Alpha Flight Special 1992

Issue Date: 
June 1992
Story Title: 
First Flight

Scott Lobdell (plotter, scripter), Simon Furman (scripter), Pat Broderick (penciler), Bruce Patterson (inker), Janice Chiang (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist), Rob Tokar (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

Police Detective Sean Benard finds himself in an unpleasant position. He is charged with murder for shooting his corrupted colleagues, who tried to kill him. Benard is blackmailed into joining Department H, in return he is pardoned by the Prime Minister. A secluded location in the wilderness is his new home, which is actually the training ground for the Flight Program. The other subjects are Smart Alec, who claims to be the smartest man alive, the half-goddess Snowbird, Saint Elmo, the Keeper of the Northern Light and of course Wolverine. In the following weeks scientists James MacDonald Hudson and Walter Langkowski introduce Benard to the terra-forming exoskeleton that Mac designed, which earns it’s wearer the name Groundhog. Excessive training starts, but it’s clear that The Flight members have much to learn. Eavesdropping on Hudson and Logan, Benard learns of another possible member of the Flight. Benard investigates this, and meets Stitch, who is ego-phobic and scared of her powers, however she seems to be less withdrawn around Benard. When Egghead and his henchmen Swordsman, Power Man, Solarr, Rhino, Eel and Porcupine threaten to bombard New York City with a nuclear missile, the Flight is called in action for the first time. While Smart Alec is supposed to disarm the device, the others engage in physical combat with Eggheads henchmen, and eventually take out all of the them. Only Egghead slips away in the confusion, and while Smart Alec manages to stop the missile from launching, he fails to override Egghead‘s activation the detonation sequence. Groundhog begins building an underground shelter, while Wolverine threatens Egghead to kill him, until Snowbird calms him down. Just as the bomb is about to detonate, the Flight are astonished to see Saint Elmo absorbing the energies of the bomb, sacrificing his life for the sake of the team and all of Canada. Two days later, Groundhog quits the Flight, telling Hudson that if he wants someone to wear his suit, he should wear it himself.

Full Summary: 

(long ago)

Detective Sean Benard thinks it is the last night of his life. In a darkened alley, Vancouver, Canada, he fights for his life against three fellow police officers, turned crook. As bullets fly at him from all directions, his opponents tell him to give it up. Benard only has three bullets left. That is one for each of his attackers. Jumping up from behind a drum barrel, he fires the three shots, and tells his enemies that he didn’t spend six years in Vancouver police department to be killed in some garbage strewn alleyway. If they want him dead, they are going to have to work for it. Of the three shots, two hit, nailing Frazer and Arnolds. Benard took a shot in the leg however.

His opponent, police officer Deighton, looms over Sean, telling him that he couldn’t just let it go, could he? He had to take it to Internal Affairs. Benard tells Deighton that he was just doing both their jobs. Or did he forget that they are cops? Deighton tells Benard that they have a difference though – he is a cop who knows how to use the system. As he tries to tell Benard he is a dead one, the infamous “SNIKT” is heard, and Deighton is gutted from behind. Standing over Deighton’s limp body, the man who would become Wolverine tells Benard not to shed any tears over his “buddy”. He will need a lot of surgery, but there will be enough left of him to stand trial on drug trafficking charges. Looking up at Logan, partially in fear, partially in amazement, Sean Benard asks him who he is. Wolverine replies that he is his new best friend.

That same day, while Wolverine met Benard, another man is about to make his presence on Canadian soil known. At an isolated estate, a large man steps out of his chauffeur driven car. Lined up as if they are about to meet royalty, the large man walks past his servants. He tells them it is an honor for them to be able to serve him, the future ruler of the world. One of the servants answers ‘Of course, sir’, but the man tells them not to call him sir, as it is so formal. He tells them that as they will be working together for sometime, he hopes they will be comfortable calling him Egghead! ‘Or, Lord High Exalted Master Of All’, if they must.

