Alpha Flight (1st series) #23

Issue Date: 
June 1985
Story Title: 
Night of the Beast

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

Brief Description: 

After being tortured by the Arctic Gods for not fulfilling her task, Snowbird learns that one of the Great Beasts in fact inhabits the body of her friend and teammate, Sasquatch. Waking in the apartment of her lover, Doug Thompson, Snowbird is faced with a hard choice, yet deep down knows what she must do. While Sasquatch, Puck and Talisman are discussing the recent encounter Heather Hudson had with her believed-dead husband, they are alerted by Aurora to a super villain attacking down town Vancouver. The four Alphans start to take him down when he injures Sasquatch. Snowbird suddenly shows up and attacks Sasquatch, revealing that indeed a great Beast, Tanaraq, exists within him, and the Beast fully emerges. Aurora does not understand and tries to fight off Snowbird, while Talisman manages to keep Tanaraq at bay for some time while Snowbird reveals that when Walter Langkowski tried to use gamma radiation on himself to turn into another Hulk, he in fact opened the realm of the Great Beasts long enough for one of them to take possession of him. Realizing that there is only one way to stop Tanaraq, Snowbird transforms into an albino Sasquatch and after fighting with Tanaraq, rips out his heart. With the physical form of Walter dead, Snowbird reveals that they can still save his soul – by journeying to the realm of the Great Beasts and try to rescue him from there.

Full Summary: 

Stop! Please stop! Why are you doing this? You’re killing me! Her name is Narya, better known as Snowbird, one of Canada’s finest – Alpha Flight, and she lies in a pit of spikes, her garments torn, scratches line her body and she cries out those words in pain. Narya glances up from her bed of spikes at her tormentors – her family in the Arctic Gods. Her mother Nelvanna, grandfather Hodiak and the Shaper all stare down at Narya as Hodiak informs her that she will not die, for death is too swift and final. Narya’s mother bitterly tells her that death is too easy for one such as she as Shaper declares Narya a traitor to all that lives!

Fire burns around Narya as she tries to crawl towards her family, proclaiming that she is no traitor for she has served her family every day of her life, fighting and nearly dying for them! She screams as the fire touches her and the Shaper asks Narya if she has really done what she proclaims to, suggesting she does not add lies to already great crime, adding that it is enough she has already betrayed the solemn trust they placed in her. Exhausted, confused and upset, Narya asserts that she has betrayed no trust, and begs the gods to listen to her. She reminds them that she was put upon the Earth to battle the Great Beasts, whenever and wherever they may appear, which she has done so three times now, and each time she has succeeded, and not failed.

The Shaper angrily tells Narya that her conception of what “failure” is and what it is not must be very different from theirs. He agrees that Narya is correct in what her task is, but informs her that she has not fought them each time that they have appeared. Using his powers, the Shaper tells Narya to watch the image he casts, for it is the form of the fourth Great Beast. The image begins to take clear shape as the Shaper tells Narya to tell them now that she has not failed them and failed to defeat them wherever they may have appeared. Narya watches in horror as the form reveals the shape of one of her closest friends and teammates – Sasquatch! And she begins to cry, putting her head in her hands, she turns away from the Gods.

No! Snowbird suddenly wakes, sitting up on the couch in a modest house, Doug Thompson of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police puts his hand on his new lover and tells her to take it easy. Queasy after everything the Gods just put her through, though she looks fine now, Snowbird wonders where she is and asks Doug if it is really he. Doug replies that it is he and suggests to Narya that she lies back ands tries to rest before informing her that she was in a bad state when she turned up at his home last night, adding that she doesn’t seem to be improving. He tells Narya that he will get her some tea to make her feel better.

Narya sits up and sits on the edge of the couch, head in her hands again she tells Doug that she would not be improving, and how could she be – for she has just seen her whole world, her very life turned upside down. She informs Douglas that she has failed the trust of her mother and grandfather - and now she has to vindicate herself, though she cannot even contemplate what she has to do, for it is too terrible. But I must do it! I must! To do otherwise would be to deny my destiny, deny my existence, she exclaims confused, before Doug asks her what it is she has to do. Clenching her fists and with a heavy heart, Narya tells Doug that it is only the most dreadful deed she could conceive of, short of killing him I must now destroy one of my closest friends!

Elsewhere, Elizabeth Talisman a.k.a. Talisman, the newest member of Alpha Flight, has her teammate Eugene Milton Judd, a.k.a. the diminutive Puck, in a headlock. Judd cries out that Elizabeth is killing him, when the young woman apologizes and releases her grip – only to find herself flung over Judds’ body where she lands on a mat. Judd reminds Elizabeth that he warned her before they started the training exercise to not get faked out, as in the field it could cost her her life. He tells her that they are going to go again, and smiling, Elizabeth agrees, calling Judd the boss – and extending her leg she knocks Judd back with a kick. Judd congratulates her, adding that he did not even see it coming as Elizabeth tackles him.

