Avengers West Coast #69
Issue(s): Avengers West Coast #69
A couple of things to digest regarding the above scan. We'll get to the fight between Hawkeye and USAgent later; that's actually the main plot of this issue. Note that the Wasp is playing a "vid-disc"; the East Coast team is not talking to the West Coast team in realtime. That's relevant for placement purposes. Also note the return of Mockingbird and, with that, the effective dumping of the Great Lakes Avengers, who won't appear or, i think, even get mentioned until they're brought back as joke characters in a Deadpool comic. Finally, check out that team of East Avengers behind Cap. Quasar is cosplaying as Nomad for the video. And how is Scarlet Witch, who is in the room with the West Coast team, standing behind Quasar? Is it a holographic video?
No, not according to these panels.
Of course the bigger news from that panel is that now that the Avengers are affiliated with the UN, the United States military has no grounds to install their agent, USAgent, on the team. He will stay or go based on his own merits, via a vote by the group. And here's that vote.
Machine Man is the closest thing to an unorthodox choice (he hung out with the team during The Terminus Factor). So the main team is four of the five original members (with a caveat about which Iron Man was an original member) plus three characters that have been hanging around with the team since Steve Englehart's run. No surprises. And even the reserve team doesn't have any interesting twists along the lines of the East Coast's Spider-Man or Sandman (again, except Machine Man, and possibly Quicksilver who has only been hanging around since Magneto's attack).
But, post-voting, their are wrinkles. Both Henry Pym and the Wasp have actually decided to switch to "alternate status", i.e. they are resigning. And yes, you dopes should have mentioned that before the vote.
Hawkeye snarkily suggests that Hank and Jan's resignations means USAgent will maybe get elevated to real Avengers status, but USAgent is unhappy about the army having unceremoniously dumped him, and getting a single vote to be a reservist didn't exactly placate him, so he throws a fit and leaves.
The voting was anonymous, but we learn after the fact that Quicksilver asked his sister not to vote for him, but she did anyway, so that accounts for one of his votes. Hawkeye tells Mockingbird that he wasn't her single vote becuase "last thing in the world I want is my estranged wife sitting across form me at every meeting". She doesn't take kindly to that and leaves.
Also, Scarlet Witch breaks off the budding relationship with Wonder Man, telling him that she likes him very much "as a friend". He doesn't handle that well. And i thought this scene was sad/funny.
When the Pyms are your model romantic relationship, you know you are doing something wrong. But i am glad that Thomas is not going forward with John Byrne's idea of getting Hank and Jan back together. Or the Scarlet Witch/Wonder Man relationship.
Ok, with all of the politics and interpersonal stuff out of the way (all of which i thought was handled pretty well, by the way), we get to the main plot of the issue. USAgent, on his way out the door, challenging Hawkeye to a fight in response to all of the ribbing he's been getting. The scenes with the voting and stuff are actually told in flashback. The story actually begins with Hawkeye and USAgent starting their duel.
Haha! There's the armor from Avengers Spotlight #30-36. Holy crap that is a huge quiver.
Now, let me get my biases out of the way. I don't like USAgent as a person, but, except in more recent Mark Gruenwald stories, my impression is that we're not supposed to like him as a person. I do like him as a character. There have definitely been a couple of interpretations of him. He's a conservative, sometimes racist, Captain America, he's a psychopathic maniac, he's an unwanted government agent hoisted on the team. And he can be all of those things. I think he serves as an interesting foil for the rest of the team.
But i've never much liked Hawkeye as a character. He comes off as an entitled jerk in his Kooky Quartet period, and that's the personality that has basically stuck with him. He admittedly showed some great growth as a character during Englehart's run as he became more of a leader, and that's an interpretation that Kurt Busiek will return to in Thunderbolts and do a lot with. But even in the Englehart period he came across as pretty douchy, especially as it related to his wife's rape, and once Hawkeye lost his leadership role he reverted to his old self. On top of that, he is, to me, extremely uninteresting powerwise and has no business being in the Avengers. Captain America plays the role of non-superpowered peak human guy. Hawkeye should be getting knocked out or killed in any fight that doesn't involve street thugs. USAgent, on the other hand, has Power Broker super-strength plus tons of training from the Taskmaster.
So i have to admit that i really love seeing USAgent wiping the floor with Hawkeye in this issue.
Despite the sound thrashing, the USAgent basically handles Hawkeye with kid gloves, pulling his punches, checking to make sure he's ok after accidentally throwing him all the way down a cliff, and pulling him out of the ocean when he's knocking out. And it's not until after that, after Hawkeye is totally beaten and USAgent is basically rescusing him from drowning, that the other Avengers show up, with Iron Man shooting a repulsor beam at USAgent.
