Alpha Flight #7-8
Issue(s): Alpha Flight #7, Alpha Flight #8
She shows no signs of her Aurora personality the entire time, and the doctor finds nothing wrong with her, to Northstar's irritation.
Afterward, Northstar takes Jean-Marie through one of his former neighborhoods. He wants her to meet someone who is vaguely described as more than a friend. On the way there, however, a seemingly chance pick-pocket attempt triggers Aurora's persona.
When they meet Northstar's friend, Raymonde Belmonde, they find that the pick-pocketing may not have been random after all. It seems that Raymonde is refusing to sell his restaurant to Ernest St. Ives, a local criminal with US Maggia ties with the nickname Deadly Ernest, and Ernest is therefore harassing him and those patronizing his establishment. Raymonde also has a daughter - which was a huge shock to Northstar ("But how?", he asks).
Then Ernest arrives, and kills Raymonde with a touch.
He also kidnaps Aurora, mistakenly assuming she is Raymonde's daughter.
Focusing on Northstar after Raymonde's death, the narration says the following:
Jean-Paul Beaubier feels a great, black emptiness open in his heart. A gaping maw threatens to swallow his whole world.
Knowing now that Northstar is gay, the hints in the above text and elsewhere throughout these issues is clear, but the text is subtle enough that if you didn't know to look for it you probably wouldn't pick up on it.
In an "unconnected interlude" (i've noticed that throughout the Alpha Flight series, Byrne transitions to subplots with phrases like that and "not quite meanwhile", as if he were chaffing at the device), Gamma Flight member Smart Alec is playing 9 separate chess matches at the Southbrook Mall in Manitoba.
We've only seen Smart Alec once before, in the small shot of Beta and Gamma Flights in issue #1, where none of the members were actually named.
Smart Alec is contacted by a woman named Delphine Courtney for reasons we do not yet learn.
Northstar heads to Deadly Ernest's mansion, and while there he meets up with another Canadian super-hero called Nemesis.
Except, Nemesis isn't actually a superhero. She's a deadly killer, making short work of Ernest's goons with her atom's-width blade, and then cutting up Ernest himself - all to the horror of Northstar.
Northstar (and surely, just about every reader) assumed that Nemesis was actually Belmonde's daughter, but that turns out to not be the case.
While Northstar was tracking down Ernest, Aurora was playing along with him. She learned his origin (he was a World War I soldier that rejected Death)...
...and that Belmonde's daughter was actually working with Ernest. So after Ernest is killed by Nemesis, the twins head back to her and have her arrested. As they leave, Northstar casually mentions that he assumes that Aurora slept with Ernest to stay alive, and Aurora is not at all pleased by that assumption.
Nemesis is based on the sword-wielding Greek goddess of retribution.
In issue #7, Raymonde asks, "Ah, but who was it that said 'Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so...'?". Aurora responds, "I believe it was an alien who called himself Ford Fairmont. You are widely read, Mister Belmonde." That's a Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy reference, and the alien in question is of course actually Ford Prefect. Both the Prefect and the Fairmont were cars made by Ford (for those sad people who are not Hitchhikers fans, the joke is that Ford named himself based on a common name for what he initially thought was the dominant life form on earth). The lettercol in issue #14 says that Byrne's script correctly had "Prefect" and they don't know how it got changed. I wonder if someone was worried about a copyright issue? Also, i'm not sure if having read Hitchhikers qualifies you as widely read, but on the other hand i'm surprised that Aurora in either of her personas would have read that nerdy sci-fi book (but you should!).
Byrne has stated on numerous occasions that he didn't really want to do an Alpha Flight series and he didn't really know what to do with the characters once he was badgered into doing it. However, i really love these issues. There's fantastic art, great characterization, a very non-traditional "solo adventures in a team book" format, and nicely developed origins.
Quality Rating: A-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The back-ups from these issues are covered in a separate entry.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showAurora, Deadly Ernest, Delphine Courtney, Nemesis, Northstar, Smart Alec
The title to #7 refers to the Oscar Wilde play "The Importance of Being Earnest". Since Wilde was gay, that choice may have been intentional.
Byrne admitted in at least one interview in mid-1984 that Northstar was gay(in Comics Scene, I think).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 2, 2011 12:22 AM
Probably coincidentally, Chris Claremont was called "Ford Fairmont" in an X-Men parody in First Comics' "E-Man" in 1983.
This story was originally announced as 3 issues, and Ernest was supposed to be a mutant(also with a Sentinels appearance).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 21, 2013 5:04 PM
John Byrne revealed to me on his forum that under her Jeanne-Marie perseona, Aurora did NOT know about Northstar's sexuality. "Her head would likely have exploded", he said.
Makes sense in retrospect, given Jeanne-Marie's strict religious upbringing. But still it was a surprise to me, since eventually Northstar came to prefer that personality over Aurora's.
Posted by: Vincent Valenti | January 12, 2016 10:49 PM
But that relates to one of the (many) problems with Pak's and Van Lente's Alpha Flight-by the time they took over Alpha Flight Jeanne Marie had known about Northstar's sexuality for ages and seemingly come to terms with it but they had her betray the team to the Master in exchange for a "cure".
Posted by: Michael | January 12, 2016 11:27 PM
Really? Ew. Ew. Ew.
That's not exactly a violation of continuity, since Byrne never explicitly said in the actual comics that Jeanne-Marie didn't know. But it is a violation of character, IMO. Plus common sense.
Not to mention that it makes Northstar's sexuality a much bigger issue than it should be. Even if Byrne was able to outright say that he was gay, he would have done so but not hit people over the head with it constantly.
Posted by: Vincent Valenti | January 13, 2016 11:15 AM
Revisiting the biological parents of Northstar and Aurora, if Namor was their father (as I have previously posited), was their mother the original Nemesis? But Isabel St. Ives is Deadly Earnest's daughter and DE was definitely hitting on Aurora you say. But hey he didn't know.
The one thing that's attractive here is Isabel was born in Quebec, plus there's all that missing time between her father, Deadly Ernest, inadvertently killing her mother and Isabel facing Alpha Flight as Nemesis, an identity that by this stage she seemed to have well established. But we have no real history about her crime fighting career as Nemesis prior to her being called upon to assist Northstar and Aurora in combat with Ernest. We still don't know how she came to develop her science and sorcery skills for creating the sword that enabled her to drain the life force of others to live an extended life in addition to letting her fly. Did she spend some time in New York, perhaps even during the WWII, training under some Golden Age sorcerous scientist who assisted her to develop her Nemesis identity to fight crime on the streets there while the majority of other heroes were off fighting the war? Do any Golden Age characters that would fit the bill as her mentor come to mind?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 6, 2016 4:55 PM
It's a pity we never saw Deadly Ernest encounter John Kowalski from War is Hell so the pair could team up to take their own revenge upon her! Now that's a Marvel Team-Up issue I'd read;)
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 11, 2016 5:50 AM
Interesting that Smart Alec plays nine simultanious games of chess, the same number that Derren Brown plays https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcKYg1mM35U
Posted by: kveto | September 11, 2016 1:13 PM
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