Sean Benard has problems of his own though. At two o’clock in the morning, his mysterious benefactor rouses the Canadian Prime Minister from his sleep. The Prime Minister asks Wolverine if he has any idea how much of a field day the press will have when they learn that the Canadian government was responsible for the cover up of the rogue officers, and just so the detective responsible can be transferred? Wolverine, with all due respect, tells the Prime Minister that Benard was set up, but he is a good cop. The Prime Minister says that Logan claims as much, but he finds that less than a glowing recommendation, coming from a man of Wolverine‘s credentials. Benard tells the Prime Minister that he does not mean to sound ungrateful, but he is going to have to decline any transfers. He is a cop after all – Wolverine interrupts him, telling him that since the Prime Minister has ‘dotted the “i”’s and crossed the “t”’s’ he belongs to the Canadian Government now. Unless of course, he wanted to go on the run, especially after the recent run in with the law. Benard decides that he doesn’t really have much choice in the matter.

Some time later that night, a helicopter drops Benard off at a classified location, though he suspects it’s somewhere outside Thunder Bay. Benard asks Logan if there was anything that he can tell him? Climbing back into the helicopter, Logan tells him that his bunk is first on the left, second floor and to sleep tight. Thinking that he should be nervous, Sean believes that there is something inherently trustworthy about the guy. Approaching the modest two-storied house, he decides that it seems harmless enough. But he has been a cop long enough to know when he is being watched...

…Which he is. Watching him from a hidden part of the complex, James MacDonald Hudson comments to Dr. Walter Langkowski that except for his gunshot wound he seems healthy. ‘As an ox’ Walt agrees. After explaining that this long distance holistic bio-scanner can monitor the blood pressure of a mosquito from 50 yards away, Waltz says that the man who invented it must be a genius. Hudson tells his friend that ‘No one likes a braggart’.

Upon entering his bunkroom, Benard discovers that he has a roommate. However he doubts that this “Department H” lacks the funding for private rooms. The roommate is talking in his sleep. About math, then the distance between two clusters of stars, then indigenous groups and what language they prefer. Benard guesses that whatever is going on here, they are in it together. The sleeping man continues his talking, now reciting parts of “Les Miserables“. Benard pulls his own pillow across his face and yells out for his roommate to shut up. Deciding that this is intolerable, he leaves the room to sleep on the couch he spotted in the hallway.

Walking into the hallway, he discovers a woman walking around – naked. Benard thinks it may just be the lighting – he has never seen someone look so beautiful and yet so alien at the same time. He thinks that she will be able to give him some answers, and asks her name. She tells him she is Narya. Just Narya. She seems to know who he is, and welcomes him to the Flight. Sean tells her that ‘The Flight’ doesn’t tell him anything. He asks Narya if she knows what Department H is, and also why she is walking around naked. The woman code-named Snowbird tells Benard that she ‘Abhors the restrictions of mortal attire’. Even more confused Sean says more to himself than to Narya ‘isn’t it possible to get a straight answer around –‘. But he cuts himself off. Telling Narya that in this light she looks…human. Amused, Snowbird turns to her room, and wishes her new companion a ‘good slumber’.

Somewhere along the border, Porcupine and the Eel stand next to a fire, and Porcupine thinks it is funny, the similarities between the American and Canadian law enforcement. Eel agrees and guesses that it is true about violence being an international language. And considering that the super hero population is almost zero in Canada…. Porcupine picks up on what Eel is hinting at, and asks if he wants to stick around after they have completed their job? Suddenly a voice is heard above them, telling them not to go unpacking their backs just yet. It is the Swordsman. He reminds them that their mutual employer is paying them a considerable amount to be discreet. The Swordsman’s companion tells Eel and Porcupine they were supposed to enter the country ‘on the sly’. Porcupine tells the Swordsman that he is not the boss, nor his muscle-bound buddy.
The “muscle-bound buddy” stands up and tells Porcupine that his name is Power Man, and because they are all American imports, it is only his professional courtesy that is keeping him from tossing him back over the border. He tells everyone to get going, as they have got a world to take over.

