Alpha Flight (1st series) #51

Issue Date: 
October 1987
Story Title: 
Friends in High Places!

Bill Mantlo (Writer), Jim Lee (Penciler), Whilce Portacio (Inker), Bob Sharen (Colorist), Janice Chiang (Letterer), Joanne Spaldo (Assistant Editor), Carl Potts (Editor), Jim Shooter(Editor-in-Chief)

Brief Description: 

The new Alpha Flight - Vindicator, Box, Sasquatch, as well as Beta Flight members Purple Girl and Manikin - prove their capabilities in a mock training session where they defend Tamarind Island from a large army of soldiers invading them during the battle, Beta Flight hold their own, while Sasquatch vows to figure out who she truly is. The Team's government liaison, Gary Cody is impressed, but also rather worried because of the possibility Alpha may prove as a threat to non-super powered beings. He argues for some time with Heather about her capabilities to lead the team, before recalling to himself the early days of Department H, and how Alpha Flight had been let down by the government before. Realizing he needs to put the safety of Canada first, he downloads all the information on Alpha Flight and their enemies, allies and adventures from the teams computer. Unaware that he has stolen from them, Heather and the rest of Alpha Flight apologize to him, before thanking him for always supporting them from behind the scenes, being the team’s best friend.

Full Summary: 

Heather McNeil Hudson a.k.a. "Vindicator" is leader of Canada's premiere super hero team - Alpha Flight. She leads a new, streamlined team after recent tragic events. Madison Jeffries, a.k.a the new Box, and Wanda Langkowski, better known as Sasquatch. Under Alpha's protection are two young mutants, Kara Kilgrave a.k.a. the Purple Girl, and Whitman Knapp, known as "Manikin". They have just arrived back at their home base on Tamarind Island - only to find themselves under attack by the Canadian military.

From a helicopter, someone orders Operation Thunderbolt to proceed as planned, and pointing out the obvious, states that Tamarind Island is under attack by land, air and sea. A soldier calls to his fellow soldiers that their only resistance comes from a handful of so-called super heroes. Another soldier boasts that their weaponry is the most advanced and that their numbers are overwhelming. He believes that despite Alpha Flight's powers, the super beings will not be able to hold out for long.

Vindicator suddenly takes to the air, but from within the Box armor, Jeffries uses his mutant power of metal-manipulation to extend one of his armors hands to pull his lover back down to the ground, asking her what she thinks she is doing. Heather tells Jeffries that there is to be no more holding down the fort and orders her team to take the offensive. Jeffries tells Heather that he thought their first duty was to protect Beta Flight, but the Purple Girl can answer that question and pushing aside the shield that Box created to protect her, Kara points out that their island home is under attack from all sides and therefore they cannot safeguard her and Manikin and still mount a resistance.

Jeffries reminds Kara that he promised her mother to look out for her, but Kara tells him that if Alpha Flight falls, then Beta Flight will be the next to go. Heather declares that Kara is right and proclaims that their only hope of saving any of their lives lies in hitting back hard. Heather prays to herself that her order will not lead to any Alphan's death. As Box mechanically grows some wings and flies off into battle, Sasquatch turns to the youngsters and tells them to stay together. 'Like glue!' exclaims Kara before wishing Alpha Flight good luck.

As Vindicator uses her electromagnetic powers to strike down those attacking her home from the air, she thinks to herself that the Purple Girl has got pluck and has proven herself time and time again. However Heather realizes that Kara's mind-manipulating powers are of limited range and effect against an invasion of this size. On the other hand thinks Heather, Manikin's ability to summon forth three other selves representing various stages of his own evolutionary development make him potentially more powerful, but he is even newer to Beta Flight and untested in battle. Heather believes that as Alpha Flight's leader she must look to the safety of the young Betans ahead of her own. As a soldier tries to evacuate his helicopter, Heather pushes him back and welds the chopper shut for the duration of the battle. 'One down, only a thousand or so to go'.

Box thinks to himself that Vindicator seems to be doing a better job of clearing the skies than he is, so as Jeffries transforms his armor into a giant wheel complete with guns, he races through the land soldiers, joking that he always wanted to be a big wheel in this organization. As he jumps off the cliff, changing his armor back to his regular form, he jokes that it is time to "sea" what he can do to the foes on H2O, and he plunges through a sea craft.

