Do you remember how this all begun?
‘Yes!’ exclaims the floating skull Dargil. ’There are stories before stories…and this tale begins with souls lost! Yes…souls consumed and imprisoned with me by my Lord and Master…souls which die inside me a little more each day to power his eternal quest.
(Flashback One takes place between Alpha Flight (1st series) #5 and #12)
It was a quest which was stopped by them - the mystic Modred with powers arcane, and the dwarf Puck of giant nobility. In a secret land they fought Dargil’s Lord’s minions - fought to hold closed the doors of eternity.
These doors were cast open lifetimes earlier in Spain, in the Basilica Alicante, where Bishop Benedicto de Vica Severtes first saw her…Beatriz. But the Bishop knew that God would forbid him from her, so he asked a hand of darker power…’I would pay any price to have her by my side, Mephisto!’ he said. However, Mephisto told him ’So she will be, but your soul is mine upon your death’.
The Bishop was tricked, for even though Beatriz was by his side, she was farther away than before. So the Bishop was wronged by both God and Devil, so he swore that he would not lose his soul for nothing. In the pages of apocryphal texts he read of a suit of brass - a suit whose power was to conceal the soul of its wearer.
Now clad in the suit of brass, the Bishop stormed the tower ‘There is the goal of my sacred conquest!’ he exclaimed to his minions. However, this suit of brass had to be sealed in every seam. Sealed with the blood of an innocent woman - and only one among the Bishop’s flock was free from even the slightest confession. Beatriz.
It was then that Dargil was sent by Mephisto to search for a soul suddenly vanished - the soul of the Brass Bishop, who instead, took Dargil’s head. Arriving in Hell, The Brass Bishop held the head of Mephisto’s assistant in front of the Devil and exclaimed ‘I have wronged your messenger as you have wronged me!’ With that, the Bishop demanded that he soul be freed. Mephisto told the Bishop that he will trade his invisible soul only for that of that sweet soul belonging to the Lady Beatriz. The Bishop remarks that her soul resides in Heaven now, to which Mephisto replied that he knows. The Brass Bishop vowed that he would never trade Beatriz’s soul for his - but never proved to be too long a time to bear….
Bereft of his sanity the Brass Bishop built a tower to Heaven - but was stopped at its gates by two valiant heroes. Modred the Mystic urged Puck to find the Solomon Seal, as the Bishop must not be allowed to lay his on it. Eugene “Puck” Judd replied that he will do the best he can, and asked Modred to watch his back. But suddenly, Modred is violently attacked….
…and Judd remembers how it all began…but can he remember how it ended that first time? Dargil flies (as well as a head can fly) over Judd and reminds him that he defeated his Lord the Brass Bishop long ago, before revealing that his powers are mightier now - ‘And sore will be the defeat you suffer!’ ‘It can’t be. It can’t…’ the long-serving Alphan Puck remarks. Judd’s friend and teammate Heather “Vindicator” McNeil Hudson asks who it is.
‘The Brass Bishop!’ exclaims Judd, as he and the rest of Canada’s premiere super heroes Alpha Flight, stand on the snow covered ground of White Cross, Newfoundland, with the Brass Bishop standing on a tower of possessed citizens before them. James “Guardian” MacDonald Hudson, Manbot and the Corbo brothers - Jared a.k.a. Radius and Adrian a.k.a. Flex all stand ready for action. Judd remarks that the Brass Bishop is more like a brass penny ‘Always comes back and is no good to boot!’
The Brass Bishop exclaims to Puck that it is fitting they would meet decades and continents removed, and that it is fitting Puck will return to see the very plan he thwarted years prior to be executed once more. ‘how fitting that your soul should be one of the many upon which I step…to ascend the tower and claim a soul that will free my own from this prison of brass that encases it!’ ‘Hee hee hee hee!’ laughs the little girl standing near Alpha Flight.
The Brass Bishop orders Dargil to add the souls of Alpha Flight as slaves to his crusade. ‘Yes…as you command, Master!’ Dargil exclaims as his chained head flies towards the heroes. ‘Upon them! Feast on the unconverted!’ Standing on top of Manbot, the handsome Radius exclaims ‘Bite me, zombie master, I’m nobody’s lunch!’ Mac tells Radius to get off Manbot and get in formation, but Jared just tells Guardian to chill out, as his force field will protect him from them.
