Alpha Flight (1st series) #97

Issue Date: 
June 1991
Story Title: 
The Final Option, part 1: Decisions of Faith

Fabian Nicieza (Writer), Michael Bair (Penciler), Chris Ivy (Inker) Jackson Guice (Cover Artist), Bob Sharen (Colorist), Janice Chiang (Letterer), Eric Fein & Chris Cooper (Assistant Editors), Danny Fingeroth & Bobbie Chase (Editors), Tom DeFalco (Editor-in-Chief)

Brief Description: 

Heather and Mac are shown around the new Department H in Ottawa, with General Clarke and Kerry Patrick pointing out the technological advancements in Alpha Flight’s new headquarters, including a computer that is linked to others and can inform Alpha Flight and other super groups around the world of events that they may need to involve themselves in. Heather and Mac inform their liaisons that they have a new approach to use their abilities to help the people of the world no matter what the cost. Shaman, Box and Whitman Knapp try out some unconventional methods to pierce Diamond Lil’s skin so they can do a biopsy, but with no success. Laura Dean awakes from her coma, and after Shaman examines her, he informs her parents and best friend Persuasion that Laura is conscious but not aware of her surroundings, but that there is still hope for recovery. In space, the woman known as Her or J’Ridia Starduster is pursued by aliens known as the Consortium after she disrupted some of their financial plans by helping the people of a small planet return their world to a non-industrial society. J’Ridia evades the Consortium by making way to her birth planet, Earth. Injured, she mistakes Toronto for New York, where she intended to land and seek aid from the Fantastic Four, her allies. She causes some devastation when she crashes in Toronto, and Heather, Mac, Box and Northstar arrive to investigate. The Consortium find her, and Alpha Flight engage in battle, believing they have a duty to protect both Her and the people of Toronto. Some damage is caused in the battle and Alpha Flight appear to be in the lead - until the enormous home ship arrives to turn the tide, warning that J’Ridia must surrender or face death. Vindicator wonders if they have made a mistake in pledging to help the woman they do not know. Meanwhile, the Herald of Galactus, Frankie Raye arrives at the planet Quwrll - home of the Qwrlln!

Full Summary: 

Department H status report - entry update; Heather Hudson, Guardian, recording. We’re ready. Finally. And a simple mission it is, really…Alpha Flight, the Canadian government’s super human task force, is prepared to protect the people of this land from any hostile actions. No matter what the cost. And after years of preparations, we’re finally ready to do it right…and we finally have a real home we can operate from. Department H: Alpha Flight Headquarters. I’m taking a walk-through tour with my husband a.k.a. Vindicator, government liaison Kerry Patrick and military liaison General Jeremy Clarke.

‘Looks pretty good, doesn’t it?’ remarks General Clarke, exclaiming that it is a fine piece of work if he does say so himself, and telling Heather and James “Mac” Hudson that they have to justify all the money that has been put into this new facility. Mac reminds General Clarke that he has worked towards this moment for over ten years, and that they are prepared to fulfil the needs of their position. Heather tells the General that it is a two-way street and remarks that the government has to justify Alpha Flight’s faith in them as well.

‘I’m sure,’ mumbles Clarke as the quartet walk through the lobby of the new Toronto HQ. Clarke jibes Heather and Mac by suggesting that they are happy and united in their cause, to which Mac declares that they are just satisfied that their dreams are coming together. Clarke informs them that for all the stride they have made in recent months they are still operating on a probationary basis.

Kerry Patrick speaks up and tells Heather and Mac that as usual the General speaks for himself and not the Canadian government. Clarke replies by telling Kerry not to be a bureaucratic butt-head, but before the argument can heat up any further, Vindicator asks if they can finally take a tour of the place.

Entering the communications room, Heather exclaims that it looks rather impressive, and Mac informs her that it contains a satellite network which links them to police bands across the world, as well as the United Nations security council system, and in turn, it routes through their shared super human Datanet across the world. Clarke boasts that it is one of the best international comm-systems in the world, and explains that if the incoming call is entered as requiring super human assistance, the computer isolates the call by location and priority alert, then the U.N. Datalink in turn contacts us, the Avengers, Excalibur or the People’s Protectorate. He remarks that it is not bad, and not even finished yet.

‘Speaking of which…’ begins Heather, before reminding Clarke that their official opening to the press and public is in two days, she asks him how much of the HQ still has to be completed. Clarke replies that the press conference room is ready to roll, while the mechanics pool, including the Research and Development Wing still need some touching up, and the computer science section still has some processing and downloading to finalize.

Heather points out that the living quarters and administrative sections are all completed, and informs Clarke and Patrick that most of Alpha Flight and the others have moved in already - although Walter keeps complaining about having to live in Toronto. Kerry remarks that Walter will get to enjoy it, before declaring that all in all they are doing well. He thinks that the building is a marvel - fifty stories up and thirty five underground, and asks Mac if it feels good to see all this.

