AGENTS OF P.A.C.T.
This serial lasted only four issues and so into what kind series it would have matured is not known. However, P.A.C.T. itself and some of the characters have much longer histories which we will explore later.
The serial has two narratives running parallel. The first acts as a three-page prologue in each of the four issues. Its object is to provide background information about Manon Descamps aka La Fleur De Lys and P.A.C.T. The time is 1976 Manon Deschamps is introduced as Canada’s most decorated athlete, an international singing sensation and a guardian. We jump to RCMPSS headquarters in Ottawa where agent Joseph Evans who has been investigating a “Stardance event” is being told he will not receive funding, due to lack of evidence, for an expedition to Melville Island to carry on his investigations. Enter Manon Deschamps. She’s impressed by his work on the “Stardance” file and will arrange to get funding for the expedition. But, before they do, they must go to Makkovik Newfoundland to investigate some disappearances. The citizens of Makkovik are decidedly uncooperative, they deny there have been any disappearances, but just as the situation is getting tense between the bar clientele and the two, an alien appears. The Makkovik inhabitants have been protecting it from snoopers. The disappearances were other aliens simply deciding to go home. Marion is aware of the dangers that aliens face from humans who want to destroy those who are different. She wants to form an organization that will create understanding between humans and aliens. Therefore, Manon, Joseph and the alien form a pact to build an organization with such goals. Probably if the series had continued this prologue would have completed the background that would have brought us up to the current story.
The main story which follows presumably occurs in the present. A short introduction on the inside front cover tells us “Captain Canuck” aka “Tom Evans” has walked away from “Equilibrium” and his unreliable brother “Michael Evans” now runs it. Manon Descamps is Director of P.A.C.T. the Paranormal Investigation Arm of C.S.I.S located in Montreal. This organization’s mandate is to protect the earth. In response to the rising number of breaches, it was organized to understand and contain the super beings and extraterrestrials making the breaches. To accomplish this objective, “Manon” is recruiting a team of costumed agents.
The story opens with “Manon” and a recruit “Marla Ritchie” flying into “Alpha” on Melville Island the former headquarters of the deceased “Mr. Gold” who we are told experimented on “Marla” and others who are now dead. A team is attempting to clean up the liquid gold spread over the environment. “Marla uses her powers to initially begin cleaning up the gold then a voice and a pain in her head causes her to lose control and the gold splashes back onto the landscape. The scene switches to a giant crater or “Breach” at Cold Lake Alberta. Dr. Cape informs “Manon” these “Breaches” have been occurring all over the world. Switch to a ship on the Sea of Japan. A costumed alien (?) super being (?) appears. Switch to P.A.C.T. headquarters in Montreal. We learn that in addition to coping with “Breaches” there is tension between P.A.C.T. Equilibrium and H.A.L.O, Phillip Wise aka “Northguard” also of P.A.C.T. confiscated Equilibrium’s “proprietary tech”. “Manon” will not work with H.A.L.O. a U.S. organization. Jump to Equilibrium headquarters Resolute Bay Nunavut. Manon meets with Michael Evans. “Red Coat” part of the Equilibrium appears. We learn that “Equilibrium” has entered a partnership with “H.A.L.O.”. “Marla” accidently reveals her powers coming up against Amber-Lynne leader of “Michael’s” militia. The meeting breaks up. Switch to Mount Babel Quebec and “Le Jardin” a P.A.C.T. facility that studies and contains the extraterrestrial phenomenon and paranormal super being breaches that its investigations” reveal. We find this facility is operated by the same “sentient light being” called Vin that we encountered in the prologue. We learn more about H.A.L.O. It is the U.S. counterpart of P.A.C.T. but has a different ideology in that it eliminates anything that is unusual or different. The tension is personal with “Manon” who lost associates close to her because of this organization. Vin describes Marla as being bonded to an extra-dimensional symbiotic liquid metal which gives her, her extraordinary abilities. Another jump to a scene between “Manon” and “Redcoat”. We learn that Manon has a file that Redcoat doesn’t want revealed to Michael and that Manon is using it to manipulate Redcoat. Final jump, there is a “Breach” in the Venetian Islands Florida caused by the same costumed alien (?) who appeared in the Sea of Japan.
