West Coast Avengers #4
Issue(s): West Coast Avengers #4
While the Thing is leaving (and considering Hawkeye's offer, despite his protests), he notices what looks like the Human Torch falling out of the sky. It turns out to be Firebird, the hero previously introduced as a member of the Rangers in the Hulk comic.
While the Avengers are waiting for Firebird to recover so she can explain what she's doing here, we get to look in on the further degradation of Tigra. In issues #1 and #3 we saw Tigra flirting with Henry Pym (or being "kittenish" as she puts it here). But in this issue, she's aggressively pursuing Wonder Man.
After Firebird wakes up, we see Tigra essentially sizing up the competition. Firebird isn't "all that hot" and both she and Mockingbird's costumes have "too much covered up".
During the meeting with Firebird, Tigra also picks a fight with Henry Pym and then angrily storms out. She acknowledges to herself that she's acting like a cat, not a woman, and worries about what it means.
The rest of the team is occupied with their own problems, though. Henry Pym is getting calls from Ultron, and Pym doesn't want to tell the Avengers because "I came to them as someone free of problems. I can't keep tying them up, or they'll throw me out!". Right. When a homicidal robot is on the loose and contacting you, the responsible thing to do is to not tell the team of super heroes you're living with.
Wonder Man, meanwhile, is appearing on the Johnny Carson show to confess his embezzlement. This keeps him mentally occupied even as they deal with the threat Firebird came to get help about, worrying while they are fighting if his taped interview with Carson is on the air yet.
As for Firebird's problem, it is a character called Master Pandemonium. Firebird was accosted in her bed by a bird demon and then approached by Pandemonium, who wanted to know if she was "one of the five".
When it was determined that she wasn't, he left her to an additional pair of demons. And as she was tossed out of the sky by them, she noticed that Master Pandemonium no longer had any arms. His arms were the demons.
And that's something i love about this character. He's not one of my favorites, by any stretch. His name is kinda dumb and his character design is pretty generic for a demon lord character. But he's made of demons. They make his "'bod' their abode". What!? That's some crazy more Silver Age than the Silver Age type stuff.
He's also got a big inverted star shaped hole in his chest, and a smart-mouthed reversed-talking cigar-smoking demon bird sidekick.
The West Coast Avengers plus Firebird and the Thing fight off Master Pandemonium and his demons after Pandemonium attacks the Thing during wrestling practice (because the Thing may also be one of the five and he's also "the one to flew Firebird")...
...but Pandemonium escapes for the time being.
In addition to being a recurring West Coast Avengers villain who also gets a little play in other books, the character is significant for being involved in the saga of Vision & the Scarlet Witch's children.
There are some interesting things going on here. Englehart is juggling a lot of balls, from the continued Ultron threat, teasing the Thing's membership, utilizing Firebird, introducing the wild Master Pandemonium, and devoting time to characterization for all the team members. Even what he's doing with Tigra, which i've already groused about and will surely do more of on future issues (like, ok, she's devolving into a cat persona; but does that mean she has to suddenly become sexually promiscuous? Is that really a cat thing, or is that a human male projection?), is part of an arc for the character, however ill advised. The problem is that both the story and art are clunky. Al Milgrom's art is stiff even with Joe Sinnott's finishes. And Englehart's script is shallow and lacking in character. Compared to other books going on at this time - the main Avengers title, X-Men, FF, Alpha Flight, Defenders, etc. - it doesn't fare well. But there is enough going on here to make it a decent read, despite its faults.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is a direct continuation of last issue, but since Vision and the Scarlet Witch #3 begins concurrently with that issue, i've placed this issue after V&SW #3. The Thing and Firebird will still be hanging around the West Coast compound at the beginning of next issue, although the MCP places appearances by other characters (e.g. Iron Man) in between. For the Thing, his appearances in WCA #3-5 have to take place after he's joined the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation in Thing #28.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): show
The villain here was first announced as "Major Pandemonium".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 28, 2013 12:19 AM
The timing of this issue will get thrown all out of whack during Byrne's run, when the Wackos claim that Wanda's kids were born before Master Pandemonium lost his soul. I don't know who approved that issue, but even as a teenager I knew that was completely wrong. By that theory, the rest of V&SW has to happen before this issue.
Posted by: Erik Beck | May 30, 2015 11:05 PM
RE the promiscuity of cats: We got a cat a few years ago we were told had been spayed, but it turned out she hadn't. When she was in heat she would writhe, and howl, and run for the door if an uneutered male came around. If a human female were to behave the same way, I doubt even Milo Manera could do it justice...
Posted by: Andrew | January 9, 2016 9:59 PM
The word "pandemonium"/"pandaemonium" was coined by Milton for PARADISE LOST. It's from Greek and means "all demons". In PARADISE LOST it's the capital of Hell where the demons hold an assembly.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | January 10, 2016 12:42 AM
Wikipedia suggests an interpretation as "all-demon-place", which fits a little better.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | January 10, 2016 12:52 AM
Weirdly, for a character who seems pretty firmly grounded in Christian mythology, Master Pandemonium refers to the "hordes of the Rakasha", which is a variation of Rakshasa, demonic beings from Hindu scripture.
Posted by: Andrew | July 31, 2016 8:03 AM
That sort of thing happens a lot in comics- the Sons of Satannish sought to bring Surter and Ymir to Earth, Shuma Gorath is supposed to be a Chthulu- esque demon but he mocked Strange's inability to be both Vishnu and Shiva, etc.
Posted by: Michael | July 31, 2016 12:20 PM
And then there's the various Ghost Riders, who are simultaneously wrapped up with Abrahamic belief systems and yet transcultural. Even here, we'll later see that Master Pandemonium has a demonic servant named Azmodeus, which is Abrahamic rather than Hindu in origin.
I wonder if Roy Thomas was thinking of this storyline when he had Doctor Demonicus fall under the sway of the demon Raksasa (no "H") in his WCA run.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | July 31, 2016 1:46 PM
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