- Thrashed rookies, dazed veterans, and a little boy beating on his chained teammate? Perfect. I'm confident you'll be able to save the world. When do we leave?
- -- Vindicator
Appearing in "Horoscope"
- Alpha Flight
- Flex (Adrian Corbo) (First full appearance) (Joins team)
- Guardian (First appearance) (Main story and flashback) (Joins team)
- Madison Jeffries (Main story and flashback) (Rejoins Team) (Leaves team)
- Manbot (Bernie Lachenay) (First appearance) (Joins team)
- Murmur (Arlette Truffaut) (First appearance) (Joins team)
- Puck (Eugene Judd) (Main story and flashback) (Rejoins Team)
- Radius (Jared Corbo) (First full appearance) (Joins team)
- Sasquatch (Mythical Beast) (First appearance) (Joins team)
- Vindicator (Heather McNeil) (Main story and flashback) (Rejoins Team)
- Sunfire (Shiro Yoshida)
- General Jeremy Clarke (Main story and flashback)
- Director X (First appearance)
- Zodiac (First appearance)
- Epsilon Guard (First appearance)
- Basil Kilgrew (Voice)
- Wolverine (Logan) (Only in flashback)
- Gary Cody (Only in flashback)
- Guardian (James Hudson) (Only in flashback)
- Department H
- Doctor Krypt (First appearance)
- Edwin (First appearance)
- Dr. Kelsey Mobius (First appearance)
- Carl. Puck's homeless friend.
- Mrs. Markley. Puck's friend and neighbor.
- Janet. Heather's co-worker at the flower shop.
- Walter Langkowski (Mentioned)
- Unknown terrorist, in support of Quebec independence.
- Zodiac Cartel (Mentioned)
- Avengers (Mentioned)
- Fantastic Four (Mentioned)
- X-Men (Mentioned)
- Diamond Lil (Lillian Crawley) (Mentioned)
- Aurora (Jeanne-Marie Beaubier) (Mentioned)
- Northstar (Jean-Paul Beaubier) (Mentioned)
- Wild Child (Kyle Gibney) (Mentioned)
- High Evolutionary (Herbert Wyndham) (Mentioned)
- Mutant Liberation Front (Mentioned)
Races and Species:
- Nascent Observatories.
- British Columbia (Mentioned)
- Vancouver (Mentioned)
- Border checkpoint, at the borders of Canada and the United States.
- United States of America
- Paris, France (Mentioned)
Synopsis for "Horoscope"
The story opens with a feral Wolverine (called here Weapon X or Chi) attacking Weapon Alpha. Both men are in uniform and Wolverine has his Adamantium claws. According to the narration, this fight took place years ago. Wolverine is "a monster-man of many names". Alpha has agreed to face him in a test battle, in order to prove his theory that Wolverine is more man than beast. The problem is that his theory is wrong.
Alpha barely evades Wolverine's claws and then uses an electromagnetic pulse to blast his opponent. Wolvie collides with the nearest wall and falls to the ground. Gary Cody, who is observing the exercise, asks what is the fallen man's condition. Alpha reports that "Logan" is unconscious and tries to speak to him, receiving no response. The Department H personnel observing the battle think that the exercise is over for this day and that they have to try again tomorrow. Alpha admits that he may have hit Logan too hard. He uses his foot to lightly tap the unmoving body of Logan, in hopes of getting a response. He gets one. One of Logan's eyes opens, revealing that it is bloodshot. Logan grabs Alpha's foot with one hand, and unsheathes the claws of the other hand. Wolverine manages to stab his opponent through the chest, Adamantium claws passing through the Guardian's Battle-suit and into James Hudson's flesh. The electromagnetic battle-suit flickers after being damaged.
Two armed guards soon arrive and manage to subdue Wolverine. They transport the unconscious feral man out of the room, though they have trouble lifting him. Meanwhile Alpha is clutching his wounded chest, from which blood is flowing to the floor. He is in severe pain and asks for help. Jeremy Clarke approaches him with papers in his hands. He claims that they can help "Mac", but first Mac has to sign a waiver. Mac briefly notices that the waiver says something about the Prometheus Division of the department. He asks what is he signing here, and Clarke replies that he should sign the certificate of his re-birth. Desperate for help and survival, Alpha signs the waiver without asking for further details. The flashback scene ends.
The scene is followed by a shadowy form waking up in bed, screaming "no". The narration explains that this is still James MacDonald Hudson. He was apparently dreaming of his past. His real dream was Alpha Flight and it still is. The dream is alive again and may "God help us all". (The figure of "Mac" remains in shadows to hide from the readers that this is not the adult Hudson. This is the James Hudson clone, who looks considerably younger).
The scene shifts to another flashback-dream. Heather McNeil Hudson opens a door and finds her husband "Mac" struggling with his damaged Battle-suit, trying desperately to deactivate it. His attention turns to her and then there is an explosion, as "Mac" dies right in front of her. The scene shifts to Heather walking towards another door and wondering what is behind it. She finds "Mac" again and watches him die in the exact same manner. The scene shifts to Heather walking towards another door, indicating this dream is going in an endless loop. The scene is followed by Heather waking up in bed, while screaming "Mac" like in her dream. She has been crying in her sleep.
The narration indicates that she is still tormented by the death of her husband and by her self-assumed complicity in the death. Her husband has since returned, still alive. But he returned a changed man with changed feelings. Their relationship did not work out and he has since left her, much to her relief. But she keeps waking up every morning tormented by these memories.
The scene switches to a dream of Eugene Judd. It starts with him and Heather embracing and kissing passionately. In this part of the dream, Eugene and Heather are about the same height. The dream changes and now Heather is kissing and embracing James Hudson. In this part of the dream, Eugene has shrunk in height and size. He only reaches up to her leg, which he grasps. He calls her name, trying to get her attention as she kisses Hudson. The dream changes again. Heather is now kissing and embracing Madison Jeffries, while a practically invisible Eugene calls her name from below.
The dream turns to a more disturbing nightmare. Heather, James, and Madison are standing together above a practically invisible Eugene, mocking him. James calls Eugene a short, bald, and nasty man. Heather sarcastically calls him a "sweet little man", while trying to stomp him with her foot. Madison mocks him as a "sawed off little hockey puck".
