Alpha Flight (1st series) #60

Issue Date: 
July 1988
Story Title: 
War! What is it good for?

Bill Mantlo (Writer), Jim Lee (Penciler), Al Milgrom (Inker), Bob Sharen (Colorist), Janice Chiang (Letterer), Marc McLaurin (Assistant Editor) [Not credited], Carl Potts (Editor), Tom DeFalco (Editor-in-Chief)

Brief Description: 

Moscow and Washington are made aware of a possibly international incident occurring in one of the border states of China. When the Canadian Prime Minister is informed, he discovers Alpha Flight caught up in the midst of the incident, and is furious that after being missing for some time, Canada’s heroes return only to possibly cause World War III. As the Chinese Troops who were planning to attack the High Lama are attacked themselves by one of their number, a soldier with the ability to become the Jade Dragon, Alpha Flight continue to battle the Dreamqueen’s Dream Warriors. They are aided by the Jade Dragon as their former teammate Puck takes the unconscious Vindicator to safety. The High Lama watches the battle, interested in how the heroes can value life so greatly. Puck comes to him and asks him to end this madness, but the High Lama tells Judd that only he can, and after digging into Judd’s past, Judd finds he still has the ability to enter the peace state, and by doing so learns that Alpha Flight are only fighting phantoms. As Laura Dean learns and reveals that she is also a mutant and starts to close the portal to Liveworld with the Dreamqueen in it, Judd enters the portal to keep the Dreamqueen from escaping to Earth. As the portal closes, the Dreamqueen does something to Alpha Flight, something worse than killing them, before the portal closes, trapping her and Judd on Liveworld. Heather is healed by the High Lama who then teleports Alpha Flight, Beta Flight and the Jade Dragon away, and asks his disciples to find their own path, not follow his. The Chinese troops are ordered out of Danwei, and the Canadian Prime Minister is informed that Alpha Flight deal with the situation that threatened global peace. Despite this feat, the Canadian PM declares that when Alpha Flight gets back, they have Hell to pay.

Full Summary: 

Moscow, at some military base, ‘Yellow alert!’ is called to the General, who assumes the alert to be made because he believes Chinese troops to be massing on the Soviet border, but he is informed that there seems to be some sort of insurrection taking place in the Chinese border-state known as Danwei. The General doesn’t believe this, and declares that it is only what the Maoists would have them believe, and suggests that this rebellion is just a subterfuge while they prepare to invade the Motherland. He orders the alert to be upgraded to Orange level.

Meanwhile, in Washington, a high commanding military official is surprised to see that the Soviets are mobilizing. An officer informs her it is apparently because of a Red Chinese mobilization on their borders. The commanding officer asks if their spy satellites could be wrong, but another official exclaims that there could be nothing wrong with their satellites because of their resolution. ‘Something’s going on in Danwei!’ remarks another official.

‘Danwei? Never heard of it!’ shouts the Canadian Prime Minister in Ottawa. An aide informs Prime Minister Mulroney that it is a Chinese border state, and as they head into a communications room at Parliament Hill, tells the PM that the Americans thought they might like to see what their spy satellites picked up. ‘ALPHA FLIGHT!’ bellows the Prime Minister, still in his dressing gown as he sees before him on the enormous view screen, Canada’s long missing premiere super hero team, and their training team Beta Flight, engaged in battle with the extra-dimensional Dreamqueen and her Dream Warriors.

The Prime Minister shouts that he thought Alpha Flight were dead, and his aides begin making up excuses. ‘So did we, sir!’, ‘Destroyed by Bedlam!’ ‘Their headquarters was in ruins’ ‘But no bodies were ever found’. ‘We goofed!’ Furious, Mulroney tells his officials that they certainly did goof, as Alpha Flight are obviously alive, and battling some super foe in the heart of Red China. One aide mumbles that the evidence would seem to support what the PM just said, as the others try not to make eye contact mutter ‘Indubitably!’ ‘Of course we cant be sure…’ ‘Not till all the facts are in!’ ‘Ahem…’

Meanwhile, in Danwei itself, the Jade Dragon lashes out at the fleeing Chinese soldiers who are his former comrades in arms. One soldier fires at Dei Guan and declares that as a dragon he has thrust himself between them ands the lamasery they were attacking. The Commander of the squadron calls Dei Guan ‘A traitor aiding and abetting traitors’ and orders him destroyed. The Jade Dragon defends himself against the bullets fired at him as he asks if he is accused of treason merely because he defended the defenseless, before whacking everyone away with his tail, boasting that that is why he was granted the Dragon power in the first place.

