Avengers West Coast #65-68
Issue(s): Avengers West Coast #65, Avengers West Coast #66, Avengers West Coast #67, Avengers West Coast #68
As for the rest of these issues, i wish that they didn't start with the silly "He's back from the grave - and ready to party!" blurb on the cover of issue #65, but it's a decent story focusing on two very different villains with unique motivations. I used to have a quibble about the use of Ultron here. I felt like Ultron should only be a mega mega threat and should never just be a villain of the month like he is in this story. But Ultron (if we count the Mark Twelve version) has become one of the main villains of this series, so i think it's fine for Roy Thomas to give us his current take on the character (and Thomas will use the character again, too).
This issue starts with the Grim Reaper rising from the grave (after Wonder Man, who was visiting, leaves). He's greeted by Nekra, who is again responsible for his resurrection. This time, her methods have changed him so that he's more conscious than he was when she made him a zombie, but he has to use his scythe to drain the life from a human, once every 24 hours.
Grim Reaper isn't feeling grateful, however, so he makes Nekra his first victim.
Later, the Grim Reaper attracts the attention of Wonder Man and a still de-powered Scarlet Witch by massacring a group of Satanists. It turns out that Wonder Man is immune to the Grim Reaper's new life draining ability.
Grim Reaper withdraws from the fight.
Meanwhile, the Wasp and Henry Pym are vacationing while trying to rekindle the flame of their relationship. They wind up lost and go to a random farmhouse, only to find that the people living there are robots.
The fact that they were robots is revealed when Henry Pym de-shrunk a Rover ship to fly home. That will have some minor importance later on.
The robots are the work of Ultron-13.
Meanwhile, Iron Man and USAgent are dealing with a group that is protesting the deployment of a malathion spray that is being used to kill medflys (Mediterranean Fruit Flies). Whatever the merits of protesting that in real life, these protesters think that the sprayers have also secretly been spraying at night, and it's caused people's skin to start turning metallic.
Iron Man and USAgent return to the West Coast compound. They find Tigra, who has been restored to human form. But that apparently hasn't reduced her frisky nature, which at one point was explained by her cat side.
Iron Man and USAgent connect their experience with the Wasp and Pym's, and everyone agrees to investigate the situation further except for Wonder Man who sees Grim Reaper to be the more immediate threat. The counterargument is that the Grim Reaper has gone underground and there's no way to find him. But Wonder Man nonetheless leaves on his own to search for his brother (and considering how easily he'll find the Grim Reaper, it seems he had a point).
The rest of the Avengers begin their investigation, with Hawkeye focusing on a sewer tunnel that is in the middle of the malathion spraying ring. It turns out there was a fire in that tunnel (a footnote says, "it was in all the LA papers, honest!"). And when Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and Tigra go to investigate, they find a secret passage that leads to a lab with computers, a helicopter, and robots.
And Ultron himself.
Ultron defeats all three Avengers...
...and puts them in holding cylinders, saying that his goal is to turn all of humanity into robots.
Meanwhile, the back-up story shows Wonder Man finding the Grim Reaper.
They fight again, and the Grim Reaper seemingly has Wonder Man on the ropes when suddenly the Mandrill shows up.
Note that Mandrill calls Nekra his "sister". That's not literally true. I don't know if Mandrill was speaking metaphorically or if Roy Thomas made a mistake, but we can assume the former.
Mandrill is seeking vengeance for the death of Nekra; it seems that the two of them were planning something that involved the Grim Reaper's resurrection. But Grim Reaper kills him too.
The Reaper drops into the sewers when the police show up.
That leads directly back into the main story for issue #67, where the Grim Reaper is in the sewer and comes across Ultron's lab. He enters, watching as Ultron rants and sprays the Avengers with his robot-transforming chemical. In true Roy Thomas fashion, the Avengers argue in giant word balloons about whether or not trying to hold their breath would help.
Ultron eventually reveals that he's aware that the Grim Reaper is behind him. The Avengers call the Reaper an "idiot" for not attacking sooner, but the Grim Reaper only tries to defend himself after Ultron attacks him. We see that Ultron has a new regenerative ability.
The Grim Reaper convinces Ultron that he's not there to fight. Ultron fuses Grim Reaper's scythe to his arm.
And the two villains form an alliance.
Some interesting changes for the Grim Reaper, and i think for the better. He's truly a Grim Reaper now, not just a guy with a trick scythe.
Some of the other Avengers are busy dealing with outbreaks of roboticism...
...and then Ultron sends his newly roboticized Avengers to attack a computer lab at the UCLA where Henry Pym and the Scarlet Witch have gone to do research.
The rest of the Avengers show up to help out.
Iron Man finds that infrared light slows down the robotic Avengers.
And then Scarlet Witch makes an effort to bring back her powers and uses them to help Iron Man find the exact frequency that will turn the Avengers back to flesh.
However, it doesn't completely restore Hawkeye. And all three former captives don't remember that Ultron was responsible for their transformation. But they soon re-find his lab. However, it only contains robot drones ("andrones"). And also a bomb, which causes most of the Avengers to clear out. But Wonder Man stays behind, knowing that he can survive the bomb blast, and when he's alone, the Grim Reaper comes out. He tells Wonder Man that he intends to betray Ultron since, after all, if everyone's a robot he won't have anyone to feed on.
