Heather McNeil Hudson is one of the best female superheroes ever created. Newer readers will not even realize the character exist or think of her as anything special. For me it is very different. I began on a diet of Heather as the almost leader of ALPHA FLIGHT to full fledged commander during an alien invasion of Canada. She has always been one of the plain looking women for most of her character runs. Early own she was downright upstaged in the looks department by Aurora, Snowbird, and Elizabeth Twoyoungman. So just who is Heather Hudson?
We first see her as the supportive wife of Canada's version of Captain America, Guardian, James "Mac" McDonald Hudson. When an alert is given for trouble way up North in the Canadian wilds, it is Heather that uses Mac's computer and discs to summon him aid in the form of the disbanded Alpha Flight. So in a way she is the person that brought the original members together to handle threats against her nation. It was a good thing she did all that as Guardian faced one of the Great Beasts, Tundra.
As the back up stories told us about each member and their origins we learn that Mac was working for a company that was going to weaponize his work. He bumps into the Secretary Heather McNeil and learns she quit her job because of what they did to him. Later after he steals and disables his work it is Heather who takes him to a family friend that arranges for Hudson to become a government agent under the Canadian flag and thus created the way for Department H and Alpha Flight.
From there Heather ends up married to Hudson and the two discover Wolverine on their Honeymoon. It is Heather left alone with the wounded and primal Logan that soothes and tames the savage mutant. Yes, she was the first red head to capture his heart. So Jean Grey, sorry, but the mousy girl was there first. Later we would learn that knowing he could never really love Heather lead him to make his decision to leave and join the X-Men.
Den mother was the next role as she made sure people were fed and taken care of when they met in the small Hudson Apartment. Soon though the man ruined by Hudson leaving the company that he worked for wanted revenge. It lead Heather and Mac into a trap in New York that was a battle to test the Guardian battle suit to its limits. Damaged, the suit was overheating and Mac was trying to disconnect all the power leads when Heather walked in on him. Whether out of time, distracted by Heather, or pulling so stunt to ensure her safety, James Hudson exploded in so much burnt ash, presumed Dead.
It wasn't long before the widow of James Hudson found herself named leader of Alpha Flight. Like Northstar liked to suggest, it was probably meant to be symbolic in nature. The thing is that Heather never got that memo and too k the task seriously. She lead admirably, but soon realized a mere human woman among the likes of goddesses and mutants facing threats similar and tougher was in danger and would lose the respect of her team. Thanks to Madison Jefferies and Roger Boches, the Guardian suit was rebuilt and Heather took the name James had once used early on, Vindicator. She sought out Wolverine to train her and really did a great deal of on the job learning. Once she had the power, Heather Hudson grew into the role and surpassed her husband in every way. This woman lead and held together one of the quirkiest and strangest assemblies of heroes ever conceived. She often realized Alpha spent as much time fighting each other as they did menaces.
What really has always struck me is that for the majority of the book no artist ever felt the need to tramp her up. She had those gigantic glasses and really was kinda frumpy dressing the few times she was out of the battle suit. It actually makes her more attractive I think. There was a great deal of focus on the will and spirit of the woman and the leader as on her curves. Yet, she had some very real weaknesses. Having her dead husband constantly return from the dead and die. Holding a team together through betrayals and government manipulations. Falling for and becoming engaged to Madison Jefferies only to have him go back to Diamond Lil who had a hand in her husband's first death. She later would help Lil through her breast cancer scare. The smallest Alphan, Puck was always in love with her. Still, this never diminished the fact that she was the toughest in the Flight and never asked her team to face something she was not willing to face.
She will always be one of my favorite characters. Since the first volume of Alpha Flight has ended no one has ever really gotten that she is the leader, they always want Mac back. That is sad, because anyone who has read the entire run can see Alpha Flight is as much a team book as it is a solo series for the one and only Guardian to me, Heather Hudson.