Alpha Flight (1st series) #9

Issue Date: 
April 1984
Story Title: 
<BR>Things aren’t always what they seem (1st story)<BR>A stranger in my mirror (2nd story)

John Byrne (writer, penciler), Michael Higgins (letterer), Andy Yanchus (colorist), Denny O’Neil (editor), Jim Shooter (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

First story : Walter Langkowski has been sent to a cosmic ray research station by the Ministry of Defense to help a team of scientists uncover some strange goings-on. After witnessing some strange energy readings the scientists are witness to a figure materializing in the ray adaptor dish outside the station – it’s the Thing of the Fantastic Four. As the unconscious figure is very heavy, Walt has no other choice but to reveal his Sasquatch identity to the crew, and carries him inside the station where a doctor examines him. However, before he can report his strange findings, the doctor is mysteriously killed, and his patient missing. Evaluating what may have happened, Walt sets out on his own to find whom killed the doctor, and stole the unconscious Thing. Various clues points to an individual with several different super-powers, and upon finding a set of foot-prints, Walt goes out into the snow to track the villain. Walt makes some startling discoveries, but as he rushes back to the station finds he is too late, as the station explodes. Walt breaks an arm due to a fall sustained in the blast, but he fares far better than the scientists. Only one of them survived, though she is wounded beyond help. Walt comforts her before she dies, and then calls out to the mystery opponent whose identity he has figured out by now. Indeed his guess is correct, it’s the Super-Skrull who answers to Walt’s challenge.

Second story : Felling alone and unwanted in this world, thirteen year old Jeanne-Marie Beaubier tries to commit suicide and jumps of the nunnery’s roof only to discover that she can fly. Joyfully telling Sister Anne of the miracle she witnessed, Jeanne-Marie is severely punished for blasphemy. The girl’s fragile psyche cracks, and a second personality emerges, one that wants to break free from the restricting surroundings. After being away from the school for three days, a confused Jeanne-Marie returns only to endure more punishment. Five years later, the nun congratulates on her progress ever since “the incident“ and accepts Jeanne-Marie’s application to join the teaching staff. Given her own room, Jeanne-Marie thinks that she has finally all she ever dreamed of, when again her other personality makes itself heard, seeking freedom. Within the hour, Jeanne-Marie is dancing in the hottest nightclub in Montreal. Later that night she is attacked by two muggers, but holds her own against them, punching one of them at super-speed. Wolverine comes to lend her a hand, and has a very interesting proposition for her.

Full Summary: 

First story :

Near the peak of Canada’s tallest mountain, an isolated research station, Mt. Logan Cosmic Ray, stands alone, huddling into the mountain to shelter itself against the encroaching winter. And, as the poet Robert Service once said “The Northern lights have seen queer sights…” But tonight perhaps they shall see the queerest of all…

Inside the main cabin of the research station, Dr. Walter Langkowski, a.k.a. Alpha Flight’s Sasquatch, thanks his assistant, Kortgaard, who has just been outside running additional leads for more power, and rigged another adapter. Walter says that with any luck, they should now be able to get an answer. A gruff looking man leaning against the wall spits out “I doubt it“. Walt barely suppresses his sigh of annoyance and turns to the older man telling him that he knows he doesn’t want him to be here, any more than he does. But he tells McMurdo that the constant jabs are not doing anything except slowing them all down. Walt continues, saying that everyone is tired and on edge, and that if he and McMurdo could just bury their personal hatchets, things would go a lot smoother. Colonel McMurdo points a finger at Langkowski, and rudely tells him that while he may be Canada’s greatest radiation expert, around here he is nothing more than another warm body until he proves his worth.

