Alpha Flight (1st series) #33

Issue Date: 
April 1986
Story Title: 
A Friend in Need

Bill Mantlo (Writer), Sal Buscema (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: 

Snowbird is still suffering from a mysterious illness and when her lover, Doug Thompson, calls a doctor to treat her, the doctor can do nothing for her. In all the commotion, no one hears the phone ring, as Alpha Flight are trying to get hold of Snowbird to find out if their leader, Heather Hudson, had gone to see her. The Alphans discuss Heather’s recent adoption of a super powered battle suit and Puck feels guilty for not wanting to give the woman he secretly loves the training, and blames himself for her running away. Judd has a feeling he knows who Heather is going to see and sets off on his own to get to her. Heather meanwhile has flown across Canada, to New York, and on her way passed over the Atlantic, where the former Alphan Marrina in a disorientated state is being hunted by Attuma, the warlord of Atlantis, as he hopes to use Marrina to lure the Sub-Mariner to him. Heather arrives at the Xavier Institute where the X-Men are preparing to leave for the opera, however they believe they are under attack and Magneto knocks Heather out before Wolverine can inform everyone that it is his friend. Heather is unconscious, but rescued from death by the X-Men, who give Wolverine their blessing to go and sort out past loyalties. Heather and Wolverine recall the day that they first met while Heather was on her honeymoon with Mac and Logan admits to her that he left Department H because he knew she would never leave Mac for him, and that it was she, not Mac who helped him regain his sanity. Logan agrees to train Heather, believing that she is one of those few super heroes, like he, who are made and not born, when suddenly, they are attacked by Lady Deathstrike, who declares that Wolverine’s power was stolen from her and that she wants it back.

Full Summary: 

Her name is Heather McNeil Hudson, leader of Canada’s premiere super heroes, Alpha Flight, and though she wears the costume of her husband, Guardian, she is not him, and she streaks across the sky, sweeping southward over Central Quebec. Her flight does not go unnoticed by those below and the laborers in the field look up, they think they see Guardian …but Guardian is dead. Heather streaks across open waters, and as far as anyone knew the secrets of James Hudson’s battle suit died with him. That is until a killer robot used her powers to mimic Mac, becoming “Dark Guardian”, she was destroyed, but the suits secrets survived and were fashioned into a costume that Mac’s wife now wears.

Heather remembers how she was a secretary, then Mac’s lover and wife, helping him organize Alpha Flight, but always from the sidelines. Heather believes that she now has the power to truly lead Alpha Flight as Mac did, but is annoyed that no one will teach her how to use it, because everyone thinks they are doing her a favor by keeping her on the sidelines. She knows that if she cannot find anyone amongst her so-called teammates to tutor her in the combat skills she needs to stay alive, she will just have to improve her education elsewhere.

Heather travels southward over Nova Scotia and the North Atlantic and does not notice a familiar face swimming in the ocean below her. However Heather does not go unnoticed by the amphibious alien Marrina – a former member of Alpha Flight – who now resembles more of a monster. Many months ago the evil self-proclaimed Master of the World revealed Marrina’s origins, that her egg was one of thousands sent to Earth eons ago, to conquer it. However on hatching, Marrina took on both the semi-human form and the form of her adoptive parents, of whom she also took on their attributes. Marrina has struggled to retain her humanity since the Master confronted her with her despicable monstrous mate.

Adding to Marrina’s trouble is the fact that she has had no time to rest since being freed from the Master, for she is being hunted. Even with her now monstrous eyes, Marrina recognizes the fish-shaped craft as Atlantean in design. She wonders if Namor, the ruler of Atlantis who wanted to make her his queen is pursuing her. Some small part of her consciousness cries out for joy that the Sub-Mariner might still love her. But then revulsion at the reality of what she has become as well as an animal’s instinctive fear of being captured compels Marrina to swim deeper into the depths of the ocean. Few can follow Marrina where she swims, for aside from the fact that she is one of the fastest aquatic beings in existence, faster then even the Sub-Mariner, she is able to survive crushing depths few others can.

