Northstar (Jean-Paul Beaubier) is a Canadian mutant and one of the few openly gay characters in the Marvel Universe. 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 biographyEdit
Jean-Paul Beaubier was born to a Quebecer family in Montreal, but after his parents died in an automobile accident during his childhood, he and his twin sister, Jeanne-Marie, were 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 separatist movement organized to win independence for Quebec from Canada, however, he soon becomes disgusted with the group's tactics and renounces terrorism. Beaubier then learns of a superhero group financed by the Canadian government called Alpha Flight. He then reunites with his sister Jeanne-Marie, who takes the name Aurora.
Jean-Paul joins Alpha Flight, adopting the codename “Northstar.” It is there that he is reunited with his twin sister Jeanne-Marie (“Aurora”). Northstar makes his comic debut in Uncanny X-Men #120 where he joins Alpha Flight combating the X-Men to capture former teammate Wolverine.
Alpha Flight learns that it is being disbanded and Jean-Paul is shocked when he witnesses his sister’s split personalities. Jean-Paul then encounters his old friend Raymond Belmonde, a man who took him in and mentored him, helping him become comfortable with himself and steering him on the right path. He introduces Aurora to Belmonde only for the twins to be attacked by local crime boss Deadly Ernest, who kills Belmonde. The twins deal with the villain, though their relationship sours when Northstar offends Aurora by asking if she had “romanced her way to safety.” Aurora refuses to speak with him after that and her lover and teammate Sasquatch assists her in altering her powers such that she no longer needs Northstar to generate light. Her attempts to isolate him cause Northstar to quit Alpha Flight.
Eventually, Aurora arrives at his doorstep seeking his help. The twins begin to reconcile, but Aurora rejects him again when she discovers Jean-Paul’s past history as a terrorist with the FLQ, telling the other members of Alpha Flight. They cross-examine him about his terrorist activities, though any discussion is dropped due to an emergency. When Sasquatch dies, the twins reconcile after Northstar comforts his grieving sister. However, during a confrontation with the Hulk, Northstar and Aurora discover that her power alterations cause the twins to negate one another’s abilities upon touching. After the battle finishes, Northstar decides to rejoin Alpha Flight.
While on a skiing vacation, Northstar is forced to publicly expose himself as a mutant to save a woman's life. Spectators accuse the retired skiing champion of using his powers to cheat. Realizing that he could not know if he had subconsciously used his abilities in the past, he relinquishes his medals and bitterly turns his back on skiing forever.
The villain Pestilence senses decay in Northstar's body and causes his sickness to grow serious to the point that his wounds no longer heal, slowly killing him. As his illness progresses, Aurora desperately uses her healing light to cure him. The twins' later use of their powers on one another stabilizes their abilities back to their original state, also allowing Northstar to generate light independently like Aurora.
During another battle, Northstar discovers an abandoned baby girl in an alley. Doctors discover that the baby girl is dying of AIDS, having been infected with HIV in the womb. Jean-Paul adopts her and names her Joanne Beaubier, and he and Alpha Flight performed various events to remind the public of AIDS and the dangers of remaining silent about it. Her death weeks later spurs Northstar to publicly admit that he is gay, hoping that his role as a gay man and a celebrity will increase media attention on HIV/AIDS safety and prevention.
Eventually Northstar decides to leave Alpha Flight and writes a memoir about his experience as a mutant and gay man entitled “Born Normal.”
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 person in the crowd turns out to be carrying a gun. Northstar foils his own assassination attempt at super-speed. 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. Omertà believes his powers will save him, but a couple dozen punches at super-speed 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 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 by Wolverine's claws while patrolling the grounds with Shadowcat. One of the New Mutants, Elixir, manages to heal Northstar's wounds but is unable to revive him. A few days later a statue of Northstar is created in memory of him and is placed in a garden of statues of various fallen X-Men on the campus grounds.
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.
Not 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 to kill their enemies, Sabretooth and the X-Men. They easily are able to mentally control Northstar due to The Hand's previous mental manipulations leaving his psyche fragile. Under their control he then finds his sister about to commit suicide and stops her so that The Children can mentally control her too. Together 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. 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.