Interrupting the squabbling men, Megan Masterton, sitting at a console tells the men that it is about time for their intruder to show again. The rude McMurdo curses the poor girl, and once again tells her not to call the signal an intruder. However as a jagged line scratches suddenly across the console screen, Walter smiles, and says “I don’t know what else you would call it Colonel“. Standing behind Meg, Walt looks at the screen and says that it is the darnedest thing he has ever seen, as it cuts across the radiation spectrum, and on top of all that it looks like a biological rhythm – almost like a brainwave pattern. Meg asks if she should try for an increased resolution, to which Walt applauds her good idea, and Meg boosts the reception. McMurdo tells them that it is a waste of time and effort, as it is a normal 21-centimeter signal, with background noise. Walt says that it could be, but he is more inclined to think not – just like the Ministry of Defense right? After all, if they were not concerned about it, he wouldn’t be here. Walt asks Kortgaard if he is ready, to which the reply is that the adapter dish is aligned. Discreetly crossing his fingers for luck, Walt tells someone to “fire at will“.

Outside, the hastily modified dish is quiet for a moment, until…it sparks up suddenly with a flash of light. Kortgaard is s amazed, and tells his companions that they have caught something in the dish, but cannot make it out through all of the radiation present. As the being falls from the dish to the ground, someone shouts out “Holy cow, that’s the Thing!“ All of the crew rushes out into the freezing night air. Greene asks where he came from, but the silent Thing offers no response, and lies smoldering in the snow. Greene tries to lift up the Thing, but does not get far. Green asks Walt how they are going to move him. Unbeknownst to Greene, Walt’s mind is already thinking the same thing. Walt thinks that he could carry the Thing out easily, but not without blowing his secret identity.

Walt decides, and tells Greene that he will handle it. Hands on his hips, McMurdo asks Walt just what he thinks he can do. As he takes off his glasses, Walt tells the McMurdo and the others that he will be able to do something he picked up on his travels. Crouching beside the Thing, a shudder ripples through Langkowski, as if all his muscles tremble simultaneously. Walt’s form begins to swell, his clothing tighten and suddenly burst into threads, as orange fur begins to bloom over Walter Langkowski’s body. Where once stood Walter Langkowski, now stands Sasquatch! Alpha Flight’s resident scientist lifts the Thing up off the ground, to the amazement of the onlookers.

Not far away, the station doctor is enjoying a moment’s peace in his office – until one of the office walls is ripped from the building. Sasquatch excuses himself for the unorthodox entrance, but he is a little too big for conventional doors at the present. Laying the Thing on one of the tables, Sasquatch tells the doctor that he needs his attention. Minutes later, after the doctor has been bought up to speed on what is going on, the doctor tells everyone that the Thing is alive, but barely as his respiration is very shallow, and can only just hear his heartbeat. The doctor turns to Sasquatch who is sitting on the floor, and asks him, because he is probably more familiar with what Things’ normal condition is. Sasquatch tells the doctor that he isn’t necessarily, and his guess is that the Thing may have been “beaming down” from another planet when they plucked him out of the ether.

McMurdo turns to Sasquatch and asks him how he would know. Telling the Colonel that it is not any of his business, but that he had recently returned from a special consultation in New York with the Fantastic Four. And thinking to himself, Walt says that he was an unhappy witness to a tragedy of which the world at large has not yet learned. The doctor begins pushing Sasquatch and McMurdo out of his office, asking them to take their conversation elsewhere, as he would like to have a more thorough look at his patient, in private. McMurdo asks the doctor to be kept posted, as does Walt.

About an hour later Doctor Duncan sits at his microscope, after finally getting a small blood sample from the Thing when he forced a very strong needle through one of the Things gaps in his exodermic plates. The doctor thinks that he is not exactly sure what he will find, but a blood sample is usually a good start. Doctor Duncan notices something not right in the blood sample, and as he decides to call Walt he is grabbed from behind, and pulled to the floor. The last thing Doctor Duncan will ever see, is a large rocky orange hand hanging motionless above his eyes.

