Alpha Flight (1st series) #112

Issue Date: 
September 1992
Story Title: 
Barebones, part 3

Simon Furman, (Writer), Pat Broderick (Penciler), Patterson (Inker), Bob Sharen (Colorist), Janice Chiang (Letterer), Dan Cudy (Assistant Editor), Rob Tokar (Editor), Tom DeFalco (Editor-in-Chief)

Brief Description: 

The Master of the World continues his preparations to save the Earth from the coming assault of the Magus by letting the Ska’r feed on Canada, starting with Beta Flight. Beta Flight engage the new Omega Flight in battle, and prove their worth to the angry Windshear. Talisman continues on her quest deep within her mind, and witnesses the history of the Ska’r unfold before her eyes, learning that she was the gatekeeper of the Ska’r, for the power of the Talisman kept them locked in their pocket dimension, and it was also her power that accidentally set them free. After giving Omega Flight what they deserve, Beta Flight turn their attention to the Master himself, who is impressed with their efforts, particularly Witchfire, who he believes is truly her father’s daughter. From her hospital bed, Talisman encourages her team to fight on and Laura Dean opens a portal to the Ska’r city, where Windshear can use his powers to push them back in to it, at the protest of the Master who warns them that the Ska’r were the only thing preventing the Magus from destroying the Earth. The Master then teleports away, and Windshear wonders if they did the right thing, or if they doomed the universe. Laura Dean points out that they have to act on behalf of the Canadian people, and save the people of their country, leaving the fate of the universe to those more qualified. With the Ska’r and the Master now gone, Canada is once again safe. Later, once the Infinity War is over, Weapon Omega is in a daze over battling his darker self, Wild Child, and Windshear admits to the rest of Alpha Flight that he was wrong about Beta Flight, that they should not be “Gamma Flight” reserves, and that they are more than just kids, and presents them with their own team uniform.

Full Summary: 

‘Realities mesh, worlds merge. It begins…in earnest. Unless the process is reversed, Earth will be lost, replaced by a twisted facsimile of the Magus’s creation. Worldwide, the human ants watch, enthralled, a frozen audience to a demi-god’s power play. They cannot save Earth. I can. I am the Master, and this world I have claimed as my own to with as I see fit. Through a pocket of madness strong enough even to resist your influence I will fight you for it, Magus.’

The self-proclaimed Master of the World gazes up at the merging moons of the merging Earth’s, and knows that other minds, strong minds like Jean Grey, Charles Xavier, Moondragon and Sersi are also trying to stop Magus, creating a psychic resonance among the population, a wall of resistance. The Master knows that with a blot-hole of unaffected reality they are destined to fail, but believes that they should keep the assimilation at bay long enough for him to deal with a small but potentially disastrous irritation.

Kara “Persuasion” Kilgrave the former Purple Girl orders Colin “Windshear” Hume who is in her possession to use his powers against the obese Omega Flight member Miss Mass. But Windshear’s solid air has no affect and Miss Mass tells them “skinnies” that they are wasting their time, for although it may take a while, she always gets there in the end. She informs them that a friend of theirs tried to blow her away recently, and for doing so she broke her neck, warning them that she will teat their bony bodies apart and make a wish. Kara orders Windshear to pay Mass no heed, to just keep on hitting her with solid air.

Windshear doesn’t reply, he couldn’t if he wanted to, for he belongs totally to the cerebral power of Persuasion, which is a direct contrast to the past self of Whitman “Manikin” Knapp - Apeman - who just hits things. But as Apeman leaps at Strongarm, who is strangling Manikin, Strongarm uses his massive arm to swat him backwards, telling Whit that his “friend” lacks something in the stealth department.

Witchfire blocks Sinew from attacking her with a powerful mystical shield, while realizing that Whit is in trouble, she knows that if he blacks out, then his other selves will disappear and he will be completely helpless. The Master of the World admits that he erroneously assumed that it would be a formality for his new Omega Flight to remove the youngsters from the picture - ‘But the pups have teeth’.

Watching the battle from the safety of an alleyway, he claims that actual combat is for lesser beings, which is why Omega Flight exists. However the Master knows that should the battle drag on any longer, then he must intervene, or lose everything. The Master observes Witchfire and remarks that she has unplumbed depths, a heritage steeped in arcane might, for she has already unconsciously shielded herself and her teammates from the Ska’r, therefore if she disturbs them further, then he may be left powerless to defeat the Magus. The Master decides that Witchfire has such potential, and knows that if circumstances were different, then he would consider recruiting her, bending her to his will. But as it is, she is just a stumbling block to be removed.