The narration explains that Eugene Milton Judd is a strong, loyal, and deeply passionate man. For years he has lived an arm's reach away from Heather, his one true love. But he has never fully revealed his feelings to her, because he feared that she could not love a man of his stunted stature. The off-handed comments of others about his height bother him. He has not decided if they are careless, insensitive words or malicious attacks on his dignity. He dreams of being normal, but it is his body that made him what he is. And he has become a survivor.
Eugene soon wakes up from his nightmare, but he is not in bed. He was sleeping on the ground, on top of rubbish. Nearby there is a burning barrel and a homeless man getting warm beside the flames. The homeless man, Carl, asks whether Eugene is heading home. Eugene answers that he is heading home after all. Eugene has a headache (possibly from a hangover) and is in need of some aspirin and a new lifestyle. The two of them are apparently friends and on a first-name basis, indicating that it is not that unusual for Eugene to sleep among the homeless.
Soon enough Eugene returns home, to a reasonably nice-looking apartment building. A neighbor called Mrs. Markley is watering the loan. They exchange greetings and compliments, indicating that they are friends. However, Eugene is not on a first-name basis with her. Markley asks him for how long is he in town for this time. He replies that he does not know, as his schedule is irregular.
After entering his apartment, Eugene checks his answering machine. Someone has left him an anonymous message. The message starts by claiming that their "mutual friend" James Hudson was reported missing last week. The police of Ottawa is looking for him. But the message then claims that Hudson is nor simply missing. He has been taken and changed. The message continues by saying that Eugene should ask his friends in Department H, as they know all about it. The anonymous caller ends the message by claiming that they will speak again.
Eugene is quite surprised by this message, and is uncertain if he should trust its contents. The anonymity seems suspect to him. But he decides to risk it and check out if his friend is in trouble. He has decided to contact Heather personally, feeling that it is a good enough excuse to do so. He starts shaving and changing clothes first, apparently wishing to improve his appearance for her. He soon arranges for Mrs. Markley to watch over his apartment while he is gone, their talk indicating this is far from the first time. She claims she would do anything for him. The scene takes place in Ottawa, indicating that Eugene has settled there for quite a while.
Eugene heads to "A Cut Above", a flower shop in Ottawa where Heather works as a florist. He is doing cartwheels while on his way up the flight of stairs in front of the shop. He braces himself for an awkward conversation. He has not spoken to Heather since Department H shut down Alpha Flight. He has missed her a lot, but the team was always his excuse to be around Heather without looking like a love-sick puppy. Inside, Heather the florist is working on preparing a flower vase. She has chosen to include a single rose among the other flowers and reaches on a counter to get a ribbon for it. Eugene enters the shop unnoticed, grabs the rose, and offers it to her.
Heather is quite surprised to see her former teammate. He asks her about her life following the end of Alpha Flight. She notes that she works at a mundane job and lives a mundane life. Her life has become a little dull, but it is still a nice change following the previous 5 years of her life (with the team). Eugene invites her our to lunch and she seems about to turn down the offer. Then he informs her that he has something important to tell her about Mac.
Eugene and Heather head out to "Café Luna" to discuss. He starts the conversation by asking what happened to her relationship with Mac, since he was under the impression it had worked out to a happy ending. Heather replies that she too thought that it was going well. She and Mac were even able to work together for some time. But Mac was distant, and something major had changed in him. Once Department H shut down Alpha Flight, for the third or fourth time, the two no longer had a common cause or companions. They were left alone in a small apartment, staring at each other. She eventually realized that she no longer knew or loved her husband. The two friends fail to notice men of the Epsilon Guard taking positions outside the café.
Heather continues the conversation by commenting that "life is change". Eugene takes the opportunity to remind her that as members of Alpha Flight they had seen several changes. He comments on the changes in two of their teammates, Mac and Walter Langkowski. Mac is dead, Mac is alive, Mac is a half-alien robot. Walt is Sasquatch, Walt is a man, Walt is a monster, Walt is dead, Walt is a woman, Walt is a man again. The experience was quite crazy. He asks Heather whether she ever misses their team. Meanwhile, the Epsilon Guards have secured the area of the café, prevented civilians from approaching, and checked that their superiors will cover damages caused by their approaching operation.
Heather claims that she does not really miss Alpha Flight, because all of the worst moments of her life are associated with the team. She feels kind of happy that the team is no longer part of her life. But she is still curious what Eugene has to say about Mac. Eugene informs her that Mac has been kidnapped. He starts trying to figure who did it. At this moment, two Epsilons start running towards the window of the café. As Heather explains that she does not want to get involved with Department H again, Eugene looks out of the window and sees the Epsilons. He instructs Heather to duck. The Epsilons break through the window to get to their targets, and shards of glass start flying.
The Epsilons confront Eugene and Heather, instructing them to come quietly to avoid anyone getting hurt. They try to inform their targets about whose orders are they operating under, but they get interrupted by Eugene's threatening response. Eugene punches one of the Epsilons and sends him crushing into the café's fish tank. Heather kicks the other Epsilon between the legs, to no effect. His crotch area is protected by his armor. The Epsilon orders her to cease and desist, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defense. She does not believe that the Epsilons are government agents and prepares to attack again. The Epsilon turns his weapon at her and fires, though this weapon is apparently a stun device rather than a firearm. Heather is knocked out. Eugene attempts to help but is soon knocked out by a powerful blow from the armored fist of the Epsilon. The Epsilon announces his intention to take the captives to the "hallowed halls" of Department H.
The scene shifts to the headquarters of Department H. Heather and Eugene have been transferred there and remain unconscious, possibly sedated. General Jeremy Clarke urges a physician called Dr. Krypt to revive them as the General needs them. Krypt and his assistants inject them with an unidentified substance, which soon brings them back to consciousness. Heather and Eugene seem disoriented at first, but soon recognize General Clarke. Clarke welcomes them back, greeting them by their first names. An annoyed Eugene figures that their abduction was Clarke's idea of an invitation. He accuses him of sending the Epsilons among innocent civilians to forcefully kidnap them. He also adds that Clarke could have just called them instead of kidnapping them.
