The Great Beasts were created by John Byrne and served as antagonists throughout the first 24 issues of his run on Alpha Flight.
Tanaraq first appeared in Uncanny X-Men #120 as the superhero Sasquatch. His true origins weren't revealed until Alpha Flight #23.
Tundra, The Land Beast first appeared in Alpha Flight (vol. 1) #1 (August 1983). The same issue also stated that Tundra had been responsible for the defeat and imprisonment of Snowbird's mother, the goddess Nelvanna. The character subsequently appears in Alpha Flight #24 (July 1985), #38 (September 1986), #55 (February 1988), #64 (November 1988), X-Man #39-40 (July 1998), and Wolverine #172 (March 2002).
Kolomaq, The Beast of the Snows first appeared in Alpha Flight (vol. 1) #6 (January 1984). The character subsequently appears in Alpha Flight (vol. 1) #38 (September 1986), and X-Man #39 (July 1998).
Ranaq, The Devourer first appeared in Alpha Flight #18-19 (January–February 1985). The character subsequently appears in Alpha Flight (vol. 1) #38 (September 1986).
Somon, The Great Artificer first appeared in Alpha Flight (vol. 1) #24 (July 1985). The character subsequently appears in Alpha Flight #38 (September 1986), #55 (February 1988), #64 (November 1988), X-Man #39 (July 1998), and Wolverine #172 (March 2002).
Kariooq, The Corruptor first appeared in Alpha Flight (vol. 1) #24 (July 1985). The character subsequently appears in Wolverine (vol. 2) #172 (March 2002).
Tolomaq, The Fire Beast first appeared in Alpha Flight (vol. 1) #24 (July 1985). The character subsequently appears in Wolverine (vol. 2) #172 (March 2002).
Neooqtoq, The Ravager is referenced in Incredible Hercules #119 (September 2008). Neooqtoq is described as the "deadliest" of the Great Beasts. Although the beast itself does not appear, Snowbird assumes its form to battle the slave gods of the Skrulls.
The Great Beasts received an entry in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Update '89 #3.
During the Chaos War storyline, Sasquatch gives Tundra, Kariooq, Somon, Kolomaq, and Tolomaq access to Earth so they can kill Amatusu-Mikaboshi. After Snowbird freezes them, the Great Beasts are impaled by Mikaboshi's tendrils and killed. However they are resurrected after Hercules defeated Mikaboshi and used all of his power to restore what Mikaboshi had destroyed.
The Great Beasts
- Kariooq, The Corruptor - Kariooq appears in Alpha Flight (vol. 1) #24. He resembles a giant rotting corpse with green skin, similar to the Inhumanoid named D'Compose. (The two were created around the same time period). Kariooq as a character is never "fleshed out" other than his weakness to ice ("the preserver") and his enmity with Tundra as a rival. It can be assumed however that his power might be that of decay and corruption or even control of the dead.
- Kolomaq, The Beast of the Snows - Kolomaq appears in Alpha Flight (vol. 1) #6. He appears during oil drilling in an unrevealed location of Canada. His appearance destroys the oil well and catches the attention of the Inuit demigod Snowbird. Kolomaq possesses energy welding powers but his main ability is to create blinding snowstorms. Seven pages of Alpha Flight issue 6 are white panels captioned with dialogue and narration. Kolomaq is described as the most ferocious of the Beasts and enemy to Tundra the Land Beast. He is also capable of conjuring sharp icicles. Snowbird tricks Kolomaq into triggering a landslide which either kills or imprisons him. Kolomaq appears as a white Yeti-like creature with an angry totem mask as a face.
- Neooqtoq the Ravager - Called the deadliest of the Great Beasts, Snow Bird assumed its form during the Secret Invasion to battle off the Skrull Gods army of enslaved alien gods. It resembles giant brittle star whose arms are covered with fanged maws.
