The Small Lebowski:
West Coast Avengers #46
Issue(s): West Coast Avengers #46
...a group of heroes that decide to set up their own unaffiliated branch of the Avengers.
The team is led by Mr. Immortal, who... is immortal.
And here is the rest of the team.
There is Flatman, who is kind of a two-dimensional Mr. Fantastic. Big Bertha, who... is fat. Dina-Soar, who is a flying dinosaur woman that bears enough of a resemblance to the Nhu'ghari that appear in X-Men: The Hidden Years #2 to make you wonder (as Jay notes in the comments there). And you can also see Doorman in that panel, allowing Dina-Soar to enter the room.
Being fat, Big Bertha can crash through walls as you see above, and she can also repel bullets...
...and either bounce, float, or leap like the Hulk.
When Mr. Immortal comes back from the dead the first time in this story, he is in a rage...
...and it takes a mysterious power of Dinah-Soar's to calm him down.
As you can guess, these characters are nearly always played for laughs. But aside from Flatman looking too much like Mr. Fantastic, the only character that is really awful is Big Bertha. Doorman's powers are very specific, but that should be surmountable. Dina-Soar obviously needs to change her name, but there's nothing wrong with a flying dinosaur woman. And Mr. Immortal is perfectly fine, as long as there's some limit to his abilities (the fact that he sits out most of the initial battle due to a shotgun blast, with the implication that the "more" he is killed the longer he is out of commission, plus the idea that he comes back not in complete control of himself, might be enough).
But Big Bertha is offensively dumb. And to make matters worse, when she's not fat, she's actually a supermodel named Ashley Crawford (i assume a mix of Cindy Crawford and another model, and a little googling suggests Ashley Richardson).
The story here is that Hawkeye hears about these guys calling themselves the Great Lakes Avengers and decides to go check them out. But before he can do it, he finds that Mockingbird has tracked him down.
It is nice to see Mockingbird making a persistent attempt at reconciliation, even while John Byrne is regressing Hawkeye to Kooky Quartet era jerkdom for reasons i'm having trouble understanding.
So Mockingbird goes with Hawkeye to check out the Great Lakes Avengers. The GLA-ers first don't believe that it's the real Hawkeye and Mockingbird, since they aren't supposed to be together anymore.
But their brief fight ends when Mr. Immortal dives off a building (to test them?).
Whether it's to test them or something else, it does end the fight.
At that point, Hawkeye and Mockingbird inform them that the Avengers aren't like a franchise where just anyone can start up a branch, but Hawkeye decides that while their powers are "kinda funky" and their "code names stink" he thinks that he can do something with them if he becomes their leader.
I'm not sure how seriously Byrne was taking these guys. They only appear in a few more issues of his Avengers runs (West and East). I believe that most of them really could be turned around and made into credible super-heroes, and it might have been good to see Hawkeye accomplish that, although not while he's also regressing in his own personality. In practice, though, these guys don't get a lot of play until more recent books when they're pretty solidly in the joke category.
Meanwhile, the USAgent discovers Tigra running around chasing mice...
...and tries to stop her, to no avail (i interpret that slap as a "slap some sense into a shocked/mind controlled person", not anything offensive).
The Avengers' cook has known about Tigra's mouse eating, but she's new here and wasn't sure if there was anything wrong with it.
And also in this issue, Scarlet Witch gets a letter from the Absolon College group that we saw flipping through slides of mutants in the previous arc.
I've always wondered about the cover of this issue, where the lines are so thick, especially around Mr. Immortal, that it looks like a blow up of a small panel like you sometimes see in a reprint. It actually doesn't look that bad on the image i've linked to, though, so maybe it's something with my copy.
Two more things that i just have to say but i couldn't find a way to make them relevant to anything. First: Pink Pearl. Second: the Vision tried to convince Doc Samson to start a Midwestern Avengers team in Avengers #252.
I told you they weren't relevant. Thank you for listening.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: Hawkeye will mention having a team of his own in Avengers #305, so this should take place before that (although his relationship with Mockingbird deteriorates again by that issue). Vision's story in Avengers Spotlight #23 takes place "two days" prior to this. It's been "three weeks" since Hawkeye quit the West Coast Avengers, and note that also means that USAgent (and the other Whackos) has been sitting around the compound not aware that Tigra has completely lost control of her human side.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showBig Bertha, Dinah-Soar, Doorman, Flatman, Hawkeye, Mockingbird, Mr. Immortal, Roberto Carlos, Scarlet Witch, Tigra, USAgent
I appreciate the frequency in which you're putting up entries my good man! Just a few minor edits, I realize you just overlooked these but you call Mr. Immortal 'Mr. Impossible' a couple of times as the entry goes on... and, 'to more things' should be 'two'. As always, great work and Mucho Gracias.
Posted by: George Gordon | October 3, 2014 3:54 PM
Thank you, George!
