Alpha Flight (1st series) #88

Issue Date: 
September 1990
Story Title: 
Building Blocks, part two: Trust

Fabian Nicieza (Writer), Michael Bair (Penciler), Mike Manley (Inker), Jim Lee (Cover Artist), Bob Sharen (Colorist), Janice Chiang (Letterer), Eric Fein (Assistant Editor), Danny Fingeroth (Editor), Tom DeFalco (Editor-in-Chief)

Brief Description: 

Wolverine and Vindicator are reunited, but Heather is understandably upset about Wolverine not telling her he was alive sooner. They debate what they should do regarding Wildchild, and take him to the authorities, though Nemesis swears revenge. Persuasion goes to be with Laura Dean in the hospital, while Heather and Wolverine discuss their current situations, Heather’s troubles with Alpha and the government and Logan’s return to Canada to settle old debts. Heather notices that Logan seems ill, and suggests that Wildchild’s healing factor may be able to help him if his own can’t. They break into the maximum security facility that he is being held in, only to discover he is missing. Shaman leads Sasquatch, Aurora and Talisman on their search for the missing Puck. Arriving in the Black Hills, they are attacked by some deformed creatures. Aurora reveals her new peaceful approach to life and tries to convince her friends not to harm the strange creatures, but it doesn’t work. Talisman eventually enters one of their minds and learns that they are the slaves of Alpha Flight’s old enemy the Master of the World. They discover his lair which is “between” dimensions, and upon searching it, they find Puck - deformed almost beyond recognition. At Roxxon, Valerie Cooper is made aware of the situation and suggests that they get in contact with her associate Forge. Box, Diamond Lil and Windshear arrive on Muir Island and are attacked by Forge and the Muir Island X-Men, including Moira MacTaggert, Banshee and Amanda Sefton. The Muir Island X-Men eventually listen to what the newcomers have to tell them, and Forge agrees to go to Roxxon with them, as he is the best man for the job. However, arriving back at Roxxon, devastation occurs, as the mysterious man controlling the machinery causes a huge explosion. He then reveals himself, shocking Diamond Lil and Box - as it is Alpha Flight’s founder - the long dead James MacDonald Hudson - Guardian!

Full Summary: 

‘Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t blow your head off!’ Heather “Vindicator” McNeil Hudson asks her dear friend Wolverine a.k.a. Logan, current member of the X-Men and former member of Alpha Flight. ‘Don’t think I can, darlin`’ Logan replies calmly. Kara “Persuasion” Kilgrave asks Heather to calm down, ‘I mean, Wolverine is your friend isn’t he?’ Heather doesn’t know the answer to Kara’s question. Silver, Auric and Witchfire of Gamma Flight stare at Heather uncomfortably, while their leader Nemesis tends to Wildchild.

Heather is allied with people she hardly even knows - and is facing a man she thought was dead. Heather asks Logan how he could still be alive and not tell her - ‘How could you have done that to me, Logan?’ Lighting a cigarette, Logan replies that it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Heather is about to say something when Kara Kilgrave asks her what they are going to do about Wildchild - ‘I mean he’s a killer, right, and he smells awful!’

Heather replies that they will turn him over to the proper authorities, that is her duty as leader of Alpha Flight, before pointing out that Kyle “Wildchild” Gibney wouldn’t have been released from custody in the first place if the Sorcerer hadn’t been influencing the Canadian government. Logan asks Heather if the two of them can find a place to talk, and Heather replies they can once they unload Wildchild. Holding onto Wildchild, Nemesis thinks to herself ‘Do as you will, Vindicator, but you’ll get him over my dead body…or even better, your dead body’.

Meanwhile, a frantic search for a missing friend has led four Alphans to a hallowed and sacred land - which Sasquatch, Shaman, Aurora and Talisman enter in their own inimitable fashion. Arriving by teleportation, Walter Langkowski a.k.a. Sasquatch asks if this is the place. His close friend and fellow-founding Alphan Michael “Shaman” Twoyoungmen reminds everyone that the doctor at Ottawa General Hospital said that Puck had been brought to the secret lair for “indoctrinization”…whatever that means.