Meanwhile, Walt and Meg are sitting at a table somewhere, and are drinking coffee. Walt tells Megan that transforming from human to Sasquatch can, like any physical activity, be exhausting if he attempts to make too many changes in a short period of time. Megan is amazed at how everything enlarges proportionately – heart, lungs…Megan is about to ask about something else, when Kortgaard steps into the room, in a panic. He tells Walt to come quickly, as something is happening in the infirmary. The three race through the infirmary, thundering like buffalo in a stampede. Reaching the infirmary, Walt does not need his shaggy alter ego to deal with the flimsy plywood door, and he easily breaks through it, as for the former All-Pro linebacker, such barrier is no obstacle at all. Megan puts her hand over her mouth in shock, and Walt stands in front to protect her. He tells Megan that if it is Doctor Duncan, then he has been burnt to a crisp. Meg asks who - or what - could have done such a thing. With the Thing no longer on the bench, Walt guesses whoever came to collect him did it – and whoever that was, has left a subtle clue.

McMurdo enters the room, and asks Walt what is going on. Walt tells the older man that murder and kidnapping – though looks can be deceiving, as they all know. Standing at the broken wall, Walt suggests something went out through it. McMurdo tells Langkowski not to be ridiculous, as the wall was smashed inwards from the outside, same with the perimeter fence was bent in towards them. Pointing out to the snowy ground Walt tells McMurdo that he is overlooking one very important fact – namely the only set of tracks – which lead away from the station. Walt suggests that whoever made the hole in the wall flew in, but was unable to fly away carrying the Thing – but that leaves the question of the open window. Walt says that while Doctor Duncan might have liked his fresh air, it is nearly forty below zero outside. Walt tells his companions that they are looking for an attacker who possess super human powers, and guessing that he – or she was alone in the room all along, which suggests an invisibility power, someone devious enough to set false clues too…

Walter decides to follow the tracks, and after climbing a distance up the rocky cliffside over looking the research station, he notices that the “mystery guest” is not very steady on his feet – but is that because he is carrying the Thing, or because he was groggy to begin with? Assuming the latter, Walt decides that whoever it was must have been very cunning to be on the ball fast enough to set those clues. Walking, not climbing now, Walt thinks that he may have everything wrong, the open window is not “iron clad” evidence, as he is only assuming that whoever it was reached out to smash the wall in, but now that he thinks about it, Walt decides that whoever it was would have to be able to stretch that far in the first place to do that from the window. Walt thinks he is on to something – stretching, burning, super strength, and maybe invisibility…so far it sounds like he is following the whole Fantastic Four, walking in one set of boots. Walt comes to a puddle of melted ice. It is fresh, recently melted and suddenly by the look of it, as if something combusted almost instantaneously right here.

Walt realizes what has happened, and his thoughts are cut short as he races down the mountain slope, thinking what a fool he had been, after all, only one creature possess all the powers of the Fantastic Four – Walt’s words are cut short when he is blown back across the snow by an enormous explosion. Even though he was blown back quite a distance, Walt makes up the distance in a less than satisfactory fashion – by rolling back down the mountain. Dazed, battered and bruised, Walter comes to a jarring halt, a few yards short of a fire engulfing the research station. The Alphan walks slowly towards the flames, thinking that his arm might be broken, and he does not dare change to Sasquatch unless he is sure, after all, there is no telling what damage he may do to himself if a broken bone is altered in mass and shape. Walt wonders what could have happened – did the intruder circle back?

Walt hears a moan, and calls out to Megan. She lies beneath a mound of rubble, but manages to call over to Walt. She tells him it is so dark, that she cannot see where she is. At this comment, Walt thinks she must have been blinded by the blast. Even with a broken arm, Walt still proves to be the hero as he tells her he is coming, and asks her not to move around to much. She tells him that she is afraid. Walt reaches her, and rests her against his body. He asks Meg, who is burned and disfigured, what happened. Poor Meg tells him the last thing she remembers is a brilliant flash of light outside, like a super nova. She tells Walt it was so horrible, and everything seemed to catch on fire at once. McMurdo went up like a bonfire, then Kortgaard and Greene…Meg tells Walt she feels strange. Walt tells her to take it easy, that he will get her to a doctor, but Megan Masterton goes silent and her head flops back before he gets a chance to finish the sentence.

