Alpha Flight (1st series) #5

Issue Date: 
December 1983
Story Title: 
<BR>What fools these mortals be... (1st story)<BR>Deathwatch (2nd story)

John Byrne (writer, penciler), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Andy Yanchus (colorist), Denny O’Neil (editor), Jim Shooter (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

First story: Wounded after Marrina disemboweled him, Puck is being cared for at a hospital in Fort Albany, where he is a favorite of the nurses. One night when he experiences pain and no one comes after he pushes the buzzer for assistance, Puck leaves his ward to look for a nurse. Judd stumbles upon what appears to be a nurse taking drugs. After he does some snooping around the hospital, and finds diluted painkillers, Judd decides to alert the chief administrator of the hospital who accepts his offer to find the drug ring. On his first night investigating, Judd follows some dealers whom he saw with the nurse and ends up at a run down boatshed. Judd is seen and attacked at by the three men, though Judd manages to knock them out, but not without doing serious harm to himself, and he phones the police just before he blacks out. Back in the hospital Judd is thanked by a police sergeant for busting the drug ring they have been searching looking for. When the inspector leaves, the chief administrator prepares to give Judd another shot of painkillers, though Judd, who suspects the ring is not entirely closed down, sees through the doctor‘s guise and realizes him to be the ringleader for the dope ring. He knocks the syringe out of his hand and realizes that he was about to kill him.

Second story: Dr. Michael Twoyoungmen meets with his ailing grandfather and tells the old man that he wants nothing to do with him or the old ways. When Twoyoungmen leaves, his grandfather tells a companion that his grandsons’ destiny is already determined, and he will return to him soon. Upon arriving home to his daughter Elizabeth and her baby-sitter Heather McNeil, Michael discovers that he must go to the hospital urgently, as something has happened with his wife. The doctor tells Michael that Katheryn Twoyoungmen’s condition is more serious than they thought, and there is nothing they can do to help her. Over the coming months, Michael researches everything on his wife’s condition to try and save her, and promises his daughter Elizabeth that he will save Katheryn. Soon after Katheryn dies and Elizabeth tells her father he is a liar before running off from him. Heather McNeil's’ father Ramsey tells Michael that she can live with him and his family, and tells Michael that he needs some time for himself, after all he read that his grandfather died today also.

Full Summary: 

First story:

At a Fort Albany hospital, Ontario. Dr. Michael Twoyoungmen tells Eugene Milton Judd a.k.a. Puck of Alpha Flight that his condition is stable, but he is not entirely out of the woods yet. Twoyoungmen says that if Puck has nothing further he would like of him, he will leave. In his hospital bed, Puck tells his teammate, a.k.a. Shaman that he is flattered he even stuck around this long, and to get back to his own business. After all, he has a team of some of the best doctors in Canada watching over him, and a hospital full of nurses feeding and bathing him, and all falling victim to his irresistible charms, and asks the doctor what more could any man want?
The blond nurse in the room asks Michael Twoyoungmen if there is anything else he wants, as she is off duty in a few minutes, though she tells him she would be happy to stay if he requires her to. Twoyoungmen thanks nurse Cambridge for her time and assistance, but tells her that that will be all for now.

Walking out into the corridor, Margaret Cambridge turns a corner and walks up to three other nurses. One of the nurses says to the others that he, referring to Puck, is one of the most adorable things she has ever seen, but wonders who he is to get someone like Michael Twoyoungmen looking after him? Another nurse says she doesn’t know, but it was some “government types” that bought him in. As Margaret meets the other nurses, the young dark-haired one asks Margaret if she has figured out why Twoyoungmen is looking after Judd? An elderly nurse says she doesn’t really care, and just wants to take home with her a “six-pack of Judds”. The brunette nurse says that Judd is a charmer, and that while he talks like a bar room brawler, he reads Shakespeare! Margaret Cambridge tells the other three that all she knows is that if someone in Nursing School had told her she would be swapping bedpans with Dr. Twoyoungmen, well, she would have just about died on the spot!