Miss Mass is still slowly walking up to Kara, pushing through Windshear’s solid air, and asking Kara if she hasn’t got the message yet. ‘All you’re doing is ticking me off!’ she shouts. Persuasion knows this is true, but wonders what else she can do, for she doesn’t understand enough about Windshear’s mutant ability to order him to do anything more than start - and ‘Stop!’ she yells, which causes the startled Miss Mass to fall to the concrete, breaking it apart as he massive form hit’s the ground. ‘Now you’ve really done it!’ she exclaims, teeth gritted.

Persuasion stands over Miss Mass, explaining that she was having trouble zeroing in before, there was too much psychic static, but now she belongs to her! But nearby, Miss Mass’ teammate Bile sees Persuasion and realizes that not only if he removes her from the battle one of the most powerful opponents is eliminated, but Windshear will be left vulnerable and exposed. He approaches her, his disease-carrying hand outstretched, ready to take her life, when suddenly, two drunken louts come up beside Bile and take his hat.

Bile reacts by offering him a death-touch instead and clasping his hand to one of the men’s face, ‘For that is all Bile has to give’ he exclaims. Kara turns around to see what has just happened, and she is about to shout ‘STOP!’ - but the command doesn’t make it through her throat, tightened by fear, her mouth suddenly dry as Bile extends his hand to Kara’s mouth.

Lucky for Kara, her former boyfriend Manikin sees what is happening, and though he can barely speak after being strangled, he motions his future self Highbrow to where Kara is in danger. While Proto spreads himself over Strongarm, Highbrow acts at the speed of though, and teleports Persuasion behind Bile so he doesn’t touch her.

Kara now has sufficient time to use her power on him, and orders him to go and play with his teammates. Bile turns towards Miss Mass, ‘No! No! Get away!’ she mutters as she clumsily gets to her feet and begins running away from her teammate who begins the chase.

Elsewhere, considerably, the already convoluted life of Elizabeth Twoyoungmen a.k.a. the Binder of Spirits known as Talisman takes another considerable turn. Standing in the ocean of bone, she calls to her father, Shaman, asking him to talk to her - ‘Are you telling me this…this terrible place is within my own mind?’ she asks. With no response, Elizabeth assumes that Shaman was merely the guide, so once she is here, she is on her own. She wonders what Shaman meant by the sentence “You must understand what has been unleashed”.

Talisman is still confused, when suddenly images thousands of years old appear before her, crystal clear. She now stands in a city festering like a bloated corpse in its own sea of vice and sin. Above it all, feeding like maggots on the corruption they themselves have bred - they are the Ska’r! It is like a movie, one you think you haven’t seen. You get so far with just a nagging familiarity before you realize you already sat through it, a long time ago - and you know how it ends.

The Ska’r city grew, with malign forces within growing stronger…a dark stain threatening to spread through the whole of the civilized world, until other forces fathered strength - and removed it from the face of the Earth! The Ska’r screamed, struggled and fought. But their prison was a strong one and it held. Realizing their pantry of blackened souls would grow old and stale, no new blood to swell their bellies, the looked at the meat locked away with them and - ‘Oh! God! No…NO!’ cries Talisman as she witnesses what the Ska’r did to those imprisoned with them.

Screams fill Elizabeth’s mind, a swelling orchestra of terror and torment - a hundred thousand lost souls crying in unison. Talisman exclaims that the Ska’r ate them, hundreds and thousands - all food for some sort of hibernation. Suddenly she realizes that it was the Talisman, the power of the Talisman that banished the Ska’r, locked them away in this empty dimension, and as the holder of the Circlet of Enchantment, she was their jailor!

Elizabeth realizes that she had been so busy feeling sorry for herself, so often asking “Why me?”, that she never took time to look inward, discover the many reasons why there must be a Talisman. ‘I was given a job to do and I failed! Lord help me…I LET THEM OUT!’ Elizabeth tells herself that it isn’t too late, for what has been done can be undone - what has been released, can be shut away again!