The Wasp tells USAgent that he's lost any chance of being on the team, and she also says that Hawkeye will be put on probation because of the fight. Then Iron Man gives USAgent a speech that kind of misses the point.
USAgent is fighting Hawkeye because Hawkeye was a complete ass to him the entire issue and basically since they first met. The question of who's "earned" their Avengers status is totally besides the point. And to prove my point, Hawkeye is ready to start fighting again once he wakes up.
This isn't an admirable, "The Thing doesn't give up while fighting the Hulk", type of character moment. This is Hawkeye proving that he's a moron and an asshole.
On the other hand, while i think that USAgent one-sided fight against Hawkeye had the power levels exactly right, Scarlet Witch's ominous concern is a bit overblown. USAgent is strong, but i think the West Coast Avengers as a whole could take him down pretty easily. Heck, i think Wonder Man could take him down pretty easily all by himself.
To be clear, while i do think Hawkeye's a jerk, my main enjoyment of this issue comes from a pretty basic thing: Roy and Dann Thomas are respecting the relative power levels of the two characters. I understand the philosphy that says that any character can win any fight given the right circumstances. But 9 out of 10 times, a guy with trick arrows shouldn't lose to the guy with actual super-strength and equivalent fighting ability. Between that and the exploration of the team politics and interpersonal relationships in this issue, it's a good one.
And that's in stark contrast to the upcoming Pacific Overlords arc, which is set up at the end of this issue.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: Note that the East Coast Avengers and General Haywerth are speaking to the West Coast team via a prerecorded vid-disc. I therefore haven't listed them as characters appearing, and i'm allowing this to fall after Thor #431-433 even though it's beardless Thor in the video. Hell, the fact that the Scarlet Witch seems to have photobombed the shot means it could have been recorded as far back as Avenger #329. USAgent is no longer a team as of this issue, although he rejoins in issue #74 and is basically part of the story that runs from next issue until that one. However, he shouldn't appear in other books as a member of the team between issue #69-70, and he does appear in Captain America #386 while he isn't a member of the team.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showHawkeye, Henry Pym, Iron Man, Jawbreaker, Kuroko, Mockingbird, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Taifu, Tigra, USAgent, Wasp, Wonder Man
The speech is such bs that the scan has been destroyed.
Posted by: david banes | September 27, 2015 2:19 PM
Fnord, this is weird- US Agent appears during Captain America 385-386 through this arc but the next issue seems to take place a few minutes after this one. In fact, the whole thing is very weird, since US Agent is in New York in Cap 386, US Agent is in San Francisco in issue 71, but judging by Spider-Woman's timeline that issue takes place less than 24 hours after this one. Admittedly, it's possible that Agent flew to New York, went directly to Cap and flew back as soon as the Watchdogs were defeated, but still...
Posted by: Michael | September 27, 2015 3:58 PM
Speech has been restored and the Reference updated.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 27, 2015 5:06 PM
Fnord, I have to disagree with your assessment of Hawkeye. He's always been one of my favorite Avengers because he's the "out of his league" guy but that's never stopped him! It could very well be the death of him one day but the universe owes its continued existence to him since he conned the Grandmaster. That alone should entitle him to be written down in everyone's "Cool Book" ;) But, of course, we all have our opinions and while I have to disagree with yours on Hawkeye, I'll respect it.
Also, I think what Wanda meant about the USAgent was "-and if he ever turned bad--it would cause Wonder Man or Iron Man a couple minutes time to stop him."
I will say that one thing I liked about the Agent was that he was a good middleweight kind of character the West Coast Avengers had been lacking. You had Wonder Man and Iron Man, a couple of powerhouses...and then Tigra, Hawkeye and Mockingbird on the complete opposite side of the scale. The USAgent brought that middle level guy to the team to kind of balance things out a bit. And he was unique to the West Coast team, not a transplant from the Avengers.
Posted by: Bill | September 27, 2015 5:38 PM
Some nice art there in these scans...
Posted by: Piotr W | September 27, 2015 6:01 PM
Roy Thomas has a raw deal here, but I still must say that he commited a few serious mistakes, most of all keeping USAgent around. The character is really only good for one story, the cautionary tale. Having him around is a terrible distraction and cuts deep into the suspension of disbelief: why on Earth would the Avengers have anything besides the exit door to show him?
Generally speaking the Thomases' writing has been sort of by-the-numbers. Very little and unconvicing characterization.
Michael has a point about the lack of middle level characters, though. Come to think of it, they are becoming somewhat difficult to find at this point in time. Spider-Man is the only one that truly springs to mind. Most characters' power levels become somewhat situational by 1991.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | September 27, 2015 8:26 PM
It is interesting that the math does not add up. There should have been 40 votes, not 41.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | September 27, 2015 8:28 PM
I love this issue. Roy Thomas loves Hawkeye and hates USAgent. He brought back Hawkeye, and now he has shown the Agent the door. Unfortunately, Mark Gruenwald is probably forcing the Agent's presence, so this is not the end of his tenure. I think that the merged Hulk should rejoin the Avengers at this point. He would be a good replacement for Hank and Jan.
Posted by: Steven | September 27, 2015 9:57 PM
"Machine Man is the closest thing to an unsurprising choice" did you mean "surprising"?
Posted by: Morgan Wick | September 27, 2015 10:08 PM
I would LOVE to see the scene where Machine Man finds out that he was granted Avengers membership...at a meeting he was not invited to, and without anyone asking him if he had any interest in joining!
He teams up with the team ONCE--and then weeks later gets voted in. And he gets voted in by ONE SINGLE VOTE. A new Avenger is granted membership because ONE person voted for him, in a secret ballot.
Seriously, who thought that was a good idea...both in-story, and behind the scenes?? In-story, all of the Avengers present should know the by-laws that new members are supposed to get vetted for security clearance, and be approved by the chairman and/or a majority vote of the active roster. If an established Avenger like Mockingbird was not allowed to have a vote at the meeting, then non-members certainly should not have been eligible as someone to vote for. What the Roy Thomas thinking? It might have made more sense if he had some plans for Machine Man that this was a set-up for...but no, Machine Man only makes two other appearances in the series, both of them in "call in all the reserves" stories.
It would have made far more sense if someone like Firebird was voted in as the other reservist. She at least was an established Avenger who had ties to the WCA (and was basically an unofficial reservist for them anyway).
Posted by: Dermie | September 28, 2015 12:32 AM
@Morgan, thanks, fixed it.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 28, 2015 7:53 AM
Another Hawkeye fan here. He really started to grow on me in his solo outings, especially his whirlwind romance with Mockingbird. (I try to ignore how he reacted when she got raped by the Phantom Rider. And how he gets all EXTREME during the Crossing era. Nobody's perfect.)
Anyway, there's an interesting parallel between Hawkeye and USAgent: both are introduced to the team as the rebellious, thinks-he-should-be-in-charge type, and both eventually treat the leader they had disdained with reverence. With Hawkeye, though, it kind of almost made sense. He's a brash guy, but he's basically okay, and anyone who hangs around Cap long enough will revere him eventually.
In the case of USAgent, he goes from outright hatred of Hawkeye here to acting like the man is his brother not long from now, and it never feels earned. USAgent is a psycho; Hawkeye, though a great leader, is still a brash guy and not the type of personality that would ever get along with USAgent. But suddenly Agent is talking about how great Hawkeye is all the time...
So, look forward to that, I guess.
Posted by: Andrew F | September 28, 2015 11:01 AM
It's hard to find a lot of good moments from WCA #1 to WCA/AWC #69 where Hawkeye comes off as a redeeming character and not a jerk who overreacts and views everything as a personal slight. I think Byrne did a decent job of playing off Hawkeye's bravado with Hawkeye's insecurities (losing leadership to Hank, the reunion with Mockingbird in #46), but they felt few and far between overall during this time period.
I like Hawkeye a lot, but all of my favorite moments either come post this issue or prior to the start of the West Coast Avengers.
I don't love the Avengers' blind support of Hawkeye here. Especially in light of the fact that US Agent has been goaded non-stop by Hawkeye. US Agent is an outsider to this group and I liked that at his core he was essentially trying to be good (there's a nice moment when Tigra is feral and he remarks that no one should have to live like that after he finds out she's been eating mice in the pantry), but the team really just doesn't want anything to do with him and resent his presence. He's an interloper, he's not a friend like Hawkeye, so his deeds and actions are viewed in a much different light.
Posted by: Mark Black | September 28, 2015 11:43 AM
To balance the scales a little, I agree with fnord's take on Hawkeye: that he's way over his head in The Avengers and would no doubt get killed pretty quickly at this level.
First, I've never bought into archers as superheroes. The Robin Hood archetype just doesn't hold up in the modern world, in my view, and this is true even for the exasperating Oliver Queen (one of my favorite personalities in comics history). The trick arrows always struck me as pretty corny and implausible.
Second, the problem, as I see it, with The Avengers (or the JLA, for that matter) is that they aren't an "organic" group like the FF or the X-Men, whose members have roughly similar power levels. Instead, you've got lineups largely based on popularity and consisting of characters with hugely varying power levels. That leads both to an even greater than usual lack of realism and also to leveling -- because in reality, any threat to Thor (or Superman) would easily massacre Hawkeye (or Batman). So writers have to fudge things to keep all these characters alive and make them all seem valuable to the cause. Thor-level characters tend to become less awesome, and Hawkeye-level characters end up doing things they really shouldn't be able to do. That's at least the way it's always seemed to me.
I prefer to see characters remain in their respective niches (say, cosmic-level, world-level, mid-level, street-level). Power ranges among characters in the comics are extremely vast. It's hard to imagine how awesome it would be to be in the presence of a character such as Thor or any villain who could really fight him. Writers and artists should constantly make us feel that, and Hawkeye should feel it, too, as in get me outta here.
P.S. And, personally, I think Spider-Man defeating Firelord is not within the realm of possibility, as established by early precedents. In reality, there's nothing that Spidey should be able to do that would come close to dropping a Thor/Surfer level character in open combat, whereas Firelord, done properly, could vaporize him in an instant if he really wanted to do so. Again, I'm a believer in power levels and niches, which is not to say an underdog can't win the day if it's done plausibly. Just my 2c.
Posted by: Instantiation | September 28, 2015 4:13 PM
@Steven: How do you know that Roy hates USAgent? It does not show in the stories themselves, even this early on before everyone begins to treat him as if he were a legit member.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | September 28, 2015 8:46 PM
Agree with Bill about USAgent being a necessary middleweight anchor to the team. While I hate both Hawkeye and USagent as people I like their interaction in this title. I concur with fnord12 that Hawkeye is a cocky jerk and loved watching him get beat up. USAgent is also a jerk but shows slightly greater maturity and restraint in this issue which earns him some respect.
Posted by: Grom | September 28, 2015 8:54 PM
Well, I'm another defender of Hawkeye.
One thing to bear in mind about him being a jerk about Bobbi's rape is this - he's being a terrible, terrible husband. But he hasn't been a husband for very long. He's been an Avenger for a very long time and spent a long time working towards being chairman and he's trying to hold true to the idea that Avengers don't kill and in the end, his being an Avenger wins out over being a husband. It might not be the best choice, but it is, under the circumstances of the character as developed, a reasonable one.
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 24, 2015 9:21 AM
#82 reveals the vote for Mockingbird came from USAgent.
I'd also be pretty confident to say the 1 vote for Machine Man comes from Iron Man (from the Terminus Objective Iron Man Annual).
Posted by: Scott | December 24, 2015 12:55 PM
Tsk, tsk, Thomas: the correct Japanese would be "Are wa..." (pronounced 'Ah-reh wa...') not "Ara wa..."
Posted by: Oliver_C | December 24, 2015 2:42 PM
Aren't all the scenes prior to the fight a flashback and therefore technically Mockingbird and Wonder Man shouldn't be listed as appearing?
Posted by: AF | February 10, 2016 11:59 AM
Generally speaking, if a flashback can plausibly take place directly before the main story, i count the appearances as part of the entry. The flashback is just a storytelling device and it's meant to take place in the same timespan as the rest of the comic.
This has come up a couple times so i added a note in The Rules.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 10, 2016 12:50 PM
I want the vote for Machine Man to come from Hank. Like, he didn't really care about it because he was going to quit anyway, and originally wrote Ultron, but realized that would be tasteless, and so he scratched it out.
Posted by: FF3 | October 23, 2016 10:02 AM
Hawkeye NEVER gives up here, even after getting thrashed. That's admirable. It's also worth noting I don't think he's ever lost a fight to the U.S. Agent after this- and I can think of three times they have faced off since.
Posted by: Urban Commando | April 30, 2017 6:59 AM
This may be a huge quiver, but the Moon is pretty big too.
It's pretty clear the one vote for U.S.Agent was Iron Man's. Makes sense. He seemed to be the only one who managed to stand Walker a tiny bit more than the others. That's probably why he gives him this "I'm disappointed in you and explain it with condescending nonsense" speech.
I wonder who else voted for Pietro. Maybe Hawkeye?
I like Hawkeye as a character. He can be such a jerk as a person though. But I still like him more than Walker... who nonetheless displays more maturity in that fight. Go figure. I should probably mention I like U.S.Agent as a character too. And even though Clint's determination comes from stupidity and cockiness, I still liked it. (is there anything I didn't like about this issue...?)
Posted by: Nate Wolf | November 21, 2017 3:31 PM
The 1 vote for U.S.Agent was U.S.Agent voting for himself.
Posted by: AF | November 21, 2017 7:54 PM
Comments are now closed.
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