Posted by: fnord12 | October 3, 2014 4:23 PM
Not only Pink Pearl, but "can't die" is Deadly Earnest, though he has his death touch, too. It's like Byrne is parodying his Alpha Flight work. Maybe Flatman is a parody of Reed Richards as a nod to Byrne's FF run, too. Anyone have theories about Dinah or Doorman?
Posted by: Walter Lawson | October 3, 2014 4:40 PM
Note that the second story in Avengers Spotlight 23 takes place before this issue but the first stories in Avengers Spotlight 22-25 take place after this issue, since they feature Clint and Mockingbird and this is the first time Clint's seen Bobbi since he quit the West Coast Avengers.
Posted by: Michael | October 3, 2014 5:17 PM
let's see, Flatman = Reed Richards
Such junk to create these crap heroes and have nothing to do with them.
At one point Mr Immoral says "The real Hawk-eye would have blocked my attack easily." That's true, the real Hawk-eye would have, not the crappy parody of Hawk-eye that Byrne writes. Gone are all the fighting skills learnt from Captain America simply because Byrne doesn't like Hawk-eye.
Posted by: kveto from prague | October 3, 2014 5:18 PM
I always liked the GLA and thought there was potential. Mr. I would have been a great Suicide Squad character if the GLA populated the DC universe. Certainly not the best characters Byrne has ever created, but definitely not the worst.
While Hawkeye regresses somewhat under Byrne, I like the fact that Mockingbird lays him out verbally here. I never understood why Hawkeye was such a clod after the Phantom Rider rape. He had been show previously to be a supportive and understanding partner with the Phantom Rider situation he became an absolute ass - at least in regards to Bobbi. I never expected Clint to be the one following the letter of the law and making no exceptions for anyone. Byrne cuts to the heart of that frustration here.
The art here is quite good which gave this story all kinds of replay value for a ten year old me.
Posted by: Mark Black | October 3, 2014 5:38 PM
John Byrne thinks that Hawkeye is a cheesy character like the ones he creates here.
Posted by: Steven | October 4, 2014 12:24 AM
Something that has been lost over the years is that the intended storyline was that they started off silly but weren't intended to remain that way. They were going to be trained, mature, and turn into serious heroes with new code names.
Posted by: Tenzil | October 4, 2014 3:25 AM
Eh, I like having a more comedic team out there so these guys are alright as is. (though they seem rather incomplete without Squirrel Girl...yeah not for a couple more years but somehow she fits with them)
Posted by: Ataru320 | October 4, 2014 6:43 AM
I have theory about Byrne's regression of Hawkeye. Byrne had been friends with Roger Stern for years and likely wanted payback from Mark Gruenwald for firing Stern off Avengers over the Captain Marvel/Captain America difference of opinion as to whom should lead the Avengers.
What better way to screw Gru over than by undoing all the character maturation Gru had Hawkeye undergo during his mini's four issues. We know that Byrne didn't much care for Hawkeye, so undoing Gru's work on the mini and turning Clint back into a loudmouth jerk were Byrne's means of giving Gru the middle finger.
I liked Hawkeye's tenure as Wackos leader alongside Bobbi, but this Great Lakes Avengers thing Byrne came up with and Hawk's later stint leading the Thunderbolts, (and hooking up with Moonstone) not so much at all.
Posted by: Clutch | October 5, 2014 11:22 AM
I dunno: it seems to me several of the WCA had become stagnant as characters. Vision has been an excruciatingly boring, well-adjusted guy, and he and his wife had no character arcs to develop after they got married. Byrne's solution was terrible, but I can see what he was trying to do.
Hawkeye under Engelhart was pretty boring too, and Byrne seems to be trying to take the character back to the attitude that made him popular, or at least interesting, in the first place. WCA, or AWC I guess, is a lot more compelling under Byrne than it was in its last 40-odd issues. He's telling good stories, though his long-term plans will get shipwrecked and leave characters like Viz, Wanda, and Tigra's permanently damaged. And ironically with Pym and the Wasp Byrne is actually making the most troubled Avenger under Engelhart boringly domestic again. I guess Byrne couldn't resist that reset button.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | October 5, 2014 12:18 PM
But Byrne's plans couldn't help but leave Viz and Wanda permanently damaged anyway. In Wanda's case, the "imaginary kids" thing made her seem like she had been nuts even before Viz was disassembled. In Vision's case, the problem was that Byrne's writing left the impression that he was just a machine, which completely invalidated the basic premise of the character and made Wanda look nuts for being attracted to him.
Posted by: Michael | October 5, 2014 12:37 PM
I always viewed Wanda, and to a lesser extent Maddie, as being victims of mass manipulation by a number of beings and forces in their lives. I never viewed them as the root cause of the problems in their lives and certainly not as "psycho-bitches". Look at Wanda's case - she loses her husband to the machinations of the security forces of the G-8 (I am assuming Canada was involved) and, unwittingly, Mockingbird, she loses her children to Mephisto and Master Pandemonium, she's manipulated by That Which Endures, then her father, Magneto, and then finally Immortus who is revealed to be behind everything.
