Alpha Flight (4th series) #5

Issue Date: 
December 2011
Story Title: 
The Last Refuge

Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente (writers), Dale Eaglesham (penciler), Andrew Hennessy (inker), Sonia Oback (colorist), Simon Bowland (letterer), Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz & Chris Sotomayor (cover artists), Irene Y Lee (production), Jake Thomas (assistant editor), Mark Paniccia (editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer), Louise Stephenson (special thanks)

Brief Description: 

In Toronto, a celebration parade is underway in honor of Prime Minister Gary Cody and the fall of the Asgardian Serpent. Alpha Flight remain terrorists, however, with the government still out to get them. Guardian, Snowbird, Aurora and Puck meet up with the mercenary called the Taskmaster, an old acquaintance of Puck. Guardian explains to the Taskmaster that they need his help to train their army of reporters, scientists and college professors, the Taskmaster wants to be paid. Alpha Flight have that covered, as they hold up the Bank of Canada, where the government’s cash is held. Citadel and several Department H soldiers arrive on scene, ready to intervene, while the entire hold-up is caught on camera. During the hold-up, Aurora is scared, and proves useless in the battle against security guards. Despite orders from the Prime Minister, Citadel engages Puck and Guardian in combat, but he is defeated, meanwhile Snowbird has taken the government’s cash. The Taskmaster has set charges throughout the bank, and with the money in their possession, Alpha Flight escape, and the Taskmaster blows the bank up. Marrina is waiting for her teammates and leads them back to Alpha Flight base camp, where Sasquatch, Shaman and Northstar have been waiting with the resistance. Sasquatch has deduced that the technology Alpha Flight stole from the Am-Can mining camp was Plodex, and they suppose the Master of the World is somehow involved. Marrina gets annoyed and suggests that she could be a sleeper agent, before Northstar’s boyfriend, Kyle Jinadu, appears on a newscast and brands Alpha Flight common criminals, and tells Northstar that he will laugh when the day arrives that he is shot in the head. Northstar says nothing and walks away. Sasquatch, still unable to transform, and tries to talk to Aurora, who speeds away from him. At Department H, Director Jeff Brown shows Prime Minister Gary Cody the increased poll results after Kyle’s speech, but the Master of the World and Vindicator tell the Prime Minister that Guardian is a genius and will have a plan. Suddenly, Aurora appears - actually, Jeanne-Marie is in dominance, and she announces that she wants Aurora burned from her soul and agrees to tell them Alpha Flight’s location. For good measure, the Purple Woman puts Jeanne-Marie under her control. Inside the mind of Aurora / Jeanne-Marie, Aurora is imprisoned, and tries to escape, when Shaman’s astral form appears before her and points out that being in this position is an opportunity, that the risk is on her shoulders, but without it, Alpha Flight, and maybe the country, will be doomed.

Full Summary: 

“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel” - Dr Samuel Johnson.

Downtown Toronto, where flags depicting the image of Canada’s Prime Minister, Gary Cody, are strung up between buildings, and a grateful citizens of Canada are cheering Alpha Strike’s Citadel, who marches down a busy street, flanked by an army of Department H soldiers. Civilians wave at Citadel, while a reporter announces that this is day one of the Unity Party’s “Victory Over Fear” celebrations. Several white birds fly over the parade, while the reporter declares that thanks to Prime Minister Gary Cody, Canada’s true heroes have saved the nation from mystical invaders, and beat back the threat of the domestic terrorists known as Alpha Flight.

One of the white birds flies past several “wanted” posters depicting the heroes of Alpha Fligth, and goes into an alley, where the bird suddenly transforms into the goddess Narya - a.k.a. Alpha Flight’s Snowbird. ‘All clear, Guardian!’ Snowbird tells James “Mac” MacDonald Hudson, who thanks Snowbird, while Aurora a.k.a. Jeanne-Marie Beaubier and Eugene Milton Judd a.k.a. Puck stare out at the celebration. Aurora mutters ‘Everyone loves a parade, oui?’ while Snowbird frowns and declares that it is sickening. ‘I could understand them running to Cody when the Asgardian Fear God was ensorcelling the planet…but now there’s no excuse’. Snowbird begins to add ‘I don’t know why we even -’, but Guardian tells her ‘Enough’ and points out that they have seen that people only need a little inspiration to fight back. ‘That’s why we’re here’ he exclaims.

