Alpha Flight (1st series) #79

Issue Date: 
December 1989
Story Title: 

James D. Hudnall (Writer), John Calimee (Penciler), Mike Manley (Inker), Bob Sharen (Colorist), Janice Chiang (Letterer), Marc McLaurin (Managing Editor), Carl Potts & Danny Fingeroth (Editors), Tom DeFalco (Editor-in-Chief)

Brief Description: 

American villains Nekra, Scorpion, Asp and Owl each make their individual way from the US to Canada, consciously thinking that they are leaving to escape the upcoming super-human registration act, but unconsciously thinking that there is something pulling them to Canada. Talisman is distancing herself from her teammates as she prepares for the upcoming war and informs Vindicator of the approaching foreign villains who are going to be part of the Sorcerer’s army. Vindicator apologizes to Elizabeth for her recent attitude towards her, attributing it to the deaths of Mac, Snowbird, Marrina and the X-Men, but Talisman isn’t really interested. Heather informs Sasquatch of how when Elizabeth lived with her, as a teenager Elizabeth always got the boyfriends and she was forgotten about, before she is plucked away by the Spirit of Time and Space who takes her to fight Nekra and return her to the States. While Jeffries is talking to Shaman and Puck, Diamond Lil is plucked away to deal with the Scorpion, and in the melee, Jeffries’ forgets about his conversation with Puck, who seems distraught and wants to urgently talk to Vindicator. Gamma Flight learn that Vindicator and Diamond Lil are in action against some foreign super villains and as they have the power to arrest Alpha Flight, they decide to teach them who is in charge. Meanwhile, all over Canada pollution starts affecting crops and water, and it is revealed that the pollution is coming from the United States, while at the top of the world, the Sorcerer laughs.

Full Summary: 

On the shores of Lake Superior - the Canadian side. Two young boys stand at the waters edge, ignoring the broken sign that says DANGER! POLLUTION! No Fishing or Swimming! These waters are unsafe for swimming, bathing or drinking. The boys hold onto a fishing rod, one of them yells ‘I think I got one!’ ‘Yeah, looks like Moby Dick!’ agrees the other. But as they pull the fish onto shore, ‘Oh no, not again!’ they say looking at the fish - which looks like every other fish they have caught today.

Pointing at the fish, one of the exclaims that they all have tumors and wonders what is wrong with the lake, why the fish are all messed up. One of them realizes that it is the pollution, that it is killing everything in the water. The other asks where it is coming from, and his friend points across the water, to the dark skies of the United States. Lightening strikes as he exclaims that the bad stuff is all coming from outside.

Meanwhile, on the edge of Minnesota, a US / Canadian Border Patrol officer knocks on the window of a car that is queued up and asks the driver to wind their window down. As the window is rolled down, the officer asks the driver if she is carrying any fruits or vegetables, to which she replies ‘No’. Somewhat taken aback by the woman’s appearance, the officer hesitates before he asks her if she is visiting Canada for business or pleasure. Nekra smiles and with a sparkle in her eye, she replies ‘Pleasure! Lots and lots of pleasure!’

Elsewhere, in Alpha Flight’s new headquarters in Edmonton, Elizabeth “Talisman” Twoyoungmen sits, and declares that they are coming. Her team leader, Heather “Vindicator” McNeil Hudson, asks her foster sister who is coming. Talisman reveals that there is a woman named Nekra who once brought a lover back from the dead, and she has just entered the country. Elizabeth then reveals that there is a man who becomes an insect, a woman whose skin can kill you and another man who thinks he is a bird.

Talisman informs Heather that there are events in the United States which are driving them here to Canada. She explains that there is a law called the Super-Powers Registration Act which is being ushered through congress, and that a war is being fought between super humans all over the United States. Elizabeth reveals that the Sorcerer is using these events to lure in super humans for his cause. Vindicator asks Elizabeth if she is saying that Llan is forming an army, ‘Of course, Heather,’ replies Elizabeth, exclaiming that these are only the first, and that he will bring more from outside, through the Gateway of Night - ‘Unless we stop the problem before it starts!’

Talisman sits in the middle of a ring of fire, spirits float around her. It has been two hours since Vindicator entered this room to speak with her - and two days since Talisman drew this circle on the floor to commune with the spirits of the natural world, two days since she has refused to come out. Heather looks at Elizabeth with sadness, the young woman she once knew is sinking deeper and deeper into the quagmire of her legacy. Perhaps she will never return, for the mystic amulet she wears is slowly drawing her into a supernatural abyss.

Talisman informs Heather that ever since she tapped into the Earth forces beneath this building, she has been able to expand her awareness of the enemy’s new plan. She reveals that his soldiers are entering Canada separately, unaware that they will link up with the others to cause trouble. Talisman tells Heather that they have to prevent them from getting together and have to deport them as soon as they arrive. Talisman explains that since they are coming in separately, Alpha Flight will have to split up to accomplish the task.