The Jade Dragon unleashes a beam of fire from his mouth, creating a ring of fire around the soldiers as he declares that if there are any traitors here it is only those who betray their conscience by obeying the unconscionable orders of the State. The Dragon tells them that he has no wish to harm them and that the wall of fire shall prevent their advance. Looking up at the lamasery, Dei Guan wonders of the possibility that the priests within it do consort with China’s enemies as he was told, and recalls that strange beings did materialize there a few moments ago. The Jade Dragon decides that as he could not ascertain the truth while his comrades were attacking, he has a better chance now, and flies off towards the lamasery, while the Commander radios back to base for reinforcements and air support.

Meanwhile, back in Ottawa, the Pm wonders if his predecessor was surrounded by such blithering idiots before declaring that they were right not to trust Alpha Flight, ‘those blasted super hero freaks!’ he exclaims as he mutters that they think they can vanish when they please and reappear wherever they want, all without being controlled. He issues a recall order on Alpha Flight, to which an aide informs him that they are not in contact with Alpha Flight. Mulroney asks if what he is being told is that they cannot pull Alpha Flight out of China, before asking everyone if they have any idea as to the embarrassment this kind of international incident could cause Canada.

A soldier steps forward and tells the Prime Minister, with all due respect, that they may be “beyond embarrassment” by now. Mulroney turns to the soldier who reveals that Alpha’s presence in Danwei has apparently triggered a Red Chinese military build up. The soldier points to the large map that has replaced the screen of Alpha Flight and motions to Danwei, on the Sino-Soviet border, where the Russians are also moving to respond. The soldier continues, revealing that in turn, America has retargeted its nuclear deterrent forces. The PM asks the soldier to cut it down and explain what he means. ‘In a word, Mr. Prime Minister? WAR!’ The Prime Minister stares at the soldier, stunned.

Back in Danwei, Wanda “Sasquatch” Langkowski asks Madison “Box” Jeffries how they got here, as one minute they were searching for their missing teammates, the next they were under siege. Box guesses that it was magic, and motions to the Dreamqueen, who he believes has some mystical control in her own dimension and thanks to Alpha it is now spilling over onto Earth. Sasquatch cries out as she is struck by one of the Dream Warriors magical weapons, and declares that it has to be magic, as no matter how many of the Dreamqueen’s Dream Warriors they trash, more and more keep coming.

Box extends his robot arms, pushing dozens of the warriors back while Sasquatch stands up after being knocked over. The Albino Alphan then returns to charging through the warriors, declaring that she bets the key to beating these bozos is by defeating the Dreamqueen. Young Whitman “Manikin” Knapp of Beta Flight asks Sasquatch how they can prove that if they cannot even get to the Dreamqueen herself. The Dreamqueen senses Manikins’ thoughts and thinks to herself that Sasquatch was correct, for each Dream Warrior that is felled, a dozen more take his place - but in their minds only, and she declares that what Alpha Flight believes to be real can kill them just as dead as that which exists.

As the battle rages, there is an observer - when he was alive he was known as the High Lama, now he exists only in spirit form. The communist Chinese hated and feared his spiritual hold over his people, so the Chinese army attacked him and his lamasery and the Jade Dragon extinguished his life, but his spirit remains free. Freed, the High Lama could have passed on to a higher state of being, but this battle holds him back. He thinks to himself that the warriors from another dimension fight desperately and wonders if they knew the peace he feels if they would not fight on, but even so, they are, in truth, battling nothing, for their adversaries are but dreams.