As Sasquatch hurls a large tree she plucked from the ground at several tanks, she jokes that she has given more workouts to more bodies than Jane Fonda. She remembers that first she was Walter Langkowski, scientist, before becoming the original Orange-furred Sasquatch, until its Great Beast owner Tanaraq reclaimed the form. Then he was "dead" and reborn as Box, then "dead" again only to be return in Smart Alec's mindless body, this time able to wrest Snowbird's abandoned Albino Sasquatch form from the villain Pestilence. Because of that last act, Walter is now Wanda.

As Wanda is struck by a blast from a tank, she vows not to let them destroy her, until she can learn who she truly is. Picking up an upturned tank, Sasquatch heaves it at the tank which shot her. Declaring she can't and won't be destroyed again.

Suddenly, a blast lands near Kara and Whit, Kara just manages to pull her teammate to the ground in time. Landing on top of Whit, Kara smiles and tells him that they have to stop meeting like this. Noticing blood on Kara's jacket, Whit realizes that she has been hit. Kara tells him it is just a flesh wound as Whit looks up and sees soldiers surrounding them. Kara gets off Whit and exclaims that the soldiers are right within range of her powers and prepares to use her mind-controlling powers as Whit reminds her she has never manipulated so many minds at once.

The Purple Girl boasts that a girl has to grow up sometime, and as her power kicks in on the soldiers, she tells them to turn around 'and join the purple generation!' Whit congratulates Kara as her plan worked, and the soldiers are now defending them against their fellow soldiers. Motioning to the aircraft that is descending towards them, Whit asks Kara if her powers will work against it. The pilots of the aircraft lock a missile onto their targets - Kara and Whit - and it explodes right near them, sending Kara flying, and injuring Whit.

Seeing the blood pour out of his arm, Whit exclaims he thinks he is going to die, but Kara tries to calm him, telling him he is panicking. The soldiers have realized that the Purple Girl's power is transmitted by scent and protect themselves by putting on gas masks. One of them asks about the Purple Girls' boyfriend, but someone else points out that he is a geek who is too scared to do anything but surrender or die.

Kara shakes Whit and tells him that he has to do something, because she cannot do anything anymore. Whit exclaims that he only learnt how to take care of others at medical school, to which Kara tells him that it is high time he learnt how to take care of hisselves and Whit uses his mutant power, unleashing his past and future selves Highbrow asks Manikin, whom he addresses as "Prime Unit" what the orders are. Healed, Whit informs Highbrow that he wants him to use that future brain of his to teleport the five of them into the middle of the enemy troops. 'I wish I'd thought of that' mutters Highbrow as he snaps his fingers and teleports them into the heat of the battle.

'Come to think of it, I did' Highbrow realizes once he has teleported everyone to their destination Kara smiles and asks Whit if he is going to tell his past selves what to do. Manikin points out that Apeman and Proto do not need any instructions to wreck havoc, which is exactly what they do. Apeman physically confronts the soldiers, while Proto goes from soldier to soldier, eating their uniforms, leaving them butt naked.

When a large RUMBLE sounds, Kara asks Highbrow what it is. Highbrow mumbles some scientific geek-talk before revealing in laymans terms that it is the sound of tanks. The large tanks close in on the kids as Kara shouts at them, telling them they are not welcomed Manikin orders Highbrow to teleport the tanks, which he does. As Kara commands more soldiers under her control to attack their fellows, she tells Whit it is a shame his four selves do not share one brain, for it would cut down the communication time.

Whit smiles as he sees his selves 'kicking tail', before realizing that with his selves where they are, and he where he is - alone - it leaves the man main unprotected - and as if on cue, a soldier puts a gun to the back of Whit's head. The soldier orders Whit to recall his past and future selves, or else to say goodbye to his present Kara sees that Manikin it in trouble, but knows that the soldier is too far away to be influenced by her powers.

Suddenly, 'I may be powerless, pal, but I'm not stupid!' exclaims Whit as he kicks a log up at the soldier, and grabbing the soldiers gun whyen it leaves his hand. Kara runs over to Whit and congratulates him, before admitting that she doubted him before, but will never again. 'You did? You won't? Gosh!' replies Whit. Manikin fires the gun at the soldiers as Highbrow announces Alpha Flight's return. Kara declares that Alpha Flight will find they held the fort, and as Box congratulates them, Whit jokes that they cannot call them the "Playpen Patrol" after this.

Box exclaims that he didn’t think he ever called them that, but Whit tells him that they never did, he just likes the way it sounded. As Sasquatch leaps out from the forest, Kara asks where Vindicator is, only for Heather to drop from the sky, informing Alpha and Beta that she has seen the invaders in full flight leaving the island. 'We've won!' she exclaims, unleashing a blast of electromagnetic energy into the air to celebrate.

