Alpha Flight #18-19
Issue(s): Alpha Flight #18, Alpha Flight #19
Actually, Alpha Flight are a lot closer to "the Defenders in Canada". In addition to the mystical themes, you've certainly got the non-team aspect. Early in issue #18, Heather tries to get the team back together and finds that Northstar, at least, isn't interested.
Additionally, Alpha members Aurora, Sasquatch, and Marina don't even appear in these issues.
The only thing lacking is the Steve Gerber-esque wackiness, and, well, in these issues, Shaman fights some scrambled eggs.
Anyway, we saw this particular threat triggered in Alpha Flight #14, when Shaman's daughter Elizabeth Twoyoungmen unearthed a skull on an archeological dig and a spirit manefisted. With cranky, chip-on-her-shoulder daughter in tow, Shaman investigates and winds up at a house where a young woman has recently acquainted herself with her great-grandfather. The old man had been deliberately isolating himself in an attempt to avoid a curse that said he'd be attacked through a loved one, but he was unable to rebuff his great-grandaughter.
During the attack, Elizabeth is blasted with mystical energy, but instead of hurting her, it actually powers her up.
Of his daugher, Shaman thinks:
Her potential mystic talents have been unleashed! But... they are not like mine. Mine came through years of training. Hers are somehow instinctive, almost at the level of a genetic mutation!
I don't think Talisman is generally considered a mutant, but that seems to be the idea here.
Shaman and Elizabeth are able to fight back the evil spirits and manage to even preserve the lives of all involved. But they decide to go back in time to find the root cause of the curse. They are joined by Puck, Snowbird, and Heather, but Heather remains in the present.
Prior to leaving, however, Snowbird surprises everyone by bowing to Elizabeth.
This prompts Shaman to hand her his medicine bag, which she peers into with no adverse effects, and then pulls out a mystical headband. Shaman rushes her into putting the thing on her head with no explanation (and that'll have some repercussions), and Elizabeth is transformed.
Once they're in the past, Alpha discovers a pair of cowboys who, protected by mystical necklaces, force a Native America mystic into summon Ranaq, one of the Great Beasts that Snowbird is sworn to battle.
The Beast is easily able to trick the older of the two cowboys into removing his necklace, which allows Ranaq to take an earthly form.
Ranaq is defeated in part thanks to Elizabeth again, but the killing shot comes from the younger cowboy, who fashions his partner's necklace into a bullet. The younger cowboy is, of course, the old man in the first part of the story, and Shaman says that Alpha Flight is unable to prevent the situation that unfolded in the present from happening.
At the end of the arc, Snowbird identifies Elizabeth as "the Talisman".
Prior to joining up with Alpha Flight in this arc, Snowbird has another romance comic-esque encounter with Mountie Doug Thompson.
The results of her latest revelation are not shown.
At the beginning of this arc (and on the cover of issue #18) we are teased with the idea that Heather might become the new Guardian. But she assures us she has no interest in that.
That'll change when the creative team does...
It's probably just a coincidence, but you can't help notice the similarity of names between Ranaq, the Great Devourer here and Ranark the Ravager who Shaman and Alpha Flight fought in Marvel Two-In-One #83-84. It's almost like John Byrne had a list of the Great Beasts he intended for Alpha to fight and figured it wouldn't hurt to have Tom DeFalco handle one of them in Two-In-One, but then when he saw the result he changed the name slightly and did it right. In reality, i'm sure nothing of the sort happened.
While i'm not quite sure if Alpha Flight accomplished anything in issue #19 other than satisfy their curiosity, this was a cool story with great characterization and, of course, fantastic art.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Enough time occurs between issues #18 and #19 (Heather and Puck have located Shaman and traveled from Calgary from Toronto) that i could separate them into individual entries if need be, but none of the characters appearing have any obligations elsewhere.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (8): show
Roger Stern intended to eventually make Talisman a disciple of Dr. Strange, but he left Strange's book before that could happen and Peter Gillis wasn't interested.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 15, 2013 6:08 PM
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