Heather figures out why Clarke did not call them. Because he knew they would never come willingly. She demands that Clarke let herself and Eugene go. She reminds him that Canada is still a free country with little regard for its military bureaucrats. She threatens to publicly accuse him of human rights violations. Clarke replies that following this day, there may not be a Canada to listen to her reports. He makes a point of calling her "Mrs. Hudson" this time, becoming more formal in his behavior towards her. He asks her to follow him and promises to explain everything.
Clarke leads Heather and Eugene to a briefing room, guarded by armed Epsilons. He turns on a large screen in the room to show them a video of some sort. He informs them that early this morning, a closed, looped message started coming in over an unassigned broadcast channel. Heather interrupts him by mockingly deducing that 15 minutes later Clarke decided to kidnap her and Eugene, hold them against their will, and from what she can see at gunpoint (referring to the weapons of the Epsilons). Clarke assures Heather that the guards are here to protect him and not to harm his captives. He claims that Canada is on a level of alert never approached before, and that no one can be trusted. He starts showing them the video which he describes as "extremely disturbing".
The video depicts a shabby-looking man relaying a terrorist threat. Another figure appears in the shadows behind him, but its face stays out of the camera. The shabby-looking man threatens that if the "fascistic" Canadian government fails to immediately recognize Quebec as a separate nation and pay 80 million dollars in reparations to it, his organization will unleash a chemical strike on Vancouver. Then the organization will start working its way east towards the rest of Canada, continuing to strike. They will not stop until Canada meets their demands or Canada is destroyed. The message ends. Clarke freezes the screen, so that the visual remains.
Heather is thoroughly unimpressed by the message. What she sees is not an existential threat to Canada, but a lone threat from an unknown lunatic with a video camera. And she does not find Quebec separatism to be a serious threat either. It reminds her of a cliché from a poorly-made American television film about Canada. Clarke stops her from continuing. The threat he is speaking about is not the one coming from this terrorist. His agenda is familiar, and this particular terrorist faction is well-known to the authorities for years. But they never demonstrated this much nerve before. They attribute the apparent escalation to the shadowy figure in the background of the transmission.
Clarke reports that the laboratory of the Department has clean up and enhanced the video image, identifying the shadowy figure. He pulls out a photo and reveals that the man is Scorpio. The identity is associated with a long-time underworld figure who leads the Zodiac Cartel. However, the records of the Department show that all known members of this team are currently incarcerated in American and Japanese prisons. It appears a new Zodiac group has risen to take the place of the old one. And they operate from Canada.
Eugene seems convinced that the threat is serious, having heard of the Zodiac Cartel before and considers the organization bad news. Heather is unconvinced yet, believing this is some kind of ruse. She also points that anyone with vocal cords can make threats, but following through with them is an entirely different matter. She reminds them that a terrorist attack in Japan is the only recent incident of deployment of chemical weapons. She finds that this "threat" is a mere scam to get money from the government.
Clarke replies that she is wrong, as the terrorists have already used their chemical weapons. An hour following their message, they attacked Port Radium and wiped out the entire population. The Department could not locate any survivors. These people are not threatening to use chemical weapons, they are using them. They must be stopped and he believes that only Alpha Flight can stop them. Heather reminds him that the Department has disbanded the team and regrouping does not seem possible. She suggests that this time the Department will have to call the Avengers.
Clarke replies that the Avengers are unavailable. Both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four have vanished. Heather points that he can add Alpha Flight to the list of "vanished" teams. Eugene is more sympathetic to Clarke's cause and reports that he is willing to help. But then Eugene points out that two lone Alphas are not enough to stop a group of international criminals and a group of angry terrorists. Clarke chooses this moment to reveal that they will not be the only Alphas on this mission. Over the last few days, the Department has recruited every Alpha that they could locate and assembled outstanding new recruits from its own projects. They have all been training in the headquarters and are simply waiting for Heather and Eugene to join them. Together they can save their country from those monsters determined to destroy it.
Heather has several questions for Clarke. What does he mean by "recruited"? Have these people actually been asked to join or were they snatched away from their civilian lives? She also wants to know which of her former teammates have they managed to assemble. And why does none of them take part in this meeting. Clarke claims that the rest of the team has already been briefed. Clarke turns to the screen and reveals images of the members of this new version of Alpha Flight. Their "veteran pool" consists of four veteran Alphas: Madison Jeffries, Sasquatch (Mythical Beast), Heather (who the screen calls "Vindicator"), and Eugene (who the screen calls "Puck"). The new recruits consist of other four Alphas: Murmur, Manbot, Radius, and Flex. The latter two, Clarke, mentions are also known as the Corbo brothers.
"Puck" now has a question of his own to make. He figures that the team only has 8 members. Who can train, organize, and lead this kind of team on such short notice? A new voice, coming from the apparent 9th member, reveals that he will the leader. Heather and Eugene turn around and notice a familiar-looking figure wearing the Guardian's Battle-suit. They figure it is "Mac". Without acknowledging their identification, this Guardian summarizes his view on the organization of the new version of the team. They do not have to do a ground-level rebuilding, only a combat-skills integration. He has already been putting the team through the paces for the past few days, and things are looking good to him.
While continuing to speak, Guardian takes off his mask and reveals his face. It is indeed "Mac", but not in the form familiar to Heather and Eugene, who are very surprised. Eugene estimates that this James Hudson looks to be 19-years-old. He asks Clarke what is going on here, though the general urges them to get going and leave questions for later.
The scene shifts to a border checkpoint, at the borders of Canada and the United States. A member of the local security personnel explains to a foreigner called Shiro Yoshida that they can not let him enter Canada without documentation. Shiro repeats his claim that he was sent here to work with Department H and Alpha Flight. The security officer reveals that the Department apparently has no idea who Shiro is. His decision is to not let the foreigner pass. The narration reveals that Shiro has started loosing control of his powers and needs help, though he hates to admit it.
Leaving the office, Shiro discards his civilian jacket to reveal the Sunfire uniform. He has given up hope on legally passing the borders under his civilian identity. He has decided to turn into Sunfire and fly over the borders illegally. He flies, but his plan does not exactly work out. Nearby Epsilons identify his as a suspected intruder and asks the permission of their superiors to deal with him. They get this permission and shoot him down.
