Alpha Flight (1st series) #52

Issue Date: 
November 1987
Story Title: 

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

Brief Description: 

Alpha Flight enjoy an evening off, in which Heather and Madison finally express their feelings for each other and hook up, as do the Beta Flight members Purple Girl and Manikin, while Sasquatch realizes that she is finally happy in her life. Alpha Flight's liaison, Gary Cody meanwhile, is in the long-abandoned Department H headquarters beneath Parliament Hill, with the information disc he stole from Alpha Flight. He watches the information, played out to him on the disc, which displays some of the early moments in Department H, including Mac revealing to Logan the former convict super being that he has found. The convict is wrapped up and lies motionless on a table, Mac's plan is to release the latent power within him. But the results of Mac's experiment are not revealed in the data. Gary believes it may have something to do with the reason why Wolverine left Alpha Flight, and searching through the empty complex he finds the laboratory, believing that he may be able to use the data of Mac's experiment to create super beings who are manageable by the government, unlike Alpha Flight. Gary finds a cocoon in the lab, and somehow, winds up dead after opening it. A pre-recorded message left by Mac is redirected from the lab to the home of the X-Men, to Wolverine, who is informed that Bedlam is free.

Full Summary: 

One man's dream died here. Mankind's nightmare is about to begin.

His name is Gary Cody, he stands alone in the abandoned compound beneath Parliament Hill that once served as the headquarters to Department H. He listens to the silence, though there was once much sound. To the rest of Canada, Cody is almost unknown, laboring in obscurity at a thankless task: keeping the peace between Canada's premiere super heroes, Alpha Flight, and the government that is beginning to fear them. Gary tells himself he thought he knew everything there was to know about Department H, the place where Alpha Flight was born - but he now knows he was wrong.

Looking at the disc of information he recently stole from Alpha Flight's personal database, the Alphanex, Gary realizes that there were so many things James MacDonald Hudson, the originator of Alpha Flight and super hero known as Guardian never told him. But in saying that, Cody also knows that even Mac's widow, Heather, who took over as leader of Alpha Flight after Mac's death doesn’t know everything. The information that Gary copied onto his raider disc was meant for Mac's eyes alone, but Gary cracked the encoding Mac had on the files, and uncovered...a mystery.

Gary wonders if perhaps he should have alerted Alpha Flight, but decides against it, for he already spied on them, and besides, he works for Canada, not Alpha Flight. Gary knows what his orders are: to figure out some way a nation of non-powered people can maintain control over their super powered champions. 'And you may have helped me to my job, Mac'.

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

'I just want to serve Canada,' Mac exclaims that that is what he told Gary Cody when he made his pitch for Government funding for Department H. He supposes that the "H" standing for Hudson, after himself, may have been a bit presumptuous. But putting on super powered Weapon Alpha suit, Mac declares that everything about his power and proposal was without precedent as far as Ottawa was concerned. 'After all, I am Canada's first super hero'.

Mac knows he is only a super hero thanks to the cyber suit he invented as an exploration suit for the American Am-Can Corporation, and reclaimed from it when he learned they intended to sell it to the American military. It was following that that Mac decided he could use the suit he designed to expedite oil for Canada's defense. Mac is glad that Ottawa bought his idea and gave him this unused Augean stable has his headquarters. Ottawa also gave Mac permission to locate - or create - a team of like-powered people to rival the American Avengers.


The device Gary is carrying, a portaputer, synthesizes visuals for the data captured by the raider disc, recreating the excitement of the early days. Gary knows that Mac covered all of Canada searching for people with extraordinary powers. 'A pity the first one he found didn't last'.

(Flashback, takes place circa Giant Sized X-Men #1)

Mac reminds Weapon X that it was Department H who trained him, who made him the super agent that he is. He tells Logan that he cannot walk out on him now, but Logan tells James to get one thing straight - nobody knows who made him what he is today. He pops his adamantium claws right near Mac's face as he tells him that he was a killer long before he became Department H's killer. Mac hangs his head as Logan storms from the room, telling Mac that he has to go, and that he should know why. Logan tells Mac to scratch Weapon X from Canada's corps of commandos, and to call him Wolverine from here on in.


