Alpha Flight (5th series) #4

Issue Date: 
January 2024
Story Title: 
Divided We Stand, part four

Ed Brisson (writer), Scott Godlewski (artist), Matt Milla (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Travis Lanham (letterer & production), Tom Muller & Jay Bowen (designers), Leonard Kirk & Edgar Delgado (cover artists), Ron Lim & Israel Silva (after John Byrne Alpha Flight #4 Homage Variant cover artists), Drew Baumgartner (assistant editor), Mark Basso (editor), Jordan D. White (editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Turtle Mountain, where the identity of the wounded Nemesis has been exposed as Heather McNeil Hudson, shocking her husband, Guardian. Guardian worries about the safety of his daughter, but Northstar assures him that she is safe. Shaman is confirmed for Heather's safety, noting that the Onyx Blade was never meant to be wielded by the living, as it drains Heather's lifeforce. Snowbird suggests that they need to leave Turtle Mountain before Department H becomes suspicious and they are exposed as traitors. Feedback comes up with the idea to have Alpha Flight “capture” him so that the others can escape back to Krakoa North. Guardian contacts Director Dorion to update her and while she is pleased to have Feedback in custody, she is annoyed that the rebel Alphans have escaped. She orders Guardian to remain at Turtle Mountain for the Box Sentinels to escort him and the others back to Department H. At Krakoa North, the disgruntled young mutant Argent begins collecting some supplies and then leaves the safety of the Krakoa North facility – but he leaves the door open and three mutant children rush out into the forest surrounding the facility. Back at Turtle Mountain, Feedback is sure he is making the right decision, as he is tired of running, and Guardian gives him his word that they will keep him safe. The Box Sentinels arrive and start to escort Alpha Flight and Feedback to Department H, but at that same time, Department H pick up some other information, and Director Dorion orders the Box Sentinels north. Guardian asks her if there is a situation needing Alpha Flight, but she tells him to continue on his course to Department H. Guardian radios Northstar in secret and informs him that the director is being secretive about new orders, but that he thinks the Box Sentinels are headed his way. Unfortunately, Northstar and the others have not made it to Krakoa North yet. Northstar uses this opportunity to apologize to Guardian for not telling him about Heather, before explaining that she wanted to tell Guardian herself. The rebel Alphans remain in hiding while Nemesis continues to recover, and Northstar is contacted by his husband, Kyle, back at Krakoa North, who informs him that several mutants were missing, and while three of them have been recovered, Argent has somehow left the facility. And as Argent makes his way through the surrounding forest, he turns back to look at Krakoa North, only to discover that dozens of Box Sentinels have descended upon it – and it is now ablaze!


Full Summary: 

Krakoa North, Northern Manitoba, Canada. The moon glows down upon the hidden facility which is keeping several mutants safe. One such mutant is Laurent Bavota, who is sometimes called Argent, although he doesn't like the name. He looks out the window of his small quarters, then picks up his backpack and leaves his room. The silver-haired mutant opens a fridge and begins putting some bottles of water and food in his pack. As he bites into an apple, the light suddenly comes on. It's Kyle, Northstar's husband. 'Argent – ah, sorry – Laurent... everything good?' Kyle asks. Laurent tells him that he just needed a snack, and is fine.

Meanwhile, in Turtle Mountain Provincial Park, Manitoba, 'Heather...' James MacDonald Hudson a.k.a. Guardian utters as he kneels on the ground, holding up the unmoving body of his wife, Heather, who is wearing the Nemesis costume. '...please...say something. Please' Mac cries out, concerned. He then looks up at the mutant members of Alpha Flight standing nearby – Akihiro a.k.a. Fang, Jeanne-Marie Beaubier a.k.a. Aurora and Jean-Paul Beaubier a.k.a. Northstar. 'Why didn't you tell me Heather was involved?' Mac snaps, adding that he didn't want Heather and Claire caught up in this. 'They were safe, they were... oh my god, where's Claire?' Mac asks about his daughter. Northstar assures Mac that his daughter is safe, that Heather left her with a friend who can be trusted. 'She didn't want to tell you until she was ready to -' Northstar begins, to which Mac exclaims 'They're my family, Northstar! I had a right to know. I had a right to know'.

