West Coast Avengers #38-39
Issue(s): West Coast Avengers #38, West Coast Avengers #38
Issue #38 has Hawkeye's half of the West Coast Avengers on a Quinjet, flying somewhere to help Mantis resolve her memory problems, and Wonder Man thinking back to when the group was still a fully functional team.
In the flashback, they fight a guy called the Defiler.
He's a rock star, but more importantly the billboard advertising his concert is a portal to another dimension.
He can actually open the portals anywhere, and he throws in people and gets energy in return.
The Avengers rescue the people thrown into the other dimension.
With a giant skateboard!
And once the people are out, the Avengers are able to take down the Defiler.
The issue ends with the Quinjet going out of control.
At the beginning of #39, we learn that the reason for the Quinjet problem is that Hawkeye called the East Coast Avengers to tell them what they learned about in their leg of the Evolutionary War, and he lost his grip on the wheel when he heard that Mockingbird called them first.
Hawkeye doesn't say who he talked to, and since the East Coast Avengers are also in a state of disassembling, this sequence raises the question of where this takes place in their chronology. Michael lays out the problems in the comments of Avengers #295-297. But to put it simply, if the Whackos are contacting the East Coasters prior to their dissolution, why doesn't anyone on the East Coast team do anything about it? If it happens after, who do Mockingbird and Hawkeye think they're talking to? There's two possible answers: the first is that they each manage to reach Dr. Druid, who, his mind warped by "Nebula", keeps the information from the rest of the team, so She-Hulk, Thor, and the Black Knight are unaware of it. The second possibility is that it does happen after and both Hawkeye and Mockingbird are reaching the Avengers' answering service, which we saw Spider-Man call in Amazing Spider-Man #283.
I'll also note that Hawkeye is mistakenly under the impression that Mockingbird's team is actually with the East Coasters, which may further the idea that whoever Hawkeye is talking to is unreliable (be it a mind-controlled Druid or an incompetent operator).
In any event, since Hawkeye thinks the East Coasters and Mockingbird's team are taking care of the Evolutionary War problem, this group continues on with its quest to help Mantis with her memories. But Vision and the Scarlet Witch want to be dropped off in New Jersey so that they can start the process of wrapping things up there and moving themselves and their kids to the West Coast compound permanently. The kids are currently being watched by Wonder Man's mom, and the whole group stops off there for a visit. Mrs. Williams declines an invitation to join the Avengers.
Actually, it's just Scarlet Witch that stays behind, leaving Mrs. Williams to ask Scarlet Witch if she's at all worried that the Vision is going off with the woman who once tried to seduce him. The Scarlet Witch says no.
Meanwhile, Mockingbird's team is actually fairly close by with her group, which now includes Bill Foster...
...who has not shrunk out of his Giant Man form since he's waiting for his increased mass of healthy cells to wipe out the damage from his cancer. And since that sounds like pretty questionable science, it's a good idea that he's going to go check it out with Henry Pym.
When he leaves, Moon Knight says he's "not our kind" and Tigra takes it the wrong way.
Hey, that's what you get for going around in a white hood.
Referencing the Phantom Rider, as Moon Knight does above, is enough to get him to come out in the open and attack the group.
Moon Knight gets knocked out, triggering Khonshu to act directly. At this point i think the best thing you can do when you've got Moon Knight on your team is knock him out. I'd rather have an Egyptian god on my side than a guy that throws boomerangs.
Khonshu chases Phantom Rider away and then returns. Mockingbird and Tigra don't see him.
Back at the home of Mandy Celestine, where Mantis woke up with no memory, the Avengers are poking around not finding anything. But when the doorbell rings, we see that she can transform her skin back into a human form. She tells Hawkeye that she could also turn red if she wanted to.
Another thing we learn about Mandy Celestine is that she joined one of those CD clubs. BMG was actually ok - it was 8 CDs for the price of one, i think, with nothing more to buy ever. The selection was crap but if you could find 8 things you actually wanted, it was a decent deal, as long as you remembered to cancel right away. Columbia House, on the other hand, that was a real scam.
Also notice it was a starlight night when Mockingbird's group was fighting Phantom Rider, but the mailman is still delivering mail. I guess it could be winter.
Their next stop is the temple in Vietnam where Mantis grew up. It's also the site of the Swordsman's grave. Wonder Man has some very specific questions about how Swordsman and Mantis mated.
After that, the Swordsman bursts out of his grave, in a godawful mess of a splash panel.
I assume it's around here that the rewrites are happening.
What follows are just several pages of straight up fighting, without even any dialogue that moves the plot forward.
Finally, the Swordsman kills Mantis...
