X-Men Unlimited (1st series) #45

Issue Date: 
June 2003
Story Title: 

Chuck Austen (writer), Pop Mhan (penciler), Derek Fridolfs (inker), SotoColor’s J. Brown (colors), Randy Gentile (letters), Stephanie Moore (Assistant Editor), C. B. Cebulski (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

James MacDonald Hudson, aka Alpha Flight's Guardian, is having flashbacks to various times in his life, mostly important events like meeting Heather and the formation of Department H. Mac is dead though, and is seeing his life flash before his eyes. He lay in a crater, and the man who killed him, a Department H scientist called Jiroult, gloats over Mac’s body, and talks of how he and Heather can be together now. Mac is powerless to do anything. Shaman picks up on Mac’s predicament, and soon, he, Snowbird and Sasquatch are at Mac’s body. They don’t know what happened, but Shaman spoke to the air spirits and they are keeping Mac alive. They get his body back to the lab and all three think of ways they can help Mac, even arguing about whether they should just leave him for dead. They notice that the testing grounds where Mac was found had been recorded, and watch the video, seeing Jiroult kill Mac. Suddenly, Mac wakes and tells them that Jiroult is going to kill his unborn baby, so they have to get to Heather. Sasquatch feels guilty about what happened, because while he knew Jiroult was a little unstable, he didn’t fire him. They make their way to Mac and Heather’s house, but possibly too late, as Heather is visited by Jiroult, who tells her he killed James, and has come to her so they can be together. Heather is extremely upset and starts crying. When she tells Jiroult that he is crazy and that she doesn’t like him, he points the gun that killed Mac at her – but Puck crashes through the window just in time. Jiroult and Puck battle it out, until the rest of Alpha Flight arrives. Guardian is wearing a prototype of his cybernetic suit, and challenges Jiroult, who is determined to kill everyone present as he can’t have Heather. Mac tells the others to get out, while he tries to absorb the energy from Jiroult’s overloading weapon. Meanwhile, Heather goes into labor, on the front lawn to her house, which blows up with Mac still inside. Slowly he emerges from the flames, and is introduced to his baby daughter, before he dies. A few days later he wakes up in hospital, alive thanks to Archangel’s healing powers. Surrounded by his friends, including Wolverine, he is introduced to his baby daughter properly.

Full Summary: 

(flashbacks, over the course of Mac’s life)

James MacDonald Hudson is reflecting on the past. He sees the day he was born, and named after his mother’s father. He remembers how he never wanted to be a hero, and was more content, even as a toddler in his parents’ lounge, to build things. As he grew older he discovered his love for science, and remembers how he felt when his gifts as a scientist were recognized, even winning an award at the “Toronto Young Scientist Competition”, before later being granted funding for his dream, Department H. Mac remembers meeting Heather, his employer’s secretary, and her being the only thing Mac could love even more than science – more than his own life. He remembers how perfect his life was as a scientist, why would he ever want to become a hero? But he did. A guy in a suit – a suit that was meant for someone else to wear.
All Mac ever wanted in life was to have his work, to love his family, and be happy. Mac and his pregnant wife Heather suddenly look up from the couch they are sitting on. It hits him like a knife in the gut. Mac is not living this life, he is watching it. Because James MacDonald Hudson is dead.


Mac is laying in a crater, his Guardian costume torn and broken, his body twisted, his face showing an expression of shock, since passed, and frozen. He knows the scientific theories behind the phenomenon, that is, neural impulses which are spontaneously triggered by the shock of death. The sudden and uncontrolled flood of memories seen as “life flashing before us”…that knowledge does not make him feel any better. Standing above Hudson, a man in a lab coat, holding a very large gun, which seeps a green smoke, as if fired very recently, asks him if he is okay. He quickly adds, not that he wants him to be though. As scattered flames surround the crater, Mac watches this man asking stupid questions, no longer comprehending, he guesses that saves his life.

The man in the lab coat, who also has a mullet, says ‘Okay, you look…please be dead’. He feels Mac’s neck for a pulse, but feels nothing. He comments on how hard he is breathing, but glad that it worked. The man in the coat, who is quite mentally unstable, doesn’t believe that he beat Mac. Mac remembers testing the cybernetic suit which grants him electromagnetic powers, but wonders what happened to him…The other man stands up, and smiling wickedly, says that Heather will love him now. He decides that they will have to get rid of the baby of course. Inside of his own mind James cries ‘No’. The other man begins to walk away from Mac, and out loud decides that they cannot raise Mac’s child as it would be ‘sick or something’. He decides Heather will be fine, as he will get her pregnant again, right away even! Mac cries ‘No’ again. The other man whistles to himself as he gets into his jeep and drives away. Mac cries ‘No. No. No!’ And then screams….

