Avengers West Coast #58
Issue(s): Avengers West Coast #58
The story begins "months" after the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, with the earthquake based villain Vibro having waited to see how people would react. He's not pleased to find out that in Los Angeles they still haven't been keeping up with safety standards.
So he causes a massive earthquake in LA to prove his point.
It's at this point that the Avengers come back to Earth in the remains of their Quinjet that Magneto folded around them last issue.
Despite Wonder Man's desire to go right back up after the Scarlet Witch, the Avengers decide they first have to deal with with the aftermath of the Earthquake. Iron Man, meanwhile, manages to recharge his batteries in the house of the artist that he crash landed in last issue, and he flies off to help as well.
The rest of the issue is almost like a PSA, showing the devastation of the earthquake and all of the effort that is necessary to resce the survivors. It's not much of a story but it's a nice case of the Avengers just being heroes and not engaged in some endless grudge match.
Of course there is a villain involved, and eventually it comes out that the earthquake wasn't natural, and the Avengers track down Vibro. It's the Wasp that flies into the fault to confront him.
I have to admit i never paid much attention to the ridiculous Vibro, but i don't recall him being an earthquake safety activist. Of course by his words and actions, he's really just nuts.
Wasp flies out of the fault and has Henry Pym close it up, not really caring if Vibro gets killed.
And Pym... does whatever this is.
The issue ends with the Avengers going back into LA to continue the rescue effort, this time with no objections from Wonder Man.
Kind of a mess but an admirable effort for an emergency fill-in.
An editorial statement in the lettercol says that by the Avenger's bylaws, the Wasp is currently the leader of the team after Hawkeye's resignation:
According to Avengers by-laws, chairmanship of the West Coast team would revert to the Wasp as the senior member with previous leadership experience. However, because of recent events, the Avengers have been too busy to stop and re-read the by-laws (this goes double for the USAgent!). Further developments on this front should be "interesting" to say the least!
A quick note on the Statement of Ownership numbers below. It looks like Byrne's run reversed the downward trend on the book. Last year's average was 178,125. But the year before that was 205,792. So it's not a megaboom but it is a reversal in the right direction. These numbers are probably too soon to reflect reader reaction to the actual story, so the increase would really be due to Byrne's star power, and that was enough to raise the numbers but not bring a title like West Coast Avengers into Spider-Man or X-Men territory.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 181,165. Single issue closest to filing date = 209,100.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: For the West Coast Avengers team, this is really a direct continuation of last issue and should probably be part of the previous entry. But i've kept it separate in part because this is a totally separate story and in part to give myself some flexibility due to some tricky placement issues.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showHenry Pym, Human Torch (Golden Age), Iron Man, USAgent, Vibro, Wasp, Wonder Man
One thing always bothered me about this issue- Tony says that Vibro escaped from the Vault "a couple of breakouts ago". The last breakout was the one in Acts of Vengeance and the one before that was the one that Tony caused in Armor Wars. Vibro was shown to escape in that breakout and in Captain America 341 Steve says 2 of the villains that escaped were never recaptured. So are we to believe that Vibro is on the loose because of the breakout that Tony caused? But if that's the case, then why doesn't Tony express guilt over all the death and destruction? (Unless Tony is so arrogant that he knows Vibro escaped as a result of his actions but convinced himself the earthquake wasn't his fault.)
Posted by: Michael | April 15, 2015 7:59 PM
"According to Avengers by-laws, chairmanship of the West Coast team would revert to the Wasp as the senior member with previous leadership experience."
Wouldn't it be Hank Pym? He was the obvious team leader back in his Goliath days.
Posted by: Bill | April 16, 2015 9:16 PM
I think they meant senior member with the MOST previous leadership experience- at this point, Jan's arguably got more leadership experience than Hank.
Posted by: Michael | April 16, 2015 9:53 PM
Other Avengers are constantly thinking to themselves that Iron Man might be Tony at this time. Pretty much every appearance, he makes some allusion or shows some technical knowledge that gives him away. It gets really tiresome.
Posted by: Andrew F | April 16, 2015 11:02 PM
I never did get why Tony put up the Iron Man ruse with his fellow Avengers. I could maybe see him not letting the US Agent and the Human Torch know who he really is, since he doesn't know them...but it seems weird to act like Tony Stark isn't Iron Man around his buddies who pretty much know it's him in the armor.
I agree with Andrew, it does get rather tiresome.
Posted by: Bill | April 16, 2015 11:53 PM
I was really into John Byrne's issues, and was really disappointed by his departure. This fill-in issue really stinks.
Posted by: Steven | April 19, 2015 6:08 PM
Going to the drug story and seeing this issue, rather than another from Byrne is still maybe the biggest comics disappointment I can remember.
And Marvel made zero effort to explain to the readers what had happened. I stuck it out a few more, hoping it was just a fill-in or hiatus. But the west coast book was never readable again after this.
And the Roy Thomas resolution to Byrne's set-up was entirely unsatisfying.
This issue took place a few months after the '89 San Francisco quake, and a reader had actually suggested this plot on the letters page a few issues back.
Posted by: Bob | April 29, 2015 3:21 AM
I remember this issue arriving in the mail and thinking "What the f%&k is this? This is f%$#*g awful!"
And it's bizarre that the editors would say Jan is really chairman when Tony would technically be chairman (his long stretches of leadership I think would outlast Jan's long tenure). Yes, the other Avengers don't know that it's Tony (but, really, they do) but since they don't know Jan is "supposed" to be leader, what does it matter? It's been clear for a bit now that Hank is the chairman, acknowledged or not.
Posted by: Erik Beck | September 29, 2015 12:03 PM
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