the rampaging Hulk with weapons that could stun an entire herd of elephants, however before they could open fire, the Hulk smashes his mighty fists on the ground and rips up the tarmac around them, knocking the police back to the ground. The commander of the police force sees all of his men down and begins to call for back up from the army.

Alpha Flight overhear this and tell him to call the army if he wants, but they have arrived and are ready to take down the Hulk. The Hulk looks up and sees “Metal Man” put back together with midget and friends, to which Aurora tells him is as good as any description of the team called Alpha Flight! The twins dart around Hulk while Judd uses his acrobatic abilities to dodge him and confuse him. Standing by a car for protection, Heather wonders if Mac is watching, and tells him that despite defeat, despair and the losses they have suffered, Alpha Flight is at last a team.

Judd tells Aurora and Northstar to keep darting around the Hulk quick enough so that he cannot hit them. Northstar admits that he knows the Hulk is strong, as one blow from his fists can level a mountain, Jean-Paul cannot match the Hulk there, but thinks that a hundred punches striking at super-speed at the same spot, will show him that he is not alone in possessing power. The Hulk actually feels Jean-Paul hit him a hundred times over and growls that it hurt. Box asks if it hurts him like the Hulk hurt him earlier and punching him returns the favor. Heather calls to Judd to move in and aid Box, to which he does, while Heather thinks to herself that Alpha Flight is following her orders and coordinating their attacks like the fighting team her husband always hoped they would be – but the Hulk is still so powerful!

Box smashes his metal fists into the Hulk’s chest until Hulk picks Box up, declaring that he hits the hardest, and holding Box’s feet he swings him into a wall, declaring that he would be impressed if he could be injured when Judd sees one of Box’s legs ripped off. Roger says that it doesn’t matter as he has all ready given two limbs to “the cause” so what is another? Standing back up, Roger proclaims that one leg still gives him more mobility than he has in his in his wheelchair and hops to the Hulk, and despite Box being the most physically formidable member of Alpha Flight, the Hulk is still the Hulk. The Hulk grabs Box again and tells him that when the Hulk knocks “Metal Man” down, he is to stay done, and rips off the other leg. Box jokes that there are pieces of him everywhere as he is flung towards Judd, who sees Box laughing despite being torn apart, and wonders if he is insane – or if he embodies the spirit of the new Alpha Flight, or if there is even a difference between the two.

Heather calls to the mutant twins and tells them that it is up to them now. Aurora declares that they will not fail themselves and uses her light powers to blind the Hulk. Northstar sees his sister shinning on her own as Heather remembers they could only once pull of together. Aurora tells Northstar that if her light is so intense on it’s own now, to imagine how blinding it will be if brother and sister join hands – but the complete opposite happens, Aurora’s light switches off, Northstar loses his super speed and neither of the twins can fly. Northstar asks Aurora what she has done to them, and the distraught Aurora replies that it was an experiment, one Heather believes was to make the twins less dependent on each other – with a result that any attempt to pool their powers negates them completely.

Hulk clasps his hands together creating a small earthquake, which knocks the twins out. The Hulk turns now to Heather Hudson, who thinks to herself that her love for Mac got her way over her head in a world of super heroes and super powers, for while her husband understood such things. Heather thinks that the only thing she was ever good at was typing to pay the price, while Mac’s power killed him and his protégées have gone down in defeat.

Suddenly, an arctic owl flies up beside Heather, who quickly realizes that the bird is anything but, and the ookpik’s form shifts into that of the beautiful goddess Snowbird. Alpha Flight’s powerhouse informs Heather that she received Shaman’s psychic summons and came as swiftly as she was able to. Heather tells Snowbird to lead the Hulk out of the city. Snowbird looks upon the Hulk and understands that it is neither one of the Great Beasts for she doesn’t see its True Fires, nor is it Walter Langkowski in a new body, but a cursed creature, a man made monster by his own misadventure.

Snowbird declares that it will take a monster to fight a monster, and for she is a shapeshifter, with the power to assume a monster’s form from before. Narya transforms into the white-furred Sasquatch which she recently assumed, Hulk declares that despite the white fur that he knows this form, Snowbird declaring that the Hulk fought both against and Sasquatch, who was a hero in this form. Snowbird mentions that it was a borrowed shape, belonging originally to the Great Beast known as Tanaraq, who in time reclaimed it and Langkowski was no more. Hulk punches Narya, declaring that he does not understand or care.

Hulk exclaims furiously that he will fight the whole world as Snowbird tells him that he may have to before he is through, and shells begin to burst around the Hulk. A commander announces to the Hulk that they want him to ‘cease and desist’, to which the Hulk replies that all he wanted to do was go home and find peace. However he was attacked, and throwing a slab of concrete at Snowbird-Sasquatch he exclaims that he has had enough and leaps away with one mighty bound.

Snowbird is surprised that Hulk could move one of the Great Beasts, but reminds herself that Tanaraq was destroyed, however this leads her to wonder whether or not a daughter of the Gods could be corrupted by assuming the shape of the Great Beast for too long. Snowbird returns to her default form and takes to the air, for she is a professional and has a job to do – to pursue the Hulk.

Snowbird follows the Hulk easily, her swiftness matching his mighty jumps, as the Hulk heads southward, crossing the boarders between Canada and the United States. Snowbird slows her pursuit, for she is bound to Canada by the spell Shaman cast upon her when she was born. Snowbird doesn’t believe she should overtake the Hulk and fight him, and why should she? After all, America should deal with a monster of its own making, as Alpha Flight’s duty is to defend the North – is it not?

