Alpha Flight (1st series) #19

Issue Date: 
February 1985
Story Title: 
Turn Again, Turn Again, Time in Thy Flight ...

John Byrne (Writer and Penciler), Andy Yanchus (Colorist), Rick Parker (Letterer), Don Daley (Assistant Editor), Denny O’Neil (Editor), Jim Shooter (Editor-in-Chief).

Brief Description: 

Preparing to journey into the past with his daughter, Elizabeth, and teammate Puck, to stop Ranaq the Devourer, one of the Great Beasts, Shaman is soon joined by Snowbird, who upon seeing his daughter kneels before her and awaits her bidding. Realizing that the ancient and terrible prophecy has come true, Shaman has his daughter look inside his medicine pouch – something no one can do and survive, Elizabeth does, however, and after reaching around inside it she draws out a tiara. Placing it upon her brow, she is garbed in a flowing costume, and somewhat bewildered by it all, doesn’t ask too many questions. The four travel to the past, and witness a young Lucas Stang and his friend, Zebediah Chase, force an elderly Indian man to summon Ranaq for them, because they hear he can grant them whatever they want. Despite the old man’s best efforts to change the white men’s’ minds, the Great Beast is summoned, and surprised when he cannot defeat the two men, for they wear magical necklaces which protect them from all magicks. Ranaq reveals that because he cannot destroy them, then he has to do their bidding and grants Chase all his wishes – though Chase cannot touch his gifts because the necklace prevents him from doing so. After taking it off though so he could touch this woman he was given, Ranaq literally devours Chase. Snowbird tries to attack, but is taken out of the game easily, so Elizabeth enters the fray, and despite her having very little experience, she holds her own against him. As Stang prepares to run away, he learns that he is the only person who can stop Ranaq and so after protesting some, he uses charms from the necklace as bullets, and shoots Ranaq. The Great Beast was stopped, but Stang was forever cursed. The heroes prepare to return to their own time, and Snowbird calls Elizabeth “Talisman”.

Full Summary: 

Fort Calgary, at the restoration site of the original Fort Calgary, where currently, mystic forces are running rampant, though under the control of Dr. Michael Twoyoungmen, a.k.a. Shaman of Alpha Flight, who is preparing a spell to journey to the past to stop a demon. Standing watching her old friend, Alpha Flight’s leader, the non-powered, non-costumed Heather McNeil Hudson comments to the diminutive Puck, or Eugene Judd, that they arrived to join in the fun just in time. Judd jokes that he wishes Sarcee were one of the seventeen languages he spoke, as he would love to know what Shaman is saying.

Twoyoungmen’s sultry daughter, Elizabeth glances away from the glare of the magicks as she thinks to herself that she has known her father is the “Super-hero” known as shaman, but knowing it and being able to comprehend what it means are beginning to be two very different things. She recalls that one week ago she was an art college student with no more interest in the occult than reading her horoscope, but now, in rapid succession, she has been the only witness to the escape of a vengeful spirit. She has seen her father battle a monster apparently created by that phantom, and found herself with power, enough power to counter the force of a creature called Ranaq the Devourer, who had possessed an innocent young woman.

Elizabeth looks over at her father, still chanting his spell, she was told by him that defeating Ranaq was just the beginning and that now they have to journey one hundred years into the past to stop whatever it was that started this mess! Shaman’s spell begins to come to an end, and as he proclaims their journey can be made, Heather asks him why he sounds disappointed by that. Michael tells Heather that that is how he feels, because in his heart he hoped that the destruction of Ranaq had so dissipated the evil that the portal would have closed, but it is not the case.

Shaman proclaims that whatever act it was that set the sequence in motion, it is still vital, still active and capable of striking again. Standing at his side, Judd suggests to Shaman that this is possibly because Lucas Stang is still alive and that he and his great-granddaughter seem to be the focus of all this. Sham agrees, as it was through the granddaughter – Emily Stang – that Ranaq manifested, and Stang himself demonstrated arcane powers. Twoyoungmen believes that this disturbance is tied to something Stang did when he was a youth, one hundred years ago – something so unspeakably evil, a heinous pact with forces not of this world.

Impatient, Elizabeth suggests to her father that they should get going before some other matter interrupts them. Michael is surprised by the fire within his daughter and wonders if she could possibly be the one that was foretold – suddenly, Alpha Flight do receive an interruption, by their ice-maiden member Snowbird. The goddess orders Shaman not to make his move yet, as this matter concerns her more than anyone else, for Ranaq the Devourer was one of the Great Beasts who she was set upon the Earth to destroy. Startled, Narya invokes the name of her Grandfather and landing in front of Elizabeth, she kneels before her.