Gary knows that the loss of Logan was Mac's first and greatest failure, and Mac went to get Wolverine back from the X-Men as Weapon Alpha. But Mac saw his mistake, and in addition to the recruit he already had, he changed his name to Vindicator and gathered the first founding members of Alpha Flight. Snowbird! Northstar! Aurora! Sasquatch! Shaman! Gary recalls that Mac did not stop with Alpha Flight, for waiting in the wings were the trainee teams Beta Flight: Marrina! Puck! Box! Flashback! and Gamma Flight: Diamond Lil! Madison Jeffries! Smart Alec! Wildchild!


Gary remembers that membership in the teams became fluid, for some trainees became full members of Alpha Flight, while the others dropped out to form the renegade Omega Flight. Gary believes that the time before Department H's disbanding of the teams was one of high hopes, and Alpha Flight's Golden Age. But the Golden Age would end, because the original Alpha Flight soon fell apart, its members departing or dying. The only thing familiar about the new Alpha Flight is their name, and the fact that the new team is led by Mac's widow, former house keeper Heather Hudson has not made it any easier for Gary, or Ottawa to swallow.

Gary knows that he did urge Heather to accept leadership when it was offered to her, though he thought it would be an honorary role, but instead she forged Alpha Flight into a formidable team, far more cohesive than what Mac did. But Heather's team is also a team that owes Canada far less than Mac's did. Meaning, this Alpha Flight is far less accountable and completely uncontrollable. Gary recalls the test last week in which they defeated a strikeforce of Canada's top commandos. Gary fears that if the new Alpha Flight turns against humanity, Canada would be defenseless and they would have a right to be afraid - and seek to safeguard their race.

Gary inserts the raider disc into his computer, thinking it lucky that Mac pointed the way to what it may be that could safeguard humanity. Gary watches data play out before him - Alpha Flight and Department H's history. It takes him back, past Heather as Vindicator, past Mac as Guardian and Weapon Alpha, right back ,to plain Mac.

(Flashback, prior to Alpha Flight First Flight Special)

'What's up Jimmy?' asks Logan, cigar in one hand as the handsome James MacDonald Hudson approaches him. Mac tells Logan that he wants to show him something. They walk down a corridor of the secret complex beneath Parliament Hill together, Logan telling Mac that it better be good, as the only other "super agents" he has seen exist in Mac's head. Mac tells Logan that their must be more beings with super powers like theirs living in Canada. 'Why should the U.S. be he only nation blessed?' 'Or cursed,' mutters Logan.

Logan reminds Mac that without his super suit, there is nothing "super" about him either. Mac takes Logan's point, adding that neither of them were born super heroes, but Logan reminds Mac that he has more going for him than adamantium finger nails. Mac exclaims that all he is trying to say is that it is becoming harder to locate super beings than he originally thought, revealing to Logan that unless he comes up with results, and soon, Ottawa may begin to question its commitment to Department H.

Logan glances back before asking Mac what he intends to do it he cannot find any more people with powers. 'Make `em?' 'Exactly!' replies Mac as he places his hand on a security panel, allowing them access to a restricted room. A room that to this day remains undiscovered by the Canadian government.

Staring at the completely bandaged body on a table, Logan asks Mac if he has decided to go to medical school. Mac reveals that he recently developed a device capable of locating those with latent powers, powers which are not fully developed or realized. The two men walk over to the body as Mac points out he obviously hoped the device would lead him to conscientious Canadian citizens whom he could convince in joining him as super agents - instead it led him to a provincial prison in Nova Scotia.

Looking at the wrapped body, Logan asks Mac if the man is a con. Mac reveals that the man was convicted of murder, but that there is power in him. Mac declares that if he can activate that power, he will be able to create heroes and fulfill the nation's faith in him. Logan points out that he will also be able to keep his funding assuming he is successful, but asks what he is planning to do with a super-powered murderer. Mac reveals that the criminal consented to being experimented upon in exchange for a pardon, and vows to train him to use his powers for good. Logan asks Mac what he intends to do if the criminal is not so cooperative once he is made into a super human, to which Mac replies that he will cross that bridge when he comes to it.


Gary witnesses Mac's desperation in the early years of Department H, and Logan's disgust that his friend would risk the safety of society for the sake of saving his dream. The data ends, and Gary wonders if Mac's experiment succeeded, did he manage to create a super being? Gary thinks it unlikely, as Mac did go on to gather other beings whose powers developed naturally. Cody ponders the alternatives - did Mac's experiment fail, therefore he committed murder?