The heroes approach a door down the alley and Mac announces that it is time to see if Puck’s friend is on time. ‘Oh, don’t worry. He’s always on time…but you’re using “friend” kinda loosely, eh’ Judd declares as he leaps into the air, dodging the sword that is brought down by the Taskmaster! ‘Hiya, Judd’ the Taskmaster calls out as he tries to take down Puck. The diminutive Alphan keeps ahead of the skilled marksman and tells hi that he is losing his edge. ‘The Taskmaster I knew in Rhodesia woulda shaved off some skull with that bushwhack!’ Judd points out. ‘What can I say? We’re all getting older…’ the Taskmaster points out, before smacking Judd in the side with his shield. ‘But you still lead with that move ninety-six percent of the time’ the Taskmaster adds.

‘And about seventy percent of the time - you follow up with this’ the Taskmaster declares as he flips around and kicks Puck in the back. ‘So that’s what it feels like’ Puck smiles, rubbing the back of his neck. ‘Puck, just say the word’ Snowbird tells her companion as she stands ready to take down the Taskmaster, but Puck assures her that he has this one under control. Judd leaps straight up, while the Taskmaster holds his sword ready. ‘Mister “Photographic Reflexes” here may be able to copy my fighting style - but not even he can “learn” to be one meter tall!’ Judd exclaims as he turns his body into a ball and hurls himself at the Taskmaster, knocking him to the ground.

The Taskmaster reaches for his gun, but the holster is empty. ‘Don’t mind if I borrow this, do you?’ Judd asks, holding the weapon. The Taskmaster asks if he could have it back for a second, as there is something he wants to do with it. ‘What? It’s right here. Go ahead. Just reach out…and take it’ Judd tells his associate. The Taskmaster stares back at Judd, ‘Why you half-pint, sawed-off, peewee mini-me son of a -’ he begins, before grinning wickedly, ‘- magnificent bastard!’ the Taskmaster shouts as he sits up and kneels beside Judd, throwing an arm around his shoulders. ‘This guy – I mean, seriously. Am I right? This guy!’ the Taskmaster laughs.

‘Does this mean they’re not going to kill each other?’ Aurora frowns. ‘Apparently. Sorry to disappoint’ Mac whispers back. Taskmaster stands up and reminds Judd that he is not one for skipping down memory lane. ‘“The Hub” says you got a job for me - but your file says you almost always do your own fighting’ the Taskmaster remarks. Guardian steps forward and tells him that it is his experience as a trainer of fighters that they require. Guardian informs the Taskmaster they have a war on their hands, but that Department H has trained soldiers. Mac reveals that their “army” is comprised of a bunch of college professors, scientists, activists and journalists, all freed from an internment camp. ‘We want to turn them into a force to be reckoned with’ Mac explains. The Taskmaster rubs his thumb and index finger together and declares that he wants to get paid, and that the last he heard, Alpha Flight lost their cushy government jobs. ‘Never fear, Tasky. Your old buddy Judd’s got you covered’ Puck assures him.

Shortly, inside the Bank of Canada. ‘Everybody down! This is a stick-up!’ Puck shouts with a commanding voice. Mac, Snowbird and Aurora stand behind him, but when no staff, customers or security guards move, Snowbird begins to shift her form, as she declares ‘Didn’t you hear the man? He said… ROOWWW!’ as she transforms into a large dinosaur. ‘Gaahh!’ a customer cries out. ‘Whoa!’ another exclaims. Mac tells Snowbird and Aurora that this branch of the Central Bank holds all the government’s cash and gold in the greater Toronto area. ‘Grab as much as you can while Judd and I guard the entrance’ Mac tells them, as he uses his electromagnetic blast to fry the gun that is being held by a security guard. Judd forces a man in a suit to the ground and cuffs his hands behind his back. ‘How dare you wear that flag? You might as well be spitting on it every second it touches your skin, you stinking piece of -’ the man begins, but Guardian replies ‘I represent the real Canada’.

