What If...? (2nd series) #59

Issue Date: 
March 1994
Story Title: 
What If Wolverine had remained a captive of Alpha Flight

Simon Furman (writer), Bryan Hitch (penciler), Joe Rubenstein (inker), Janice Chiang (letterer), Steve Whitaker (colorist), Rob Tokar (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

In this reality, Wolverine did not escape Alpha Flight and return to the X-Men. Instead, he remained with Alpha Flight - but the X-Men turned back to Canada to rescue their teammate. General Chasen learned of this and sent word to Alpha Flight, wanting them to convince the X-Men to turn away, otherwise military action would be taken. But Northstar deleted Chasen’s message, and the X-Men were subsequently struck down and killed. This infuriated Vindicator, until he learned that the message from Chasen was deleted. Vindicator had the hard job of telling Wolverine the news, but he lied, claiming that he and Northstar tried to talk the X-Men around, but they would not listen. Vindicator managed to convince Wolverine to remain with Alpha Flight. Just in time as well, for the members of Beta and Gamma Flights had been kidnapped by Annihilus and taken to the Negative Zone. Wolverine led Snowbird, Sasquatch, Aurora, Northstar and Shaman into the Negative Zone and successfully negotiated the trainee heroes’ return. Wolverine continued to successfully lead Alpha Flight against other threats like the Master of the World, Sentinels, Mojo and more. However, after learning of a tragedy on Muir Island, Vindicator was contacted by Professor X, requesting Alpha Flight’s help in freeing Jean Grey from the clutches of the Hellfire Club. Wolverine led Alpha Flight on an infiltration of the Hellfire Club. Northstar worried that Wolverine knew he was responsible for the X-Men’s deaths, before Alpha Flight engaged Sebastian Shaw, Harry Leland and Donald Pierce in battle. Aurora located the remaining X-Men, before they were attacked by Jean Grey, now imbued with the power of the Phoenix, and the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club. Dark Phoenix taunted Wolverine and revealed to him that Northstar was responsible for the deaths of the X-Men, and that Vindicator helped cover it up. Dark Phoenix offered Northstar to Wolverine, but Wolverine managed to instead kill Dark Phoenix, as a part of Jean Grey reached out to him. With Dark Phoenix dead, the deaths of billions were prevented, and Wolverine agreed to remain with Alpha Flight, as he had made progress with the team - and personal progress with himself, and this world is a better place because of it.

Full Summary: 

Somewhere in Space-Time, the Watcher announces that for many Earth years he has studied the lives of Earth’s mightiest heroes and villains. That he has seen circumstance provoke action or inaction, giving birth to many and varied possible futures. Like, on previous occasions, his attention returns to one man, his life the axis around which a multitude of alternative realities revolve. Logan - soldier, spy, X-Man, a yhbrid of mutant healing power and science gone awry, his bones laced with unbreakable adamant, his hands tipped with razor-sharp claws - he is Wolverine.

The Watcher observes a scene some years old now - Logan has left the Canadian Secret Service and joined the X-Men, a decision unpopular among his one-time superiors. The Canadian super team, Alpha Flight, under the leadership of James MacDonald Hudson, Logan’s good and trusted friend, are ordered to bring him back. The X-Men resist and the battle in Calgary sets in motion a train of events that lead to triumph and tragedy. The Watcher explains that just like in “our” reality, the rogue blizzard unwittingly unleashed by Alpha Flight’s mystic, Shaman, is finally brought under control, at no little cost to herself, by Storm, a selfless act that the tempestuous Northstar repays with his fists. The battle was set to begin again, but Wolverine himself intervenes, enough damage has been done, he offers to surrender to Alpha Flight, if his fellow X-Men are allowed safe passage from the country.

The Watcher reveals that here is where the realities diverge, as in “ours” Wolverine escapes, rejoining his fellow X-Men. ‘For you, now I pose the question…what if Wolverine had remained a captive of Alpha Flight?’