Calling Elizabeth “the Promised One”, Snowbird announces she is ready to do what she commands. As Elizabeth looks at Snowbird as if she is crazy, Heather’s mouth drops open at seeing Snowbird bowing down before another, for Snowbird acknowledges the superiority of no mere mortal…. But Shaman is equally surprised at this and realizes that it must be true, the prophecy of three hundred generations has been realized finally – in his daughter!

Judd asks Twoyoungmen what is going on, and Shaman replies that an ancient and terrible prophecy is being fulfilled – that his daughter is the embodiment of a great powerful force for good – the Breaker of Dark Spells, the “One who binds all evil”. Elizabeth looks at her father as if he has gone mad too, and he asks her to reach into his medicine pouch, for if the evidence is true, then she alone will be able to draw the Coronet of Enchantment from it.

Elizabeth Twoyoungmen stands somewhat confused by all of this, and she looks into the eyes of her father, before she draws the draws the medicine pouch. Looking into it, Elizabeth sees nothing, she turns it upside down, and nothing falls out. Shaman gasps, for this is more proof of Elizabeth’s power, as no mortal could look into the bag without risking insanity, not even himself. Shaman urges Elizabeth to try. Elizabeth complies, but tells her father that she doesn’t know what he expects her to find – perhaps a golden tiara like the one she draws from the bag?

Shaman urges Elizabeth to quickly place it upon her brow, and she does so, and almost instantly there is an electric change in the compounds, for a moment, there seems to be the sound of rushing waters, and beyond, in the horizon, distant thunder rolls. Elizabeth is bathed in a golden glow, her hair flows up behind her, and with equal suddenness, everything goes quiet, and Elizabeth Twoyoungmen is transformed, now garbed in a flowing red and yellow costume.

Heather asks her former charge if she feels okay, and Elizabeth replies that she feels more alive than she ever has. Admiring her new outfit, Elizabeth asks her father what he was saying about this being part of an ancient and terrible prophecy. She wonders what is so terrible, and Shaman announces that there is no time to explain at the moment, for presently, she has received a great gift and must now put it to use. Heather asks Twoyoungmen if he is really going back into the past, adding that she wishes she could come, but with her leg wounded still, she wouldn’t be much of an asset to the team.

Judd smiles as he tells Heather that sometimes it falls to a leader to stay behind and worry, but as for him, time travel is one of the few things he has yet to try! Shaman urges Judd to stand close as he is about to open the portal, which can only stay open for one second. He tells Narya and Elizabeth to be ready, and when he gives the word, they all jump through the portal.

A moment which cannot be measured. A time without time, a place without dimension. Eternity is a heartbeat. Infinity in the blinking of an eye. What is, is not. What was will be. What will be never was.

Snowbird and Elizabeth glide gracefully to the ground, while Shaman and Judd fall. Elizabeth is surprised they made it through – to exactly the same place they were standing, only a century earlier. The thriving metropolis is gone, as Calgary 1884 is barely a shadow of what it will become. Judd uses his incredible agility to dodge a puddle just as the town constable approaches the motley contingent of heroes. He asks them where they all came from, somewhat in shock at seeing their brightly colored costumes, Shaman quickly uses a spell, to make the constable see them dressed otherwise.

Twoyoungmen asks if there is a problem, and the confused constable replies that there isn't, before Shaman and the others move on. Assuming leadership, Twoyoungmen urges the others to be quick, as they need to get out of sight, for he fears the masking spell he used may have created clothing that was out of date for a contemporary observer. Elizabeth smiles now that she understood what her father did to the constable, as she was wondering why he was quick to let them go, she thought her father just messed with the constable’s head.

Snowbird watches intently, as this is something Shaman has talked to her about before, and Twoyoungmen tells his daughter that the human mind is too delicate for anyone of conscience to tamper with, even in the slightest way. He adds that the only spell he possesses that comes close to mind control is the one that triggers phobias. Changing the subject, Shaman informs Elizabeth that it is not his abilities that need their concern at the moment, for as he said before, she is somehow linked to the events, and should now be able to locate the center of the evil.

Elizabeth complies, adding though that she doesn’t understand how something that happened eighty years before she was born could have anything to do with her – suddenly, she senses something, its almost like a nausea when she faces a certain way. “A kind of nausea” Shaman thinks to himself, that Elizabeth easily dismisses what would certainly be a soul-wrenching feeling to any other mortal able to sense it. Shaman believes that when it is properly developed, Elizabeth’s power may one day rival that of Stephen Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme himself!