The scene shifts back to the Department H headquarters. Clarke has led "Puck" and "Vindicator" to the location of the rest of the team, and Guardian prepares his team to meet the "old timers". Though Radius quickly points that Hudson himself may look young but is also an old timer. The team is quickly introduced, with almost every member adding his own introduction.
Madison Jeffries is no longer codenamed "Box" and has yet to receive another codename. He seems glad to see his old teammates and reports that his wife Diamond Lil has send her regards. Radius explains about his force field and that he knows how to use it. He self-confidently claims that if they find themselves in trouble while in the field, he is the man to help them out. Radius also takes time to introduce his "little brother", Flex. Though he quickly adds that Flex is only his half-brother. Flex himself explains that his power is to flex his hands "and stuff" into metal. But he dislikes his codename and asks to be called "Adrian". Murmur reports that others say that her power is to force people to do things that she suggest. She personally prefers thinking that she has a way to handle other people.
Clarke shows them Sasquatch next, but his current condition shocks Heather. This "Sasquatch" has a more bestial form than usual, seems unable or unwilling to speak, and is chained to the wall and ceiling of the room. Heather immediately demands to know what they have done to "Walter". Clarke explains that he is not responsible for Sasquatch's current condition. The Department found him in this form, roaming around the forests near the North Thompson River. They have tried to help him but to little effect. But they will need his strength for the team. Heather observes that "Walter" is filthy and chained to a wall. She argues that he is a teammate and a friend, not a zoo animal. Clarke argues that "Walter" is no longer what he used to be and has been difficult to handle in captivity. As Heather and Clarke argue, the rest of the Alphas decide to perform another training exercise.
Heather indignantly demands to know if Clarke calls this team "Alpha Flight". She asks where are Aurora, Northstar, and Wild Child, arguing that Alpha needs power and not children. She also notes that she does not see the "robotman" Clarke mentioned earlier. Clarke reminds her that the name is "Manbot" and claims that the missing teammate is currently being "adjusted". Clarke hesitates a bit before saying this, leaving unclear what kind of adjustment he is speaking about. He then claims that this is all the Alpha Flight that Heather will need, and certainly all she has at the moment.
Since she brought up power, Clarke takes the opportunity to introduce her to the new suit which the Department has designed for her. It is considerably different than the Guardian suit, which has control over the Earth's electromagnetic fields. The new Vindicator suit has been reconfigured to have control over the Earth's geothermal phenomena. Heather initially declines wearing the Vindicator suit or to have anything to do with this "screwed-up" team. She is about to leave and expects Puck to follow her out. However when she calls out to Puck, he finds that he is no longer paying attention to her. He is taking part in a combat simulation, evading blasts, and thoroughly enjoying himself. He is even screaming "Who-hoo!". Heather figures she is on her own and stops arguing with Clarke. She asks him to hand over the Vindicator suit.
The scene turns to the training exercise of the team. Its members now face each other in combat, and it is rather evident that there is little to no planning in their movements. Guardian repeatedly fires blasts at Puck (who is now in uniform), but Puck's agility allows him to evade every shot. Guardian is frustrated and can't figure why he can not get his target. He even claims that he always gets the simulation targets, to which Puck responds that he is not a simulation.
Puck lands next to Murmur and curiously asks her what she can do. She responds by commanding him to "sleep" and by lightly touching the top of his head. He is initially confused, but then falls asleep on the floor. Murmur does not get to enjoy her victory. Radius takes advantage of her distraction to attack her. She tries to convince him not to target her face, but he does not listen. She is soon lying on the floor in pain, complaining that she thinks the pig (which she pronounces "peeg") broke her nose.
As Radius continues moving, Madison creates jagged metal from the metal flooring and places it on Radius' way. Madison points that he would like to see Radius' smirk smashed against the metal. Radius stops in time, completely unhurt. He brags that "Jeffries" will never touch him, and than no one will ever touch him. As Radius evades the hill of metal which Madison has put on his way, his attention turns to his half-brother. Flex is apparently not taking part in the exercise, just standing still.
Radius accuses Flex of trying to hide in the corner, and then invites him to fight against him. Flex claims that he is not hiding, just waiting. Radius points that Flex should tell that the "thing" he has just backed into. Flex turns around and finds himself standing in front of Sasquatch. Sasquatch growls loudly and Flex screams in fear. Radius reminds his little brother that his new opponent is chained and that he can nail him. Flex tells his brother to shut up and leave him alone. But he does listen to him anyway, using a metallic limb to strike Sasquatch’s jaw.
The exercise stops when Heather commands everyone to stop immediately. She is now wearing her Vindicator suit. She is still frustrated and points out that this version of the team consists of thrashed rookies, dazed veterans, and a little boy (Flex) who is beating on his chained teammate. She then sarcastically remarks that this is perfect, she is confident that they will be able to save the world. Her only question is when does the team leave. Guardian protests that they were simply training, but she argues that this was a wrestling match and not a training session. She has a whole new power base to master (due to her new suit), and does not want to throw her lot in with a bunch of hyperactive boys.
As the leaders of Alpha Flight argue, veterans Madison and Puck express their support to Heather. Puck even has some ideas about new styles of training that the veterans can show the rookies. Guardian feels his leadership undermined and tries to protest. But Heather stops him and asks what did the Department do to him. Guardian tells her that he has been ordered not to tell her, but decides not to follow orders. He has never told her before, but back in the early days of the Weapon Alpha program, "Mac" was almost killed by Wolverine. Some guys from the Prometheus Division of the Department claimed they had a way to rescue his life.
Guardian continues his tale. The Prometheus Division had secretly acquired a device from the High Evolutionary. They claimed they could use it to de-evolve Mac for a single day, erasing his wounds. A few weeks ago, Mac got to thinking and figured that this same device could be used to get rid of the alien technology in his body. He could stop being a cyborg and return to being human. So he contacted the Department and asked them to try to use the device on him. The plan seemed to work, but the de-evolver overloaded. Before they could shut it down, it had regressed him back too far. He had become a teenager.
Clarke re-enters the room, followed by Manbot. The robotic Alpha dwarfs him. Clarke instructs Vindicator that she has to stop being so suspicious and to ash her questions only when they arise. He introduces her to Manbot, who uses a robotic voice to wish good afternoon to his teammates.
