Appearing in "Insides"
- Alpha Flight
- Epsilon Flight
- Basil Kilgrew - (Behind the scenes)
- Wolverine (Logan) - (Appears on a computer screen, TV, or hologram only)
- Mesmero (Mentioned)
- Beta Flight (Mentioned)
- Ghost Girl (Mentioned)
- Lt. Oculus (Mentioned)
- Roger Bochs (Mentioned)
- Madison Jeffries (Mentioned)
- Master of the World (Mentioned)
- Virgo (Mentioned)
- Clan Yashida (Mentioned)
- James Hudson (Mentioned)
- Patrice Trask (Mentioned)
- France (Mentioned)
- Paris (Mentioned)
- Japan (Mentioned)
- Nagasaki (Mentioned)
- Hades (Mentioned)
- World War II (Mentioned)
Synopsis for "Insides"
The story begins with the image of a human heart. It is the heart of Flex, who is peacefully sleeping in his bed. This is followed by images of his bed, his bedroom, the Department H headquarters, and the province of Ontario. The narration exclaims that each one is contained within the other, and everything is contained within something else. But occasionally something inside needs to get out. Adrian wakes up with the urgent feeling that he has to go to the bathroom.
Since there is no bathroom within his room, Adrian has to leave the room and sneak down the corridor towards the nearest bathroom. The narration explains that nobody in Department H would actually mind that Adrian is going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. But Hull House and its strict rules have conditioned Adrian to fear leaving the room at this hour. In the corridor, Adrian runs into a mysterious pink energy bubble with an eye in the middle of it. He runs away from the perceived danger and the mysterious entity follows him. Adrian makes it to the bathroom, though he fears he will be trapped there. Energy from the entity begins to seep into the room and approaching Adrian.
The scene shifts to the same corridor in early morning. A partly-dressed Radius is heading to the bathroom to have a shower, though his force field prevents even drops of water from touching his body. He meets the Guardian, who is already wearing the Guardian's Battle-suit at this hour. The leader of Alpha Flight is concerned about the team's poor performance in their recent battle with Mesmero. He wants to run some morning battle simulations in an attempt to improve the team's performance through more training. He wants Jared to join the exercise as soon as possible and to alert Flex, who seems to have disappeared this morning. Jared protests that he is not his brother's keeper, but Guardian holds him responsible for Adrian. They part ways as Jared enters the bathroom.
Jared is surprised to discover Adrian sleeping in one of the shower cubicles, still dressed in his pajamas. He immediately wakes him up and asks him what happened. Adrian claims that he was being chased by a glowing monster with a fried-egg eye. Jared does not believe in this story and thinks Adrian is retarded. He instructs Adrian to shut up, take a shower, and head to training. Jared warns his brother that Guardian is acting like a Nazi again.
The scene shifts to Vindicator, who is wearing civilian clothes and holding her geothermal suit in her hands. She is talking to Chief Engineer Su, who expects her to wear the suit and head towards the morning training exercise. She refuses to wear the suit again until Su adds modifications to the uniform and redesigns the headgear. Su questions the need for any changes. Heather explains that the previous year she switched from wearing glasses to contact lenses. But the suit currently includes no protection for her eyes while flying, and her lenses jeep drying out while she flies. She has eyesight problems because of this. And the headpiece is irritating. Whenever she turns her head to the side. the headpiece pokes her in the face. She hands Su the suit and leaves, while complaining about the lack of support from Department H. Su remains silent.
The story skips ahead in time. Heather uses her computer to access the Department's files on Beta Flight. She gets a message of "access denied". She heads to the office of General Clarke and asks his secretary to access the files for her. The secretary explains that she is not authorized to access the files without permission from the General himself. Heather is frustrated, but asks where Puck is. The secretary only knows that he was sent on a mission. Guardian then arrives and adds that Puck will soon return. Meanwhile Mac wants to talk to Heather in private. The request is mildly surprising to Heather.