Watching from nearby is Alpha Flight's government liaison, Gary Cody, who agrees with Heather, Alpha did win, but he wished they didn’t make it look so easy. Gary turns to the soldier in the vehicle beside him and asks him if he is still monitoring transmissions from the A.O.W. The soldier replies that he is and informs Cody that they have recorded the entire exercise, which will give the men back in Ottawa enough data about the new Alpha Flight to keep them in research for a very long time.

With mixed emotions, Cody leaves his observation post and makes his way to the battle field, where Heather greets him and asks him how they did. 'Make your little wargame real enough?' Cody replies that Alpha Flight exceeded expectations, before revealing that when it was decided to launch this mock invasion of a corps of Canada's crack commandos armed with the most modern military technology and firing pain and paint pellets to simulate actual battle conditions, the odds were that the new Alpha Flight would merely hold its own, but instead they did more.

After lighting a cigarette, Cody smiles and tells Heather that Mac would have been proud. Heather smiles back and declares that the team assembled by her late husband earned its renown, but her Alpha Flight is every bit the equal in power to the old. 'As I believe we've just demonstrated'. Gary agrees, but Heather asks him what is wrong and tells him that if it is because there are only three Alphans now, she tells him not to forget the Betans, who may be young, but are fighters. Making Whit blush when she calls him handsome, Heather points out that he doubles Alpha's battle strength all by himself.

As Gary turns his back on Alpha, Heather tells him that they are also a more cohesive team than Mac's 'maladjusted amalgam of misfits ever was'. She believes that is bound to make them a more effective fighting force, and asks Gary if he agrees. Gary Cody offers no reply, instead he looks around a the destruction caused to this part of Tamarind Island says to himself 'Equal in power to the old Alpha? Well-adjusted? More effective? May heaven help us mere mortals'.

Soon, inside Mansion Alpha, Heather tells Gary to make himself at home while she and the others freshen up. Watching Manikin take Kara's jacket off for her, Sasquatch jokes that she thinks Kara can take it off herself. Kara tells Wanda not to tease and points out that Whit is just being chivalrous. 'Just watch his hands!' declares Wanda teasingly.

Gary turns to Heather and tells her that it seems she has forged more than just a new team, and as Jeffries exits the Box armor, he declares that Alpha Flight has become a family. Gary is surprised to see Jeffries emerge from the Box armor, to which Madison asks him if he was expecting someone else. Gary replies 'no' and reveals that he had been briefed about the death of Roger Bochs and Madison subsequently taking over the Box armor.

Handing Cody his cigarette case that he dropped on the floor, Sasquatch calls him "cutie" and tells him that there are a lot of changes around Alpha Flight that he has to get used to. "Cutie?" asks Gary as Sasquatch walks away, but as Sasquatch returns to her human form, Vindicator introduces Wanda to Gary. Gary declares that he does not recall Walter having a sister. 'I don't! Taa!' smirks Wanda/Walter before exiting the room.

Rubbing his head, Gary asks Heather what else there is. Heather informs Cody that she has been too busy to file reports on all the changes that have undergone Alpha, to which Gary reminds her that it is her duty to keep Ottawa informed. Heather tells him that her actual duty is to keep Alpha alive - and she think she has done her job

'Race you to the pool?' Kara asks Whit. As Whit uses Highbrow to teleport him there, he shouts 'last one there's a rotten egg!' 'Cheater!' declares Kara shaking her fists Heather laughs at the youngsters actions and tells Cody that he can now get to know her Alphans for himself - and maybe even come to love them as she does. As the duo enter the mansion library, Cody informs Heather that she has done a far better job than he would have ever believed, to which Heather asks him what he means by that. She asks him if he had doubts about her ability to hold Mac's team together after his death, even though he had encouraged her to assume leadership of Alpha.

Gary tries to calm Heather and tells her that she is not being fair, and declares that he is not the only one who was surprised when she went beyond an honorary title and became a true leader. Thinking back to Heather's housewife days, Gary tells her that apart from a stubborn streak there was nothing in her prior history to suggest she would ever become a super hero. Heather asks Gary if it was his doubts about her that led the Mansion to being bugged when he offered it to them as their headquarters Gary reveals that it was in part, before reminding Heather that Alpha Flight represents a major investment in Canada's defense, and declares they have a right to know how their money is being employed.