Gary believes that may be why the data on the experiment was erased from the Alphanex, but wonders why the convict was never heard of again. Did this experiment have anything to do with Wolverine quitting Department H. and surfacing as a member of the X-Men soon after? Gary wonders if Wolverine was so horrified at Hudson's crime but at the same time unable to expose his best friend.

Cody finds the door of which behind it lies the answers. He places his hand on the panel and the door opens, accompanied by the whine of long-unused hydraulics. Gary tells himself that no matter what the answer, he must know, especially as if Hudson did succeed in creating a super being, then there may be no limit to the number of super humans that exist in the world. Gary believes a new race could be created in the laboratory, super humans that are produced on an assembly line to outnumber, or at least outpower regular humans. Gary thinks that such an experiment would spell the end of mankind and all data on it should be destroyed.

But on the other hand, thinks Cody, super beings do exist, some born with powers, others who have gained them by accident. There are nations that fund some super beings, fight others, and fear and distrust them all. 'But if we could breed and control our own!' he tells himself, as entering the sealed laboratory, where he sees the table the convict once laid on - only now, there is some sort of cocoon growing above the empty table.

Gary walks over to the cocoon, remembering that the government shut down Department H and stripped it of its machinery, but obviously the work crews missed Mac's well-hidden lab. Looking up at the cocoon, Gary realizes that this lab must have its own generators and life support system to sustain the thing growing in the room. Gary knows that whatever is inside the cocoon, after all these years is alive. He wonders if it is Mac's convict, or at least what is left of him.

Gary believes that even if Mac did fail, there exists the possibility of recreating his experiment and correcting his errors. He presses some buttons on the control panel, thinking that one could manufacture a race of super beings amenable to human control should those heroes who already exist - like Alpha Flight - one day prove uncontrollable. Justifying his betrayal of his friends, Cody seeks to unlock the secret better left buried in the long dead past.

Meanwhile, on Tamarind Island, where it is a gentle summer evening, and Alpha Flight are enjoying a well-deserved night off. Watching team leader Heather Hudson enter the water off the small islands' shore, Beta Flight member Whitman "Manikin" Knapp asks his fellow Betan Kara "the Purple Girl" Kilgrave if she is going to join Heather for a swim. Kara tells Whit that Heather has been moody all day and thinks she probably wants to be left alone. 'After all,' she adds 'this is the anniversary of her husband's death'.

Entering the rocky waters, Heather tells herself that she is at peace with herself for the first time in a long time. 'Does that sound callous?' she wonders, before realizing that she loved Mac, but never truly knew him. The woman codenamed Vindicator dives beneath the waves, thinking that to her, Mac was a hero ever since he turned his back on militarism and decided to use his battle suit for mankind's benefit. But Heather never realized Mac would carry his commitment to creating a super team, as far as making human beings inhuman as he did when he transformed Logan into Wolverine.

Heather wonders how Mac could have done that to a friend, but believes it explains the makeup of the 'original, mismatched, seriously disturbed' membership of the original Alpha Flight - as a mirror to Mac's aberrant ambition. She believes the team she has assembled to be a model of stability. Heather comes up for air, telling herself she is happy to have freed herself from the shackles of Mac's memory.

Watching Heather from a large rock, Whit tells Kara that he wishes they could so something to cheer Heather. 'You could work on cheering me up!' Kara exclaims. Whit asks her if she us unhappy, and wonders why she would be, after all, 'you're purple, pretty, have power over people's minds...and my heart!' Whit glances to the side as Kara looks at him and asks him if he really likes her. Releasing his three past and future selves, Apeman, Proto and Highbrow, Whit smiles and tells Kara that they all do. Highbrow tells Whit that he doubts the Purple Girl desired a demonstration of his powers at this particular moment, to which Manikin sends them back to where they came from, declaring that he was kidding. As he tickles Kara, he exclaims he is going to show her how serious he can be.

Watching from Mansion Alpha, Madison Jeffries, from within his Box armor, thinks that the kids look happy, before worrying that while Kara is a teenager, Whit is a med-school graduate, and hopes that he knows not to take advantage of Kara. Box walks over to the edge of the island where Heather is swimming, deciding that he does trust Whit, before realizing that moments for simple, human pleasure are few and far between for those in Alpha and Beta Flight. He would hate to be some kind of scrooge and put a damper on their puppy love.