Back in Judd‘s ward, Michael Twoyoungmen tells Judd that with the nurse gone, he wonders if perhaps there is anything else he can do, not as his doctor, but as Shaman? Puck tells Shaman that he is okay for now, the pain gets pretty bad sometimes, but he just focuses past it. Michael tells him he is on the maximum allowable dosage of painkillers and shouldn’t be experiencing any excessive pain at the moment. Shaman offers to stay in case there are any unexpected complications, but Puck tells his friend that he will be fine, and that pain and him are “old friends”, it comes with being built the way he is. Puck reminds Shaman that if he needs him he can use the Alpha Flight call signal. Shaman agrees, and tells him that he could also invoke the name of the Great Spirit, and Snowbird will communicate his need to him. Puck tells Twoyoungmen that just as long as Snowbird herself does not come to the hospital, as she scares the “bejeebers” out of him. Shaman tells Puck that while he is not alone in his feelings about the goddess, Snowbird is a vital member of Alpha Flight. As Shaman leaves he tells his diminutive friend to get some rest.

Judd looks up from his book, as the elderly nurse from the corridor comes into his room telling him it is time for his bath. “Another one!” grins Puck. He asks the nurse if they think he is the dirtiest patient in the hospital, and tells her this time he will tell her about the time he went tiger hunting in Nepal. Judds laughter is infectious.

(nine hours later)

At night however, Judd is not laughing because of the pain. Puck thinks to himself as he cringes that he has put up with a lot in his life, but never has he been disemboweled. Puck decides he cannot focus past it, and presses his beeper for a nurse and a shot. But as the painful minutes go by and no one comes, Puck, despite his terrible pain, gets out of bed, thinking he best go and see what is going on. Puck thinks that the Matterhorn was easier than climbing out of bed and that if Shaman saw him doing this he would “pitch a fit”. Puck opens his door and thinks that he has got to find out what happened to the nurses, and that he has been playing this game too long to let anything like this just slide by. It could be nothing, but Judds’ instincts tell him to check it out.

As he edges down the hallway Puck now thinks that he could just ignore his instincts for a change and go back to bed though! As he reaches the nurses station he discovers it unmanned, but decides they couldn’t all be on call. He looks in the nurse lounge, to no avail either until he spots someone in the storeroom. Puck listens outside the storeroom door, and decides that whoever is in there is wearing rubber soled shoes, and moving very quiet, as to not get heard perhaps. Opening the door, Puck is surprised to see Nurse Daly in there. Surrounded by containers of pills on a bench, also a siring, Nurse Daly is startled, and pulls down her sleeves with some sort of rope in her hand, she asks Puck what he is doing out of his bed.

As she ushers Judd out of the storeroom, he tells her to never mind what he is doing, and asks why she was sneaking around. The nurse hesitates, but finally tells Judd that she wasn’t sneaking, just being quiet, after all this is a hospital, and they are supposed to be as quiet as possible. Nurse Daly tells him to get back to his room. Back in his bed, Nurse Daly asks Judd how he thinks Dr. Twoyoungmen would react to this, Judd even pulled his intravenous out. As Nurse Daly prepares a shot of painkillers for Judd, he notices her trembling hands as the drug transfers from the bottle to the syringe. He thinks to himself, that by the way she is shaking he is glad that she is sticking it into his I.V. and not his arm.

When the nurse leaves, the painkiller works its way through Eugene Judds’ body, but he still cannot get to sleep. As he lays awake, Judd thinks that Nurse Daly has always been a bit on the hyper side, and nervous too. Eugene thinks she is exactly the type of person who is a candidate for what he thinks he saw going on earlier that night, but the charges are too serious unless he has real proof.