Walt tenderly lets Megan’s body slip from his grasp, and the fire that burn now in his eyes is anything but tender. Walter calls out to the monster, asking it if it can hear him. He tells the monster that he knows it is still there, otherwise he would have seen it fly away. He threatens the creature to come out before he comes after it. A figure begins to emerge from the flames, telling Walt he speaks bold words, but that his thoughts were confirmed as he tells Walt he judged him right as the only warrior amongst the group…the only one worthy enough to see the creature’s true form before he dies…

As Walt and the creature hidden in the shadows of flame walk closer to each other, Walt realizes he was right – that the Thing was never there, and it was him all along. The alien tells Walt that he was disorientated by his return to Earth, and needed to take a form that would protect him. The alien tells Walter Langkowski to “hold his tongue”, for he is about to receive a “great honor”…and as the shadowy figure walks into the light tells Walt his great honor – death at the hands of the Super Skrull ! And as the Super Skrull begins to use the Fantastic Four’s powers, Walter’s fear is diluted by his rage, as even he, as Sasquatch, may not be able to prevail against the one who possess all the powers of the Fantastic Four!

Second story :

(ca. 7-8 years ago)

In a cold night, thirteen year old Jeanne-Marie Beaubier stands on the edge of the roof of Madame DuPont’s School for girls. Standing with the moon shinning down on her from the background, Jeanne-Marie looks very much at peace. She found this special place almost by accident, many years prior to this night. As a very young girl she was sent into the dark and dusty attic to find some ancient and forgotten textbook, and she had become lost in the maze of cobwebs and clutter. Following only her instincts, and a faint glimmer of light, she had come into this wondrous new world. The world outside.

Jeanne-Marie did not tell the Sisters or her fellow students of her discovery. Jeanne-Marie was nervous, introverted and terribly shy, and she welcomed the escape that the high secret place atop the roof offered. Tonight though, Jeanne-Marie Beaubier seeks a different kind of escape…
“Forgive me Heavenly Father. Forgive your poor daughter this greatest sin“, Jeanne-Marie says her prayer, and the girl steps off the edge of the building. She had desired this day to end a life of mounting miseries. What happens next however, she can only call a miracle!

Jeanne-Marie does not plummet to her death, but as she nears the ground, her arms suddenly outstretch, and she flies across the school yard, at a speed which is almost as astonishing as the actual flight itself. In mere seconds, she is more than a mile above the lights of the sleeping city, LaVelle, Quebec, and joy explodes in her heart.

It is difficult to maintain that joy however, and six hours later Jeanne-Marie waits on the hard bench outside the office of the school’s headmistress. But the wonder of her discovery still sings through her veins, banishing all previous despair. That is, until she enters the headmistress’ office. When telling her amazing story to the sour, disbelieving Sister Anne, Jeanne-Marie makes a mistake. Grasping for words beyond her experience, Jeanne-Marie tells her story as if it were one of divine intervention. Sister Anne hears not wonder, but blasphemy, and a story to be most severely punished by.

Jeanne-Marie’s punishment does not end with physical punishment, as in the chapel, many hours later, the kind-hearted Father Tyrel may have sent poor Jeanne-Marie to the evening meal, had Sister Anne not forbidden it. That night, Jeanne-Marie, aching, tired and hungry, chokes back bitter tears, and contemplates the meals still to be missed, the classes somehow to be made up, all which will be lost while she sits on her knees and prays in the chapel. For a thousand tears take a long time to say. Madame DuPont’s school for girls is one of the last of its kind in Canada, perhaps the entire world. It staunchly clings to the harsh, cruel ways of another century entirely.
That the school may one-day find it’s way into the twentieth century is of little solace to Jeanne-Marie though.