His mental screams are picked up by Dr. Michael Twoyoungmen, some miles away in his medical office. Shaman asks ‘James’? As he passes something to his protégé, who tells him that his name is Chuck. Chuck Moss tells Shaman he looks shocked, and asks him what happened. Shaman looks terribly worried, and tells Chuck that he felt… Moss interrupts him and asks Shaman if wants to give him the medicine bag, but Shaman quickly runs from his office. Chuck calls to Michael, asking if this means he can go to the Canadians game?

Later, Shaman is using his power of levitation, and is followed closely by the goddess Snowbird, and they are headed for Guardian. Michael tells Narya that he should be just over the rise, and Snowbird tells him that she sees it – and Sasquatch! Holding Mac’s broken body, Sasquatch tells Snowbird and Shaman as they land that they were all too late, as Mac is long past dead. Snowbird is stunned and asks what happened. Sasquatch tells his teammates that he doesn’t know, but that something ‘kicked the hell out of him’. Sasquatch continues, saying that even if the extensive damage done to Mac’s body could be repaired, his brain would be oxygen deprived by now.

Shaman says no, that he reached through time and space to ask the air to feed him and hold him in stasis. Michael tells the others that the air agreed, and has watched over their leader until they could arrive to help him. Sasquatch looks doubtful, and asks Michael if by “ancestors” he means spirits of some kind. Shaman smiles, telling Sasquatch that he is correct, and asks him to sound a little less cynical, as one of his own ancestors is helping as well. Sasquatch tells Shaman that if one of his ancestors is actually helping, then its quite unlikely they are one of his ancestors. Sasquatch tells Shaman that if the “air” is willing, they should get Mac back to their labs, as there may be some unanswered questions as to what happened to him there.

Soon, in the lab, Sasquatch goes over scans of Mac’s broken body, while Shaman tends mystically to his wounds, and Snowbird stands at Mac’s side, concerned for her friend. Sasquatch reads his companions some of Mac’s injuries – ‘Shattered fibulas in both legs, shattered tibia in left, right arm is nearly torn away, right hand destroyed, one eye blinded, every rib cracked at least once’. Sasquatch hesitantly tells them that Mac’s skull is more fragments than anything else at the moment also, and is surprised at how the forcefield of the suit did nothing to protect Mac from whatever it was that hit him. Shaman says ‘He never even liked it. Being the hero….’

Snowbird tells the men that they cannot give up, that they must do something. Transforming into his human form, Dr. Walter Langkowski, a.k.a. Sasquatch puts a comforting hand on Narya’s shoulder and tells her that even if Mac were still alive, he wouldn’t be for much longer, and at the moment, there is not much left of him to live. Walt tells Michael that he is open to ideas, no matter how esoteric. He says ‘Tell me to burn incense, shake maracas, dance in a circle…I’ll do it. Just give me an answer’. Michael tells Walt that his offer is welcome, but will not help, as his ancestors are doing everything they can to help Mac return to the living, he is just having difficulty.

Walt folds his arms and suggests then that they call it a day and give Heather the bad news. Snowbird turns to her friend angrily and asks him how he can say that so coldly? She starts pointing her finger a lot and reminds Walt that Heather is expecting their first child any day now, that she has loved James since forever, and tells Walt that this could kill her. Uncharacteristically, Walt asks Shaman why women are so overly dramatic in these situations, and tells Snowbird that it will hurt Heather for a while, but it would not kill her. Suddenly, a clicking sound is heard within the lab. Snowbird asks what it was, and Walt tells her it was the test site video recorder turning itself off. He seems a little surprised that there was a camera recording the area where Mac was killed. Shaman suggests they look at it to see what happened. While the three Alphans watch the video recording, Mac who is still motionless, thinks that this cannot be the end, that he has to get up – suddenly he thinks of Heather.

Meanwhile, Heather is watering plants and tidying up her home, when the doorbell rings. She says ‘Just a minute!’ But the uninvited visitor bangs on the door, impatient. Heather opens the door… and smiles when she sees Dr. Jiroult, asking him what he is doing at her home. Jiroult grins and tells her he has come with good news… and tells her that James is out of the way, so there is nothing to keep them apart. As he says ‘With him dead, we’re free to be together now, you and I’. Heather looks in part confused, partly in disbelief but mostly scared.

