Characters Appearing: Immortus
Avengers West Coast #59
Issue(s): Avengers West Coast #59
And my brain kind of stopped right there. I had never really thought about the various motivations for super-villains before, but it made sense to me. A guy like Hydroman is more or less at the top of the Spider-Man villain powerset, and he ought to be happy there. He's able to grab a couple hundred thousand dollars when he needs it and basically live off that. No reason to constantly put himself in a situation where he's going to get attacked by super-heroes and put in jail. And it made me think that this is probably what most low level super-villains do most of the time, since it wouldn't make sense for them to keep trying if every time they did anything they were stopped by super-heroes.
I've made observations all over the site along these lines, but i'm pretty sure this was the first time in real time i ever thought about it like that, so if for no other reason, this issue was pretty important to me. But of course the story does go on past page four. Right after the above scene, Hydroman is convinced to not just settle for what's working for him.
So, with his mind enhanced by the mysterious stranger, he goes off and takes some people hostage and calls out the Avengers.
Now, obviously i have some fondness for this issue based on what i've said above. But unfortunately it is a fill-in, and it's of fill-in quality. The art is scratchy, and the dialogue way oversells the premise. Here are the Avengers admitting that they've never met Hydroman and yet falling over themselves laughing at how dumb Hydroman is, incredulous that he'd be after anything but money, and joking about how easy it will be to beat him.
Just based on his powers, i think Hydroman is a real threat, and he's also been in the Frightful Four, which means he's at least survived fighting the Fantastic Four. I don't know where Hawkeye and Wonder Man get the idea that he's such a pushover.
And of course it's just to set the stage for a Hydroman that isn't a pushover.
Hydroman is defeated when his mysterious benefactor, who turns out to be Loki, decides he's had enough fun and removes his intelligence.
And also forces him to blurt out information on his ace-in-the-hole, a bomb he planted in the Avengers' pool.
Now here's where things get a little weird. The above sequence, with Loki sending a random villain against the Avengers, almost feels like something that was meant for Acts of Vengeance. Then, the third-to-final page of the issue has Wonder Man locating Hydroman's bomb, but the now dumb Hydroman has forgotten how to disarm it. Then, the last two pages are drawn by a different artist: one page that is just a splash panel of an explosion, and then a page of Immortus wiping out this entire reality.
So this whole issue doesn't even "count", which is too bad because i think there could have been a learning experience in there for Hydroman. On the other hand, i'm kind of glad to write off this version of Hydroman as one that maybe ate lead paint chips as a child. It does feel like this was leftover from Acts of Vengeance but either didn't make the cut or wasn't needed as a fill-in or something (i assume the original ending had someone figuring out how to disable the bomb), so it was repurposed to fit into the Immortus storyline that's been going on in this book. If that is the case, it's a pretty clever way to make use of the pages.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Note that Immortus is the only actual character appearing in this issue. Next issue begins in the aftermath of last issue, so i'm continuing to keep all these Avengers West Coast issues clustered together.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Very interesting, the point regarding repurposing an AoV fill-in. It's a very crafty idea if that was the case. With these "events", having a fill-in handy makes a lot of sense. And why let an issue go to waste if the fill-in is not needed. Kudos to Marvel.
Posted by: Tabe8 | June 5, 2015 7:17 PM
Yeah, I remember reading this in real-time and thinking it was a strange AoV epilogue until Immortus came in and wiped it away.
I had never seen Hydro-Man as an FF villain and because he seemed kind of like Water Wizard (almost lame enough to get blown away by Forge), I always thought of him as kind of dumb like he's treated here. I had just never seen anything to show me otherwise.
Posted by: Erik Beck | September 29, 2015 8:47 PM
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