Saturday, March 23, 2013

What The Puck???

When you go through the rosters on most classic superhero teams, you will find that many of them share characters with either similar personalities or powers. Most of them have your token “big” or strong guy, a speedster, a water guy, maybe someone mystical, a god and of course a leader who’s either draped in a flag or at least has the personality of a boy scout. That’s one of the reasons why Canada’s own Alpha Flight has always been one of my favourite superhero teams of all time. Although they have all the usual suspects on their roster, Sasquatch (strong guy), Northstar (speedster), Marinna (water girl), Shaman (mystic), Snowbird (demi-god), Guardian (leader draped in the Canadian flag) they also have something that most teams don’t have…and that’s Puck.

WHO? Looking at a group picture of the Flight, the little dude in a dark leotard with the hairy arms & legs with a bright orange “P” on his body does tend to easily catch one’s attention. Meet Puck, the diminutive Canadian superhero who speaks with the stereotypical Canadian "eh" after almost every sentence and named after that small solid hard compressed rubber disk that is hit around the ice by men on skates with sticks…you know, Canada’s number one sport, hockey (or is that curling?).

So what makes Puck so special, what exactly are his powers that make him such an integral member of Alpha Flight? Actually if you go by the original intention of his creator John Byrne, Puck was supposed to be just a regular little person with no superhuman powers, he just merely had exceptional fighting skills and highly acrobatic. Then much to Bryne’s disappointment, when he left the series, later writers started adding more to Puck’s backstory that made him more than just your average little person.

According to his revised history, Eugene Milton Judd, who was born in 1914 grew up to be 7 foot tall adventurer…think Indiana Jones….but taller….and no hat or whip…..maybe. Anyway in one of his adventures he was hired to steal an ancient blade called the Black Blade of Baghdad. Unfortunately the Blade actually turned out to be a prison for an ancient sorcerer called Black Raazer, and in his attempt to steal the blade, Judd accidentally freed him. With not many options available to him, he managed to trap the Black Raazer within his own body. While he survived, the Black Raazer fed on his life force causing him immense pain and making him shrink to half his height. Now before you start feeling sorry for the guy, housing the imprisoned sorcerer inside him also gave him immortality. Actually…a never ending life in pain DOES kinda suck.

Raazor-less Grandpa Puck
Still years later, after a run-in with another Alpha Flight villain, The Master of the World, (doesn’t seem to strike as much fear as “Doctor DOOM” huh?) his body was subjected to genetic manipulation causing his body tissues to condense at a molecular level thus making his body rock hard….well ok, compressed rubber hard… a puck….

So now he spends his days as member of Alpha Flight kicking Master of the World type butt by cartwheeling at them at full speed and knocking them silly with his rock hard body. Oh and apparently he’s also a skilled bullfighter. I don’t know if you find this whole story silly or not, admittedly, growing up he was sort of my least favourite member of Alpha Flight as he was always moping about how small he was and how he was always in pain and was incapable of being loved….blah blah blah.

I was for TEAM Jeffries :P
Nowadays however, I’ve come to accept, no appreciate his presence in team, so much so that when they finally produced a *little* action figure of the guy I grabbed it first opportunity I got. And he’s a cute little figure that comes with his own little iddy biddy white bird! Actually the bird is supposed to be his fellow shape shifting team mate, Snowbird, although not entirely accurate since Snowbird would usually transorm to a snow white owl, its a nice enough addition. He also lacks the usual elbow & knee articulations, but he does have some extra ones in his ankles, wrist and neck....oh and if you pose him properly, you can actually get him to do a one handed HAND STAND without the help of any sticky tack!

So that’s Puck in a nutshell, the one guy that Alpha Flight can claim as uniquely theirs, uniquely Canadian and uniquely…..what? So now he’s a member of the Uncanny X-Force? Oh well… least we’ve still got Major Mapleleaf* eh?

From Alpha Flight to X-Force....

*actually we don’t, Major Mapleleaf was killed off some time ago fighting a villain called the Collective (STILL not striking any fear….)