Suddenly, in her hospital bed she wakes up. Elizabeth wishes that she could stand up again, but knows Omega Flight hurt her badly, so she is in no shape to do anything - let alone face the Ska’r! But Elizabeth Twoyoungmen is a super hero and she knows that she cannot fail now, for so much depends on her being strong…on being the Talisman.

Back in Toronto, Miss Mass is still running from Bile, screaming for one of her teammates to help her, as Bile repeatedly exclaims that he must touch her. Seeing the possessed Bile, Tech-Noir asks Brain Drain what happened to him, as Strongarm urges Tech-Noir to shoot Bile, or he will waste the little creep himself.

Beta Flight regroup and after being released from Persuasion’s hold, Windshear is asked by Manikin what he thinks of his “amateurs” now. Windshear still addresses the Betans as Gamma Flight and tells them that he still doesn’t think they are seasoned pros, before reminding them there is the matter of disobeying direct orders, and possessing him, before grudgingly admitting that they do have a certain style when it comes to handling themselves.

Witchfire reminds everyone that the real battle has only just begun, explaining that there is an intelligence behind all this chaos and madness, but to stop it, they first have to stop the Ska’r! Suddenly, someone declares ‘And that, my dear girl…is something I cannot allow!’ The Master of the World steps into view, telling the teens that it is a shame, for ones he dismissed as children, they have given a noble account of themselves, but if he is to save this planet…’You all must DIE!’

‘That so? Well excuse us if we beg to differ!’ declares Windshear as he takes to the air and flies towards the Master, with Beta Flight running behind him. Persuasion points out to Windshear that this is the Master they are dealing with and is about to offer a suggestion, when the Master releases some fire from his hands, explaining that this entity is the one they called the Firebug and that he found his somewhat volatile molecules drifting on the winds. ’How untidy of you!’ But the Master reveals that he has absorbed the Firebug into his armor’s systems - the potential of that petty arsonist is now fully realized!

The Master unleashes a huge blast of flame, engulfing Windshear and the Betans. However, Witchfire uses her mystical abilities to put up a shield to protect everyone just in time, just as the Master anticipated, though he did not believe that it would actually hold. He decides that in terms of power, Witchfire is every bit her father’s daughter!

Seeing that everyone is unconscious, the Master wonders if that will suffice, before exclaiming ‘I think not’ and telling himself that being compassionate is too human, thinking that all of those degrading foibles where removed millenia ago when the Plodex reconstructed his mind and body. The Master decides that it is good to know that their deaths now have purpose.

Tech-Noir flies down towards the Master with some information, but the Master isn’t interested in what the techno-wonder has to say, declaring that this is a critical moment, as the human psis are buckling under the strain of keeping the world’s from merging, so from this moment on, he must focus all his enhanced might and lock mental horns with Magus.

Nervously glancing over her shoulder, Tech-Noir tells the Master that he doesn’t understand, which infuriates him, asking Tech-Noir how she dare say that, when he too turns around and sees the Ska’r racing after the fleeing Omega Flight.

‘HUNGRY!’ shout the Ska’r, one of them remarking that the minds of Omega Flight are closed to them so will not sate them, however their bodies are vibrant with aura, so they will feed on them nevertheless. ‘Yeah? Feed on this!’ exclaims Tech-Noir as she unleashes several missiles from her wrist, all which rip through the deadly Ska’r.

Beta Flight and Windshear still lie unconscious on the ground, but they begin to stir as a powerful and commanding voice enters their minds, telling them that they must awaken and rise, for this day they have undergone a brutal baptism of fire, endured a proving ground of terrible severity - but the ordeal is not yet over, for everyone must dig deep and find reserves of strength as yet untapped.

Sitting on the edge of her hospital bed, Talisman uses her powers to cast her words into the minds of her teammates, telling them that she will guide them, but they must be of one body, of one mind. For as individuals, there are flaws, weaknesses, but as a team, there is strength…and purpose. ‘We must do together what cannot be done alone’. Talisman thinks that it is clear to her now, so right, just accepting her nature has made wielding the Circlet of Enchantment less forced and more natural, she can see a pattern, an intricate web of fate, woven among them all, and she knows what they must do.

Back in the city, the Master knocks Tech-Noir out and calls her foolish and explains that this is exactly what he wished to prevent “Gamma” Flight from doing, realizing that his hold on Earth is weakening. The Ska’r suddenly surround the Master, and the Master proclaims that he is giving the country of Canada to them, so they can feed and grow fat on the millions of ripe souls.

