Alpha Flight (1st series) #80

Issue Date: 
January 1990
Story Title: 
Counter Moves

James D. Hudnall (Writer), John Calimee (Penciler), Mike Manley (Inker), Bob Sharen (Colorist), Janice Chiang (Letterer), Marc McLaurin (Managing Editor), Danny Fingeroth (Editor), Tom DeFalco (Editor-in-Chief)

Brief Description: 

Llan the Sorcerer tries to open the Eye of the World, a.k.a. the Gateway of Night, and recalls how the last Talisman defeated him so many thousands of years ago. Vindicator and Diamond Lil continue to battle Nekra and Scorpion, and soon, Asp and Owl arrive, turning the tide. Box and Sasquatch try to get Talisman to let them help their friends, and after realizing that she may have failed, Talisman sends them to help. However, Gamma Flight have arrived, and they also take on the American villains, and Vindicator realizes that Nekra and the others are acting as if they are being influenced by an outside force - the Sorcerer! She convinces the sorceress Witchfire to search for any signs of the Sorcerer and she does, and the Sorcerer eventually cuts the strings of the puppets, and the American villains fall. With Box and Sasquatch arriving, Gamma Flight them places Alpha Flight and Diamond Lil under arrest. The Sorcerer’s plan worked, as the violence that has been occurring was the key to opening the Eye of the World - and the real violence is about to begin!

Full Summary: 

Near the top of the world is a place of dark power. It’s a well of infinite evil, older than the human race. Some people call it “The Eye of the World”. For thousands of years the eye has been closed. Closed by powerful spells woven in ancient times. The spells are about to be broken, as a powerful being known as Llan the Sorcerer has come to open it. He is a being so ancient that he knows the Eye of the World’s original name: “The Gateway of Night”. The Gateway can only be opened by the proper key - not a metal key forged by man, but a key made from something much more abstract…violence!

Meanwhile, in Winnipeg, violence is indeed being acted out. The woman known as Nekra falls from ten stories - luck for her she has near invulnerability and the strength of one hundred men. She lands on top of a car - she is angry and her temper is rising - which make her powers all the more effective. She growls as Heather “Vindicator” McNeil Hudson, leader of the outlaw Canadian super heroes Alpha Flight, flies down towards her and tells her to give it up. Heather tells Nekra that she doesn’t want to hurt her, but Nekra replies that she wants to hurt Heather, and leaps at her - only to get knocked back by Vindicator’s plasma blasts.

From the Eye of the World, the Sorcerer watches the two women battle. The Sorcerer knows that Vindicator was sent by Talisman to take Nekra back across the border to America, which is exactly what the Sorcerer anticipated, exactly why he summoned Nekra and other fleeing villains into Canada in the first place. The Sorcerer stokes the flames with his mind laughing inwardly. Things are coming along nicely, much better than last time, and he thinks back, to ten thousand years ago.

(Flashbacks 10,000 years ago)

The Earth was a very different place ten thousand years ago. The Talisman was worn by another, a woman who spent many years in preparation for her battles with Llan, mastering her powers and gaining wisdom. When he returned to this plane in his new monster-like form, she was ready for him, and like always, her cleverness foiled his plans. The Talisman prevented Llan from opening the Gateway of Night and tricked him into assuming an inert form. Her magicks prevented him from changing back until he could find a mortal willing to consume him.

Then, Llan in the form of a small token, was buried deep within the Earth, the Talisman hoping that he would never be uncovered. For thousands of years, Llan waited below. Rains without end altered the topsoil, sometimes washing earth away, sometimes adding more. Season upon season passed, while he slowly drew closer to the surface. He knew his moment of escape was about to dawn, it was written in the circling stars above.

When the time finally came, Llan searched for the proper victim, and brought him forth with an effort of will. Using lies and persuasion, Llan stole the mortal’s body and effected the changes. He assumed a form suitable to this strange era of costumed adventures. To the mortals of this world, he would appear as a villain, a costumed malefactor out to commit crimes. Only the current Talisman knows what he really is - but unlike her predecessor, Elizabeth Twoyoungmen has a lot to learn.


Maison Alpha, Edmonton, the new home of Alpha Flight, Canada’s former premiere super hero team, now outlaws in their own country. Elizabeth sits in the middle of the ring she made some days earlier, and admits to her teammate Madison Jeffries a.k.a. Box, that he is right, that she made a mistake. ‘No kidding’ Jeffries remarks, before reminding Talisman that she didn’t even warn them ahead of time, for if she did, he could have got into his armor and been ready to - Walter “Sasquatch” Langkowski tries to calm Jeffries down, but Madison shrug him off, exclaiming that he hasn’t finished.

Jeffries reminds Talisman that she sent Diamond Lil and Heather after a bunch of heavy duty psychos without any explanation or back up. Jeffries informs Elizabeth that the thing she sent to collect Lil blew her through the wall and carried her off into the sky. He exclaims that now he and Walt are sitting around and going crazy, wondering what has happened to their friends and why they can’t go help.