Shaman explains that although they were unable to pierce the telepathic blocks placed on the doctor’s mind, he did at least reveal a location via mental imaging. Shaman uses his powers to close the teleportation gate, as Sasquatch asks where the “magical mystery tour” took them. Shaman’s daughter Elizabeth a.k.a. the phenomenal Talisman reveals they are in South Dakota, the Black Hills to be precise. Jeanne-Marie Beaubier a.k.a. Aurora, sporting a new costume complete with a hood asks Shaman if he senses Judd’s presence.

Shaman replies that he doesn’t, but is sure that once he and Elizabeth conduct a mystical inspection they will. Sasquatch tells everyone that Heather would have puppies if she knew they had crossed into the States. Shaman declares that they will do what they must to save their friend, as man-made boundaries aren’t forged in anything quite so strong as the bonds of friendship and trust, of which Puck has with them. Walt agrees, and suggests they find whoever has taken Judd and bust their heads in.

But as a group of deformed naked men leap out at them, Walt jokes ‘Of course having them find us expedites matters quite nicely’. Aurora declares that the poor creatures are hideous, as Shaman warns his teammates that the beings may be under the control of someone else, he is knocked down, ‘Well, they just lost my sympathy vote’ jokes Walt, punching at the creatures. Aurora warns her ex-lover not to strike the creatures in anger, as he may be too strong for them.

As Elizabeth is shoved to the ground, she asks Aurora if holding back is such a good idea. Calmly, Aurora replies that she is sure, and reveals that violence is no longer her way, and that she would prefer it not to be theirs either. Creating a blinding light which holds the enemy back, Aurora explains that her mutant powers will allow the creatures to see themselves in a new light - the Light of Truth.

With the creatures blinded, Sasquatch congratulates Aurora and leaps back into battle, claiming they will be easy pickings now. Shaman tells Sasquatch that he doubts it is what Aurora had in mind, before pointing out that her powers are evolving, and nevertheless whether they mean to be or not, the creatures to pose a threat to their mission. Pulling a staff from his medicine pouch, Shaman offers to end this quickly.

Sasquatch lunges at one of the creatures and declares that this is more fun than tackling Larry Csonka. Shaman taps the Staff of Sisiutl on the ground and explains that it will cast a spell of natural alignment across the entire area - meaning beings of an unnatural nature will feel a physical and spiritual disassociation. Sasquatch suddenly struggles with his opponent and reminds Shaman that he is part of the pantheon of Great Beasts - so his spell is working on him too! However, regaining his composure, Sasquatch tosses the creature off him, guessing that the spell is not working on him as badly as it is their strange enemies.

Aurora’s opponent thrashes about in his blindness and pain, and hopes that a burst of light will bring the wretched man a sense of inner peace. The creature falls to the ground, as Aurora points out, it could not stand up to the light of innocence and truth, and she did not help to heal it - she only hurt it. Standing over her fallen opponent, Jeanne-Marie wonders if her decision to work with Alpha will always conflict with her sacred trust to bring spiritual healing to this world.

Hovering in the air, Elizabeth tells Aurora that she has to work within the grey areas, as everyone must, before congratulating everyone on their good work. Talisman explains that she is entering a meditative state to concentrate on the creature Aurora defeated. Talisman exclaims that the creature is fighting her on a telepathic level, before asking him who he is, who he was, and why he is here. ‘Master? You have a master? Are you his slave?’ Elizabeth asks. Elizabeth tries to calm the creature by telling him he is not betraying his master’s trust, and asks him to talk to her.

Talisman tells the creature that he didn’t betray his master, and to look at himself, look at what has been done to him. She seems to have calmed the creature down somewhat as she learns that his master’s lair is in the hills within the woods. Elizabeth returns to reality, exclaiming that what she went through was like a roller-coaster ride through molasses, before informing everyone that she believes they are confronting The Master himself.

‘That loser again?’ mutters Sasquatch, as Shaman points out that anyone who would do this to other humans is a dangerous threat, before Aurora asks if he is hiding in the woods, but Talisman replies that he is hiding in the hills - that his lair is inside the earth itself!

Meanwhile, at Roxxon Oil in Denver, the Facility Coordinator, Samuel Higgins, updates his log. Currently, he is in a meeting room the size of Rhode Island and is remembering a time when the situation that is going on at Roxxon was under control. Higgins, the corporate council and Jaxon - may the worms eat his soul - knew about it to begin to with, but now they have two-year old mechanical nightmare growing out of all conceivable proportions in their sub-basement and now both the U.S. and Canadian governments are sticking their noses into it.