Pondering this question Snowbird soars back to her friends and allies in Vancouver, who are gathering themselves after the battle. Northstar and Aurora continue to cling together, Jean-Paul telling his sister that it may be hard to convince Vancouver of this victory, as Jeffries, who recently arrived on the scene, mentions that there is a lot of property damage but it is lucky no lives were lost. As Jeffries repairs the Box robot, Bochs declares that he will think twice about locating another lab in an urban area. Judd tells Heather that Roger has a point, for Alpha Flight was responsible for bringing the Hulk to Canada and perhaps they are more of a menace than the ones they exist to fight. Heather, somewhat forlorn, tells Judd that if she thought that Alpha Flight would be blamed for all of this then she would just give up.

A powerful voice speaks calmly from above, Snowbird lands on some rubble and tells Heather that she can never give up nor disband Alpha Flight, reminding her that on countless occasions has Alpha Flight fought on behalf of Canada, rarely with thanks and never with assistance. Snowbird continues, proclaiming that they did this at enormous cost, accepting the responsibility without question because it was Alpha Flight alone who possessed the abilities and extra-ordinary powers necessary to protect and preserve the land the live in. She reveals that when she left Alpha Flight she did so in part because she believed they had fulfilled their purpose – that the destruction of the Great Beasts and the capture of Omega Flight meant that the land no longer required their services. She knows now that she was wrong adding that being the daughter of a goddess may make her more prone to prophecy, but she knows now that the land will always be subjected to grave and unguessable evils.

Alpha Flight continue to watch Snowbird’s powerful speech as a helicopter pulls up nearby, Snowbird reminds Alpha Flight that in the past they have stood strong despite their suffering, they stood together despite all attempts to divide them. Now it would be a disgrace to the memory of those who died and a dishonor to those who stand ready to carry the banner of Alpha Flight into the future if they were to give up. Coming from the helicopter, someone tells Snowbird that she gave one speech, one he has been waiting a long time to hear. The man gets out of the helicopter and declares that he has just come from Ottawa to inform Alpha Flight that they will never have to face another unconventional enemy in Canada alone.

Judd sees that the man is Gary Cody, who declares that for once he is the bearer of good news, announcing that Department H has been refunded – without limits! When Gary walks up to her, Heather asks him why, for Department H – named after her husband – was cut by the government. Gary Cody tells Heather that governments change and the new administration wants to boost Canada’s defenses and people with powers like the ones possessed by the Alphans are important to that effort. Heather asks if they would have a free hand with no strings attached, to which Gary gives his word, adding that as Alpha Flight’s former liaison, he has been put in charge.

Heather turns to her team, telling them that they have come in from the cold to be Canada’s official champions, adding that she suspects the American Avengers have a similar position with their government. Northstar declares that he does not like this idea and asks where the government was when they needed help, to which Aurora tells him that his dislike of the government is well known. Jeffries declares that Jean-Paul has a point, and suggests that the government may just want to keep an eye on them all. Bochs tells him to think of the research money before Snowbird wonders what Guardian would have said.

Puck tells Narya that if it would mean to keep Alpha Flight together, then he would say ‘yes’ – and even Northstar agrees. Snowbird declares that it is unanimous that Alpha Flight will remain as a team, to which Gary Cody tells Heather that he thinks they have become what James always wanted them to be – a family. Heather says nothing, but looks longingly away, knowing that Mac possessed the power to keep the Alpha Flight “family” together and they follow her to honor his memory. But she feels that someday soon, her “kids” are going to question her place at the head of the table – and she wonders then what the “mighty matriarch” will do.

Characters Involved: 

Aurora, Box, Puck, Northstar, Shaman, Snowbird (all Alpha Flight)

Heather McNeil Hudson

Madison Jeffries
Gary Cody


Police force

Army soldiers

In Flashback


Talisman (as adult and child)

Kathryn Twoyoungmen

Story Notes: 

After losing his body [Alpha Flight (first series) #23-24] Walter resided in the Box armor, but yearned for a real body. With Boch’s help they found him a body [Alpha Flight (first series) #28] but when Walter learned it was the body belonging to his old friend Bruce Banner a.k.a. the Hulk, Walt could not bring himself to take the body. Now his mind wanders aimlessly around without a body to go to. [Incredible Hulk #313]

When Puck says that Jeffries was a member of Gamma Flight, he actually says “Beta Flight”. This however is incorrect as Beta and Gamma Flights were disbanded before Jeffries progressed any further in Department H.

Talisman was consumed by the void while Shaman fought Delphine Courtney after promising to save his daughter. After being rescued by the Beyonder, Talisman was furious and teleported everyone away from her, angry that her father had failed her so many times. [Alpha Flight (first series) #27-28, Secret Wars II #4]

Kathryn Twoyoungmen died of cancer, Shaman had foolishly promised Elizabeth that he would save her. [Back story in Alpha Flight (first series) #5]

The person Jeffries knew that could put people back together is his brother, Dr. Lionel Jeffries, who will become a supporting character for several issues, starting with his appearance next issue. [Alpha Flight (first series) #30]

Aurora’s mutant genes were changed at a molecular level hoping to separate herself further from her brother. [Alpha Flight (first series) #17]

Snowbird first assumed the white form of a Sasquatch when fighting Walter in his Sasquatch form. She will occasionally use it, despite the dangers of assuming it, until her death. [Alpha Flight (first series) #23-44]

The Hulk and Sasquatch adventures occurred in Hulk Annual #8 and Hulk #272, however Walter and Bruce both know each other from college.

Snowbird quit Alpha Flight after defeating the Great Beasts as she wished to experience what it is like to be human without worrying about her godly duties or responsibilities in Alpha Flight. However she told Alpha Flight that she was returning to the realm of the Arctic Gods, which she didn’t do. [Alpha Flight (first series) #24]

Issue Information: 
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