I think it's perception - I don't think Wanda and Maddie are terrible and crazy, I think they've been put through the wringers and been victimized in ways that their male counterparts aren't or at least in vastly different ways. That's entirely a different set of problems. While I don't think Byrne or Claremont ever intended to make these women into objects/sources of derision, I think it's widely perceived that these women are the cause of their own personal hell.
Posted by: Mark Black | October 5, 2014 1:13 PM
Going back to Walter's idea that the GLA characters might be parodies, i originally almost wrote that Mr. Immortal, especially with the rage that he shows here, is kind of like the ultimate version of Wolverine once his healing power started getting out of control. And that Doorman is kind of like a super limited version of Gateway, the ultimate plot device character.
I don't know that Byrne was really going for parody, but Walter's comment connected with those thoughts that i left out of my entry, so i thought i'd share.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 5, 2014 2:47 PM
In Avengers 309, Mr. Immortal falls into Doorman and he's freezing when he gets out. That seems more like Cloak than Gateway.
Posted by: Michael | October 5, 2014 2:53 PM
I think Byrne's portrayal of Hawkeye is easy to understand. Hawkeye was traditionally the hot head of the Avengers. It's what made him a fan favorite. However, ever since he became Chairman of the WCA, he hasn't been. To many fans, this wasn't a problem since Hawkeye so obviously loved being an Avenger, actually being Chairman was a dream job, and he had some excellent tutors.
Byrne wanted him restored to that more familiar role so he started writing him back that way. I don't think there's any conspiracy, hidden agenda, or hatred of the character.
I think it was done clumsily. I think Byrne could have gotten Hawkeye back in that role without abandoning the maturity Hawkeye showed while as chairman (especially if it was because of the presence of someone he did not respect or objected to). So it's a failing. But I don't think it was a major one, and something easy to correct in the future if needed.
Posted by: Chris | October 5, 2014 3:19 PM
This Hawkeye is the character i fell in love with when i was a kid. He has to be arrogant, hot-headed, that is who he is, not some generic archer, chairman or not. He is a special character. And for me, The best there is.
Posted by: Jay Gallardo | October 6, 2014 4:48 PM
Mr. Immortal's costume design seems a bit like the Steve Ditko Blue Beetle's.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 11, 2014 7:12 PM
When Marvel first announced this book to fanzines, the Great Lakes Avengers were actually called the Midwest Avengers.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 30, 2015 6:32 PM
That would explain a remark Vision makes in issue 49- he asks Hawkeye "Wouldn't Midwest Avengers be a more appropriate nomenclature?"
Posted by: Michael | January 30, 2015 7:49 PM
Being a cat owner, I have to say that this panel of Tigra scratching at USAgent is absolutely hilarious and so true... ;)
Posted by: Piotr W | May 19, 2015 4:13 PM
Say what you want about John Walker, but unless you're Colossus, that's a hell of a situation to stay disciplined over.
Posted by: Max_Spider | May 23, 2015 9:09 PM
I actually thought that what Byrne with Hawkeye here was character development. He had been handed over a Hawkeye who acted ridiculous about what happened to his wife. So he has Hawkeye go a bit overboard and quit the team (notice that Clint says he was thrown out - he's so prideful about all of this that he doesn't think about any of it), only to find this team of ridiculous characters and make a team out of them. Now, the GLA doesn't go much of anywhere because Byrne isn't around long enough. But they easily could have ended up like the Legion of Substitute Heroes - a time created as a joke and often played for humor, but one that can also actually get things done and that the "real" team does value.
Posted by: Erik Beck | August 31, 2015 12:14 PM
Max_Spider, Byrne's USAgent is much more disciplined than Gruenwald's Walker. Walker under Gruenwald was an obnoxious "patriot" in his excesses, a skilled fighter who knew how to use his strength, but not particularly disciplined even before his mental breakdown. I could not Super-Patriot acting so calmly to Tigra's assault. Byrne's Walker was much more a military jarhead under strict discipline - more like Sam Elliot/Sgt Plumley in We Were Soldiers than a character in professional Wrestling. This would be discontinuous except that we know the government placed him in some kind of conditioning regiment between the fake assassination and his appearance as USAgent.
Posted by: Chris | August 31, 2015 4:26 PM
On his website, Byrne has described the GLA as "an unfinished symphony," and said he had intended for them to mature into serious heroes and get real codenames when all was said and done.
Posted by: Bob | September 1, 2015 1:40 AM
Lol I've been reading the new GLA series that has been coming out. It's definitely played for laughs but I think it works pretty well
Posted by: George Lochinski | April 10, 2017 2:59 PM
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