Astonishing X-Men #45
Alpha Flight v4 writer Greg Pak had a short run on the Astonishing X-Men title (issues #44-47) before Marjorie Liu took over and got Northstar all married and whatnot. During that run, he set up what would eventually spin off into the very fun alternate universe-hopping series, the X-Treme X-Men, and ultimately conclude with the X-Termination crossover. In this, the second issue of the “Exalted” arc, readers learn the shocking backstory of the circumstances under which the X-Treme X-Men team formed. An alternate version of Northstar appears in one panel in an ambiguous role.
On an alternate world where 616 Cyclops suddenly found himself in issue #44, a mutant uprising led by Magneto had successfully taken over the world. A team of X-Men led by that alternate world’s version of Cyclops battled Magneto’s mutant team and won, cracking the planet as a result. This background info is beamed directly into 616 Cyclops’ mind by an alternate Charles Xavier known as Savior, providing a quick visual expository to the reader.
In a mentally projected scene from that world-cracking battle, one of the combatants is Northstar, fighting X-23 and shown wearing a version of his classic black and white costume with a white belt and gloves with starburst cuffs. You can decide if that ear is pointy enough; Alpha Flight Collector thinks it’s on the border. Unfortunately, due to the limited amount of explanation, it isn’t clear what side Northstar is fighting for, because neither he nor X-23 is properly identified in any previous panels as belonging to one side or another. It’s as if Greg Pak’s script said “Ok here, just draw a bunch of random X-Men fighting each other in a big tangle of punches and stuff, whatever!”
Look for Northstar in the lower left corner of the scrum. It’s left to the reader to speculate whether Northstar or X-23 would sympathize with Magneto or Cyclops in this alternate world, which is a fairly interesting question to pose. But overall, I’m glad that out of all the mutants that could have been in that scene, an Alpha Flight member was included rather than overlooked, so thanks to Greg Pak and artist Mike McKone for this little cameo!
Note: the cover carries the Regenesis tag, identifying this as part of the loose crossover event that followed the Schism event. The next two issues of Astonishing X-Men in the “Exalted” arc do not carry the Regenesis tag on the cover.