Inside a plane, Cyclops, Storm, Colossus and Nightcrawler are being flown to safety by Annie (private pilot of the X-Men’s friend Jeryn Hogarth) - until Cyclops makes the decision to change course, telling her to head for the Rockies as soon as feasible and to prop below radar cover and head north to Canada. ‘We’re going to rescues Wolverine whether he wants us to or not!’ Cyclops declares.

At Mansfield airbase, the X-Men’s plane is being monitored, and a soldier radios General Chasen, informing him that he was right, as the X-Men have turned back. In his office, ‘Blast! Why couldn’t they have just left well enough alone?’ Chasen exclaims, before calling out to a woman called Charlton, standing at his desk, he tells her to mobilize all ground and air defense and to get him Hudson at Department H.

At Department H, beneath Parliament Hill, Jean-Paul “Northstar” Beaubier is in the communications room, and receives a message from Chasen: ‘Unless Alpha Flight can convince them to turn back, we will have to treat it as a hostile invasion and take military action. Message ends. I just hope to God…you get it in time!’ Northstar looks thoughtful - before suddenly erasing the priority message!

Over the Rockies, Annie suddenly informs Cyclops that they have been noticed and that there are four incoming fighters on an intercept course. Cyclops asks if they can evade them, but sees the jet streak out in front of the X-Men’s plane. Inside one of the jets, a Canadian officer informs control that he has visual contact with the target and that they are refusing to answer their hails. ‘Awaiting further instructions…’ he announces.

At control, Chasen remains silent. ‘Sir?’ Charlton calls out to him. Chasen asks if there is any word from Hudson, to which Charlton replies that there has been nothing. ‘This is General Chasen…’ the General announces.

Back in the X-Men’s plane, Storm suggests to Cyclops that she could warn them off, with enough weather turbulence to warn them away without actively endangering their lives. Cyclops orders Storm to do it, and to hurry - but before Storm can act, the jet is struck, and the four X-Men are knocked off their feet. ‘We’re under attack!’ Annie announces, telling the X-Men to hold tight as this is where it gets bumpy. Annie does what she can to evade the missiles - but the outcome is never really in doubt, as one strikes the middle of the plane. The X-Men are all knocked out, save for Nightcrawler, who screams as the plane free-falls to the Rockies below, and explodes in a blaze.

‘DEAD? All of them?’ James MacDonald Hudson a.k.a. Vindicator asks. Chasen and Charlton are in the office with him. ‘Oh Lord…you stupid, idiotic loyal fools!’ Mac exclaims, turning to Chasen, he asks why he was not notified, as he could have at least tried to talk to the X-Men. ‘At the very least we could have stopped the X-Men without blowing them out of the sky!’ Mac adds, before informing Chasen that whatever chance they had of convincing Wolverine to stay with Alpha Flight has gone for good. Frames by sun and shadow, Mac stands silent as Chasen informs him that, for what it is worth, they logged a call to Department HG at 17:40 hours, and checked it - discovering that it was erased at Department H’s end. ‘Tell me…who exactly was on monitor duty?’ Chasen asks. Mac grits his teeth - he is not happy.

‘DEAD?’ shouts Wolverine as he unsheathes his claws within his cell at Department H. Mac stands before him and tells Logan to believe him, that they did all they could. ‘Northstar and I, we tried to convince them to turn back. They wouldn’t listen! The pilots…they had no choice!’ Mac claims, before telling Logan that none of them realized how much he meant to the X-Men.

Nearby, Northstar stands with the rest of Alpha Flight - his twin sister Jeanne-Marie a.k.a. Aurora, Dr Walter “Sasquatch” Langkowski, Dr Michael Twoyoungmen a.k.a. Shaman and the enigmatic goddess Narya a.k.a. Snowbird. Sasquatch tells his teammates that Mac is nuts going in there alone, as Wolverine will tear him apart. Shaman tells Walter to take it easy, pointing out that it is Hudson’s call, that he wished to play it this way, so they must respect his wishes. But Michael admits that he has grave misgivings, and tells his teammates that he remembers Wolverine before - wild, uncontrollable and prone to berserker rages. ‘If he’s not careful…Hudson will end up very dead!’ Shaman declares. Northstar just frowns.

