Wolverine, Punisher & Ghost Rider: Official Index to the Marvel Universe #4
Note: Despite being clearly printed on the cover, “Official Index to the Marvel Universe: Wolverine, Punisher & Ghost Rider” is not the actual title of this series. The indicia reveals it reversed as above.
The Official Index to the Marvel Universe, or OITTMU, continues in its third incarnation by covering various Wolverine, Punisher, and Ghost Rider series. The first two incarnations covered Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Avengers, Thor, and Captain America. The index contains detailed synopses of individual comics, including all of the relevant data pertaining to the comic as well as a thumbnail of the cover art, 2 issues per page (roughly). Shaman appears in this issue in reprinted art from the cover of Wolverine #110 (Feb 1997).
Originally, the solicits for this issue indicated it would start at issue #104 for the Wolverine section of the book, but the writers only got so far as issue #100 last issue. The solicits are based on estimated page counts, so it’s typical to be off by a few issues. The section on the Wolverine titles continues from issues #101 to #133 and also includes a few special issues published during that portion of the run. Alpha Flight members appear in issues 102.5, 104, 110, 114 and 129, with Shaman on the cover of issue #110 with art by Adam Kubert.
Cover of Wolverine #110
click for big image
The notes identify the various Alpha Flight appearances in these issues as well as the little volume 2 preview at the end of issue #114. Invaluable information from these index issues notes the chronology of the character’s appearances, but out of all the issues listed above, only issues #110 and #129 were in continuity, and #129 only had flashback scenes.
Of all the indexed issues mentioned above, the only Alpha Flight image appearing in this book is the cover for Wolverine #110. The actual image shown inside is a tiny thumbnailed image, so here is an inset from the actual cover to that issue featuring Shaman as he weaves a spell to trap the Great Beast back into its vessel.
Unfortunately, a long-running question about this issue remains unresolved: the Great Beast in this issue had never been identified properly as one of the Seven Great Beasts (Somon, Kariooq, Kolomaq, Ranaq, Tanaraq, Tolomaq and Tundra), and fans were puzzled at the time if this were one of them. Hints had been dropped over the years that there were other Beasts (as mentioned in Alpha Flight #6, #23 and Wolverine #172) and in Over the Edge #2, Shaman referred to a snow creature as a Great Beast. In more recent times, more Great Beasts have surfaced, including Neooqtoq in Incredible Hercules #119 and two others, Tiamaq and Herateq, in Marvel Heartbreakers #1.
In the “Villians” section of the text for this issue, the Great Beast is simply called “Great Beast” and in the “Notes” section:
It is unclear which Great Beast appears here. Aside from this issue, only Seven Great Beasts have ever appeared on-panel – but Snowbird transforms into a previously unknown eighth Beast in Herc #119, ’08, so others may exist, and this may be another Beast. However, it vaguely resembles Ranaq the Great Devourer; if this is Ranaq, he appears here following AFlt #18, ’85.
So, the mystery of the Great Beast from Wolverine #110 stands, but Ranaq does seem to be an excellent suggestion.
Note: Tiamaq and Herateq should have been mentioned in the quoted text above, a minor omission that doesn’t matter for the purpose of identifying the Great Beast in issue #110, but still a bit disappointing as fans expect the info in these indexes to be comprehensive.