Her hands glowing with power, Elizabeth alerts her father and his teammates to the direction of what they are searching for, though she cannot put it into words, it feels like a tear in the universe itself! Looking into a window, Judd tells Elizabeth that that might have been the only way to describe it, for he cant think of another way to! The others look in, and see what Puck sees – an elderly Native American man levitating, while a young white man points guns at him, and an older white man holds a gun to a young Native American woman.

The unruly redheaded man tells the levitating man that he knows he cannot hurt him or Luke – the young man – but he will hurt his granddaughter unless he starts to conjure up Ranaq for him. The young woman pleads with her grandfather not to conjure Ranaq. The withered old man tells the redheaded, Zebediah Chase, not to push his luck, for he and young Lucas Stang have been fortunate beyond their imagining. He suggests to the two white men that they take their ill-gotten gains and leave, that they should not wish upon themselves this ultimate folly, for there is no one in the world with enough power to harness and control a Great Beast.

Back outside, Snowbird reacts to hearing the name of her greatest enemies, and she prepares to take action. Shaman sees this, and grabs her before she can act, for this pattern of history must be allowed to play itself out. Narya orders Shaman to stand aside, as this matter no longer concerns he or anyone else, for Ranaq must not be freed, the barrier not sundered. Shaman is somewhat surprised by Snowbird’s tone of voice as he remembers how he delivered Snowbird into Earth and bound her with his magic to this human plane of existence. He thought he knew her well, but she has never been like this before, even when they battled the first Great Beast, Tundra. He urges Narya to be patient, proclaiming that they shouldn’t act before the time is right.

Inside, the floating man calls the white men foolish, but Zebediah cuts him off, reminding him that while they are wearing the magic necklaces they stole from his granddaughter, nothing he conjures can hurt them. Chase orders the elderly man to ‘get busy or else’ but the elderly American Indian tells Zebediah to stay his threats, before proclaiming that the ancient barrier is weakening and the Great Evil stirs. He tells the white men to look closely, and the old man is suddenly replaced by the indescribable monstrosity that is Ranaq the Devourer.

The young woman Zebediah was holding quickly runs out of the way, and Lucas Stang fires bullets at the Great Beast, telling his older friend to get out while he holds it back. Ranaq turns to Lucas Stang and asks him what he thinks he is doing, using such an inconsequential weapon on one such as he. He tells Stang that he can sense he is very young by human standards, and that perhaps it is time he learnt the error of his ways. Unleashing a beam of energy on young Stang, Ranaq declares that it is a pity he will not have the time to do so.

Lucas suddenly realizes that he is unharmed, that Ranaq’s power didn’t harm him. Zebediah reminds him that they are wearing the charms, of which the whole plan revolves around. Ranaq's eyes flare up as he tells chase and Lucas that he does not detect within them the wisdom to formulate such a plan. He proclaims that either way, he cannot destroy them, and is forced to serve them. He asks what their desires are. Shaman looks through the window as Chase declares they want money, women and power.

Standing mere feet away from Chase, Ranaq asks him why he wants these things that are of human life, of which Ranaq has no power in the matter of. Chase points a finger at the Great Beast telling him that he learned from the Squaw that he is one of Seven Great Beasts’ older and more powerful than the whole world, and that they can do what they want. Ranaq tells Chase that he is too wise for him, and tells him to turn around – where standing in the room is a beautiful woman, with riches beyond imagination surrounding her.

Chase tells Ranaq that they are going to be great friends, and as the woman starts taking her dress off, he walks up to her – and then walks right through her, falling and landing on the mounds of riches, which too he slips through. Chase calls Ranaq a liar, but the Great Beast tells him he is not lying, that it is the charm he is wearing which shields him from magic, both good and bad. Chase tugs at the enchanted necklace as he asks Ranaq if what he is saying is that he cannot touch any of the riches because of the necklace.

Ranaq confirms this, and he suggests to Zebediah Chase that he remove the charm so the gifts can be his. Chase complies, and hands the necklace to Lucas Stang to hold, the young blonde man voicing his concern over this act. Chase walks over to the female Ranaq created for him and tells Stang that if he ever wanted advice he would get it from someone who wasn’t still “wet behind the ears”. He extends a hand out to the woman, announcing that they still have unfinished business – but his expression quickly changes to that of horror when the woman’s face is replaced by a huge gaping mouth filled with very sharp teeth.

