Alter Ego: Jean-Paul Beaubier
Notable Aliases: Jean-Paul Martin
First Appearance: X-Men #109 (February, 1978)
A French-Canadian mutant with the abilities of flight, super speed, and light manipulation, Northstar is notable for being the first (canonically) gay Marvel superhero, and one of the first ever. While his homosexuality was sometimes alluded to, then-editor-in-chief of Marvel Jim Shooter (as well as The Comics Code) prevented as much from being outright confirmed.
A mutant and the twin brother of Aurora. While his sister went to a religious school after their parents' death, Northstar was sent to live with his cousins the Martins. He eventually became an Olympic-level skier, though whether this was due to his powers or not was left ambiguous. He later, begrudgingly, joined Alpha Flight in order to meet his sister.
It wasn't until 1992 —thirteen years after his first appearance— that Scott Lobdell was allowed to let Northstar come out in the pages of Alpha Flight #106. He would later get married to boyfriend Kyle Jinadu in Astonishing X-Men #51, which was the first-ever portrayal of a same-sex marriage in mainstream American comics.
While he is most frequently associated with the X-Men nowadays, Northstar was initially introduced as a member of Alpha Flight —a superteam sponsored by the Canadian government— alongside twin sister Aurora, who more or less has the same abilities as him. Since then, Northstar has served as a reliable teacher at the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, and an on-off active X-Man. As of 2020, he's leading the new form of X-Factor.
Northstar appears in:
- Alpha Flight vol. 1 (1983 — 1994)
- Northstar (1994)
- Uncanny X-Men vol. 1 (2001 — 2011)
- Astonishing X-Men vol. 2 (2012 — 2013)
- Amazing X-Men vol. 2 (2013 — 2015)
- X-Factor (2020)
- X-Men (1993 — 1994), voiced by Rene Lemieux note
Northstar provides examples of:
- Anti-Hero: Type II.
- Badass Teacher: For a time, he was a teacher at the Xavier Institute.
- Big Brother Instinct: VERY protective of his sister Aurora. Mess with her and draw Jean-Paul's ire, even when the two are on the outs with one another.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: First by the Hand after his death, then by the Children of the Vault, which at least helped fix the former.
- BrotherSister Team: With Aurora.
- Captain Ethnic: He's often defined by his nationality.
- Canada, Eh?: Downplayed, since he's a Quebecois from Montreal.
- Changeling Fantasy: Subverted in Alpha Flight. In issue #50, after Northstar and Aurora acquired pointed ears and powers that resembled Elves, Loki appeared to them to reveal their "true" origins as half-elf, half-human hybrids. According to Loki, their biological father was human, but their mother was an elf who had fled from Alfheim (one of Asgard's realms) and was hunted down by members of her race. The "accident" that killed their parents was actually an assassination plot by the elves. A number of serious health problems that Northstar had at this point were caused because his physiology as an elf did nor allow him to thrive on Earth. In that issue, Northstar left the team (written out) to seek out the other elves and get some answers. In issue #81-82, Northstar finally finds the elves... who pretty much laugh at him and tell him that he should not have listened to Loki's fairy tales. He is not an elf after all.
- This is occasionally alluded to, with Thor remarking at one point on meeting Northstar and Aurora that he's sure they're at least part-elf because of the pointy ears (that and the arrogance).
- Chick Magnet: He was a huge hit with the ladies early in Alpha Flight. Funny how that turned out.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Through various background stories in Alpha Flight, Northstar has gained quite a lengthy one. Both of Northstar's biological parents were killed in an accident shortly after his birth. He was effectively adopted by a couple related to his parents, but separated from his twin sister Jeanne-Marie who was send to an orphanage. His adoptive parents were both killed in another accident when Northstar was 6-years-old. He was raised in foster homes, and engaged in petty theft as a teenager. Seeking a cause to serve, he became a supporter of an independence movement for Quebec and joined the terrorist organization Cell Combattre. He severed ties with them after he realized that the fanatics in the group had a lot of blood in their hands. Only after that did he seek a career as a professional athlete and was chosen for recruitment by Department H.
- Death Is Cheap: Killed by Wolverine, resurrected as a brainwashed minion of the Hand. That took time to fix.
- Flight: Northstar can fly at speeds approaching Mach 10.
- French-Canadian Jerk: Early on, though he has levelled out a little bit over the years. In Alpha Flight, he held most of his teammates in disdain, disapproved of most of his sister's Aurora's romantic relationships, and particularly disliked her (sometimes) boyfriend Sasquatch.
- Happily Married: To Kyle Jinadu, a normal human.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Killed by a mind controlled Wolverine in this manner.
- Incompatible Orientation: Had this with Iceman during his time with the X-Men. Ironic, because Iceman would be outed as gay nearly a decade or so later.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Northstar acts prickly to everyone but his sister Aurora. Still, that doesn't stop him from saving his teammates regularly, adopting a young baby suffering with HIV, being a teacher that his students look up to, and being a loving husband. He also cried after Walter Langkowski's first death.
- Light 'em Up: Could produce powerful bursts of light when in contact with his sister and later learned to do so on his own.
- Light Is Good: Mostly anyway; He is a superhero and a member of Alpha Flight, at at his best does enjoy being a hero. However...
- Light Is Not Good: He has gone Knight Templar a few times, most notably during his time under HYDRA's control. Even after the HeelFace Turn[s] he's still kind of a jerkass at times.
- Manly Gay: Aside from his elfin appearance, Northstar is this. It doesn't hurt that the character was around for nearly ten years before he could come out on panel.
- Noodle Incident: Apparently had a thing with Hercules that he's embarrassed to talk about.
- Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: He's able to do this because of his super-speed.
- Salt and Pepper: His boyfriend, and later husband, Kyle is black and (obviously) gay.
- Skunk Stripe: Northstar's hair is black with a silver/white streak.
- Super Speed: Northstar is fast, both on the ground and in the air, and he saw no problem using it to win the gold in the Olympic ski jump.
It would destroy me. Physically, I mean. Not emotionally. I can't breathe at that point because I've created a vacuum and my organs are getting crushed, my bones pulverized into dust.
- In X-Factor #7, he tells Speed that his top speed is 189,299 miles per second (which is faster than the speed of light), but going that fast would kill him:
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Whether it's because of their history together or the fact that neither of them is exactly Mr. Personality, Northstar and Wolverine get along very, very poorly.
- Theme Twin Naming: He and his sister's codenames are astronomy-themed and refer to the North (as in Canada, where they're from).
- Token Minority: For one thing, he and Aurora were the only Quebecois members of Alpha Flight. Oh, and he's usually the only gay member of any team he's in, too.
- Too Qualified to Apply: His skiing medals were taken and he was banned from the sport when it was discovered he is a mutant speedster, despite the question of whether his success was due to his powers or not being left ambiguous.
- Wonder Twin Powers: When he is with his twin sister Aurora.