Back in the cell, Vindicator tells Wolverine that he did not come after him to settle old scores, and explains that lives depend on him coming back to lead Alpha Flight. Mac supposes that he should have waited and approached Xavier though official channels - but that would have taken time he simply does not have. ‘If my approach cost the X-Men their lives…it’s a burden I’ll bear forever’ Mac announces. Wolverine still holds his claws towards Mac, who tells Logan that the way he sees it, they can do this one of tow ways. ‘Either you help me save some lives…or you kill me right here and now’. Logan stares at Mac, before turning away - then he retracts his claws, remarking that he should have known they wouldn’t - couldn’t - leave it be. ‘All right, Jimmy…if you want me that bad, I’m in. Whatever home I had with the X-Men…it’s gone’ Wolverine, slightly forlorn, announces.

Soon, deep within Department H, Mac is not in uniform, instead wears civilian clothing and a lab coat as he motions a portal behind them, while Alpha Flight - including Wolverine - stand and watch. Mac announces that this is their “problem”, as a few day ago, a dimensional rift opened between their world and a bizarre anti-matter universe called the Negative Zone. Mac reveals to Wolverine that they just about managed to beat back and advance strike force of native creatures, but the retreating invaders took hostages - the members of Beta and Gamma Flights. Wolverine replies that he doesn’t understand, and asks Mac why he needs him. ‘You could have led Alpha Flight in!’ Wolverine points out.

As Logan lights a cigar, Mac explains that the portal has become increasingly unstable, needing vast amounts of energy and constant supervision just to keep it open. Mac declares that he dare not leave this lab for more than a few hours at a time, and since they have no idea how long this rescue will take, or even if time ruins at the same rate in there - ‘Okay!’ Wolverine exclaims, interrupting Mac. He throws his cigar to the ground and tells Mac that if Alpha Flight does not make it back, he wants him to contact Professor X and tell him what happened to the X-Men. ‘I figure I owe him at least that much’ Logan remarks. Mac asks Logan if he is sure, reminding him that Xavier already believes the X-Men dead, buried when Magneto’s volcano base exploded. ‘Isn’t it better to save him more pain, not raise his hopes only to dash them again?’ Mac suggests.

Wolverine agrees, and tells Jimmy that he is a good man. ‘Okay, Alpha…let’s do it!’ Logan exclaims. Snowbird, Aurora and Northstar all fly towards the dimension portal, while Wolverine, Sasquatch and Shaman are wearing jet packs which boost them upwards. Mac begins to cry as he watches them leave.

Inside the Negative Zone, Alpha Flight engage Annihilus and his forces in battle. ‘Yes! Come to me, little man. Death awaits you…at the hands of Annihilus!’ the villain exclaims as Wolverine leaps towards him. Wolverine slices at Annihilus, but narrowly misses. ‘You - you - maniac! Get away!’ Annihilus exclaims as he pushes Wolverine off the small asteroid like object they float on. ‘The Cosmic Control Rod! You…almost -’ Annihilus exclaims, when suddenly, ‘NO!’ he shouts as Snowbird, in the form of an ookpik (an arctic owl), flies down and uses her claws to grab the Cosmic Control Rod.

Wolverine, no longer wearing his jet pack, floats through the Negative Zone, until Aurora flies after him, telling him to relax, as she grabs him. Wolverine tells Jeanne-Marie that this confirms what he suspected - that the device on Annihilus’s throat was not only the source of his power, but from the looks of it, rather vital. ‘You do no know what you have done! Return the Cosmic Control Rod to me - NOW!’ the villain demands as his form begins to change. Wolverine is dropped down in front of Annihilus and begins to bargain with him. ‘I figure now we’ve both got something the other wants…let’s talk!’ Logan declares as he unsheathes his claws.

And soon, back at Department H, ‘A deal? You cut a deal?’ Mac asks in the lab as Wolverine lights another cigar. Alpha Flight and the members of Beta Flight -Puck, Marrina, Flashback and Box - stand nearby. ‘You, the born scrapper?’ Mac asks, surprised. Wolverine tells Jimmy that it is strange, and remarks that the odds, however stacked, never used to concern him. But somehow, with others depending on him for their lives, he suddenly found himself thinking with his head instead of his fists. ‘I guess…you got yourself your leader’ Logan declares.