(the next morning)

On the couch in the hallway, Sean Benard thinks to himself that asleep or awake, any good cop knows when someone is breathing down his neck. He sits up, and is greeted by a large man, who tells Sean that he is in the presence of Saint Elmo, Keeper of the Northern Lights. Benard says he had him figured for a young Kris Kringle. The loud man bellows out an even louder laugh and, in a friendly way slaps Benard on the back, to which Sean begins to glow. Saint Elmo tells him that there are few mere mortals with the strength of mind to maintain their wits against the Arctic Avatar. Saint Elmo’s touch sends Benard flying across the hallway, crying for help. Elmo mumbles to himself that he thought Benard had a sense of humor.

Benard crashes through a door, and into a bathroom, where the man who was talking in his sleep last night is brushing his teeth. Landing in the bathtub, Benard asks what happened to him. Not looking over, the talking in his sleep man tells Benard that it is called “Transillumination”. Elmo possess the ability to temporarily transform solid objects into light and that he enjoys disorientating the “mere mortals”. He turns to Benard. Sean is somewhat surprised, now he recognizes his roommate as Alec Thorne, the smartest man in Canada! Thorne tells Sean that that is hardly an achievement, and in fact he is actually the smartest man in the world, only Reed Richards gets all the glory, while he is stuck here. Suddenly Wolverine’s image appears on the mirror. Logan tells Benard that he had to get Thorne started, didn’t he? Alec asks Logan why there is a communicator in the bathroom, has he no sense of privacy? Wolverine tells them that privacy is for civilians, and that they are due on the course in five minutes.

(a couple of weeks later)

After much intensive training, the mysterious “Dr. L” was about to let Sean in on a big secret. Langkowski asks Benard if he has heard of the Fantastic Four? “The Beatles”? Benard replies. Langkowski tells him that they are a quartet of adventurers from the States, and hands Sean a photo of them. He is shocked, and tells Walt that the photo must have been doctored because he can barely make out the woman, one guy looks like a lump of orange clay - and the other looks like he is in flames. Walter chimes in. He tells Sean that they were exposed to cosmic rays on a space trip, and instead of dying they developed abilities far above those of normal men. Benard asks Walt if he is telling him they are super heroes? Walter tells him that they are not the only ones, and since the forties, there has been an increase in super beings. Sean asks what this has to do with him.

Stepping out of the barn, Hudson tells Sean that that is where he comes in. Walter introduces Sean to the man behind Department H - Dr. James MacDonald Hudson. James welcomes Benard to history. Stepping into the barn, Benard stares up at the armored suit baring down on them all, and asks what it is. Langkowski tells him that it is his if he likes, and even if he doesn’t like for that matter. Hudson tells Walt that their newest recruit has endured enough cloak and dagger for one day, maybe more than enough Sean tells them. Walter tells Sean that this is Hudson’s greatest achievement to date, with the exception of marrying Heather, he adds quickly. This is the world’s first fully functioning terra-forming exoskeleton, confiscated by the Canadian government after Am-Cam went bust. Sean tells Hudson and Langkowski that he is impressed, but asks what any of this has to do with him. Walt tells him that some super heroes are born, others are made. While Sean Benard has just been drafted.

Meanwhile, Egghead and his allies are working on establishing themselves as international terrorists. At his estate, Egghead shows to his henchmen, now including the Rhino and Solarr, their weapon – a fully functioning nuclear warhead. Rhino tells Egghead that they are all impressed, but when he has hired the six villains, isn’t the bomb overkill? Egghead tells them that if he wanted a bank knocked over, or a coup staged on the Canadian government, then he is confident that they would all be up to the task, but Egghead tells them he has a higher goal. Power Man asks what could be higher than taking over the country? Egghead replies that he will settle for nothing less that domination of the entire world.