Entering the communal bathroom, Jeanne-Marie’s brain still burns with fires that may never be quenched, for hers is a frail and tender psyche, ill suited to this environment. She looks away from the mirror, and asks her mother and father of how they could die and leave her in this awful place – she was just a baby! Poor Jeanne-Marie of course can get no response, and wonders what she may have done that would let her be punished like this. “You did nothing Jeanne-Marie“. With those words spoken, Jeanne-Marie becomes startled. She looks up to the mirror, wondering who said those words – and sees her reflection, smiling back at her. No longer is the reflection a confused child in despair, but a beautiful, confident person. The voice speaks again, telling Jeanne-Marie that she is her friend, and brings her a very special gift…freedom!

(three days later)

A tired looking Jeanne-Marie stumbles into the school yard. She does not go unnoticed however, as a group of girls sees her. One of the girls says she must be crazy to come back, as Sister Anne will kill her. Another cruelly says that she probably had to come back as no one else would take her. As Jeanne-Marie tries to pass the group, one of the girls tells Jeanne-Marie that Sister Anne is ‘just about having kittens!’. Another asks Jeanne-Marie if she is wearing make-up. Jeanne-Marie, confused, tells the girl she does not know, and breaks through the crowd, running away asking to be left alone.

Poor Jeanne-Marie is not left alone, by her peers, or her superiors. Sister Anne stands stoutly before Jeanne-Marie and tells her that she did not want her in this school from the beginning, as she has the look of the Devil about her. The nasty Sister tells Jeanne-Marie, who has her eyes looking to the floor, that this is inexcusable, and asks Jeanne-Marie what she has to say for herself. Jeanne-Marie tells Sister Anne that she has nothing to say, except that she is terribly sorry. “That is all you ever say“ is Sister Anne’s response, and pulling out a cane, tells Jeanne-Marie she has an imp inside of her, and now she is going it drive it out of her! Jeanne-Marie stares at the cane, frightened and pleads...

During the months and years that follows, things become dull again around Madame DuPont’s school for girls, and Jeanne-Marie never seeks out her secret place. When she looks in mirrors, she guards herself, intent on only seeing her plain face reflected back at her in the glass. Until one day…

(ca 2-3 years ago)

Dressed very prim and proper albeit plain, wearing glasses and her long hair tied up in a bun, Jeanne-Marie, looking about thirty-six, not eighteen, stands before Sister Anne. Still as awful as ever, Sister Anne tells Jeanne-Marie that she asked her to meet here with her because she wanted to tell her how pleased she was with her progress. After all, it has been five years since…the incident, and in that time, Sister Anne says, Jeanne-Marie has grown very much in mind and spirit. For those reasons, Sister Anne says, is why she has accepted Jeanne-Marie’s application to join the teaching staff. Jeanne-Marie thanks the Sister. After climbing the rickety stairs to the top of the school, Sister Anne brings Jeanne-Marie into a room. She tells the younger woman that the room was used by Father Tyrel, and that he died in that very bed. Sister Anne tells Jeanne-Marie she has made arrangements for her to use it, once she is on staff, though the lock on the door, of course, will be removed.

Minutes later, Jeanne-Marie is alone, and taking off her glasses she sits on the bed. She thinks that this is almost too good to be true, that all the hardship was worth it - that she now has everything she ever dreamt of. “Have you?“ a voice asks. The voice continues, telling Jeanne-Marie that she has a cold little room, in a cold little school. The voice asks if that is enough for her – for one who flew? “Enough for one who could have everything?“ Jeanne-Marie turns to the mirror – and her reflection grins back at her. Jeanne-Marie screams ‘No!’ and throws a book at the mirror, shattering the reflection, and the glass. She lies down on the bed, pleading with the unknown to be left alone.

But Jeanne-Marie’s pleading is a pitiful, crumbling resistance, and within the hour, Jeanne-Marie looks remarkably changed, and is actually smiling. Dressed very trendy, she is now at a fashionable nightspot in Montreal. She is the ‘new face’ on the scene and Jeanne-Marie finds herself learning the social rituals of modern man…a handsome man had just told Jeanne-Marie his star sign, Cancer, and Jeanne-Marie replies “So you are a cancer? But, Cheri, that must be so painful for you…“.

