Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Doctor, The Demigod & The Great Beast part 1

Dr. Walter Langkowski is one of those examples of a well rounded “you can have it all” kind of characters in the Marvel Universe. He was an honors student at the University of Calgary and went to Pennsylvania State University on a football scholarship, earning a degree in physics. After that he became a professional football player playing for the Green Bay Packers and earned a ton of money. And if that wasn’t enough, after retiring he continued his graduate studies at M.I.T. Yet for all his educational and professional accomplishments, in the Marvel Universe he is best known for his big orange furry alter ego.

When I was a little boy, I had an irrational fear of….apes. Well ok, not apes per se like gorillas or chimpanzees (although those guys are actually vicious...look it up), but more mythological, fictional or possibly real(?) creatures that looked similar to apes (furry humanoid) like Grendel from Beowulf, King Kong or Bigfoot. It got so bad that my older sister, who was a psychology major had to resort to basic hypnotism to help me get over my fears. Anyway her simple hypnotism trick worked so well, that moving forward, not only did I get over my fears….I started getting fascinated by these creatures….which is most likely one of the reasons I gravitated towards the obscure Marvel superhero team, Alpha Flight which included Walter Langkowski, AKA Sasquatch.

I first learned about the Marvel character Sasquatch when I came upon an entry in the Marvel Universe Book of the Dead (a character resource book released in the 80’s) for another character named Snowbird who was actually another prominent member of Alpha Flight. Anyway her history and that of Walter Langkowski are so intertwined that it would be quite impossible to talk about one without the other. While the Marvel Universe is chalk full of interesting character background/origin stories, the tale of Walter Langkowski, Snowbird and the Sasquatch is probably one of my favorites for its uniqueness and just plain weirdness. Now before I go any further, just a warning...this is a rather long and convoluted story with so many side stories intertwined (you know, basic comic storytelling). I’ll do my best to try and keep it as straightforward as possible.

Ok so first we have Dr. Walter Langkowski. Like I said at the start of this post, he went to Pennsylvania State University on a scholarship. It was during his time here that he met and befriended another future doctor named Bruce Banner (hmmm where did I hear that name before?). Anyway, they bonded over their common fascination with gamma radiation. And years later, when Walter discovered the Banner had turned into the Hulk though a gamma radiation experimentation, he sought to duplicate the process under more...controlled circumstances.

With his research backed by super secret Canadian gov’t agency Department H, Langkowski was somewhat successful in replicating Banner’s gamma radiation experiment on himself. But instead of turning into another green “hulk”, his alternate form turned out more beastial with orange fur. He assumed that his close proximity to the Aurora Borealis was the main reason for the different transformation results from Banner. But it turned out he was wrong….dead wrong.