Talisman replies that she knows they are worried, but tells them that they should worry more about the fate of their country. She informs them that the Sorcerer is taking advantage of the conflicts in the United States to lure super-criminals to Canada and that he plans to create an army. Elizabeth explains that she sent Heather and Lil to Winnipeg to prevent this from happening - but now it looks like they may fail!

Walter asks if Heather and Lil lost, and Jeffries raises his voice, demanding to know what happened to his girlfriend and ex-girlfriend. Talisman reveals that Heather and Lillian are both fine, but that Lil’s quarry got away and he is heading toward downtown Winnipeg, where Nekra is. Talisman informs the men that they have to prevent the Scorpion and Nekra from meeting, before revealing that is not the problem - the problem is the government’s new team, Gamma Flight.

Talisman reveals that Gamma Flight have orders to arrest Heather and Lil on sight, and that they are flying towards Winnipeg as they speak. Talisman tells the men that the only chance they have of winning this is if the two of them stall Gamma Flight and tell them what is really going on, revealing that is the reason she held the two of them back.

Elizabeth tells Walt and Madison that they have to convince Gamma Flight to take their side, as the Sorcerer has called in even more criminals from the United States. Ominously, Talisman tells the men that if they do not stop the villains from banding together, then Alpha Flight will soon have a blood bath on their hands.

Meanwhile, in Winnipeg, someone bangs on the door of a men’s room, asking whoever is inside with the door locked if they are going to be long. Inside, Gargan puts on his Scorpion costume, and as the aggravated person waiting to use the room exclaims that he hasn’t go all day, he is suddenly knocked back by the Scorpion’s tail as he shoves the door open. The Scorpion walks over to the man and asks him if he is still in a hurry, before declaring that they all have to go sometime, and stings him with his tail.

Suddenly, a taxi screeches up beside the Scorpion, and upon seeing who gets out of it, the Scorpion exclaims ‘Diamond Lil! Just what I need!’ Diamond Lil tells her driver to hurry and get out of here as the Scorpion tells her that she shouldn’t have followed him, and claiming that he was nice at the airport, he is in a different mood now - a killing mood. Diamond Lil exclaims that she is invulnerable, and tells Gargan that the only one who is going to get hurt around here is him.

‘Maybe,’ smiles the Scorpion, before thrusting his tail at Lil and knocking her back, claiming ‘Maybe not!’ Getting up off the ground, Lil admits that the Scorpion is fast, telling him that she knows all about his super human speed but that it is not going to do him any good. As she looks around though, the Scorpion is gone. ‘Oh great!’ mutters Lil.

At the Eye of the World, the Sorcerer watches these events unfold before him - and everything is going exactly as planned. He laughs, for so far, the new Talisman hasn’t guessed his true purpose. It is true though that Llan is building an army, and that he lured these criminals into Canada. But his reasons are different than what Talisman thinks.

Llan wanted Alpha Flight to intervene, he wanted the ensuing violence that would naturally follow. In the three months that Alpha Flight were away, he influenced the government into forming Gamma Flight, and following that, Alpha Flight was declared illegal under the Canadian Emergency Powers Act - an act originally designed to stop terrorists. That is what Alpha Flight is considered now, as Gamma Flight moves into arrest them. A fight is certain, thinks Llan - beautiful violence.

Even now as the Scorpion moves implacably toward Nekra, downing everyone in his path. He is too obsessed to realize that he is being moved into place - his thoughts are putty in the Sorcerer’s hands.

Elsewhere, two other pawns are about to be shifted onto the board: The Asp is a woman with poisonous skin who can emit deadly energies. The Owl is psychopathic and easily manipulated. To move them into the battle site is to assure the deaths of Vindicator and Diamond Lil.

Llan smiles - all the forces are coming together, and the Sorcerer places hatred in the two villains minds. Hatred for the heroes like those who drove them from their country. Soon, Llan’s pawns will face off with Talisman - and when they do…blood will flow like wine.

Back at Maison Alpha, Jeffries asks Walt if he is ready, and Walt replies ‘Let’s do it!’ Jeffries phases into his Box armor The Box robot has been increased in size, and as Box picks Walt up in his hand he informs him that he is picking up radio stuff from Winnipeg and that it seems like part of downtown has become a battle zone. Walt declares that they had better move in, and Jeffries informs him that he is going to push Box to the max. Walt is strapped into a compartment, and Box takes off for Winnipeg.

Civilians run as Nekra tells Vindicator that she will kill her and that she cannot dodge her forever. Heather tells Nekra to give it up, as sooner or later she knows she will get tired and her powers will wear off. ‘I’ve never felt better!’ Nekra announces as she heaves a car at Vindicator. Heather flies out of the way just in time, knowing that she has to keep Nekra’s rampage contained.