(the next day)

When morning returns, it brings with it another wave of frenetic activity to the house of the healing. As an orderly pushes a bed down the hallway, Puck, thinking to himself that he must be really sneaky this time, jumps onto it, and hides beneath the overhanging cloth, clinging to the metallic frame. Several minutes later, Puck darts off, without the orderly seeing him. He thinks to himself that the easy part is over, now the hard part is getting past the nurses station desk.
Soon, Puck slips into the storeroom, glad that the nurse finally left from her coffee break, and decides that if he ever has to do this again, he will need a less open access.

Puck begins to search through medicine cupboards, his skilled fingers were all it took to open the combination lock. Upon discovering the painkillers, Eugene decides that is what they are, and that if Nurse Daly were getting ready to shoot up, it would have been with these. He doesn’t think that any are missing – suddenly, holding two bottles up, Judd discovers that the contents of one bottle is slightly lighter in color than the other. While it is hardly noticeable, it looks as if it had been diluted. Puck reaches further into the cabinet for some more stock. He notices the same color dilution, and decides that the strength of the painkillers appears to have been cut in half. Judd doesn’t believe that Nurse Daly could be using that much herself, and decides he must have stumbled onto more than just one junkie nurse. Suddenly the opening of the back door startles Puck.

Puck reacts fast, and after locking the cabinet, and despite all of his pain cartwheels, he leaps up onto a set of shelves, overlooking the door. A bearded man enters the storeroom, though he is just the delivery man. Judd decides, that even so, best not to let anyone see him. As the man leaves, Judd climbs down from the shelves, and thinks that if there is a stolen drug traffic ring in this hospital he will need more evidence before he acts. Judd decides that he best alert the hospital authorities, as to who he is, and what he is doing. Puck is overcome by pain again, and while Shamans Indian magicks accelerated his healing, he could still rip him self open if he tried another stunt like the cartwheel and leap he just did.

A few minutes later, Puck is in the chief administrator’s office, Puck tells Dr. Craigborne that what he needs is for the security people to look the other way for a while, as he investigates. Dr. Craigborne tells Judd that while he appreciates the offer, that if this matter is as serious as Puck believes it to be, than he would like to inform the police. Eugene asks the doctor to give him forty-eight hours to do their job for them. Dr. Craigborne tells Judd that while it goes against his best instincts, his credentials as a member of Alpha Flight are enough to sway him this time. Craigborne tells Eugene that he is rather surprised as to him taking him into confidence about his secret identity. Eugene replies that there is nothing secret about it, and with Puck and Judd at the same hospital, it won’t take much to put two and two together. Dr. Craigborne wishes Judd good luck.

(at night)

Again Eugene Judd sneaks from his bed, though this time he ditches the bed gown he has been wearing, and dons his super hero costume, which Shaman mystically restructured. Judd decides that his costume is tight enough to hold his stomach together, in case the stitches should tear. He thinks that this shouldn’t be too strenuous though, after all, he is only playing detective, and will leave the rough stuff to the police. Walking through a service tunnel in the hospital Judd thinks that whoever the drug dealers are they are not very concerned with covering their tracks, and he can see the trail they have left in the tunnel.

As Judd leaves the hospital, he finds his first major clue, a beat up yellow van. At closer investigation, the driver passes Nurse Daly some of the drugs. Daly complains that he promised her a whole month’s supply, to which the dealer tells her that she is getting greedy, sneaking drugs on her own time. As the van drives off, Judd runs up and decides that if he is clever he may have the whole ring caught in one night. He jumps onto the back of the vehicle, holding onto the back door hand handles while standing on the bumper.

(30 minutes later)

Way beyond Fort Albany’s city limits, the van arrives at a boathouse, which Puck thinks is not as abandoned as it looks. As one of the dealers’ opens the shed door, Puck climbs onto the roof of the van as to not get seen, and just in time too, as a third man is in the boathouse. Judd decides to listen to them before he bashes them. The third man asks how everything went, to which the driver, who calls him Morrie, tells him it went fine, and that he shouldn’t worry so much. Morrie says that he has reason to worry that he has been in jail too many times already, and that if he takes the fall this time, he will be locked up and the key thrown away. Morrie says that tonight’s run was too rushed for him, and he likes warning.

