Comics / Spotlight

Alpha Flight: Vindicating Guardian

By Hervé St-Louis
January 21, 2003 - 11:18


The only job that's worst than a being a mom on television is to be a comic book super hero's spouse. TV moms play complementary roles in sitcoms like in Malcolm in the Middle, Growing Pains, Fresh Prince or Home Improvement. The spotlight is always on the kids and the fathers, never on moms. Comic book spouses have it worse. Nothing beats being a Lois Lane clone. This hasn't stopped Heather Hudson.

Heather Hudson, Canada's favourite comic book red head, is a unique super hero spouse in comic book history. Concerning her originality for a female character, I rank her with greats such as Oracle, whom she looks like quite a bit. Perhaps that's why both characters are such trend breaking icons. Both are red hair girls with glasses and very effective power brokers.

Heather started as the wife of Canada's main super hero, the Guardian. She was but a regular secretary living in Ottawa. We first saw her in Uncanny X-Men when Wolverine came back to Canada to mend fences with his former Alpha Flight buddies. Right away, she had pizzaz and a unique look. Still, as anyone knows, in the field of animation, red headed girls are always adventurers.

In Alpha Flight # 12, Heather's husband, James Macdonald Hudson, died in action. Still mourning the death of her husband, Heather replaced him. She took his electro magnetic exo-suit and became Vindicator or Guardian or whatever. There's quite a bit of name changing involved, but we'll settle on Vindicator for the rest of the article.

When Superman died, Lois Lane did not become Super Woman. When Batman's back was broken, Vicky Vale did not become Batwoman. When Barry Allen died, Iris West did not become She-Flash. One could argue that unlike Vindicator, the other ladies did not have access to their lover's expertise or powers.

However, Heather did more than hold up the legacy of her husband. She became the team's new leader in the office, and on the field. She even wore a modified version of the suit that allowed her to sport her traditional large glasses.

Throughout much of Alpha Flight's run, Heather managed crises typically afflicting super hero teams. She was to the team what J'onn J'onz and Captain America are to theirs. She was its heart and soul. The Captain once remarked during an adventure with the Avengers, their Russian counterparts, Atlanteans and the Canadians, that Vindicator was an incredible leader and the unrivalled woman in control.

In a sense, Heather was to the 80s what Oracle has been for the 90s. She was the one example that showed that females in comics could break free of all stereotypes (except for the red hair heroines cliché) and become an exceptional and transcending characters.

The best thing about her, is that unlike many female characters, as I'm writing this, I am unaware that the character has ever suffered a reduction in power or a humiliating physical defeat. In fact, even the return of James did not overshadow Vindicator's place. She does not suffer from the over bearing presence of her male counter part like Hawkgirl.

I do not know what Heather Hudson, née Heather McNeil is up to these days? Perhaps she has retired and not a costumed crime fighter, like her husband? Perhaps she's not even in a position of authority in Alpha Flight? Perhaps there's no Alpha Flight to lead? Perhaps it's time for Marvel to dust off Vindicator, like they did with Northstar and feature her in a comic book where her potential can shine again?


Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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