This article is about the Marvel Comics superhero. For other uses, see Northstar .
Northstar, born Jean-Paul Beaubier, is a fictional character, a Québécois superhero in Marvel Comics publications. Through his mutation, Northstar gains superhuman powers which he uses for the betterment of society. Although originally a member of Alpha Flight, a fictional team of Canadian superhumans, Northstar is later portrayed as a member of the X-Men. Northstar is also noted as one of the first openly homosexual superheroes in American comic books.
Fictional character biography
Jean-Paul Beaubier was born to a Quebecer family in Montreal, but after his parents die in an automobile accident during his childhood, he and his twin sister, Jeanne-Marie, are separated. Jean-Paul is later adopted, but his adopted parents are killed after only a couple of years. Prior to his debut as a superhero, Beaubier competes as a professional skier. He became an elite level skier during his teenage years, prior to his mutation surfacing. Once he developed his mutant ability he became virtually unbeatable and eventually bored of the sport due to the lack of competition. He becomes an angry and rebellious youth and, as a young adult, joins the Front de Libération du Québec, a terrorist group organized to win independence for Quebec from Canada, however, he soon becomes disgusted with the group's tactics and renounces terrorism. Beaubier then joins Alpha Flight, a superhero group financed by the Canadian government, where he reunites with his sister Jeanne-Marie, who takes the name Aurora.Jean-Paul takes the name Northstar and has a lengthy career with Alpha Flight. For a brief time, Northstar quits Alpha Flight and returns to his previous profession as a professional skier and competes in the Olympics, but is forced to return his medals when his mutant powers are once again revealed as it is suspected he may have been subconsciously using his powers to give him an edge..]]After returning to the team, Northstar adopts an orphaned baby named Joanne, who is infected with HIV. After the child dies, Northstar reveals to his teammates and the public that he is gay.After Alpha Flight disbands, Northstar writes a memoir called Born Normal about his experiences as being a mutant and gay.
During the Eve of Destruction story arc in Uncanny X-Men #392 (2001), Northstar is recruited to an improvised team of X-Men by Jean Grey who is recruiting familiar and never-before-seen mutants. Along with Wolverine and Cyclops, these are the only X-Men available to rescue Professor X, who has been captured by Magneto and is being kept prisoner in Genosha. Jean meets Northstar at a book-signing appearance, where he is mobbed. One of the crowd turns out to be carrying a gun. Northstar foils his own assassination attempt at superspeed. Later, he meets one of the new mutants, an invulnerable young man who goes by the name of Omerta. This man is very homophobic and it leads to an actual fight between the two on the driveway of the X-Men's mansion. Omerta believes his powers will save him, but a couple dozen punches at superspeed seriously rattles him.Northstar works with the X-Men to save the life of a mutant child who cannot stop exploding. Despite his speed, Northstar cannot save the boy, who perishes simply because of his powers. Soon after, at the request of Professor X, Northstar soon officially joins the X-Men in Uncanny X-Men #414 (2002) and soon becomes an instructor at the Xavier Institute, teaching business, economics, and French. He is also shown teaching flying classes. Northstar becomes a mentor to his own squad of young mutants, Alpha Squadron, and forms a close mentor relationship with student Anole. During his time at Xavier's, he forms a close friendship with Annie Ghazikhanian, a former nurse at the Xavier Institute. Annie realizes that Northstar has developed an attraction to Bobby Drake. Bobby remains oblivious, despite Northstar, who was currently sick, saving him from the misguided anger of a jealous mutant.In a story-arc in 2005, HYDRA forms an alliance with the cults the Dawn of the White Light and the Hand. The groups had been recruiting new agents from the superhero community by killing, resurrecting, and brainwashing them. The X-Man Wolverine is one of their victims, brainwashed into becoming a HYDRA assassin. He eventually attacks the X-Men. During the battle that follows, Northstar is killed. One of the New Mutants, Elixir, manages to heal Northstar's wounds but is unable to revive him. at the head of a legion of Hand and HYDRA-brainwashed characters.]]S.H.I.E.L.D. requests that Northstar be decapitated in order to prevent a resurrection, but the X-Men are against it. They wish to contact Northstar's family first. Before anything can happen, Northstar's body is stolen by Elektra, another brainwashed victim of HYDRA, though it would later be revealed she is a double agent seeking to infiltrate the