He tells Wonder Man that the process Ultron has been using to turn people into robots has also accidentally caused Ultron to absorb human lifeforce, and that makes him vulnerable to the Grim Reaper's scythe. Grim Reaper also says he'll lead Wonder Man to Ultron, if Wonder Man will agree to let the Reaper go on killing one person a day.
Wonder Man reluctantly agrees.
Meanwhile, back at the Avengers compound, Hawkeye, since he's still partially robotic, turns on the Avengers again. Scarlet Witch tries to use her hex powers to stop him but the power backfires and winds up causing something to fall on Henry Pym instead.
They are saved when the rest of the Avengers return on a Quinjet. It turns out that vibrations from the engine roar have an effect on the andrones, like we first saw with Rover.
The Grim Reaper leads Wonder Man to Ultron's current location, which is in a blimp floating above a parade celebrating various robots in movie and TV history.
Ultron causes the robots to attack, bringing the rest of the Avengers onto the scene.
And, inside the blimp, Grim Reaper drains the life force from Ultron, but Wonder Man goes back on his promise.
But Ultron isn't really finished. Luckily Hawkeye has recovered, and he arrives.
The two villains just kind of wind up bumping into each other and getting knocked out.
And that's basically how it ends.
It was pretty solid until the dud of an ending. The Thomases take the time to give character moments to everyone. And i do enjoy the interactions between the villains (including Nekra and Mandrill), and the difficult situation that Wonder Man is put in regarding his brother (even though Simon does come across as a bit of a whiner). And i guess the ending is really more of a delayed effect, with Grim Reaper's attack on Ultron being the critical thing that just comes a little early, requiring the fight to be extended. It's still not great but it's solidly average super-heroics at a time when that's getting rarer. I'd still like Ultron to have a better showing, though.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 206,944. Single issue closest to filing date = 203,300.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Avengers Spotlight #38 takes place prior to this; it's the first time that, Iron Man, at least, sees the restored Tigra.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): show
Nekra and Mandrill will be back, won't they?
Posted by: Piotr W | July 22, 2015 5:23 PM
Yeah, they'll both appear again.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 22, 2015 5:33 PM
Come to think of it... This is the closest I ever remember Walker having the slightest interest in women and even then it seems to be mostly agreeing with her out not knowing how to respond so I'm not sure it would even count.
I remember in Mighty Avengers he is very disapproving of a woman picking him for a mission based on his looks. Although maybe he felt such a comment came at the expense of his actual abilities. He does take his role as U.S.Agent rather seriously in his own way...
Posted by: Max_Spider | July 22, 2015 6:48 PM
I enjoy Ultron and the Reaper's relationship. Each knows they'll betray one another in the end, and they've done so multiple times, but on some level they seem fond of each other.
Posted by: Thanos6 | July 22, 2015 7:10 PM
Mandrill and Nekra's origin involved an incident that swapped genetic material between them, so I don't think it's a metaphor at all; they could literally be called a kind of siblings - which is, BTW, creepy as hell, given his pheromone powers meaning they were almost certainly lovers.
Posted by: BU | July 22, 2015 7:44 PM
They'll both appear again but Nekra apparently did die and go to Hell temporarily, since the next time she appears, Hellstorm describes her as "one from the pits".
Posted by: Michael | July 22, 2015 7:59 PM
@Max_Spider, in the 2nd USAGENT miniseries we meet an ex-girlfriend of USAgent's, Kali Vries. And in later issues of WCA (after Tigra has left the roster) we see him upset that none of the women on the team have any interest in him.
Posted by: Dermie | July 22, 2015 11:42 PM
@Dermie Ha! A marvel writer could use you guys for research! I guess Walker is just not very good at it.
Posted by: Max_Spider | July 24, 2015 10:24 AM
I like seeing Wanda and Simon dating. I am a fan of this couple.
Posted by: Steven | July 24, 2015 9:18 PM
It is always so distracting to see USAgent being treated as if he were an Avenger.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | August 8, 2015 7:28 PM
Ah, this was one of the joys of reading WCA - actual things relevant to my life in LA, like the tunnel fire and the medflys that were such a serious problem.
Wanda looks really cute in her costume without the headpiece. They should go back to that look.
Posted by: Erik Beck | November 16, 2015 9:03 AM
When #65 opens with Wonder Man at the cemetery, the graves are all for New Universe characters!
Posted by: AF | December 28, 2017 1:21 PM
"Twilight did die in the comics"
You take that back! Her body was never found! :-)
...So I was hopeful that meant she would turn up again alive.
But of course, she didn't, and sadly, I think it's clear Gru's intent was that she was dead. (And then the New U as a whole died not long after, so I guess it's academic, but it didn't feel it at the time...)
(For anyone unaware, Paul Ryan was the artist & co-creator of Gruenwald's D.P.7 series, clearly he missed them as he also drew exact lookalikes of 2 of the other members of D.P.7 as extras in Quasar #4.)
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | December 28, 2017 5:03 PM
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