Inside the fish-shaped vessel an Atlantean warrior informs his warlord that ‘the sea-witch’ has already attained a speed well in excess of the crafts and is pulling away from them. The powerful warlord replies that Marrina cannot maintain such speed for long and that their instruments are capable of tracking her wherever she flees. He boasts that they will soon seize the ‘Sub-Mariners sow’ and use her as bait to trap the traitorous Namor himself – so speaks Attuma, lord of Atlantis!

Unaware of the identity of her pursuers, unaware of anything except her overpowering urge to survive, Marrina seeks shelter in the depths, in incredible pressures that would crush any being born on Earth’s surface. She lets the deep darkness enfold her, shelter her as she was sheltered within the egg from which she was hatched. Suddenly, sharp pain stabs Marrina in the abdomen, shattering any illusions she may have had of safety, and she screams.

Meanwhile, at the home of Douglas Thompson on a Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s base in Yellowknife, which has also become the home of Alpha Flight’s immortal Snowbird after falling in love with the mortal Thompson. Narya clutches at her stomach, suffering some pains, Doug asks the doctor if he can help her. The doctor tells Thompson that he must be joking, after all he was called here in the middle of a blizzard to treat his girlfriend, who the doctor only finds out when he gets here is none other then Snowbird, the most powerful of Alpha Flight and a goddess to boot! The doctor mumbles that he wouldn't know how to treat Snowbird even if she were healthy.

Clutching Narya, Doug declares that she is suffering and he was the only person he could turn to. As the doctor prepares a needle he tells Thompson to remember that and be grateful next time any of the Mounties gets sick at his post. Seeing that Narya is delirious, feverish and bent over with abdominal cramping he thinks that what he has in the needle will help, and uses it to try and sedate Narya. However seconds later the sedative interacts with the power that flows through Narya and as her True Fires show Narya says in an inhuman voice ‘Insufferable mortals! How dare you attempt to stay the rage of a deity! For that you shall die!’ However with that Snowbird screams and morphs uncontrollably through various animal forms until transforming back into herself and falling to the floor.

The doctor asks Thompson if he just saw what he saw and Doug informs the Doctor that it is Narya’s True Fires, adding that she is out for now but probably wont last long. The telephone has been ringing al this while, however given the situation, it goes unanswered.

‘Maybe it’s “Goddess’s Day Off!”’ announces Madison Jeffries as he places the telephone down in Mansion Alpha on Tamarind Island, the home of Canada’s premiere super heroes, Alpha Flight. Jeffries declares he was hoping that after she ran away from them Heather might have gone to see Snowbird. Box suggests that Heather might be running to someone. Jean-Paul Beaubier, the handsome mutant speedster known as Northstar boasts that that is a fine way for their “leader” to act, and his sister, Aurora tells him to be silent if he cannot be sympathetic while she comforts Eugene “Puck” Judd.

Head in his hands, Judd informs everyone that Heather asked him to teach her to fight so she wouldn't die in battle like her husband, Guardian. Aurora tells him that it is not his fault, but Judd says that he refused to help Heather simply because he was selfish. Aurora reminds him that he refused because he loves Heather and doesn’t want to see her get hurt. Jean-Paul thinks that Judd was right to do so, as Heather is not a warrior and that he thinks Heather will only get herself killed for donning Hudson’s battle suit. Box asks Northstar if anyone ever told him he was a ‘callous little creep’. Northstar snaps back that he finds the dishonesty with which they have all treated Heather’s delusions to be the greater cruelty, especially as she has done nothing but endanger herself and the other members of Alpha Flight since out of pity she was made leader of Alpha Flight.