In the lab, Walt, Narya and Michael are still watching the video recording of Mac’s death. Walt mentions how much of a huge blast it was, but adds he didn’t see what caused it, and asks if the others did. Shaman tells him he only saw a blur of motion for a frame or two. Walt suggests to Michael that he do some “magicky” thing and change the camera angle. Michael reminds Walt that he keeps telling him it is not a “magicky” thing, but science. He tells him that he just doesn’t want to understand – suddenly the viewscreen shows Jiroult. Walt tells the others he knows him, that he works with Mac and he at Department H. Recognizing the man on the screen, Walt says ‘I know why he murdered James’, just as James stands up from the bed and cries ‘Heather’. The three founding Alphans turn at the surprise of Mac rising, and with an obvious speech problem due to his injuries, he tells them to help Heather.

Back in the Hudson home, Heather backs away from Jiroult as he enters the living area. The woman asks the intruder what he is talking about and where James is. Jiroult tells her that he is still out on the proving grounds in a crater. He asks her if it matters, and she says it does to her, as he is her husband! Heather asks Jiroult what he meant when he said Mac was dead. Jiroult asks Heather if the concept is that hard to grasp, and shows her the gun he shot Mac with. Jiroult asks her why she is so upset, after all, she told him that she wished she had married him instead of Mac, and that she meant it…didn’t she? Heather looks as if the wind was just knocked out of her.

Back in the lab, Shaman and Walt are helping Mac walk the halls with Snowbird at their side. Shaman tells James that he has to lie down and rest, but his leader just says ‘No, Heather’. Walt asks what about Heather. Mac says that Jiroult is going to kill his baby. Everyone stops in their tracks, and Walt, who looks stunned, tells James that he is so sorry, as it is all his fault. Michael asks Walt what is his fault, but Mac tells them to worry about it later, and asks for the exo-suit. Walt tells James that he is being crazy, that he cannot think about putting the exo-skeletons on in his condition! Mac just gets mad and tells his friend to get the suit ‘Now’!

Meanwhile, Heather tells Jiroult that she was joking, as Mac made her mad, and he said something nice – Jiroult cuts her off telling her that Mac always makes her mad, and he makes her happy! Heather starts to cry and tells Jiroult she actually told him he made her laugh, that he was nice and she appreciated it. She tells him that that doesn’t give him the right to… she asks Jiroult if he really killed her husband. Jiroult looks mad and tells Heather he cannot tell her that, and she starts crying some more, and the fear overwhelms her as her body shakes. Holding up the weapon, Jiroult tells Heather that Mac thought they were going to test the new neural interface in the Guardian suit, but that he surprised him with the weapon. Proudly, Jiroult tells Heather that it is the Zero gun they have been developing. Heather says ‘You miserable son of a –‘ Jiroult asks her if she is saying that she never loved him. Heather tells him he is crazy, that he is an insane idiot, and that if he has killed her husband, she tells him she will see him dead. Jiroult tells her she won’t, and aiming the Zero gun at her, tells her she will never see anything ever again…

In Alpha Flight’s jet, Mac is assembled in one of the prototype designs of his suit. Piloting the jet as Sasquatch, Walt tells Shaman that Jiroult was a junior scientist they had hired a few months ago, but Jiroult was a little odd, and James did not want to employ him, until Walt changed his mind. Michael grumbles that he should have flown on ahead with Narya. Sasquatch tells him to stop complaining and to listen, that Jiroult turned out to be a little unstable, but relatively harmless. Shaman points and tells Walt to watch out for the Metro building. Sasquatch tells Shaman he sees it, and to relax, and continuing with his story, says that Jiroult had an obsession with Mac – about how good looking he was, how smart and heroic…but more than James, he was obsessed with Heather. James tried to get Jiroult fired, but Walt objected saying that James thought it was silly to think that Jiroult was too unstable, maybe even dangerous. Solemnly, Sasquatch tells Shaman that eventually, he too came to see Jiroult for his frightening behavior, and that James was right, Jiroult was deeply envious of him. Walt regrets that he did not see it sooner.

At the Hudson home, a window smashes, as the Alphan Puck jumps through it, and uses his acrobatic skills to knock Jiroult over, and the blast from the Zero gun narrowly misses the diminutive Alphan. Jiroult manages to reclaim the upper hand when he pushes Judd to the floor and aims the gun at him, telling him he never liked him. Judd says ‘Breaks my heart’ before telling Heather to run, and a loud blast goes off in her home as she runs out of it crying. She runs into Shaman, who takes her hand and they enter the yard where Snowbird meets them. Heather tells Shaman Jiroult killed Puck, and that he said he killed James. She asks Michael if Jiroult was lying, and if Mac is okay. Shaman turns to his old friend and tells her he hopes so. Clinging onto him for support, Heather asks him what he means by “hopes so”, but before he can reply, she tells him her waters have broken, that she is going into labor.