Walking away from Gary, Heather asks him what happens if Ottawa disapproves - will they ask her to resign? Gary begins to say 'It's not like that...' but Heather cuts him off, coldly suggesting that their relationship is just a business one despite all Alpha Flight has done for their country. Heather excuses herself as she declares she needs her bath now. Gary realizes Heather is angry, and while he knows he cannot blame her, he also knows that he cannot blame Ottawa for being scared. Gary knows that no one expected Alpha Flight to triumph today, nor do they know the Alpha Flight who beat Canada's best. Looking up at a portrait of James MacDonald Hudson - Guardian - Gary realizes that this Alpha Flight is made up of strangers, not the team Mac forged, starting with the day when then Prime Minister Trudeau called Gary into his office....

(Flashback, takes place between Alpha Flight Special and Uncanny X-Men #120)

Prime Minister Trudeau introduces Gary to a red and white clad super hero, James MacDonald Hudson, and informs him they will be working together in Department H. Department H (after "Hudson") was the spawning ground of Alpha Flight - Snowbird, Northstar, Aurora, Sasquatch and Shaman - Canada's premiere super team. Back in the good days, Mac and Gary scoured the nation looking for beings with innate and special powers, to fill the rosters of not only Alpha, but the nascent Beta and Gamma Flights also And they found them, in Marrina, Puck, Diamond Lil, Madison Jeffries, Box, Wildchild, Flashback and Smart Alec.

But then a shortsighted government put the budget over brains, and though Gary argued for Department H's survival, it was no use. Alpha Flight lost its funding. Until time, and Guardian's death at the hands of Omega Flight, proved the necessity of Canada's utilizing her own team of super beings. Alpha Flight were again employed by the government, but Cody was ordered to keep close tabs on them. So the liaison became a spy, watching Alpha Flight grow strong and independent, and more unknown and unknowable with each passing day.


The handsome Madison Jeffries enters the library and asks Cody if he cares for a beer. Cody tells Jeffries that he didn’t hear him come in, to which Madison tells him he thought he may have been wandering down some memory lane, before reminding Cody that they both go back a way. Cody agrees, for Madison was in the original Gamma Flight. Madison agrees, and reminds Cody he joined Gamma Flight to find some use for his powers, before it drove him as mad as his brother Scramble, or as his best friend, Roger Bochs. Jeffries looks down solemnly as informs Cody his brother and best friend died as one, Omega, and declares that there are some folks Alpha Flight cannot hold in the fold.

Jeffries looks up, and smiling, he announces that there are some folks who can be kept in the fold. Gary asks Madison how one can determine who will remain heroes and who will turn bad. Jeffries tells Gary that that is Heather's job and tells him she is good at it. Gary thinks that this is unusual, a woman who, despite her pretensions, is actually presiding over a team every bit as unstable as that forged by her husband. Gary thinks back to how Mac could not hold together all of his proteges either - like Wolverine, his first and most dangerous recruit, or the bulks of Beta and Gamma Flights who banded together as Omega Flight and tried to kill him

Gary stubs out his cigarette, believing he would be insane to think Heather could do any better, and he wouldn't be doing his job either. Gary leaves the room, reminding himself that he works for the government, no matter how many years he spent as Alpha Flight's liaison, he has to put the best interests of Canada first - that means making sure Heather really can control her team - or replacing her with someone who can. Gary realizes that to do that he must learn all he can about the new Alpha Flight.

As he enters the Alphanex computer room, he tells himself not to feel like a Judas, for his duties require him to know everything about Alpha Flight. After all, Heather has been slack in filing reports, and she did tell him to make himself at home after all. Cody knows that all data regarding Alpha Flight since its inception as Department H is stored in Alphanex's memory banks, and while the government has access to some of it via modem, any attempt to download the data stored herein would, Gary believes, be considered by Heather as spying.

Taking a disc from his jacket pocket, Gary knows he has to move fast and undetected, and the raider disc should prove effective. The disc Gary slips into Alphanex's drive possesses the unique capacity to swiftly encode the data stored in any computer's memory banks. "encode" equals "steal". It gains access, it copies information, information about Alpha Flight, about Wolverine, Talisman, and Alpha Flight's enemies - the Master of the World, Loki, Lady Deathstrike and more. And its mission is accomplished.

Looking over his shoulder, Gary knows that analysis of the data he has raided will have to wait until he returns to Ottawa. However, he can now safely say to his superiors that none of Alpha Flights secrets are hidden from him. He leaves the Alphanex and re-enters the library, thinking that while Alpha Flight has shown itself to be superior to Canada's best forces, it has also shown itself to be both independent and unstable 'The first two, combined with the third give us mere mortals cause to fear'. He doesn’t think there is anyone who would fault them for wanting to keep watch on those with the power to destroy them.

