Avengers West Coast #76-79
Issue(s): Avengers West Coast #76, Avengers West Coast #77, Avengers West Coast #78, Avengers West Coast #79
So they agree to work for a new Hangman that promises to increase their power and help them get noticed in Hollywood.
While this motivation might not seem like too much of a stretch for some of the characters, i find it way off base for others, especially Tatterdemalion. He hates the rich. Whatever his past, i don't see him caring about getting any kind of personal recognition at this point in his life. I didn't really love his inclusion in Night Shift at all, but it could be explained when Shroud was in charge of the group and was kind of manipulating them to stay together so that he could keep an eye on them. But now that the Shroud (and Werewolf By Night) is gone, i don't know what's keeping him here, especially if that is the type of stuff the group is getting up to. And to various degrees, i feel that way about the group generally. But we can blame it all on demonic influence, since it turns out that the new Hangman is working for Satannish. This storyline is really about Hangman trying to get Night Shift's fight with the Avengers broadcasted in a scheme to bring Satannish to Earth.
The plot of this story hinges on a horror story that Roy Thomas wrote in 1970 for Tower of Shadows #5. It turns out that the new Hangman is the actor from that story that got trapped in his demon "make-up". The Night Shift's teleporting castle that they use as a headquarters here is called the Tower of Shadows in a nod to the series where that story was published.
Hangman powers up Night Shift (it's actually a powered up Dansen Macabre that teleports their castle), but in the process steals half of their souls. Since the Avengers are dealing with a mystical threat, Iron Man logically flies across the country to get Dr. Strange, but Strange is distracted by the appearance of some new entities that he says shouldn't exist.
So the Avengers have to fight Night Shift and Satannish on their own for a while...
...until Satannish lets slip that he's been deliberately preoccupying Dr. Strange, and at that point the Scarlet Witch calls on her true magic (i.e. not her mutant hex powers) to summon Dr. Strange...
...who then realizes that the entities he's been chasing are in fact Night Shift's half-souls. He uses those souls to power up the Avengers, who can now fight Satannish.
Night Shift, realizing they've been duped, join them, but the Avengers subsequently arrest them. Dr. Strange also says that he'll contact Scarlet Witch if he ever needs a disciple.
I don't think that Roy Thomas expected anyone to have read Tower of Shadows #5 (although i admit that it moved up in priority on my want list after i read this). And it's not really necessary to have read that story. It doesn't close any loose ends from that plot (there weren't any) or follow up on anything directly from that story. In fact, the best reason to read that story is to confirm that you aren't missing anything while you're reading this one. It feels like this story is a follow-up to that, but aside from the general idea of a guy having made a deal with the devil (or Satannish), there's nothing you really need to know about that plot. The character isn't even stuck in his demon make-up anymore.
It's very odd as an Avengers story, and to the degree that it's relevant at all, it's about Wonder Man questioning his decision to be an actor in Hollywood, and in that regard it's just stepping on the toes of his new solo series. The best part is when Wonder Man tries to pretend to join Night Shift, and USAgent has a classic Roy Thomas conversation with himself about whether or not Wonder Man is just acting.
Beyond that, this arc is mostly interesting for showing Hawkeye's interest in Spider-Woman, to the point that when he's telling his estranged wife Mockingbird that he's going out on a mission with an Avenger, he uses the pronoun "him" instead of "her". Which of course she finds out about and it just confirms that he's got designs on Spider-Woman.
For her part, Spider-Woman didn't even realize she was being hit on.
And i guess maybe he's religious, because the idea of beings like Satannish seem to upset him, although as far as Hawkeye is concerned they are just aliens.
He also picks up a girlfriend, Mona. She's part of a film crew kidnapped by Night Shift.
Miguel is a fast mover after getting dumped by his girlfriend Asuka in Avengers West Coast annual #6.
In light of the stuff that J.M. DeMatteis was doing in his Moon Knight and Spider-Man comics around this time, i wanted to show an example of how the "bad childhood" motivation had become something of a joke at this point.
Also here's some scathing political commentary. Well, not really.
I thought Roy and Dann Thomas' Reaper and the Robot storyline made for a good plot (even if wasn't executed all that amazingly), and the stuff prior to that was necessary clean-up work. Since then, though, the book increasingly feels directionless. This and the Pacific Overlords story in particular feel more like Roy Thomas tapping his forehead going 'west coast... west coast... what do i know about the west coast?', which i think is an inherently limiting way to think about the West Coast Avengers. Better to just tell Avengers stories that happen to be set on the west coast than come up with west coast themed stories. Even beyond that, though, i'm not sure if Thomas really knows what to do with these characters, and i think the large cast is straining David Ross' abilities. It's not a good book.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Wonder Man is using a jetpack in these issues, placing this before Wonder Man #3, when his jetpack is destroyed.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showBrothers Grimm III, Consuela, Dansen Macabre, Digger (Night Shift), Dr. Strange, Gypsy Moth, Hangman II, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Larry Carpenter, Living Lightning, Misfit, Mockingbird, Mona (Living Lightning's gf), Needle, Rachel Carpenter, Satannish, Scarlet Witch, Stella Houston, Tatterdemalion, Ticktock, USAgent, Wasp, Wonder Man, Wong
I like Night Shift as a group even without the Shroud. A horror themed villain group has good optics. However, these characters are NOT at the level of the Avengers, and shoehorning them in by giving them power boosts just does not work for these characters.