Suddenly the door to the gym swings open and the handsome Dr. Walter Langkowski stands at the entrance looking at Judd and Elizabeth he asks them if they are sure that this is a training exercise as he has seen people at drive-in-movies having less of a good time! Embarrassed, Elizabeth greets Walt as Judd asks him how Heather is doing. Walt informs him that Heather is sleeping, and that it appears to be a peaceful sleep, he hopes it is, especially as Heather has been through so much in the past few months. He adds that he is surprised she has held it together for so long and as well as she has considering she was in the same room as her husband when he was blasted to ashes.

Walt asks Elizabeth if she is sure about what Heather said she saw the other night. Elizabeth un-braids her hair and she says that she herself never saw anything – not that it would have mad any difference she knows, as she had never met Guardian before. However Heather swears she saw her husband on the street, and Elizabeth is inclined to believe her, adding that she never really understood what was meant by someone “looking as if they’d seen a ghost”, but after seeing Heather’s eyes, she now knows. Stroking his beard, Judd thinks something is suspect about the whole situation, for based on Heather’s description of Mac’s death, he cannot imagine anyway possible that he could have survived the blast.

Leaving the gym, all wearing coats to keep them warm, Judd, Walt and Elizabeth are still talking about the sudden supposed reappearance of Mac and Walt wonders why, if Mac survived the blast, it took so long to get in touch with them. Judd agrees, and wonders why he, if it were Guardian, would run away from Heather like that. He wishes that Elizabeth could have seen him or that there was some way of knowing for sure. Walt agrees, but suggests it doesn’t answer the biggest question – good guys do come back from the dead, but not as often as the bad ones…. Elizabeth says that it only seems to happen to the “big-guns” of the super-hero business, like Captain America and the Sub-Mariner. Elizabeth admits that the whole situation gives her the chills, thinking she has already had as much weirdness as she can handle and wishes her father was here as this is more in his department.

Suddenly, a voice calls to Walter, it is his girlfriend and teammate, Aurora. The young French-Canadian flies over to her teammates and as Walter asks if something is wrong with Heather, Aurora reports that Heather is still asleep, but that there was an announcement on the radio about someone on a rampage downtown – someone who sounded like a genuine super-villain. Puck jokes that it is about time, and everyone follows Walt as he says C’mon Alpha Flight, lets go break some heads!

Downtown, an armored being fires his weapons at police and tears up the surrounding area. He introduces himself as Caliber, and boasts that his armored combat suit holds enough firepower to waste armies! He declares that the whole city of Vancouver is now his hostage and that he will start to execute its citizens unless his demands are met. Better make sure one of those demands is for a new writer, pal, says a voice from behind Caliber, and as he turns around he comes face to face with Alpha Flight! Now transformed into Sasquatch, Walt jokes that Caliber has exhausted his cliché allotment for this quarter, but Caliber ignores that comment and boasts that Alpha Flight is the kind of challenge he has been waiting for, ‘the kind of challenge I deserve’. He fires a blast at Sasquatch, who tells Caliber that it is nice to be recognized, but he thinks they are a little out of his league – until the blast hits Sasquatch in the chest, and it actually knocks him over.

Aurora asks her lover if he is all right and Walt replies that he thinks so, but for Aurora not to worry about him, as they need to take down Caliber, and fast. Puck does a series of somersaults and the witty Alphan snaps that Walt may be lying down on the job, ‘but Puck isn't!’ Caliber is unable to shoot Judd who is too quick for him, and frustrated he tells Judd to hold still. Appearing nearby, Talisman is armed with her magickal powers and tells Caliber that he should know that that is not how the game is played, and tells him if he wants to be the bad guy then he has to get used to the good guys stepping on his face. Caliber is somewhat puzzled by Elizabeth as she just stands there and talks to him without using her powers, and seeing he is confused, Elizabeth tells him that it is called misdirection, chrome-dome, before shouting now to Aurora.

Aurora smiles and takes to the air using her powers to create a blinding light, but Caliber suddenly grabs her, and tells her that he knew she would have expected him to be clumsy and slow but that he is actually quite fast. Aurora smiles, and exclaims that she has other tricks up her sleeve and unleashes a powerful blinding light in Caliber’s eyes. Seeing that the enemy is momentarily blinded, Sasquatch gets up and tells his teammates to clear out of the way so he can finish him off. Holding his shoulder from where Caliber shot him, Walt informs the armored man that the punch he is about to throw will hurt him more than he. Walt smashes Caliber back and Aurora walks up to him, seeing that something is wrong she asks if he is all right. Walt starts to walk away, informing Aurora that he will be okay.