...and she is reborn with her memories restored.
The Swordsman, or actually the Cotati inhabiting him, tell her that now that she's had her baby she's no longer actively the Celestial Madonna and she doesn't need to be involved in the raising of her son. The Cotati give Hawkeye the Swordsman's sword and leave, and Mantis decides to stay behind, so the Avengers leave without her.
It's all very utilitarian. If Englehart were scripting this, i am sure Hawkeye would have been mentioning his prior relationship with the Swordsman and we'd have other character reactions from the other Avengers. Instead the only thing that is brought up is Wonder Man's long since resolved fear of dying (since we're dealing with a reanimated corpse). And in any event i'm sure Englehart's intended resolution here wasn't for Mantis to be told that her son was being taken away from her and thanks for the use of your womb, ma'am. And to then just leave her sitting at Swordsman's grave.
I'm not all that sympathetic to Englehart's complaints about editorial interference, since i think his run was pretty awful. But the way the edits manifest themselves, with the blanking out of Mantis' dialogue in West Coast Avengers annual #3 and now this total rewrite that makes Mantis' brief membership with the Avengers pretty pointless, is equally awful. If the editors had a problem with Englehart using Mantis they should have said so when he was working out his plots ahead of time. We did have the transition from Mark Gruenwald to Howard Mackie, which may explain things, but Englehart's complaints seem to be directed at multiple editors and even EiC Tom DeFalco. Which also makes it weird that Englehart was able to continue working with Mantis in Silver Surfer and then Fantastic Four (he literally moved the West Coast Avengers plots to FF, as we'll see), until he eventually ran out of books and left Marvel altogether. The whole situation reeks editorial negligence followed by panicked last minute heavy-handedness, and the results are unsurprisingly not very good.
It's interesting to note that according to Sean Howe's Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, Englehart was fired from this title not because of anything to do with Mantis, but because he refused to include Iron Man in the title. If that's the case, i support Englehart 100% (not that i have any particular animosity towards Mantis). Iron Man was fired from the West Coast Avengers due to the events of Armor Wars, and it's pretty much the only fallout we saw from Iron Man's illegal actions in that storyline. Having him return to the Avengers so soon would have wiped out the one repercussion of Iron Man's actions.
Similar to when Roger Stern was fired from the Avengers, we'll have a few issues of fill-ins from editors (Mark Gruenwald and then a Tom DeFalco/Ralph Macchio issue), before Englehart is replaced with John Byrne.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Regarding issue #38, as always, placement and characters appearing are based on the framing sequence. The MCP has the main story here taking place between West Coast Avengers #28-29, before they kick Iron Man off the team in Iron Man #226. As for actual placement of these issues, i'm keeping them near Avengers #295-297, with the idea that events might be happening concurrently; i.e Hawkeye and Mockingbird might be calling Dr. Druid during the early part of that arc while Druid is firmly under Nebula's control but still at the Mansion.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showBanshee (Horse), Banshee (Western Era Horse), Bill Foster, Hawkeye, Khonshu, Mantis, Martha Williams, Mockingbird, Moon Knight, Night Rider (Hamilton Slade), Night Rider (Lincoln Slade), Scarlet Witch, Tigra, Vision, Wonder Man
The idea that only Mantis's spirit left the Earth and her body was left behind contradicts the ending of Giant-Size Avengers 4.
Posted by: Michael | August 3, 2014 10:29 PM
BMG and Columbia House. I suddenly feel very old.
I am in the minority that enjoyed Englehart and Milgrom's WCA, though obviously not as much towards the end. I stuck with the title after they left, all the way to the final issue. I was loyal to it even when it got really bad and I had already dropped Avengers proper. It's probably the first title as a kid I showed that kind of devotion to. If I had to pinpoint why, I guess it's because I was always more into the Avengers characters than the assorted X-Men teams, though I admit today some of those titles read better.
Posted by: Robert | August 3, 2014 10:38 PM
I wonder if there was anything more complex behind the editorial interference than the fact that Mantis sucks - absolutely no one ever, besides Englehart, found her interesting.
You'd think telling him to wrap it up and stop using her would have been enough, though...
Posted by: BU | August 3, 2014 10:42 PM
I have heard of fans that found her interesting. But yeah, DeFalco suggests the problem with her arc in Simon's dialogue this issue- the Celestial Madonna story basically says her only purpose is to make babies and the elder Cotati's taking her baby seems believable considering that the dialogue in the original Celestial Madonna story makes it clear that the Cotati dumped her amnesiac in the middle of a civil war.