Aurora asks her brother if he doesn’t think Heather is already aware of this, adding that Heather is not as insensitive as he. Puck whacks a fist down onto the table and angrily tells Northstar that Heather sought power to overcome her uselessness and asked him to teach her how to wield it. Jeffries tells Judd that he is a hypocrite for refusing Heather, reminding him that while he was lecturing Heather on the danger of power he was busy holding onto his own, keeping the mystical Black Razer trapped inside himself. Jeffries tells Alpha Flight that they all do a lot of talking about how dangerous the super hero business is but that he doesn’t see any of them trying to get out of it. He tells them that Heather wants to play in the big league too and she has earned the right. He asks them who is more worthy to wear the Guardian battle suit than the wife of the man who invented it.

Box walks over to a control panel and asks Jeffries if he is implying that they should help Heather and declares that to do that they need to find her. Roger Bochs boasts that having rebuilt Guardian’s battle suit also means he can locate it anywhere in the world. The others gather around the control panel while Judd tells himself that he doesn’t need fancy instruments to figure out where Heather has gone and realizes he has to reach her if he is going to say sorry in time to win her back from the one hero able and willing to give Heather the combat training he denied her, and offer her his love!

It has taken Heather McNeil Hudson several hours, even at Mach-1 speed to get from British Columbia to upstate New York. She remembers how Mac tried to explain a trick he could do with the suit, something about rendering himself “at rest” relative to the Earth’s spin, so that he would gain an instant velocity over a thousand miles an hour. Heather never understood it, and tells herself that she would be too afraid to try it, especially as if she traveled any faster over the Hudson River Valley, she would never find the place she is looking for- a mansion she has only seen in a photograph Mac sent her of their good friend Logan.

Heather recognizes the home of the uncanny X-Men the moment she sees it from up in the sky and uses the electromagnetic force to silently bring her down, unheard, but not unseen. The eight members of the X-Men are walking out of their sprawling mansion. Storm declares that it is nice to be going to the opera, and Colossus asks her if she means like ordinary people. Magneto proclaims that even X-Men may enjoy a work of genius like Die Zauber-Flöte and Wolverine asks him if he thinks Mozart was a mutant. Nightcrawler and Shadowcat both ask Rachel Summers if something is wrong and she replies that she senses strange and troubled thoughts. 'You’re describing half the human race sweetheart’ says Rogue.

Pointing to the sky, Magneto declares that half the human race does not emit a powerful electromagnetic field. Rachel tells the other X-Men to look to the sky as they are under attack. Because they have been assaulted so often on their home ground that the X-Men instinctively go into a defensive mode, while only the keen eyes of Wolverine recognized the figure sweeping down towards them. His cigar falls from his mouth to the ground as calls to the X-Men, telling them not to do anything, as it is a friend of his.

Wolverines call goes too late however as the Master of Magnetism makes a simple gesture with his hand and causes havoc with Heather’s electromagnetic battle suit. Wolverine starts to attack Magneto, who puts up a protective shield around himself and tells Logan to sheathe his claws. Wolverine snarls that he is supposed to be the one who leaps before he looks. Rachel tells Logan that Magneto acted on what he thought was their defense, while Storm declares that Magneto should have not acted at all unless it was on her orders, for although he tutors the New Mutants, she leads the X-Men.

Kitty Pryde asks Storm if that isn't Guardian, and Colossus declares that it is impossible as Guardian died months ago. Nightcrawler jokes that if he didn’t die then he may now and teleports to catch “Guardian” in the air, Kurt is surprised to see it is Heather Hudson, adding that he thought he heard Logan wrong when he said “She’s a friend”. Nightcrawler prepares to teleport himself and Heather back to the ground, however vertical teleportation, always difficult at the best of times is made quite painful when the electromagnetic battle suit refuses to be displaced.

Struck with pain, Kurt is forced to let Heather go and teleports himself back to the ground, where Storm orders Rogue up to the air to retrieve the falling Heather, which she does. Rogue sees that Heather is unconscious and tells herself that she didn’t think Magneto hit her that hard. Worried what will happen if Heather doesn’t come around Rogue drops down to the ground and Wolverine tells her to hand Heather over to him. Rogue tells Logan to calm down and tells him that he can have her. ‘She’s mine’ Logan snaps back and as the others gather around him he asks if there are any arguments.

