Alpha Flight (1st series) #41

Issue Date: 
December 1986
Story Title: 
It’s Not Easy Being Purple

Bill Mantlo (Writer), David Ross (Penciler), Wilce Portacio (Inker), Bob Sharen (Colorist), Jim Novak (Letterer), Joanne Spaldo (Assistant Editor), Carl Potts (Editor), Jim Shooter (Editor-in-Chief)

Brief Description: 

Madison Jeffries becomes a full member of Alpha Flight and begins to work on freeing Roger Bochs from the restraints of the Box armor, while Northstar takes a leave of absence, returning to his beloved skiing, a sport he was forced to give up because of his powers. But while there, he is exposed as a mutant when a young woman, Kara Killgrave, who recently inherited her father, the Purple Man’s power for mind control tells a young woman to jump off a cliff, and not knowing the consequences of her actions, the young woman actually jumps off the cliff, until Jean-Paul saves her. Confronting the crowd, Jean-Paul is accused of cheating, and tells the onlookers that the fact he can never know for sure if he uses his powers while skiing or not is enough to make him never ski again. Leaving the crowd he is followed by Kara, calling herself the Purple Girl, who only happens to be at the ski contest because she knew Jean-Paul, her idol, was going to be there, and so she stole her mother’s credit cards, only a short time after her mutantcy manifested. Kara follows Jean-Paul, only to accidentally put him under her control and orders him to bring her exotic flowers, so he flies her to an atoll in the Pacific. There, they go swimming, although Kara cannot bring herself to make him take his briefs off, however, once under the water, the Purple Girl’s control of Jean-Paul fades. Yet, when she is attacked by a crocodile, Jean-Paul goes to her rescue, disposing of the animal, he then contemplates what to do about Kara. Not wanting her to be a freak among freaks such as he, he figuratively remarks that he should leave her on the atoll to die. Panicking, Kara uses her powers on Northstar and orders him to take her to Alpha Flight.

Full Summary: 

Three o’clock in the morning, in the suburb of Etobicoke in Toronto, a time much too late for a thirteen year old girl who has school the next morning to have stayed out. However, as she sneaks into her home, it is only because in her condition she was afraid to come home. She sneaks past her mother’s room and in the bathroom she runs herself a bath, where once in the bath she begins to rub her skin furiously…for earlier that night, it suddenly turned…purple!

Suddenly, the young woman’s mother enters the room, and says ‘Kara, honey what on Earth are you doing taking a bath at this time of the –’ her sentence is cut off when she sees her now-purple daughter in the bath before her. Kara looks shamefully up at her mother, and asks her what is wrong with her, as she was just at the party, having fun, not drinking or doing drugs – or anything else she wasn’t supposed to – when suddenly, she turned purple!

Kara wraps herself in a towel and tells her mother that she got scared and not knowing what to do, ran home, hoping that she would get there before anyone saw her – ‘But it wont come off!’ Melanie Killgrave hugs her daughter and ads she sits on the edge of the bed asks her if she is sick, or if she has AIDS and if she is going to die. Melanie tells Kara that she isn't sick, nor is it her fault, but that what happened is what she has always feared would happen…. And as a tearful Kara glances at a photo of Olympic Skier, Jean-Paul Beaubier taped to her mirror, Melanie tells her that it is time she told her about her father!

Meanwhile, at a place called Tamarind Island, which is just a dot off the coast of British Columbia, in the straits of San Juan De Fuca, is Tamarind Island, the headquarters and home to Canada’s premiere super hero team – Alpha Flight! Sitting around the meeting table is: team leader Heather McNeil Hudson a.k.a. Vindicator; Alpha Flight’s ally Madison Jeffries; Roger Bochs inside the Box armor; mutant twins Aurora and Jean-Paul Beaubier also know as the strikingly handsome Northstar. Next to the twins are the ancient Eugene Milton “Puck” Judd and the beautiful goddess Narya, whose codename is Snowbird; followed by former Alpha Flight member Elizabeth Twoyoungmen, a young woman recently known as the phenomenally powerful Talisman. The new Talisman however is her father, detached from the team, Dr. Michael “Shaman” Twoyoungmen leans against a wall.