Posted by: Michael | August 3, 2014 11:18 PM
Me, my sister and both my cats joined BMG for those 8 for one deals. (Hey, my cats had very similar taste in music as me. go figure). Years after, I'd get random junk mail addressed to my cats proving BMG sold their names to other companies (so dishonest, really:-)
I always thought there was a story in the idea of one of the Swordsman's unknown relatives coming to claim the sword from hawk-eye one day.
Posted by: kveto from prague | August 4, 2014 3:09 PM
This one will never understand Englehart's incessant verbal tics for Mantis (I guess this one should call her "that one" from here on). Did that one ever appear again? This one sure hopes not. That one had definitely overstayed that one's welcome.
Posted by: Vincent Valenti | August 5, 2014 9:51 AM
She'll have a lot more appearances, actually. Englehart will immediately continue to use her in Silver Surfer and Fantastic Four. Then she'll later appear in a 1999 Louise Simonson Galactus mini-series, and not long after that Englehart returns again for an Avengers: Celestial Quest miniseries that uses her. And then she's in Annihilation and the Guardians of the Galaxy series that follows.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 5, 2014 10:05 AM
"You'd think telling him to wrap it up and stop using her would have been enough, though..."
But they did! The problem was that Englehart would simply switch her between books (and sometimes between companies) whenever she's drummed out of her current series.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | August 5, 2014 2:01 PM
But they did considerably more - see this issue and annual #3. I can't imagine why they hacked up scripts (that no doubt weren't that good to begin with, not least for featuring that one) here, but let him use her soon after in FF...
Posted by: BU | August 5, 2014 4:21 PM
Englehart's first comments on his removal from WCA were in an interview in Amazing Heroes #171(9/89). He claimed that it was yanked from him in a duplicitous manner--he sent in a plot, got no pages back, was told they were eventually coming--and then heard rumors of Byrne taking over. He called Marvel, got denials, and then got confirmation from Howard Mackie that he was tossed off. He went to DeFalco thinking Mackie was the problem, and then found out DeFalco was behind everything.
He also stated his problems started with DeFalco when he first became EIC at Marvel. Tom supposedly promised raises to everyone, reneged on them, and then Englehart "held his feet to the fire" over it, getting on DeFalco's shit list. Englehart also stated he never had any personal problems with Shooter and was always able to get a rational response from him.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 26, 2015 9:29 PM
I read the Englehart piece you referred to and I had a lot of sympathy with him until I read this: "she had such a wonderful spirit and added so much to the Marvel Universe."
Yeah, the way DeFalco treated him sucked (as did the way he treated a lot of talent). But dude, Englehart, I hate Mantis, and it's clear that a lot of other people do to and they didn't want her being forced down the throats of the readers in all your books just because she's your pet character!
That all being said, I had rather liked WCA during his run. Editorial interference and fill-ins are rarely a good thing. #38 is by far the worst issue in the entire run in my opinion.
How ironic to be writing this just as BMG goes bankrupt. I joined both - I think every person I knew in college joined BMG, but Columbia had much better selection, namely all those artists that were signed to Columbia (Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Michael Jackson, Simon and Garfunkel, Billy Joel, Journey) that you couldn't get through BMG.
Posted by: Erik Beck | August 12, 2015 11:52 AM
Although this was a preview done long before his firing, back just before the Zodiac Attack storyline, there's still a few seeds that we never saw Englehart do, so here's some things we could've gotten if Englehart had stayed on West Coast: https://66.media.tumblr.com/6b86370eadd676398f5d6da58864ad2d/tumblr_oaerq3tRP61tms107o1_1280.jpg
What we didn't see him do was: An Ultron story, ANOTHER Master Pandemonium story, a "new" Iron Man (in Silver Centurion armor interestingly) and the return of the Shroud.
But, almost all of those happened within the first issues WITHOUT Englehart. Makes me wonder if the editor was plotting the book and telling Englehart exactly what to do, which would match some of Englehart's claims. We had the Shroud story as a fill-in in #40, but then with the start of Byrne's run we began with an Ultron story (although Iron Man wasn't there and it wasn't a real Ultron, not any semblance of a "villain or hero" aspect), we got that Master Pandemonium story and the "new" Iron Man all in quick succession.
Posted by: AF | July 16, 2016 8:55 AM
I think the return of the Shroud refers to his appearance in West Coast Avengers 29.
Posted by: Michael | July 16, 2016 9:30 AM
Bill was not trying to cure his cancer. The book says his cancer had already been cured in his miniseries. What he wants now is to repair the damage left in his body by said illness, damage that also would kill him if he changed sizes (before he drank that potion he created using High Evolutionary tech).
Posted by: Cesar Hernandez-Meraz | December 6, 2017 4:15 AM
Comments are now closed.
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