Guardian speaks to a security camera which is fixed to the wall in front of him, and announces that the Treasury is the lifeblood of Gary Cody’s Unity regime - bankrolling the stifling of dissent, the imprisonment of the innocent and the broadcast of lies. ‘So Alpha Flight is starving the beast!’ Mac declares. Judd points out a nearby window, ‘Look’ he tells Mac. ‘I see’ Mac replies, as Citadel and a platoon of Department H soldiers stand out the front of the building. ‘They have us surrounded…but they’re not making a move’ Mac remarks, explaining that they want to get as much footage as they can of Alpha Flight acting like crooks. ‘They think they’re giving us plenty of rope to hang ourselves with. Well…we’ll see who hangs who’ Mac exclaims, while beneath his adamantium casing, Citadel narrows his eyes.

At the vault, several security guards rapidly fire their weapons, but the bullets simply bounce off Snowbird’s godly form. Aurora skulks against a nearby wall, and Snowbird tells her to stop cowering, pointing out that she could easily snatch their guns away with her super speed. ‘I - I don’t know - I’ve never - there are so many -’ Aurora utters. ‘You are talking nonsense. What has happened to you?’ Snowbird asks, before her eyes suddenly glow ice-white, and she addresses the security guards: ‘Mortals. Heed the words of the earthly champion of the Inua…the Gods of the North whose sacred lands you have entombed beneath obscenities of concrete and steel‘ Snowbird begins.

‘All your weapons do is annoy me. But if you continue to defy me…I promise you will see my wrath’ Snowbird warns them. The men look concerned, and lower their weapons, they lay on the floor and place their hands over their heads. ‘Good’ Narya declares as she walks past them towards the vault, transforming into the mighty albino Sasquatch, she then rips the large vault door from the wall, telling the guards that they are smarter than they look.

Judd opens the door to the bank and calls out to Citadel: ‘Hey, bullethead! I was locked up with you long enough in Department H to know your politics are to the left of Noam Chomsky’s!’, before asking him what he is doing working for “the man”. ‘You’re nothing but adamantium-plated sell-out!’ Puck exclaims. Citadel begins to walk towards the bank, when a Department H soldier steps forward, ‘Don’t make me yank your leash - Cody said not to move until the TV cameras arrive’ the soldier reminds Citadel, who promptly shoves the soldier to one side, remarking that he doesn’t see Cody here. Citadel speeds towards Puck, breaking his way through the bank wall. Just seconds before Citadel would slam into Puck, the agile Alphan flips upwards and over Citadel. ‘Mac! All yours!’ Judd tells Mac, who fires an electromagnetic blast at his opponent.

‘Getting desperate, traitor? Your electromagnetic light show can’t pierce my exo-skeleton!’ Citadel boasts. ‘True. But I can magnetize it’ Mac replies, and in doing so, the vault door is flung through the bank, and slams into Citadel, knocking him over. An instant later, ‘That was quick’ Judd remarks to Snowbird and Aurora, who enter the main area of the bank. ‘Naturally’ Aurora replies in French, while Snowbird has transformed herself into a moose, carrying sacks of money and gold. Judd radios the Taskmaster, asking him if he is getting all of this. From a rooftop nearby, the Taskmaster is indeed observing Alpha Flight, and replies that it is got, as Judd shows him the gold in the sacks. The Taskmaster congratulates his associate. ‘Your revolutionary army just bought itself the best damn drill sergeant in the business’ he declares. Judd replies that it is time for their graceful exit, and asks him if anyone saw him plant the charges.

‘Aw, that cuts, buddy. Has it really been that long?’ the Taskmaster asks, before pressing a detonator. ‘They never see my plant the charges’ the Taskmaster boasts. An instant later, the bank explodes, causing the Department H soldiers to move backwards away from the flames. Nearby, Mac, Snowbird, Aurora, Judd and the Taskmaster climb down a hole which leads to a tunnel. Waiting at the bottom is Marrina. With the gold in hand, Mac asks her to lead them on to Lake Ontario, announcing that once night falls, they will slip back to base. ‘Yeah? Well, maybe I wont!’ Marrina retorts. ‘What? Why not?’ Mac asks her. Clutching her hair, the alien shouts ‘Because you guys totally robbed a bank and didn’t invite me! WTF?!?’

