A fun thing I have found to do is to grab one of the big encyclopedias of Marvel or DC and randomly open it up to any page and start to read about an obscure character. Sometimes you’ll find a character that’s been out of print a while, or that’s just a minor side character, and sometimes you’ll find a character that has popped up a lot in the last 25 years. I found a character like that; a former member of Alpha Flight named Box.
When I first looked at the write up for Box, he was unfamiliar, but as I studied about his time on Alpha Flight, I realized he was on the cover of one of my oldest comics- Alpha Flight #51 (Jim Lee’s first Marvel credit for pencils). I don’t know if its nostalgia or not but I still think its one of the coolest covers I ‘ve ever seen and Box is right on the front blasting away with his beam weapons beside Sasquatch.
The Box that I fondly remembered wasn’t the first iteration. Roger Bochs, a paraplegic, built the first Box as a tool to help him with mobility. Bochs was discovered by the founder of Alpha Flight, James Hudson. Hudson, seeing Bach potential as a mechanical genius, helped Bochs build Box and recruited him to the training team called Gamma Flights., Bochs graduated to the higher trainee program, Beta Flight, but wasn’t there long when the Canadian Government cut funding for the Alpha, Beta, Gamma Flight program. He was recruited by the rival team Omega Flight, but he was still loyal to Hudson and only joined so he could destroy it from the inside.
It was with Omega Flight that the second operator, Jerome Jaxon, took control of Box after learning about Bach's true motivations for joining the team. Jaxon stole Bach's controller for the robot and attacked the former leader of Alpha Flight. Hudson killed Jaxon in the fight and severely mangled the first Box.
The next version, built by Bach and future operator Madison Jeffries, was no longer controlled by a helmet. Instead, the user merged with the robot and inhabited the machine. If anyone can explain the physics of that, you're a genius. Later, Box is controlled by the disembodied spirit of a fallen teammate, Walter Langkowski. Comics are complicated.
Bochs later went insane after he was rejected by a potential lover and joined Madison Jeffries insane brother Lionel. Together they merged into one being called Omega. Madison Jeffries, in the final iteration of the suit, battled Omega. Bochs realizing his mistake switched allegiances at the last moment and tried to help Madison win the battle. Madison was forced to kill Omega and Bochs along with it leaving Jeffries the sole user of Box.
Discovering this character makes me wish he would pop up again actually. If he already has I couldn’t find a current mention of him. Madison Jeffries pops up here and there but not Box.