Mac and Heather step outside the building and head towards the surrounding forest. Mac starts the conversation by admitting that he has been avoiding her and discussing their relationship. But says it is not because he does not think about Heather. He actually thinks about her a lot. When the Department regressed him back to a 19-year-old, he lost many memories in the process. He had to relearn facts about half of his life. Everything that he does remember is like a second-hand account. Like something he has been told, rather than an actual experience. Among the things he lacks first-hand memories about is going on a real date with Heather, kissing her, and a lot of other things. Yet Heather has informed him that Mac is her husband. He tries to explain how he feels about that, but is interrupted by the arrival of another person.
The interloper is Murmur, who explains that she is returning from her morning swim in the lake. She is wearing a revealing bikini and has a bandage in her upper right arm. She asks to join the couple and enjoy the sunny weather with them. Mac tries to explain that they are actually in the middle of something. Ignoring his words, Arlette asks Mac for further training in unarmed combat moves. He postpones it for later, then grabs Heather and flies away. Arlette comments that there is always later.
The couple lands on the roof of the building and their conversation continues. Mac explains that he is very attracted to Heather, but he needs to get to know her again. He suggests taking this slowly and that they should start dating each other for a while. Heather does not feel it is appropriate to date her own husband. She partly understands his feelings about their relationship, but she can not ignore her own feelings. And she confesses her belief that this version of Mac might not even be the man she used to love. Mac admits that he does not know if his own memories are real or artificial memories created by someone else. But he remembers Heather being an understanding and compassionate person. He needs these qualities from her at this moment of his life.
As they speak, Heather notices the mysterious one-eyed entity coming through a grate, spying on them, and disappearing. She tries to explain this to Mac, who did not see the entity standing behind his back. Mac fears Heather is simply trying to run away from him. He grabs her arm and kisses her on the mouth to express his feelings. The people of the Monitor Division observing the kiss through a camera rejoice, at finally seeing something interesting. One of them comments that with the exception of Arlette, there is not much interesting action coming from this version of Alpha Flight.
General Jeremy Clarke enters the Monitors' rooms and seems to be quite angry with them. He reminds them that they are not getting paid to be voyeurs and threatens to have them fired. He then reveals the reason for his anger. He has noticed a number of potential security breaches and the Monitors have failed to report any of them. He mentions the case of Lilli who walked out of her room and straight into the reception area. The Monitors never noticed her escape attempt and did not notify his office. The Monitors point out that their superior Lt. Oculus had not yet added Lilli to the list of persons they have to keep track of. Oculus only added her to the list earlier this day, following her escape attempt. Clarke informs them that he has already reprimanded Oculus.
Clarke insists that they have to record all actions of Alpha Flight, regardless of their perceived insignificance. He mentions what they should do in case an Alphan sneezes, cleans his/her nose with a tissue, and then throws the tissue into a waste bin. He wants them to record every single part of the action and record a video of the tissue hitting the waste bin. Their own conversation seems to be recorded by Manbot, who is spying on them through an open door. The robotic Alphan soon leaves and travels down an empty corridor.
The story skips ahead in time, to the training exercise of Alpha Flight in Combat Central. Present are Flex, Guardian, Manbot, Murmur, Radius, Sunfire, and Vindicator. Absent are Puck and Sasquatch. Some of the team members team-up against the devices of the room, others fight their own teammates in sparring matches. According to the narration they secretly use the exercise to take pent-up hostilities out of their system, though they would never admit.
Vindicator teams-up with Vindicator against flying spheres. Radius has picked Sunfire as his sparring partner, though they argue over how to proceed. Jared wants Shiro to roleplay as Mesmero, while Shiro wants to just follow the instructions of their superiors. Guardian chooses Flex as his personal sparring partner and intents to work on improving Adrian's fighting style. Murmur complains because she expected "James" (the Guardian) to help train her in unarmed combat. Guardian observes that her injuries from the fight against Sasquatch have not healed yet. He wants Arlette to let herself heal first and then focus on her training.
The teamwork between Vindicator and Manbot is going well. Heather tells him of how he reminds her of a former Alpha Flight member, Box. Manbot associates the term "box" with containers and asks whether Box was a container. She replies that "in a way" Box was a container, because it was an armor system inhabited by the consciousness of its users. She mentions that the original user was a charming quadriplegic called Roger Bochs. Then it was used by Madison Jeffries. When she mentions Jeffries, Heather's voice gets lower and her eyes get narrower. She seems to be remembering something about the missing Alphan, though her memories of his abduction have been suppressed.