Heather protests at the splitting up of Alpha and asks how they will know their enemy. Talisman informs Heather that she will send each of them a compelling vision to help them on their way, and those who lack transportation will be delivered to their target. ‘Now go!’ snaps Elizabeth as she tells Heather that preparations must be made for the great war that follows, and that she must do this alone. Heather groans and folds her arms, muttering that she will have trust Elizabeth on this one.

Turning around, Heather apologizes to Elizabeth, telling her that she is sorry for the way she has acted towards her recently, claiming that ever since her husband Mac died, then Snowbird, then the X-Men, and recently Marrina, she has been feeling so powerless, unable to prevent things from getting out of hand. Talisman tells Heather that she knows losing someone close is painful, before telling her to please leave now.

Heather leaves the room, a “Do Not Disturb” sign hangs on the door, and Heather begins to cry. Suddenly, Walter Langkowski, a.k.a. Sasquatch walks down the corridor and asks Heather if everything is okay. Heather tells her handsome teammate that she is glad he is here, and as Walt puts his arms around her ands leads her down the corridor, Heather declares that she could really use a shoulder to cry on and asks if he has some time. Walt replies that he does and suggests that they go up to the lounge, informing Heather that the furniture is all moved in, adding that he thinks this new “Maison Alpha” should work out fine.

The lounge greets the long-serving Alphans with a fresh paint smell. It has only been five days since they moved into the new base. For a minute or two, they sit silently, then it all comes pouring out. Heather tells Walt that she cant remember if she has told him this before, but that Elizabeth was raised in her home, and that they were once close friends. Walt replies that she hasn’t told him this story, and Heather reveals that when they were kids, they used to play together all the time.

Heather explains that Elizabeth had a hatred for her father, as she felt that Michael failed to save Elizabeth’s mother from cancer, so Heather’s parents took Elizabeth in, and she grew up with her family, all nine of them, and that they got along great, until they grew older. Heather reveals to Walt that when she and Elizabeth go to their teens, all the guys wanted to go out with Elizabeth, no one even noticed her, and while Heather is two years older, Elizabeth was the one with the boyfriends, all Heather did was watch her come and go.

Heather admits that a part of her retains that jealousy and that she hasn’t been very nice to Elizabeth ever since she came back to the team. Vindicator supposes that she and Elizabeth may never be friends again, as she hasn’t come out of that room since they moved in, and she is growing more distant everyday. Walt listens to Heather, before asking her what Talisman said to her in the room.

After hearing the story, Walt asks what Talisman means by “compelling” visions. Gazing out the window, Heather replies that she doesn’t know, when suddenly, a blinding light appears before her, and she screams ‘Nekra!’ Heather is receiving a compelling vision, it is a flash-forward, depicting Nekra in Winnipeg, where she is going on a killing spree, and that a man in an insect suit will come looking for her, there will be so much death. Heather realizes that she has to take Nekra out of the country, unless the powers of her battle suit can stop Nekra from meeting the man - the man with the deadly tail. Heather knows that if she fails, then there will be killing, Nekra will grow strong and more powerful - then it might be too late.

Winds begin to swirl around in the lounge of Maison Alpha, and transforming into Sasquatch, Walt asks what is going on. Walt asks Heather if she needs him, but Heather tells him to stay and warn the others about the visions. Suddenly, the Spirit of Time and Space appears before Vindicator, informing her that Talisman has sent him to guide her to her prey.

Meanwhile at the JFK International Airport, New York, a bald man in a blue suit sits, reading his horoscope. Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Today you will be visited by an associate who will help you put your affairs in order. A trip to another city may prove to be exciting. Someone calls ‘Mr. Gargan!’ and the bald man looks up to see the Tinkerer, holding a briefcase. Gargan tells him that he was wondering when he was going to get here, as his plane is leaving in a few minutes. The Tinkerer informs Gargan that he had to see his son off, as he is leaving for Costa Brava today, before asking Gargan where he is going.

Gargan reveals that he is going to Canada, explaining that he is getting out of the US before all this registration stuff comes down on him, and that after his run-in with Hammer and his goons, he thinks it best that he lay low for a while, before asking the Tinkerer if he fixed his tail. ‘Of course! Am I not the best at my craft?’ asks the Tinkerer, before informing Gargan that he tried to duplicate some of the modifications Gargan previously described, but that it is not as powerful as the former model.

Nevertheless, the Tinkerer believes Gargan should be very pleased and informs him that he has added x-ray baffles to the suitcase so that he can get through any airport detectors. Gargan replies ‘good’ before taking the briefcase from the Tinkerer and handing him a envelope, while declaring that something tells him he is going to have some hot times up North.