Vindicator replies that it does - and that it is a lot of work for such a simple goal, a simple dream. Heather exclaims that it is a dream they are seeing come true. ‘The dream you started and I continued’. She tells Mac that they can build it together now, the chance to help those who need it, to do what is right for the people of this country and the world. ‘Yes, a statement so naive in its simplicity,’ replies Mac, ‘But worthwhile nonetheless,’ adds Heather.

Vindicator states that they combine the study of superhuman science with the deterrence of those who would use violence as their means, something he believes is quite worthwhile. Heather declares that they will do this to the best of their abilities, to help make the world a better place - no matter what the sacrifice. ‘No matter what, eh, Hudson?’ asks General Clarke suspiciously. Kerry tells the General that there is nothing wrong with that sentiment, and Mac declares that personal sacrifice is the ultimate test of peoples convictions in life. ‘No matter what the cost,’ remarks Heather again.

Meanwhile…in space, which can be called the Final Frontier for more than one reason. In this part of space, a orange-skinned, golden-haired woman wearing nothing but a red bathing suit soars through the cosmos, thinking that she is severely drained of her cosmic energies, she wonders how much longer she can avoid a final confrontation. She sees that they are still behind her, and is suddenly struck by a weapon. She screams, realizing it was another energy-leeching dissipater torpedo. She sees more being launched before her, and knows that she cannot fight back.

The mysterious woman decides that she has drawn her attackers far enough away from U’sr’pria , and flies away in another direction. A spaceship locks the woman as a target, while she thinks to herself that despite weakening, it is not yet time for her to cease existing. As she must summon her last vestiges of strength to avoid this final party.

Inside one of the spaceships, a strange alien remarks that the golden one has given them a good chase, recalling that she has cost the consortium much financial hardship, before boasting that her time is now done. ‘Goodbye, J’Ridia, may your soul rot for all eternity’. He gives the weapons officer orders to fire, when suddenly they have lost her - she no longer appears on the screen. The commander is furious, and his computer informs him that she shunted into hyperspace, before it tracks her to Sol III, her home world. The computer contacts the consortium before initiating pursuit.

Back at Department H, in one of the medi-labs, Lillian “Diamond Lil” Crawley lies on a examination table, as Madison “Box” Jeffries, and Doctors Michael Twoyoungmen and Whitman Knapp stand nearby. Whitman Knapp, once a member of Beta Flight who went by the codename “Manikin” remarks that this is one of the most frustrating things he has ever encountered. Michael Twoyoungmen a.k.a. Shaman replies that he understands, and tells Whit that they have to keep trying. Madison Jeffries declares that they have to, that something has got to cut through Lil’s skin sooner or later.

Shaman points out that they do not have time for “laters” as they have to discover whether the cyst in Diamond Lil’s breast is cancerous or not. However, her very power, her invulnerable diamond-hard skin, has proven too resilient to the most sophisticated surgical techniques. Whit offers the suggestion that they try more unconventional methods. ‘That’s why I’ve been lying here for two hours, you twerp!’ snaps Lil, before asking Twoyoungmen to get this over with.

As Jeffries uses his mutant power to line up a high-tech laser with a powerful intensity, he tells Lillian to be patient, adding that it is his mutant power to manipulate machinery that is going to get the laser to maximum output. With the laser ready, it strikes Lil, however Shaman informs everyone that although Lil can feel it, it does not penetrate his skin. Whitman asks what will work if this laser doesn’t. Shaman replies that he doesn’t know, before telling Madison to cut the power.

Lil realizes that nothing happened, and Shaman confirms this. Knapp suggests an adamantium scalpel, to which Shaman replies it is a possibility, but explains that the time it would take to forge one could be prohibitive. Shaman starts to suggest that they could contact Wolverine, despite him having no surgical expertise. Suddenly, Kara “Persuasion” Kilgrave enters the lab, asking Shaman to hurry and come with her. Shaman asks what it is, and excitable Kara reveals that Laura Dean has woken from her coma.

Back in space, this time, just beyond Earth’s moon. J’Ridia exclaims that she has made the hyper jump to Earth, but knows that she is too weakened to control her fall, and is being pulled in by her home worlds gravitational fields. She has to allow herself to freefall, and try to angle herself so the burn from re-entry doesn’t strike too hard. J’Ridia angles herself so that she is falling towards one of Earth’s major population centers. She thinks that it looks like New York, and hopes she can find assistance from her only Earth acquaintance, Ben Grimm or the Fantastic Four.

However, J’Ridia is coming in too quickly and she is not strong enough to correct her path. With that, there is a mighty boom as J’Ridia crashes into a large building complex.