This being lunges her face forward to Chase’s and it seems if she is kissing – or doing something to him – for a very long time, until she vanishes, leaving Zebediah slumped on the floor. Young Lucas Stang slowly approaches the older man, reaching for his gun and holding the necklace out in front of him. Chase turns around – revealing a distorted appearance, a huge mouth full of teeth, he cries that Zebediah is gone, and that after a thousand years of imprisonment, Ranaq is finally free!

‘But not for very long, Beast’ cries Snowbird as the beautiful goddess makes a dramatic entrance to the barn. Ranaq, in the form of Zebediah Chase is surprised at the young woman’s appearance, sensing that she does not belong here. Snowbird informs him that his senses are correct, and that she is the daughter of Nelvanna. Ranaq’s eyes flare up at the mention of his enemies’ name, for it was Nelvanna of the Northern lights who imprisoned the Great Beasts beyond the barrier. Ranaq mentions that he thought all of Nelvanna’s kind was imprisoned in the nether realms. Ranaq brushes this aside, for it doesn’t matter to him, and he tells Narya this, adding that he can see her True Fires, and that they are tainted with humanity!

Ranaq boasts to Snowbird that she is no match for him, and using a powerful blast, he sends the goddess flying back through the doors and she lands some meters down the street. Elizabeth and Shaman watch in horror, and Twoyoungmen regrets not keeping a closer eye on Snowbird, for her instinctive drives over-ridded his request that she wait. Shaman tells his daughter that he needs to tend to Snowbird, while she goes to face Ranaq – alone!

Stunned at this, Elizabeth reminds her father that she doesn’t know what to do, but he tells her she will, and will not fail. Creeping up to the barn door Elizabeth thinks to herself that it is easy for Shaman to say such things, for he has been doing this a lot longer than she has, but she cannot deny that he is somehow right. Right that when Ranaq tried to destroy her in their previous confrontation, she somehow knew what to do.

Entering the barn with Puck at her side, Elizabeth tells him to stand aside, that she will handle “mister mouth” – she hopes! Ranaq is surprised at Elizabeth’s entrance, surprised that another female has come to challenge him, he thinks that the race of men must have changed significantly in the last thousand years, for he thought all women were weak and timid. Raising her arms above her head as if she expects some power to burst from them, Elizabeth jokes that Women’s Liberation hasn’t quite made its way into the Old West – but that she certainly has!

She is surprised when she realizes that nothing is happening, after proclaiming she could do “something”, and Ranaq picks up on this, telling her that her bluff was good, and he was almost afraid – but only for a moment! And with that, Ranaq unleashes a powerful blast of energy on Elizabeth, like the one he unleashed on Snowbird. Unlike the goddess however, Elizabeth isn't blasted across the town, and as she bathes in the golden beam of power, she remembers this happened back in her real time, the energies flowed around her, and didn’t hurt her, in fact, they are making her stronger – and able to strike back!

And so she does so, sending the energies right back to Ranaq, who cries out in pain. Young Lucas Stang meanwhile wonders who the strange people are, and decides that with Zebediah’s plan gone wrong, he should just get out while he still can. Judd however intercepts Lucas as he makes his getaway, proclaiming that he is not yet sure how the young blonde man fits into this, and so he has to stay!

Stang is knocked to the ground, protesting with Judd to be let free, Judd tells him that his role in this is not over, as he still has to do something that will haunt him for a hundred years. The elderly Native American approaches Judd and calls him wise, informing him that only Stang can destroy the Beast he was forced to set free. Young Stang protests that he cannot destroy the man who has been a father to him ever since his real parents died. The frail Indian informs Lucas that he will not kill him, for Chase is already dead and it is only the Great Beast that occupies his body now.

Scared, Stang asks what they expect him to do, reminding the old man that he said himself there was no one in the. The old man corrects Lucas, for he really said was no one can “control” Ranaq. Fortunately, the old man proclaims, Ranaq is perhaps the weakest of the Great Beasts, because he requires a human body to inhabit. The old man adds that so long Ranaq remains in the flesh, he is mortal – to the one who can pierce the magic that protects him.

Pointing to Elizabeth, Lucas asks how he is supposed to do anything, as she is throwing all kinds of magic at him and nothing is happening. The aged man informs Lucas that Elizabeth fights Ranaq on his own level, which is the wrong thing to do, for her power is sufficient to balance that of Ranaq’s, but not overcome it. He tells Stang that he has one human-skill that may prevail – his prowess with the weapons of man! Lucas looks slightly miffed and tells the old man that he is a good shot, when he realizes that he is talking about the necklace, realizing it must have enough magic in it to stop Ranaq. He tears at it with his teeth, for the pieces are about this size of a bullet, and can fit into his gun so he can shoot them.