Suddenly the second man spots Puck on top of the van. With his cover blown Puck introduces himself to the druggies, and quickly after kicking Morrie and the driver in the face, he cartwheels over to the second man showing everyone why he is called Puck. Morrie regains consciousness and asks what a “midget in a monkey suit” is doing here, before trying to whack Judd with a fishing pole. Puck tells him that firstly they are called “little People”, and secondly he is a dwarf, not a midget, and the condition he has is called achondroplasty, which involves lack of growth in the long bones. Bouncing off the van, and kicking at Morrie he tells him that he probably knew that though.

Cringing, Puck thinks that Morrie will stay down for now, but he thinks that the move he pulled may have also ripped some of his stitches out. As blood starts to leak from Pucks’ costume, he spies a telephone, and crawls over to it, but, as he reaches for the phone, he doesn’t think he will be able to make it. Puck blackens out.

(hours later)

Puck awakes to find himself back in his hospital bed, with Dr. Craigborne and inspector McNamara at his side. The inspector tells Judd he is glad that he is okay after the big favor he did for them, busting up that dope ring. McNamara tells Judd that they have been trying for months to find out where that supply was originating, and now thanks to Judd, they have the dealers in custody. Puck tells him that it was his pleasure, and asks how they managed to find him though.
Sergeant McNamara tells Puck that de did manage to call the police, and that he was lucky the officer who took his call believed he was with Alpha Flight. Judd supposes Fort Albany does not see too many super heroes.

Dr. Craigborne tells Puck that will be likely to see one less if he does not get any rest. Walking into the corridor, the sergeant tells Dr. Craigborne that Judd is quite a guy, and that he knows six-footers who would have folded before Judd did, and compliments Craigborne on the way he stitched Judd back up. Dr. Craigborne says that he might not have done enough, with the extent of his injuries being so serious. The doctor tells McNamara that he didn’t want to say anything in front of Puck, but there is a high probability that he will not live through the night. The inspector is surprised as he says Judd looks so healthy. The doctor says that as he is on painkillers at the moment, it makes him look better than he actually is.

Craigborne re-enters Judds hospital room, and asks him if he knows just how lucky he is to still be with them. Judd says that he is. Judd tells the doctor that he wished inspector McNamara would have stayed longer, as he is not entirely convinced the drug ring is closed. Craigborne asks how so. Judd tells him that there has to be a top man behind the goons that someone is still out there. The doctor tells Judd he should get some more rest and not worry about it. Judd tells him he has an awful lot to think about, and he doesn’t believe poor nurse Daly was the mastermind of the ring. Craigborne tells Judd that she claimed to be a pawn of the thugs, and pulls out some painkiller and a syringe, telling Judd he needs a long rest.

Suddenly Judd leaps up from his resting position and punches the doctor saying “But not as long as you’re planning, eh?” Judd tells Craigborne that he was a little too clever in getting his goons to beat him up like that, Puck continues saying it was a little too convenient that he would catch the thugs first night. The doctor protests, telling Eugene that he doesn’t know what he is talking about. Judd tells him to stop acting, and picking up the medicine bottle, Puck confirms his suspicions that there were two labels, and as he rips the top one labeled painkiller off, it reveals the one beneath, labeled insulin. Puck knows that an overdose of insulin is enough to kill, and it won’t show up in the autopsy unless specifically looked for. Puck asks Craigborne what happened? Did he get nurse Daly hooked, or did he catch her in the act and use her as a front? Before the doctor can answer, Judd tells him not to answer, as he has no sympathy for a druggie like Nurse Daly, but he has even less sympathy for someone like him, the kind of people that create junkies. Puck says he better call the desk and have them send sergeant McNamara back, as he didn’t collect all of the rubbish.