Kitty Pryde recognizes Heather from the time the X-Men and Alpha Flight teamed up and Colossus asks why she is wearing the Guardian costume. Magneto asks why she attacked them and Rachel tells him that she didn’t, reminding him that she sensed confused thoughts and figures Heather came for help. Storm walks over to stand by Wolverine as he announces Heather is new at the “game” and didn’t understand that diving at mutants around nightfall is not the way to get help. Ororo informs those who did not know that Logan was a member of James MacDonald Hudson’s Department H long before he was an X-Man and tells Logan that if past loyalties remain to be resolved then he can resolve them, with the X-Men’s blessing. Storm tells the X-Men that they should be going, as the opera is now being simulcast.

Meanwhile, in a small ship, a Japanese crewman tells his captain that the signal is getting stronger, which means their target is within range. The captain declares that he wished he knew what it was that they are tracking, as their mistress was vague as to the alterations made to their own instruments by technicians. A figure walks into the ships control room and informs the captain that he will learn when their target learns, and coming into view the Japanese warrior-woman declares that in the interim it is best not to anticipate the plans of Lady Deathstrike!

Soon, Heather wakes inside Wolverine’s car and asks where she is. Logan informs her that they are on a private drive, which is part of Xavier’s estate. Clutching her head, Heather asks ‘what hit me’ and Logan tells her that the X-Men did and that she should learn to phone ahead. Heather declares that she is a fool, that she should have known the X-Men might take her sudden appearance as an attack. Half-smiling, Logan tells her that the X-Men are a cautious lot. Heather boasts that Alpha Flight would have reacted the same way and smiling she tells Logan that it wasn’t the X-Men’s fault, but hers, as she has the power and doesn’t know how to use it. Putting a hand on Logan’s shoulder, Heather asks him to teach her.

Wolverine narrows his eyes and realizes that this is what it is all about, Heather couldn’t cut it as leader of Alpha Flight without some powers of her own so she got someone to rebuild Mac’s battle suit –the same suit that killed him. Wolverine tells Heather that she is nuts and as the car screeches to a halt Heather runs from it sobbing, wondering why she thought Logan would be any different from the others and asking herself why she thought he would he would understand. As Heather runs into the woods Logan calls after her, but she tells him to leave her alone.

Logan jumps over the car and tells Heather that he never said he wouldn't help her, just that she was nuts. He catches up to her and tells her to join the club. Heather sits down on a rock while Logan leans against a tree and Heather asks him if he will teach her how to use the battle-suit and to lead Alpha Flight. Logan tells Heather that as far as the suit goes she is doing fine, and as for the rest, he reminds her that he swore he would help her anywhere, anytime, no questions asked, just like she helped him.

(Flashback, takes place in-between Wolverine: Origin and Alpha Flight: First Flight)

Somewhere in Canada, a recently wed couple, James MacDonald and Heather McNeil – the Hudsons – trek through the wilderness on their honeymoon! Little do they know however is that they are being stalked…. Heather tells Mac that most girls would think of a hunting honeymoon decidedly unromantic. Mac tells Heather that he married her because she weren’t like “most girls”. Heather asks jokingly ‘where did a stuffy scientist learn to pitch such a woo?’ Mac replies that it was in the Montreal Expos, as he was on their farm team.

Suddenly, the stalking figure leaps off the rise and down at the Hudsons, growling loudly as the loin-clothed figure nears them. The Hudsons turn and see him and Mac tells Heather to run while he shoots at it, and the bullet hits him in the shoulder, but it doesn’t stop him for the mysterious being lands on Mac, his gun flung in the other direction. As the man who would be known as Logan prepares to maul Mac Heather rushes for the gun, and standing several feet behind Logan she fires and boasts that she killed it.