Interlude: Once again in space. This time, even further away than the sight of Her battle with the Consortium space fleet. The planet is called Quwrll. Several of the Qwrlln are on some form of quest. They are tracking something - or someone - and one of them reports what quadrant he is in. After scanning the sector he reports that it is safe. ‘Monitor organisms request downtime on planet’ ‘Request acknowledged. Main council will take request under advisement’.

One of the Qwrlln announces that monitoring organisms state that they have functioned on atmospheric perimeter for seven hundred cycles without respite. ‘Statement acknowledged’ replies another. ‘Keep scanning’ states another, when suddenly, ‘By the eye of Al’jathra!’ declares one of them, before alerting the main council that contact has been established. They approach their quarry, though its identity is unconfirmed to them.

Hovering nearby, and the cause of the recent commotion, is Frankie Raye a.k.a. the second Nova. ‘Living atmospheric watchdogs, huh? Pretty cool,’ Frankie Raye thinks to herself. Suddenly, fear pours from the eyes of the Qwrlln, as they identify Nova as the emissary of the Planet-Killer. ‘We are doomed…’

Back in Toronto, a police alert reveals that something has hit Eaton Centre. Someone announces that all available units are to report in and that fire and medical are on their way. ‘Someone call Alpha Flight yet?’ ‘It’s being done now’ is the reply.

At Department H, Persuasion returns to her best friend, Laura Dean’s, ward, with Shaman, Jeffries and Whit in tow. After examining Laura, Shaman reveals to everyone, including Darby and Susan Dean, Laura’s parents, that after all these months in a coma, Laura is now conscious but not cognizant of her surroundings. Shaman informs the Deans that this is a very positive sign and reminds them of how serious the injuries Laura sustained at the hand of Wildchild’s were. Darby Dean replies that they know that.

Shaman tells them that there is reason to be cautiously optimistic and is about to say something else when Guardian appears on a monitor, announcing that there is an incoming alert and that Vindicator, Northstar and Box are required ASAP. ‘That’s me!’ exclaims Jeffries, before asking Shaman if Lil and “the kid” are going to be okay. Shaman explains that they will help Laura acclimate to her surroundings slowly, and as for Lillian, they can only keep trying.
Box and Vindicator arrive at the Flight Deck at the same time, and Jeffries exclaims that it is pretty impressive. ‘That it is’ states Mac before motioning to Heather and suggesting that she is waiting, before supposing this is a local call. Guardian informs the two men that one of their short-range Scamper Jets should get them downtown in minutes, before revealing that Northstar is flying solo, and she will brief them on the way.

As the jet takes off, Jeffries mumbles that it isn’t that bad at all, to which Heather remarks that there are some advantages to working with the government instead of against them, before getting to the mission. She explains that an unidentified life form has crashed into Eaton Centre, and while they do not have a positive ID on her yet, she doesn’t seem to be hostile.

The jet lands by Eaton Centre and Heather informs the men that the woman is barely conscious now and that they are waiting for them to arrive before anyone does anything. Noticing the large hole in the roof of Eaton Centre, Jeffries is surprised at the damage she did, and jokes that she hit like a meteor or something, if she is alive, he adds, before hoping that she is not hostile.

Minutes later, the trio have met up with Northstar, and after Jeffries exclaims that this place is a mess, and jokingly asking where he is supposed to do his Christmas shopping, Jean-Paul, slightly lost for words, for a change, informs his teammates that the alien is this way, and that she is a little shocked. Box mutters that he can imagine it, as it must have been murder crash landing into a shopping center.

Guardian hushes her ex-lover as they approach the golden woman who kneels on the floor, broken glass all around her. Heather reveals that she has been informed she speaks English, before introducing herself as Guardian of the Canadian superhuman strikeforce Alpha Fight. Heather asks the woman if she could please tell them who she is and why she is here.

The golden woman looks up at the heroes and exclaims that she has no real name, though that most recently she has been called J’Ridia Starduster. She declares that she was born on this world, and she was simply known as Her. Heather asks Her to slow down, stunned that she was born on Earth. Her replies that she did not stay here long and that she has explored space in search of self-meaning, but when she found it on a small planet ravaged by technological havoc, it was taken from her.

Her explains that she came here seeking help from her only Terran contact - Ben Grimm of the Fantastic Four. Heather informs J’Ridia that they know the Thing, but that she missed New York by a few hundred kilometers. J’Ridia replies that she realizes that now and explains that she mistook their city skyline for that of Manhattan. She reveals that she is injured and needs help. J’Ridia declares that “they” are after her and that they have taken back the planet she sought to help, and yet they are still after her.

Suddenly, the arrival of several space craft all with loud sirens, means, as Vindicator points out, that “they” have already found Her. Someone from one of the spaceships announces to the citizens of “Sol III” that they are harboring the entity known as J’Ridia, and orders them to release her to their custody immediately.