Higgins explains that since this involves super human activity, the National Security Council has been brought in, and Higgins is now sitting here sweating in front of the chairman - er, chairperson - right now. Doctor Valerie Cooper appears before everyone in the room via a large computer monitor, and Higgins decides that between her frosty demeanor and the knuckleheads from Alpha Flight Box and Diamond Lil, he should consider an early retirement.

Val tells Higgins that she wants to go over this one more time, because frankly she is having trouble believing it. It is Val’s understanding that Roxxon has a mechanical experiment which has gone out of control and neither Roxxon’s para-operative Windshear, who can control, propel and repel hard-air molecules, nor the Alphan Madison “Box” Jeffries, a mutant whose very powers are to manipulate all inorganic materials, could stop it.

Higgins tells the high-ranking government official that when she puts it that way it makes them sound kind of lame. Higgins is about to say something else when Val interrupts, reminding him that the government has billions invested in many of Roxxon’s research programs. Val is interrupted this time, by the polite Jeffries, who asks Val if they can forget about the money for a minute and concentrate on the real problem. ‘Which is, Mr. Jeffries?’ asks Val.

Madison explains to Val that there is a man inside mechanical nightmare, a very angry man. Jeffries declares that he doesn’t know how or why, but he does know that the man is manipulating the system with computer speed. Jeffries explains that he can only control machinery as fast as a man, ‘I ain’t no gigabyte computer - and he is!’

Valerie asks Jeffries if what he is saying is that he needs someone who can create, design and implement changes into the Box systems quickly as the creature can. ‘Yup,’ replies Madison, explaining that if they can hook him into a design program that is as fast as the mystery man is, then he can fight square, if not fair. Colin Ashworth Hume a.k.a. Windshear stands up from his seat and asks where they are going to find that. Valerie informs everyone that she knows just such a man, a mutant gifted with cognitive invention - Forge!

Back in Canada, Vindicator decides that the Ottawa pub scene on a weekday afternoon is the perfect place for a little privacy - more than anything, Heather McNeil Hudson needs an hour to drink a beer and figure out where her life is taking her. She may be leader of Alpha Flight, but she never asked for this job, and never wanted it. Heather took the job because everyone else trusted her - they had the faith that she would continue her husband’s dream. Heather recalls that she never really believed in herself the way the Wolverine and Shaman and Snowbird and Puck did.

Heather takes her seat beside Wolverine and mutters that she is still having trouble believing this. Logan declares that you have to trust your senses, before asking what the deal with Wildchild is. Heather informs Logan that Wildchild is in a maximum security holding cell, and they aren’t sure if they are going to charge him yet. Logan asks about the kid that Wildchild mauled - Laura Dean. Heather replies that Laura is alive… barely, adding that Persuasion went to be with her and Jean-Paul is still there.

Vindicator admits that this is eating her up inside, as Laura is just a little girl. Logan replies that from what he understands, Laura got hurt saving her sister, and tells Heather it is a pretty adult decision for a little girl. Heather sardonically asks if it is all right she got hurt because it was her choice, before angrily telling Logan that she really missed that “easy-to-swallow-hard-to-digest-black-and-white” attitude of his. Adjusting her glasses, Heather asks Logan how he could have done this to her, why didn’t he tell her he was alive. ‘I did what I had to do’ Logan replies.

‘Simple as that?’ asks Heather, telling Logan that she just got over Mac’s death when he ups and dies. Heather asks Logan why he is here - why didn’t you just “stay dead”? ‘Why am I asking - how can I tell you’ll tell me the truth!’ Logan informs Heather that he is here because something big is coming up and he may not be around much longer - so he wanted to wipe the slate clean. Heather notices something different about Logan’s appearance and asks him why and how he looks so sick.

Heather asks if there is something wrong with his healing factor, and offers Alpha Flight’s help - but Logan puts his jacket on and throws some money on the table, telling Heather ‘No’ as he doesn’t want her getting involved. He declares that he came to say “I’m alive, I loved you and goodbye”. Heather turns quickly and tells Logan to wait, suggesting that she might be able to help him help himself. Heather assumes that Wildchild’s immune system is similar to Logan’s, and suggests that a blood transfusion would work.