The scene shifts to the headquarters of the new Zodiac. Scorpio hears someone calling him and turns around. The one calling him is his teammate Taurus. Taurus has become frustrated with waiting for the Canadian government to respond to their demands, and is eager to do something. He personally wants to break something or hurt someone. He asks Scorpio to push the button (on their chemical weapon) and kill some people right now. Scorpio seems annoyed and reminds Taurus that he is the one in charge in this team. The decision when to strike is his to make. He also points to his teammate that without Scorpio, Taurus would still be cleaning the urinals at Ryker's Island.
Taurus still complains that he is bored. He suggests that Scorpio could at least let him have some fun with "the broad". He is pointing at the new Virgo. A suddenly enraged Scorpio attacks him, claiming that Virgo is pure and that she will not be touched by Taurus or any other member of the team. Their fight is broken up by Pisces, who informs Scorpio that the Ecliptic wants to see him. He leaves to meet this associate, but warns his teammates that if anything happens to Virgo while he is gone, he will add them all to his list of enemies. A confused Taurus wonders what he did to trigger that response.
Scorpio meets the Ecliptic in a candle-lit room. She is sitting in front of a crystal ball. Ecliptic informs him that she knew that he would answer her call, having seen his arrival in her crystals. Indicating that she has precognitive powers. She has news for him. She claims to have seen an upheaval in the heavens which will require quicker action than what she had told him before. He must strike immediately. Scorpio is quite surprised, as his team has yet to receive its notification. He trusts her and has always done what she told him, ever since she revealed his true self to him. But now he has doubts. She urges him to do it, claiming that this is the proper time. If the boy (Scorpio) dares to doubt her, Ecliptic threatens to abandon him. Her powers are great and there are many others who would pay for her services. He agrees to her demands and apologizes for doubting her. He turns to leave, as the Ecliptic comments that he should be sorry. The narration comments that Scorpio is sometimes quick to trust those closest to him.
The next scene features a Quebec separatist-terrorist delivering another videotaped message to the Canadian government, warning that his organization will strike Vancouver in three hours. The narration reveals that this man is just a pawn in a very complex game. The message ends, and the next images reveal that the man is a prisoner of the Zodiac. Scorpio still holds the camera, while Sagittarius holds a bow and arrow. Sagittarius uses his weapons to target the unnamed captive, who was just being forced to deliver the message. Scorpio and Sagittarius both agree that the message sounded believable. Scorpio then instructs his teammate to have the man rejoin the other prisoners and to tie him up. Sagittarius instead asks permission to pierce the man with his arrow, eager to experience an impact at this close range. Scorpio forbids killing the prisoner, though he promises there will be real fighting ahead of them to keep them entertained.
The scene shifts back to the headquarters of Department H, where Puck and Flex are training by facing each other. Puck is performing a series of cartwheels and kicks, attacking Flex from a different direction each time. Flex struggles but still manages to stop every kick. But while he focuses his attention on Puck's feet, Puck changes attack modes and uses one of his hands to grab Flex's nose. Struggling to speak with his nose closed, Flex complains that this is not fair as he was expecting another kick. Puck releases his nose and points that villains do not play fair either, and Flex will have to face them and stay on top. Flex points out that he has already tries, and successfully stopped all of Puck's attacks except the last one. Puck argues in a real fight that last move which you miss is the one which can kill you. He suggests that Flex can try harder next time and offers to repeat the exercise.
Vindicator is still trying to figure out the limits and variations of her new powers. She suddenly sees a growling "Walter" (the Sasquatch), and seems alarmed. But then she discovers that "Walter" is under the control of Murmur. Heather comments that its another case of beauty taming the beast, which she finds quaint. Murmur takes this as a compliment for her appearance, but explains that she can only control him and not to really tame him.
The training exercise ens when Clarke informs them that the Department has pinpointed the location of the Zodiac through signal tracking. They are at Nascent Observatories, in Dorion, Quebec. He gives them a deadline of three hours to move in and take them down. Both Puck and Vindicator suggest leaving on the mission without the rookies. Clarke refuses to listen, and Heather warns him that he should be blamed if there is blood spilled on this mission. Flex looks worried about this mention of blood.
The team soon leaves on a Department H aircraft, accompanied by an unnamed pilot. Radius spends his time by kicking the seat of his half-brother and trying to get a reaction from him. Puck himself is annoyed by Radius' attitude and tries to convince him that this mission is not a game. Radius is over-confident about his ability to handle everything, which annoys Puck even more. Meanwhile, Guardian finds that Vindicator keeps staring at him and protests against it. Madison breaks the arguments by reporting that they have already reached their destination.
On the ground, the team tries to figure out a plan. Guardian thinks that since he can fly, he should go ahead and open up a way for the team. They can simply follow. Heather suggests that his plan is too risky and reminds him that there may be hostages in the Observatories. Guardian argues that all these terrorists want is money, which means they will not do anything stupid to risk getting it. Heather instead argues that terrorism and stupidity go together. Puck takes the opportunity to remind Guardian that Vindicator can fly as well, and that they do not know about the real score of this mission yet. There are probably civilians involved. Even if these civilians are terrorists, they should be put on trial and not risk losing their lives because of Alpha Flight.
Guardian and Puck argue about who is in charge in this mission, but Madison supports Puck and Guardian backs down. Puck forms another plan. They should slit the team into two groups, one going for force and the other for stealth. The first group will go in the front and will serve as a distraction. The second will stay in the back and provide reconnaissance. The two groups will then converge in the center of the area. The plan is approved and the team splits in two. Privately, Madison and Flex agree to watch each other's backs in this mission.
Guardian leads a team consisting of himself, Madison, Manbot, and Radius. Puck leads a team consisting of himself, Flex, Murmur, Sasquatch, Vindicator. They both soon encounter members of the Zodiac and regroup. The battle begins. Guardian fires blasts at Sagittarius and Sagittarius fires arrows at Guardian, but both miss their target. Radius chooses to attack Pisces first, and informs her that he has no problems with hitting a lady. She is amused and points that she is no ordinary lady. Jared's fist passes harmlessly through her liquid body.