Back at Maison Alpha, Alpha Flight’s new ally, Diamond Lil a.k.a. Lillian Crawley, who has been with the team through all of the Sorcerer Affair, lights up a cigarette, and enters a room where Madison Jeffries a.k.a. Box is talking hospital-bound Shaman over the phone. Jeffries informs Michael Twoyoungmen that they have moved into it, and that he used his transmutative powers to revamp it somewhat. Jeffries informs Shaman that he is calling to ask him how he and Puck are doing.

Shaman replies that his condition is improving well but that there is a problem with Judd - before Shaman can reveal what that problem is, Judd shouts ‘Let me talk to him!’ While the phone is being passed over, Madison turns to Lil and reminds her he has asked her not to smoke in here, when Judd shouts down the phone, ‘Madison! I need to speak to Heather!’ Jeffries informs Judd that Heather is in a meeting with Talisman right now, and is about to go check if she is free, when suddenly, Diamond Lil is frozen in place and stares blankly ahead.

‘The Scorpion - moves so fast - incredible strength - tail shoots plasma bolts - deadly! Winnipeg - Winnipeg Airport!’ mutters Lil in a trance. Jeffries calls to his ex-girlfriend while Sasquatch bangs on the door, shouting to be let in. The Spirit of Time and Space arrives and tells Diamond Lil that he has been sent to take her to her prey. ‘Take me!’ replies Lil, as Sasquatch breaks into the room, too late to warn them. As Lil is lifted into the sky by the Spirit of Time and Space, Walt tells Madison not to worry, as she is being taken to her opponent.

Sasquatch grabs hold of Jeffries so that he cannot follow Lil, informing him that he has to do this alone. Jeffries asks what is happening, and tells Walt to let him go, as that “thing” has just busted Lil through the wall! He exclaims that if it wasn’t for Lil’s invulnerability she would be hurt. Sasquatch informs Jeffries that Talisman wants them to fight agents of the Sorcerer, and that she is sending out visions that will tell them what to do. Walt adds that he tried to warn them, but obviously Talisman got to them first. Madison asks Walt what he is talking about and where Heather is. Walt ushers Jeffries towards the lounge, leaving the telephone forgotten about, and Puck coughing as he calls out to them, wondering what happened and where Heather is, claiming that he needs to talk to her urgently.

But Heather is currently flying fast across Canada, guided by the Spirit of Time and Space. A farmer and a scientist are out in a field look up as Heather flies past them, they wonder what it was. ‘Kinda looked like a blur,’ says the scientist, before the farmer turns their attention back to his wheat, asking the scientist what he makes of it and if he has seen it before in agriculture school. The scientist replies that he has seen plenty of cases and that the wheat hasn’t been affected by a disease, but it is acid rain that has been destroying the crops.

The scientist reveals that back in the United States, factories are spewing tons of chemical waste into the atmosphere, and it gets into clouds which cross over into Canada. The scientist explains that when it rains, it gets into the soil and the plants drink it up. ‘And everything starts to go bad…’.

In Winnipeg, Manitoba, this town almost passes for an American town as it hovers over the American Midwest. Only the money and mixture of French and English on the cereal boxes give it away as Canadian. Nekra, wearing a seductive black dress walks through the city, even though she doesn’t know what she is doing here. She realizes that she wanted to get away from the Registration Act that might be getting passed in the States - but she knows something else made her come to Canada - like an impulse or an urge.

Nekra wonders why she didn’t head for Mexico or the Bahamas. ‘What’s so hot about freaking Manitoba?’ Nekra then realizes that she might find some action here, when suddenly, Vindicator swoops down and lifts the villainess into the air. Nekra tells Vindicator to put her down, but Heather informs her that she is taking out of the country as she doesn’t belong here, adding that if she resists, it is a long hard fall to the ground.

Back in Edmonton, Jeffries and Walt are in the computer room, Jeffries asks Walt if he said Heather was going after a woman named Nekra. Walt replies yes, and Madison enters her into their database to find some information on her. Jeffries is shocked as he reads that Nekra is invulnerable and able to lift over ten tons. Walt reads further and points out that Nekra’s powers work as long as she is emotional. ‘Let’s hope this broad doesn’t get too angry, eh?’ exclaims Jeffries.

In Manitoba, Nekra manages to grab Vindicator’s arm and throws her off balance, enabling Nekra to slip out of Heather’s grasp. Nekra falls towards a building, and slams her body through a window, smashing the glass as she enters, and telling Vindicator as she follows, that she is not leaving Canada. Heather flies towards Nekra, pointing out that she is only making this harder on herself as she tries to convince her to give up. Suddenly, Nekra leaps over Heather and dives out the window, and laughs as she falls to the ground below, while Heather calls out to her to stop, pointing out that they are ten stories up, and muttering that she only wanted her to leave, not kill herself.