Wolverine points out that even if it could, which he doubts, Kyle Gibney is in federal lock-up. Wolverine tells Heather that no one in the government can know he is still alive, and explains that if they break him out of jail, it will screw up everything Heather has worked towards - the future of Alpha Flight - all for a man she cannot trust anymore. ‘I know…’ replies Heather.

Back in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Twoyoungmen has sourced the location of the Master’s base, and Sasquatch tells him it is about time, as they have been walking around for hours. ‘I probably got more ticks now…’ Walt mutters. ‘Needle-in-a-haystack, right, Walter?’ says Elizabeth, reminding everyone she told them it would be hard, adding that the Master of the World has not only hidden his base underground, but between dimensional planes. Shaman points out that a window of opportunity has presented itself, to which Sasquatch tells him to ‘do the hocus-pocus thing’.

Talisman’s magicks begin to swirl around, ‘Elizabeth, please-’ begins her father, but Elizabeth tells Shaman that he has always has this tone of voice like it should be easy for her. She exclaims that she is not mad or anything, but he puts pressure on her. Energies flow and ebb around her as Elizabeth finds the location and maintains the integrity between the dimensions. A wormhole appears in the ground, ‘Oh yeah, Liz, that looked real tough for you,’ Sasquatch jokes. Aurora reminds Sasquatch that they cannot even begin to understand the forces that Talisman manipulates.

As the other-dimensional plane opens, Elizabeth creates a spell to mask their presence once they enter…the Master’s complex! Transforming back to his handsome human for to get through the portal, Sasquatch declares that it is certainly quite a complex - it is enormous. As everyone makes their way through, Shaman informs everyone that the ship appears to be an exact replica of his original space-ark.

Walt points out that it will make it easier to get around, as he transforms back into his Sasquatch form. Shaman tells his teammates that they better start being a little more careful from here on in. As the quartet make their way through the ship, Sasquatch tells Twoyoungmen to forgive him if he isn’t too worried about this, as for a guy who was supposed to be their biggest opponent, the Master was always a bit of a wussie.

Shaman hopes that Sasquatch’s definition remains accurate, when suddenly, Walt asks if anyone brought a crow along as he is awfully hungry. Imprisoned before them in some tank, is a very familiar, yet very deformed man. Aurora hopes that it is not Judd, and though he hates to say it, Sasquatch declares that he thinks they have just found Puck.

On the other side of the world, Jeffries has transformed his armor into a jet and as he streaks towards Muir Island, Scotland. It is the place Val Cooper told them they would be able to find the mutant Forge, and that there is a whole mutant research center there. Suddenly, inside the Box jet, Diamond Lil and Windshear are tossed about. Hume asks what is going on, and Box explains that they have hit an electro-magnetic scrambler field - so he cannot maintain jet mode.

Box returns to his default form as Lillian is tossed into the water. Windshear manages to create a air funnel to prevent him from getting in the water. Hume informs Lil that Box is somewhere back in the water, to which Lil, now sopping wet, replies that Madison will be fine - which is more than she can say for the clowns that attacked them, and asks if one of them is Forge.

Standing on the shore of the island are six gold and blue clad people. Forge introduces himself before telling Diamond Lil that he thinks she has a problem with the laws of cause and effect, pointing out that they approached at supersonic speeds with no prior communication. ‘In our book, that means you attacked us!’

Samuel Higgins’ files reveal that some interesting things about Forge’s friends. Doctor Moira MacTaggert runs the place, while Sean “Banshee” Cassidy is a former member of the X-Men. The others are civilians named Tom Corsi, Sharon Friedlander and Amanda Sefton…’who is ahem a witch…Hey, I’m not making this stuff up’.

Windshear approaches Amanda Sefton who tells him that he made a big mistake trying to pierce her mystical barrier, and the powerful sorceress uses her powers to cause Windshear to drop out of the air. Windshear lands along the beach a little, and Sharon asks Tom if he is hurt. ‘Always the nurse at heart?’ Tom replies, despite the weapon that Sharon is holding. Tom reminds Sharon that he is still a cop and tells her that he has Windshear covered, and her protected.