(three weeks later)

After more training, Benard thinks that everyone is actually getting the hang of it. Outside, in a paddock turned battlefield, Snowbird, Groundhog, Smart Alec and Saint Elmo are preparing for training. Sitting on the fence watching them, Hudson tells Wolverine that it would be so much easier if they had the budget for a giant room filled with mock dangers. Wolverine tells him he can call it “The Danger Room”, and to keep dreaming.

On the field, transforming into an Arctic Owl, Snowbird says that this seems less than fair. Benard, in his exoskeleton asks her if she means the three of them going up against Elmo, and that if he is half as old as he claims to be, then he has thousands of years of experience. Elmo asks Groundhog what he means by “claims”, and surely he doesn’t doubt the words of one who was old when the world was young? Complaining as usual, Smart Alec asks if it is too much trouble for everyone to shut up long enough to get the exercise started. Elmo fires a blast of light at his teammates, when suddenly, Smart Alec pulls mirrors from behind his back and reflects the blast. Benard asks him where he got them from, and Alec tells him the bathroom, and as Elmo’s powers are reflected back onto himself, Smart Alec tells everyone that he wanted to know how “the old fossil” would handle his own powers directed against him. As the light continues to reflect off the mirror, it disorientates Snowbird, who while in her owl form, had her human intellect toned down. Snowbird begins to claw at Groundhog, and though his suit protects him, her talons do get quite close to his face. Trying to reach out to her, Sean tells Narya that if she can hear him, don’t force him to fire an electromagnetic blast at her.

Blowing cigarette smoke out through his nostrils, Logan tells Hudson to excuse him, as this is getting rather out of hand. Leaping into the battlefield, Logan, as usual with little thought to his safety, manages to separate all of the combatants from one another, without physically hurting anyone. Logan tells everyone that they have the teamwork down to an art – which is of course, if they plan on killing each other before their first mission. He tells them to be grateful they can make mistakes here, because they are not going to get a second chance in the middle of a fight.
Shouting out from the fence, James Hudson reminds Logan that second chances are what the Flight is all about, and that now might be a good time to conclude their running argument. Logan agrees, and tells the Flight to hit the showers.

Walking away from the battleground, Groundhog apologizes to Narya, telling her he is sorry he overreacted. The goddess tells him there is no need to apologize for inexperience, and that he is better to spend his energies perfecting his meager abilities. Not quite sure how to react, Sean just says that he will. With everyone else gone, Benard wonders what Mac and Logan are talking about. He can hear their shouts but not the words. Benard remembers that before the suit became a super hero costume it was used to monitor ultra-sensitive vibrations, and tunes it in…

Logan tells Mac that he doesn’t think someone is ready, while Mac tells him that it is not his call to make, Jodi is his responsibility, and he feels that her involvement in the team is her best chance at a normal life. Logan tells him that she is a “basket case”. James tells him that’s really funny, because that is what everyone said after Heather and he found him roaming the countryside, and that they didn’t give up on him, so he doesn’t expect Logan to give up on Jodi. Logan tells him that it was a cheap shot.

Groundhog notices how they kept gesturing towards the barn, and as he curiously enters it he wonders that if there is another Flight member on the grounds, then why hasn’t he seen her at the house? He tells himself that he is still a detective at heart, and begins calling out to Jodi. He turns a corner, and sees a girl, sitting amongst some hay. When he gets a good look at her Benard notices her scarred face, and realizes that the needle sitting on her shoulder, has been mentally commanded to stitch herself. Jodi hugs the armored Benard as Wolverine walks in, telling Sean she must like him. Benard tells Wolverine he doesn’t understand. Wolverine replies the same, and that this is the first non-violent reaction he has seen from Stitch in the three months she has been here. Wolverine suspects she may see Sean as a big needle while he is in the suit, or else she may have found a person worthy of holding onto?

