West Coast Avengers #16
Issue(s): West Coast Avengers #16
As for the story, as you can see, Tigra is about to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. The purpose of that is threefold. First, to demonstrate that the newly integrated Tigra is no longer afraid of water. Second, to demonstrate that the newly integrated Tigra is super-strong, capable of surviving a jump that would leave most people dead or at least "a bag of broken bones" (the graphic description also serves as a public service announcement: kids! don't jump off bridges!). And third, to set the tone for an issue that is plumbing the depths of Henry Pym's misery, since most people who jump off the bridge are attempting suicide.
In service of that third point, the two villains in this story are Tiger Shark and Whirlwind, two members of Baron Zemo's Masters of Evil that have the most history with Pym. Tiger Shark was part of Egghead's versions of the Masters that brought Pym to a low point even after he was kicked out of the Avengers. And Whirlwind, in addition to being a villain that literally ran circles around Pym when he was Giant-Man, also has a thing for Pym's ex-wife. So while this issue is a nice tie-in or maybe epilogue to the Avengers: Under Siege storyline, by choice of characters Steve Englehart is able to make it relevant to his group of Avengers as well.
We start with Tiger Shark, who is spotted fleeing from the San Francisco Harbor Patrol, heading out to sea. Tigra and Henry Pym are vacationing in San Francisco with Daimon Hellstrom and Hellcat, and Hellcat uses her apparently very strong claws (they are made of niobium!) to pull him out of the water.
It's nice that Tigra is stronger now, but Tiger Shark is Sub-Mariner level, so she and Hellcat should have a pretty hard time with him (Pym is powerless and Hellstorm is busy keeping the boat steady). And they do...
...until they quickly hit on the fact that Tiger Shark is amphibious.
Which is true; his powers are loosely based on Namor's. So it makes sense that he should lose his strength when he's out of the water. But not literally immediately after having his secret water supply drained away. The guy was just pulled out of the water! And he's in the damp foggy Frisco air ("Author's note: don't call it Frisco"). You have to put Namor under intense heat for a while before he starts losing power. This seemed like a real cheap win.
Before Tiger Shark is taken away, Pym asks him if he's heard from any of the other members of Egghead's crew (the question seems to show that this group is completely unaware of anything happening on the East coast; it's likely that since they were on vacation they weren't even part of the group that was sent on the wild goose chase in Indonesia as mentioned in Avengers #273).
When Tiger Shark hears Whirlwind mentioned, he explodes with rage, indicating that the two were supposed to be working together on a job, but he got double-crossed.
Back at the Hellstrom's place, Daimon and Patsy start getting frisky and abandon their guests. That's a perfect time for Tigra to tell Pym that she's really not interested in him.
Pym tries to keep it together, with Quicksilver's recent breakdown fresh in his mind. And he comes up with a plan to track down Whirlwind.
Whirlwind is out trying to steal a "psycho-circuit", noting that California cops are too stupid to properly account for super-villain attacks.
But that's probably not really true since this is part of Pym's plan, which involves barricading the streets...
...and directing Whirlwind towards the two cat ladies.
I mentioned in Whirlwind's Captain America appearance that his dilemma about attacking Cap while he was in the goo would be solved if he could shoot blades. And he seems to have added that ability here.
Whirlwind is eventually driven up a building where Pym confronts him. But that confrontation probably doesn't go as Pym hoped, with Whirlwind really getting under his skin, taunting him with the idea that Pym lets "other jerks run around with the same M.O." as him...
...and complaining that he didn't get to be the main opponent of a real hero, like Iron Man. Pym dumbly charges forward and falls off the building, where he has to be rescued by Hellcat.
And even after Tigra gets him (he doesn't look got; some basic spinning ought to set him free), he continues to taunt Pym.
At the end we return to the question of suicide.
Back in LA, the rest of the West Coast Avengers are just being ridiculous.
At a basic super-hero level this story is a bit of a failure, with both Tiger Shark and Whirlwind having terrible showings (the upgraded Whirlwind couldn't have just torn through that police barricade? Really?). And the handling of the characters is pretty rough, with the Hellstrom's mid-day bedroom visit a bit odd, the banter between the other Avengers cringeworthy, and the taunts being directed at Pym feeling more like a laundry list than actual conversation. But in terms of making a tie-in with Roger Stern's Masters of Evil story work as character development for Pym, it's actually not bad. Actually i have some misgivings here too; as with Tigra, Englehart really wants to put Pym through the wringer before allowing him to grow. And i don't know how many times Henry Pym can hit rock bottom before he's just a character that you always think of as depressed and unstable. But on balance, i prefer this to having him just be well adjusted. People wonder why Pym can never seem to recover from hitting Janet just that one time. And part of the answer is that writers like to keep going back to that and the other failed aspects of Pym's character. Ultimately i like that better; i think it's what makes Pym interesting and i'd hate to see him genericized as just a hero that went through a dark period and came back strong. But at the same time, poor guy!
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This comic was published with a Jan 87 cover date, but i'm treating it as part of the Avengers: Under Siege storyline, with Whirlwind and Tiger Shark appearing possibly during or soon after the events in the main Avengers title. So i have it directly after Avengers #275-277.
Crossover: Avengers: Under Siege
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showHawkeye, Hellcat, Hellstorm, Henry Pym, Iron Man, Mockingbird, Tiger Shark, Tigra, Whirlwind, Wonder Man
Note that Hank is pretty open with Daimon and Patsy about hitting Jan. This is of note since during Austen's run, Hank seems surprised that the Avengers know he hit Jan and says to Jan "You told them?"