Though watching the battle, the High Lama understands that even dreams can slay the dreamer, as Manikin is knocked out by one of the Dream Warriors. Manikin’s past and future selves watch the “Prime Unit” fall to the ground while Whit’s girlfriend and teammate, Kara “the Purple Girl” Kilgrave rushes over to him. The High Lama thinks that the heroics is so senseless and recalls how his way has always been the path of peace, non-resistance and the quest for tranquillity. However, he begins to wonder…what if this is the strangers alternate path to spiritual transcendence. Could this be a path trod in strength to live bravely and long?

The High Lama’s comment aptly describes Eugene Judd, the three-quarters of a century old former member of Alpha Flight known as Puck. He carries the motionless body of his former leader, the woman he loved but who did not love him back, across part of the temple as he recalls how he came to Danwei to escape his past by passing through the Doorway Between Worlds, instead he discovered one of those worlds, Liveworld, where Alpha Flight was in serious danger. Judd knows he could have disregarded their peril and abandoned them to their fate, but they were his teammates and friends. He sets Heather “Vindicator” McNeil Hudson down on the ground, his love, so he gave up on his chance to explore unknown worlds, only to sit powerlessly watching what he believes to be Alpha Flight’s final battle.

At that moment, the Dreamqueen declares that she has breached this world, using the heroes as a bridge, so she asks them why they do not surrender to their inevitable doom. She boasts that as she stands upon their world she shall not be banished to her own dimension again. Box tells the green-haired sorceress that they are not letting her stake a claim to Earth without a fight. The Purple Girl alerts Jeffries to the sky, where a dragon is flying towards them. Highbrow asks if it could be another of the Dreamqueen’s pets, as the Jade Dragon himself wonders what madness this is before him - a full scale battle in the lamasery from which he had driven his murderous comrades.

The Jade Dragon doesn’t know who the warriors are but has ascertained that some try to protect the priests, as he tried to do, while the larger number do not try to protect the priests, and by that he realizes which side he must take, and plows into the Dreamqueen’s warriors. Box alters Alpha to the help they have just received, as young Laura Dean cries ‘Could you lend me some?’ as she is being cornered by some Dream Warriors. Suddenly Goblyn leaps to her sisters rescue. Laura exclaims that Goblyn is always there for her when she is in danger, and as Goblyn is knocked backwards by a Dream Warrior who gets the upper hand, Laura boasts that even though she is just an ordinary kid, she will somehow do the same and protect her sister.

Before the Dream Warrior can attack Laura, who is protecting Goblyn, Box destroys it with a pulse beam, and comes up to the young sisters, telling Laura that from what he heard, she already did protect her sister, referring to her origin. Laura thanks Box as she alerts him to the priests, as several Dream Warriors approach them. Box uses his transmutative powers to extend his body, trying to reach the Dream Warriors before they get to the priests, but his efforts were not needed - as the warriors run straight through the priests.

Box thinks that the priests made themselves immaterial, immune to the attack, when suddenly his scanners show him that it is the Dream Warriors who are not there. Jeffries wonders how then, if the warriors are not really there, they can hurt him and the rest of Alpha Flight, reiterated as he is knocked back by another warrior.

Back in the midst of the battle, the Purple Girl calls to her boyfriends past self, Proto, warning him as a Dream Warrior is about to bring a mace down on him. Proto oozed aside at the last moment as Sasquatch, who overheard Box’s comments earlier, picks up some Dream Warriors and wonders what kind of magic this is, before wondering where Shaman and Talisman are when you need them. Kara, still concerned with Proto, wonders what would have happened if Proto didn’t move aside in time, after all, he is Manikin’s evolutionary precursor - so if Proto ceases to exist, does Manikin?

The Dreamqueen continues to monitor the battle, eyes narrowed as she thinks that Sasquatch referred to other heroes, and decides that if she is to rule this world, she must learn more, so standing just inside the portal from her native Liveworld, the Dreamqueen conjures a dream scan from the minds of her foes and produces a dream-map of all the heroes that have held the name “Alphan”: Guardian, Snowbird, Northstar, Aurora, Puck, Shaman, Marrina, Talisman, the original Box, and of course the current unconscious leader, Vindicator. The Dreamqueen smiles, for even though she admits that Alpha Flight has a formidable roster, those with the mystical might to fathom and thus counter her power are absent - and no Alphan among her present adversaries has the ability to undo her!

