The Transparent Fox:
West Coast Avengers #8-9
Issue(s): West Coast Avengers #8, West Coast Avengers #9
...and Firebird has a hallucination about being back in the days of missionaries and Indians in war paint.
When they arrive at the compound, before they can delve into Firebird's vision, they hear the good news that Wonder Man has defeated Ultron...
...and the bad news that Henry Pym's "son", Ultron Mark Twelve, has also died and that Hank is taking it hard.
Mockingbird gets Hawkeye alone and they get into a mock fight while she takes him to task for ignoring Firebird while trying to recruit the Thing, and he agrees to recruit her if the Thing refuses after definitively asking him one more time. Meanwhile, Firebird prays for guidance...
...and comes to the conclusion that she needs to invite her former team, the Rangers, to the Avengers compound.
However, when they arrive, Firebird realizes that Shooting Star is actually a demon. This kicks off a fight between the Avengers and the Rangers where all of the Rangers are possessed.
The fight ends when Firebird threatens to incinerate Shooting Star's soul.
Shooting Star surrenders and the other Rangers are released. But Firebird has no recollection of her actions.
The revelation seems to be that Shooting Star has always been a demon, and it was due to her machinations that the Rangers never fully gelled as a team. But Shooting Star will continue as a character so there will be more to this.
Interrogation of the demon reveals that it's connected with Master Pandemonium, so Mockingbird dresses up as Shooting Star to ferret him out.
The Rangers have been left behind, with the exception of Firebird, but Master Pandemonium is able to escape with "Shooting Star" when the Avengers show up. So Tigra summons the Balkatar to find him again.
Meanwhile, Master Pandemonium explains his origin to Mockingbird. He was an actor that lost an arm in a car crash, and made a deal with Mephisto to get his arm back and save his life, in return for his soul.
Mephisto decided to "get creative" and replace both of the actor's arms with demon arms. He doesn't fully get to explain "the five" though, because the Avengers show up again.
Big demon fight, and a weird talk about morality because Tigra is secretly trying to kill Master Pandemonium for the Cat King.
Mockingbird, meanwhile, managed to defeat Master P...
...but Tigra sneaks off from the main group to kill him, knocks Mockingbird out...
...and then hesitates.
Pandemonium gets away. But as he's escaping, Tigra says that she was going to kill him.
At the end of the issue, the Thing agrees to join the team.
Which is a blow to Firebird, of course.
The Thing is a fun member of the group. Between him and Wonder Man, there's a redundant amount of super-strength, and a kind of frat-boy camaraderie.
He also christens the team Whackos, a useful nickname that i'll be using going forward to avoid having to type West Coast Avengers all the time.
Firebird, being a quiet religious person and a newbie, was a less attractive candidate to Hawkeye, which fits his personality pretty well, although as we see above she can be powerful. In addition to her semi-mystic fire powers, she also has the ability to detect evil, which is useful at least when fighting demons, although it has its limitations.
We'll see that the Thing's membership doesn't really work out, and Firebird will remain a part of the book.
This is a very different book than the East coast Avengers title. Cat People, Rangers, demons (Iron Man finds himself wishing he was on Dr. Strange's incarnation of the Defenders instead), and this goofy Master Pandemonium that Englehart has been building up since the end of the more traditional Ultron/Grim Reaper plotline. Lots of silly stuff. But Englehart does a great job with past connections (see all the References below acknowledging various past Avenger/Ranger interactions and other such things) and giving each character a little bit of panel time to show some personality. So the book isn't a total wash. Maybe with a different artist and an editor that restrained instead of encouraged Englehart's tendency to pick up all these stray pieces and try to build stories out of them, things would have been different.
Per Michael's comment, here's the panel where Wonder Man calls Iron Man "Tony" in front of the Thing.
I have to believe that Mr. Fantastic, at least, knows Iron Man's secret ID from Fantastic Four #202 whether Ben does or not. And worth noting that not too long ago, in Fantastic Four #286, Captain America was hanging around de-masked in front of Reed, which you could extrapolate into saying that the Avengers are pretty casual with their secret IDs in front of the Fantastic Four. Not that any of that is definitive, of course.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Hawkeye, Tigra, Mockingbird, the Thing, and Firebird return from the Cat People dimension at the beginning of issue #8; they shouldn't appear in other comics between issues #6 and this arc.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (11): show
This story caused a lot of debate among fans about whether or not Ben and Reed knew Tony's secret identity. Wonder Man calls Iron Man "Tony" in front of Ben before Hawkeye tells him to stop with the first names. It's not clear if Ben caught it, and if he did whether he figured out Tony was Iron Man and whether he shared that with Reed. (Of course, with the Illuminati retcon, Reed has known Tony's identity since the Kree-Skrull War.)
Posted by: Michael | November 10, 2013 7:28 PM
Added that panel.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 10, 2013 8:54 PM
Some good points. There's more to this series than meets the eye.
