Jean-Paul Beaubier’s parents were killed in a car crash shortly after his birth. He and his twin sister Jeanne-Marie were taken in by the Martins, cousins of their mother, but they could not afford to raise both children and so sent Jeanne-Marie to a catholic girl’s school. When Jean-Paul was six, he was placed in a foster home after his foster parents died, and the twins grew up unaware of each other. As a teenager, Jean-Paul was caught stealing by Raymonde Belmonde, who became his mentor and guardian, helping Jean-Paul cope with both his emerging mutant nature and his sexuality. Belmonde introduced Jean-Paul to skiing, which he used as a means to help control his super-speed. Jean-Paul later joined a circus and became a talented trapeze artist. He came to regard his fellow performers as the family he had never known. However, there was still much anger and frustration within him which he ultimately expressed by joining the separatist Front de Libération du Québec movement. Becoming part of the Front’s radical Cell Combattre, Jean-Paul acted as a courier. He came to disagree with the Cell’s terrorist methods after he saw himself forced to save innocent lives from a bomb. He subsequently severed all ties with the Front.
Jean-Paul returned to his passion for skiing, and by secretly using his powers he quickly became a world champion, winning a gold medal at the Olympics and becoming famous and wealthy. At that time, the Canadian government’s Department H had begun forming a team of superhuman operatives, Alpha Flight. The team’s founder, James Hudson, had already recruited Jean-Paul’s sister as Aurora, and after seeing a photo of Jean-Paul he noticed their resemblance and discovered they were siblings. Hudson invited Jean-Paul to join the team as well, and he was overjoyed to learn that he had a sister, joining the team as Northstar to be with her. The twin’s reunion came as a surprise to all, for when they touched they created a flash of intense light. The team’s first mission was to reclaim former government operative Wolverine, who had defected and joined the American X-Men team. Ambushing the X-Men in Calgary, Alpha Flight held their own, but the battle caused much damage and the government opted to let Wolverine go rather than face massive rebuilding costs. Shortly thereafter, Department H was closed and Alpha Flight disbanded. Later visiting his sister, Northstar was shocked to discover that she had a dual personality, alternating between the free-spirited Aurora and the shy, reserved Jeanne-Marie. When Hudson reformed Alpha Flight without government funding, Northstar managed to convince his sister to return with him. After his sister began to switch personalities with increasing frequency, Northstar sought psychiatric help for her.
Later, Northstar took his sister to visit Belmonde, but the reunion turned to tragedy after Belmonde was killed by Deadly Ernest who then kidnapped Aurora. With the help of the enigmatic Nemesis, Northstar rescued his sister. The siblings later argued over Northstar’s mistaken assumption that Aurora had romanced Ernest to prevent him from harming her. Shocked at her brother’s arrogance, Aurora angrily told him she never wanted to see him again. Despite Northstar’s pleas for forgiveness, Aurora stayed true to her word, and he eventually ceased operating as a member of Alpha Flight on a regular basis. Aurora ultimately sought to break her ties with him completely by having her teammate and then-lover Sasquatch alter her powers so they were not the same as his. Ultimately reconciling their differences following the apparent death of Sasquatch, the twins joined Alpha Flight in opposing the gamma-spawned Hulk, who was rampaging through Vancouver. During the battle, the twins discovered that, as a result of Aurora’s altered powers, they could now no longer touch each other without temporarily canceling out their powers. The Hulk was eventually driven back to the U.S., and the Canadian government realized that Alpha Flight was necessary and reinstated the team’s funding. Northstar returned to active status with the team, but his terrorist past would soon come back to haunt him after former members of Cell Combattre began turning up dead. After the killer was exposed, Northstar was pardoned for his past indiscretions by Canada’s Prime Minister.
Shortly thereafter, Northstar grew ill until he became almost completely incapacitated. While Alpha Flight sought a cure, the Norse trickster god Loki appeared to the twins, convincing them that they were not mutants but the children of an Asgardian elf, and that Northstar was dying because he could not exist without his light. Aurora willingly expended her power to bathe Northstar in her light, curing him. She was then captured by demons and became trapped in the Asgardian netherworld, while Northstar was welcomed into the realm of Asgard by his supposed brethren. Loki was summoned before the higher gods, They Who Sit Above in Shadow, and berated for his actions. In attempted atonement, he transported Aurora to a monastery on Earth, but was sent to the netherworld himself as punishment. Northstar remained in Asgard until his former teammates rescued him from being slain by Dark Elves worshipping Llan the Sorceror, and during the ensuing battle against Llan he was able to restore Aurora’s powers. As a side effect, both siblings proved able to generate light individually. After discovering an abandoned baby girl who had been born with the AIDS virus, Northstar adopted her, naming her Joanne, but she died weeks later. Northstar then publicly announced his homosexuality, hoping that his celebrity status would increase interest in HIV prevention. Following another disbanding of Alpha Flight, Northstar was implicated in the murder of a tabloid reporter, and the Canadian government dispatched Department K’s Weapon P.R.I.M.E. unit to bring him in. At the same time, Northstar was targeted by the manic assassin Arcade, who had been employed by Carl Kerridge, a businessman who sought to cleanse the human race of supposed impurities. Northstar was able to gather enough evidence to prove his innocence and convict Kerridge.
Northstar later reunited with his former teammates to uncover the truth about the new Department H, and they assisted a new Alpha Flight team against the latest Weapon X. Northstar then left to write his autobiography, “Born Normal.” At a book signing in Philadelphia, Northstar was recruited by the mutant telepath Jean Grey to join an ad-hoc X-Men team to oppose Magneto and his planned all-out attack against mankind. Returning to Canada, Northstar established himself as a successful businessman before he was invited to join the Xavier Institute as a teacher of business and economics. Northstar also taught a flight class for new students, and became advisor to a squad of students he dubbed Alpha Squadron in honor of his former team. After his teammate Wolverine was captured and brainwashed by the terrorist organization Hydra, Northstar was killed in an ambush by Wolverine. He was subsequently resurrected and brainwashed into leading Hydra’s super-powered army in an attack on the Helicarrier headquarters of their nemesis S.H.I.E.L.D. Meanwhile, Wolverine had been deprogrammed by S.H.I.E.L.D. and aided in the defense of the Helicarrier, but was unable to prevent Northstar from seriously injuring S.H.I.E.L.D.’s leader Nick Fury. Northstar then led the army on a killing spree, murdering anti-mutant and anti-gay supporters until he was confronted by Wolverine. Capturing him, Northstar tortured him until a group of giant mutant-hunting robot Sentinels under S.H.I.E.L.D. control intervened. As the Sentinels killed the other super-beings, Wolverine was able to defeat Northstar, and he was taken into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody to be deprogrammed.