No Alphan perhaps, but Puck no longer claims membership to Canada’s premiere super heroes. Judd runs past the Dreamqueen and finds the spirit of the High Lama, reminding him that it was he who had the power to open the portal from Earth to the Dreamqueen’s realm and tells him he has to close it. The High Lama simply tells Judd that it is he who has the power to end this madness, to which Judd points out that he is no more than a man - and old man at that. The High Lama reminds Judd that he has lived long and learned much. Judd wonders what it is he has learned, and thinks back over his years - as a foolish young soldier of fortune, who through greed became accursed, before learning that one can be alone even though they are a member of team, and that this world is no place for former dwarfs.

The High Lama tells Judd that there is much else in his wanderings which he learned but chooses to denigrate. The High Lama asks Judd if he did not study with the yoga masters of India, and as the High Lama places the palms of his hands together, asks him if he has forgotten how to do this. Judd does remember, and explains that it palm placed to palm indicates that a devotee is preparing to enter the peace state. Looking back to a room inside the temple, Judd asks that if he is in a trance, who will protect Heather, before realizing that those with the power to protect her will do so, while he must serve as best he can.

Judd’s mind is cleared, and his eyes now see the truth: Alpha Flight, Beta Flight and the Jade Dragon battling…nobody, just phantoms conjured forth by the Dreamqueen from the safety of the portal to Liveworld. The High Lama tells Judd that they are fighting demons, but so strong is their belief in dreams that they may be slain in them. Judd asks how, now that he knows the truth, he may help. The High Lama smiles and simply tells Judd that all he has to do is drive the dream-weaver back to the domain of dreams, before she destroys one of his friends.

The Purple Girl goes over to Laura Dean and asks her if she is okay, to which the young girl exclaims that she and Goblyn are very angry, for their own parents tried to destroy them before they were even born, because Goblyn was a mutant. The two girls watch as Goblyn ferociously attacks the Dream Warriors, when suddenly, Laura’s eyes turn pink as she explains that it was she who shielded Goblyn, phased her from the womb they shared to the safety of Liveworld - but looking at the Dreamqueen, Laura Dean declares that Liveworld was a lie.

Laura’s eyes glow with more vigor as she declares that the Dreamqueen made them believe it was paradise, only because she wanted to know how they got there, so she could follow them back and create a hell on Earth. ‘And I will!’ screams the Dreamqueen as Laura tells the Dreamqueen that it was she who opened a portal to send Goblyn to Liveworld, so maybe it wont be such a big deal to learn how to close one. The Dreamqueen calls Laura a brat and tells her that she will die of bad dreams before she allows her to do that.

‘Sorry, witch, but its time for your wake-up call!’ exclaims Judd as he cartwheels towards the Dreamqueen. ‘The dwarf!’ cries the Dreamqueen, ‘Please, that’s former dwarf!’ declares Judd as the Dreamqueen tells him that he will never reach her, as her dream warriors begin to attack Judd. Judd leaps at the Dreamqueen and tells her that her warriors lack a certain reality, and he pushes her back through the portal.

Alpha Flight witness the Dream Warriors begin to waver, to which they assume is Puck’s doing. The Purple Girl watches as Laura’s entire body glows now, and the young mutant declares that she thought Goblyn was the only mutant, but realizes that if that had been true, how was she able to save her sister in the first place? Laura asks the others if they understand - she has powers too, the power to open doorways between worlds - and to close them she adds as she directs her power at the portal, where Judd is holding the Dreamqueen back.

Box points out that Puck is still on the other side, to which Judd calls to Laura and tells her to do what she must. The Dreamqueen tells Alpha Flight that she has powers the cannot even begin to comprehend and orders them to release her. Judd mumbles that he wished to die exploring new worlds, to which the Dreamqueen tells him it looks like he will get to have his wish, before she sees the portal begin to close. The Dreamqueen curses Alpha Flight and tells them that they will not be able to stop her, that she will be free.