Heather tells the team that she knows they are all exhausted after the battle with Pestilence and the Atlantis affair, but that there is one important order of business they must address before they rest. ‘What now, Vindicator?’ Aurora whines as her brother reminds Heather that some of them have lives outside of Alpha Flight. ‘Without Heather, have I any life at all?’ Judd asks himself as Snowbird exclaims that unless this concerns rescuing her baby from Pestilence, she probably isn't very interested in whatever it is. Elizabeth looks at Heather, her former baby sitter and wonders why she is even here, while as Talisman she belonged, but she abused her power and lost it to her father!

Heather stands up from her seat and wonders if exhaustion is all it takes to undo the glue that holds Alpha Flight together. Heather reminds everyone that with Marrina’s marriage to the Sub-Mariner, they are short one member of Alpha Flight, and would like to propose a replacement in Madison Jeffries. Madison is surprised at this and declares that he is honored before asking Heather if she is sure, as he is nothing more than a tinkerer. Box reminds his best friend that he is actually a transmutator who can make metal and machinery do his bidding, adding that he has used his power to aid Alpha Flight many times before, not to mention building the Box armor.

Standing up, Bochs tells Jeffries that he has to help him get out of the armor, so he can touch Aurora without giving her goose bumps again! Bochs proclaims that he knows that is a selfish reason for his nomination, and declares that he is also doing it because he is his friend. Jeffries tells Bochs that he hopes they will always be friends. When the men have finished their banter, Heather opens the floor to discussion. Twoyoungmen tells the Alphans to do as they will. Elizabeth glances up at her father and realizes that the same power that almost led her to doom Alpha Flight is destroying her father, for when he assumed the power of the Talisman he may have saved Elizabeth from her humanity, at the cost of his own.

Aurora exclaims that she votes ‘oui’ as long as she gets to design Madison’s costume. Northstar turns to his sister and says ‘something impossibly form fitting no doubt’. Aurora looks at her brother and asks him since when does hi object to having attractively dressed men around? Heather tells the twins to knock it off before asking all for those in favor of having Jeffries join the team to say “aye”, to which everybody does – except Shaman. Heather notices this and wonders what has becoming the Talisman done to him.

Jeffries declares that he is not very good at speeches and so would rather thank them all by getting to work on getting Bochs’ out of the armor. ‘The sooner, the better’ Bochs says to Aurora, and she agrees. Northstar, disgusted with his sister stands up and declares that now the business is done he intends to take a leave of absence. ‘To do what, Northstar?’ Aurora asks, the reply being that Jean-Paul reminds everyone he was an internationally acclaimed ski champion before he joined Alpha Flight, and has now been invited to return to that career.

Thinking to himself, this return to his former career also spares him the pain of witnessing his sister lust after Bochs, a legless cripple, should he ever be restored to manhood again. Aurora is somewhat shocked by her brothers’ announcement and asks him if he is joking, reminding him that he knows his powers of speed and flight prevent him from competing fairly. Taken aback by this accusation, Jean-Paul exclaims that he would never use his power to cheat and is shocked that the implication comes from his sister. He quickly declares that it is none of their business, but he is skiing in exhibition meets only.

Turning from the room, Jean-Paul asks why he shouldn’t hesitate to employ his gifts to win, as every athlete he knows does! Heather calls to Northstar and reminds him that “gifts” such as his come with certain responsibilities. Bitterly, Northstar says ‘Yes, first and foremost – to myself!’