Diamond Lil emerges from the water, drenched, she mutters ‘Yeah, that’s good, a cop and a nurse. Very TV’ before tossing them in the water, ‘You two just can’t be for real’.

Moira MacTaggert stands by Forge, ready with her weapon she tells her friend that she doesn’t know who they are, but they are good - maybe too good. She supposes they could be Reavers or Marauders, or any of the other dozen groups out to get them. Forge supposes they could be, but suggests they might not be also, suddenly, Box appears near them, and informs them that they tried to call first but couldn’t get through, and with his arm transmutated into a weapon, he asks them if they start talking or does he end this now. ‘Real messy like?’

Later, Box shows Forge and the Muir Island X-Men a recording of the strange happenings at Roxxon in Denver. Lil asks Windshear what he thinks of them, and he replies that this is a fancy set-up and that it looks like they have enough equipment to fight a war. When the video finishes, Jeffries sums up that that is what they are up against. Forge asks if they do not know who is up against this mechanical construct and if they need him to counter its moves as it makes them.

Banshee tells Forge that it could be tricky and asks if it is worth the risk. Forge points out that he is the only person who could do it, as Jeffries explains that working to create a cyber-link between the two of them so that Forge reconfigures him at the same rate as the guy they are fighting gives them a chance at least. Forge realizes that they need him, so agrees, but tells them that he doesn’t have much time to spare from his responsibilities here, so they need to work quickly.

Higgins updates his recordings after Windshear calls in to tell him that they are on the way and that Forge is with them. Higgins supposes that if they cannot bail Roxxon out now then he may as well forget about his new office furniture and the 401K-plan.

Inside the Box jet, Windshear tells Forge that he surprised him. When Forge asks how so, Hume replies that the fact he agreed to come is surprising as they could be killed doing this. Windshear explains that he is here because he was paid to, Jeffries and Lil were roped into it, so what is in it for a bloke like Forge? Forge replies that he does things like this because they have to be done, and too many people pass the buck, while he doesn’t. Windshear admits that he never quite looked at it that way.

Back in Ottawa, it took Heather and Wolverine a few hours to tap into the Ottawa Correctional Facility’s security systems to find out where Wildchild was begin held. Getting in wasn’t too difficult, especially not for people like Wolverine and Vindicator who do this in their sleep. ‘Doesn’t say much for our choice of lifestyles does it?’ Creeping down a flight of stairs, Heather points out that there are two guards down the rear of the corridor. Logan tells Heather that they are going the other way, and they make their way to a secure door.

Heather announces that this is the wing for super human prisoners and it has an electronic key code lock. Heather boasts that it is pretty useless against someone who can electromagnetically scramble the entire system, and she does, her powers blowing the door open. Entering the secure area, Heather exclaims that she didn’t mean to blow the lights out too, and leaping down the levels, Wolverine informs her that the guards are going to be on them fast, so they need to move.

Suddenly, there is a torch shining spotlight on them - ‘Who’s there?’ asks a security guard. Wolverine growls and marches over to the guards. ‘Who is it? What is it?’ Oddly for Wolverine he takes them down in one blow each and makes an apology for it. Heather understands why he did it, as he didn’t want the guards recognizing her. Logan tells Heather that they need to get out of here as the place will be crawling with guards.

Heather tells Logan that they are not leaving without Wildchild and asks Logan if he can pick up Kyle’s scent. Logan admits that he doesn’t know, and adds that lately it is like he has been walking around with a stuffed-up head. However he picks up something faint, and leads Heather to a cell. Vindicator uses a low-level plasma pulse to light things up, but what they see before them is an empty cell. Heather says it is no wonder his scent was so faint as he is not here, and asks Wolverine what they are to do next.

Box radios to Roxxon to inform them of their arrival, but on the ground, things are out of control, people are running from the complex. Lil asks Jeffries what is happening, and Madison replies that he isn’t sure, but that electromagnetic readings are off the scale. Suddenly, there is a large quake, and people are thrown about all over the place.

From in the Box jet still, Forge asks Madison what happened, and from what Jeffries can understand, it is as if the whole place just vomited. Forge requests a hook-up access and they are going in. ‘I was afraid he was gonna say that,’ mutters Lil, as Windshear complains that he is not paid enough for this. They dive down into the large hole in the ground.