The Master is astonished when one of the Ska’r grab his wrist and exclaims ‘You…right in power. We will take what you offer…after we pick your bones clean!’ The Master kills the Ska’r that touched him, an instinctive reaction, the punishment for such an almost inconceivable transgression is swift and final. Yet in that instant, the Master’s psychic hold on the Magus…is broken.

Suddenly he wonders what he has done, and the answer is a mad God’s laugh, a mocking epitaph to humankinds last stand. The Master declares that he hasn’t been beaten, and engages his teleport sequence, for with Omega Flight and himself gone, the Ska’r can feed on “Gamma Flight”. Suddenly, a dimensional interface, a portal to the Ska’r city appears.

Windshear begins using his hard-air power to push the Ska’r through the portal back to their world, as the Master warns them that if they do it Earth is doomed, everyone will become thralls of the Magus, unthinking and ungrowing. He promises them a utopia, asking only unquestionable obedience in return. ‘Is that not preferable to the living death the Magus inte -’ the Master doesn’t finish his sentence before his teleportation takes place.

Windshear wonders if the Master if right, if they are the spanner in some cosmic works - ‘Are we saving Earth, or dooming it?’ Laura Dean doesn’t know the answer, but exclaims that she does know that there are powers greater than they to look after the Universe. But right here, right now, the people of Canada are dying for a madman’s warped dream, and as part of Alpha Flight, their first responsibility must always be to them. A storm of solid-air particles sweeps the Ska’r through the portal, and it all stops.

Time now passes, the nightmare fading into the realms of the subconscious - but for Weapon Omega, the nightmare is just beginning. He faced and battled the dark side of his soul, the twisted beast called Wildchild. But now, he is not sure who one.

Later, Guardian, Sasquatch, Northstar, Jeanne-Marie and Puck meet with Windshear, who freely admits that he was wrong in calling the kids the barebones of a team, and that they showed him a cohesive unit, strong and resolute. He admits he is wrong for calling them children when they are wise beyond their years. And for calling them Gamma Flight, when in truth, they are Beta Flight. Talisman! Persuasion! Manikin (and his other selves)! Laura Dean! Goblyn! And Witchfire! Beta Flight stand before Alpha Flight, each of them now decked out in their own red and grey team uniforms, ready for a new chapter in their lives.

Characters Involved: 

Guardian, Jeanne-Marie, Northstar, Puck, Sasquatch, Weapon Omega, Windshear (all Alpha Flight)

Laura Dean, Goblyn, Manikin, Persuasion, Talisman II, Witchfire (all Beta Flight / “Gamma Flight”)

Apeman, Highbrow, Proto (Manikin’s other selves)

Master of the World

Bile, Brain Drain, Miss Mass, Sinew, Strongarm, Tech-Noir (all Omega Flight)

The Ska’r

People on Ska’r home world

Jean Grey, Moondragon, Professor X, Sersi (all Marvel Heroes)

Citizens of Canada

Story Notes: 

This issue is part of the Infinity War.

This issue is narrated by the Master of the World.

Miss Mass injured Talisman who attempted to sweep Omega Flight away in a storm, and it worked on all except Miss Mass. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #110]

As revealed in Alpha Flight (1st series) #124, Witchfire’s father is apparently Belasco.

Windshear demoted Beta Flight to Gamma Flight off-panel between Alpha Flight (1st series) #109 and #110. This version of Gamma Flight are supposed to be a reserve team, implying that the Gamma Flight Support Staff designations that were given out to several Alphans and Betans in Alpha Flight (1st series) #95 are no longer used, which they aren’t.

Weapon Omega fought his dark self, Wild Child in Alpha Flight (1st series) #111.

The bulk of this story takes place after Infinity War #4, the last two pages take place after Infinity War #6.

Beta Flight all don their official team uniform this issue, where Alpha Flight have red costumes with a white stripe down one side of their body, white boots and a small white Mapleleaf on their chest, Beta Flight have red stripes down both sides, red boots and gloves and a large red Mapleleaf on their chest, with grey in the body of their costume. This is the third costume for both Talisman and Witchfire, and essentially the first costume for Persuasion, Manikin and Laura Dean who have all worn civilian clothing in the past, though Persuasion did wear one purple outfit for an extended period of time. Goblyn has never worn any clothing before, making this her first costume also.

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