Avengers West Coast #70-74
Issue(s): Avengers West Coast #70, Avengers West Coast #71, Avengers West Coast #72, Avengers West Coast #73, Avengers West Coast #74
Still here? Well, i'm not responsible.
The story starts off with Spider-Woman having come to Newport Beach for unspecified reasons and is crawling around in costume for reasons even she can't explain, and despite the fact that she is AWOL from her quasi-government job.
She comes across the villains that we saw at the end of last issue, and winds up getting punched into the ocean.
Meanwhile, a lot going on with the Avengers.
Tigra is hitting on Iron Man (even though she doesn't know, or claims to not know, who is in the suit).
Scarlet Witch is pushing the emotions about her phantom children deep deep inside her.
Wonder Man is making a big show of setting up a date with a Hollywood starlet in front of Scarlet Witch.
Quicksilver is leaving the team. Henry Pym and the Wasp are supposed to be leaving, too, but they are lingering. It will turn out that Hank is dating Dr. Jennie Falk, the scientist who lent the Whackos the UCLA lab in Avengers West Coast #67, and Janet is writing a movie script.
Meanwhile, the villains that we saw fighting Spider-Woman turn out to be working for Dr. Demonicus.
Demonicus has also captured Living Lightning after he was seemingly destroyed in the fight with the Golden Age Human Torch in issue #63.
Later (after Iron Man and Tigra's date, which Tigra found unsatisfactory), Spider-Woman shows up at the Avengers compound looking for help. Tigra nearly attacks her but she's stopped by Iron Man. Who mentions that, along with Hawkeye, he met her during Secret Wars.
Two problems with that, Iron Man! First, you're supposed to be pretending to be a new Iron Man. Second, that wasn't you in Secret Wars, it was Rhodey. Maybe this new Iron Man is speaking for all Iron Mans.
Spider-Woman tells the Avengers about the "Pacific Overlords" and they trace the villains to the location that Dr. Demonicus was at earlier. They find that the place has been cleared out. Except for that giant baby i mentioned earlier.
The character doesn't appear outside of these issues, but for what it's worth it's name is Big One (hence the big 1 on its shirt). Big One, like "this is the big one", the earthquake that will knock California into the sea. The Avengers don't realize he's a baby at first. But it becomes apparent after Scarlet Witch uses her powers to knock him down.
The baby is verbal enough to say Dr. Demonicus' name, letting the Avengers know who they are up against.
They calm the giant baby by having Tigra cuddle up to it and purr, and then Henry Pym enlarges one of Scarlet Witch's dead baby's teddy bears.
The things i type...
We get to the "split up the team and run around" portion of the story. Some of it happens at Pearl Harbor, where the Sub-Mariner happens to be doing a memorial. It's attacked by a mind-controlled Sunfire and a new villain, created by Dr. Demonicus, called Pele.
Manipulated into an anti-Western stance again, huh, Sunfire?
Hawkeye and Spider-Woman help Namor stop Sunfire and Pele.
Meanwhile, USAgent is contacted by Mike Clemson, Spider-Woman's former government minder, and told to assassinate her.
But USAgent has vowed not to kill anymore.
And Iron Man, with Tigra and the Wasp in Japan investigating the company that manufactured Dr. Demonicus' equipment, finally lets us in on what a Pacific Overlord is.
So this entire event is based on an obscure play on words. Also, thanks for an actual "Ah, so!". I haven't seen one of those since the 1960s. Classy.
And more of Roy Thomas' famous verbosity. Tigra's catlike hearing detects the approach of assassins in a helicopter. But she's so busy making allusions to April Glaspie that she can't get her warning out in time, leaving Iron Man to just stand there dumbly as the guy they were talking to gets shot to death.
In response, Tigra tosses one of the shooters out of the helicopter. Good thing Hawkeye isn't around.
In the aftermath of that battle, Iron Man finally reveals that he's really Tony Stark.
We've been seeing for months that everyone basically already knew. But now it's official. The reason that Iron Man was pretending not to be Stark - he went on a rampage that resulted in attacks on the government, a breakout at the Vault, the death of a non-evil Titanium Man - is long forgotten.