Looking around the destruction in the complex, Forge tells the others that if they have a weak stomach then it is best not to look. He compares the destruction before him to what he went through in Vietnam, sights and sounds that scar a person forever. He tells everyone that whoever they are up against is a murdering butcher. Box patches up to the facilities monitor systems, and Windshear checks them, exclaiming that it is a miracle they are still working.

Something appears on the monitor, Forge asks him to magnify and clarify it. Windshear’s accent gets thicker as he wonders what is going on, when suddenly the mysterious assailant clears the static on the screen up himself. Forge tells Hume to calm down and asks if what he is saying is that the mystery man is letting them see him.

Box asks Forge to wait, before seeing the man responsible for their current problems in full view. Jeffries calls to Lil, and there is silence. Windshear asks what is going on and why no one will talk to them. Forge asks Jeffries what it is, and the shocked Diamond Lil exclaims ‘It can’t be! He can’t be alive!’ Forge asks who the man is, and Jeffries reveals that it is a man who died over two years ago. The man everyone is looking at is Guardian…James MacDonald Hudson!

Characters Involved: 

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

Aurora, Guardian, Puck, Wolverine (Former Members of Alpha Flight)

Diamond Lil

Persuasion (Former Member of Beta Flight)

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


Banshee, Tom Corsi, Forge, Sharon Friedlander, Moira MacTaggert, Amanda Sefton (all Muir Island X-Men)

Dr. Valerie Cooper

Samuel Higgins, Roxxon Oil Facility Coordinator


Agents of the Master

Story Notes: 

Alpha Flight’s new line-up is set in Alpha Flight (1st series) #90 and confirmed in Alpha Flight (1st series) #95.

This issue is narrated by Vindicator II and Samuel Higgins.

Heather believes Wolverine to be dead after the “Fall of the Mutants”.

Wildchild (along with Diamond Lil) was released from prison behind the scenes prior to Alpha Flight (1st series) #71, as the Sorcerer was influencing the government to create a new super team, Gamma Flight.

Aurora dons a new (her fifth) costume this issue.

It is indeed possible that Sasquatch has tackled Larry Csonka, who was a member of the football team the Miami Dolphins in the 1970’s, around the same time when Sasquatch was at college and playing professional football.

Heather’s comment about not asking for the job as leader of Alpha Flight and not wanting it is similar to her deceased husband, James MacDonald Hudson a.k.a. Guardian. Mac originally intended Wolverine to lead, but Logan joined up with the X-Men instead [Alpha Flight Special, Giant Sized X-Men #1]. Guardian was forced to lead Alpha Flight until his death [Alpha Flight (1st series) #12]. Heather assumed the role of non-costumed leader in Alpha Flight (1st series) #18, (though technically one could argue that she led from the beginning, being the back bone, supporting Mac in convincing him to steal back his designs and getting the disbanded Alpha Flight back together). Heather became Vindicator II in Alpha Flight (1st series) #32. Shaman and Sasquatch have both proven themselves as leaders, and Talisman is a capable but unwilling leader as seen during the Sorcerer Affair. Heather is, arguably, the best Alpha Flight leader, and has at times been compared to Captain America. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #39 / Avengers (1st series) #272]

Alpha Flight’s first encounter with the Master of the World took place in Alpha Flight (1st series) #2-4, which is where they encountered his original living ship.

The Master was believed to have been killed in a final encounter with Marrina, Puck and the Sub-Mariner in Alpha Flight (1st series) #16. However, he was resurrected by the Sorcerer in Alpha Flight (1st series) #78.

Sharon Friedlander is incorrectly called and addressed as Mary Friedlander this issue.

The Muir Island X-Men are of course not acting like their usual reasonable selves because they are caught up in the grip of the Shadow King! Their appearance here takes place after the events of Uncanny X-Men #253-255, and before Uncanny X-Men #269, when Forge and Banshee leave the island to go looking for the X-Men.
Wolverine’s hints about his health were part of a subplot in Uncanny X-Men at the time when he kept on overtaxing his healing-factor.
As previously mentioned, Guardian died in Alpha Flight (1st series) #12.

Issue Information: 
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