SHAMAN: Page 2 of 4

Publication Date: 12th Jan 2008
Written By: Peter Luzifer and Iceman.
Image Work: Peter Luzifer.


With Alpha Flight apparently at an end, Michael returned to the Sarcee reservation of his tribe and worked in a small doctor’s office to help his people. A few weeks later, his now adult daughter stormed in, demanding his help - as Shaman. Michael was rather shocked, as they hadn’t seen each other since his wife’s death. Liz did not want any happy reunion, she just wanted to alert him to a mystic presence she had encountered during an archeological dig.

This turned out to be Ranaq, the Great Devourer, another of the Great Beasts. They defeated him, though not due to Shaman’s powers, but because of Elizabeth’s inherited abilities that she didn’t know of. Snowbird kneeling before Liz only confirmed what Michael already suspected at that point. His daughter was the fulfillment of a three hundred year old prophecy - the coming of Talisman, a powerful force for Good. Elizabeth was asked by Shaman to place her hand in his pouch and retrieve whatever she felt. She pulled forth a tiara and, after placing it on her head, she changed, suddenly wearing a costume to go along with the tiara and her powers fully activated.

Elizabeth did not want these abilities and attempted to remove the headband, which caused her incredible pain. Shaman apologized to his daughter for not having informed her of these consequences before and her anger soon gave way, partially though due to the intoxicating influence of the Talisman's power. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #15, 18-20]

Shortly after, Alpha Flight met the X-Men again, investigating strange energy readings originating at Ungar Bay. There, the groups became witnesses to a large castle in the middle of a snow-covered area, its inhabitants being the passenger of a small plane piloted by Cyclops and his wife, Madelyne. A magical fountain within the castle evolved all humans into super-powered folks. However, when Shaman entered it, his own medicine bag released demons to attack him to the brink of death. It was later discovered that Loki was behind the fountain, and its special gifts came with a price, the death of all magic and imagination. Once the transformed people denied Loki’s offer, everything returned back to the way it was, including Shaman’s health. [X-Men & Alpha Flight (1st series) #1-#2]

In Shaman’s absence, the rest of Alpha Flight discovered that Sasquatch’s mood swings were caused by him actually inhabiting the body of the Great Beast, Tanaraq. Snowbird had no choice but to kill him, but at least the team hoped to recover his soul. Receiving a mental call from Talisman, Michael accompanied the team to a place called the Eye of the World, where the entrance to the Realm of the Beasts was located. With great haste, Shaman opened a portal to the realm and Alpha Flight traveled through in search of Walter’s Langkowski’s soul. Unfortunately, they were met by the Great Beasts, and, though they could reclaim the prize, they had been delayed for too long. Upon returning to Earth, Langkowski’s body had already crumbled to dust. Quickly deciding a course of action, Shaman temporarily placed Walter’s essence into the Box armor, giving him a new lease on life, even if it was only artificial. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #24]

Soon after Shaman’s trip to the Realm of the Beasts, Jim Rhodes, also known as Iron Man, approached Shaman at the Sarcee reservation. He asked Shaman’s help in surmising why his headaches had been so severe. Shaman examined Rhodes, using his magical abilities, and deduced that not the pains of the mind but those of the soul were the cause of his headaches. Shaman suggested that the two of them head to a place called the Gorge, where Rhodes would discover two things; first, what he cherished the most and, the second, how to lose it. Once there, Shaman showed Rhodes different aspects of pain till Rhodes finally figured out that his problems came from living in Tony Stark’s shadow and his faith in the Iron Man armor. [Iron Man (1st series) #195-#196]

When Omega Flight returned for a rematch, they managed to take the team by surprise with a robot pretending to be the late Guardian. When the robot wrested Shaman’s pouch and turned it inside out,  all of reality was in danger of being torn apart. Michael had to send his daughter into the ever-growing sphere of chaos and, working from both sides, father and daughter managed to close the rift. Unfortunately, just as he wanted to pull Elizabeth out, the villains threatened to kill Snowbird. Shaman wrongly assumed that Talisman would manage to get out on her own but she became lost into the bag, apparently gone forever. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #26-27]