Looking up at the memorial portrait of Mac, he asks 'Is there?' Suddenly, Heather, followed by Jeffries, Wanda and the Betans enter the room. Heather tells Cody that she wants to apologize. After Gary asks what for, Heather smiles and tells him for forgetting that he has stood by Alpha Flight no matter which way the political winds blew, no matter the pressures that brought to bear on him also. She tells Cody that she understands it couldn't have been an easy job and must have been a thankless one, defending super beings to bureaucrats who couldn’t possibly understand. Jeffries smiles and tells Gary that what Heather is trying to say is...Wanda finishes the sentence off for him: 'Thanks for being the best friend Alpha Flight's ever had!'

Characters Involved: 

Box IV, Sasquatch, Vindicator II (all Alpha Flight)

Manikin, Purple Girl (both Beta Flight)

Apeman, Highbrow, Proto (Manikin's past and future selves)
Gary Cody (Alpha Flight's government liaison)

Canadian Military

In Flashbacks / Illustrative Images

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

Heather Hudson

Aurora, Guardian, Northstar, Sasquatch, Shaman, Snowbird (all Original Alpha Flight)

Box, Flashback, Marrina, Puck (all Original Beta Flight)

Diamond Lil, Madison Jeffries, Smart Alec, Wildchild (all Original Gamma Flight)
Gary Cody

Canadian Prime Ministers

Roger Bochs




Box, Diamond Lil, Flashback, Smart Alec, Wildchild (all Original Omega Flight)

In Photograph

James MacDonald Hudson

On Computer Screen

Aurora, Box, Heather Hudson, Madison Jeffries, Northstar, Puck, Snowbird (all Alpha Flight)

Talisman II, Wolverine (former members of Alpha Flight)

Nemesis III (ally of Alpha Flight)

Black Knight III, Captain America, Hercules, Namor (all Avengers)

Incredible Hulk

Black Raazer, Deadly Earnest, Delphine Courtney, Diablo, Gilded Lily, Lady Deathstrike, Loki, Master of the World, Pestilence, Pink Pearl, Scramble, Sentinels, Tundra and other unidentifiable persons (all enemies of Alpha Flight)

Story Notes: 

This issue is artist Jim Lee's first work for Marvel. He continues his stint on Alpha Flight for sometime before working on other titles, most notably the X-Men in the early 1990's.

Sasquatch's comment about giving more workouts to more bodies than Jane Fonda is a reference to the actress’ workout videos.

Walter Langkowski became Sasquatch in the backstory of Alpha Flight (first series) #11. In Alpha Flight (first series) #23 it was revealed that the Great Beast Tanaraq had been controlling him, and he was killed by Snowbird. However, Walt's soul managed to find residence in the Box armor, thus becoming Box III [Alpha Flight (first series) #24]. This was not ideal however, as Walt is a very physical person, but when he managed to find a suitable body, he discovered that it was the Hulk's, belonging to his friend Bruce Banner. [Alpha Flight (first series) #28] Rather than letting Banner's mind have no home, Walt "died", his soul residing in limbo [Incredible Hulk #279]. Walt's soul returned some time later in the mindless body of Smart Alec, before he managed to take over the recently-deceased Snowbird's Albino Sasquatch form, thus Walt became Wanda. [Alpha Flight (first series) #45.

Roger Bochs, the original Box was killed in Alpha Flight (first series) #49 after merging with Jeffries' insane brother, Scramble. Together they became Omega. Jeffries subsequently donned and reconstructed the armor to suit him.

Guardian died in Alpha Flight (first series) #12. Heather assumed leadership, without any super powers of her own in Alpha Flight (first series) #18, before donning her own battle suit and becoming the new Vindicator in Alpha Flight (first series) #32.

Mansion Alpha and Tamarind Island became Alpha Flight's new headquarters in Alpha Flight (first series) #29. It was revealed to be bugged in Alpha Flight (first series) #39.

Jeffries and Bochs, despite Mantlo's claims, were never friends, in fact, they did not even know each other in the early days of Department H, as pointed out in Alpha Flight (first series) #16. However, when Jeffries did join Alpha, they worked closely together and became friends. The friends backstory does not match with what Byrne originated.

Wolverine left Department H in Giant Sized X-Men #1. The disgruntled Beta and Gamma Flight members became Omega Flight over the course of Alpha Flight (first series) #1-11, mainly behind the scenes before making their debut.

Issue Information: 
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