Mac gets up and informs Heather that “it” is a man and tells her she did the right thing, for he would have killed him otherwise. Checking Logan’s pulse, Mac sees that he is still alive, much to Heather’s disbelief and Mac declares that the blood has stopped flowing from his wounds. Clutching the sobbing Heather. Mac tells her that the man will die out here exposed on the slopes unless they get him to their cabin, where he will radio Ottawa and inform them of his interesting find. Heather tells Mac that this is their honeymoon and they came to get away from Department H and all his work. Mac tells Heather that he knows that, but doesn’t think that they can just leave their “wild-man” now.

Mac and Heather manage to get Logan to their cabin and they tie him down to a bed. Heather sits and watches him nervously while Mac has no luck trying to radio Department H, only getting static on the radio. Mac gets his skies and Heather asks him where he is going. Mac tells her that he is going to get a medical chopper up to the cabin, as he doesn’t know how long their mystery man will survive with the two bullets inside him. Shocked, Heather asks Mac if he is going to leave her alone with ‘that thing’ on their honeymoon. Mac grabs Heather by the shoulders and tells her that ‘that “thing”’ is some kind of man and that he is too valuable to Department H to just let die. He declares that someone needs to go get help and since he is the better skier is has to be him.

Mac’s reasoning was logical, and Heather watches as he skies away from the cabin. Knowing Mac was right did not change her loathe for the “animal” strapped down in the marital bed however. And the first night of Heather’s honeymoon was spent more like “Beauty and the Beast” than “Cinderella”. Heather tended to the unconscious Logan, fighting her fears- until a weird wailing sound outside the cabin the next day caught her attention- a blizzard! And Heather realized that Mac wasn’t going to get through the blizzard that day or the next.

Heather succumbed to crying, while Logan slowly drifted back into consciousness, inadvertently extending his claws he served the rope that tied him down. Heather wakes suddenly, for she had dozed off and looking over at Logan she sees that he too is awake. She asks how long he had been awake for, and tells herself that she shouldn’t expect an answer from ‘a feral freak found wandering the wilderness in a loincloth’.

Logan stares at Heather, who clenches her fists and jumps up from her seat, telling him not to look at her that way adding that it is not her fault he is here and if he hadn’t leapt out of the snows she would be in her husbands arms now. Rushing over to the bedside, Heather angrily says that the one think Mac loves more than his bride is ‘a new mystery to sink his scientific teeth into’. She declares that Mac is gone and she is stuck playing ‘zookeeper to…to…what the Devil are you?’

Suddenly, Logan extends a hand out in front of Heather and she is shocked to see his claws – but her shock is nothing to Logan’s own, for it was the first time he had ever seen his claws. The sight of them drives Logan mad and he throws himself out of the bed, howling and clutching at his clawed hand - until claws spring from the other hand too. Heather stands back from the enraged Logan as he lies on the ground cowering.

After some time Heather asks him if he is okay, and walks over to Logan as he huddles on the ground. She kneels down beside him and realizes that the claws are not really him, asking him if someone did that too him. She hugs him and says ‘oh you poor, poor man!’


Logan lights another cigar and reminds Heather that she held him like that all through the long night when she was supposed to be holding Mac, and by the time Mac got back, Heather had helped pull Logan through. Heather reminds Logan that he told her he was wounded once before, and Logan recalls that it was the War, with the Devil’s Brigade and later when he was a freelance. He always healed fast and thought it was some gift he had, not learning until much later that he was a mutant.

Angrily, Logan declares that no one and ever hurt him like whoever it was that turned him inside out and laced his bones with unbreakable adamantium had the idea to give him claws before setting him free – if they set him free at all. Logan narrows his eyes, snarling that it is all a blank to him that he doesn’t know who changed him or why they did it, nor how he got away from them. But when he did get away, Mac and Heather found him and gave him a home.

Heather reminds Logan that Mac worked with him day and night until he had conquered the pain-wracked bloodlusting beast inside and became a man again. Logan tells Heather that it wasn’t Mac that did it, but her, on that night in the cabin, right through until the day that he finally accepted that she was married to Mac and wasn’t going to leave him for anyone, especially not him. Aghast, Heather asks Logan if he left Department H because he couldn’t have her.