Puck and Vindicator are going after Scorpio, and evade a blast from him. Meanwhile, Flex frees Scorpio's prisoners (including the terrorist). Scorpio starts running away. Vindicator uses her powers to unleash a jet of lava from the floor. This delays Scorpio's escape but fails to stop it. Vindicator comments that she felt like Scorpio was expecting them. The unnamed terrorist reveals that Scorpio knew they were coming, and claimed their government told him about their arrival.
The battle continues in another area of the Observatories and Vindicator and most of her team soon join Guardian's team. However, Murmur and Sasquatch are left behind to guard the hostages/terrorists. Alpha Flight is increasingly disorganized, and Radius is acting on his own against orders. Guardian and Vindicator are arguing on whether to prioritize capturing Scorpio or get control of the chemical weapons. Murmur chooses that moment to join the battle with Sasquatch, reporting that she has locked up the terrorists in another room.
Murmur is suddenly attacked and looses control over Sasquatch. The feral teammate seems to go berserk and starts attacking everyone on sight, friend or foe. Taurus and Vindicator are the first to suffer at his hands. Nearby, Puck is trying to disarm Virgo, who is holding a large weapon. Sasquatch attacks Puck and takes him out of the fight. He then attacks Flex from behind. His rampage is stopped when Vindicator uses steam on him. Meanwhile, Pisces uses her liquid form to engulf Guardian. Her target starts breathing water and drowning.
Vindicator sees "Mac" in peril and focuses all her attention on him. She uses another geyser of lava to start evaporating Pisces, who screams in pain. Pisces has to unleash Guardian to survive. Vindicator flies upwards to catch the falling Guardian. She rescues him and holds him in her arms, but he is annoyed rather than grateful. He complains that she should not act like his mother. She argues back that she is acting like his wife. He finishes the conversation by reminding her that she is no longer his wife, just his teammate. She seems rather confused by his attitude. She wants to talk about this following the fight.
Manbot has spent his time scanning the Observatories instead of fighting. He suddenly announces that he has located the launch console of the chemical weapons. Virgo then targets him with her weapon and announces that she has located the "Man of Metal". She never gets to fire at him. Murmur, who has recovered, approaches Virgo and commands "Paris". Virgo shouts out to Scorpio that she is fading away, unsure of what is happening to her. She vanishes right in front of Scorpio, apparently teleporting to Paris.
As the battle continues, Sasquatch lifts up Sagittarius and Taurus attacks Flex. As a scared Flex cries for help, Radius uses his force field to shove into Taurus. Taurus stumbles into the arm of Flex (in the form of a razor-blade) and is stubbed. He bleeds on the arm, and Flex fears that he has killed him. He turns his arm back into flesh and stares at the blood-stained hand for quite a while. Madison shakes him up to bring him back into reality, wanting Flex to provide cover for him. Madison wants to reconfigure the telescope of the Observatories into something that can stop the out-of-control Sasquatch, and needs someone to protect him while he is preoccupied.
While Madison works on the telescope, Radius has got the idea to go after Scorpio and asks Flex to support him. Flex protests that he has to cover "Mr. Jeffries", but Radius manages to pull him away. Radius insists that his little brother has no right to refuse his commands. Flex turns his head back to look at Madison. Madison turns the telescope into a pair of giant pincers and immobilizes Sasquatch, but fails to notice Scorpio standing right behind him. Flex shouts out a warning, but is himself too far away to prevent Scorpio from striking. Scorpio knocks out Madison from behind. Scorpio informs his enemies that he is taking Madison in place of his missing, beloved Virgo. He claims to be acting in the spirit of "an eye for an eye". The Zodiac teleports away.
As Alpha Flight realize that the battle has ended, their enemies have left, and that they have to locate Madison, Heather realizes that they have yet to locate the chemical weapons. Manbot reports that he has already located the weapons and disabled them. He suggests that they should return to their base.
The next scene takes place at the office of General Clarke, where Vindicator confronts him with several questions and Puck observed the meeting. She has questions about her kidnapping, about this mission, and about Manbot. Clarke defends Manbot, by pointing out that Manbot saved the lives of his teammates and millions of Canadians. He suggests that she should mention her concerns at the general briefing of the team later in this afternoon. Heather responds that she will not be attending any briefings, as she plans to resign from the team. She feels that something was not right about this mission, and refuses to become a government pawn.
Clarke insists that there are forces in the world lying in wait for people like Heather and Eugene. He mentions as an example other terrorist organizations, such as the Mutant Liberation Front. And he mentions what such villains could do to the younger recruits of the team. He insists that the world has changed and Canada is ready to change with it. A world without heroes is vulnerable and Canada will not be vulnerable.
Clarke asks the two disgruntled Alphas what they intend to do about the missing Madison. Heather responds that she plans to go after him because she owes him that much. But she is going on this mission alone. Once it is done, she has no plans of returning to the team. Puck adds that this sums up his own feelings on the matter. He loves Alpha Flight, but not when the team is on a leash. And from what he can see, Clarke is holding the leash. Vindicator and Puck walk jointly out of the office, as Clarke reminds them that the Department will always be there to welcome their return with open arms. While he speaks warmly, his hand reaches for a secret button below his desk and presses it.
The story concludes with three numbered epilogue scenes. Epilogue 1 takes place on level 66 of the headquarters of Department H. Director X of the Department has a secret meeting with Scorio. He congratulates the mercenary leader for his "fine work", and assures him that the Department will use his services again. Scorpio is not particularly pleased and protests that he feels used. He also notes that one of his men was downed in this mission, which was never part of their deal. The Director responds that the Zodiac got one of the Department's men, in the spirit of "an eye for an eye". So he feels that their debt has been settled.
Scorpio informs the Director that the new Zodiac has its own agenda. Now they have received money from the Department, his team has the means to fulfill that agenda. Their alliance is over. He declares that from this moment forward the Department, Alpha Flight, and the rest of the world can be officially considered enemies of the Zodiac. He teleports away from the Director's office. The next panel focuses on the Director's hand and a large ring on it. The Director cryptically remarks that they will see about this matter.
Epilogue 2 takes place at level 12 of the same building. Manbot has secretly filmed scenes of the mission, acting as a spy within the team. He projects the scenes on a screen. Dr. Mobius and another man are studying the scenes and evaluating the actions of the participants.