Urgently, Judd tells Radius to stay back, as the skull eats souls, not limbs. Dargil latches onto Radius and the Brass Bishop pulls on Dargil’s chain, declaring that many of this town tried to deny him, and boasts that none could, ‘Bow before your lord and master!’ As Dargil feeds on Radius, the startled Alphan exclaims that he can feel it - and screams - as it actually hurts him. Jared manages to ask ‘What is it…’ and the Brass Bishop announces that it is moment of communion with his will. Is that what Radius feels though, or something else? Like, perhaps guilt over his rash actions that resulted in the death of Sasquatch? Perhaps guilt enough to make him throw himself behind his force field at any powerful target…in hopes that it…like he…might crack.
Suddenly, Puck leaps up and pulls Radius away from Dargil. ‘Would you dare deny me?’ The Brass Bishop demands. ‘Sure, why not, eh? Did it once before and I’m still alive and breathing!’ Judd replies. Heather and the others join up with Puck and Mac congratulates him on his good work, before asking since he has fought him before, what will work. Puck replies that nothing will, before informing everyone that they have to keep him out of the tower. Motioning to the army of White Cross men, Flex asks what they are going to do about them. Manbot declares that they are approaching, and before they know it, Alpha Flight are surrounded and engulfed by them.
‘Who cares? Bring them on!’ Radius exclaims, as he goes about punching the townsmen. The Brass Bishop warns Alpha Flight that they cannot defeat them, for they are of one mind…’Mine!’ Manbot announces that he is initiating the defense initiative Chi-Omicron, and engages it. A shocked Flex tells Manbot that he cannot kill them, as they are people…aren’t they? Heather tells Manbot that Flex is right, as they don’t know that the men are fully lost, so she orders him to disengage the missiles. Manbot does as requested and redirects the missiles, before announcing that the objective is escaping.
Judd tells everyone that if they cannot go through these people, then they will have to go through them, to which Mac points out that Judd’s acrobatic skills are about as effective as his battle suit’s flight capacity if they cannot get out from under them. ‘My destiny, troublesome children, awaits!’ the Brass Bishop exclaims. He warns Alpha Flight not to interfere with his ascension again, to which Dargil exclaims that he wishes to feed. The Brass Bishop tells him he can feed later, as his appetite is to be satiated now.
Radius remarks that if the townsmen are just zombies, they should pop them all. Hovering above the possessed men, Heather tells Jared that they cannot, as they are Canadian citizens, the very people they have sworn to protect. Judd warns his teammates that if the Brass Bishop makes it to the tower, then there won’t be a Canada to protect. Flex exclaims that there is a whole lot more coming. ‘I feel like I’m gonna…like I’m gonna…OWWWWW!’ Adrian exclaims as suddenly his entire body stretches, knocking dozens of the men back.
Guardian is surprised that Flex flexed his whole body into metal, as he never told them he could do that. Back to his normal size, a confused Flex utters that he didn’t know he could. Judd tells Flex to keep it coming, as he just saved them all from being crushed. ‘I…I did?’ Flex asks surprised. Judd tells the young Alphan that it is just like he has been telling him - ‘You’re better than you think you are’. Guardian tells Flex to keep up the good work as the six Alphans enter the tower and Judd tells everyone to be careful, as he just remembered that once they get inside, everything is going to change - and not for better neither.
Meanwhile, in Ottawa, Ontario. At the home and headquarters of Alpha Flight - Department H, what is Alpha Flight’s coordinator, Mr. Gentry, to do when his team is away. In this new era for Department H, he has a long way to go to prove himself as the operations manager. Gentry’s future rests on the success of Alpha Flight rescuing the Prime Minister’s wife, and while he knows how their mission began, he has had no contact with Alpha Flight since they arrived in White Cross.
So what does he do? He goes to visit Arlette Truffaut a.k.a. Murmur. ’What are you doing, Murmur?’ Gentry asks the injured Alphan. Murmur replies that she is walking, and informs him that she would prefer that he uses her codename, before asking him how he likes her new costume, which basically consists of black three quarter pants with a red trim, and a white top cut off at the midriff with large maple leaf over one side of it - not to mention her short hair.
Gentry remarks that it is not official. ‘But you still like it, no?’ Arlette asks. ‘Yes, I - No. It is not official issue!’ Gentry exclaims. Arlette is surprised by this comment, and begins to ask something, but Gentry interrupts her, for he already knows what she is going to ask - ‘Contradict you?’ he says, before informing her that he knows she touched him earlier and used her powers to command him to “cooperate” with him. Gentry tells Murmur that if she ever again uses her powers against him or anyone else in the program, then she will never rejoin Alpha Flight.