Referring to her silent and withdrawn persona, Benard asks if she has always been like this. Wolverine says that according to her parents she hasn’t. It seemed about the time she reached puberty she discovered she had the mutant ability to control small pieces of metal with extreme precision. While it may not seem like much of an ability, it was enough to make her realize she was different. Wolverine continues, telling Benard that the shrinks say she is “ego-phobic”, that she is scared to death of herself, and her powers, and deals with it by not dealing with it. Sean asks if Hudson really thinks the Flight will help her cope. Or is he willing to risk and sacrifice anything to see his dream come true? Wolverine tells Benard that Mac is determined, but he is also the fairest, most unselfish person he has ever met, but of course he didn’t hear that from Logan himself….

(the next morning)

Half of the free world wake to discover their airwaves have been taken over, and Egghead is the feature! Egghead, with his henchmen at his sides, stands in front of a camera, and announces to all watching that he has constructed a nuclear missile, and that from his vantage point on the Canadian border, he plans to launch the warhead into the very heart of New York City. Egghead continues, saying that only the President of the United States can avert this tragedy by abdicating his role as commander-in-chief of the armed forces to him. Egghead tells the world that he has one hour to decide and that any attempts to stop him made by the Avenges, Fantastic Four or Canadian Authorities will result in immediate deployment of the missile.

Back at the Ranch, a helicopter with a Maple Leaf logo on the front leaves the grounds. Inside the helicopter, Smart Alec comments on how “Canadian Authorities” was a bit vague, and asks if it was a reference to them. Piloting the helicopter, Hudson reminds everyone that they are Canada’s best-kept secret, and that no way could Egghead know of their existence, which gives them a much needed surprise factor edge. Saint Elmo tells Hudson he does not sound very confident in the Flight’s abilities, to which James just tells him they could all do with a lot more training. Wolverine tells Hudson that if this is all he can come up with for an inspiration speech, he should save it for their eulogy. The Flight has a job to do, and they are going to do it.

Back at Eggheads estate, Eel asks Egghead if he would really destroy New York City. Egghead tells Eel that when one deals with terror, it is best to be up front about ones initial motives. Porcupine asks Egghead if he really expects for the United States to agree with his terms. Egghead replies that of course he doesn’t, as the President would never cede his right to one such as him, and that his intentions are ridiculous intentionally. But that when next time he targets Los Angeles or Chicago, they will give him whatever he wants, as soon as the flash of nuclear fire reaches their radars. The Swordsman thinks to himself that he doesn’t like this, and that when he signed on it was on the understanding that this was all a scam. He tells himself that his criminal activities do not go as far as killing three million civilians. Rhino tells Egghead that as long as they are out of here when it all hits the fan, as he has had enough of super heroes beating him. Startled, the villains here a voice from above – it is Wolverine, and the rest of the Flight who have leapt from the chopper. Wolverine tells Rhino that to keep him happy Canada’s finest will kick his tail this time.

Rhino says that every time you look around these days there is another set of “Boy Scouts” crawls out of the “woodwork”. As Rhino lunges for Wolverine, Logan tells Snowbird, Saint Elmo and Stitch to stay with him, while Groundhog and Smart Alec are to get to the bomb. Rhino knocks Logan back, to which Wolverine tells Rhino he isn’t that bad, and he would love to bruise knuckles with him one day, but right now he is here on business, and uses his adamantium claws to gut Rhino. Rhino is astonished, and Power Man steps in and tells him to stop moaning and protect the bomb, as he attacks Wolverine. Groundhog asks Smart Alec if he can disarm the bomb, to which Smart Alec tells him to ‘Limit further questions to a level above the patently obvious’.

Saint Elmo prepares to battle Porcupine and Wolverine tells him to stop dancing with him and hit him. As Elmo replies all things come to those who wait, Porcupine uses nerve gas on Elmo, who begins to pass out. Rhino is still trying to attack Wolverine, until Power Man orders him again to protect the bomb. Meanwhile, Swordsman comes across Stitch. He asks her why she is not “playing the game” by bragging, or displaying armaments. He asks her how a self-respecting duelist such as himself is supposed to remain true to his code when she wont even grant him the simple courtesy of acknowledging his challenge. Suddenly, Stitch pulls out her needle and thread, and the villain begins to laugh furiously. Putting his sword to the girls’ throat he asks her what she plans on doing? Sewing him to death?