I like the way the espionage angle of Mockingbird is acknowledged. She's relatively inneffectual in big time avengers fights, but manages to be very competent at sneaking up on opponents (as in the Graviton issues as well)
Hawk-eye is developing into a leader but still makes errors in recruitment. Firebird would be a much better "fit" than Ben as he and wonderman are redundant (and no way can Wondy beat Ultron by himself. that sucked), but Hawk-eye would choose the "fun" Ben over holier-than-thou Firebird. You can see Wonder-man heading for his "superdickhead" phase.
I like the Rangers as they are a more "western" themed team, cliches and all, but I didn't like the non-powered Shooting Star turning out to be a demon. But I suspect this was to eliminate a second team located in the west.
Posted by: kveto from prague | November 11, 2013 8:21 AM
"The revelation seems to be that Shooting Star has always been a demon, and it was due to her machinations that the Rangers never fully gelled as a team. But Shooting Star will continue as a character so there will be more to this."
The follow-up will be in a Solo Avengers story.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | November 11, 2013 2:03 PM
I agree that WCA is a mixed bag. Englehardt has some good ideas and is willing to try new things and develop characters, but as a newcomer to the Marvel Universe, I didn't like the avalanche of old concepts, especially because most of them didn't seem all that cool. I bought a lot of issues, but also didn't buy it consistently. The Milgrom artwork was also off putting.
I never liked Ultron being defeated by Wonder Man. At no point in the Englehardt issues did I ever get the sense that Ultron was terrifying. If not for the previous comments about it in Secret Wars, and some back issue purchases, Ultron would not seem as scary as the dialogue made him out to be.
Personally, I determined Wondy's defeat of Ultron as a result that Mark 11 did not really have an adamantium body as usual, but had to make done with a hastily built non-adamantium body and probably not even "secondary adamantium") so that he could be mobile again.
Posted by: Chris | November 11, 2013 9:33 PM
That's a good theory, because there's nothing in wonderman's skill set that should work against adamantium.
Agreed on the Milgrom art as well. It helped give the series an "old" (not in a good way) feel. "Dated" I suppose.
I almost think Englhart would have been better as an editor or "idea man" on this series, as there are some good ideas but poorly executed.
Posted by: kveto from prague | November 12, 2013 6:12 AM
In 12/85, Marvel did announce a western Ghost Rider Graphic Novel by DeFalco/Ayers, but I'm guessing Englehart called first dibs on him.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 11, 2014 2:46 PM
It was also reported in 12/85 that Englehart was going to change Night Rider's name back to Ghost Rider since Johnny Blaze was inactive, but evidently he got overruled.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 18, 2014 4:57 PM
Per Dick Ayers, he had begun work on the western Ghost Rider graphic novel, decided on a whim to phone up the previous publisher who had started that version of the character, only to inexplicitly tip him off that Marvel had never paid him for the rights, thereby eliminating that graphic novel from getting completed. Nothing to do with Englehart at all, that I'm aware of.
I personally love Milgrom when Sinnott inks him.
Posted by: George Gordon | March 2, 2014 1:00 AM
"Personally, I determined Wondy's defeat of Ultron as a result that Mark 11 did not really have an adamantium body as usual, but had to make done with a hastily built non-adamantium body and probably not even "secondary adamantium") so that he could be mobile again."
That calls into question as to how Ultron 11 decapitated Ultron Mark Twelve. It's possible that the ruthlessness usually attributed to Ultron was evolved out of the concsiousness of UM12.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | June 8, 2015 9:52 PM
Pity the gool ol' boy Texas Twister, whose long-term girlfriend turns out to be a male demon with an overdone accent -- and this is a few years before the movie 'The Crying Game' too!
Posted by: Oliver_C | January 10, 2016 11:33 AM
I like that "I Understand him! How can it be?" (I hope I'm not misinterpreting the scene, I don't have the actual comic)
Posted by: KombatGod | December 29, 2016 9:42 PM
How do you give a massage to a guy whose epidermis is 2 inches of rocks?
Posted by: Andrew | March 11, 2017 8:15 PM
When Bobbi tells Master Panda (wrt the Amulet) "This, Bud, is not for you", that's a play on Anheuser-Busch's then-current slogan, "This Bud's for you".
The exposure of Shooting Star as the demon makes sense, as she was the only Ranger created specifically for that team. If you have a team that's gone inactive, "one of us is secretly a demon" is as good of an excuse as any, I guess. Still, I would have preferred to see the Rangers get more of a chance than just that one tryout issue in Hulk.
I agree, these aren't Joe Sinnott's best "finishes". But as long as the art tells the story, I'm good.
Posted by: Dan Spector | January 30, 2018 2:22 AM
If Reed Richards knows Iron man was Tony Stark from FF #202, he probably got pretty confused in secret wars #8 when he learnt IM was black (seeing his exposed arm.)
Posted by: kveto | January 30, 2018 5:04 PM
Does Tigra really decide that she's not a killer? I interpreted that scene differently. Sounds like she was ready to kill MP ("I can let my instincts take over - the instincts of a cat with a mouse". And "I've gained [a soul]. And it's one too many!!"
Later on she thinks to herself that she found out what she was ready to do.
Posted by: ABurgess | March 15, 2018 12:08 PM
You're right ABurgess. She actually says "I'm ready to kill you!" as he escapes. Thanks. I've revised it.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 15, 2018 1:15 PM
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