The handsome Jeffries, wearing only shorts, emerges from the Box armor, telling himself that while he spends half his life merged with a robot of living metal, he is man enough to know when to stop being a robot. He dives into the water, and swims over to Heather. She smiles at him before a wave crashes into her, knocking her into his arms, where he embraces her, and they kiss.

Sitting on a swinging bench on the veranda of Mansion Alpha, the pretty Wanda Langkowski, who transforms into the beast known as Sasquatch is amused that Heather has found a new love - her first since Mac died. Wanda thinks that it is about time, before realizing that cupid seems to be working overtime on Tamarind Island this summer, his arrows hitting everybody - except her.

Wanda jokes that the God of Love may be confused, not sure what to make of someone who was formerly dead, and formerly a man. Wanda is happy that she is not losing any sleep over it, in fact she feels like for the first time in years, everything is going right. 'For me, for Alpha Flight, and for the world'.

But to see how wrong Wanda can be, she needs to look only at what remains of the former Department H beneath Parliament Hill. The life support veins that were attached to the cocoon are scattered all over the floor. A light flashes on the computer console and an alarm signal sounds. The cocoon has been opened. Gary Cody lies motionless by a hole burned into a wall. Braindead, this Judas has found his reward.

Westchester, New York, the home of the Uncanny X-Men. A certain alarm system taps into the phoneline, and in a dimly lit room, a phone rings. A shirtless man puts down his cigar as his picks the phone up. 'Hello?' 'LOGAN? THIS IS HUDSON. BEDLAM IS FREE!' The pre-recorded message left by James MacDonald Hudson chills Wolverine, who instinctively pops his claws, knowing that the worst kind of trouble lies ahead.

Characters Involved: 

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

Wolverine (former member of Alpha Flight and current member of the X-Men)

Manikin, Purple Girl (both Beta Flight)

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

In Flashback

Guardian / Weapon Alpha / James Mac Donald Hudson

Wolverine / Weapon X / Logan
Bedlam the Brain Blast

In Flashback / Illustrative Images

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

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

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

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

In Recorded Message

Voice of James MacDonald Hudson

Story Notes: 

The opening page to this issue is an homage to the opening page of Alpha Flight (first series) #1.

Mac's claim that he is Canada's first super hero is somewhat untrue, as their were at least two known heroes prior to him: The original Major Mapleleaf [Alpha Flight (first series) #106 and the little known Chinook [Alpha Flight #minus1].

The origin of Mac's first battle suit and his reclaiming of it can be seen in the back stories in Alpha Flight (first series) #2-3.

The very early years of Department H were not spent beneath Parliament Hill, as seen in the flashback this issue and in the Alpha Flight: First Flight Special, they were in an Augean stable. The team at the time consisted of Wolverine, Snowbird, Smart Alec and three other one-time characters as "The Flight". [Alpha Flight Special]

Following his stint with Department H in the early years, Logan would go on to join the X-Men. [Giant Sized X-Men #1] However, Logan always remained close to several Alphans, particularly Mac, Heather, Snowbird, Aurora and Shaman.

In his first actual appearance, Mac as Weapon Alpha attacked the X-Men to get back Wolverine, nearly resulting in the death of Moira MacTaggert. [Uncanny X-Men #109]

The first member of the real Alpha Flight was Snowbird, who began her super hero career earlier than the others, being recruited into Department H in the back story of Alpha Flight (first series) #8, and being active in the Flight in the Alpha Flight Special. Sasquatch and Shaman held behind the scenes positions in the early years of Department H as seen in the Alpha Flight Special, Shaman being recruited in the back story of Alpha Flight (first series) #8, however how Sasquatch became involved in Department H has never been revealed. Aurora and Northstar would be recruited much later [back stories in Alpha Flight (first series) #9-10], though they were moved to Alpha Flight before those who had been in Department H longer than them, such as Wildchild and Flashback. As a team, Alpha Flight would debut in Uncanny X-Men #120-121.

Puck and Marrina were moved up to Alpha Flight by accident when Heather Hudson summoned them in Alpha Flight (first series) #1, soon after the teams were officially disbanded (though Mac had already marked them for possible membership in Alpha). Diamond Lil, Box, Flashback, Smart Alec and Wildchild would be recruited into Omega Flight.

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.

After encountering Lady Deathstrike, Heather believes that Mac is responsible for turning Logan into Wolverine. [Alpha Flight (first series) #33-34]

Issue Information: 
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