As the evening wears on, Jeanne-Marie’s walk outside leads her to less desirable areas of the city. Passing an alleyway, two men watch the innocent Jeanne-Marie. One of the men tells the other that she is not carrying a purse. The other replies that they should grab her anyway, as it will be fun…searching her. Aurora thinks how exciting her adventure into the city at night is, so exciting in fact that she gets a sense of imminent danger just walking down the street. As if on cue, a startled Jeanne-Marie is grabbed into the alleyway, the men telling her that they are not going to hurt her…much. One of the men tells Jeanne-Marie that if she plays nice, they can all have fun. More intelligent than she appears, Jeanne-Marie tells the man that she is not interested in his kind of “fun”. Jeanne-Marie does not even move, and her assailant is knocked off his feet, with a cry to go with his fall.

Not far away, a mysterious man stands on the sidewalk smoking a cigarette. He thinks he felt something odd about the “frail” he passed a couple of blocks away, and bets that the man on the ground did not even see the punch coming. The man thinks Jeanne-Marie’s bag of tricks is empty as she has let her guard down now. The second assailant approaches Jeanne-Marie, calling her “chickie” he tells Jeanne-Marie that he doesn’t know what she did, but tells her that it is going to get very bad for her now, and pulls out a knife, pointing it at her. The man from around the block grabs the assailant by the shoulder, and asks him if his mother ever told him that it is rude to point? The mysterious man pins the assailant up against the wall, and after a “Snikt” is heard, says “Especially when there’s some folk in the world who might just point back“, and edges his claw towards the mans nose.

Clearly frightened, the crook pleads “No contest“, and Jeanne-Marie’s rescuer asks the astonished girl how she is. Jeanne-Marie tells her savior that she is fine, and asks who he is. Taking his cowboy hat off, he reveals pointy dark hair. He smiles a reassuring smile, and tells Jeanne-Marie that his real name is nobody’s business, and that most people these days call him…Wolverine! Half an hour later, after the would-be muggers have been turned over to the police. Sitting in a café, Wolverine tells Jeanne-Marie that he thinks his friend Jimmy Hudson would be interested in her, and asks the intrigued young woman if she is up for a quick trip to Ottawa. Deep within her, a small voice cries out “no!”, but it goes unheard, and smiling, Jeanne-Marie tells Wolverine that she is “Up” for anything!

Characters Involved: 

First story :

Sasquatch (Alpha Flight)

Colonel McMurdo


Megan Masterton

Doctor Duncan


Super Skrull

Second story, set in the past :

Jeanne-Marie Beaubier


Sister Anne

Father Tyrel

school girls at the nunnery


two muggers

a waitress

Story Notes: 

First story :

The tragedy that Sasquatch thinks about refers to his recent visit to New York City. He was asked for help by Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, because his wife, aka the Invisible Woman, was having troubles with her second pregnancy due to radiation poisoning. Despite his and other scientists‘ best efforts, she miscarried and lost the child. [Fantastic Four (1st series) #266-268]

During this visit Sasquatch also learned that the Thing had stayed on the Beyonder’s planet following the events of the Secret Wars, hence his assumption that the Thing “beamed down“.

The Super Skrull, of the alien race the Skrulls, is one of the Fantastic Four’s earliest and most constant enemies. He was artificially given the same abilities as the quartett, plus the power of hypnosis as an added bonus.

The Super-Skrull’s atoms were scattered during his battle with the Human Torch, Spiderman and Ms. Marvel. It occurred in Marvel Team-Up #61-62.

Second story :

Northstar and Aurora were separated when their parents died shortly after their birth. Their closest relatives, the Martins, could not afford to adopt more than one of the children, which is why Jeanne-Marie was sent to the government subsidized school of the nuns. Jeanne-Marie spent her entire life at the school. It was only upon their introduction to Department H that she learned of her brother’s existence.

James Hudson was not aware of Aurora’s split personality when he inducted her into Gamma Flight. [mentioned in Alpha Flight (1st series) #3]

Wolverine trained Aurora in hand-to-hand physical combat.

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