Talisman asks Aurora what is wrong with Sasquatch, and she mentions that something is wrong with the way he sounds too. Concerned, Aurora informs her young teammate that she thinks Caliber’s shot hurt Walt more than he is letting on, before adding that in the past Sasquatch has sometimes lost control of the beastly nature when he was in great pain. Looking to the sky, Judd tells the women that he doesn’t want to sound like he doesn’t care about Walt, ‘but has anyone else noticed how dark it’s getting?’ Elizabeth concurs, and she and Judd stare in horror as they watch their most powerful teammate, Snowbird, in fury transform into an ookpik and flying towards Sasquatch she cries Beast, thy hour is struck! In the name of Hodiak she condemns the man who was once her friend and the giant owl plows into Sasquatch’s chest, using her beak to draw blood, and Sasquatch lets out a mighty roar.

Aurora, Talisman and Puck are frozen at the sight of Snowbird attacking Sasquatch, Aurora is concerned for Walt, while Judd believes Snowbird has cracked and is trying to kill him. As the ookpik continues to plow into Sasquatch, Aurora takes to the air telling her teammates that they have to help him. But she does not hear Talisman tell her to wait, for she senses something amiss. Aurora grabs Snowbird and tries to pull her away from Walt in. Snowbird tells Aurora that she does not know what she is doing, but this moment the two women are squabbling gives Sasquatch the chance he needs and bats his girlfriend and close friend away.

Aurora lies on the ground and looks up as the man she believes to be her lover walks over to her. However the voice is not that of Walter Langkowski, and grinning, “Sasquatch” calls Aurora “mortal female” and thanking her for her assistance informs her that she has earned reward of him. Confused, Aurora is helpless to move as “Sasquatch” picks her up by her scarf she wears and he tells her that he will grant her a quick and merciful death. Aurora exclaims that he is not Walter and Talisman takes the lead, telling Judd to go help Snowbird while she goes and saves Aurora. Judd reminds Elizabeth that she can only use her powers when there is magic about, and has no chance of stopping Sasquatch. Talisman calls back that she can sense some mystical forces and asks him again to help Snowbird while she sees if there is something she can tap into.

Talisman glows with power and orders Sasquatch – if that is really whom he is – to hold, declaring herself the One Foretold and informs him that the mystic forces surging about her are hers to command. “Sasquatch” smiles and replies that he can see Elizabeth’s hidden fires, adding that there is a truth – but only a half truth – in her words, for he realizes she is a novice and her powers have yet to face a true test. He tells her to face it now and Elizabeth cries out in pain as her powers backfire on her.

Over by Snowbird, who has returned to her default form, Judd curses, as he knew something like this would happen, for while Talisman has got guts, she is just an untrained and unskilled kid. Collecting herself, Snowbird declares that Elizabeth has enough power, as the Talisman is the ward against all and any evil – but only if her human nature does not betray her.

Elizabeth gathers herself and sends a mighty blast of power at “Sasquatch” while she agrees with him that she is not wise enough to be on guard against all his tricks, but what she lacks up for in wisdom, she certainly makes up for in strength. Judd realizes that Elizabeth is holding her own before asking Snowbird what has happened with Sasquatch. That is not Sasquatch, the goddess replies, before revealing that‘nor was it ever. Snowbird begins to inform Judd of Walter’s origin, starting with how he hoped to under controlled conditions duplicate the nuclear accident that once transformed Bruce Banner into the Hulk. Because of the potential danger of radiation leaks, Walter performed his experiment in an isolated area far to the North of the Arctic Circle.

Continuing with Walt’s story, Narya reveals that at first it seemed as if Langkowski had been successful, and was able to transform himself at will into the creature he dubbed “Sasquatch”. Snowbird knows now however, that it was not so much as transformation, but transposition, for Walter had unleashed for a fraction of a second enough physical energy to break the mystical barrier that held the Great Beasts. Snowbird proclaims that a mystical symbiosis was formed between Langkowski and the Great Beast called Tanaraq allowing Walter to summon the Beast and control him. However, with each exchange the Beast grew stronger and his personality slowly became dominant so that Tanaraq was able to take complete control whenever Langkowski’s soul was weakened by anger or pain, such as now.