Second story:

(Set fifteen years in the past)

At a secret place, near the Sarcee Reservation outside Calgary, Alberta. Dr. Michael Twoyoungmen stands before his frail grandfather, who tells him that he cannot deny his heritage, and that his path is pre-ordained. Michael tells his grandfather that while his father may have believed in him and his ancient “mumbo-jumbos” he does not. He says that this is the age of science and everyday great men, great minds peel back another layer of the universe, and solve another mystery. Michael continues, telling his grandfather that he is a scientist, a doctor, and that he has been called the best surgeon in all of Canada. That he has a wife and a daughter and a thriving medical practice. The man who would become known as Shaman asks his grandfather if he would have him sacrifice all of that for something only he alone believes in?

Twoyoungmen’s grandfather tells his grandson that he must, for his time is at an end, and the old knowledge must be passed from blood to blood. Walking out of his grandfathers cave, Twoyoungmen tells the frail old man that his father is dead. He apologizes to his grandfather, and tells him that his father’s death set him free of his final bond to his grandfather and the old ways. Inside the cave, the old man‘s female companion tells the old Indian that she is surprised he refused, and asks if Michael does not know the power he refuses? Michael’s grandfather replies that he knows, but the white man‘s teachings have put clouds upon his wisdom, and so there is much he must forget, in order for him to remember. The old man tells the woman that there is a great test ahead, and Michael will come back. Back to his ways, and his teachings, only Michael doesn’t know it yet.

Back in the suburbs of Calgary, as Michael Twoyoungmen pulls up at his home, a red-headed girl in her early teens tells the younger Native American, Elizabeth, that her father is home. Picking his daughter up, Michael asks Elizabeth how she is? The young girl replies that she is fine, and that she and her baby-sitter have been playing “Barbie”, and that Barbie and Ken are going to get married and have a baby – maybe three! Michael laughs, and says he detects the McNeil influence. Turning to the redheaded girl, Heather McNeil, Michael asks her how she and that ever-expanding family of hers are? Heather replies that she is fine, as her brothers, and that her mother is going to have another baby, even though she said the same thing last time! Heather tells Dr. Twoyoungmen that Doctor Bassaraba called also, and he would like to be called back.

Inside his home, Michael begins to talk to Doctor Bassaraba, only Michael’s words can be made out, but it is obviously something important being told to him, as Michael’s words become rather urgent, and he tells the doctor that he will come right away. Twenty minutes later, at the Chinook Centre Medical Building, Katheryn Twoyoungmen sits anxiously on an examination bed as Dr. Bassaraba tells her that he would like to have her admitted to hospital for a few days tests and observation. Katheryn agrees if he really thinks it is necessary. A nurse interrupts, and tells Dr. Bassaraba that there is someone here to see him.

In his office, Dr. Bassaraba tells Michael that he is glad he could make it, the situation may have been more serious than he thought. Michael tells Max not to play “doctor talk” with him, and asks what is wrong with his wife. Dr. Bassaraba does just that, using precise terms that few laymen could understand, and he does not skirt the issue, or attempt to soften the blow, as he has too much respect for the younger doctor. Whatever words, however spoken, the results are still the same. Dr. Bassaraba tells Michael he is sorry, and that if there was anything he could do. Twoyoungmen tells him there is nothing anyone can do though.

Suddenly Michael goes from solemn to angry, and says that he is Michael Twoyoungmen, and he is supposed to be the best doctor in the country, and that it is time he proved it. Dr. Bassaraba tells Michael that even he knows it is madness for a doctor to treat his own family, and that he can honestly do no more than anyone else. Max tells Michael that if he involves himself, then Katheryn will immediately know how serious her condition is. Michael tells the other doctor that he knows, and they are supposed to spare the patient any unnecessary anguish, but she is the woman he loves. Entering the examination room, Michael says he is going to do everything in his power to save Katheryn.