‘That…was an accident’ Murmur claims. Gentry tells Murmur that whatever it was, she has a lot to learn before he reinstates her, and informs her that she will not be learning it alone. Suddenly, a girl wearing a pink and white dress complete with thigh high pink boots and a pink cape enters the room - through the wall! ‘Hi!’ she exclaims. ‘What? Who -’ Murmur asks. ‘My name’s Lilli - ooops! I mean…Ghost Girl!’ Lilli smiles and apologizes, exclaiming that she is so nervous, as it is cool to finally meet a real member of Alpha Flight.
Back in White Cross, Mac, Heather, Judd, Manbot, Radius and Flex find themselves inside the tower, but can make neither head nor tails. ‘Bizarre’ remarks Mac. ‘This place is whack!’ exclaims Radius. ‘But which way is up?’ asks Flex. Heather reminds Judd that he said this tower led to heaven, to which Judd exclaims that “up” is a lot like Heaven, but it all depends on where you are coming from. He explains that is what this place represents - a persons faith that they’ll find the path that leads to their savior, which Judd believes is the one thing they have got against the Brass Bishop in here - purer motives.
Someone asks if the Brass Bishop is looking for a door, to which someone else points out that there are thousands of them. Judd informs everyone that right now the Brass Bishop is looking for something called “the Solomon Sea”, which is a “smart key”, it knows how to unlock anything it touches. Guardian exclaims that Babel is just a Bible story, and the Bible is only fiction. Judd tells him to believe what he wants, ‘But you’re standing in the Tower of Babel’. Judd tells everyone that he remembers fighting alongside drifting sorcerer named Modred and he hid the seal someplace in here decades ago. Judd mutters that they should pray he can remember where it is and get to it before the Bishop does!
Suddenly, the Brass Bishop and Dargil appear before Canada’s finest. The Brass Bishop declares that as the Solomon Seal is his goal also, and since Puck alone knows where it is hidden - it is far better that they seek its divine intervention together! With that, Dargil begins to feed on Puck. Did Puck see this ending coming? Is this how he imagined he’s go? Flex screams at the sight and Heather wonders how they could have not seen this.
The Brass Bishop exclaims that the Lord moves in mysterious ways, ‘Isn’t that right, my newest of hounds?’ ‘Yes…my Lord’ a mind controlled Puck replies. Guardian exclaims that there is a man down and Manbot begins firing his wide array of arsenal at the Brass Bishop. Once more a man is down on Guardian’s watch - what will this mean when he gets home then?
The Brass Bishop asks Alpha Flight if he think he is vulnerable to such displays of power, boasting that he survived the fire of Hell itself! He blocks Manbot’s assault as if it was nothing, while Vindicator flies over to Judd and tries to pry Dargil from him, telling the Bishop that if it suits him so well, then they can see about sending him back there. Seeing what Heather is trying to do, the Brass Bishop tells her that she is too late, ‘He is of my flesh now’.
Suddenly, Radius lunges at the Brass Bishop, ‘Yeah? Well, I’m tired of all your Sunday School talk, dude! So how about you shut up while I pound your flesh?’ Heather calls out to Radius, who tells the Brass Bishop to let Puck go. ‘Who are you to order me, whelp?’ the Bishop asks. ‘I’m Radius - all the whelp it takes to deal you some serious hurt!…Whatever as “whelp” is!’ Radius extends his force field and slams the Brass Bishop to the ground.
Puck has been set down on a ledge and Heather asks him if he is okay. Dargil suddenly comes up behind her and exclaims that he has been converted, before telling Vindicator that now it is her turn. Heather replies that she is one hundred percent Catholic, therefore there is no place for demon skulls in her - suddenly, Flex exclaims ‘Leave her alone!’ and with his hands transformed into giant planes of metal, he pushes Dargil away. Heather asks her young teammate if he is okay, to which he replies he is.
The Brass Bishop gets back to his feet and shoves Radius away, exclaiming that this conflict is without purpose, he declares that he will have the key to the Solomon Seal, storm the Gates of Heaven and that he will not be denied another moment. ‘Come to me, Finder!’ he calls, and Judd leaps down towards his new master. Radius suggests someone grab him, for if they lose him then they will never get out of here. The mind controlled Puck announces that he senses the Seal, to which the Brass Bishop exclaims ‘May you haunt these halls for all of eternity’ and tells Puck to lead them into temptation, with Alpha Flight hot on their heals. ‘We can’t lose them!’ Guardian declares.