Back inside the house, Guardian has grabbed the Zero gun, and tells Walt and Eugene, who didn’t die, to get out, as Jiroult has locked the weapon into overload. Jiroult just cries that he cannot let Mac have Heather, as she is his! Sasquatch reaches out to Mac and understanding what he intends to do, tells him he can’t. Guardian tells Walt he even said so himself that he is a dead man, but as long as he has one good arm, and a suit holding him together…he tells Walt that he knows he never wanted to be a hero, but he is going to die anyway, for his wife and baby. Guardian continues to absorb the energies from the gun, and tells Sasquatch to get out. Turning to Jiroult, who is also holding the gun, he is about to say something, but Jiroult cuts him off and tells him that he is going to stay and watch him die. Mac tells the demented scientist he was hoping he would say that, before the Hudson home explodes, with Walt and Puck leaping out in time, and Snowbird standing over Shaman, who is acting as midwife for Heather, already laying on the ground in birthing position.

As Heather, Shaman, Snowbird, Walt and Puck look on at the raging fire, Mac thinks that no one ever sets out to be a hero, you just become one. As he emerges from the flames, the Alphans look on shocked and relieved, after all, Mac has returned from the dead many times, why should this time be any different? Mac thinks that when you have everything you want in life, you want to live to enjoy it. He approaches his wife and teammates – his friends, and asks if it that is his baby? He thinks that ‘when something comes along that means more than everything you ever wanted in life, that’s when you find it within you, quite unexpectedly, to be more than you are. To be the hero’.

Shaman holds the newborn out to him, and tells Mac it is a girl. His friends all smile, and James says ‘Look how beautiful she is’. Heather is obviously relieved to see her husband. Mac asks everyone if they have ever seen anything so perfect…then he collapses. Everyone leans forward and Heather cries out to him. Mac thinks that then you suddenly are. With fire raging in the background, and the Alphans looking on stunned, Heather screams and kneels beside her husband crying.

(days later)

Mac wakes up in a hospital bed, surrounded by his friends. Puck comments on how lucky they are because of the mutant x-gene. Mac tells everyone he thought he was dead, and Michael tells him they all did. Walt tells him he should, but thanks to the X-Men’s Archangel, who is present along with Wolverine, and his friend and fellow X-Men member Phoenix, and the recently discovered healing factor in his blood, Mac could be restored. Heather passes the baby to Mac, who joyfully comments on how he can move his arms and hands again. Heather tells Mac that their daughter has been waiting a long time for him to wake up. Mac looks on at his daughter, and cuddles her in his arm. He tells her she is pretty, they most precious thing in the world.

Characters Involved: 

Guardian, Puck, Sasquatch, Shaman, Snowbird (all Alpha Flight)

Heather McNeil Hudson

Mac and Heather’s unnamed baby daughter

Chuck Moss

Archangel, Phoenix IV, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Dr. Jiroult, a staff member of Department H

In flashbacks:

James MacDonald Hudson (as a baby, as a teen and as a young adult)

Mac’s parents

Heather Hudson

School students

Government officials

Unnamed Department H staff

Guardian, Puck, Sasquatch, Shaman, Snowbird (all Alpha Flight)

Story Notes: 

Alpha Flight next appear in Uncanny X-Men #421-422, which acts as sort of a “sequel” to this issue, in which they try to remove all the students from the institute because they believe them to be in danger whilst living there.

Mac never wanted to become a hero, and the cybernetic suit he designed and built was intended to be worn by Detective Sean Bernard a.k.a. Groundhog, but he did not agree with James dream, and quit. [Alpha Flight Special: “First Flight”]

Twice in this issue Snowbird says “Oh my God”, this is extremely out of character for her, as the demi-goddess acknowledges no deity other than her own family.

Sasquatch is not as much of a disbeliever in magicks as he is made out to be, as his origin of becoming Sasquatch is in part magical. [Alpha Flight (first series) #11, #23-24]

Snowbird’s reaction to Sasquatch’s suggestion of telling Heather that Mac is dead is quite expected, considering she too was pregnant, and gave birth, but the baby was instantly possessed by a demonic being, and after a battle escaped. [Alpha Flight (first series) #36-#38] With the help of Shaman she tracked her son, whom she was forced to slay after it killed her mortal husband and did various nasty things to her friends. [Alpha Flight (first series) #44]

Heather is wearing a top that says “Baby on board”, with an arrow pointing to her stomach.

Puck rescuing Heather is quite nostalgic, as he once was in love with her, though she was interested in Mac, and after his apparent death, Madison Jeffries. Puck longed for her throughout both runs of Alpha Flight, but when they eventually decided to give a relationship a try, it did not work out. [Wolverine (2nd series) #142]

Archangel discovered his ability to heal injuries and resurrect the recently deceased with his blood in Uncanny X-Men #419. Since then he has used it on Husk, Juggernaut, and now Guardian.

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