Hand. Once in HYDRA's possession, a resurrected Northstar leads an attack with Elektra on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, crippling S.H.I.E.L.D. and putting Nick Fury in critical condition. Northstar also takes the time to kill racists and homophobes all across the country, seemingly at random. Wolverine, who had been deprogrammed of the brainwashing, goes on a killing spree to take down the cults and kill all the active members. Realizing that Northstar's predicament is his fault, Wolverine tries helping his former teammate. They meet in a small bar to talk things out. Wolverine realizes Northstar has regained his 'flash', the ability to generate a brief blinding light. Northstar refuses to listen and Wolverine is attacked by the other Dawn of the White Light mutants. He is subdued and taken to their base. There, Wolverine activates a trio of decommissioned Sentinels from S.H.I.E.L.D. and has them kill all the mutants except for Northstar. When Northstar refuses to tell Wolverine the location of HYDRA's command center, Wolverine knocks him out and calls S.H.I.E.L.D. to pick him up and psychologically "deprogram" him. Although the "deprogramming" procedure that is used on Wolverine is deemed a success, this would not be the case for Northstar. A recovering Nick Fury is seen making a report to the X-Men's Kitty Pryde that Northstar's body had never been found after Elektra had stolen it. Fury explains that Northstar is presumed dead, even though Northstar is very much alive (and apparently insane) and in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody.Wolverine vol. 3 #31Not long afterward, the mysterious group of superhumans known as The Children of the Vault abducts Northstar from the S.H.I.E.L.D. holding facility in order to use him and Aurora to kill their enemies, Sabretooth and the X-Men. They attack the school under The Children's command and make quick work of several X-Men, notably Iceman and Anole, whose encounter with Northstar briefly shakes him from mind-control.X-Men vol. 2 #190 Leaving Aurora to battle the X-Men, Northstar begins a search of Sabretooth before encountering Rogue. As Rogue uses Northstar's powers against him, the two battle in high-speed until Cable appears and psychically subdues Northstar.In X-Men Annual #1 the X-Men take Northstar and Aurora to the S.H.I.E.L.D. heli-carrier in an attempt to fix the mental damage inflicted on the twins. Using their V.R. equipment the X-Men allow the twins to relive their lives at an accelerated pace. The process is interrupted near the end of the session by Exodus, creating a telepathic connection between the twins. Using each other's emotional support they apparently manage to face their inner turmoils. This allows both brother and sister to gain a higher level of control of their powers, which they use to save Rogue from the Acolyte (and one-time X-Man) known as Frenzy. Northstar and Aurora are presently in the company of the X-Men.
Powers and abilities
Northstar can move and fly at superhuman speed. He can channel a portion of the kinetic energy of the atomic motion in his body's molecules in a single direction, accelerating his body to a velocity in direct proportion to the amount of kinetic energy he has tapped. Northstar also has an advanced equilibrium, and exceptional agility and reaction time, which allows for him to make sharp turns, and run at such speeds without becoming sick. Northstar is also able to punch at great speeds, which grants him the ability to hurt even the Hulk. In an early issue of Alpha Flight Northstar reveals to readers that his sister Aurora can fly greater distances than he can, but that he can fly faster.As a side effect of partially robbing his molecules of their atomic motion, the binding forces within and between the molecules increase which enhances the sheer toughness of Northstar's entire body. This effect gives his skin enough durability to withstand speeds up to at least Mach 10 without injury. It had once been theorized that Northstar could fly at 99% of the speed of light (186,282 miles per second), although he never traveled anywhere near that speed because he would have done irreparable damage to the environment. While Northstar can withstand Mach 10 speeds, traveling any faster would carry complications with breathing and damage caused by wind and air resistance to his body. Northstar can also vary the rate of acceleration of his molecules to release a cascade of photons as bright as a lighthouse beacon. His powers have recently been enhanced to the point where he and Aurora can generate explosive thermal energy in addition to light.Northstar is a world-class professional skier, skilled trapeze artist, business man, and an accomplished novelist. A native French speaker, he is also fluent in English. After his resurrection by The Hand, Northstar has been trained in the martial arts. Northstar also has peak human strength.