Little did the team know, but the near omnipotent Beyonder was in need of the Shaman’s pouch and, in exchange for this item, he gave back Talisman to Michael. Elizabeth did not take too kindly to having been failed by her father a second time. Angrily lashing out at him and everyone else for trying to calm her rage,  Elizabeth sent the Alphans back to their base and severed all ties with them. Her accusations took their toll, and just like after his wife’s death, Michael gave in to despair, losing his faith in himself and everything he believed in. As a result of this, he lost his powers and could no longer pull things from his pouch. He and Alpha Flight discovered this while encountering the Hulk and, as he was no help to the team anymore, Shaman sulked off into the shadows to hide near the land of his people. [Secret Wars II #4, Alpha Flight (1st series) #28-29]

Shaman temporarily stayed with Snowbird and her husband before he decided that he had to undergo a pilgrimage to the land of his ancestors to uncover if he had failed the power or if the power had failed him. In the woods, he found himself caught in a blizzard. Though he knew that he was not near the town of Banff, the cabin he had been living in several years ago appeared before him. He entered and once more found his grandfather’s skull lying on a table. The aberration told Shaman that he had come back from the dead to give him a second chance and to teach him how to regain his faith, if he wanted to. It seemed like eternity before Michael answered and told his grandfather that he wanted to have faith again. After his words were spoken, Michael was plunged into the mouth of the skull to be tried. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #30-31]

In the world inside, he asked his ancestor if he had any power besides that of his pouch? The astral form of his grandfather told him that, if he was to find out, he must expose himself to being tested by the Great Spirits in the valley below. Shaman traveled through many tests, such as outrunning a herd of caribou, facing an entire pack of wolves, etc, and succeeded. At the end of his journey, his daughter greeted him in her function as Binder of the Spirits. Though she still despised him, she had to bestow her father new powers and handed him a Spirit Staff and a Caribou robe. Michael donned these trinkets and the ceremonial eaglet headpiece his grandfather offered him for gaining the spirits approval. He now found that he was now able to request aid from the spirits of the land and also to call forth his familiar, an eaglet spirit from his headpiece. With these gifts, he finished off his testing by righting a wrong once brought on by Vikings against his people, the Sarcee. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #34-35]

Immediately after his trials, Shaman realized that Alpha Flight was in need of him and transported himself to their side. Shaman diagnosed the fallen Snowbird and told the team that she was pregnant. As the Gods of the Great North had forsaken her for mating with a human, Shaman could expect no help from them in handling the difficult birth. He consulted Dr. Strange, who advised him to locate a place of power he deemed safe for delivering the baby and binding it to the earth. On their trip towards such a place, Alpha Flight ran into Talisman, who, wanting to humiliate her father in front of his friends, deliberately commanded the spirits to lie to him about the goodness of the land. Michael found out too late that an evil sorcerer named Pestilence was buried under the surface. This evil claimed the essence of Narya’s child and possessed it. Right then Talisman wanted to step in and save the day, but she found that she could not. She had assumed that Pestilence was a dead sorcerer’s spirit but, as he had been buried alive, he was no spirit she could command.

In a rather short fight, Pestilence ended his imprisonment and removed the tiara from Talisman’s brow. Elizabeth was back to her regular self and about to die at the hands of the villain. While some of the other Alphans kept Pestilence busy, Shaman realized that without Talisman’s power he couldn’t be defeated, but he also did not want his daughter to be claimed by the curse and lose her humanity again. Instead, he reasoned that the spirit test had proved him worthy of such power and he opted to take on the mantle as the binder of spirits himself. Placing the tiara on his head, Michael commanded the Great Beasts of the land that Pestilence tried to possess. With those Beasts and Snowbird, in the form of a Sasquatch, Shaman was able to make Pestilence flee. Now calling himself Talisman, he helped Narya from the fallen snow and told her that he would send the spirits of the land to find Pestilence and make him pay for what he had done to her child. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #36-38]