Lucas looks at his loaded gun, ready for action, he calls to Ranaq, hoping Zebediah will answer, telling him that if there is any part of him still in there, to find a way to let him know. Ranaq turns away from Elizabeth and looking at Lucas, he reminds him he told him that his friend no longer dwells within this “shell”. Elizabeth sees that Ranaq has relaxed his attack somewhat and that perhaps this is her chance to act – until Lucas Stang tells Ranaq to die, and puts a charm-bullet through his head.

At that very moment, some yards down the street, Narya cries out in pain, and her body writhes on the ground, Shaman realizes that the Great Beast is slain, yet somehow it transmitted its dying agony onto her. He believes there is more to this than he cold ever have begun to guess.

One hour later, a masking spell hides the seven individuals at Fort Calgary, where Lucas Stang announces he has just buried Ranaq, exactly where he was told to. The elderly Native American tells Stang that he has done well, despite the bitter reward he fears will come. For he will live a life alone, fearful of former loved ones and ever on guard against the return of the Beast, adding that he will live for more than a hundred years.

Standing at her father’s side, Elizabeth realizes that the elderly Indian man is telling Stang the prophecy Stang mentioned to them back in their own time, about Ranaq striking through a loved one. Shaman remembers too, for the blood of an innocent being was to be spilled. He proclaims that while Lucas Stang may have saved the world, the payment will be a lifetime of fear and solitude, broken only by the few brief years when he permits himself to take a wife.

Elizabeth declares that it is not fair and that they need to tell Stang that he doesn’t have to live that way. Sternly, her father informs her that he does have to live that way, for it has always been that way, which is the cruel truth of time travel, for it would be a dangerous folly to attempt to change it, though even he wishes it could be otherwise.

Snowbird urges her teammates to return to their own time, pointing towards Elizabeth, the goddess declares that the Talisman has much to learn if she is to fulfil her role. Elizabeth reluctantly, agrees and as always, expresses her annoyance – until she shuts up by asking Snowbird what she just called her!

Characters Involved: 

Puck, Shaman, Snowbird, Talisman II / Elizabeth Twoyoungmen (all Alpha Flight)

Heather Hudson

In 1884

Lucas Stang

Zebediah Chase

Old Indian Man

His Granddaughter

Town Constable

Ranaq the Devourer

Story Notes: 

First appearance of Elizabeth Twoyoungmen as the Talisman. She previously appeared as a child [back-story in Alpha Flight (first series) #5] and made her first appearance as an adult in Alpha Flight (first series) #14. She will go on to have a colorful history with Alpha Flight as one of its most powerful members. With Alpha Flight’s disbanding following the Joshua Lord Scandal [Alpha Flight (first series) #128-130] it was assumed she returned to her work as an archaeologist, which is where she remains to this day.

Shaman and Elizabeth were reunited after Elizabeth saw an apparition, which led her to believe her father – as Shaman – was the only person who could discover what it wanted. After strolling into his office in her usual abrupt manner, Elizabeth and Shaman were reunited. [Alpha Flight (first series) #15] They battled Ranaq’s vengeance, which also led to the discovery Elizabeth possess some mystic power. [Alpha Flight (first series) #18]

Talisman is the only person capable of looking into Shaman’s medicine pouch and surviving. The Omega Flight member Smart Alec tried to do so, wanting to know its secrets. As he looked into the pouch, he suddenly realized why one cannot look into it. [Alpha Flight (first series) #12]

The original Talisman is a little-known Aborigine character from the original Contest of Champions limited series. He has only appeared in the Contest of Champions and three issues of Quasar (#23-25).

Shaman used his phobia-triggering spell on Diamond Lil who was attacking the wounded Snowbird during the team’s battle with Omega Flight. [Alpha Flight (first series) #12]

The Great Beasts are powerful and ancient beings that roamed the Earth until they were banished to their own dimension by the Arctic Gods. When the barriers of the Beast’s realm grew weak they managed to start returning to Earth. With the Arctic Gods trapped in their own paradise, they created Snowbird to champion against the Beasts’; thus far she and the rest of Alpha Flight have faced off against Tundra and Kolomaq. [Alpha Flight (first series) #1, #6]

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