Meanwhile, the combat between Radius and Sunfire is not going well for Shiro. Jared has used a holding move to immobilize Shiro's neck and chest area. Shiro is brought to his knees and gives up fighting, asking for Jared to release him. He seems to be in discomfort if not outright pain. Jared is quite surprised that his sparring partner is giving up already. He was already aware that Shiro was not as strong as himself, but he was expecting more of an effort from him. He calls Shiro weak. Shiro claims that he is not usually weak, but there is something wrong with him. He quickly covers up his revealing statement by claiming that he did not sleep well during the previous night. Flex overhears the conversation, and asks Shiro whether he saw an "energy monster" the previous night. Shiro answers that his rest was disturbed by personal matters, while he suspects that Adrian's monster exists only in his teammate's imagination and dreams.
While Chief Engineer Su informs Guardian that he detected an anomaly in his coronary charts, Heather interrogates Adrian about the monster he encountered the previous night. Adrian gives her the energy entity's description and reports that it chased him down the hall. Heather notes that the description matches an entity she herself had seen earlier this day. She immediately informs Guardian about their sightings of the entity. Jared comments that the topic of this discussion freaks him out. Both Adrian and Heather take his comment for sarcasm and tell him to shut up. As the exercise ends and the team members depart Combat Central, Heather asks Adrian to notify her if there are more sightings of the entity.
Guardian and Vindicator speak in private about the situation. He asks her if they are being invaded. She thinks it is possible, though she notes that the entity has limited its actions to chasing them and peeping on them. Which indicates to her that it has not posed much of a threat. She keeps in mind that they recently faced multiple versions of the Master of the World created by Department H, and she finds it logical to suspect that this entity has also been created by the Department. Mac offers to tell General Clarke to see if they have been interpreting something official as something intrusive.
The scene shifts to the headquarters of the Zodiac. The Ecliptic is gazing into her crystal sphere and searching the entire world for something. Scorpio asks the Ecliptic what she sees. She sees Paris, France and determines that the missing member of the Zodiac (Virgo) is there. Virgo is all they need to complete the needed 12 members of the Zodiac. Scorpio is determined that his team will go to Paris and retrieve Virgo. He declares that once the Zodiac is complete, it will rule the Earth as it does the heavens.
The scene shifts to Flex's room, while Adrian seems to be working on his computer and searching the Internet for something. His brother Jared, who observes him, asks whether Adrian is cruising the net in search of cyber-porn. Adrian finds him annoying, particularly since Jared has already stated his personal belief that the Internet is only for nerds and geeks. Adrian reveals that he is using an Internet service which helps adopted children to search for their biological parents. The service is reportedly free and Adrian has already added the names of both Corbo brothers. Arlette enters the rook to ask Jared to join her for lunch. Jared explains to her that the "doofus" (Adrian) is searching for their biological parents. He also explains that he and Adrian are maternal half-brothers. Which means they have the same mother but different fathers. He jokes that his father was the world middleweight champion, while the slender Adrian's father was a stick of uncooked spaghetti.
Arlette is very interested in the possibility of locating her own missing mother through the Internet service. She explains her origin story for the first time. Her mother was a house cleaner who got pregnant after a passionate encounter with Francois Truffaut, a legendary French director. Her mother left Arlette in Hull House when she went to find for her love, Francois. Her mother never returned and Arlette has no idea what happened to her. Jared expresses disbelief at her story, but Arlette insists that her story is true and wants Adrian to find her mother. Adrian sends the data to the service and the three rookies leave the room to head for lunch. Jared points out that it will be easy to find Arlette's father, since the man is long dead. They only need to search for his tomb. Arlette does not appreciate Jared's cruel sense of humor. Jared then suggests that their real parents are a couple of test tubes in the basement of Department H, and that all three of them are test tube babies.
The conversation of the rookies is interrupted when they encounter the mysterious energy entity in the corridor. Radius immediately wants to attack it and gives chase. Murmur follows him, though she thinks that they should alert their teammates. Jared rejects her idea, since they are all Alpha Flight members and should be able to handle the situation. A slower-moving Flex asks them to wait for him, though Radius points that they have no time to wait. The entity seems to be running away from them with considerable speed. Jared notes that the entity is heading straight into a dead end and thinks they will be able to corner it. However, once they turn down the hall, the entity seems to vanish into thin air. The rookies are left staring at an empty corridor and closed doors.
The scene shifts to Puck who is undergoing a memory-wiping treatment. The narration points that "arcane" energies are selectively uncoupling the neurons that make up his most recent recollections. He initially remembers being sent to retrieve Sasquatch from the Thompson River Canyon area of British Columbia and being ambushed by Department H troops who were following him. He then forgets about the troops and the ambush. Then he forgets about the Canyon and British Columbia. Finally he remembers only being sent to retrieve Sasquatch, forgetting everything else about this mission. The treatment ends and Puck is left with a blurry memory of his last mission.
Once Puck exits the mind-wiping device, he encounters General Clarke who lies to him about the causes of the treatment. Clarke claims that Puck fell from his flight platform and fell unconscious from the impact. The treatment was supposedly needed to bring him around. Puck is confused, he does not know where he is, and can not identify what was his last conscious memory. Clarke explains that they are in the Department building. He instructs Puck to go rest in his quarters until he recovers from his fall. Puck takes the advice and leaves the room. However it soon becomes clear that the memory-wiping treatment has left Puck rather confused about key details. He wanders around and can not estimate the distance from his current location to his quarters. He then has trouble recognizing his surroundings, and forgets who he was talking to. He realizes that he can not remember his fall. Puck attributes his memory problems to his drinking habits, and he concludes that he must be recovering from a night of heavy drinking.
Puck soon encounters Vindicator, who realizes how lost her teammate seems to be. Heather concludes that he must be tired from his mission with Sasquatch, and asks him when did he return to the building. Puck narrates what little he can remember from his mission. "Walter"(the Sasquatch) broke out and the Department sent Puck to retrieve him. Puck thinks that he succeeded, but he feels forgetful. As forgetful as he felt during the first day of their return to Alpha Flight. Heather can relate to this, as she often has the same feeling or forgetfulness since their return. She recalls that they recently both remembered about their missing teammate Madison Jeffries, and Puck recalls that realization as well. Heather determines that it is time to have words with General Clarke about the situation.
The scene shifts to the dining hall, where Flex, Murmur, and Radius take their meal on trays and search for a place to seat. They approach the table where Sunfire is finishing his own meal and ask to join him. He warns them to be careful of the food, as he feels ill because of it. He then gets up to leave and retire to his room. He refuses to socialize with the rookies and asks to not be disturbed by them. The narration reveals that behind this behavior is Shiro's pride, which prevents him from sharing his problems with his new teammates. He is actually troubled with the thought that he is dying from radiation poisoning, such an ugly way to die. He intends to suffer alone and quietly, like a true warrior of the Clan Yashida. Death from radiation poisoning is not actually new to his family, as his grandfather died of radiation poisoning following World War II.
As he walks to his room, Sunfire is observed by the mysterious energy creature. He is too lost in his own thoughts to notice it. He gets to his room and goes to a large mirror. He starts taking off the uniform, which covers his entire body except his head. For the first time since the doctors of the Department diagnosed what is killing him, Shiro wants to look in the mirror for signs of the disease. He locates a single skin mark on his abdomen. He resolves to go on fighting his disease, because that is what warriors do when facing their own mortality.
The scene shifts to Puck and Vindicator who are walking in the building's corridors in search of General Clarke. His secretary told them that he is in a laboratory and won't be out for the rest of the day. Heather is determined to ask him about the disappearance of Madison Jeffries and what in Hades is in that mysterious Beta Flight wing of the building. She points that if the Department H has got other heroes in there, there should be no reason for secrecy. The Alpha Flight members have never seen these other heroes training, having dinner, or even walking in the halls. The two Alphans find the doors to the lab open and Puck suggests that they should sneak in before they close. Heather agrees since her national-level security clearance has not been good enough to allow her access to this place.
As the two Alphans attempt to enter the laboratory, they are stopped by two guards of Epsilon Flight who claim that this lab is top-secret. The doors are reportedly open because they are having trouble with them. Heather attempts to use her membership in Alpha Flight to get access to the room anyway. She is stopped and confronted by General Clarke himself, who points that she does not have proper clearance for this wing of the building. He instructs the two Alphans to step away from the open door and offers to speak to them later. Heather translates his words to offering to throw them a bone at his own convenience. She has had enough of his arrogant treatment on them and wants to talk to him right now. The guards find a way to close the door and Clarke commands them to do so. Locked outside, Puck and Vindicator discuss their glimpse of the lab. They managed to notice bodies held in tanks, and now have more questions to ask Clarke.
The scene shifts to the dining hall, where Radius reveals to Flex and Murmur what he has to do to eat. He wears a device on his face, which is apparently a food converter. It converts food to a form that can pass through his force field, allowing him to get the carbs necessary for his nutrition. However he feels like the freakiest thing on the planet when wearing it and warns them not to make jokes at his expense. As Jared prepares to eat an apple, the mysterious energy entity enters the dining hall and stands behind his back. His two teammates try to warn him about its presence, but Jared does not believe them.
The entity proceeds to engulf Jared and his force field, and it is clear the Alphan can not escape it. A worried Adrian asks Arlette to confront the creature, but she doubts that her powers would work on it. She advises Adrian to instead use his own metal hands to cut it. He is too intimidated to even try. The creature starts flying away in speed, taking Jared with it. The two remaining Alphans start chasing it down the corridors. Adrian attempts to cut it with his blades, but they pass through its energy form with no apparent effect. Arlette stands in its way and tries to use her powers on it. The creature and Radius pass right through her body, without any apparent interactions with it. The entity is apparently intangible.
Flex and Murmur continue chasing the entity, with Adrian determined to help his brother. They encounter Puck and ask him to help them with the chase. Once Puck gets a brief explanation of what is going on, he agrees to help. He notices that the creature has entered Jared's room. The creature throws Jared to his own bed and then vanishes. The four Alphans are soon in the bedroom and can not figure what just happened. Puck theorizes that the energy creature simply wanted Jared to go to his room, and compares its behavior to that of a cranky parent. A bewildered Arlette declares that this whole place is crazy and that she needs to get some fresh air.
Murmur steps outside the building and walks towards the surrounding forest. She notices the Guardian standing alone there, and approaches him. She briefly explains the situation involving the creature to her leader but makes clear that he can not help for the time being. Arlette notices how tense the Guardian seems to be and offers to massage his shoulders. James (as she calls him) is reluctant to accept her intimate touch, pointing that he is married. Arlette answers by pointing that when 19-years-old, James Hudson was still single. She then calls attention to the age difference between the current Guardian and his wife, describing Heather as an older woman. He is still young and youth is time to play.
James admits that he has had similar thoughts lately. He feels like a young man and feels like he should be experiencing life. Instead he finds himself trapped in the life of another man and can not find a way out. James seems shocked that he is actually confiding his feelings to her, but he points that he does not really have any friends to talk to. Arlette identifies herself as his friend, then impulsively kisses him on the lips. Vindicator flies by in search of her husband. She sees them kissing and flies away. With the kiss over, a confused James calls after Heather and gets no reply.
The scene shifts to a chained Sasquatch in his new cell, who is visited by Puck. Puck confides in him that something peculiar is going on, and wishes that "Walter" could talk and converse with him. He has the feeling that "Walter" remembers what happened out there in the woods of British Columbia. He might have information which is currently unavailable to Puck, buried inside his head. Puck fears that his recent memory problems may be symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and caused by his own advanced age.
A mysterious voice can suddenly be heard inside the cell, the voice of Basil Kilgrew. He tells Puck that the energy creature is actually a creation of Department H. He instructs Puck to ask General Clarke about Patrice Trask. Basil then ends the conversation, and informs Puck that they will talk again. Puck feels angry and wants answers right down, feeling tired of all these mysteries. He threatens to locate Basil and beating him to get his answers. However, Puck has no time to pursue Basil, as Alpha Flight is summoned to the briefing room. Supposedly to be briefed about a national emergency.
Soon 6 members of Alpha Flight (Flex, Guardian, Murmur, Puck, Radius, and Vindicator) arrive at the briefing room. Missing are Manbot, Sasquatch, and Sunfire. General Clarke informs them that the emergency concerns Weapon X, Wolverine, and that the Department has reopened its files on him. An image of Wolverine appears on a screen. The story ends.
- The narration of the issue provides some information on the religious beliefs of Flex. He reportedly believes in heaven. He also believes there are souls inside every living being, souls that call out to each other across the great void of life.
- According to the narration, Sunfire's grandfather was in Nagasaki during World War II. When the atomic bomb fell in the city, the grandfather was exposed to the radiation. He died of radiation poisoning.
- According to Basil Kilgrew, the creation of the Bio-Energy Sentinel is connected to a person called Patrice Trask. Trask may have been intended to be a new character for the Alpha Flight Vol 2 series, however the subplot was dropped by the writer Steven T. Seagle and the character remains unseen.
- Besides the confrontations of the Alpha Flight members and the Bio-Energy Sentinel, the issue contains no battle scenes and no apparent villains. It is devoted to developing the characterizations of the main characters of the team, revealing background information on their origins, and advancing a number of subplots introduced in previous issues.
- The bandaged injuries in Murmur's arm derive from her battle against a mind-controlled Sasquatch in Alpha Flight Vol 2 5 (December, 1997).
- A difference in the depiction of Vindicator in the Alpha Flight Vol 2 series, is that Heather no longer wears glasses. This issue explains that she switched to wearing contact lenses before rejoining Alpha Flight.
- Virgo apparently teleported to Paris back in Alpha Flight Vol 2 1 (August, 1997), when commanded to do so by Murmur. She was last seen in Alpha Flight Vol 2 5 (December, 1997), when she collided with a speeding car. That the Zodiac is searching for her seems logical, however their search seems to be rather slow in producing results.
- That Department H is manipulating the memories of Puck and Vindicator was a subplot introduced back in Alpha Flight Vol 2 1 (August, 1997). However, this issue explains more about the process they are using.
- Madison Jeffries is missing from the Alpha Flight ranks, because he was abducted by the Zodiac back in Alpha Flight Vol 2 1 (August, 1997). Department H keeps suppressing the Alpha Flight's memories of the abduction.
- The information that Puck uncovered in Alpha Flight Vol 2 6 (January, 1998) and can no longer remember is that this Sasquatch is not Walter Langkowski and not human at all. He is instead a real sasquatch.
- In this issue, Puck fears his memory problems are symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disease whose early symptoms consist of short-term memory loss. As the disease progresses it causes dementia, severe changes in behavior, loss of ability to take care of one's self, and eventually death. It is a rather common disease in Earth-1218, with an estimated 48 million patients worldwide as of 2015.
- In this issue, Puck fears his advanced age may be reason to worry about Alzheimer's disease. This is based on Alzheimer's being a common disease for the elderly. The majority of patients are at least 65-years-old. Puck was born early in the 20th century, and he would be in his 80s by 1998, when this issue was published.
- This issue marks an early appearance for Basil Kilgrew, who would not fully appear until Alpha Flight Vol 2 13 (August, 1998). He is apparently the mysterious person who keeps feeding Puck cryptic information about Department H since Alpha Flight Vol 2 1 (August, 1997). Technically only his voice is heard in this issue.
- This issue's month and year says February 1997, although it is really February 1998.
- The intended gender of the unseen character Patrice Trask is unclear, since "Patrice" is a first name used by members of both genders. In English-speaking countries "Patrice" is primarily a feminine name, while in French-speaking countries it is primarily a masculine name.
- The family name "Trask" is not uncommon in Marvel-related stories. There are minor fan-theories that Patrice Trask is related to Bolivar Trask and his extended family.
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