Later, at Alpha Flight base camp, in the Saint Elias Mountains, Yukon. Mac hands the sacks of gold to one of Alpha Flight’s supporters, while Michael “Shaman” Twoyoungmen hovers overhead, and Walter Langkowski and Jean-Paul “Northstar” Beaubier are busy with various equipment. ‘Nicely done, boss’ Walt congratulates Mac. Mac thanks his friend, and asks if there is any progress here. Walt replies that he has been studying the alien tech from the Am-Can mining camp. Marrina steps forward and ask Walter if he thinks that it is Plodex. ‘My freaking alien species, ruining everything all over again’ she mutters. ‘Yyyeah…’ Walt replies. ‘So, what, I’m a sleeper agent and this tech’s gonna wake me up so I can kill you all in your beds?’ Marrina asks. Walt looks horrified, and adjusts his glasses, remarking that had not occurred to him. ‘Heh’ Jean-Paul smiles, while Guardian tells everyone to focus.

Holographic images of the Master of the World and Vindicator appear on a dial, and Walter declares that Plodex tech is the calling-card of their old nemesis, the Master of the World, so his involvement in Unity is all but guaranteed. Walt points out that does not explain how they have managed to turn so many of their friends against them. ‘Uh…speaking of which’ Marrina exclaims, motioning to a monitor, which depicts an announcement by Kyle Jinadu, the boyfriend of Northstar. Everyone turns to the monitor, where Kyle, sporting a tidy, cut-back hairstyle, announces via press conference that he believed in Alpha Flight with all his heart and soul, but that it has become abundantly clear that they are not just traitors, but common criminals. ‘I’m sorry, Northstar’ Guardian tells Jean-Paul, who tells him not to be, as they would never have gotten the real Kyle to submit to a haircut like that.

Mac tells Northstar that he doesn’t need to put on a brave face to him, and reminds Northstar that whatever happened to Kyle was also done to his wife, who in all likelihood is now in possession of his child. ‘I know exactly how you feel. So I’m asking you…be patient’ Mac tells Northstar, who points at Mac and tells him not to be patronizing. ‘If I was going to blitz into a trap this obvious on some misguided rescue attempt, you’d be watching me on that screen right now’ he declares. Kyle’s announcement continues, as the young man declares that he has one last word for Northstar, ‘A.K.A. my former lover…you’ve betrayed me and this beautiful country in every way imaginable. And I will laugh the day they shoot you in the head’ he states with conviction.

Northstar turns and walks away in silence. Mac watches him leave, while Aurora hugs herself as she leans against a tree. Shaman and Snowbird approach Guardian, and Shaman suggests to Mac that they tell Northstar what Snowbird told them. ‘No. We’ve only got one shot at this, and -’ Mac begins, before he is punched in the side and knocked to the ground. ‘What the devil?’ he gasps, spinning around and charging his electromagnetic field. ‘I did it! Alice Hu knocked out Guardian!’ the reporter wearing the Groundhog armor exclaims as she strands over Guardian. The Taskmaster laughs and declares that he has here to train these losers - to turn a bunch of eggheads and desk jockeys into soldiers. ‘And the only way you nerds are gonna step up is if you remember one thing…fighting is fun!’ the Taskmaster exclaims.

‘WAHOO!’ Alice shouts as she is knocked back by Guardian. The Taskmaster declares that they are going to move this into the woods, to work on some stealth maneuvers. ‘That’s the really sweet stuff’ he exclaims. ‘Didn’t come on to hard, did I?’ Mac asks as he helps Alice up. ‘Hey. Whatever you got…I can take it’ Alice smiles, while Mac’s jaw drops when Alice touches his butt. Nearby, Walt and Aurora are leaning against the tree, watching the goings-on. Walt smiles at Aurora and remarks that was pretty saucy of Alice. ‘But I guess in time of crisis, lots of people let their passions…run away’ Walt exclaims - and that is just what Aurora does - run away at super speed. ‘Smooth’ Judd calls out as he walks past. ‘Shut up’ Walt tells him.