Divided We StandEdit
Northstar is later contacted by Cyclops to find Anole, who goes into hiding after accidentally attacking his own father due to post traumatic stress disorder from his time at the X-Mansion. Northstar discovers Anole on a tree limb beside a tree house, the teenager not too happy to see his former mentor. At first, Jean-Paul makes jokes, thinking Victor is having a problem with fitting in, as both a mutant and as a gay teen. Victor explains that his town accepts him for who he is - his problems come from Northstar, along with the other X-Men, for stealing the New X-Men's innocence. He tells Northstar that they should have been playing video games and going on dates, "...not fighting the Devil!" Victor places a lizard-like stuffed animal at the base of the tree with a note reading "Mom and Dad. I'm sorry and I love you. Victor." He tells Northstar that his parents will look for him at the tree house first once they begin searching for him, and he calls the tree house his own X-Mansion. Just before Anole departs, he elbows Jean-Paul in the face - similar to how Northstar attacked him in the past - and tells him to tell all of the former New X-Men not to come looking for him.
Powers and abilitiesEdit
Northstar is a mutant who can move and fly at superhuman speed. He also possesses superhuman stamina and reflexes. 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. Northstar can create cyclones by running in circles, can run up walls and across water, and can breathe while traveling at subsonic speeds. It is unclear whether he still possesses the ability to generate bright light at will while linking hands with his sister Aurora.
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. He is a good hand-to-hand combatant using a style utilizing his superhuman speed, and received coaching from his teammate Puck. After his resurrection by The Hand, Northstar has been trained in the martial arts. Northstar also has peak human strength, but has superhuman strength in his legs.
Northstar wears a costume of synthetic stretch fabric made of special materials for protection from friction and other hazards of superhuman speed.
Age of ApocalypseEdit
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).
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.
In the Ultimate Marvel Universe, 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. 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.
During a softball game between the Academy of Tomorrow and the Xavier School, Ultimate Alpha Flight shows up to kidnap Northstar. Ultimate Aurora makes her debut, revealing herself to be Northstar's sister. She physically takes him against his will. Later, Colossus, Cyclops, Rogue, Angel, Dazzler and Nightcrawler break into Alpha Flight's base to rescue him. After they incapacitate Alpha Flight, Colossus finds Northstar overdosing on the mutant drug, Banshee, resulting in him being crippled from the waist down.
X-Men: The EndEdit
In the alternate future of X-Men: 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.
House of MEdit
In the alternate reality created by the Scarlet Witch known as House of M, Northstar is an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D, responsible for training a squad of young mutants and super-humans in the agency's junior training squad program. Much like the rest of the super-powered community in House of M, Northstar supported this reality's Magneto and his mutant-supremacy platform.
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," - 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 mediaEdit
Northstar appears in the X-Men animated series episodes "Slave Island", "Repo Man", and "Child of Light". 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 showed the character's origins as he spoke with a French Canadian accent.
In "Slave Island" Jean-Paul is a hostage/prisoner of the island nation of Genosha. He, along with many other mutants, provides 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.
Northstar, as well as other Alpha Flight members, make a brief cameo in "Child of Light".
Deaths and resurrectionsEdit
In 2005, Marvel killed Northstar in three separate continuities within the space of one calendar month. Between February 16 and March 9, 2005, versions of Northstar were killed in the Earth-616-based Wolverine #25, and in X-Men: Age of Apocalypse and X-Men: 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. 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.
- ↑ Alpha Flight #1, 7, 8, 18
- ↑ Alpha Flight #25
- ↑ Alpha Flight #29
- ↑ Alpha Flight #41
- ↑ Alpha Flight #50
- ↑ Alpha Flight #85
- ↑ Alpha Flight #106
- ↑ Uncanny X-Men #392
- ↑ During the Eve of Destruction story arc in Uncanny X-Men #392 (2001)
- ↑ Uncanny X-Men #414 (2002)
- ↑ Wolverine vol. 3 #31
- ↑ X-Men vol. 2 #190
- ↑ Secret Invasion: X-Men #2
- ↑ X-Men: Age of Apocalypse #2
- ↑ Ultimate X-Men #94
- ↑ Ultimate X-Men #97
- ↑ New X-men: Academy X # 16"
- ↑ 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.
- MarvelDatabase:Northstar (Jean-Paul Beaubier)
- MarvelDatabase:Character Gallery Northstar (Jean-Paul Beaubier)
- MarvelDatabase:Northstar (Ultimate)
- Northstar Fans Character fan site
- AlphaFlight.Net Alphanex Entry On - Northstar
- UncannyXmen.net, spotlight on Northstar
- Gay League, Profile Page
- MutantHigh, Northstar Profile
- Northstar on the Marvel Universe Character Bio Wiki