Dr. Michael Twoyoungmen a.k.a. Shaman approaches Mac and reminds him that time is not on their side. He asks Mac to let him treat Heather. Mac places a kiss on Heather's forehead and steps back as Shaman crouches beside Heather and asks 'What happened to her?' Aurora suggests that one of the Box Sentinels must have hit Heather as they were teleporting out of Oregon. 'She managed to get us here but didn't have the strength to continue' Aurora adds, before asking if Heather is going to be okay. Shaman frowns, while Mac looks on, concerned. Shaman then reaches into his medicine pouch and decides that it looks like the Onyx Sword's power protected Heather from the brunt of the hit. 'It could have been much worse' he notes. Shaman then tells everyone that the Onyx Sword was never meant to be wielded by the living. He explains that it is a weapon meant for draining the life force of its victims to keep its user alive. Shaman points out that because Heather is neither dead, nor has she killed anyone, the Scell has instead been draining her life force in order to function.

Guardian looks on, concerned, while the goddess Narya a.k.a. Snowbird suddenly turns her attention to the treetops, as Shaman explains that the Scell must feed to survive. He tells Mac that the salve he has given Heather will heal her, but she needs to rest. Heather remains unconscious as Shaman states that if Heather continues to allow the Scell to drain her life force, if she teleports and continues on the way she has, then she will reach a point where there will be nothing left. Mac looks horrified, before Eugene Milton Judd a.k.a. Puck, someone who cares deelpy for Heather himself, approaches him and telsl him that he knows he is in shock, and that this is a lot – but they can't stay here, it isn't safe. Snowbird announces that Puck is right, and reports that Erika already has the Box Sentinels en route. Snowbird tells her teammates that she isn't sure this situation is something that they can explain to Department H, as they will be exposed and everything they have been working toward will be compromised, so they need to get Nemesis and Feedback to safety, now. Puck asks Shaman if Heather can move, to which Shaman confirms that she can, but that teleportation is out of the question.

Suddenly, Albert Louis a.k.a. Feedback steps forward and tells everyone that this is all his fault, that none of them would be here if it wasn't for him. He then announces that he thinks he knows a way to buy them some time while they bring Nemesis to safety.

In Toronto, Ontario, within the sprawling Department H headquarters, Roger Bochs, Jr. uses his high-tech equipment to control Box Sentinels from afar, while a Department H operative in a suit reports that they are a hundred kilometers from Alpha Flight's location, with an E.T.A. of just under five minutes. Erika Dorion, the Director of Deaprtment H asks if someone can Guardian on comms. 'Hell, even Snowbird, Shaman or that little imp!' she snaps. Her assistant can be seen nearby on a phone, while a woman in a blazer looking at a monitor tells Director Dorion that they have tried raising them, but no one is responding. Another Department H operative glances at her, before she announces that there is movement – four bodies leaving the location fast – at least a thousand kilometers per hour.

'Dammit. Northstar and Aurora. Please tell me that Alpha Flight at least secured the target' Erika snarls as she rubs her tense brow. Suddenly, 'Department H, this is Guardian' Mac's voice can be heard over the comms system. Erika looks annoyed: 'Guardian, how kind of you to finally check in' she snaps at him. 'I see you let Northstar and his cronies get away' she adds. Mac reports that they weren't able to stop them, as they fled, and that even in the Omnijet, there is no way they can catch up to Northstar or Aurora. 'And the target?' Erika enquires. 'Albert Louise a.k.a. Feedback is in custody. We're bringing him in' Guardian reports. Erika leans on a table, relieved. 'Well, thank god for tiny miracles' she mutters, before instructing Guardian to wait for the Box Sentinels to arrive, as they can escort them back to Department H. 'We don't need -' Guardian begins, but Erika interrupts him: 'It wasn't a request, Guardian' Erika declares. She states that she is not risking anymore screwups – that they need this win. 'You, most of all, need this win' she adds.

Back at Krakoa North, Laurent walks past a living room area where three younger mutants are lying around. One lies upside down on a sofa, another sits on the back of the sofa and a third sits on a beanbag. Laurent looks back at the younger mutants, before he uses his powers to transform his hand into a liquid metal, and shoves a finger into the side of the door, which causes the door to open. Laurent steps out into the dark forest that surrounds Krakoa North – leaving the front door to the facility open behind him. The three young mutants suddenly appear t the door, and one of the boys, called Spencer, heads off into the forest. 'Where are you going?' a girl with green skin asks. 'C'mon! I'm sick of being inside all the time!' Spencer calls out. The girl and the other mutant, who is called Bubs and is surrounded by a orange suit run after Spencer as he tells them to hurry, before someone catches them.