- Ranaq, The Devourer - Ranaq appears in Alpha Flight (vol. 1) #18 but his origin is expanded upon in issue 19. Ranaq appears as a floating shape of blob-like energy or corrupted flesh marked by evil red eyes and grotesquely large yellow teeth. He is summoned by a shaman in 19th-century Calgary, the summoning forced by fortune-seeker Zebediah "Zeb" Chase and his young cohort Lucas Strang. The two hold the shaman's granddaughter hostage and force the shaman to summon the Devourer. Zeb and Lucas use magical talismans to protect themselves from Ranaq but these same talismans prevent them from touching the treasure and prostitutes that they force Ranaq to conjure. It is unrevealed as to whether these treasures and women are real or merely illusions. When Zeb removes his talisman to embrace a prostitute, the woman's face turns into a gigantic maw that consumes Zeb, allowing Ranaq to possess the man. According to the shaman, this need for a human body makes Ranaq the weakest of the Great Beasts. Lucas Strang turns his talisman into a magic bullet and kills Ranaq in mortal form; he is cursed with a 100-year lifespan until Ranaq's soul is released after Zeb Chase's grave is disturbed in the year 1985.
- Somon, The Great Artificer - Somon appears in Alpha Flight (vol. 1) #24. He is an old looking humanoid depicted with long arms and a bull-horn headdress. He uses a powerful staff as a weapon and can control the other Great Beasts. The very land where the Great Beasts dwell responds to Somon's control. He is also capable of some sort of astral projection that allows him to kill by stabbing his victims with his astral fingernails. Somon is the most intelligent of the Great Beasts, known for his malevolent trickery. He, like Ranaq, is physically weak despite his great magical power. Snowbird mortally wounds him but he returns in perfect health at later dates.
- Tanaraq - Tanaraq appears in Uncanny X-Men #120 as the superhero Sasquatch but his origin is expanded upon in Alpha Flight (vol. 1) #23. He is comparable to Sasquatch at his original sasquatch form but with white fur. When Dr. Walter Langkowski bombarded himself with gamma radiation, the experiment did not go as planned, as he had unleashed for a fraction of time enough physical energy to break the mystical barrier that held the Great Beasts in their prison. A mystical symbiosis was formed between Walter and Tanaraq, which didn’t allowed Walter to transform into Sasquatch, like everyone thought, but to summon Tanaraq and control him. Whenever Walter turned into his Sasquatch form, he was actually trading places with Tanaraq. Eventually, Tanaraq was able to take control of his body in this realm. Snowbird realized this and attacked Tanaraq, slaying him, stranding Walter's soul in the Realm of the Beasts forever. He is also the responsible for the Wendigo Curse and acts as the "father" of the Wendigo.
- Tolomaq, The Fire Beast - a minor Great Beast, Tolomaq first appears in Alpha Flight (vol. 1) #24. His character is never fully developed. He appears as a shapeless column of fire.
- Tundra, The Land Beast - first appearing in Alpha Flight (vol. 1) #1, Tundra is the first of the Great Beasts that Alpha Flight confronts. Tundra is summoned through a mystic ritual in which a vagabond (who is actually the father of Snowbird ) traces a gigantic human shape in the barren land of Canada's Northwest Territories and then dons a metallic crown that summons the spirit of Tundra. The vagabond's corpse animates, the land mimicking the corpses movement until Tundra rises in the shape of a humanoid mass of earth. According to Shaman, Tundra is supposed to be controlled by the mind of the human who summons him but because of the weakness of the vagabond summoning Tundra, Tundra's real personality quickly takes over. Tundra's powers stem from the land itself. He can summon mosquitoes, hurl boulders from his body, increase his size by absorbing land mass, and is connected to the land so if he is injured, earthquake-style upheavals occur in the surrounding area. He is defeated by water erosion after Marrina creates a water spout that Shaman uses to create a torrential downpour. Tundra is arch-enemy to the Great Beast Kariooq, the Corruptor.
- Chaos War: Alpha Flight #1
- Chaos War #5