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Monday, March 25, 2013

Comparative Mythology

The ongoing threat of supernatural forces was a defining theme not only for the Defenders but also in the early days of Alpha Flight. Some indirect similarities unfolded in the original series for both super-teams.

Beginning with Alpha Flight #1, the premiere heroes of Canada had incremental battles against the Great Beasts, seven evil beings who were escaping to Earth, one by one, as the bonds between dimensions grew weak. The subplot had a personal connection to Snowbird, the half-goddess member of Alpha Flight who was a born enemy of the Great Beasts.

By this time the Defenders had defeated a string of demonic entities known collectively as the Six-Fingered Hand. The danger had a familial connection to Daimon Hellstrom, the half-devil member of the Defenders whose father was leading a charge to break through extra-dimensional barriers and conquer Earth (Defenders #99).

On top of that, both teams had a mystical orange monster among their ranks. Though introduced as an opponent of the Defenders, the hero Gargoyle was a repentant man trapped within the body of a demon. With Alpha Flight, the unsuspecting heroes eventually discovered that teammate Sasquatch actually transformed into the physical form of Tanaraq, one of the Great Beasts.

The above image from Alpha Flight #6 (January 1984) shows Snowbird facing the Great Beast called Kolomaq. It's worth noting that the Alpha Flight series took creative liberty in suggesting that the seven Great Beasts and various story points had roots in Inuit mythology.

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