And, over the months that follow, Wolverine rapidly transformed Alpha Flight from a rough-edged experiment into a fighting unit second to none - taking on such menaces as the Master of the World, Wendigo, Mojo, Arcade, the Sentinels, Magneto and Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. And though for Hudson, the lie is difficult to live with, he reasons that the ends justify the means.

Until one day, when he was in the communications room, listening to a report from Beth Winters, which revealed that a battle on Muir Island left two X-Men dead and Doctor Moira MacTaggert critically wounded. Mac tells himself that this is not good at all, as he has managed to keep all X-Men related news from Wolverine. ‘But this…’ Mac tells himself, until as message comes in over the monitor - a message from Professor Charles Xavier! ‘If this message has been received at Department H, it means that we X-Men have failed in our bid to cue Jean Grey from the clutches of the Hellfire Club. Whether we ourselves are dead or alive makes no difference if the power within Jean Grey has been subverted…countless lives are at risk!’ Xavier’s message stated. ‘Blast! Now what do I do? The tangled web just keeps getting more tangled!’ Mac thinks to himself.

Elsewhere, Wolverine is engaged in a training session with Gamma Flight’s Wild Child. The physical combat ends when Wolverine calls “time” and tells the young mutant that was a big improvement. Wild Child smiles and replies that he can feel his reflexes really coming on. Wolverine remarks that Wild Child is still a little reckless and wild, and tells him the trick is to channel that fire burning energy in his gut, to use the beast, not be used by it. Mac watches from the sidelines and thinks to himself that he had almost given up on Wild Child as a lost cause, but with Logan working with him one-on-one, he has really tamed the beast. ‘So much accomplished, so much to lose…’ Mac tells himself, before calling to Wolverine, informing him he needs a word.

Sometime later, Fifth Avenue, Manhattan. To enter the legendary Hellfire Club though the front foot, one has to be either very rich or very famous. Less “esteemed” mortals use the sewer - like Wolverine and Northstar. Logan radios to the rest of Alpha Flight, informing them that he is in position and to be ready fro his mark. Wolverine unsheathes his claws and Northstar looks very nervous. Logan glances back at Jean-Paul and asks him what is going on. ‘Ever since I took over this outfit you’ve been walking on eggshells around me. I get a scent from you I don’t like, not from a teammate’ Wolverine declares, adding that the scent is fear. Northstar remains silent, before Wolverine uses his claws to slice some cable and wire. ‘Go! Hit ‘em hard, Alpha!’ Logan calls out.

Outside, Aurora flies an almost naked Walter Langkowski towards the Hellfire club, dropping her handsome lover downwards, Walter then assumes his bestial form of Sasquatch, breaking into the Hellfire Club, startling some Hellfire Club guards, Walter jokes ‘Since our invite obviously got lost in the post…I’ve come to RSVP in person!’ Walter remarks that he appears to have laid the welcoming party out, when suddenly, a meta; fish punches him. At first Sasquatch is confused, but then smiles, as his attacker, Donald Pierce, does not appear to have hurt him. ‘This should be good. Go on, squirt, take your best shot -’ Walter tells him - only to be punched back with such a forge that he falls out the window to the street below.

Meanwhile, downstairs, ‘Fools! You cannot hope to defeat Sebastian Shaw!’ Shaw exclaims as he kicks Shaman over, while holding Snowbird, who had transformed into a polar bear, over his head. Wolverine is battling some Hellfire Club guards, and tells Shaman and Snowbird to forget brute force, as this guy drinks it. Shaw drops Snowbird to the ground and tells Shaman that he absorbs kinetic energy, so the harder they hit, the stronger he gets. Shaman reaches into his medicine pouch as he runs towards Shaw, and throws some dust at Shaw, telling him he will not strike his body, but his mind. Shaw falls to the ground as Shaman remarks the dust is from the Realm of Dreams. ‘I wish you pleasant ones’ he tells Shaw. Wolverine meets up with Shaman and tells him that they need to get going before any reinforcements arrive - but suddenly, both men keel over, as they are crushed from the inside. Harry Leland stands before them, announcing that is his talent, to take the mass of an object or person and increase it geometrically until they are crushed by their own body weight.

