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Alpha Flight #24 (1985, July)

February 27, 2015

I work at 6:30 tonight, but decided to squeeze in a post anyway, because I’m that nice. Today, by John Byrne, “Final Conflict.”

Final Conflict

Kind of a bland cover.

The team is gathered in a big crater, called the Eye of the World. Aurora’s pissed off that everyone’s being nice to Snowbird after she killed Walter. Snowbird explains he was possessed by a Great Beast, and had to be stopped. They’re at the Eye of the World because Snowbird hopes they can retrieve his soul from the Realm of the Beasts. Shaman arrives, having been summoned by Talisman. Then Northstar arrives, and Aurora punches him. He gets introduced to Talisman, then decides, since it wasn’t Aurora who called him, he may as well take his leave. He’s stopped by Snowbird, revealing a previously-unseen ability to compel others to help her in her battles. Shaman pulls out the Great Key so they can travel to the realm of the Great Beasts.

They leave Heather behind, since she has no powers, and cross over. They pass through some weird, trippy dimensions, until they finally arrive.

They’re in the Realm of the Great Beasts, which seems pretty normal, albeit ruined. Snowbird, Aurora and Northstar go scouting, and find Somon, the Artificer. Snowbird immediately attacks, and he brings forth Tundra, Kariooq the Corrupter, and Tolamaq the Fire Beast.

Back in the normal world, Heather’s worried. She’s recording her rambling thoughts to keep busy. Roger Bochs arrives in his Box suit. Heather’s glad to see him, but he has no idea what’s going on. Especially when Walter’s stone form starts to crumble.

In the other Realm, Alpha’s on the run from the Beasts. Snowbird turns into a polar bear to fight Somon. While she does, the other Beasts start attacking each other. Shaman stops Snowbird from killing Somon, since they have need of him. He agrees to help.

He leads them to the Pit of Ultimate Sadness, where all the souls reside of the people who used to inhabit the planet. That’s where Walter’s soul is. But the Pit has to be entered by one who loves him, one who hates him, and one who wields great power. Aurora’s the love, Northstar’s the hate, and Talisman’s the power. They’re attacked by Somon, who stabs them all. Snowbird feels the betrayal, and responds by stabbing Somon. Shaman mystically retrieves the others.

While the three living members try to figure out how to revive the three dead ones, the sphere of soul energy starts acting up. It brings the three back to life, and Shaman catches on. The globe is Walter’s soul. Somon’s death has the world they’re in coming to an end, so they pop back to the normal world.

Walter’s body has already disintegrated, as a result of the power of the Eye of the World. There’s nothing that can be done. But Shaman noticed the Box armour, and after Roger phases out, Walter’s soul is put inside it. Walter’s technically alive again – happy ending! But Snowbird says that with the Great Beasts destroyed, her purpose is fulfilled, and she has to leave.

In an epilogue, Heather explains to Doug about her leaving. She feels that, as team leader, it was her duty to let him know. After she leaves, Snowbird comes out of a back room. Turns out she stayed behind, to stay with Doug.

Pretty good issue. Unlike #12, this one actually had a happy ending. Walter doesn’t get his body back, but at least he’s not dead. This issue’s primarily plot-driven, with the search for Walter’s soul taking precedence over much in the way of character focus. Not to say the issue is devoid of character work – all the characters at least get a couple moments here and there. Snowbird gets the most focus, thanks to her fight with Somon. Her choosing to leave Alpha Flight was kind of an interesting idea, though the “teach me to be a woman” line was just . . . ugh. So cheesy and stupid. Plus, another strong, independent woman decides to give up her job so she can make a man happy. Isn’t that just typical? I’m joking, but it does actually bother me, in a weird way. Maybe if there’d been an indication that she was going to go back to the RCMP or something.

The three Great Beasts don’t end up coming across as much of a threat. I think Byrne just had too much story to be able to give them a real sense of menace. Somon fares a bit better, but even he goes down pretty easily. So the action could’ve been more exciting. Byrne’s art remains Byrne’s art. Not much more you can say about it, really. It’s always great.

I may as well also mention Shaman’s cameo in Iron Man #196. He tells Rhodey that the dimension they were in last issue is closed off, so Rhodey can’t go back to retrieve the armour he left behind.

Song of the day: We Don’t Want Your Body by Stars.

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