Back at Turtle Mountain Provincial Park, Feedback is wearing handcuffs and Guardian and Puck lead him to the Omnijet, where Shaman is waiting. Puck asks Feedback if he is sure about this. 'We coulda just sent you with the twins, you know' he points out. Albert confirms that he is sure, and adds that he has been running for years, lying to his family about who he really is – what he really is. He notes that he is responsible for the horrendous death of his own clone, and now Nemesis is hurt because of him. 'I just...I'm tired of running. I'm tired of lying' he explains as he looks down towards Puck. 'If doing this gives the others an opportunity to get away so they can help the mutants you've already rescued then -' Albert begins, before he is interrupted by Snowbird, who drops down from above, warning her teammates that company is about to arrive.

Mac, Albert, Shaman and Puck look up to see several Box Sentinels descend under the star-filled sky. Guardian tells Albert that whatever happens, to know that they are not handing him over to them – all they are doing is buying the others more time. 'Once they're in the clear, we'll figure out a way to lose the Box Sentinels' Guardian explains. 'You have my word' he assures Feedback. 'Good work, Alpha Flight' the voice of Roger Bochs Jr. can be heard over through one of the Box Sentinels. 'Thanks, but escort feels unnecessary. We've already for the situation handled' Guardian responds. 'Sorry..but I've got my orders' Roger tells Alpha Flight, while glancing away from Erika Dorion who watches him like a hawk back at Department H. Alpha Flight make their way onto the Omnijet and Puck remarks 'All right, you heard the bot. Guess there ain't a lick we can do to change their mind' he remarks, before turning to the Box Sentinels and telling them to try and keep up.

At Department H, one of the operatives goes wide-eyed as they discover something on a monitor, and as the Omnijet takes flight with the Box Sentinels at its side, the operative informs Erika that hr has just had a ping on their system. 'I think you're going to want to see this' the Department H operative calls out. Erika looks at him and frowns, before peering over his shoulder at the monitor: 'Is that...? Finally' she exlaims, before turning to Roger and informing him that they have a change of plans.

A moment later, as the Omnijet streaks across the night sky, the five Box Sentinels suddenly divert, and fly away from Alpha Flight. Puck and Snowbird notice this, and Puck contacts Department H, informing them that the Box Sentinels took off northeast, and asks if there is a problem the team should know about. 'Negative, Puck' comes the quick response. 'The Box Sentinels have been redirected. You are to continue course to Department H with the prisoner' the voice over the comms system instructs Puck. Guardian joins the conversation, with Albert sitting next to him, he asks 'Where have they been redirected to?' but the voice on the comms system informs Guardian that this is not something to concern himself with and to continue course to Department H. 'Well, that can’t be good' Mac remarks, looking across to Shaman. He then stands up and contacts Northstar.

'... we just lost the Box Sentinels' Guardian reports to Northstar via their comms system. Northstar and Fang are keeping watch inside an old barn at Cross Lake, Manibota, while Aurora sits on some hay bales with Nemesis, who is recovering from her ordeal. Guardian's voice can be hearding warning Northstar that Erika has given the Box Sentinels new orders, but is being tight-lipped about what those orders are. 'My guess is they're headed your way' Guardian suggests. Northstar thanks Mac, and reveals that they are still two hundred kilometers from Krakoa North. He explains that they wanted to get close so that if Nemesis has to teleport them in the strain would be less, but not so close that they would give away the location if discovered. Mac asks how Heather is, and Northstar looks at Nemesis, before reporting that she is better – awake and talking but that she still needs more rest.

Jean-Paul tells Mac that he knows he is angry with him for not telling him that Heather was working with them. 'I understand, I would be too. Secrets are never healthy for a team. But she wanted to tell you herself when the time was right. And I could not go against her wishes' Jean-Paul remarks, adding that he hopes Mac understands. 'I do' Mac's voice can be heard over the comms system. Jean-Paul reports that they will hold their position for now, and when the Box Sentinels arrive, they will lead them away from Krakoa North. 'Be safe' Mac tells him. 'Please. Aurora and I can fly circles around those monstrosities, even while carrying Nemesis and Fang' Northstar smiles.