Down below in the sewer system, Northstar shines a flashlight around and sees bodies of Hellfire Club guards, sliced and diced. Jean-Paul tells himself that he thought he was fast, but Wolverine had dealt with the guards before he realized they were even under attack. ‘Merciless, remorseless…he bore these men no malice and yet still he gutted them like dogs!’ Jean-Paul thinks to himself, while wondering if Wolverine would deal with him should he ever discover that it is he who is responsible for the deaths of the X-Men. Suddenly, Northstar’s comm-link activates, with Wolverine calling out to him. Jean-Paul realizes that it sounds like Wolverine is in agony, and speeds out of the sewer.

‘Time for the back-up to hit the front line!’ Jean-Paul exclaims as he punches Leland, causing the Hellfire Club member to hit his head as he lands on the floor. Wolverine gets to his feet and thanks Northstar, remarking that he is glad he kept Jean-Paul in reserve. Shaman also gets to his feet as Sasquatch enters the room and throws the motionless Donald Pierce down with Shaw and Leland. ‘I guess that makes a set. Pierce may have had one heck of a right - but he also had a glass jaw!’ Sasquatch exclaims. But Wolverine declares that they are not finished yet, as they still need to find Jean Grey - and the X-Men, if they are still alive. Shaman helps Snowbird up while Wolverine contacts Aurora, ‘Talk to me, darling’ he exclaims.

Upstairs, Aurora enters a room, and informs Wolverine that she has found the X-Men - Professor X, Havok, Angel, Iceman and the Beast. ‘They’re alive, but - OH!’ Aurora gasps as she turns around, confronted by someone else, Aurora’s transmissions is interrupted by a massive SKRAAA!

Wolverine hears this and exclaims ‘No! I figured Jeannie for a captive, but what if -’ There is another SKRAAA, this time directed at Wolverine, knocking him backwards, he lands with his teammates, who gaze up the stairs. ‘Wolverine?’ Northstar asks. ‘Who -?’ Sasquatch gasps, as two people stand before Alpha Flight. One is Jean Grey, although she is dressed as the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club. The man introduces himself as Jason Wyngarde and welcomes Alpha Flight. He tells them it is a pity their acquaintance is to be quite so short lived, and an instant later, everything goes black.

Soon, Wolverine rouses, ‘Jean? Jeannie? Oh God. JEANNIE!’ Wolverine exclaims. ‘What have they done to you?’ he asks, as Jean hover before him, in a red and yellow costume - the Dark Phoenix! Jason Wyngarde stands at Jean’s side, while the members of Alpha Flight and the X-Men float behind Jean, in some form of suspended animation. Answering Wolverine’s question, Jean exclaims ‘Nothing, my dear Logan…that I did not wish them to!’ while Wyngarde thanks Wolverine for dealing so comprehensively with Shaw and the others, as it saved him doing it himself. Wyngarde boasts that he is now Black King of the Hellfire Club, and with his Black Queen at his side, he will soon rule this world.

Logan realizes that it is Jean, but tells himself she is not the woman he knew, that she has changed, even more than he thinks than Wyngarde realizes. ‘He thinks he controls her…he’s wrong’ Wolverine thinks to himself. Suddenly, Wyngarde declares that Jean has a little game devised for their captive audience. Jean leans towards Wolverine and strokes his face, ‘Indeed, Jason my love. And it’s one my little man-animal here will so enjoy!’ Jean replies, declaring that it is called truth and consequences. ‘I show Wolverine the truth about the death of the X-Men, and you, my sweet Northstar…take the consequences’ Jean explains as she flies over to Northstar. Suddenly - images fill Wolverine’s mind - the X-Men, Vindicator, the plane, Northstar - erasing the message.