Epilogue 3 takes place at the exit of the building, at ground level. Heather and Eugene are in civilian clothing and stepping away. Two Epsilons target them from behind their backs and use stun devices to knock them out. They then prepare to transport them back inside the building. The story ends, though a note promises that this is "definitely not" the end of this tale.
- First issue (not counting Alpha Flight Vol 2 #-1) of Alpha Flight Vol 2.
- According to this issue, when part of Department H, Wolverine was given a codename based on the Greek alphabet as Weapon X or "Chi". The letter "X" in the Greek alphabet is called "chi" and is written exactly like the "X" (ex) of the English alphabet. The use of the Greek Alphabet makes sense for Department H-related codenames. The Department has connections to teams named after letters of the Greek alphabet: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Omega.
- According to this issue, James Hudson's astrological symbol is Sagittarius. This indicates Hudson was born under this sign of the zodiac, sometime between November 21 and December 21.
- According to this issue, Heather McNeil Hudson's astrological symbol is Virgo. This indicates Heather was born under this sign of the zodiac, sometime between August 22 and September 22.
- According to this issue, Eugene Milton Judd's astrological symbol is Capricorn. This indicates Eugene was born under this sign of the zodiac, sometime December 21 and January 19.
- According to this issue (August, 1997), Eugene Judd's "one true love" is Heather McNeil Hudson. But he has kept his feelings secret, because he fears that Heather can not love a man of his stunted height.
- According to this issue, the Department H's official date of inception is July 2. If bureaucratic organizations had astrological signs, its sign would be cancer. This indicates the Department was created under this sign of the zodiac, sometime between June 20 and July 22.
- According to this issue, Jeremy Clarke is not the real name of the General. Nobody except Clarke himself knows his real name, his date of birth, his political affiliation, or his closest blood relative. It is known that he convinced his superiors in the Canadian Parliament that Canada should become a major player in the superhero arms race, but how he managed that is also unknown.
- According to this issue, Madison Jeffries' astrological symbol is Gemini. This indicates Madison was born under this sign of the zodiac, sometime between May 20 and June 20.
- According to this issue, Jared Corbo's astrological symbol is Leo. This indicates Jared was born under this sign of the zodiac, sometime between July 22 and August 22.
- According to this issue, Adrian Corbo's astrological symbol is Pisces. This indicates Adrian was born under this sign of the zodiac, sometime between February 8 and March 20.
- According to this issue, Arlette Truffaut's astrological symbol is Aquarius. This indicates Arlette was born under this sign of the zodiac, sometime between January 19 and February 18.
- According to this issue, this version of Scorpio was not always a villain. He was once somebody else, and some would say he was a hero. He was a noble sole with great aspirations who has by this time fallen very far. His past identity was a closely kept secret. Despite this hint of his past, his identity was never revealed.
- The various incarnations of the Zodiac team typically consist of 12 members. This issue clarifies that Scorpio only has 4 recruits in his new team (Pisces, SagittariusTaurus, and Virgo) and is in search for other 7 recruits. The narration also points that if these 4 knew the full details of his plan, they would leave the team.
- An important plot point of the issue is that the previous incarnation of Alpha Flight has been disbanded by Department H for quite a while. This new version of the team has been formed by the Department to replace the old one. This is in part a reference to the events of Alpha Flight Vol 1 130 (March, 1994). In that issue, General Jeremy Clarke himself announced that the government has decided to disband the team, following public concerns about super-powered individuals. The original plan was to maintain former Alpha Flight members in advisory positions for the government, but these members did not seem to like the idea. In the years between the two issues, several former members of Alpha Flight and associates have been featured in various roles in other series. In some cases, they were still affiliated with Department H. However, other members seemed to disappear completely.
- The issue has a third-person narration which offers additional information on various characters and scenes. Several parts of this narration have an astrological theme and analyze how the personalities of the characters match their astrological signs. The narration ends on the note that the issue takes place on Friday, June 13, and that this is an unlucky day for horoscopes.
- Despite scenes attesting to the contrary, the issue features 6 new members of Alpha Flight. They are Flex, Guardian, Manbot, Murmur, Radius, and Sasquatch. Only Madison Jeffries, Puck, and Vindicator are veteran members, and Madison leaves the team in this issue.
- The origin story of the teenaged Guardian offered in this issue was eventually revealed to be false. He is a clone of the original James Hudson, who is still alive. The two Hudsons would eventually join forces, until the death of the clone.
- The Sasquatch introduced in this issue is not Walter Langkowski, and not human at all. In their search for Walter, the Department located and recruited an actual sasquatch or bigfoot. He is effectively a humanoid animal and does not have human intellect.
- Flex, Murmur, and Radius are not the first Marvel characters with these codenames. The original Flex was a non-superpowered villain from Iron Man Vol 1 221 (August, 1987). The original Murmur was a member of the Hellbent race and first appeared in Marc Spector: Moon Knight Vol 1 50 (May, 1993). A second Murmur was Allan Rennie of the Hellions, who first appeared in Generation X Vol 1 12 (February, 1996). The original Radius is Ralph Hutchins and first appeared in Savage She-Hulk Vol 1 6 (July, 1980). Beyond the shared codenames, the characters have no known relation to each other.
- All members of this Zodiac are new characters and have no known connections to other incarnations of their identities. This issue considers them replacements of the Zodiac Cartel, a long-running villain team. The Zodiac Cartel debuted as foes of the Avengers in Avengers Vol 1 72 (January, 1970). With various changes in membership they continued appearing until killed by a rival Zodiac team in West Coast Avengers Vol 2 26 (November, 1987). The apparent last survivor Taurus was killed in combat with Moon Knight in West Coast Avengers Vol 2 29 (February, 1988). The Libra of the Zodiac Cartel eventually resurfaced alive, but he has largely retired from action.
- Despite repeated mentions to at least one past incarnation of the Zodiac, this issue makes no apparent reference to the LMD version of the Zodiac. Originally debuting in Defenders Vol 1 49 (July, 1977), they served as a rival Zodiac for quite a while and went on to kill and replace the Zodiac Cartel. They were deactivated in West Coast Avengers Vol 2 28 (January, 1988) and have yet to resurface.
