Inside a lab within the home and headquarters of the Fantastic Four, Reed Richards a.k.a. Mr Fantastic stretches his arm to turn a control at the other end of a table where Bill Foster a.k.a. Giant-Man lies motionless, hooked up to some machinery, and Ben “the Thing” Grimm stands nearby, sullen and clearly upset. Reed informs Ben that radiation poisoning has been ravaging Giant-Man’s body for months, and admits that he doesn’t know if he can help him. ‘Reed, you’re the brains of the Fantastic Four! Ya gotta come up with something - anything! We can’t just let Giant-Man die!’ Ben replies.
Reed tells his friend to ease up, and informs him that his psycho-sensors are still measuring the full extent of the damage to Giant-Man’s nervous system, and that there is nothing Ben can do for the moment. Ben replies that he knows, and mutters that he is supposed to cool his heels while Reed plays mad scientist. Ben hangs his head as he declares that his buddy is lying there, unconscious, knocking on death’s door, and there is not a thing he can do about it. ‘I ain’t ever felt so helpless before!’ Ben exclaims, to which Reed tells him that he is pushing himself too hard, and suggests he goes and get some fresh air, so he will feel better. Ben turns and leaves the lab, telling Reed that he may be right, muttering that never was good at watching the kind of game from the sidelines. But Ben tells himself that he cannot shake the feeling that this is all his fault, as memories of the past few hectic hours batter at his consciousness:
Ben remembers how the mad genius Modok exposed him to a deadly, highly radioactive strain of virus, but instead of killing him immediately, Virus X caused the Thing’s unique physical structure to mutate further. Giant-Man located the antidote and was faced with the grimmest decision - his device could cleanse the body of all harmful radiation - but should he use it on Ben, or save himself? Though Giant-Man himself was dying, though he could feel the radioactive poisoning raging through his own body, the gallant hero was capable of only one choice - and with one selfless act, used the anti-radiation device on the Thing. But, drowning in fever, his body weakened beyond endurance, he finally succumbed. Reacting instantly, Ben raced his delirious friend to the Baxter Building.
‘It’s no use!’ Ben decides. ‘Reed Richards may have more brains than Ronald Reagan’s got film credits, but even he can’t cause miracles!’ he adds, before deciding that Giant-Man has not got a chance, and it is all his fault. He continues down a corridor, while wondering how he is ever going to live with this. At the other end of the corridor, Johnny Storm a.k.a. the Human Torch sees that the Thing is really down, and thinks he may be able to snap him out of it. ‘Hi, gruesome! Frighten any children today?’ Johnny jokes. But Ben tells the Torch to beat it, as he is not in the mood.
‘C’mon, chuckles, give us a big smile! Even an ugly mass of muscle has to be impressed by a stunt like this!’ Johnny exclaims as he creates a smiley-face out of flame. ‘I told you to leave me alone!’ Ben snaps, before ripping a large chunk out of the wall: ‘If you want to see muscles…how’s this?’ he booms, holding the chunk of the thick wall over his head, he aims it towards the Torch, who asks him if he has gone nuts. ‘I was only kidding around, teasing you…but if you’re looking for a fight - the Human Torch won’t back down’ Johnny exclaims. ‘Let’s see if yer power can match yer mouth!’ Ben shouts as he throws the chunk of wall, while Johnny tells him to get real, as his intense body heat can easily melt that pebble down to the size of Ben’s pealike brain.
But as Johnny “flames on”, a voice exclaims ‘Johnny Storm! Don’t you dare use your flame!’ and an invisible force field is thrown up around the Human Torch, so the chunk of wall bounces off of it. Johnny realizes this is the Invisible Girl’s doing, and Susan Storm appears, announcing that she heard the commotion, and used her invisible force-field to prevent Johnny from filling up this hall with molten slag. ‘You should both be ashamed - fighting like a couple of school children!’ Susan lectures them. Ben replies that he was just letting off a little steam, when Reed appears in the corridor, telling Ben to forget it, as they all know the strain he has been under. Ben tells Reed that he should not sneak up on a fella like that, before asking how Giant-Man is doing.
Reed replies that Giant-Man is not good, explaining that his internal organs are severely damaged, and he will soon begin exhibiting outward signs of decay. ‘Unless the disease is checked immediately, it’s hopeless…’ Reed trails off. Ben asks him if he is saying they should give up and throw in the towel, but as the Fantastic Four approach a large console nearby, Reed replies ‘Of course not!’ and explains he was merely reviewing the facts, before announcing that they must locate a highly specialised radiologist at once. Reed explains that his compu-file indexes most major scientists according to expertise and remarks that he recalls a Canadian researcher who may suit their needs.
Reed enters the information into the compu-file, and seconds later, an image of a handsome blond man appears on screen: ‘That’s him - Dr Walter Langkowski!’ Reed exclaims, adding that his work on the various forms of radiation have on the body is fascinating. ‘We don’t need a sales pitch!’ Johnny declares. Reed adds that Langkowski a professor of bio-physics at the McGill University in Montreal, and remarks that he understands Langkowski is a bit of an eccentric, so his aid may be difficult to enlist. ‘Don’t worry! I can be very persuasive!’ the Thing exclaims.
Later, as the Thing stops in for one last visit with his ailing friend. Ben sees that Bill is getting weaker by the second, when suddenly, ‘Ben is that you?’ the very weak Giant-Man utters. Giant-Man remarks that he must be a sorry sight, and explains that he cannot even concentrate long enough to reduce his body to human size. Ben tells Bill to keep the faith, and assures him that help is on the way. Bill thanks Ben for all he and Dr Richards have done. ‘You’ve been a good friend, Ben - the best’ Bill declares. ‘Yeah, I’m a real sweetheart’ Ben mutters as he turns and walks away, while thinking that if it wasn’t for him, Bill would not be in this mess. ‘What a pal’ Ben tells himself.
Preparations for Ben’s trip to Canada are quickly made, as the pogo-plane is fueled, and the course charted, before Ben departs the Baxter Building in the rocket-like craft.
Sometime later, at the central administration building of McGill University, Ben walks through a hall, which gets the attention of several students and professors. ‘Oh, my! I’ve heard of open enrollments - but this borders on the absurd’ one professor thinks to himself. Ben realizes that he is collecting quite a crowd, and supposes that Canadians are not used to looking at a 700 pound, orange celebrity. ‘Must be a real thrill for ‘em’ Ben decides, while one of the students exclaims ‘Look! It’s one of those American super heroes we covered in Contemporary Current Affairs 407...but I forgot which one!’ ‘Sheesh!’ Ben thinks to himself.
Soon, the ever-resilient Thing makes his way of the Chairman of McGill’s prestigious bio-physics department. ‘I’ve been expecting you, Mr Grimm!’ the Chairman announces, before explaining that his colleague Dr Richards has already been in communication with the University Chancellor. The Chairman informs Ben that he cannot produce Dr Langkowski, to which Ben asks ‘Why not? Don’t tell me he’s playing hookey!’ but the Chairman replies that Walter Langkowski is a brilliant scientist, if a trifle overbearing at times, and reveals that Langkowski has an annoying habit of disappearing for prolonged periods, then showing up without an explanation. He informs Ben that Langkowski has gone off to somewhere in north-west Alberta, a field trip of sorts, with an associate. ‘I doubt if you’ll find them…’ the Chairman declares. But Ben Grimm does not answer - a look of fierce determination blazes from his eyes.
Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away, Walter Langkowski stands on a grassy slope, and gazes out at the sprawling array of mountains and forest before him. ‘Ah the forest primeval! So beautiful, so peaceful - so utterly boring! On the whole I wish I was in downtown Montreal!’ he tells himself, while wondering if the human body can grow dependant on gas fumes and pollution, as he thinks this clear, fresh air has given him a headache. Even as Walter observes the serene grandeur which surrounds him, his keen scientific mind analyzes his own reactions to it…and he feels nothing.
Unsettled by his own lack of emotion, the former all-pro linebacker trudges back to his camp, and thinks to himself that he has really been at loose ends since the government disbanded Alpha Flight, as nothing compares to the thrill of being a part of Canada’s first super hero team, Walter is glad that Dr Michael Twoyoungmen, his teammate and friend, invited him on his annual pilgrimage to these mountains. Walter wonders what Michael’s fellow staff physicians at the Sarcee Reservation hospital would say if they knew their quiet colleague was secretly Shaman of Alpha Flight?
Sitting beside a campfire, Shaman throws some dust into the flames and tells Langkowski that he is glad he has returned, as grim portents have troubled him during Walter’s absence. Walter replies that he knows better than to doubt Shaman’s instincts, but points out that no one even knows they are here. ‘What danger could we possibly face?’ Walter asks. Shaman replies that he does not know, and explains that every year he searches these lands for traces of the legendary burial crypt of his ancient ancestors. He reveals that tonight he has fed these flames with certain mystic powders, hoping to gain the aid of the spirit world, but instead, he was assaulted by terrifying visions of death and destruction.
Shaman gets to his feet, and tells his friend that he fears some great, dark evil shall soon be loosed upon an unsuspecting world. ‘Fascinating!’ Walter exclaims, before remarking that perhaps this expedition will not be as dull as he imagined. ‘WE might even meet a ghost or two!’ Walter declares. Shaman tells Walter not to jest, as on the morrow they will face something far more dangerous than ghosts. ‘You - of all men - should know that certain monstrous forces exist which defy all laws of science - and make a grim mockery of reason’ Shaman declares as he turns and walks away from Walter.
Early the next morning, Walter and Twoyoungmen begin their trek up a mountain. Shaman tells Walter that when his grandfather trained him in the arts of magic, he often spoke of the long-lost burial site of the ancients, and explains that it is said to be a repository of great knowledge and power. Hour after arduous hour is spent in futile search, until suddenly, ‘That cave! A recent rockslide must have revealed it!’ Shaman exclaims as they stand before an opening into the mountain, revealed ever so slightly by loose rocks in front of it. Shaman exclaims that he has been scouring these mountains since he was a child, and that he does not remember seeing this opening before. He begins climbing towards the opening, while Walter tells him to hold up, as he picks up a branch, he points out that they can make a torch out of it.
Then, moments later, Shaman holds the torch as they walk through the eerie cavern. Walter exclaims that the cavern seems to stretch for miles, and points out that it would provide a primitive culture with a ready-made catacomb, to which Shaman tells Walter that the ancient Indians were far more sophisticated than he would think. Suddenly, Michael sees something up ahead on the wall. As they approach the wall Michael holds the torch up against it, and sees etchings from some bygone era. He tells Walter that most of the message has been obliterated by the ravages of time, but that it seems to be some sort of warning. Walter replies that he suspects it was merely an attempt to dissuade some grave robbers.
Walter tells Michael that if they are to explore this place correctly, they will need the proper equipment, and turns and leaves the cave to return to the campsite and get the equipment. Michael tells Walter that he will continue to look around, and turns and carries on down the cavern. But no sooner than Walter has left, Shaman accidentally dislodges a carefully placed rock, sliding it forward, then, without warning, ancient levers and protesting gears respond to a pre-programmed signal - and a panel in the wall slides open. ‘A hidden chamber!’ Shaman gasps. Cautiously, the stoic medicine man enters the musty cavern, and his eyes are filled with wonder - tombs and pots line the room, as do carvings of faces and headdresses. ‘At last! After all these years! The sacred tomb of the ancient shamans!’ Michael exclaims with awe.
Not far away, Walter has arrived back at the campsite, and tells himself that he has never seen Shaman in such a state before. Walter decides that Shaman has been pushing himself much too hard. ‘If only he could relax…like me!’ Walter thinks to himself. Suddenly, his musings are drowned beneath a thundering roar, as Walter looks up to the sky and sees a plane. He thinks that it is odd that the plane is flying so low, before realizing that the plane is circling his camp, like a giant vulture on the hunt. ‘But why?’ Walter wonders. However, his puzzlement is short-lived, as one instant later, the ship lands nearby. Walter sees that it is a vertical take-off and landing vehicle of a highly sophisticated deisng, and suddenly notices the readily recognizable numeral on the side of the plane - the large 4.
Walter realizes that their unexpected guest is a member of the illustrious Fantastic Four, and he sees the orange-skinned behemoth descend from the pogo-plane. Walter wonders if the Thing could be the menace Shaman spoke about last night. He decides that he will find out - but not as Dr Walter Langkowski. Walter tells himself that it is time he called on the aid of a certain furry friend of his, and begins to remove his clothing, revealing his muscular body. Naked, he sits on the ground and crosses his legs, although the forest floor chills his skin, he knows it will not do so for long.
Some time ago, Walter discovered that he was one of an infinitely small percentage of the Earth’s population who would not have a fatal reaction to gamma radiation. Through controlled irradiation, he could achieve awesome power. Straining, fighting waves of nausea, he mentally triggers his gamma-altered thyroid - and suddenly, his body hair grows longer, thicker, and takes on a golden hue. His limbs swell with power, assuming inhuman proportions. His muscles expand, bulging with incredible strength - he is no longer Dr Walter Langkowski - he is Sasquatch! Alpha Flight’s behemoth stands up, the strain of the transformation leaving him slightly weak. He decides he will need a moment to catch his breath.
Nearby, the Thing trudges across the tundra searching for Walter. ‘Nuts! I must be going in the wrong direction! I should have already reached that campsite I spotted from the air’ the Thing tells himself, recalling how a couple of Langkowski’s university buddies managed to narrow down his destination to a few hundred square miles. Ben has been on the go ever since, landing every time he caught sight of people, hoping against hope to get a line on Langkowski. ‘But it’s like hunting for a gumball on a golf course!’ The Thing is exhausted. He would like to drop and have a rest, but he will not let himself - not with Giant-Man’s life at stake.
Suddenly, Thing hears a branch or twig snap. ‘Hey! Whazzat sound?’ he exclaims as he spins around - and sees Sasquatch looming over him. ‘Good afternoon, Mr Grimm’ Sasquatch greets the Thing. ‘I trust you’re enjoying your afternoon constitutional!’ Sasquatch asks. ‘Holy smokes! What freak show did you step outta? If there’re any more like you at home, I don’t wanna meet ‘em!’ Sasquatch tells the Thing that he salutes him, explaining that the sight of him causes some people to react in panic, and yet the Thing has the presence of mind to attempt a joke. ‘Very commendable’ Sasquatch adds. The Thing replies that he has seen a lot worse sights in his time, before asking Sasquatch to tell him who he is and how he knows his name. ‘Actually, I’d prefer to ask the questions!’ Sasquatch declares.
But even as the two orange-hued heroes eye each other suspiciously, another far more significant even is occurring deep within the earth beneath their very feet, as Shaman explores the tomb. Approaching a large red jar, Michael tells himself that he feels so strange, as if his very will was being stripped from him. He realizes that he is being drawn to the red urn, and senses an overpowering aura of evil surrounding it. ‘Yet I cannot stop myself - I must open it!’ he exclaims as he removes the lid.
But Shaman leans back as a wrath-like mist escapes the urn. ‘If only I could control m limbs - and cage it - before it is fully free!’ Shaman exclaims. Alas, Shaman can only stand and watch, helpless, as the mist congeals to form a monstrous apparition! The large over-sized spirit of a long dead Indian exclaims’ At last! After my centuries-long imprisonment - Ranark, the Ravager lives again! Unholy shall be my vengeance! Terrible shall be my wraith!’ he declares, before laughing wickedly. Thundering in the now closed tomb, the chilling laughter causes the very cavern to shake, the very earth to tremble!
And, on the surface above, the trembling causes the mighty Sasquatch to momentarily lose his footing - and pitch forward towards the Thing, who mistakes this for an attack, thinking that Sasquatch is trying to catch him by surprise. ‘Fat chance!’ the Thing shouts as he punches Sasquatch in the stomach, knocking him to the side. Whether Ben’s reason is clouded by his lack of sleep, or the other pressures which prey upon his mind, no man can say. But the fact remains, he strikes the first blow! ‘That was very foolish, Mr Grimm! We could have settled our differences like gentlemen - instead of resorting to violence!’ Sasquatch exclaims as he rips a large tree up by its roots. ‘Hey! What’re you gonna do with that tree?’ the Thing asks.
‘I’m going to use it to beat some manners into you!’ Sasquatch exclaims as he uses the tree as a bat, to smack the Thing backwards. Sasquatch stands over the Thing, ‘There! We’re even! Now I suggest you refrain from any further aggressive actions - or I’ll have to take appropriate measures!’ Sasquatch declares. ‘Lemme tell you something, son…nobody uses the Thing for batter practice!’ Ben replies as he picks up a large boulder. ‘you think this is all a ball game! Well, it ain’t!’ the Thing exclaims. ‘On the contrary, I used to view each battle as a chance to test myself - simply enjoy myself now!’Sasquatch declares as he smacks the boulder out of the Thing’s arms, adding ‘By the way, what’s par for this course? Fore!’ he shouts.
The Thing ducks as Sasquatch swings the bat once more. ‘Yer really having a good time at my expense, ain’cha?’ the Thing remarks. ‘I don’t get it! It’s almost like ya get a real kick our of being an orange-skinned monstrosity’ the Thing remarks. ‘I do. Don’t you?’ Sasquatch replies. ‘NO!’ the Thing exclaims as he smacks the large tree trunk in two, before punching Sasquatch in the face. Ben reveals that he hates being the Thing, that there is nothing he can do about it, so he makes do. Sasquatch staggers backwards, puzzled that the Thing could cause him to do so. Sasquatch decides that he better end this before it gets out of hand, and reaches out to punch the Thing, but the Thing ducks, and drops to the ground. Sasquatch reveals to the Thing that he can become human whenever he wishes, which explains his cavalier attitude.
Sasquatch tells himself that he has the advantage in strength, that the Thing should be out by now, but he is still managing to avoid his blows. ‘What the -?’ Sasquatch asks as he puts a foot on the Thing’s chest, but the Thing grabs his leg. ‘Ya didn’t expect me ta roll back and grab yer leg, did ya?’ the Thing asks, pointing out that is the difference between the two of them. ‘I expect everything! I’m a professional!’ the Thing boasts as he tosses Sasquatch backwards with ease. Sasquatch realizes that the Thing is correct, and admits to himself that the Thing is far more determined to win and battle-wise than he is. ‘You may fight for kicks - but I do it for real!’ the Thing declares he picks up another boulder. ‘I still don’t know why this overgrown Wookie attacked me, but I’ll find out…once I cream him!’ the Thing tells himself as he hurls the boulder towards Sasquatch - ‘Mr Grimm, you’ve made an excellent point - I have been to lackadaisical…being a super hero has always been easy for me…as easy as catching this boulder!’ Sasquatch remarks as he does indeed catch the large boulder.
Sasquatch supposes that he should apply the same discipline which helped him to make all-pro when he was playing football professionally. ‘Sheesh! Yer bigger, stronger, talk better’n me and played pro ball! There must be something I can beat ya at!’ the Thing replies. ‘I doubt it!’ Sasquatch declares as he crushes the boulder with his powerful hands. Sasquatch strides towards the Thing and announces that he is ending this here and now. ‘Says you!’ the Thing retorts as he rushes towards Sasquatch. But one thousand pounds of savage fury bears down upon the mighty Thing - and then Sasquatch punches him across the terrain, where he lands against a tree.
For long moments, silence claims the forest. Before Sasquatch exclaims ‘I ache all over! I haven’t felt this bad…since my battle with the Hulk!’ Sasquatch strides toward the fallen Thing, and declares that Grimm was out-matched from the very beginning, but put up an incredible fight. ‘At least it’s over’ Sasquatch tells himself. But suddenly, ‘I got news fer you, fuzz ball…it’ll never be over - until I win!’ the Thing exclaims as he leaps up and smacks Sasquatch in the stomach. This annoys Sasquatch, who wonders what it will take to stop the Thing, who ducks as Sasquatch attempts to punch him.
At that precise moment, far below, Shaman reaches into his medicine pouch and wonders what it will take to stop this creature. Michael finally managed to overthrow the spell the mysterious spirit used to gain control of him, but it was at a great cost. ‘Stand fast, Ranark! You fared use me for your sinister purpose! I’ll now hurl that insult back at you!’ Shaman exclaims as totems emerge from his medicine pouch and soar towards Ranark. ‘Bah! Your simple spell is clouded by the dream-maker, human! Your power is nothing compared to mine!’ Ranark boasts. Ranark stands over Shaman and reveals that once he was the greatest of all shamans, but his hunger for power was insatiable, so he made pacts with the dark evil things that slither amongst the shadows. ‘In exchange for countless virgin sacrifices, they made me like unto a god!’ Ranark boasts.
Ranrak reveals that the other medicine men grew jealous, and united together, they used their combined sorcerous might to bind his spirit in eternal sleep. ‘Traitorous fools!’ Ranark declares, while Shaman manages to whisper an incantation and use a pinch of powder to summon a ranging storm - which encircles Ranark. ‘Ranark sleeps no more!’ the powerful sorcerer booms. ‘I - I don’t believe it! He cast off me spell with the merest gesture!’ Shaman exclaims as he is knocked backwards. ‘Indeed, mortal! I am Ranark!’ the sorcerer replies, before deciding that it is time to see how the world has changed in his absence - ‘And I would see it through your own, unwilling eyes!’ Ranark exclaims as he takes possession of Shaman’s mind. Shaman screams, the very fiber of his consciousness has been ripped from him.
In a sense, it has, as Shaman sinks to his feet, the spirit of Ranark enters his memories and sees…modern Canada! The buildings! The machines! The people! The political strife! The land! The pollution! Then, it is Ranark’s time to scream. ‘Noooo!’ he cries, releasing Shaman from his thrall, he blasts some energy at Shaman, who manages to dodge the attack. ‘I have slept too long! This new world is a travesty - an abomination! It must be purified!’ he exclaims, before boasting that he shall cleanse this planet of life - and begin anew! Shaman shudders! He has already seen these visions of death and destruction - nothing can prevent them from becoming reality.
Above, Sasquatch informs the Thing that he never intended to fight. They struggle hand-to-hand as Sasquatch explains that he only wanted to question the Thing, and learn his purpose here. ‘You forced me to do this - but I won’t back down until you fall!’ Sasquatch declares as he forces the Thing backwards. ‘Fall, blast you!’ Sasquatch exclaims as he knocks the Thing aside ‘Fall!’ he shouts. ‘FALL!’ Caught in a frenzy, Sasquatch rains blow after high-impact blow upon his silent, determined foe. Finally, the Thing falls. ‘I did it! I beat him at last!’ Sasquatch exclaims, before admitting that this victory is so hollow, so completely useless. ‘Don’t go sweeping up the pot yet, big guy!’ the Thing exclaims as he marches towards Sasquatch. ‘There’s still a bettor at the table!’ the Thing declares.
Sasquatch is surprised, ‘I - I don’t believe it! He’s still conscious!’ Sasquatch thinks to himself. ‘Still full of fight’ Sasquatch tells himself, when suddenly, the Thing punches him across the terrain, where he slams into some trees, causing them to fall to the ground. ‘My jaw’s gonna ache for months’ Walter tells himself, before suggesting to the Thing that this could go on forever. ‘What say we forget our macho pride - and call this one a draw?’ Sasquatch suggests. ‘Not a chance, pal!’ the Thing replies as he rushes towards Sasquatch. ‘Ya came outta nowhere - attacked me for no reason - and now ya wanna call it quits?’ the Thing asks, declaring that it is not over until he stomps all over Sasquatch’s fur-covered face. ‘It comes with practice’ the Things adds, when suddenly, he and Sasquatch both begin to shake, and the Thing remarks that his knees must be wobblier than he thought.
But Sasquatch quickly points out that it is the ground that is shaking. They are both knocked backwards as energy rips up through the ground - and majestically, Ranark rises from the earth. For the past few hours, Sasquatch and the Thing have exhibited enough strength and power to astound ten thousand imaginations - now it is their eyes which cloud with amazement - and fear. Ranark graces them with the merest of glances - they are insects to him, not worthy of the moment it would take for his massive form to crush them. And then, ‘I have a world to conquer - a planet to ravage!’ he booms as he takes off skyward.
Sasquatch tells himself that must have been the menace Twoyoungmen prophesied, and wonders where his teammate could be. ‘I don’t believe it…he shrugged us off like we wuz nothing! And he wuz right!’ the Thing exclaims. Sasquatch tells the Thing that they must put their petty differences aside, and join forces. But as he looks upwards, Sasquatch declares ‘Though I doubt even our combined might can stop…a god gone mad!’