As Smart Alec climbs the ladder up the bomb, Rhino stampedes over, complaining about always being bossed around. Annoyed, Smart Alec asks himself how one is supposed to work under these conditions, and asks Groundhog “if he please”. An electromagnetic pulse breaks up the land directly in front of Rhino. It is Groundhog, who tells Rhino that if he wants to get closer, he has to get through him. Rhino replies saying that with the mood he is in, that is the best offer he has had all day. Sean Benard begins to show a little sign of fear beneath the cold Groundhog armor.

Saint Elmo is still having trouble, with several of the Porcupine’s quills sticking in his body and the nerve gas doing the rest. Solarr tells Porcupine to keep him passive, while he raises the temperature. Saint Elmo is now being attacked from two of the opposition, until Wolverine comes to his Elmo’s defense. Thinking to himself that he was worried about this, as there is one thing about being confident, but Elmo is just plain cocky. Wolverine thinks that that is the trouble with the godly types, they are too out of touch with their own mortality. Wolverine guts Porcupine, cutting off his gas supply. He asks Elmo if he can handle Solarr on his own, and thinks that this has been going on too long. He wonders where Egghead got to, as while the Flight is taking down the muscle, the brain keeps ticking.

Rhino has managed to get hold of Groundhog, and has him pinned to the ground, bashing him, Rhino tells Groundhog it is nothing personal, he just has to get it out of his system, suddenly he is whacked by an electric blast from the Swordsman’s sword. Groundhog is released, and realizes it was Stitch’s doing. The Swordsman realizes that his sword is under the control of Stitch’s power, as she has sewn her needle into his glove, controlling his movements. Groundhog thinks that Hudson was right. Putting Jodi in a spandex costume, and letting her flex her psychic muscles has helped her fit right it, though he doesn’t know whether to be pleased or sorry for her. With that Groundhog shuts the Swordsman up by knocking him out.

Suddenly a loud screeching noise is heard. Smart Alec calls down to his teammates that they have a problem. While he has disengaged the guidance system, someone seems to have triggered the detonation sequence, “not me” he tells them. He continues, saying that while New York is safe, they are not. Wolverine has caught up with Egghead, and asks him if it was his doing. Egghead tells him of course it was, and that as he is prepared to reap the rewards of victory, he is equally ready to accept the price of defeat. Wolverine tells him that they are not, and asks Egghead how long they have. Egghead tells them they may have hours, minutes or seconds, and that he is not willing to tell. A berserker fury builds within Wolverine then subsides as he sheathes his claws. Wolverine tells Egghead that he’d enjoy that however, watching them lose it, panic. He orders Stitch to help Smart Alec mess up the inside of the bomb, and for Groundhog to start digging a hole, because if the bomb goes off, they are going to need to be deep underground to stand a chance of survival. Wolverine lets his claws out once more, and bringing them up to Egghead’s face tells him that his claws are made from adamantium, and that someone like him probably laced his skeleton with it. Wolverine tells Egghead that his claws are unbreakable, and they cut flesh…Egghead dares him to do it.

Smart Alec, still up the ladder calls down to Stitch, but he starts to sweat and suddenly can not think anymore. He doesn’t know what to tell her to do.

