I know, I know, at first I said this would be two parts. Please fill in your own “there’s never just two” jokes here.
Previously, on Part One of the Beaubier System Primer: an overview of Aurora and/or Jeanne-Marie’s appearances and development in the first Alpha Flight team book. At 130 issues, even with the system getting written out for a hefty chunk of the middle, there was a lot of good material!
…And then the book got canceled, and it’s been a real mixed bag ever since.
Aurora, often along with her brother Northstar, gets a ton of “looking cool in the background of a fight scene” kinds of cameos. Hard to argue, because the twins do look cool! But frustrating when you’re digging through a bunch of one-off appearances looking for characterization details, and it’s another “I flipped through 27 pages for nothing but one cool-looking panel” issue.
So, full disclosure: in the Marvel wiki’s list of Aurora/Jeanne-Marie issues, I skipped a fair number of “they’re in the character list, but don’t rate a mention in the summary” cameos. If this overview ends up skipping something good, feel free to rec it to me in the comments!
With that, let’s dive into the Beaubier system content from 1997 through 2011:
Post-cancellation appearances (the rest of the ’90s): What Do We Do With Them Now?
We immediately launch into the “writers didn’t review the full continuity at all, just read a summary of the original Aurora+Jeanne-Marie dynamic, and wrote more of that” era.
Alpha Flight, Volume 2 (1997) – An attempt to revive the team book, which doesn’t last nearly as long. Aurora+Jeanne-Marie appear in half a dozen issues, they spend most of their time getting yanked around by the plot and/or being floridly wacky for “lol crazy” reasons, it’s not good.
Also, they’re supposedly fused again, because of something something sentient bacteria? It doesn’t make sense and it never comes back, so who cares.
Wolverine, Volume 2 (1998) – Bringing this up mostly for issue 172, where Alpha Flight guest-stars…and Aurora and Jeanne-Marie are back to the classic dynamic.
Didn’t keep the exaggerated wackiness or contrived fusion from the (now also-canceled) Team Book #2: awesome! Also didn’t keep their hard-earned connection and teamwork from the end of Team Book #1: sigh.
Weapon X Volume 2 (2002) – The writers, possibly sensing that we’re not getting another Alpha Flight revival any time soon, send the Beaubier twins onto other teams. Northstar gets to join the cool mainstream X-Men — more on that later — while Aurora becomes an operative for the latest version of the Weapon X program.
They do a thing you see in some Moon Knight runs too, where she pushes people to call her by one headmate’s name (Jeanne-Marie), but her characterization is way closer to another one (Aurora).
I’m…honestly not sure what she’s doing there? For one thing, these guys are evil. “We are literally running concentration camps” levels of evil.
And, look, I would buy an in-character scenario. Like “Aurora is so distracted with cool challenging missions, she doesn’t notice the team is evil.” But we don’t get that! She spends half her time in a hospital bed after getting beat up on a mission, and the other half flirting with the Director — which leads to her getting beat up by the Director, because of how much he hates mutants, did I mention mutants are the people he’s putting in the concentration camps?
All of this is terrible and I hate it. Dishonor on the writers, dishonor on their cows, etcetera.
(…the artists give her a nice outfit, though. No dishonor on the artists. She could’ve kept the outfit.)
X-Men Annual Volume 3 (2007): Soft Reboot
So, okay, at some point the Beaubier twins got mind-controlled to fight the X-Men, right? As you do.
This is the special one-shot where the X-Men bring them back to life. Because hey, when you kill someone under mind control, that’s just good manners.
There’s a nice full-page refresher on each twin’s origins. Here we see teacher Jeanne-Marie, getting-recruited-by-Wolverine Aurora, and just enough of Sister Anne (their primary abuser) to give you the idea.
At first they Come Back Wrong, minds linked together. So, hey, Northstar kinda gets a taste of what it’s like to be plural and blendy? That’s a cool thing to add.
They manage to split neatly apart on their own, too!
Future writers don’t do anything with the implications here, but: I like to think Aurora and Jeanne-Marie’s expertise in mind-sharing helped them get Jean-Paul separated out safely.