‘No…No! You! You killed them! You killed them all! Dead!’ Logan exclaims, before unsheathing his claws and moving towards Northstar, warning him that he is dead meat. ‘Do it!’ Jean encourages Logan, as she thrusts Northstar towards him. Jean-Paul cries out in agony as Wolverine’s claws slice along side him as Jean throws the two men together. ‘Yes! Use those claws…but slowly, my love! Flay him by inches -’ Jean tells Logan, when suddenly, Wolverine spins around - and shoves his claws through Jean’s chest. ‘Jeannie?’ Logan calls out as Jean collapses in his arm. ‘Oh, God…Jeannie…what have I done?’ Logan asks.

Jean looks up at Wolverine and tells him ‘What had to be done. That moment when our minds touched, the part of me that was still Jean Grey begged you to set me free! Before the Phoenix power overwhelmed me completely and countless lives were lost!’ Jean exclaims, before telling Logan that she has saved her - from herself. And with that Jean Grey dies in Wolverine’s arms. Logan holds onto her body as the X-Men and Alpha Flight gather around their friend.

The Watcher announces that in this reality, Wolverine prevents the rise of Dark Phoenix, and the deaths of billions on the planet D’Bari. ‘But our tale is not yet over…’.

James Hudson paces in front of an office. ‘It’s been over an hour now! What are they talking about in there? What’s there to discuss? It’s a foregone conclusion he won’t stay, not after what Northstar did and I helped cover up’ Mac tells himself. Suddenly, the doors open and Wolverine and Xavier appear. ‘Talking to yourself, Jimmy? Guilt makes you do that’ Wolverine declares. James tells Logan and Professor Xavier that he does not want to hold them up. ‘Why don’t I just -’ he begins, but Xavier informs Hudson that Wolverine is staying with Alpha Flight. ‘Naturally, but - WHAT?’ Mac asks, confused. Puffing on a cigar, Wolverine announces that he is staying, although he feels that he should walk out of here and never look back, and points out that a few months ago he would have done so without hesitation. ‘Well, maybe enough hesitation to gut Northstar on the way out’ Logan adds.

Wolverine tells Mac that he was right - that leadership has given him a fresh perspective and soothed the savage beast. He exclaims that he has a job to do, and it is only partly done. Wolverine tells Mac that he sees Wild Child as a reflection of himself, what he might have become. Logan adds that he sees Northstar as arrogant and stupid, but full of potential. ‘If I give in, I give in on them. I go back to the X-Men, I lose all I have gained’ Wolverine explains, telling Mac that he wanted him, and now he has him - whether he likes it or not!

The Watcher announces that so it is that though Wolverine remains always on call should the X-Men need him, but he is first and foremost the leader of Alpha Flight - and the Watcher remarks that perhaps the world is a better place because of it.

Characters Involved: 

Aurora, Northstar, Sasquatch, Shaman, Snowbird, Vindicator, Wolverine (all Alpha Flight)

Box, Flashback, Marrina, Puck (all Beta Flight)

Wild Child (member of Gamma Flight)

Banshee, Colossus, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Storm (all X-Men)

Angel, Beast, Havok, Iceman, Professor X (all new X-Men)

Jean Grey / Black Queen / Dark Phoenix

Harry Leland, Donald Pierce, Sebastian Shaw, Jason Wyngarde (all Hellfire Club)

Hellfire Club soldiers

Annihilus and his warriors

General Chasen


Aibrbase staff


Annie (the X-Men’s pilot)

Beth Winters (reporter)

The Watcher

In Illustrative Image:


Master of the World



Quicksilver & the Scarlet Witch



On Video recordings:

Havok, Iceman, Multiple Man, Polaris (all X-Men)

Dr Moira MacTaggert


Story Notes: 

This possible reality takes place following events of the X-Men and Alpha Flight’s firs encounter, chronicled in X-Men (1st series) #120-121.

In the 616 reality no story of invaders from the Negative Zone kidnapping the members of Beta and Gamma Flight has ever been chronicled.

It is odd that the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were shown depicted with the villains that Alpha Flight took on, as by this time in 616 continuity, they were long-serving members of the Avengers.

At this point in time, Snowbird should not be able to travel outside of Canada.

Simon Furman, writer of this issue, was the regular writer of Alpha Flight (1st series) at the time.

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