Suddenly, Heather is knocked to the ground by the Scorpion’s tail. And as he leans over her, he exclaims that it looks like he gets to kill a super hero. Nekra runs over to the Scorpion and tells him to leave Vindicator alone, as she is hers. Scorpion suggests that he grabs her arms, Nekra grabs her legs and together they will make a wish.

‘Try wishing me away!’ exclaims Diamond Lil as she grabs Scorpion by his tail and throws him across the road into Nekra. Lil puts her hands on Vindicator’s shoulders and asks if she is okay - Heather tells her to get her hands off and that she will be fine - when suddenly, Diamond Lil is thrown to the ground by a power surge from Asp, who along with Owl approaches the women. Asp tells them that their time has come, as Heather asks who they are. ‘Death!’ replies Owl as he leaps towards Vindicator.

Nekra smiles and exclaims that this is turning into some party as the Scorpion suggests they rip them up. Both villains rush towards the others, when suddenly they are knocked back by a mystic force bolt from Witchfire - Gamma Flight has arrived! Nemesis informs everyone that they are under arrest, but the villains just rush to battle them, Scorpion laughing, ‘More meat!’

Vindicator thinks to herself that the Americans are totally deranged, almost as if they are possessed by something - suddenly she realizes - the Sorcerer! Blasting Owl to the ground, Heather decides that she has to warn Gamma Flight’s alleged sorceress, Witchfire, about this, as maybe she can block the Sorcerer’s influence. But before Heather can make her way to Witchfire, Nekra jumps on her ‘We haven’t finished yet!’ she yells, pining Heather to the ground.

Diamond Lil battles Asp while Nemesis defends herself against the Scorpion. Auric informs his sister, Silver, that trouble is coming, pointing to the approaching Box. On the ground, Nekra tells Heather that she cannot shoot her while she has her hands pinned - but that she can rip out her throat. Heather suggests to Nekra that she look up - and as the villainess does, she sees Box.

Box announces that he is not alone, and Sasquatch leaps out of the compartment, shouting ‘Heads up, losers!’ as he plummets to the ground. He lands in front of the Scorpion. ‘Hello, goodbye!’ Walt says as he whacks the Scorpion away.

Heather blasts Nekra off her, and makes her way to Witchfire and Nemesis, informing them that the Americans are being controlled by an outside force, and asks them if they can stop it. Witchfire concentrates for a moment, before revealing that she can feel something, but that it is so powerful. She turns to her team leader and tells her that she needs time to work a spell of interference, and asks her to keep them away from her.

‘Right!’ says Nemesis as she chops the end of the Scorpion’s tail off as he approaches them. Witchfire casts her spell, and suddenly, Nekra, Scorpion, Asp and Owl all fall to the ground, unconscious. ‘Cut the string, and the puppets fall!’ remarks Witchfire. Vindicator congratulates Witchfire and tells her that she wished Talisman thought of that, as it would have prevented a lot of destruction.

Witchfire explains that the spell only worked because the controlling mind let go and that it was more powerful than anything she has encountered. As everyone gathers around, Sasquatch declares that at least it is over, but Nemesis replies that it isn’t, and informs Alpha Flight that they are all under arrest, reminding them that they had no legal clearance to fight this battle and cause this destruction. She reminds them that they were ordered not to operate as a team within Canada’s borders, and therefore Gamma Flight is taking them in!

At the Gateway of Night, Llan watches as their destiny is set and the way is clear for more evil. He grins with satisfaction, for if the Talisman had used her wits instead of the brute force her soldiers had to offer, then things might have been different. Instead, she fell right into the Sorcerer’s hands. The Gateway of Night can only be unlocked by the key - the key is violence. What better source of it than pitched battle between super-humans? Now the gate is unlocked, and now Llan may slowly open the Eye of the World…and the real violence is about to begin!

Characters Involved: 

Box IV, Sasquatch, Talisman II, Vindicator II (all Alpha Flight)

Diamond Lil

Auric, Nemesis III, Silver, Wildchild, Witchfire (all Gamma Flight)

Llan the Sorcerer






In Flashback / Illustrative Images

Llan the Sorcerer

Talisman IV / Nahita

Dexter Rayne

Story Notes: 

This issue is part of the Acts of Vengeance, a company-wide story that took place throughout Marvel titles at this time. While some of the Acts of Vengeance seemed rather forced, The Alpha Flight Acts of Vengeance issues worked really well in the Sorcerer Affair.

Llan’s resurrection took place in Alpha Flight (1st series) #71.

Silver and Auric are incorrectly drawn wearing each other’s costumes this issue.

Last issue, Diamond Lil was sent to the Scorpion and fought him wearing a dress, but this issue, she is in costume.

Alpha Flight were away, lost as the crossed through dimensions to return to Earth, for a total of three months. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #72-75]

Alpha Flight learned they were “illegal” in Alpha Flight (1st series) #76.

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