Box mutters that they were straight to the point, before Heather asks J’Ridia who they are why they want her. J’Ridia explains that they call themselves the Consortium and that they are an intergalactic business conglomerate with financial interests on thousands of worlds throughout the Milky Way. Her reveals that by helping the people of a small planet return their world to a non-industrious agricultural society, she disrupted those financial interests.

‘That’s all? This is about money? This is ridiculous…’ declares Heather before taking to the sky, flying towards the space ships she introduces herself to the Consortium as Guardian and explains that she represents the people of Canada, before informing them that she cannot simply turn over J’Ridia without further discussion.

‘Very well. We acknowledge your request,’ the Consortium reply before beginning to fire on Guardian. Heather sets up a protective shield around herself as she tells Alpha Flight to fight back. Box blasts his way up to the sky, muttering that he knew it, ‘Never trust a small fleet of alien ships chasing a beautiful gold woman! Never!’ Vindicator takes to the air also, and informs Guardian that these small craft are susceptible to electromagnetic field disruptions. ‘So I see, Mac,’ Heather replies as she unleashes an EM blast.

Northstar exclaims that the air craft are also susceptible to good old fashioned physical abuse as he smashes away at one. Vindicator tells Jean-Paul that whatever works to nullify the threat can be considered effective. As Box tears apart another ship, he exclaims that it is easy enough to shred their systems to bits, before pointing out that there aren’t that many of them.

Inside one of the Consortium vessels, someone orders them into scramble formations, as Vindicator tells the Alphans they are to try and minimize casualties on both sides. Back inside the spaceships, one of the aliens inform their commander that systems are down and the ship is coming apart. The commander asks where the home office vessel is, to which the reply is that it is on its way, but not soon enough. Heather informs her team that they are causing too much damage to the city, and asks them to try and draw the Consortium away from the downtown area. Box points out that it is not as easy as it sounds, as the Consortium are not concerned with Alpha Flight, only with getting J’Ridia back.

Vindicator backs Heather up and tells Box that they must protect the lives of the civilians below, adding that the situation is rapidly getting out of control. Heather asks if furthermore, the life of a woman they don’t even know is worth this much damage and potential loss of life. A large vessel suddenly crashes into a building on Yonge Street, and Vindicator picks up on frequencies that the police are reporting many casualties.

Heather flies over to Mac and asks him what they are going to do. She reminds him that they said they would protect the lives of innocents no matter what the cost, but points out that they cannot win either way here, as J’Ridia deserves their protection - but so do the people of Toronto. Box warns Jean-Paul to look out as a vessel glides past him, but the super-fast Northstar retorts ‘Box, please…don’t underestimate me…’. The spaceship smashes into a large glass building, and suddenly there is a loud transmission from the Consortium.

‘Representatives of Sol III - you have fought valiantly - the time for hostilities is now over’. Heather looks shocked at what is transpiring before them, and Vindicator reveals that it is operating under a cross-energy wavelength cloaking device. As the enormous vessel comes out of cloaking mode, Mac reminds Heather of what she was saying about protecting the life of an innocent no matter what the cost. The consortium order J’Ridia to surrender now or face immediate obliteration, and Vindicator mutters that he thinks they may have made a mistake.

Characters Involved: 

Box IV, Diamond Lil, Guardian III, Northstar, Vindicator (all Alpha Flight)

Persuasion (Member of Beta Flight)


Dr. Whitman Knapp / Manikin

Laura Dean

General Clarke

Kerry Patrick

Darby & Susan Dean

Her / J’Ridia Starduster

Nova II / Frankie Raye

The Qwrlln

The Consortium

Story Notes: 

The Toronto HQ started being built in Alpha Flight (1st series) #91. It is Alpha Flight’s fourth official headquarters, (after Parliament Hill, Tamarind Island and Maison Alpha). That of course does not include Heather’s home, and Bochs’ lab.

“Her” a.k.a. Kismet a.k.a. J’Ridia Starduster first appeared in Hulk Annual # 6, before appearing in some Marvel 2-in-1 stories, then ending up here. She later goes on to become a supporting character in Quasar‘s solo series.

Dr. Whitman Knapp a.k.a. the mutant Manikin was a former member of Beta Flight II. After Alpha and Beta Flight’s disbanded in Alpha Flight (1st series) #61, the members went their separate ways, and Whit had a near-death experience in Alpha Flight (1st series) #66, in which he swore not to get involved with Alpha again. His reasons for joining Department H are not made clear, though it would be safe to assume it had something to do with money.

The Qwrlln are the mysterious aliens who saved James Hudson’s life following his death in Alpha Flight (1st series) #12.

Laura Dean sustained injuries when she was attacked by Wildchild in Alpha Flight (1st series) #87, and has been in a coma since then.

This storyline is reprinted as the Alpha Flight Special (1st series) #1-4, this being the first issue.

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