Age of Apocalypse
.]]In the Age of Apocalypse, Northstar and Aurora are part of Mr. Sinister?s Elite Mutant Force (E.M.F.) and, as such, are assigned to patrolling the breeding pens. The siblings are rather snotty about their superior status as mutants and seem to take great pleasure in punishing those prisoners who act up or try to escape. When the E.M.F.?s leader, Cyclops, switches sides, secretly helping some inmates to escape, he is caught in the act by the speeding twins. However, both of them are defeated by Cyclops and the prisoner he was helping to escape, which happens to be Polaris. When the series was revisited for the 10 year anniversary, both Northstar and Aurora are later killed by Weapon X (Wolverine) and Kirika (X-23 in the Marvels main universe).X-Men: Age of Apocalypse #2
In the Marvel Zombies comics set in the universe of Earth-2149 the zombified Alpha Flight attack the X-Men and are eventually killed by Magneto. Northstar is seen in a panel of Marvel Zombies Dead Days attacking the X-Man Storm alongside his sister Aurora. The two are killed by Magneto only moments later.===Ultimate Northstar===In the Ultimate Marvel Universe, no mention of Aurora has been made, and it is uncertain if she exists at all. His features are similar to his original counterpart, although his ears are no longer pointed. His powers are also similar, though he has yet to demonstrate the ability to fly, or any abilities related to light emission.A student at New York City's Stuyvesant High School, Northstar is kicked off the school's track team for suspected illegal steroid use. In fact, his unnatural levels of speed are actually due to his mutation. When the X-Men reveal to him he is a mutant and ask him to join them, he turns them down, saying that separating themselves from humans is segregation and noting how a student there (Beast) had been recently killed.Soon after, Mister Sinister, a deranged man who is apparently under orders of Apocalypse to kill several mutants, shoots Northstar. It is still unclear whether Apocalypse is really speaking to Sinister or if he is simply a figment of Sinister's fevered imagination. Thanks to his quick reflexes, Northstar manages to survive the attack but is left in a coma. After being hospitalized, he is awakened from his coma by the X-Man Jean Grey. Upon being told that Colossus had watched over him all night to protect him from any further attacks, Northstar asks if Colossus is single, startling Colossus so much that his body involuntarily turns to steel.Northstar is later recruited by Emma Frost to join the Academy of Tomorrow, a magnet school for gifted children both mutant and human with a more pacifistic and integrationist philosophy than the X-Men. Along with fellow students Lorna Dane and Alex Summers, he completes Frost's Advanced Leadership Workshop, allowing him to make use of his powers performing off-campus community service missions in conjunction with local authorities. When Lorna is framed for murder and imprisoned in the Triskelion (the headquarters of the Ultimates), in an elaborate scheme by Magneto to help him escape the prison, Northstar is part of the group of Frost's students who try to break her out. During a battle with the Ultimates and the X-Men, he shows that he has improved his abilities enough to move faster than the human eye (allowing him to attack without being seen), run across water (though a direct hit from a super-powered person could cause him to sink), and resist gravity (he is able to run up the side of a tall building).During the battle he shows romantic interest in Colossus, and a week later it is revealed that the two have kept in contact, having exchanged email addresses. Colossus is shown on the phone talking to Northstar, who asks Colossus to be his date to his school's homecoming dance (which he accepts). But the dance is interrupted by the Brotherhood. After the supposed death of Charles Xavier, Colossus agrees to temporarily live with Northstar at his school.
X-Men: The End
In the alternate future of The End, Northstar is one of many members of the staff of Xavier Institute. He briefly survives the destruction of it and several surrounding miles, only to die in Scott Summers' arms. As he passes on, he sees a vision of his Alpha Flight friends, leading is his sister, who encourages him to leave his body.