‘You’ve lost them?’ asks the Prime Minister back at Department H. Gentry addresses the Prime Minister as “Sir” and tells him that it is premature to draw that conclusion. The Prime Minister tells Gentry that there is no need to stand on formality, ‘Your sister is my wife, after all’ he remarks, before pointing out that he knows Gentry is doing his best to save the woman they both love. The Prime Minister asks Gentry to tell him the whole story from the beginning, when the computer announces that Dr. Huxley is requesting an emergency interrupt.
‘Denied!’ exclaims Gentry, before informing the Prime Minister that Alpha Flight arrived in the hot zone at 14:37 and seven minutes later, all contact was lost. Gentry tells his brother in law that he has to go with his gut on this, for he feels that Alpha is still viable - the computer interrupts again, once more announcing that Huxley requests and emergency interrupt. Gentry declares that it is denied once more, when Huxley’s voice is heard on the phone in the room, declaring ‘You will not deny me, Gentry. I am a powerful man here and when I call, it would behoof you to answer!’
‘The word is behoove, you dolt’ Gentry replies, before telling Huxley, who is in a green-lit room standing next to a large container with LEVEL X printed on it that he doesn’t know how he spliced his way onto this phone line, but that he better splice right back out. Huxley informs Gentry that he didn’t call to speak to him, and that he wants to speak to the Prime Minister before he leaves on his weekend fishing excursion. ‘Have I called at a bad time?’
Gentry warns Huxley that if he doesn’t release this line this instant then he will order his immediate termination - ‘And then I will personally take every last hook from your fishing equipment and attach each one to your face’. ‘Oh….uh…I’ll call back later’ Huxley remarks before hanging up his phone. The Prime Minister asks Gentry what that was all about, to which Gentry tells his brother in law that it is a time of craziness, but as for their situation, he asks for patience. Turning to the window and looking at the lightening, Gentry declares that he believes Alpha will triumph, for he has utter faith in them.
Back in the Tower of Babel, Radius exclaims that they are doomed. His brother tells him to not be so negative, as they have to keep trying. ‘Do we?’ Mac wonders to himself, thinking that Puck is gone and the Prime Minister’s wife’s soul is imprisoned, not to mention Radius keeps trying to kill himself and the Brass Bishop mopped the floor with them. ‘Maybe Gentry was right when he said I don’t have what it takes to lead Alpha’ he muses, before declaring that Flex is right, they can triumph here, as a team.
Heather exclaims that she doesn’t understand how the Brass Bishop gave them the slip, as one minute he was right in front of them, the next he was gone. Guardian declares that they need some sort of trail to follow, before reminding Manbot that he detected a high sulfur reading in the church, and asks for him to scan for the same here. Manbot does as requested, and upon completing the scan announces that there are no traces of sulfur or other airborne elements.
Radius turns to Flex and asks him what is going on, for all of a sudden he is ‘Like a full metal jackass’. Flex tells Jared to leave him alone, as he is just trying to help the team. ‘Yeah, well, you’re the big bad hero now’ Radius jokes, when suddenly Heather exclaims that she thinks they are going around in circles. Mac turns to Manbot and asks if there is still no life sign for Puck, which Manbot confirms - ‘Entity Puck no longer registers as a life form’. guardian exclaims that there has to be a way, when suddenly he remembers the identitags and tells Manbot to scan and lock onto Puck’s implant. Manbot does so, and announces that he has located Puck.
Puck has always believed that there are no endings, only new beginnings, yet floating in some sort of void, he wonders where he is, and seeing all the souls flying beside him, he wonders who they are. He thinks to himself that it feels like he is swimming in molasses. He has never talked about spiritual matters in the company of others, but he always believed he would continue on somehow if his life were to end. Suddenly, Judd is reminded of Dr. Myra Haddock, and thinks that he should give her a buzz about their date when he gets back to Department H. ‘If I get back to Department H…’ he adds, before discovering something. ‘What do we have here?’
Elsewhere, the Brass Bishop addresses Puck as “dog” and asks him how much farther to the Solomon Seal. ‘Patience is a virtue’ sneers Dargil. ‘Silence!’ the Bishop snaps, before declaring that he has waited an eternity to free his soul from this living torment - he has waited ten times ten lifetimes to finally slip past this Earthly vale and meet his righteous lord. ‘Do not speak to me of patience - for I am patience personified!’
Suddenly, the possessed Puck announces that it is here. Dargil sees the Solomon Seal and confirms this. ‘Magnificent!’ the Brass Bishop exclaims looking up at the mighty door. The Brass Bishop remarks that as he is merely a vessel for his Lord’s work, the seal is merely a tool for his desires. He declares that they need to retrieve it and once in his anointed hand, they can unlock the doors of heaven. ‘And may the home of Seraphim quake and surrender unto me the price of my soul’s redemption! For I will be invincible!’ he boasts.