'What's the news?' Fang asks his partner, Aurora, as he drops down beside her. Along with Northstar they head outside, and Northstar reports that Department H is already onto them, so they need to be ready to move. Fang asks why they don't stay and fight, reminding the twins that they already cut the Box Sentinels down by half back in Oregon, and they did that while worried about bystanders. 'We don't have that here. We can cut loose' he suggests. Jean-Paul turns to his sister and asks her if she thinks they should also make a stand here, to which Jeanne-Marie suggests that it is better than constantly running. 'If we can just -' Aurora begins, before Kyle's voice is heard over the comms system. 'Kyle, is everything okay?' Northstar asks his husband. 'We have a problem. Argent and three of the kids – Spencer, Tasha and Bubs – somehow got out of the facility' Kyle reports, back at Krakoa North.

Kyle stands outside the facility, and watches as two other mutants lead the kids back inside, Spencer looks very unhappy. Kyle reports that the kids have been found, but that Argent is still missing. 'That reckless little -' Northstar begins, before looking back into the barn at Nemesis, and announcing that once she has recovered, they will teleport back and work at getting everyone to a new location, as coming back any sooner would be too dangerous, because the Box Sentinels are on  their tails. 'We can't risk leading them right to Krakoa North -' Northstar begins, before suddenly, 'Oh... no...' Kyle gasps, wide-eyed, as he looks up to see a dozen or so Box Sentinels closing in. 'The Box Sentinels aren't after you, Northstar. They're after us! They're here!' Kyle screams.

Finally, rushing through the forest, Laurent climbs over a fallen tree and tells himself that he should have brought a flashlight. Suddenly, he hears a mighty BOOOOM and turns back to the valley below where he sees Krakoa North ablaze! 'Oh no. No! No! No! What have I done?' Laurent gasps as he looks on in horror....


Characters Involved: 

Aurora, Fang VI, Guardian, Nemesis, Northstar, Puck, Shaman, Snowbird (all Alpha Flight)


Kyle Beaubier-Jinadu


Erika Dorion

Roger Bochs Jr./Box V


Argent II/Laurent Bavota, Bubs, Spencer, Tasha and other mutants at Krakoa North


Box Sentinels

Erika's assistant

Department H personnel

Story Notes: 

The character of Nemesis first appeared in Alpha Flight (1st series) #8 as an anti-hero, returning to assist Alpha Flight in #31, before becoming a recurring character from Alpha Flight (1st series) #76 until #130. The chacater returned in Alpha Flight (3rd series) #1, where she became a full-fledged member of the team until her apparent death in #12. Initially, it was believed that the character was the same woman in all three of her eras. The Marvel Handbooks eventually decided that it was three different women (Isobel St. Ives, Jane Thorne and Amelia Weatherly) serving as hosts for the Onyx Blade's divine power.

Heather actually has killed on occasion over her long course as Canada's greatest protector, however in her brief time as Nemesis she has not been shown to have killed anyone, which is probably what Shaman was explaining, and as such, the Onyx Blade has been draining her own lifeforce.

This issue includes a Department H file on the Onyx Sword, also known as the Scell. It reveals the sword is made from promethium, which is a living metal that transforms those who wield it into the living embodiment of the Spirit of Retribution, and notes that it is as thin as a single-atom and can cut through most materials with little effort. The report also notes that the past wielders of the sword have typically been dead, resurrected due to their phyiscal connection to the blade, and as such their bodies kept functioning due to the transferences of the life force of those killed by the sword, and without victims to draw life force from, the blade is forced to draw it from those who use the sword. The additional benefits of flight, superhuman speed, teleportation and time travel that Nemesis can command are all thanks to the Onyx Blade. Time travel is only accessible by a blood sacrifice of someone who has travelled from the destination timeline.

Additionally, the Department H file confirms for the first time on-panel that former wielders of the blade indeed are different women: Isabel St. Ives, Jane Thorne and Amelia Weatherly.

This issue includes a letter translated from French to English which Laurent has written to his mother, informing her of his decision to leave Krakoa North.

The details regarding Feedback's clone were explored in Marauders (2nd series) #11 and Alpha Flight (5th series) #3.

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