One week later, at the world famous Banff Springs Hotel, Kara Killgrave stands before a mirror, examining her new hairstyle she thinks that because she has done herself up so punk that no one will wonder why she is purple, that they will just think it is the latest craze! ‘Madonna, eat your heart out!’ Kara says as she walks out the room, before adding ‘Sure, like she’d ever be jealous of a freak like me!’ Kara declares that she is not going to let people ruin her fun, not after she stole her mothers’ credit cards so she could afford to run away!

Outside Kara’s chalet, the slopes beckon to the purple-hued young lady, where at the gate, is Jean-Paul Beaubier! A crowd awaits the handsome young super hero, people saying things like ‘He’s the reason I came to this meet!’ and ‘Me too, he hasn’t skied in years!’ Someone asks why he ever retired, a question Jean-Paul has asked himself countless times, and as he skies down the mighty slope he is always confronted with the same answer – ‘I could not continue to compete. It would not have been fair’.

Northstar thinks back to his past…where he was an orphan, driven to prove himself and thus became a champion skier before the age of thirteen. Then, at puberty, his super speed miraculously manifested itself and Jean-Paul Martin became unbeatable! But Jean-Paul did not ask for his powers, nor did he want them, and in skiing, striving was everything. Then winning came effortlessly to him – the challenge was gone! So angry and embittered, Jean-Paul foreswore the sport he loved and enrolled in college, only to become embroiled in the radical politics of the Quebec Nationalist Movement.

Then, under the influence of Raymonde Belmonde, a friend, father…and more…to Jean-Paul, it became a short step from radicalism to terrorism. However, Jean-Paul was rescued from his folly by James MacDonald Hudson of Department H, who informed him that he was not a freak, but a mutant, and further, that he had a twin sister from whom he had been separated from by adoption. Together, Jean-Paul and his sister Jeanne-Marie joined Hudson’s newly formed Alpha Flight!

Jean-Paul takes to the air, and while showing off a somersault he tells himself that never as an Alphan did he ever feel as he did in his younger days, before his powers appeared. For the glory he used to achieve through constant practice gave meaning to his life, but now, doing what he loves to do has been made too easy. ‘How I envy the young…and human’. Jean-Paul lands gracefully on the white snow and wonders if he beat the course on his own, or because of his super speed? Taking off his helmet, he thinks to himself that if he cannot tell, then how would they who watched know? Listening to their applause, he wonders if he did use his powers, does that make him undeserving of their applause?

Jean-Paul wishes that Hudson had lived to explain to him the distinction between mutants and freaks, when he is then swarmed by adoring fans. A young woman asks him for an autograph, and as he sings her book, Jean-Paul replies ‘certainly, for what it is worth’. Northstar feels himself to be the most unenviable of men but he is nonetheless both envied, and idolized, by another – young Kara Killgrave! Kara looks longingly at the man whom she has had a crush on for years, and had known from the television that this is where he would be this weekend.

Kara runs away from the crowd, asking herself what she had hoped would happen – that Jean-Paul would fall madly in love with her and sweep her off her feet and ski away with her? ‘What a jerk’ she says to herself as she enters a bathroom and locks the door behind her. Kara thinks to herself that even if a champion like Jean-Paul Beaubier had the time of day for her, the fact that she is purple would make him puke! Leaning over the sink, Kara tells herself to face facts – she is seriously weird, and there is no way she can escape it by fleeing into some kind of fantasy.

A knock at the door and someone asks if Kara is going to be long in there. ‘What if I am?’ Kara rudely snaps back. The young woman replies that she ‘needs to go’, and Kara yells ‘You need to go jump off a cliff!’ Suddenly, the girl’s skin turns purple, and mesmerized she says ‘I…need to go jump off a cliff’ and walks out of the lodge and across the snow. Back in the bathroom, Kara is glad the woman is gone and declares that she does not need an audience watching her cry, she thinks that no one has a better right to cry than her, especially after the story her mother told her about meeting her dad in a Buffalo bar fourteen years ago!