‘And may God have mercy on any who would set themselves against me!’ he adds. ‘You mean, like us?’ asks Heather as she and her teammates arrive behind the Bishop. Radius tells the Brass Bishop to shut up already, as he sounds like an American TV evangelist. Guardian tells the Brass Bishop that they will fight him to the end - before telling Alpha Flight that the time for talk is over, that it is time they got to proving to Gentry that his faith in them is justified.
Holding up the Solomon Seal, the Brass Bishop tells the heroes that their fight is finished before it starts, because this is the end! With that, he slams the seal on the ground, and a mighty white light fills the room - and the Tower is gone. Radius asks where it went, to which Guardian points out that they have bigger problems than that and motions to the Brass Bishop, who is telling his “dog” to go onwards and announce the arrival of Bishop Severtes. ‘Tell the most holy one that I have come to claim the soul of the Lady Beatriz’. ‘Yes, my lord’ replies Puck. ‘Puck! Don’t!’ shouts Guardian, as Flex asks what happens if he goes in ‘Doesn’t that mean he’s -’ ‘Toast’ Mac declares. Judd stops in his tracks, and the Brass Bishop asks him why he hesitates. Why does he hesitate? Is it because he knew all along that his body was merely the endpoint of life…while your soul…
…your soul’s eternal! And in the void, Judd sits, and fights - and what better way to fight against a man who has lived and breathed evil for an eternity? Puck tells the souls that are in the void with him that they are doing great, and encourages them to keep sending him their willpower. He remarks that all it ever takes to fight against being oppressed is a little unity. ‘So let’s be one congregation of pain for that would-be Bishop, eh?’
Guardian exclaims ‘As a team, Alpha’ and as the heroes rush towards the Brass Bishop, he adds that no one is to pass through the door. The Brass Bishop urges his “dog” onwards, while Heather flies over to Dargil and remarks that there is something in his eyes, she then grabs hold of him as he exclaims ‘Yes!’ Radius pushes up against the Brass Bishop and asks him if it is so important to him, then why doesn’t he go inside. Grabbing onto the Bishop by his collar, Mac realizes that it is because he can’t.
The Brass Bishop tells everyone to get off him, and claims that he will meet the heavenly father at a time of his own choosing. He urges his “dog” onwards again, while Mac calls to Puck, telling him not to. The Brass Bishop exclaims ‘You will not stop me! You will not keep me from unlocking this…’ Suddenly, Puck turns around and leaps up at the Brass Bishop, shoving the Solomon Seal onto the Bishop’s face, he exclaims ‘Unlock!’
The Brass Bishop stumbles backwards and cries that he has to meet his Lord, as hundreds of souls begin pouring out of Dargil. ‘Souls…yes!’ he exclaims as Judd announces that he is back. Heather expresses her relief while Guardian warns everyone that it is not over yet. But motioning to the Brass Bishop, whose armor begins to fall off him, Judd remarks that he thinks it might be. The Brass Bishop exclaims that his armor is all he has to protect himself from… ‘Your soul, Benedicto de vica Severtes?’ a voice asks.
Suddenly, a set of giant doors opens, and Benedicto exclaims that he has to meet his Lord - but standing in the doorway is Mephisto, who tells Benedicto that he already has. Mephisto reminds Benedicto that he sold his soul to him, and declares that he has now come to collect it. Suddenly, there is a blur, and Heather exclaims that everything is vanishing.
Indeed, it has, and the six members of Alpha Flight find themselves lying in the snow. Radius exclaims that they did it, to which Heather tells him not to get too excited, as they still have a town to account for. Jared asks Manbot for a life-sign scan. And with hundreds of people near him all getting to their feet, Manbot announces that he counts 742, inclusive.
Guardian approaches the Prime Minister’s wife, who seems to be fine, she just wonders where she is. Heather finds the little girl who led them to the tower and discovers that she appears to be fine as well. When Heather asks her if she is all right, the girl just replies that she is cold. ‘Great, happy endings everywhere’ mutters Jared, before asking about all the souls that the Bishop grabbed of people who are now dead. ‘Gross!’ remarks Flex, before asking Puck what he thinks about them. Judd doesn’t answer, he just looks upwards.
Have you ever felt completely alone? Perhaps…but after this ending, you never will again.
Meanwhile…’Hello! I am Honey Lemon and I invite you to the next issue which guest stars my exciting super-team, Big Hero 6! Okay?!’