.|215px|thumb]]On his website's message board
, comic book writer and artist John Byrne said that, while planning the Alpha Flight series that was launched in 1983, the characters had little to no depth at the time, and so he decided to flesh them out."One of the things that popped immediately into my head was to make one of them gay," Byrne stated. "I had recently read an article in Scientific American on what was then (the early 80s) fairly radical new thinking on just what processes caused a person to be homosexual, and the evidence was pointing increasingly to it being genetic and not environmental factors. So, I thought, it seemed like it was time for a gay superhero, and since I was being 'forced' to make Alpha Flight a real series, I might as well make one of them gay." Byrne went through the cast members deciding which character would be an appropriate choice. "I settled on Jean-Paul, and the moment I did I realized it was already there. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I must have been considering making him gay before I 'decided' to do so. Of course, the temper of the times, the Powers That Were and, naturally, the Comics Code would not let me come right out and state that Jean-Paul was homosexual, but I managed to 'get the word out' even with those barriers."Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter had decreed that there were to be no gay characters in the Marvel universe and prevented writers from having their characters be gay. Byrne was able to imply that Northstar was gay, but could not state it explicitly..]]When Bill Mantlo succeeded Byrne as Alpha Flight writer, he began a storyline in which Northstar became infected with a strange illness. Mantlo intended to reveal that the illness was AIDS and then kill off the character in Alpha Flight #50. However, Marvel's editors intervened and Mantlo was forced to change the ending: instead of dying of AIDS, Northstar was revealed to be a magical being whose illness was the result of prolonged separation from his homeland. Peter David later described this incident as "He wasn't gay. He was just a fairy,"
- a double entendre of which Mantlo was most likely well aware since, in addition to its mystical connotations, "fairy" can also be a derogatory term for gay men. The fairy retcon was retconned back out by later Alpha Flight writers, though what Northstar's original illness had been was not addressed.In Alpha Flight #106, published in 1992, some years after Shooter had left Marvel, writer Scott Lobdell was finally given permission to allow Northstar to utter the words "I am gay". The event generated some publicity in the mainstream press and Alpha Flight #106 sold out in a week, despite the fact that the series was not a very popular title. Shortly before Northstar admitted he was gay, he was voted Canada's most eligible bachelor, in the Alpha Flight series.Northstar's coming out was controversial and as a result, little mention was made of his sexual orientation for the remainder of the first Alpha Flight series, which ended in 1994. It wasn't ignored entirely, however; one subplot dealt with his sister Aurora's reaction, in which the "Aurora" personality was accepting, while the "Jeanne-Marie" one was not. A subsequent mini-series starring Northstar also dodged the issue.While at least three background characters in the classic 1986 mini-series Watchmen were gay, making it the first series to feature openly gay characters, the characters Northstar, Mystique and Destiny were all created years beforehand. And even though the editors at Marvel would not let it be openly stated, these characters were intended from almost the beginning to be gay or bisexual.By 2001, society's views on homosexuality had changed considerably. In that year, Northstar's sexual orientation played a large role in the storyline in which he joined a temporary team of X-Men and faced another recruit, Paulie Provenzano, who was extremely homophobic. Though the two began their mission as enemies, they eventually made peace with one another. He developed the same relationship with Juggernaut, when the two served on the same X-Team.When Northstar joined the X-Men as a regular member in 2002, writers were less hesitant to address his sexual orientation. Northstar even experienced a crush on the long-time X-Man Iceman, though it was a one-sided love.One of his students in the Alpha Squadron, Victor Borkowski, the gay mutant Anole, looks up to him as a role model.
In other media
Northstar appears in the X-Men animated series episodes "Slave Island" and "Repo Man". He is voiced by Rene Lemieux. No mention or hint is made of his sexual orientation. In the cartoon Northstar possesses the ability to fly and generate a blinding light when he slaps hands with his sister Aurora. Though he didn't have any speaking role in Slave Island, the episode Repo Man proved to hold true to the character's origins as his trademark French Canadian accent was present.In "Slave Island" Jean-Paul is a hostage/prisoner of the island nation of Genosha. He, along with many other mutants, provide slave labor for the government using their mutant skills for such tasks as building dams and the like. They wear special collars that restrict them from using their powers to escape and sleep in prison-like cells. They eventually escape Genosha with the help of the X-Men.In "Repo Man", Northstar is shown as part of the Canadian special forces team Alpha Flight, which tries to convince former member Wolverine to re-join.
Deaths and resurrections
In 2005, Marvel killed Northstar in three separate continuities within the space of one calendar month. Between February 16th and March 9th, 2005, versions of Northstar were killed in the Earth-616-based Wolverine #25, and in Age of Apocalypse and The End (a possible story of the X-Men's final days; Northstar was one of many to die in the series), both of which were set in alternate timelines.Film producer Perry Moore was so angered by the death of Marvel's most prominent gay superhero at the hands of one of its most popular superheroes that he wrote the novel Hero?about a gay teenage superhero?to present a more positive image of gay superheroes to readers. See: George Gene Gustines, "A Novelist?s Superhero Is Out to Right Wrongs," New York Times, September 3, 2007. Northstar did not stay dead long in Marvel's primary continuity, however; he is resurrected in Wolverine #26.A temporal copy of Northstar—from a period of time shortly before the apparent death of Guardian at the hands of Jerry Jaxon—was introduced near the end of the third Alpha Flight series, along with an entire team of early Alpha Flight members. This Northstar is last seen with a similarly time-displaced Aurora, still operating in the Earth-616 present.