Melanie sits with a friend in the bar when a purple skinned man walks over to her and asks if he may join them. The friend points out the color of the man’s skin to Melanie and tells her that he must be a creep and so that she should tell him to get lost. Melanie starts to explain that they were waiting for their dates, when the purple skinned man interrupts, introducing himself as Zebediah Killgrave and telling Melanie that she wishes to marry him.

An hour later, before a Justice of the Peace, where Killgrave orders the Justice to say ‘Do you, Melanie, take this man Killgrave to be your lawfully wedded husband’. The Justice does as he is commanded and Melanie is ordered to say ‘I do’, which she does. And so the Purple Man took a bride! Zebediah Killgrave was an American criminal who along with purple skin had gained the power to make people do his will. On a whim he made Melanie marry him, but eventually he actually fell in love with her! He decided to free Melanie from his thrall in hope that she would have genuine feelings for him. He told Melanie that he loves her, but a distraught Melanie runs from him, reminding him that he used her, she tells him that she hates him.

The Purple Man could have stopped her with a single word, but he let her go – all the way to Toronto, and he never came after her, that or he went to prison before he had the chance, Melanie never found out. Despite being forced to marry him, Melanie never filed for divorcee, perhaps because soon, she learned that she was pregnant, and much to Melanie’s relief, she gave birth to a perfectly ordinary pink baby.


Kara is still looking in the mirror, knowing that that is why her mother never told her the story about her father until now, as there never seemed to be a trace of weirdness in her – until she turned thirteen. Kara wonders why she could not just be like other kids and get acne.

Meanwhile, outside, the crowd suddenly turns in horror, as a young woman throws herself off the cliff! ‘Nobody can possibly save her!’ cries someone. But they are wrong, as Jean-Paul Beaubier takes to the air, stripping his clothes and revealing his Alpha Flight outfit underneath he flies swiftly to the falling woman, and as she lands in his arms he asks her why she chose such a lovely day to die. The young woman replies that she does not know what came over her, and as Jean-Paul flies down towards the crowd of onlookers he realizes that the girl genuinely does not know why she attempted suicide.

Northstar lands and making sure the girl is all right he wonders if her confusion has anything to do with the strange purple pallor slowly fading from her skin. The girl remarks that all she can remember is needing to use the bathroom, and then a voice telling her to go jump off a cliff! Kara watches, shocked as she remembers saying that, and then the girl did it – ‘just like Daddy!’

However, the shock of Kara Killgrave is nothing compared to the shock of the spectators who suddenly realize who Jean-Paul Beaubier really is. A skier walks up to Jean-Paul and proclaims that he knows he is Northstar, a super hero from Alpha Flight and calls him a cheater! Calmly, Northstar declares that he made no use of his powers during the ski exhibition earlier, to which the other skier tells him he is lying and adds that he always wondered how Jean-Paul could suddenly reappear from retirement and outshine him, who has been training steadily for years!

‘Perhaps I am the better athlete’ Jean-Paul remarks calmly still, to which the other skier accuses Jean-Paul of ‘pouring on a little of the old super speed in the tight spots’ in order to beat his time down the slope. Suddenly, Northstar looks shocked and realizes that he may have unintentionally allowed his powers to give him the edge. He reveals to the crowd that it was from the fear of that happening that he foreswore the sport he loved more than life itself. Walking away he declares that for that reason they need not fear, for he shall never ski again!

Awed by the enormity of what they have learned, the crowd parts, and only one among the spectators dares to follow Jean-Paul away from the slopes…Kara Killgrave. Running after the Alphan she asks him to wait, and turning around, Jean-Paul asks what it is they want, the autograph of a freak – but Northstar is taken aback when he sees Kara’s flesh. Kara stands before Jean-Paul and tells him that that is why she wanted to talk to him, because she knows how he feels!