Posted by: Michael | February 16, 2014 6:47 PM
In that panel where Pym grabs Tigra's shoulders there a framed portrait of the Man-Thing behind them.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | February 16, 2014 8:42 PM
It's really silly ("BY GUM!"), but the Whirlwind telling Pym scene off makes me laugh.
Posted by: MikeCheyne | February 17, 2014 11:39 AM
Just going off memory here, but didn't everybody know that he had hit Jan right away because of her black eye?
Posted by: Erik Robbins | February 17, 2014 10:05 PM
That's what we all thought but Austen had Hank act shocked that everybody knew. Some readers suggested that Hank thought Tony,Thor, Steve and Greer didn't tell anyone but this issue and Marvels:Eye of the Camera 4 contradict that.
Fnord has a very good solution in Eye of the Camera 4. :)
Posted by: Michael | February 17, 2014 10:50 PM
Thankfully, the proximity of Austen's run to "Avengers Disassembled" means that Hank's deluded memory of what people knew, as well as various other continuity and characterization glitches in his run, can be excused as the result of Wanda's chaos powers messing with them.
"Disassembled" did establish that Wanda's powers had been affecting things here and there prior to the BIG breakdown that occurred in Avengers #500, and even influencing things like behaviour and memory (like making Tony act drunk when he hadn't been drinking, or causing Cap to have hallucinations and such in Priest's Cap&Falcon book), so its certainly not implausible that it could also have messed with Pym's memory...or caused Clint to suddenly think he secretly had loved Jan "for years" and jump into bed with her, etc.
I doubt Bendis was *trying* to come up with an excuse for Austen's mistakes...but he did at least do us the service of providing one. :)
Posted by: Dermie | February 19, 2014 1:43 AM
Well, Jan's mention of Wanda's having had kids was supposed to have set off the breakdown, and Jan mentioned that in context of her relationship with Clint at the time, so while I wish we could right off those o-o-c moments as hex-power-did-it, I don't believe it works.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | February 19, 2014 2:01 AM
Yes, Jan's mention of the kids was supposed to be what triggered the BIG breakdown--but the story said she was slowly losing her grip on reality for a while before that, so there were other incidents of her power getting away from her leading up to it. So it can work...with a bit of squinting (which is more than can be said for just accepting Austen's run at face value. ;) )
The other thing is that Jan's mention of Wanda's kids CAN'T be what triggered the breakdown--because Wanda already knew about the kids! Bendis forgot that Wanda's memories of them had been restored many years earlier, and she had referenced the kids herself on a number of occasions. Somehow this slipped past the editors, leaving a very large plot hole in the "Disassembled" premise. So, I guess that flashback scene of Wanda "learning" about her kids from Jan's slip-up must have been one of Crazy-Wanda's delusions or something.
Posted by: Dermie | February 20, 2014 10:12 PM
Not to mention that during the JLA/Avengers crossover, Wanda and Vizh were forced to relive the nightmare of seeing their kids and the whole Master Pandemonium encounter, and so the kids seemed to be fresh in their minds. Now, I don't know if the JLA/Avengers story is meant to be part of the canon/continuity, or where it really stands timewise(that's for fnord! ;)), but those issues were published just a bit prior to Disassembled.
Posted by: Shar | February 21, 2014 3:09 PM
Tigra sure looks happy when discussing suicide!
As for the double standard of Hank never getting to live down hitting Jan, while Emma Frost or Peter Parker's transgressions get swept under the rug, I think that is simply because Hank was just such a boring character. He was so generic that having a mental breakdown and hitting his wife became defining character moments for him.
Posted by: Berend | March 14, 2014 2:19 PM
Like fnord, I like this for the character growth in Hank, but otherwise it has some real flaws (including a literal flaw - I was always confused why Hellstorm doesn't help, but that's because he's mis-colored as Hank in his panel on the boat) - the strangeness of Damian and Patsy running upstairs to doink (though, wouldn't you do that if you got to be married to Patsy?), the easy victories over the villains (especially Whirlwind, who tells us he is defeated, but doesn't look particularly defeated) and he doesn't even mention how Tigra's jump totally screws up traffic on the bridge.
Also, just to re-iterate what fnord posted in a different post, he and I apparently have the same opinion on Chuck Austen, as seen here. So glad he posted that so I didn't have to scan it out of my Best of TTT.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 8, 2015 11:28 AM
I wonder if Dave Cannon still has chicks dress up as the Wasp before ravishing them?
My first exposure to Chuck was twofold; first in Miracleman #7-8, and then Strips. I didn't mind his U.S. War Machine, but the X-Men stuff must be partially the fault of his editor.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | July 8, 2015 3:22 PM
In his debut story Tiger Shark did have a weakness Namor lacked: he couldn't breath out of water! It's possible his suit solves this, but in that case he should have a breathing problem when it's punctured, which isn't what happens here.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | November 15, 2016 8:45 AM
I realize I'm late to the party on this one, but who on Earth says to houseguests, "BRB, just gonna go bang one out upstairs. Make yourselves comfy, we'll be back in 20... no, maybe 30 minutes." That's not normal, right?
Either that's weird, or I'm hanging out with the wrong people.
Posted by: Drew | June 25, 2017 9:34 AM
I'm going through this with a lovely lady at my workplace at the time of writing. Not a 'no' but it's slowly sinking in that the way I feel about her is not the same she feels about me. And yes, I am a "nice guy".
Posted by: KevinA | July 5, 2018 10:28 AM
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