The Dreamqueen extends one arm through the closing portal and begins to emit some power, everyone clutches their heads as they feel pain in their minds. Wanda thinks the Dreamqueen is killing them all, but as Laura Dean finally closes the portal, the Dreamqueen screams ‘No, not “killing”, fools! Something worse!’

The purple glow that surrounded Laura Dean fades as Box asks about Puck. Sasquatch explains that he has gone back to Liveworld, with the Dreamqueen. They have lost him - again. The Purple Girl and Goblyn support the weakened Laura, as Box declares that Alpha Flight will never forget Puck, before remembering that Judd was protecting Vindicator. Proto hugs Laura as the Purple Girl sees Heather and points to where she is. Box sees Heather too - with the spirit of the High Lama above her, glowing as he does something to her.

Box flies over to his lover and asks the High Lama what it is he thinks he is doing. ‘Healing’ replies the High Lama as Heather stirs, coughing and clutching her head, before calling to Madison. She takes off her goggles as Jeffries phases out from the Box armor. ‘I’m here, honey!’ he calls as they embrace. Heather smiles as tears fall from both of them, and Heather smiles, telling her handsome boyfriend that he could use a shave.

The High Lama watches as Sasquatch, Beta Flight and the Jade Dragon rush over to Heather and Jeffries, thinking to himself that his life’s goal was to transcend his own life. He assumed that all humankind would share his goal, he thinks if only they knew the bliss that awaited them beyond, yet he has watched the heroes bravely fight for their lives. He realizes that perhaps there is more than one path to enlightenment, and if that is true, hopes that the heroes find theirs. Alpha Flight, Beta Flight and the Jade Dragon suddenly find themselves vanishing, teleported away by the High Lama.

The High Lama is greeted by his disciples as they rush over to him, asking him to take them with him. The High Lama tells them that he cannot, reminding them that he taught them to follow his path, but that he was wrong. He declares that witnessing Alpha Flight’s courage and compassion has shown him that there are many paths to happiness, and as he fades from view, tells his disciples that they must find their own path.

Outside, the Commander of the Chinese army orders his troops to advance, when someone brings him a radio-phone, with a call from Beijing. The Commander finds himself talking to the Chairman, and explains that it was he who ordered the reinforcement to crush the power of the High Lama. The Chairman explains what this has caused across the rest of the world, ‘World War III? I had no idea!’ the Commander exclaims, before ordering his troops to withdraw.

In Washington, the General is informed that both the Chinese and Russians have pulled back from the border. With relief, the General orders Ottawa to be notified. In Ottawa, the Prime Minister is informed that Alpha Flight dealt with whatever situation threatened global peace, before the transmission is ended. A soldier asks the Prime Minister if he wants to give a response, but the PM replies not until Alpha Flight gets back. ‘Then there’ll be the Devil to pay!’

Characters Involved: 

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

Puck (Former member of Alpha Flight)

Laura Dean, Goblyn, Manikin, Purple Girl (all Beta Flight)

Apeman, Highbrow, Proto (Manikin’s past and future selves)


Dream Warriors

Jade Dragon

High Lama

Canadian Prime Minister, Mulroney

Canadian Officials

Washington Officials

Moscow Officials

Chinese Soldiers

In Dreamscan / Illustrative Image

Aurora, Box, Guardian, Marrina, Northstar, Puck, Shaman, Snowbird, Talisman II, Vindicator II (all Alpha Flight)

In Flashback

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

Black Raazer

Story Notes: 

Alpha Flight were believed dead after the events of Alpha Flight (first series) #52-53, but in fact have been in the Arctic Circle, then in Space.

Jade Dragon’s origin can be seen in Alpha Flight (first series) #59.

Laura Dean protected Goblyn in the womb by moving in front of her as their father, an anti-mutant bigot tried to bombard Goblyn with radiation. [Alpha Flight (first series) #54]

Issue Information: 
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