Skip to content

Alpha Flight #5 (1983, December)

July 28, 2014

We’ve reached the end of 1983, and we finish off with Canada. Which makes me happy. By John Byrne, “What Fools These Mortals Be. . . .”

What Fools These Mortals Be . . .

Puck! Puck’s awesome.

Shaman is telling Puck that he should be fine, and Puck tells Shaman to get back to his own practice.  The hospital nruses are all charmed by Puck, and excited to be working with Michael Twoyoungmen. Puck mentions being in pain, but adds that he’s used to it, and it comes with his build. John Byrne thinks this is the line that eventually led to Bill Mantlo deciding that Puck had a literal demon inside him. Mantlo seems to have thought the reference hinted at something, but it was really just Byrne noting that dwarfism is often accompanied by pain. After Shaman leaves, a nurses comes in to give him a bath.

That night, he’s in agony. He signals a nurse for medication, but she doesn’t come, so he gets up to do some exploring. He finds the desk nurse in a storeroom. He confronts her, but she moves him back to bed and puts a painkiller in his IV. Her hands are shaking, which Puck finds suspicious. He’s got a hunch about what’s going on, but he needs proof.

The next morning, he does some more sneaking around. He gets into the storeroom, and checks out the painkillers. He finds one bottle is lighter than another, a sign it’s been diluted. More stuff at the back has been diluted even more. He figures it’s more than one junkie nurse. He decides to go to the hospital authorities about the stolen drug trafficking. He asks the administrator to give him 48 hours to get the job done.

That night, he spots the trafficking in operation, as the nurse gives the cut drugs to her contact. Puck gets on top of the van, and lets it drive out to a rural shack. He gets spotted, and he started beating the criminals up. While he does it, he explains his condition, and how it differs from midgetism. He knocks the guys out, but pulls some stitches, and passes out.

He wakes up in a hospital bed, being thanked by a detective for his help busting the drug ring. The hospital administrator mentions to the cop that Puck’s not likely to survive the night. The administrator goes back into Puck’s room, and Puck mentions thinking that there must have been someone else masterminding the whole thing. He’s right, and it’s the hospital administrator.

After that is more of Alpha Flight’s origins; this time, Shaman. It’s 15 years ago, and Michael Twoyoungmen refuses to study magic under his grandfather. He’s a talented doctor, with a wife and daughter, and he refuses to give that up. He goes back home, where his daughter, Elizabeth, is playing with Heather McNeil. Yep, Vindicator babysat Talisman when they were younger. Heather says a doctor called, and Michael calls him back. His wife is dying. Michael dedicates himself to finding a cure. He promises his daughter that he’ll save her mother. He fails! And his daughter blames him. Heather’s dad offers to take in Elizabeth, and mentions Michael’s grandfather dying that same day.

I like Puck, so this issue was great for me. He’s fun, but he’s also clever. We see his humour, and we see his experience. And we also see his combat skills. While his name was apparently a partial reference to the Shakespeare character, it was mostly a reference to a hockey puck – small, fast, hard. And we get to see those skills on display for the first time in this issue. It’s funny to think that this, the fifth issue of Alpha Flight, is the first time we actually see him in action. He’s a very mobile character, and it makes me want to see more of him in action. Beyond the fighting, though, he’s got a really interesting depth. There are a ton of untold Puck stories that I’d love to see (though preferably ignoring the stupid, stupid Mantlo demon crap). He’s clearly been around the block a few times – he knows how to do detective work, and he’s built up some very good instincts. He’s a smart guy, cultured, and aware of his own limitations. He’s a great character, and this story is a good spotlight for him.

The second story is also good. Michael comes across as largely respectful to his grandfather, even while refusing to follow him. He’s a genuinely nice guy. I like that. The more typical approach would’ve been to go the Stephen Strange route – make him arrogant, conceited and rude. Maybe have him yell at his grandfather. His inability to save his wife is sad, and his daughter’s rejection of him is likewise sad. We also get a mention of Heather having a ridiculously big family – apparently, six brothers, and a sister soon after. I’m guessing they’re Catholic.

The art remains excellent. John Byrne was one of the best of the time. Actually, I think Byrne and Sienkewicz were probably the best artists Marvel had in the ’80s. Totally different styles, but both fantastic.

Also in December 1983, in Falcon #2, Falcon is attacked by a Sentinel that thinks he’s a mutant. In fact, it’s the Sentinel Cyclops destroyed way, way, way back in X-Men #98. Ka-Zar the Savage #29 features Belasco, and references the Magik limited series.

Song of the day: You Don’t Just Want To Break Me (You Want To Tear Me Apart) by Hawksley Workman.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Lawyer by day, reader by night

X-Men: The Animated Series

Celebrating the series with behind-the-scenes content never seen before!

Katie Beluga

in the deep blue sea

Jay Edidin

(or a competent imposter)

Kevin Reviews Uncanny X-Men

Kevin O'Leary Reviews Every Issue of Uncanny X-Men from the 1960s to the Present


Geeky News, Reviews and Rants from a Working Class Super-Villain

Blue Towel Productions

Films, Audios, and Stories for Fun


I'm just an all-round nerd who is passionate about storytelling, keeping fit and entertaining others. Let me share these passions with you.

%d bloggers like this: