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Alpha Flight #19 (1985, February)

December 29, 2014

No pull list or weekly review posts this week, since the only comic coming out from Marvel is SHIELD #1. I’ll just review that one next week, instead. But for today, by John Byrne, “Turn Again, Turn Again, Time In Thy Flight . . .”

Turn Again, Turn Again, Time In Thy Flight . . .

Yay Talisman!

Shaman, Elizabeth, Heather and Puck are all gathered at Fort Calgary, while Shaman casts a spell. Shaman says he can cast a spell to bring them 100 years into the past. Elizabeth is ready to go. Snowbird shows up, and immediately bows down to Elizabeth. Shaman says that an old prophecy has been fulfilled in her. He tells her to reach into his medicine pouch, and she looks inside, which she shouldn’t be able to do. She reaches in, and pulls out the Coronet of Enchantment, which she then puts on her head. She’s transformed into Talisman, with the snazzy costume she’s got on the cover. Actually, I don’t like the costume. It’s very much a “chick” costume – designed to look sexy, rather than practical, while most male costumes are designed to have some degree of practicality to them. I mean, Talisman has a skirt and high heels. That sort of thing bugs me. Anyway, Shaman opens a portal to the past, and goes through with Talisman, Snowbird and Puck.

Shaman has Talisman look for the source of the evil, and thinks about how her power could eventually rival even Dr. Strange’s. They head for a house, where a couple First Nations people – an old man and a young woman – are being held up by a couple dudes. They’ve got little trinkets to protect them the old man’s magic, and one of them demands he summon Ranaq. Snowbird almost snaps, and Shaman has to hold her back. The old man agrees to summon Ranaq, the Great Devourer. But he can’t hurt them while they have the necklaces, so he agrees to serve them. The leader demands money, women and power, and Ranaq gives them to him. But he can’t touch any of it because of the necklace, so he takes it off. This is a really stupid thing to do, because it allows Ranaq to take control of him. Snowbird confronts him, and gets blasted out of the building. Talisman has to confront Ranaq alone.

Meanwhile, Puck stops the younger criminal, Lucas Stang, from leaving, and the old medicine man tells Lucas he needs to stop Ranaq. Ranaq needs a human body to inhabit, and if the body is killed, then he’ll have nowhere to go. So Lucas takes a piece from one of the necklaces, puts it into a bullet, and shoots. Then Lucas shoots Ranaq in the head. Later on, Lucas is told the propchecy that haunts him throughout his life, about living through a hundred years of fear and solitude.

A good issue. Byrne does his characteristically fantastic job on the art duties. It’s not even worth talking about the art, frankly, because it’s just repeating the same praises. The writing is also excellent. Elizabeth’s a strong character, with a distinct personality. Snowbird’s reaction to Ranaq is really neat, the fact that she genuinely can’t control herself where the Great Beasts are concerned. Everything’s very good. Even Puck gets to do a little bit here. Heather doesn’t do much, unfortunately, but oh well, it’s coming. My biggest complaint with this issue is Talisman’s somewhat gratuitously sexy costume, but I suppose it’s not too bad.

Song of the day: Credit by Thomas D’Arcy.

  1. Yeah, I have no pull list either, so instead I’m finally re-reading Kelly Sue DeConnick’s 1st Captain Marvel volume, along with the 2 trades of Brian Reed’s Ms. Marvel run that I have. I’m just about to start “The Enemy Within” right as soon as I’m done writing this comment.

    Also, I should try to track down a copy of Alpha Flight, but everywhere I look online it’s out of print and unavailable.

    • The Byrne run of Alpha Flight is certainly worth checking out. He left with #28, at which point Bill Mantlo came in, and absolutely nothing from that run is particularly worth checking out. The ’90s were pretty rough on the book, too. So I’d actually recommend, after Byrne’s run, skipping straight to Vol. 3, the 2004 series, by Scott Lobdell and Clayton Henry. It was weird and goofy and ridiculous and so damned good.

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