Dark X-Men: The Beginning (2009): The One That Got Away
A limited-edition miniseries about Norman Osborn’s big tour to recruit “the X-Men, but shadier.” Issue 3 gives us his attempt to court Aurora. She’s been dormant for a while — this is where we learn Jeanne-Marie has been fronting since they came back from the dead, living a mundane life, even getting therapy — so Osborn bribes the therapist to sabotage her.
Someone clearly gave the colorist the wrong notes for Aurora’s outfit…but her personality is spot-on.
This is how Aurora would react to a creep in a suit trying to be Director of a super-team with sinister motives! Completely unimpressed. Disarms him, messes up his office, vents for a while, ultimately turns his offer down.
Osborn has some sci-fi tech he used to suppress Jeanne-Marie, and tries to use it to control Aurora…
…and bam, the Tactical Combat Switching is back.
The otherwise-unnamed headmates, with new ones rotating in until the fight is won, are:
- Three: Likes fine wines, horse racing, and casual ultra-violence
- Four: Weekend goth, occasionally self-harms, has an inexplicable aversion to shellfish
- Five: Likes sports, photography, and amateur paleontology; spoke only in French
- Six: Likes opera, gardening, and creationist literature
- Seven: Likes graffiti, mild S&M, and gambling
- Eight: Reckless, a committed masochist
Don’t think they were intended to map to any of the bonus headmates from issue 104 back in the day, but it’s fun to imagine they do.
(Taking a shot at it: “Merged Aurora/Jeanne-Marie” is Three, “Messiah Aurora” is Eight, “Sister Jeanne-Marie” is Six. “Child Jeanne-Marie” can’t fight, so she doesn’t come out for this one.)
Alpha Flight Volume 4 (2011): Actual Character (re)Development
Another shot at an Alpha Flight team book…and this time, it’s an 8-issue miniseries that tells a single, complete, well-plotted-out story! It has coherent character arcs and everything.
This year’s shady government bad guys are the covert-fascist Unity Party. They do the reverse of what Osborn did, recruiting Jeanne-Marie to be an operative by promising to get rid of Aurora.
Which is so much smarter. Aurora is way too skeptical of authority to fall for that kind of ploy! And Jeanne-Marie has a deep well of anger and stubbornness that almost nobody appreciates, just sitting there waiting to be tapped.
the girls are fightinggggg:
On the one hand: this level of active hostility hurts the soul.
On the other: they’re talking! About important, meaningful things! A conversation they deserve to have, that they probably should’ve had before coming to a big understanding in the first place!
(Nice character detail: Jeanne-Marie’s speech bubbles are translated from French, while Aurora speaks directly in English.)
Jean-Paul is in this too, and still has the old hang-ups about how his sister is “shattered” and needs to be “fixed”. Which becomes a parallel to Jeanne-Marie’s counter-hang-ups about how her brother’s sexuality is a “sickness” that needs to be “cured”.
And, I mean…Jean-Paul’s not right, but: can you imagine how stressful and upsetting this is, having his sister flip from “caring, supportive ally” to “full-on conversion-therapy homophobe” in the blink of an eye?
Jeanne-Marie’s not right either, but: the homophobia was instilled in her by religious abusers, it’s being actively encouraged by present-day bad guys, and, is there anybody in her life working to discourage it? At this point Jean-Paul has a boyfriend, they’re having Healthy Heartwarming Couple Moments together…but I don’t think Jeanne-Marie is around for those. I think Aurora is the only one who’s seen them.
So many layers! So many realistic character flaws, interacting in complex and well-thought-out ways! Everybody needs a hug.
There’s so much good stuff in this run. Co-conscious arguments. One headmate getting locked in headspace while the other tries (poorly) to impersonate her. A blendy mode that isn’t just “you have been handwave handwave Healed of your Affliction,” it’s Aurora and Jeanne-Marie working through their feelings, reconciling around a shared goal, and choosing to work together.
It’s the writing they’ve deserved, and not gotten, for like 20 years now.
Again, we’re ending this chunk of the overview on a high point. Future runs will really drop the ball on following up with any of these developments, and there’s more rough writing in general to come.
Lucky for us, it never falls to the depths of that Weapon X run again. (Knock wood.)
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