Wolverine asks Egghead if he thinks he is bluffing, and that good guys don’t murder in cold blood. Wolverine tells Egghead that him being a good guy is an experiment, a hobby, and that he is actually a killer, pure and simple. He continues, saying that if Egghead thinks Wolverine is out of options, then Wolverine will gut Egghead where he is, just to make him feel better. Suddenly, Snowbird steps in. Holding onto his hand, she pulls him back. Wolverine tells her to butt out. Snowbird does not. Instead she tells Wolverine that she understands him more than she cares to. She tells Wolverine, who is still holding onto Egghead, that when she shifts into another creature, she also takes on its hungers and needs, and that sometimes, she is heady from the intoxicating freedom of those feelings, and almost looses herself from the equation. Snowbird continues, telling him that she must fight, because once you give in, there is no going back. She reminds Wolverine that he walks that line everyday, and tells him not to give in now, as they need Wolverine the man to lead them, not Wolverine the animal.

Smart Alec, with Stitch, runs over crying that they are out of time. Wolverine asks Groundhog about the shelter, and Groundhog relies that it is coming, while thinking to himself that he is not fast enough though, and as the land chips away he believes he has blown it again, though this time there are lives at stake.

Suddenly, everyone’s attention is shifted to the bomb, where Saint Elmo stands at the base of it, holding onto it. Groundhog calls over to him, asking him what he is doing and the usually cheerful Elmo replies back, rather sullenly, that he is taking the missiles energy and transforming it into the light that is himself, absorbing it. Groundhog asks if that is possible, to which Smart Alec replies that it is too unstable, and his system wont be able to tolerate such a mass synthesis. Elmo calls over to his friends again, telling them to leave him be, that he is an old fool and was just too stubborn to know when his time amongst mortals was up. He tells them the world has changed, and its children are now powerful enough to fend for themselves. He asks them to forgive his blunders and blusters, and while he knows he did little good, he enjoyed every minute of his time amongst them. As tears fall down his cheeks he tells them he will miss them…

…And with that, a luminescence, numbing to mortal eyes and minds lights up the skies. Those present have a feeling of euphoria, and hear a booming that could have been a giant’s laughter. Whatever happened that night, without a doubt, everyone agrees that that night, the Northern Lights shone brighter than ever before.

(two days later)

In the barn, Dr. Michael Twoyoungmen is having heated words with Mac over Snowbird. Twoyoungmen tells Mac that he entrusted Narya’s education to him, on the understanding he could help her fit in, not battle super powered adversaries. Mac tells Twoyoungmen that there is only so much he can teach her, and for Narya to really grow she must taste the world and its dangers. As Mac is about to say “The price – “ Sean Benard interrupts, throwing the Groundhog helmet down, saying that the price is too high. Mac asks Twoyoungmen if he could have a moment, and as the medicine man leaves the barn he tells Hudson that this conversation is far from over.

Benard asks if there is dissent in the ranks. He tells Hudson that he is not surprised, and that he will make this discussion to the point – he quits. Hudson tells Sean that he can‘t, as the suppression of charges against him is conditional on him remaining with Department H. And that if he leaves, he will probably wind up in jail. Sean tells him that all he did was take out a few crooked cops, but that Hudson may have well as murdered Saint Elmo. Benard continues telling Hudson that he chucked the Flight, all raw trainees in the deep end with a borderline psychotic for a leader, and a smart guy who talks a good fight but folds under pressure. He tells Mac that even though he knew the Flight’s capabilities anyway, he still sent them in, and sent one to die.

Hudson tells Benard that he sent them to do a job, and Saint Elmo thought it important enough to die. Mac says that he mourns his passing, more than he can possibly know, but he won’t cheapen it with bitterness. Better the taste of these ashes, than those of a whole city.
Mac agrees with Sean that Wolverine needs watching, but he reminds him that Wolverine is extremely good at his job. He tells Benard that Smart Alec clearly needs more training before active status again, and perhaps a tiering system needs to be put in place, and A team, a B team…Mac tells Sean Benard that he had to move fast on this one, and had to go with what he had.

Turning his back on Hudson, Sean tells him that he doesn’t understand. He is simply helping breed a new and more dangerous arms race, and that only now, the weapons are flesh and blood. Sean tells Mac that that is something he will not be a part of. He tells Mac that he is leaving, even if it means going to jail or spending the rest of his life on the run, and that if he wants someone to wear the suit so badly, Sean tells him, he should have the courage of his own convictions, and wear it himself. With that he leaves and walks away from another man‘s dream.