During the long months that follow, Twoyoungmen becomes a man driven by the great black cloud that is hopelessness. It crowds around him, closer and closer blocking away all the light.
He becomes almost a ghost, haunting the halls and labs of Foothills hospital at every hour, never far from his wife or instruments of his profession. Even those rare moments Michael Twoyoungmen is home, he is in his small office, buried in textbooks, searching. Until one night. As Michael scours another textbook, his daughter Elizabeth enters his office, asking her father when her mother is coming home. Heather McNeil follows, apologizing to Michael for being disturbed. Michael says it is all right, and beckons his daughter in.

Sitting on her fathers’ knees, Elizabeth tells him that she wants to go to the hospital, as she hasn’t seen her mother in such a long time. The young girl‘s father tells her that it was only a few days since their last visit, and that she needs to understand that her mother is very sick and only doctors can see her at the moment. Elizabeth reminds her father that he is a doctor, and asks him if he is going to make her mother all better. Hugging her, Michael says he will, he promises he will. Standing at the door of the office, young Heather McNeil thinks to herself that she hopes he can, because her mother says Katheryn is dying!

One day not long after, Dr. Bassaraba pulls a sheet over Katheryn’s face. For while dying can be long and hard, for some it brings release from pain at last. Michael puts his hand on Elizabeth and tells her that he should better get her home. ‘Don’t touch me! Liar! Liar!’ Elizabeth shouts to her father. Heather McNeil tries to console her, but as Elizabeth runs out of the room, the young girl is clearly upset as she says that he would have made her mother all better, and that she hates him. Michael calls after, but Elizabeth chooses not to listen.

As Heather and her mother Claire McNeil console Elizabeth, Ramsey McNeil, who had been waiting outside the room with his wife, goes up to Twoyoungmen, and tells him that Claire and he will look after Elizabeth until she cries it out, as he has enough to worry about. Michael protests that Ramsey and Claire have seven kids already and another on the way to worry about. A storm flashes outside, as lightening strikes and the rain pours down. Ramsey tells him that he has more than enough grief to deal with, and that Heather will love taking care of Elizabeth. Ramsey hesitates before telling Michael that he thought he read that his grandfather died today as well...

Characters Involved: 

First story:

Puck, Shaman (both Alpha Flight)

Nurse Margaret Cambridge

Nurse Daly

Dr. Craigborne, hospital C.A

Doctors and Nurses at the hospital

Sergeant McNamara

Morrie and other drug dealers

Second story, set in the past:

Dr. Michael Twoyoungmen

Katheryn Twoyoungmen, his wife

Elizabeth Twoyoungmen, his daughter

unnamed grandfather of Michael Twoyoungmen

tribeswoman with the grandfather

Heather McNeil

Ramsey and Claire McNeil, Heather’s parents

Dr. Max Bassaraba

Nurse at the hospital

Story Notes: 

First story:

Puck was mortally wounded by his friend and teammate Marrina, who had an uncontrollable rage in Alpha Flight (1st series) #2. He obviously did not take part in Alpha Flight‘s adventure against the Master of the World, nor did Shaman who was tending to Pucks wounds.

Located in the Swiss Alps, the Matterhorn is on of Europe’s highest mountains.

Second story:

This issue continues with the origins of Alpha Flight, concentrating on Shaman. The rest of his origin is told over the next two issues.

The story marks the first appearance of Elizabeth Twoyoungmen, as a child. She will grow up to be long serving, and long suffering Alpha / Beta Flight member Talisman.

Elizabeth’s hostility to Shaman still remains to this day, though several attempts have been made at reconciliation. Any reconciliation made was short lived.

The eighth child of Ramsey and Claire McNeil is Becky. Heather has six older brothers who all remain unnamed.

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