Kara tells Jean-Paul that she is a freak, like him, and adds that it was she who made the woman jump off the cliff, albeit accidentally. ‘Can I not even be alone in my anguish without attracting the lunatic fringe?’ Jean-Paul asks crossly. Kara realizes that Northstar thinks she is crazy and declares that she will prove she has the power. When she says ‘Follow me!’ Jean-Paul turns purple, and replies that he will follow. Leading Northstar away, Kara is quite smitten that it worked, but wonders why Jean-Paul turned purple also, as she doesn’t remember her mother stating that the Purple Man’s power had that effect.

Entering her chalet, Kara states that she doesn’t care, for purple or not, the man she has had a crush on forever belongs to her! ‘Question is, what do I do to him?’ Kara thinks it should be something romantic and tells Jean-Paul to ‘Be my boyfriend!’ however when there is no response, she thinks that her orders might have to be something more specific and so she orders him to bring her flowers. Jean-Paul pulls some flowers from a vase on a table, to which Kara tells him is not very romantic and that she has something more exotic in mind.

‘As you wish’ replies Northstar as he takes Kara in his arms and flies out of the chalet with her. High in the air, Kara tells him to let her go, but realizing the consequences scratches that order and tells him not to drop her, but to slow down, not so much that she will get cold, just so the friction keeps her warm without burning her up. However, Kara still has to turn her head backward to take breaths, as the wind is so strong. Kara tells Northstar to tell her, without letting go of her, where they are going. As they streak past an aircraft, Northstar tells her that they are going to find her flowers that are more exotic. ‘Oh, wow!’ says Kara before asking her “Sweet Prince” to soar on.

It takes the mesmerized Northstar mere hours to reach the small tropical atoll, and seeing it, Kara tells him to go down, which he does, landing near a lake. Snatching some pink flowers, Northstar hands them to Kara and tells her that he trusts she finds them more exotic. Kara replies that the orchids are okay, but that it is like they are in the Garden of Eden! ‘Wanna play Adam and Eve?’ she asks. Northstar replies non-emotionally that he will do as she bids him.

Taking off her jacket, Kara realizes it is like her mother did for her father, which puts a downer on the situation, but she knows if she lets him free, there is no way of telling how he may react, and that he might just fly away like her mother did to the Purple Man. Kara declares that she may as well enjoy Northstar’s company while she can and heading into the lake tells him they can swim. Jean-Paul takes his uniform off on the bank and looking up at him Kara tells him to wait as all his clothes drop to the grass – only to see that he is wearing briefs.

Northstar dives into the water and Kara watches him, not noticing the crocodile approaching her she tells herself that she has the power to make the man of her dreams do anything she wants yet she is too embarrassed to use it! Suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, Kara sees the crocodile and screams for Northstar. Beneath the water, Jean-Paul returns to his normal self and realizing he is not in Alberta, wonders where he is. Swimming to the surface he wonders whom it is that is screaming, and at the sound of Kara’s voice, her control is reasserted over Northstar and he becomes purple again.

However, Jean-Paul is frozen in the water, awaiting further orders. Kara asks him why he is not doing anything and realizes that he is waiting for orders from her, and so she says ‘Save me now! Please?’ Faster than the eye can follow, Northstar encircles the hungry crocodile, and weaving a waterspout around it, he whirls the creature away.

When he is finished that, he flies into the waterfall, looking for Kara, and standing beneath the falling water, he declares that it would seem as long as he stays submerged she cannot manipulate his mind. He grabs the frightened girls’ wrist and pulls her towards him, Kara proclaiming that she did not realize and promises not to do it again. Jean-Paul tells her to be silent and informs her that he only wants to know who she is and why she has used him. Kara tells him her real name, then introduces herself as the Purple Girl, and somewhat hesitantly she tells him that she did what she did, because she loves him!

Jean-Paul is astonished and as he makes his way back to the bank and puts his uniform back on, he tells Kara that even if t were conceivable that he might return her affections, one does not use those one loves. Kara puts her clothes back on and tells Northstar tells him that she knows and that that was how her whole ordeal started. She tells him that she did not mean to use him but that she got these powers by accident and it just happened.