Meantime, at Department H headquarters, beneath Parliament Hill, Ottawa. Director Jeff Brown races after Prime Minister Gary Cody, announcing that the insta-polls are in, and that Kyle is testing through the roof. ‘People love an as kicker’ Jeff declares, adding that overtime they play back the bank tape, Guardian’s numbers fall another three points. ‘Of course. We’ve broken him’ Gary smiles as he looks at the poll results. The Prime Minister adds that the people know leaders don’t whine, and that despair and weakness at Guardian’s core has finally collapsed into hollow speechmaking. Suddenly, ‘Sounds familiar’ the Master of the World announces as he and Heather McNeil Hudson a.k.a. Vindicator step out of the shadows. The Master asks Vindicator what is really going on here, to which Heather replies everything her husband is doing plays right into their hands.

‘Which worries you’ the Prime Minister states. ‘Of course. My husband is a genius’ Heather declares, adding that he is up to something, and they need to figure out what before they make any serious move. The Master agrees, and boasts that he will not allow mankind’s chance at ascendancy to be ruined by overconfidence on their part. Suddenly, an alarm sounds, and a computer announces that there is an unauthorized breach. The breach is none other than Aurora, who comes to a halt near Director Brown. ‘Aurora!’ he exclaims, but the young woman scowls and replies ‘Never call me that. My name is Jeanne-Marie Beaubier. Aurora is…a sickness. A symptom of childhood trauma, which I demand be excised’.

Jeanne-Marie looks pained, and she announces that she will tell them the location of Alpha Flight’s base, as soon as they turn on their machines and burn every last vestige of Aurora out of her soul. ‘Good plan’ the Master smiles as he approaches Aurora. ‘Let’s make sure you honor it’ the Master exclaims, as Kara Kilgrave a.k.a. the Purple Woman steps behind Aurora, and wraps her arms around her, using her pheromone power, she tells Jeanne-Marie to relax. ‘No one can resist the Purple Woman’ Kara utters seductively.

Caged inside Jeanne-Marie’s mind, the Aurora persona slams against a brick wall. ‘Jeanne-Marie! You fool! You’ll get us both killed!’ Aurora screams, when suddenly, Shaman’s astral form appears alongside her, telling his teammate to calm herself. He states that her other half has her trapped in this psychic prison, but that he is with her. Aurora hangs her head and tells Shaman that she is sorry, as she felt Jeanne-Marie growing stronger, but that she thought she could control her. Shaman tells Aurora that it is all right, for if she told them, Jeanne-Marie would have known, and the team would not have the opportunity.

‘Opportunity?’ Aurora asks. Shaman tells Aurora that this isn’t’ fair, and informs her that it is the most dangerous strategy imaginable, and that the risk is all on her shoulders. Aurora listens intently as Shaman tells her that without it, all of Alpha Flight, and maybe even the whole country, will be doomed….

Characters Involved: 

Aurora / Jeanne-Marie, Guardian, Marrina, Sasquatch, Shaman, Snowbird (all Alpha Flight)

Northstar & Puck (former members of Alpha Flight)

Citadel, Purple Woman, Vindicator II (all Alpha Strike)

Kyle Jinadu

Alice Hu

Director Jeff Brown

Prime Minister Gary Cody

Master of the World


Members of Alpha Flight’s resistance

Department H soldiers



Bank staff and customers

Story Notes: 

This issue drops the “Fear Itself” tie-in, and in doing so returns to the Alpha Flight logo used for Alpha Flight (2nd series) #1-20, and was used for the variant covers of Alpha Flight (4th series) #1-4.

Kyle was subjected to the Unity process in Alpha Flight (4th series) #4.

The Groundhog armor was originally worn by Detective Sean Bernard, as seen in the Alpha Flight: First Flight story. Bernard was unhappy with the Flight program and quit, leading Mac to redesign the armor and reluctantly wear it himself.

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