- The epilogue makes clear that this incarnation of the Zodiac was working for Department H throughout the issue and Alpha Flight had been misinformed about their actions and intentions. However, the extent of the misinformation is unclear. The chemical weapons that they supposedly had were only "discovered" and deactivated by Manbot, a spy for the Department. The only deaths caused by them, the supposed chemical strike at Port Radium, happened off-panel. The deaths are actually mentioned only by General Jeremy Clarke of the Department, who is clearly not a reliable source.
- The lost member of the Zodiac, Virgo, is not really dead or hurt yet. She resurfaces in Alpha Flight Vol 2 5 (December, 1997), lost in Paris.
- Scorpio seems very protective of Virgo in this issue, and does not trust the rest of the Zodiac with her safety. A fan theory on the subject is that Scorpio is in love with her, but this is not clearly stated in the issue.
- Neither Scorpio, nor Virgo display any super-powers in this issue. They use weapons and other technological devices in battle.
- It is not clear if Pisces, with her liquid form, is human. At least she does not seem to consider herself human. When attacking Guardian, Pisces calls him a "mammal". Which suggests she does not consider herself a mammal either.
- Sagittarius has the form of a Centaur from Greek legend. It is not clear if this is his true form, a disguise, or a mutation of some kind. He might not be human.
- Taurus has the form of a humanoid bull. He resembles the Minotaur of Greek legend. It is not clear if this is his true form, a disguise, or a mutation of some kind. He might not be human.
- Ecliptic does not take part in the battle and does not seem to be considered an actual member of the Zodiac. However, she seems to act as Scorpio's trusted advisor and seems to be able to influence his decisions more than anyone else. In effect, she may be the "power behind the throne" in this organization, the de facto leader.
- The civilian identities of this version of the Zodiac were never revealed and its characters (except one) were killed in Weapon X Vol 2 1 (November, 2002). Like most characters introduced in this volume of Alpha Flight, they remain mysterious and underused.
- The flashback involving a feral Wolverine may be partly accurate or a complete fabrication. It is part of the memories and nightmares of the new Guardian, which (like him) were mostly created by the Department H. However, there is no issue clearly discounting this flashback. Like a number of other flashbacks and past stories involving Wolverine, it is part of a rather complex and often contradictory character history.
- The nightmare of Heather McNeil Hudson where she witnesses the death of her husband James Hudson (and has a role in causing it) is based on a memory. This is a traumatic scene from Alpha Flight Vol 1 12 (July, 1984). The death caused her to join Alpha Flight to replace him and brought several changes to her characterization. James returned years later, as a cyborg.
- That Puck is in love with Heather McNeil Hudson has been hinted before. However, this is a one-sided attraction, as Heather is usually involved with other men of Alpha Flight.
- The issue mentions that the Avengers and Fantastic Four have gone missing and that the Earth now lacks heroes. This in part a reference to the events of Onslaught Marvel Universe Vol 1 1 (October, 1996), where most of the active rosters of the two teams apparently sacrifice their lives to stop Onslaught. But there were no corpses left behind. The "missing" and presumed dead characters of the issue were only 18 (Bruce Banner (separated from the Hulk), Black Panther, Captain America, Crystal, Dr. Doom, Falcon, Giant Man, Hawkeye, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Iron Man, Mister Fantastic, Namor, Scarlet Witch, Thing, Thor, Vision, and Wasp). There were several surviving Avengers but the team disbanded following the event and several changes took place due to the lack of established heroes.
- There is a somewhat awkward moment in this issue when Puck asks who can train, organize and lead the new Alpha Flight. He is standing right next to Vindicator, the longest-serving leader of the team, but apparently fails to even consider her as a candidate.
- Madison Jeffries apparently no longer controls the Box armor or uses the Box identity, thought it is never stated why.
- There is a contradiction in the claim that the Department H used all the former members of Alpha Flight they could locate. They managed to recruit Madison Jeffries, but not his wife Diamond Lil, who simply sends her regards. Lil herself is a long-serving member of the Flight.
- When listing veteran members of Alpha Flight that were apparently not contacted by Department H, Vindicator only mentions Aurora, Northstar, and Wild Child. While all reasonable choices, these are far from the only missing veteran members of the Flight.
- The original suit of Vindicator was a version of the Guardian's Battle-suit with electromagnetic powers. The geothermal suit introduced in this issue has distinctive design, colors, and powers. It became strongly associated with the character and would be reused in subsequent appearances of Heather for decades.
- The mysterious man meeting with Scorpio at the epilogue is Director X, the supposed secret head of Department H. He made a few minor appearances and then was forgotten about. His civilian identity was never revealed.
- The Marvel Chronology Project, which tracks character appearances, has the following information about the characters of this issue:
- Box/Madison Jeffries' previous chronological appearance is in Alpha Flight Vol 1 130 (March, 1994). His next chronological appearance is in Alpha Flight Vol 2 12 (July, 1998).
- General Jeremy Clarke previous chronological appearances are a full appearance in Northstar Vol 1 1 (April, 1994) and a flashback in Alpha Flight Vol 2 19 (February, 1999). He becomes a regular character of this series.
- Puck's previous chronological appearance is in Sabretooth Vol 2 1 (January, 1998). He becomes a regular character of this series.
- Sunfire's previous chronological appearance is in Wolverine Annual Vol 1 1996 (October, 1996). He becomes a regular character of this series.
- Vindicator's previous chronological appearance is in Marvel Fanfare Vol 2 2 (October, 1996). She becomes a regular character of this series.
- The flashback appearance of Gary Cody takes place between the second (origin) story of Alpha Flight Vol 1 10 (May, 1984) and a flashback in Alpha Flight Vol 1 17 (December, 1984). His next appearance following this is X-Men Vol 1 109 (February, 1978).
- The flashback appearance of Weapon Alpha takes place between a flashback in Alpha Flight Vol 1 53 (December, 1987) and a flashback in Alpha Flight Vol 1 17 (December, 1984).
- The flashback appearance of Wolverine takes place between a flashback in Alpha Flight Vol 1 53 (December, 1987) and a flashback scene in Wolverine: Origins Vol 1 28 (November, 2008).
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