After telling her entire story to Northstar, Kara boasts that it does not mean she doesn’t love him, for she does! ‘Like your father loved your mother?’ Jean-Paul asks. Kara snaps back that a freak like her will take love any way she can get it. Northstar gently wipes a tear away from Kara’s eyes and tells her that she is no more and no less a freak than he is and that there are others in the world like them who understand her powers and would train her in their use.

Northstar realizes he is saying the same words to the Purple Girl that James Hudson once said to him, yet remembers that in joining Alpha Flight he accepted outcast status, by going to live as a freak among freaks, instead of asserting his equal right to live in the human world. Jean-Paul starts to walk away from Kara, declaring that it would be better if he left her here to die rather than to force her to choose as he chose.

Kara panics and tells Northstar that he cannot leave her, and calling “Stop” she suddenly puts Jean-Paul under her command again. Kara realizes that he was only speaking figuratively and yet she freaked. She knows that this is terrible and thinks that even if Jean-Paul goes and soaks his head in the water then he will be free from her power, but will be so mad that he will leave her! ‘But I promised him and he trusted me!’ Kara shouts.

Looking up at her hero, Kara realizes she doesn’t have any choice and has to give Jean-Paul one more order. ‘Northstar, take me to Alpha Flight!’

Characters Involved: 

Aurora, Box, Jeffries, Puck, Northstar, Snowbird, Talisman III, Vindicator II (all Alpha Flight)

Elizabeth Twoyoungmen (Former member of Alpha Flight)

Kara Killgrave / Purple Girl

Melanie Killgrave


Northstar’s fans at the ski grounds

Girl possessed by Kara

In Photograph

Jean-Paul Beaubier

In Flashbacks

Jean-Paul Beaubier / Jean-Paul Martin

Raymond Belmonde

James MacDonald Hudson

Jeanne-Marie Beaubier


Purple Man / Zebediah Killgrave

Melanie Killgrave

Melanie’s friend

Justice of the Peace

Kara as a baby

Story Notes: 

First appearance of the Purple Girl, later known as “Persuasion”. Kara goes on to become the first member of the new Beta Flight.

Snowbird’s son was born and immediately possessed by the horror Pestilence in Alpha Flight (first series) #37-38.

Roger incurred a sever case of the bends during the Atlantis invasion [Alpha Flight (first series #39-40, Avengers (first series) #272].

Elizabeth Twoyoungmen leaves Alpha Flight behind the scenes and returns to her archaeology work, until she is drawn back into the super hero world when she is forced to reclaim her powers during the Wrath of the Dreamqueen. [Alpha Flight (first series) #67-70]

Several hints at Northstar’s homosexuality are played at here – when Aurora asks him since when does he ever object to having attractively dressed men around, Raymonde Belmonde being “a friend, father…and more” and the lack of interest in female fans (something that has also been previously addressed).

Raymonde Belmonde is incorrectly called Raymonde St. Jacques in this issue.

Northstar was reunited with Raymonde in Alpha Flight (first series) #7, only for the older man to die. Northstar’s first meeting with Aurora was shown in the back-story of Alpha Flight (first series) #10.

Northstar’s past acts of terrorism can be seen in Alpha Flight (first series) #22 and Marvel Fanfare #28.

The Purple Girl is what is known as a “Second Generation Mutant”. Other second-generation mutants include the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and Polaris (to Magneto), Siryn (to Banshee), Martinique Jason and Lady Mastermind (to Mastermind), and Radius and Carmella Unuscione (to Unus the Untouchable).

When a Second Generation mutant has an ability similar to their parent, it is often differentiated in some slight way, which is why the Purple Girl’s power causes a person to turn purple, while her father’s did not. Martinique Jason has some telepathy, which her father never possessed, while Radius and Unuscione are able to extend their forcefields much farther than Unus’. It is also a generalized belief that Second Generation mutants are more powerful than their parent, though this has not been proved.

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