Thinking back to all of this, Sean Benard thinks to himself that he never saw Hudson again, though to his credit the murder charges were never reinstated. Sean was put back on the force, and from a distance watched Hudson’s dream become a reality, only for Hudson to die, his dream almost dying with him, only to rise back each time. Sean wonders can a dream that has accomplished so much and inspired and helped so many truly be wrong? He thinks that Saint Elmo was right, the world had changed, and only men like Hudson had the vision to see it, and in seeing it, act. He knew there would always be another Egghead, a Magneto… and thanks to James MacDonald Hudson there will always, be an Alpha Flight.

Characters Involved: 

Groundhog / Det. Sean Benard, Saint Elmo, Smart Alec / Alec Thorne, Snowbird / Narya, Stitch / Jodi, Wolverine / Logan (all The Flight)

James MacDonald Hudson

Dr. Walter Langkowski

Dr. Michael Twoyoungmen




Power Man




Canadian Prime Minister

Deighton, Vancouver police officer turned crook

several butlers, maids and servants

in illustrative image:

Aurora, Box IV, Diamond Lil, Goblyn, Guardian I, Guardian II, Madison Jeffries, Manikin, Marrina, Northstar, Pathway, Persuasion, Puck, Saint Elmo, Sasquatch, Shaman, Smart Alec, Snowbird, Stitch, Weapon Omega, Windshear, Witchfire, Wolverine (all members of Alpha, Beta, Gamma Flight and The Flight)

Story Notes: 

The story is set before any other Alpha Flight appearance (as a team). While it manages to shed a little light on Department H’s still mysterious early years, and answers some questions, at the same time it opens up more.

A sequel titled “The Blooding” was planned as a follow up to “First Flight” but was never released.

This issue marks the first and only appearance of Groundhog aka Det. Sean Benard and Saint Elmo. Stitch, however, is seen once more in a flashback of Alpha Flight (1st series) #127.

Snowbirds hair is incorrectly colored as white throughout this issue, as her hair is, in fact, blond.

While Smart Alec may believe himself smarter than Reed Richards, aka Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four, this has yet to be confirmed. As shown this issue, Smart Alec needed a lot more training and in fact he never made it past Gamma Flight. His selfish behavior, no doubt, is what held him back.

The suit that Sean Benard wears as Groundhog was first seen in the backstory of Alpha Flight (1st series) #2, where Mac, who created it, stole it from his employer who planned on selling it to the American military. It would later be streamlined, and worn as a spandex costume first by Mac, then for a long time by his wife, Heather “Vindicator” McNeil Hudson, who has worn it much longer than her husband. A clone and a robot duplicate of Mac also wore similar versions.

By the time of this story, Walter Langkowski did not yet have the ability to transform into Sasquatch.

Mac wanting a giant room with mock dangers, and Wolverine saying it could be called “The Danger Room” is of course a reference to the X-Men‘s Danger Room.

This issue gratitudes to Alpha Flight’s early appearances by picking up on the close friendship between Wolverine and Snowbird. This relationship can also be seen in the classic Uncanny X-Men #140, the first X-Men and Alpha Flight mini series, and it has been mentioned again in Wolverine (2nd series) #179.

Hudson’s idea of a training tier system would eventually become Alpha (Canada’s Premiere Super Heroes), Beta (Back-up/training team) and Gamma Flights (Raw recruits). The uniforms worn by the members of the Flight would eventually be the uniforms that Gamma Flight wears, while Alpha and Beta Flight earned the right to wear their own, individual costumes.

The end of the issue has an illustrative image of all Flight members, next to Sean walking away, accompanied by the narration boxes of how he thinks about Alpha Flight and James MacDonald Hudson in the present day. However it leaves out two notable Alphans - Talisman and Box I, and Gamma Flight member Flashback.

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