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Alpha Flight #23 (1985, June)

February 19, 2015

Man. So many comics yesterday. But today, by Byrne, “Night of the Beast.”

Night of the Beast

Yeah, this is leading to tragedy.

Snowbird is being tortured by the gods. They accuse her of shirking her duty to fight the Great Beasts, and specifically point to the fact that she hasn’t gone after Sasquatch. She wakes up in Doug’s place. She says she has to kill Sasquatch.

Elsewhere, Puck’s training Elizabeth in hand-to-hand. Walter comes in and jokes about them enjoying themselves. Funny to think that, just recently, Amazing X-Men showed them as a couple. The three talk about Heather having seen Mac on the streets. They’re not sure how he could be alive, or why he would’ve run away. They note that good guys do sometimes come back from the dead, but usually the big names. Even 30 years ago, the afterlife’s revolving door was becoming a bit of a joke. Aurora shows up to tell them about a rampaging supervillain. They’re all a little too excited about that.

They go downtown to fight Caliber, a guy in suit of power armour. Alpha Flight deals with him pretty easily, though Sasquatch gets shot in the shoulder in the process, and it hurts him a lot. Then Snowbird shows up as the sky is covered by clouds. She immediately attacks Sasquatch. Aurora tries to stop her, but Sasquatch isn’t Walter any more. He gets ready to kill Aurora. Talisman confronts him, but doesn’t have the experience she needs to really do much. She’s able to hold her own, but only barely.

We finally get an explanation from Snowbird. When Walter did his experiment to become a new Hulk, he actually breached the mystical barrier that locked away the Great Beasts, and this allowed him to summon Tanaraq, who’s now taken him over completely. There’s only one way to stop Tanaraq – Snowbird becomes another Sasquatch. Tanaraq says she doesn’t “have the heart” for the kind of fight they’re in. This sets up one of the awesomest comebacks ever. Snowbird says “Neither have you!” while ripping his heart out. So badass.

Anyway, that’s that. In order to stop Tanaraq, Snowbird had to destroy Walter’s physical form. But his soul is elsewhere. Aurora wants to rescue his soul. Snowbird says to do that, they’ll need to go into the Kingdom of the Beasts.

Awesome issue. The fight against Sasquatch is really good. It actually could’ve probably used another couple pages, something to better convey the raw power being traded between Snowbird and Sasquatch. Oh well. Snowbird ripping his heart out was pretty frigging awesome. Such a great moment. You can’t help but cheer a little at her awesome line. Caliber was a fun little minor villain. I’m a little disappointed he never really does anything after this. This was his only foray into supervillainy. A shame.

Talisman continues to be really neat. Her training with Puck was a fun scene – a nice show of her fun side, which Mantlo would end up suppressing completely, because he sucked. Talisman and Puck actually do have an easy chemistry. It didn’t necessarily have to become romantic – there’s all sorts of ways the relationship could’ve gone. They could’ve been friends, or Puck could’ve become a mentor and almost father-figure to her. But nope! Mantlo did nothing with them. Which sucks, because they are interesting together, at least here.

Byrne’s art is fantastic, as always. No complaints there.

I should also talk about Iron Man #195, by Denny O’Neil and Luke McDonnell. At the time, Rhodey was filling in as Iron Man, and he was having some headaches, so he flew out to Calgary for help from Shaman. Shaman says it’s not a physical problem, it’s a spiritual. He suggests two options: Years of psychiatric help, or a visit to the Gorge, where Rhodey will learn what’s most important to him, and then lose it. They head out to a little mountain, and Shaman throws some magic dust that brings them into a trippy magic world. Shaman’s powerless there, and needs Rhodey to protect him from various threats. Shaman gives all sorts of non-answers to questions Rhodey asks, and Rhodey gets fed up with it. In the end, Rhodey’s headaches are cured. Shaman’s maybe a bit too much the mystic here, all vague comments and non-answers. But it makes sense, given the premise of the story, and it’s still cool seeing him. I always like seeing Alpha Flight showing up somewhere.

Song of the day: Crash Years by the New Pornographers.

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