We learn that Dr. Demonicus has created all of the Pacific Overlord villains - including Big One - with a piece of his Lifestone meteor, the same thing that he used to use to make giant monsters to fight Godzilla and the Shogun Warriors. The one called Taifu (Typhoon) is husband to Pele and father of Big One, and he's rebelled against Dr. Demonicus, which is why we saw the others - Jawbreaker and Kuroko - beating him up in issue #69. He gets free but accidentally frees the Living Lightning in the process, and Living Lightning accidentally knocks Taifu out, earning some wary trust from Demonicus.
Demonicus gives him a costume that helps him control his powers.
Another Pacific Overlord is Irezumi (Tattoo), who has the power to generate tattoos on his body that shoot whoever they are pictures of.
Irezumi tries to pretend that he's really a member of the Yakuza, not Dr. Demonicus' group, but no one cares.
And if tattoo-guy isn't dumb enough, we also have Cybertooth.
He bites things.
But Wonder Man is too hard for him.
Tigra winds up crash-landing a Quinjet in the wilds of Australia in the middle of the story, effectively taking her out of the picture.
The art in this arc is incredibly mixed and often terrible, with David Ross getting a fair amount of help. The top scan of Tigra above is some of the better art in the book, in an issue said to be by David Ross & George Freeman.
Scarlet Witch also spends a fair amount of time passed out and/or as a hostage.
But luckily here comes Hank Pym to her "rescue".
Cybertooth is really weird.
Eventually we get to that point that seems to occur in a lot of Avengers stories, when they are all put in tubes.
Dr. Demonicus reveals that his mask is pretty necessary, and that his horns are real.
And then Demonicus reveals his big plan, which is to raise a small island from the ocean that will be his new home.
I love that the "strain" of Demonicus' revelation was too much for the hypnosis controlling Pele. What revelation? That your plan is lame? That she got brainwashed, and that we all had to endure five issues of this, just so Demonicus would have a little tropical home to call his own?
When Demonicus raises his island, the rumbling causes Scarlet Witch to get freed from her tube. So here's her moment to shine. Oh wait.
But Living Lightning switches sides (prompting slurs from Jawbreaker)...
...and the cavalry arrives in the form of USAgent, Hawkeye, Spider-Woman, and Sunfire.
Kuroko, aka the Dark One, uses her invisibility much more effectively than the Invisible Woman. She also beats Spider-Woman with an ugly stick.
On the other hand, this never happens to the Invisible Woman.
Irezumi actually returns his opponent's powers when he does his tattoo thing. I didn't quite get that the first time.
For once, Hawkeye's super-deafness doesn't save him.
Scarlet Witch is nearly made a hostage again. It's like there's a big sign floating over her that all the villains can see.
Demonicus' final move is to grow one of his random technicians (Kain) into a Godzilla-sized dude. That prompts Henry Pym to wish that he could turn into Giant-Man still. That is actually at least the second time in this story that the possibility of Pym being able to use his Particles on himself is teased.
But the giant guy is basically a delaying tactic. While the fighting is going on, a clone of Demonicus is at the United Nations, pushing recognition of his new country through an apparently super-efficient fast track process.
Once his nation is acknowledged, the Avengers are forced to leave the island.
The story ends with USAgent and Living Lightning replacing Henry Pym and the Wasp on the team (Pym to USAgent: "You've earned my spot"), and Spider-Woman filling in for Tigra, who is still stuck in Australia.
The Wasp changes costumes at least once during this arc (and both are new compared to last issue), but don't worry; her boobs are always on display.
Between that, the sidelining of Tigra, and the Incredibly Passing Out Scarlet Witch, this isn't a great arc for the female members of the team. But i do like the addition of Spider-Woman, a character that i of course like since she was in Secret Wars but who has been in limbo after her stint in Freedom Force, due to a planned mini-series that never manifested. The Pacific Overlord villains, on the other hand, are at best notworthy for the fact that some of them are really weird, and i find them silly and uninteresting. And this whole plot feels more like the start of something rather than a story in its own right. In other words, pages 1-3 of a story might start with Dr. Demonicus raising his island from the sea and declaring it a new nation, and then we could have an actual story. Instead it's a ton of running around and random machinations on the villains' part just to get us to that point. I could potentially see Dr. Demonicus becoming a regular arch-villain for the West Coast Avengers, but you have to start with him doing the thing that he's actually known for: creating daikaiju! Otherwise, what is the point of using him?
On top of all that the scripting is Thomas at his worst and David Ross, generally a so-so workhorse, is sometimes kind of good, but sometimes pretty messy on these issues. Clearly there were deadline issues. Steven Butler actually draws the first part, Tom Morgan draws some of the pages on part two, George Freeman helps out on part four, and parts three and four have extra inkers.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The first five pages of this story, where Spider-Woman is tossed into the sea, continue directly from issue #69 from the point of view of the Pacific Overlord baddies. Since we need USAgent to appear in Captain America #386, we can assume that the part of that story from issue #69 actually was a flash forward (in which case i really shouldn't have listed the Pacific Overlord characters on the entry for #69), or that the first 5 pages here are a flashback but then it takes the baddies a VERY long time to walk from Newport Beach to Dr. Demonicus' base in Costa Mesa, which happens by page 14. That's normally a 6 minute drive, but they are walking and maybe they stopped at a motel along the way.
Sub-Mariner is still missing his ankle-wings in this story.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (9): show
BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIG WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN! (sorry, had to do it, I'm a toku/Sentai fan)
You mentioned Spider-Woman as Spider-Man multiple times.
Posted by: Ataru320 | October 1, 2015 12:18 PM
Only twice! Thanks Ataru, fixed it.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 1, 2015 12:28 PM
I had stricken this travesty from memory and now the sadness and anger of any marvel title deteriorating returns ARGH. You did warn us ...
Posted by: Grom | October 1, 2015 1:07 PM
Grom - just remember - If it was really bad enough, it could have been a story in Alpha Flight ;)
Posted by: clyde | October 1, 2015 1:59 PM
Unlike you, I liked this story. I am sad that Hank and Jan are leaving, but I don't care that Tigra goes. I really like this Spider-Woman, and think she is a great addition to the team. I am angry that USAgent is sticking around.
Posted by: Steven | October 1, 2015 2:00 PM
Just to clarify, I don't hate the characters, just the storyline itself.
Posted by: clyde | October 1, 2015 3:00 PM
With the USAgent and Spider-Woman around, the West Coast Avengers *finally* have the mid-level range heroes I've always felt the team lacked. Also, the Living Lightning brings a new power set to the line-up, which is always nice to see.
I think Dr. Demonicus was a perfect villain who could have been a regular enemy of the WCA. He had a history to him, he was from the area and I've always had a soft spot for virtually forgotten villains who are brought back and made into something. With the proper kind of care, he could have been made into something cool and unique.
Posted by: Bill | October 1, 2015 3:10 PM
It almost felt like Marvel was just grabbing random people off the street to write and draw the Avengers family of books at this point.
I've really liked some of of Ross' work over the years a good bit (his art of the Spectacular Spidey annual in Atlantis Attacks was great), but this slop is hardly recognizable as his art. It seems anyone illustrating these Thomas plots had drawn the short straw in the Bullpen and were half-assing things as much as possible.
There was little to no interest in quality control here, once the mutants took over the company.
And it was especially disappointing, given how things had started to turn around for the better only a year prior when Byrne was the Avengers books.
Posted by: Bob | October 1, 2015 3:44 PM
Now I have to know: who saved Tigra???
Anyway... you know, if Demonicus whole plot was to raise an island and get it recognized as a nation, what was the point of his team fighting the Avengers? He could've simply declared what he was going to do and let them go. It's not like founding a nation is illegal or something...
What I like in this story (at least based on the summary) that the Overlords are all from various countries bordering the Pacific. We seem to have a Japanese, a Polynesian, a Taiwanese... Cool idea, I think.
Oh, and one last thing: that panel of Spider-Woman being knocked down by Kuroko is hilarious :)
Posted by: Piotr W | October 1, 2015 6:07 PM
Tigra was rescued by a tribe of Aborigines.
Regarding why the Avengers are involved, it's basically because Spider-Woman spotted them. Based on that, Dr. Demonicus knew the Avengers would start investigating him, so he set up traps to keep them busy. And he did have people held prisoner.
(I still agree with you, just answering the questions.)
Posted by: fnord12 | October 1, 2015 6:25 PM
BTW. Can we have a scan of Tigra cuddling and purring? ;)
Posted by: Piotr W | October 1, 2015 6:41 PM
And a reminder that Larry Hama had already done the plot of raising an island and getting it declared a nation in GI Joe a few years before this.
Posted by: Erik Beck | October 1, 2015 8:04 PM
Simon really is a jerk these issues, treating Wanda like crap just because she won't date him. Although he does apologize at the end of the arc.
Posted by: Michael | October 1, 2015 8:43 PM
Heh, you're right that Tigra should recognize Spider-Woman. I could almost forgive that considering the circumstances they met under. Tigra was imprisoned and they made a break for it. But that should be the first thing the other Avengers remind her of. Certainly better than Iron Man claiming to know her from an event he wasn't even in.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 1, 2015 9:14 PM
It almost felt like Marvel was just grabbing random people off the street to write and draw the Avengers family of books at this point.
You're not far off. The 90s boom caused such a massive demand for material that the major companies were bringing in tons of randos to pump out books.
Look at a lower tier book from this decade like X-men Unlimited and you'll see a host of creators who, coincidentally I'm sure, all seem to drop out of comics around the mid-90s.
Posted by: Red Comet | October 1, 2015 9:16 PM
Sigh. This book used to be worth reading. I wish it had been ended some 30-32 issues earlier.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | October 1, 2015 10:01 PM
Typically bad writing from Roy Thomas. However, the concept of the Pacific Overlords - a group of villains in the Pacific Region that can be good geographic foes for the West Coast Avengers - is sound and even kind of awesome. Some of the individual members are not so good. Collectively, they are too weak against this group of Avengers. Anytime you have both Iron Man and Wonder Man, you gotta bring your A game. Plus the other Avengers aren't slouchers either.
I liked the art by Steve Butler. He would have been a solid choice to stay as regular penciler. I like Dave Ross more than FNORD12 does, but he's not in his best place as a teambook like this.
Posted by: Chris | October 1, 2015 10:08 PM
I think there's a misdirected word balloon in the "we've met before" panel.
The balloon says "Hawkeye and I met during the Secret Wars". It's pointing towards Iron Man, but if it was from IM, it should say "Hawkeye and I met _HER_ during the Secret Wars." I think it was meant to be Spider-Woman's dialogue.
Pym used a rather risky move to defeat Irezumi. Pym made as if he were going to shrink Irezumi, but directed the Pym particles at himself, so that Irezumi ended up shrinking. How does that work? How do you reflect a power that never reached you?
Posted by: Erik Robbins | October 1, 2015 11:03 PM
Michael, Avengers Disassembled is all lies. An upcoming annual will show that Agatha Harkness took back that spell she cast on Wanda and let her remember her kids. There are many scenes in future issues in which Wanda recalls her children. Bendis doesn't care about any of this.
Posted by: Steven | October 2, 2015 2:12 AM
Not defending this story too much, but considering all the x-book dreck out there at this time, this isn't that bad.
Unfortunately, balancing that out was the Living Lightening becoming good. He was a rotten bad guy in his first appearance, threatening innocents. But I guess they wanted a hispanic dude on the California team so he becomes good (Why not Firebird?)
Posted by: kveto | October 2, 2015 7:48 AM
@Piotr, i've added the scan of Tigra purring. It's actually a good demonstration of what i don't like about the art. It's such a strange moment that it should really get the focus. But instead it's depicted across three panels, with the key shot getting a narrow panel. And just looking at the art it never looks like a baby holding a kitten. It should be a really funny panel, but it comes across just looking blah.
(This is actually why i didn't choose to post this scan originally.)
Posted by: fnord12 | October 3, 2015 12:23 PM
@kveto- It's explained in Avengers West Coast Annual 6 that Living Lightning "went a little crazy for a while", presumably as a side effect of his transformation.
Posted by: Michael | October 3, 2015 5:32 PM
@Michael- Well, he was attempting to revive his father's organization which tried to murder the USA, so he was "a little crazy" long before his transformation.
Posted by: kveto | October 3, 2015 11:47 PM
We know how hard Roy Thomas is on female heroes. (But isn't the Wasp the one who takes out the giant bad guy?)
Posted by: kveto | October 4, 2015 8:15 AM
Reading this, I get the feeling Roy Thomas was real keen to show off his new Japanese-English pocket dictionary. Probably sitting on his bookshelf alongside the well-thumbed Spanish one...
Posted by: Oliver_C | November 24, 2015 6:52 AM
Thanks goodness for Steven, so I'm not alone in liking this. It hearkens back somewhat to some of Roy Thomas' writing on All-Star Squadron, which is still one of my all-time favorite series. I was also glad to see Tigra gone and to have Spider-Woman and Living Lightning join the team. Too bad the art took such a dive after the first issue.
At this point, AWC was the only comic left that I was still buying.
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 29, 2015 12:45 PM
Comments are now closed.
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