This is just another example of Roy Thomas forcing things to work in order to accommodate an inspiration he's had. And the Hollywood fame angle just doesn't work. The only thing these characters actually have in common is that they are mostly old Spider-Woman characters with horror themes.
Night Shift works best as an LA back story element. If anyone ever requires a brief scene with the LA criminal scene, then of these characters can do it.
If Thomas wanted a powerful team of established villains, he could probably resurrect the Lethal Legion at this point. Goliath and Living Laser have gotten major power upgrades. Add in the Radioactive Man and Klaw from Thomas's Masters of Evil II, and you have a good Thomas-era Avengers reunion of very powerful foes.
Posted by: Chris | November 23, 2015 2:22 PM
Hey Fnord, how much do you have left to do now on '91 (save for MCP and the like)?
Seems most books ar in the next year now.
Posted by: entzauberung | November 23, 2015 2:35 PM
Only one more "real" arc (Darkhawk) and then i get to the Marvel Super Heroes and Marvel Comics Presents.
(Please ask any follow ups and "What about...?" questions in the forum or on the General Comments page.)
Posted by: fnord12 | November 23, 2015 3:07 PM
Sorry, will do in the future!
Posted by: entzauberung | November 23, 2015 3:09 PM
I'd imagine quite a few heroes and villains would have an interest in the arts, what with costume designs and the themes they act out. Especially the ones who make their motifs from scratch as opposed to being bestowed it. Although it does serve a practical purpose from time to time (villain branding, distancing oneself from their civilian identity, intimidation factor, attracting attention to the most armored part of the body, etc).
That said, if they weren't a bunch of mainstream sellouts, they should have done an underground film! Maybe get Mysterio involved, he could perhaps even help make Ticktock's animation a reality judging by those holograms of his!
Posted by: Max_Spider | November 23, 2015 4:06 PM
and entzauberung, read 5 modern comics as penance.
Posted by: kveto | November 23, 2015 4:07 PM
This story's premise sounds ridiculous even by super-hero comic standards. Getting big in Hollywood sounds more like the motivation of a villain in a joke character book like Deadpool.
I think the Bush/Quayle bit might refer to the Savings and Loan financial crisis from the late 80s/early 90s. I recall it also being mentioned in some films of that era and, strangely, several later episodes of Miami Vice.
Posted by: Red Comet | November 23, 2015 4:09 PM
Yeah, Roy the boy at his worst. Obscure references that no one remembers. new motivations to shoe-horn in characters. and a boring story.
the only interesting bit was hawk-eye hitting on spider-woman. that would create some drama.
for a gay gut, the living lightening sure does score with lots of chicas.
Posted by: kveto | November 23, 2015 4:10 PM
So Hawkeye makes a move on both Julia Carpenter and Jessica Drew, while his Old Man Logan counterpart had a daughter with a daughter of Peter Parker. What is it with that guy can Spider-Women?
Posted by: Max_Spider | November 23, 2015 4:46 PM
Agreed that the Night Shift don't work as hungry for fame. Dansen Macabre is an agent of Shiva, not just a stripper- you'd think she would be reluctant to work with a demon. Needle was a vigilante avenging a personal wrong, not an exhibitionist. How did Tick Tock go from wanting to be a timer to working for the Locksmith?
Posted by: Michael | November 23, 2015 8:32 PM
Ross is capable of much better art than this. I think it's a combo of the large cast, and no one gave a rat's ass about these stories Roy Thomas was writing in his sleep.
Posted by: Bob | November 23, 2015 9:20 PM
Wait a minute... A Black Widow is a spider too. Hawkeye's Spider-Woman obsession goes back to day one!
Either he has some spider-fetish or... Maybe even subconsciously associates them with Black Widow due to some unresolved issues with their early history.
Posted by: Max_Spider | November 24, 2015 4:17 PM
Living Lightning is okay. I don't love him and I don't hate him. On the other hand, Spiderwoman is the best thing about this title in the post-Byrne era. I love Julia Carpenter. Having her in the Avengers must be compensation for not being allowed to use Spider-Man.
Posted by: Steven | November 26, 2015 9:01 PM
@Red Comet - Getting big in Hollywood was a premise for the original Clayface who faced off against Batman in 1940. Also, you're reading too much into the Bush / Quayle thing. It's a reference to the actual economy, which was doing badly enough at the time that Clinton's 92 campaign slogan would be "It's the economy, stupid."
Personal digression here -
This storyline is where I dropped new comics completely. Either my subscription to AWC ended with 79 or it ended during the storyline and I popped into a comic book store to pick up the rest of the storyline. Though I would spend much of 92 running around Orange County to various comic shops collecting back issues of Avengers, JLA and New Teen Titans, I wouldn't buy a new comic again until after I started at Brandeis and friends of mine talked me into buying the first issue of X-Cutioner's song and I got sucked back in to the x-books.
I never did buy another new issue of any Avengers titles. I enjoyed this storyline because I lived in LA and I loved that Griffith Observatory popped up. But Galactic Storm just didn't look interesting and I somehow never looked back. Or, all I did was look back, because I continued to collect back issues of Avengers until I sold my collection in 2007.
Posted by: Erik Beck | February 3, 2016 3:32 PM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|