The P.A.C.T. team and “Red Coat” arrive at the devastated aftermath. They are reminded they are in “hostile territory” and must collect data and depart before the American authorities arrive. Marla then the team are distracted from their work in order to rescue victims much to the chagrin of Red Coat who is also part of the team. A team from Equilibrium led by the militia leader previously mentioned now arrives. Another fight between him and Marla follows. The conflict results in damage to a building so severe it begins to collapse. Marla uses her symbiotic liquid metal powers to support it. Amber-Lynne attempts to destroy Marla while she is occupied supporting the building, but Redcoat intervenes. Marla does not have enough metal (gold) to hold the building and it collapses on her and Dr. Ron Cape who had also been defending her. At Ron’s suggestion Marla manages to pull gold out of the crater and extricate them from the rubble. The Equilibrium team has left the scene and P.A.C.T. do the same. Next, in order to strengthen the team Manon sends Redcoat to recruit Yvette Arsenault aka Kebec who previously worked with Equilibrium. She immediately joins. Cut to P.A.C.T. headquarters. Dr. Ron Cage has discovered that each breach occurs at a site where Captain Canuck formerly used his powers. It appears the creature of the breach is searching for Captain Canuck. The next site is predicted to be Equilibrium headquarters.
Next scene is Redcoat and Kebec are trying to infiltrate Equilibrium – to reach Parminder Patel – to warn them of the incoming breach. Switch to a scene where Manon previously assigned Kebec a secret mission, unknown to the warning team, to infiltrate the Equilibrium mainframe and upload a virus. In short Manon is asking Kebec to sabotage her former comrades. Back to main action, Redcoat and Marla who is now called Crucible are discovered and captured by Michael who of course won’t listen to their warning of an incoming breach. A fight erupts between the Redcoat and Marla team who is more than willing to fight and Michael’s militia. Switch to the appearance of the previously mentioned alien who materializes before Parminder Patel and attempts to speak to her. Kebec appears on the scene and tells Patel to run while she attacks the alien. In the process Kebec is injured. The alien breaks into the main room and Marla and Amber-Lynne ally to fight the alien. The alien prevails. Gold appears and the alien moves to it Marla grabs him and they both disappear. Redcoat goes to the aid of Kebec and discovers the virus stick that she is carrying.
This episode commences with Manon and a team now at Equilibrium observing the destruction. Redcoat tells Manon that both missions, the rescue mission and the “… clandestine backdoor rubbish you nearly got Kebec killed for.” are failures. She goes on to inform Manon that Kebec is stable and that Marla has disappeared through a portal. Switch to Marla in another dimension. She is experiencing the voice in her head again. This dimension is a tunnel to Aleph on Melville Island where Eldon is cleaning up the gold mess. Marla and the alien crash there. Marla finds herself in a dream (?) surrounded by individuals in gold condemning her as weak and ineffective, demanding she use them, set them free. Then she is conscious at Alpha. The alien runs towards the clean up crew. Eldon dispatches they and confronts the alien. Marla from behind entangles the alien in gold threads which also entangle Eldon. The conflict between Marla and the alien continues. The question is, is the alien good or bad? The voices inside Marla think so and want her to destroy this “impurity” but there is another voice Manon is talking with Marla. Marla resolves her inner conflict and does not destroy the alien because “That’s not what P.A.C.T. does.” The alien escapes into another dimension. But Eldon has been infected by the gold. Marla goes back into the realm of the gold people, confronts and destroys the leader and assumes leadership of the rest. The first order of business is to release Eldon from his gold infection. In a final wrap up, Redcoat rejects Manon and after chastising him returns to a relationship with Michael. It appears that Kebec has also returned to Equilibrium. Only Marla is left on the team. Manon intends to rebuild, but the serial ends here.
One major characteristic of this serial is that it is saturated in conflict. There is the implied conflict of an invasion by aliens and super beings, conflict between P.A.C.T., Equilibrium and H.A.L.O., conflict between the members of P.A.C.T., and the inner conflict of Marla. With so many conflicts and the continual jumping from location to location the story line is fragmented and difficult to follow. One is reminded of the first law of commercial television “Thou shalt give them enough jolts per minute or thou shalt lose them” as stated in T.V. critic Morris Wolfe’s book Jolts. The corporate organization of the creators also leads to discontinuity in the visual aspects and less obviously in the written section. It cannot get away from the superhero model which has all powerful males saving weak and ineffective females. Here the model is reversed but is now uninteresting to the other half of the potential readership. Using a model of male/female partnerships would have freed the serial from this cliché.
It had promising initiatives which would have been interesting to watch develop. One was the liberal use of francophone words and phrases which was not only appropriate for the Canadienne characters but may have also been employed to reflect the bilingual nature of Canada. Another interesting feature was the ideological conflict between P.A.C.T. which “respects all life” and “stands for containment” and H.A.L.O. which prefers to eliminate the “different”. Were the creators defining their vision of Canada’s apparently increasing inclusive and accepting attitudes compared to the Americans’ increasing insularity and fear of the other?
Another interesting aspect of this serial was its recycling of characters and institutions from other sources. Manon Descamps aka Fleur De Lys, “Phillip Wise” aka “Northguard” and P.A.C.T. all originated in the “Northguard” serial created by Mark Shainblum and Gabriel Morrissette, although P.A.C.T. originally Progressive Allied Canadian Technologies created by a group of Canadian scientists has been changed to “Paranormal Activity Containment Team” created by “Fleur De Lys”.
“Redcoat” and “Kebec” both created by Richard Comely appeared in issue 2 of Captain Canuck when the serial first appeared. Both characters were at that time, were otherwise nameless males. They have been transformed into females Olivia Wallace-Yeats and Yvette Arsenault respectively. “Michael Evans” and “Equilibrium” also come from the “Captain Canuck” series. This presents another difficulty for readers. They have had to read the Captain Canuck periodicals in order to understand much of the background information occurring in Agents of P.A.C.T.
PERIODICAL GRAPHIC: Published by Chapterhouse Comics. Coloured cover & content.
|Agents Of P.A.C.T. …. Illustrator:… Single & multiple covers per issue.|
|1, Jan. 2017: A, Sanya Anwar.
2, May 2017: A, Bella Rachlin.
1-3, March 2017: A, Bella Rachlin.
|1-4, Apr. 2017: A, Bella Rachlin. B, Alex Perkins (variant cover).|
|Agents Of P.A.C.T …: “Agents of P.A.C.T. …”. Writ., Kalman Andrasofszky & Blake Northcott. Illus., Federica Manfred. Let., Andrew Thomas. Col., Caroline Nolasco.|
|1, Jan. 2017: “ …Ch., 1”.||2, May 2017: “…Ch., 2”.|
|Agents Of P.A.C.T …: “Agents of P.A.C.T. …”.|
|1-3, May 2017: “…Ch., 3, Breach”. Writ., Maggie Alexander & Kalman Andrasofszky. Illus., Federica Manfred. Assist., David Namisato.
1-4, Apr. 2017: “…Ch., 4, Alone” Writ., Maggie Alexander & Kalman Andrasofszky. Lay., Federica Manfred. Fin. Art., David Namisato & Christopher Johnson.
Jolts: The TV Wasteland and the Canadian Oasis. Writ., Morris Wolf. James Lorimer & Company Publishers, 1985: 14.
Agents of P.A.C.T., 1, Jan. 2017: Front cover. Top to bottom, Manon Deschamps, Redcoat, Crucible, Kebec. Illus., Bella Rachlin.
Agents of P.A.C.T., 1-3, March 2017: Front cover. Top to bottom, Michael Evans, unknown, Redcoat, Manon Descamps. Illus., Bella Rachlin.