Judd declares that this is all incredible and asks what they can do to stop Tanaraq, realizing that Talisman may not have much stamina to carry on. Solemnly, and with death in her eye, Narya informs Judd that there is only one thing to be done, for only one for there is only one force great enough to stop this Beast, and with a heavy heart she hopes she has the strength to use that force. Snowbird stands back up and reminds Judd that she is a shape-shifter with the power to duplicate all life forms of her Arctic home. As she speaks, Narya’s form begin to change, her mass growing in size she tells Judd that while Walter Langkowski was no native of the North, the creature he created, the melding of himself and Tanaraq was, thus a “technicality” provides the means to destroy Tanaraq – Sasquatch!

Where once stood Snowbird, now stands a white-furred Sasquatch, who lumbers up to Tanaraq and tells him to face his undoing! Tanaraq turns to the white Sasquatch and tells Narya that she is clever, but as he rips up the concrete and pushes it against Narya, thus pushing her down to the ground, he tells her she is not clever enough. Tanaraq declares that while Snowbird now has his shape, she does not have the power. Snowbird smashes through the concrete, sending shards of it up into Tanaraq’s face and she tells him that he is wrong! Now Narya begins to push concrete towards Tanaraq, informing him that she matches him strength for strength, for that is Snowbird’s power.

Tanaraq swings a car at Snowbird declaring that he will destroy her quickly before she tax his strength. He regrets this, as he had hoped to give Snowbird out of all the Alphans a long and painful death. Snowbird exclaims that it shall not be she who dies this day, but he. Tanaraq replies that Narya is full of bold words, but that he is older than the world and she is less than a babe, with not the heart for such matters. Talisman holds Aurora back as they and Judd watch as Snowbird in her albino Sasquatch form declares perhaps not, Beast, but now, neither have you! And with that Snowbird digs the Sasquatch’s claws into the chest of her friend possessed and rips out his heart.

Saddened, Narya exclaims that it is done, and the form of Sasquatch/Tanaraq disappears and the form of Walter Langkowski falls to the ground. Aurora cries out and rushes over to her lover and lies across his broken body, distraught that Snowbird had killed him. Changing back to her regular form, Snowbird tells Aurora that it was necessary, to which Talisman asks the goddess how it can be necessary to kill a man you’ve worked with for years. Calmly, Snowbird reveals that the Great Beast had taken complete control of Walter’s physical form and so to destroy the Beast, it was necessary to destroy Walter’s physical form.
Judd walks up and asks Snowbird if she is ‘picking your words as carefully as I hope you are?’ Reminding her she said it was necessary to destroy the physical form. Snowbird turns to her ancient teammate and applauds him for being so perceptive before revealing that while his body is now dead, the soul of Walter Langkowski survives elsewhere. This gets Aurora’s attention and she rushes over to Snowbird asking where Walter is and exclaiming that they must bring him back. Narya tells Aurora to consider well before asking such thing, as Walter’s spirit was transferred with that of Tanaraq. The icy goddess declares that to save the soul of Walter Langkowski – if they can save him at all – would be a task more severe than any ever faced by mortal men. She reveals that they would need to cross the dimensional barriers, leaving behind Earth, and entering the plane of existence where evil rules – the Kingdom of the Great Beasts!

Characters Involved: 

Aurora, Puck, Sasquatch, Snowbird, Talisman II (all Alpha Flight)
Doug Thompson

Hodiak, Nelvanna, the Shaper (All Arctic Gods)



Story Notes: 

Snowbird was put upon the Earth to be a champion against the Great Beasts, because only a demi-god could break the barrier that the gods were trapped behind. [Back story in Alpha Flight (first series) #7-8] She has faced and defeated the three Great Beasts that have appeared since her birth. [Alpha flight (first series) #1, 6, 19]

It first became evident that the Arctic Gods were unhappy with Snowbird when a stain appeared on the ground she stood on. Later, they would strike her out of the sky while she was flying, though she knew only they could have done it to her, she did not know why. [Alpha Flight (first series) #14, 18]

The first hint that Walter Langkowski a.k.a. Sasquatch may have been more than meets the eye occurred in a flashback story when Snowbird went to find him in the Arctic Circle where he experimented on himself with gamma radiation, which everyone believed to be the source of his powers. Snowbird herself thought that Sasquatch might have even broken the barriers restraining the Great Beasts. [Back story in Alpha Flight (first series) #11] Then throughout the Alpha Flight series Sasquatch came to have uncontrollable rages. [Alpha Flight (first series) #2, 12]

Heather walked into a room while searching for her husband, Guardian, only to see him blown to ashes in front of her when his super suit malfunctioned. [Alpha Flight (first series) #12]

Heather thought she saw her supposedly deceased husband Mac while out with Talisman, Heather chased after him, but Talisman didn’t get to see him. [Alpha Flight (first series) #22]

Issue Information: 
Written By: