|Alpha Flight (1st series) # 71|| || |
Issue Date: June 1989
Story Title: Power Plays
Staff: James D. Hudnall (Writer), John Calimee (Penciler), Mike Manley (Inker), Bob Sharen (Colorist), Janice Chiang (Letterer), Marc McLaurin (Associate Editor), Carl Potts (Editor), Tom DeFalco (Editor-in-Chief)
After the battle with the Dreamqueen, Alpha Flight are visited by General Winslow, who represents Ottawa, and the Mayor of Edmonton, each with offers to support Alpha Flight should they reform. Talisman already knows the outcome, that Alpha will reform and set up base in Edmonton, but Vindicator is frustrated as she thinks Talisman seems to be usurping her as leader. After finishing with Winslow and the Mayor, Alpha return to Edmonton Mall to collect the Purple Girl, who annoyed at Alpha for not bringing her with them, then tells them that she doesn’t want to be a super hero anymore, and leaves with Laura Dean and Goblyn. Jeffries returns to Ottawa, and is greeted by his former lover Diamond Lil, who is free from prison. Lil tries to kiss Jeffries, which Vindicator sees, and assumes the worst, so she returns to her own home, where Talisman is waiting for her. The foster sisters argue for some time, before Talisman reveals that Canada is a nexus point for evil, which explains some of the deadly enemies that have fought in the past. Meanwhile, a young couple are on a second honeymoon, when Dexter discovers some ancient statue. A mysterious being appears to him in his dream and offers him power, and gives him instructions to follow his plan. Dexter must kill his wife, Carol, and after drinking her blood and the small statue, he sets free an ancient Sorcerer known as Llan, who has a plan to change the world like he tried to 10,000 years ago - but first he has to kill some people. While Vindicator tries to contact Jeffries, Llan arrives, and prepares to attack Heather and Elizabeth.
A military helicopter circles the highest building in Edmonton, someone announcing that the camera is in operation and can see some external damage. Noticing a broken window, he exclaims that it looks like someone came crashing through it. He switches the camera to infra-scan, which reveals several life forms, all which are in the paranormal range. He adjusts the zoom while the camera searches the files, and the beings come up on the screen for computer analysis. The soldier declares that they have got a positive ID - ‘It’s Alpha Flight!’ he exclaims, before declaring that they are moving in. With that, several helicopters land on top of the sky scraper during the darkening night.
Meanwhile, on the top floor of the building, several people who were once known as Canada’s premiere super hero team, Alpha Flight, have just fought their worst enemy, and now they want to relax. But their problems are just beginning. Alpha Flight’s once leader, Heather “Vindicator” McNeil Hudson declares that she knows that everyone wants to go home, but that there are some things they need to discuss first. The handsome Doctor Walter “Sasquatch” Langkowski asks ‘like what?’ to which Elizabeth “Talisman” Twoyoungmen declares ‘Alpha Flight, of course’.
Vindicator agrees, and tells everyone that before they all go their separate wants, she wants to know if any of them are interested in keeping Alpha Flight going, suggesting that they may as well discuss this now while they are all together. Turning to Talisman, Heather declares that she wants to make one thing perfectly clear: ‘This team only has one leader, and it isn’t you, Elizabeth!’ Heather reminds Elizabeth that she led them all on and tried to use them to get at the Dreamqueen. She boasts that she is not going to fall for it again.
Talisman tells Heather that if it is leadership she is worried about, then she shouldn’t worry, because she has no intention of being the boss. Heather replies that she is glad to hear it, before Elizabeth points out that right now there is something else to be concerned with. Heather asks ‘what is that?’ when Talisman’s father, Dr. Michael Twoyoungmen a.k.a. Shaman points out that it sounds like helicopters. Heather’s lover Madison “Box” Jeffries points out that it sounds like they are landing on the roof, and Heather realizes that it is the military. Soldiers suddenly burst into the room, and Heather declares ‘Immobilize them!’
Heather orders the Alphans to stop the military but not to hurt them. Transformed into Sasquatch, Walt picks up a soldier and asks him if they have ever heard of using the front door. Box shoves some of the soldiers aside also and asks them where their manners are. Reaching into his medicine pouch, Shaman draws from it a mystical powder, and blowing it onto the soldiers he exclaims ‘Sleep!’
Heather fires electromagnetic pulses from her battle suit, while Goblyn slashes the soldiers’ guns withy her bestial fury, protecting her sister Laura Dean. Suddenly, Talisman casts forth a blinding light and shouts ‘Stop!’ Turning to her fellow Alphans, she points out that they have got company, and as the soldiers raise their guns to the Alphans, Elizabeth tells them that she doesn’t think they should cross the line.
Elsewhere, a young couple have made a small campsite in a forest. Dexter draws a line in the ground with a stick, and tells his wife, Carol, that the line symbolizes the history of the human race, meaning that the length from end to the other represents about 20,000 years. He explains that it was not until roughly 150 years ago that things started to dramatically change for ‘us’ as he puts it. ‘Us?’ asks Carol, to which Dexter explains he means the human race, reminding Carol that they haven’t been married that long.
Carol declares that they have been married for two years and ten days, but that it seems like just yesterday to her. ‘Me too, honey’ claims Dexter, before informing Carol that it took man around 15,000 years just to form the first city, and that it wasn’t until 150 years ago that humans began to seriously understand science, as before that, there was no electricity, cars, planes, telephones and so on. Dexter explains that apart for sociological developments, life was virtually the same as it was in ancient Babylon.
Returning to the line in the ground, Dexter declares that if it represents the history of man, only the very tip encompasses the technological age, adding that there are very few people alive today who remember the Wright Brother’s flight, the invention of television and radio. Carol asks if everything that humanity takes for granted is a recent development, to which Dexter replies that it took us 20,000 years to develop the car, the factory and the nuclear power plant, it all came about in 150 years.
The couple begin walking back to their tent as Dexter declares that in such a short amount of time, humanity has managed to totally mess up the environment in that same period. He declares that if humanity doesn’t do something soon, the mankind is going to take a serious fall…with that, Dexter himself falls over as he trips on something in the ground. Carol asks him if he is okay, Dexter replies that he is, and points to the object half stuck in the ground that he tripped over. Dexter begins to pulling the ground up and asks Carol to being him a shovel from the camp. Carol begins to run back to their tent, but Dexter calls to her to not worry, as he has it.
With the object pulled out of the ground, Carol suddenly becomes cold and hugs herself, asking Dexter if it is some kind of Indian artifact. Holding up the small statue, Dexter replies that it is no Indian, but something else entirely.
Back in Edmonton, the military continue holding their firearms up at the Alphans as Heather asks them who they are and what is going on here. Suddenly, someone barks ‘Put down your weapons!’ A high ranking military official steps forward and apologizes to Heather for the actions of his men, claiming that they did not know what kind of situation they were getting into. Heather asks what this is all about, ‘We just saved the city and the send the army after us!’
A second official informs Heather that they came to congratulate them all. ‘This is how you congratulate people?’ asks Heather, before the second official admits that they were unsure as to what they were going to find here. The first official steps forward and introduces himself as General Brian Winslow, and reveals that he represents Ottawa, that he was sent as an ambassador to meet with Alpha personally and extend their warmest thanks.
Winslow tells Heather that whatever Alpha Flight did here saved the whole country from a horrible fate, and that they want Alpha Flight to know that the government is ready for them to come back and work for them again. Sasquatch laughs and declares ‘That’s great!’ but Vindicator tells the General that his offer is totally out of the question, reminding him that they quit working for the government because the government acted like they owned Alpha Flight, and boasts that they are not about to make the same mistakes again.
General Winslow begins to negotiate with Heather, when Elizabeth steps forward and tells the General that there is another reason why they will not be accepting his offer. ‘TALISMAN!’ snaps the frustrated Heather, before Elizabeth tells her that they do not need the Canadian government anymore, and that they are going to be setting up base in Edmonton. ‘What did I just tell you a few minutes ago?’ asks Heather, but Talisman asks her foster sister what the matter is, as she is just telling the truth.
Heather begins to tell Talisman that they haven’t even decided about whether or not they are going to remain as a team, before snapping ‘Let’s discuss this later!’ Calmly, Elizabeth tells Heather that they can talk about it all they want, but that the fact remains this is the city where they will be living. Vindicator asks Talisman if she has forgotten about their situation. General Winslow tells Heather that he understands Alpha Flight lack funding and a base of operations, which is why he thinks they need the government, as they can provide things and give direction.
Vindicator tells Winslow that direction from the government is something they neither need, nor want, and that Alpha Flight is a private organization and its problems are none of the government’s business. Winslow starts to protest, but his associate interrupts and points to Talisman, suggesting she be allowed to continue, reminding her she was saying something about re-forming in Edmonton. Elizabeth confirms this, to which General Winslow asks how she is going to go about this without the government’s help. ‘Ask them!’ declares Talisman as she points to three men in suits who have just entered the room.
Back at the campsite, the statue sits by the fire, as Carol and Dexter lie side by side in their sleeping bags several feet away. Carol asks Dexter if he thinks the statue has any monetary value. Dexter replies that it might, as it doesn’t look like any Indian artifact he has seen, reminding her that he has studied anthropology in college. Carol suggests that they may have found something from Atlantis, as Dexter suggests it might have fallen from a UFO. ‘Maybe somebody bought it at KMART and threw it away?’ offers Carol as the next suggestion. Dexter jokes that it is probably too old, and tells Carol that she was probably right about Atlantis.
Carol asks Dexter why it is they came here, saying that it wasn’t so they could dig up little stone statues or talk about the environment. Dexter agrees that it wasn’t, as Carol strokes his face, and tells him that she remembers something about a second honeymoon…. But Dexter quickly rolls over and tells the surprised Carol that he is not in the mood. ‘Good night,’ he says, going to sleep, as Carol turns the other way, and faces the statue…which suddenly increases in size.
Suddenly, the now huge statue appears before Dexter in his dreams, ‘Dexter Rayne - accountant, environmentalist, husband…you have looked upon my image and have been brought before me!’ the statue declares, before telling Dexter that they shall do great things together. ‘We shall change the world’. Dexter asks the strange creature who he is, the reply being ‘I am who I am’. Dexter declares that that cannot be, before the mysterious being asks him if he knows the insurance company he works for is helping the corporations pollute the Earth.
This surprises Dexter, but the strange being continues, informing Dexter that his company provides liability insurance, so if a corporation gets sued for environmental damages, his company pays their court damages. Dexter protests, claiming that they are an insurance company, which is what they do. The being declares that the polluters continue to destroy nature with their greed and filth and tells Dexter that his company helps to keep them in business.
Dexter tries to protest, before the mysterious being asks him if he knows his wife is cheating on him. ‘That’s not true!’ shouts Dexter, before asking who it is that she is seeing. The strange being declares that he knows and sees everything, revealing that the Earth is going to die, in twenty years, pollution is killing the oceans, the rain forests are being destroyed, the ozone is disappearing faster and faster…’The end is fast approaching. Human beings are drowning in their own filth’. The mysterious being then informs Dexter that he can do something about it, that Dexter himself can stop it from happening.
Back in Edmonton, Heather slumps into a chair and wonders how she can stop this mad rush into oblivion - the team is falling apart and the government is trying to own them - while Talisman is manipulating things somehow, Heather doesn’t know what to do, and turns her attention back to the men in the suits. A man in a brown suit asks what is going on here, to which General Winslow asks him who he is. The brown suit man replies that he is the Mayor of Edmonton, and asks the same question to Winslow. Winslow states that he is with the government, and that this is official business.
Before Winslow can continue, the Mayor of Edmonton turns to Heather, asking if she is Vindicator. Heather replies that she is, and asks the Mayor what she can do for him. The Mayor thanks the Alphans for saving his city, then made them an offer of his own, that the city of Edmonton would give the heroes their own headquarters if they promised to defend the city in a future crisis. Heather can tell that Winslow is getting upset, and that Talisman seemed to know this was coming.
Heather tells Winslow and that Mayor that she and her allies have to talk about this amongst themselves, but that they will take the Mayor’s offer into consideration. The Mayor hands Heather his card and asks her to give him a ring when she has made up her mind. After a furious Winslow, the military and the Mayor all leave, Talisman gives Heather a look that says ‘I told you so!’, before Madison turns to Heather and mentions the Purple Girl!
Vindicator recalls that the left Kara Kilgrave the Purple Girl behind at the Edmonton Mall, and figures now is a good time to go and get her. Laura Dean opens a portal and teleports them back the swimming pool within the giant mall. Upon arriving, Kara is still waiting and is not very happy. Vindicator approaches Kara and tells her that she is so glad she is all right, but Kara snaps ‘I’ll bet you are,’ sarcastically.
Vindicator asks Kara what the matter is, to which the Purple Girl angrily asks Heather what she thinks the matter is, reminding her that she was left here all alone and didn’t know what was happening. Shaman points out that they had to get to the Dreamqueen and could not wait for her to awaken. Vindicator tells Kara that she was unconscious and as Shaman pointed out would not come around for several hours.
Still angry, Kara declares that she hears them, but it doesn’t change the fact that they didn’t even try to wake her up, pointing out that they have powers, Shaman is a doctor and Talisman has all kinds of magic at her disposal. Kara tells them that one of them could have done something, but instead they left her alone, with no idea what was going on. Frustrated, Shaman steps forward and tells Kara that he did what he could, as she was infected with a disease, and his cure made her sleep so it could work its magic, that there was no other way.
Changing the subject, Kara tells them that they did what they could and now she wants to go home. Shaman asks the Purple Girl if she is not mad at them, to which Kara reveals that she has been doing some heavy thinking in the last couple of hours, and informs them all that this is no longer her scene, ‘all this super hero stuff - it is too much of a downer!’
Kara declares that she wants to live a normal life, have a boyfriend and go dancing. Kara exclaims that running around and saving the world is just too much for a kid like her, and she is not ready for it. Laura Dean admits that she too feels the same way, and of course where Laura goes, Goblyn goes. Laura opens a portal, everyone waves goodbye, and the senior Alphans are left alone.
Morning in the forest now, Carol wakes up and looks around for Dexter. She sees him in amongst some trees and runs over to him, where he is muttering something in a language she does not understand. Carol asks Dexter if everything is all right, when Dexter swiftly turns around and shouts ‘What are you doing here?’ Nervously, Carol tells Dexter that she just wanted to know where he was, as she was going to fix him breakfast. ‘Well, you’ve found me!’ snaps Dexter.
Noticing a change in her husband, Carol asks him if something is wrong, if it is something she said. Dexter turns away from Carol and tells her that he is looking for firewood, and suggests she make herself useful my getting some food together. Carol tells Dexter that he is scaring her, as she has never seen him like this before. Dexter turns back to Carol and tells her that he will join her back at the camp and they can talk about it in a minute.
As Carol walks back to the camp, Dexter turns to the statue, whispering that he doesn’t know what to do with these powers that he mentioned earlier. He asks what the powers are going to be, and how much he will have. The statue stares back at Dexter, its evil blood red eyes fierce, its toothed mouth scary. ‘That much!’ exclaims Dexter, before asking how he is going to hide the power from Carol, reminding the being that he said Carol is never going to know.
The statue keeps looking at Dexter, speaking to him, Dexter replies that he understands that he is being given these powers so he can save the environment, but that it still doesn’t explain how he can keep Carol from knowing anything. Suddenly, Dexter is obviously told something he doesn’t like, as he cries ‘No! You can’t mean that! Not that!’ The statue just keeps staring at him.
Meanwhile, in Ottawa, Madison Jeffries phases out of his Box armor, feeling the metal and circuitry on his tongue, burning. His thoughts turn to Alpha Flight and the team’s continual problems. Things have not been well. As he walks up the stairs from the garage to the house, he hears a knock at the door, and he thinks of Heather, and their upcoming marriage, and all the thoughts of Alpha fade away. Jeffries remembers that Heather said she was going to stop by, and he wants to take her in his arms and make her forget all the horrors of yesterday.
But when he opens the door, standing before him is the sultry Diamond Lil! ‘Hiya, babe!’ Lillian “Lil” Crawley says to the shocked Madison, who asks his ex girlfriend and teammate what it is she is doing here. Lil reveals that she is out of prison and thought she would come and see him. Jeffries invites Lil inside for a few minutes, but tells her that Heather is going to be here soon. ‘Heather? You mean Heather Hudson?’ asks Lil.
Jeffries replies ‘Yeah’, before Lil puts her hand on Jeffries’ chest and asks him what he is seeing Heather for. Jeffries informs Lil that he and Heather are engaged, to which Lil asks if Heather isn’t a little out of his league. Neither Lil nor Jeffries sees Heather out the window, approaching Jeffries’ apartment. Lil tells Jeffries that she remembers when they were - Jeffries cuts Lil off, asking her what she means. ‘Let me remind you!’ says Lil as she leans in to kiss Jeffries, who tries to pull away.
Heather sees Jeffries with his ex and turns away and walks back towards her car. Jeffries tells Lil that he appreciates the thought but that he is spoken for. Lil asks him if it is true love, and he replies that it is. Getting into her car, Heather wonders if the day can get any worse.
Opening the door to her home, it suddenly does, for sitting on the sofa, is Talisman. ‘Love’s dangerous, isn’t it?’ says Talisman, ‘It can really do you in’.
Carol is kneeling over a camp cooker ready to pour something into a frying pan. Dexter comes up behind her and puts his hands on her shoulders. Carol apologizes for all of this, admitting that she should have been more understanding. Feeling Dexter’s hands around her neck, Carol smiles and supposes that he forgives her, when suddenly, Dexter starts choking her. Blood trickles out the side of Carols mouth as Dexter tells her that he is so sorry.
The mysterious being telepathically tells Dexter that he did well, as he is now much stronger, and that he too will be. Tying Carol’s feet up in some rope, Dexter tells the being that he wishes they didn’t have to kill her, as he loved her. The being asks ‘What is love?’ and asks how it can be more important than the world. Dexter admits that he doesn’t know anymore, that everything seems so confusing. As Dexter hoists his wife up so she hangs from the rope as it dangles from a tree, the being tells him not to worry, as it will not be confusing for much longer, and that he will soon see everything will incredible clarity, so long as he follows his instructions to the letter, adding that he will not believe the results.
Dexter places a pot beneath his dangling wife, and as he places the statue into the pot, the being keeps repeating ‘Excellent’ over and over. Dexter pulls out a knife and mutters ‘Carol’, but the mysterious being tells him not to worry about her, as she cannot hear him, and tells him to finish the job. Dexter holds Carol steady as he draws the knife up to her throat, the being explaining that when he slices her throat, the blood will dissolve him, making the next step easier for him. The being asks Dexter if he remembers the next step, and as he slices his wife’s throat, Dexter replies that he remembers.
In Ottawa, Heather asks Elizabeth what she thinks she is doing in her house. Talisman tells Heather that they have to talk, to which Heather angrily says ‘Talk about what?’ ‘Compromises,’ states Talisman, telling Heather that they have to face their compromises and wrestle with them. Heather asks Elizabeth what has happened to her, telling her that ever since she put that thing on her head she has become this…this…Heather’s voice trails off as Talisman declares that she knew what she was giving up and knew what she was going to gain. ‘I made a decision and drank in the consequences’.
Talisman declares that she now knows things, she knows what has been going on all this time, and why they have to do something soon. ‘Or everything is going to go bad’.
Dexter holds a pot filled with his wife’s blood and begins to drink from it, drinking all the blood, and tosses the empty pot aside, the statue dissolved, just like the mysterious being said it would.
Heather asks Talisman to stop being so cryptic, to just say what she means for a change and stop being so secretive. Talisman tells Heather that she makes it sound so simple, but that from where she sits, it isn’t, though claims she will try her best.
Talisman asks Heather to remember the Great Beasts, who live in a netherworld beyond their dimension. Elizabeth reminds Heather that the Great Beasts have tried to enter Earth’s plane many times unsuccessfully for thousands of years, yet all of a sudden, they start to succeed again and again. ‘Why?’ says Elizabeth before moving on to her next example, reminding Heather that they fought a being called Pestilence who was a man frozen in the Arctic ice, and asks why should someone frozen 150 years ago come back to life with super natural powers.
Talisman reminds Heather that the Dreamqueen was a demoness trapped in an obscure plane, out of all infinite dimensions in space and time, why did she want Earth, and why was Laura Dean drawn to the Dreamqueen’s dimension? Talisman explains to Heather that the odds of all of that happening are almost infinitely against it. Heather asks Talisman what she thinks the answer to all that is, but Elizabeth replies the answer is rather unpleasant, and reveals that the events were warnings of things to come, like the sound of distant thunder announcing an approaching storm.
Talisman declares that a storm is exactly what is coming, for every 10,000 years the planets enter a unique configuration, and when that happens, the physical laws of Earth begin to change, and the world enters a phase of darkness where everything that’s evil gets the upper hand….
In the forest, Dexter glows in power, ‘The night is coming and we are going to usher it in!’ declares the mysterious being, informing Dexter that it was no accident that he found him, as he brought him from across the miles as he knew he was what he needed. Dexter is gone, a Sorcerer dressed in black, blue and red, and with flames surrounding him. He declares that they are about to change the world, just as he tried to do 10,000 years before.
‘But first we have to kill some people!’ the Sorcerer declares as he teleports to Ottawa. Approaching Heather’s house, he declares that he has to kill the people in this house.
Inside, Heather picks up the telephone as she asks Talisman if what she is saying is that Canada is the nexus point for all these negative forces. Talisman confirms this, explaining that the badness will start to ooze out from here, eventually covering the Earth if it goes unchecked. Elizabeth tells Heather that Alpha Flight needs to exist, as they are the only group of people capable of dealing with this crisis and that without Alpha Flight, the darkness will gain a foothold in Canada and the rest of the world will not have a chance.
Heather speaks into the phone, she has rung Madison. Madison asks Heather where she is, as he thought she was going to come over. Heather hesitates before telling Jeffries that they will get to that later and suggests he come over to her place. Talisman senses something outside and asks Heather to tell Jeffries to hurry and to bring her father. Heather asks Madison to hold on and turns to Elizabeth, asking her what is wrong. Madison shouts down the phone, calling to Heather.
‘It’s too late, he’s here!’ exclaims Talisman with urgency in her voice. Heather asks Talisman who it is she is talking about, as Madison calls down the phone, asking Heather what is going on.
Suddenly, a hole is blasted in the wall, and Elizabeth and Vindicator are knocked back as Llan the Sorcerer makes his entrance.
Box IV, Sasquatch, Shaman, Talisman II, Vindicator II (former members of Alpha Flight)
Laura Dean, Goblyn, Purple Girl (former members of Beta Flight)
Diamond Lil (Former Member of Gamma and Omega Flights)
General Brian Winslow
Mayor of Edmonton
Carol & Dexter Rayne
Llan the Sorcerer
In Flashbacks / Illustrative Images
Box, Northstar, Shaman, Vindicator (all Alpha Flight)
The Great Beasts
Alpha Flight’s battle with the Dreamqueen took place in Alpha Flight (1st series) #67-70.
Two major coloring errors occur this issue: firstly, Sasquatch is depicted as having white fur, when as of Alpha Flight (1st series) #68, he returned to having his original orange-brown fur. Secondly, Diamond Lil is depicted with blonde hair, when her hair is in fact medium-brown.
Alpha Flight were branded as menaces by the Canadian government circa Alpha Flight (1st series) #51.
Alpha Flight officially disbanded in Alpha Flight (1st series) #61.
Alpha Flight severed ties with the government after discovering that their liaison Gary Cody was spying on them in Alpha Flight (1st series) #39.
Purple Girl was left at the Edmonton Mall in Alpha Flight (1st series) #69 after sustaining injuries that made it too risky to bring her along to fight the Dreamqueen.
Diamond Lil and Madison Jeffries had a relationship while they were members of Gamma Flight. When Gamma Flight was disbanded, Jeffries was not invited to join Omega Flight, and their relationship ended.
Diamond Lil last appeared in Alpha Flight (1st series) #28, before being sent to prison along with Flashback and Wildchild.
The Great Beasts have appeared many times during Alpha Flight’s series, most notably and importantly in Alpha Flight (1st series) #1, 6, 19, 23-24.
Alpha Flight fought the powerful and deadly Pestilence in Alpha Flight (1st series) #37-38, 44-45.
Alpha Flight first encountered the Dreamqueen in Alpha Flight (1st series) #59-60, and after battling a curse she cast upon them, then faced her in Alpha Flight (1st series) #67-70.
Issue Summary written by: Daytripper (Steven Bishop)