At the Winnipeg International Airport, Gargan leaves the building, and as Diamond Lil is lifted down to the ground by the Spirit of Time and Space, he exclaims that Winnipeg is freakier than Manhattan. Slightly disorientated, Lil quickly realizes where she is. Lil informs Mac Gargan - alias the Scorpion - that she has been sent by Alpha Flight to escort him back across the border. Lil asks Gargan if he is going to be civilized or if they are going to have to get down and party.

‘I’d party with you anytime, babe!’ Gargan tells Lil before suggesting that they check into a motel. Lil begins to reply to Gargan, when suddenly he punches her, declaring that he doesn’t like women who talk back to him. Gargan lifts Lil off the ground and heaves her above his head, telling her that she should have been warned how fast he is and boasting that he has fought some of the best. As he throws Lil through a “Welcome to Canada” sign, the Scorpion adds that they wont even get into how strong he is.

‘Stupid broad!’ mutters Gargan as he picks up his briefcase and pulls a man out of his car. Getting into the car, he exclaims ‘Winnipeg, here I come!’ Lil rushes towards the car, telling Gargan to stop and that this is his last chance. But Gargan doesn’t stop, and Lil is brushed aside as he speeds past her, telling her that she has to be fast to catch a Scorpion. Watching Gargan get away, Lil tidies her hair and wonders what to do now.

Elsewhere in Winnipeg, at the headquarters of Canada’s premiere super hero team, Gamma Flight, the teams leader, Nemesis calls the others to attention. She informs them that she has just received a report of conflict downtown and that it seems Vindicator and Diamond Lil are fighting some unknown para-humans somewhere around Portage and Main. Nemesis informs the others that they are going to have to go and arrest all of them.

Witchfire remarks that Alpha Flight has ignored the governments order to disband, and reminds her teammates that they gave them fair warning and suggests that Alpha should have listened when they had the chance. Wildchild laughs as he exclaims they should have nailed Alpha Flight during the Montreal gig, adding that the only way to solve the problem is to nip it in the bud.

Nemesis points out that they didn’t know Alpha Flight would disobey government orders, and supposes that they cannot accept the fact that they have been replaced as Canada’s official super team. Holding her sword ready, Nemesis boasts that it is time to show Alpha Flight who is in charge.

In Winnipeg, a woman falls from ten stories high, Nekra knows the fall won’t hurt her, she has too much work to do.

Miles away, a cab heads toward downtown, it is driven by a man with an arachnid suit. The Scorpion thinks about killing. Lots and lots of killing.

At the airport, a man with the thoughts of a predatory bird has arrived on flight #102. He feels a need to head downtown. The Owl feels a hunger he cannot define.

At the border, a woman with poisonous skin and a name like a snake drives through without a hitch. Winnipeg is just a short distance away.

Near the top of the world, a being called the Sorcerer is laughing. Laughing hard.

Characters Involved: 

Box IV, Sasquatch, Shaman, Talisman II, Vindicator II (all Alpha Flight)
Puck (Former Member of Alpha Flight)

Diamond Lil

Auric, Nemesis III, Silver, Wildchild, Witchfire (all Gamma Flight)

Llan the Sorcerer






The Spirit of Time and Space

US / Canadian Border Patrol Officers

Two boys fishing



Canadian citizens

In Flashback:

Heather McNeil

Elizabeth Twoyoungmen

Other teenagers

In Flash forward:

Vindicator II



Injured civilians

Story Notes: 

This issue is part of the Acts of Vengeance, a company-wide story that took place throughout Marvel titles at this time. While some of the Acts of Vengeance seemed rather forced, The Alpha Flight Acts of Vengeance issues worked really well in the Sorcerer Affair.

Heather’s husband Guardian died in Alpha Flight (1st series) #12, blown up before her very eyes.

Snowbird was tragically killed in Alpha Flight (1st series) #44.

The X-Men have been “dead” since Uncanny X-Men #227.

The chain of events leading to Marrina’s untimely death took place in Avengers (1st series) #291-293.

Elizabeth was raised in Heather’s family from about five years old, after her mother died and she disowned her father. [back story in Alpha Flight (1st series) #5]. The idea that Liz and Heather would compete for the same boys is rather ridiculous though, as there is an 8-10 years age difference between them, not two years as this issue wrongly states. By the time Liz was a teenager, Heather would have already been married to Mac.

The Scorpion got, and lost, a new tail in Amazing Spider-Man (1st series) #319.

Shaman and Puck received injuries after using the malleable matter of the Dreamqueen’s dimension to alter their bodies. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #75]

Alpha and Gamma Flight’s first met in person in Alpha Flight (1st series) #76, both arriving in Montreal to investigate the strange happenings. It was there that Alpha learned Gamma had the power to arrest them.

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