Logan turns his back to Heather as he tells her that Mac was like a brother to him, while she treated him like the child they never had, only he was too big to ‘dangle off your knee’ and so he left rather than causing a scene. Logan reveals that he joined the Canadian Secret Service then the X-Men, trying to put some distance between him and her, adding that he swore to be their for Heather should she ever need protection. Angrily, Heather shouts at Logan and tells him that she doesn’t want protection, his protection, nor does she want Mac’s or her father’s or Alpha Flight’s. She declares that someone has always been “seeing after” her all her life and she is sick of it. Heather proclaims that she is supposed to be the leader of Alpha flight, and now has the power to protect herself. Heather sends two electromagnetic blasts up to the treetops to prove it.

Head in her hands, Heather calms down and tells Logan that all she is asking is for someone to please teach her how to use the power. Logan stubs his cigar out against a tree and informs Heather that some people believe heroes are born and not made, but he is living proof that they can be made. Logan starts to talk off his suit, revealing beneath it his costume as he declares that being a hero is more than having power, using Storm and Captain America as examples, who either never had powers, or lost them. Logan informs Heather that it is guts, that keeps Ororo going, for without guts all the power in the world doesn’t mean anything.

Logan declares that he has a power, mutant healing factor and a super-strong skeleton, while training he got from the secret service. He adds that he never lacked guts either. Logan tells Heather that she has more guts than ‘a trick decks got jokers’ do, which she proved when she went from being a secretary to leader of Alpha Flight. He wonders that since she picked the power up along the way, how should he train her. Putting his mask on, Logan tells Heather that all these years after saving his life Heather has come to ask for the debt to be repaid. Logan tells Heather that if he refuses, then he knows she would hate him and he would lose, but if he accepted and she gets killed in battle he would still lose, either scenario would give him plenty to be upset about.

Heather tells Logan that he wouldn't get as upset as she would. ‘Make me a hero’ she says desperately, and as he unsheathes his claws Logan declares that he doesn’t have much choice now unless Heather wants to run, for he smells trouble on the way. Logan tells Heather that she is about to get ‘on the job training’ and as Heather puts her goggles back on the two old friends find themselves surrounded by Japanese warriors, and Lady Deathstrike who tells Wolverine that he battles with misappropriated power, a power which was stolen and must now be returned!

Characters Involved: 

Aurora, Box, Puck, Northstar, Snowbird, Vindicator II (all Alpha Flight)

Marrina (Former member of Alpha Flight)

Madison Jeffries

Doug Thompson

Colossus, Magneto, Nightcrawler, Phoenix III, Rogue, Shadowcat, Storm, Wolverine (All X-Men)



Lady Deathstrike / Yuriko Oyama

Japanese Samurai


Attuma’s servants

In Flashback

James Hudson

Heather Hudson


In Illustrative Image

Namor the Sub-Mariner

Story Notes: 

The Mozart Opera the X-Men are attending is “Die Zauberflöte” or “The Magic Flute” in English, Mozart’s last and by many considered his finest opera.
First appearance of Lady Deathstrike, who will go on to become one of Wolverine’s deadliest enemies.

Guardian was killed in Alpha Flight (first series) #12.

Delphine Courtney impersonated Guardian and earned the name “Dark Guardian” when she hoped to get revenge on Alpha Flight. [Alpha Flight (first series) #25-28]

Heather incorrectly states that she was Hudson’s secretary, when in fact she was Hudson’s employer, Jerry Jaxon’s secretary, which is how she met Mac. [Back story in Alpha Flight (first series) #2-3]

Marrina left Alpha Flight after meeting the Sub-Mariner and he asked her to come live with her. [Alpha Flight (first series) #4] She was separated from Namor and captured by the Master of the World who revealed her origin to her over the course of Alpha Flight (first series) #14-16.

While mentioned many other times prior to and after this issue, Mac and Heather’s wedding is not shown until years later in the Alpha Flight Flashback 1997.

Storm lost her powers when she was shot with Forge’s power neutralizer in Uncanny X-Men #185.

Issue Information: 
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