Avengers West Coast #83
Issue(s): Avengers West Coast #83
This story is focused on the Torch. He's working with a team of West Coast Avengers reservists. The reason given (which, if this story was not necessarily planned to appear right here, could have been added to the script at any time) is that the rest of the Avengers are returning from space due to "something they call 'Operation: Galactic Storm'" according to Henry Pym, as if he, Wasp (who is apparently hearing the name for the first time), and Mockingbird weren't involved in it.
The more interesting reservists appearing here are: Tigra, who was last seen in Australia, deciding that she was going to take a break from the team. Quicksilver, who is currently a member of X-Factor, and as he says in the scan, he's going to give up his reservist status after this. And Machine Man, in one of the very few actions he takes as an official (reserve) member of the team (his next appearance is in the inaugural issues of the Busiek/Perez Avengers, when just about everyone that's ever been an Avenger appears).
But none of these characters get to do much, since this really is a Human Torch story. The villain is the Golden Age character, the Hyena. The Hyena was originally a legit Golden Age one-off villain, and then Roy Thomas subsequently used him in his Invaders series, in the annual. Thomas' use of the character caused a minor chronological muddle. The original Hyena story was written in 1948, so of course it was meant to take place after World War II. The story also seemed to be the first meeting between the Torch and the Hyena, although the sparely written Golden Age script is unclear enough to give us some wiggle room, if necessary. In the Invaders annual, which of course takes place during the War, the Torch definitely says that he's fought the Hyena before, and a footnote points us to the annual's lettercol, which actually does not cite the issue number. But for a similar conundrum regarding the Sub-Mariner's villain for the annual, the Shark, the footnote says that "Due to wartime priorities, Namor's one-and-only encounter with the Shark was not chronicled until Sub-Mariner #23, 1947". So i assumed a similar explanation was meant for the Hyena's 1948 appearance, and i've placed it prior to the Invaders annual. And i thought that was the end of it, until i got to this issue, where i now see that the Torch is saying that the Hyena became a "garden variety hijacker" after the war, with a reference to the original Golden Age appearance (albeit while citing the wrong issue number).
One thing that is for sure is that the Human Torch saying that he "first" fought the Torch during World War II is incorrect, if that is meant to be a reference to the Invaders story (which, per the footnote, it is). In the Invaders annual, he definitely recalls having fought the Hyena before. Since the original story is arguably not definitive, and since the Invaders annual does not have an actual footnote, i considered the possibility of saying that there was an original Untold fight between the Torch and the Hyena, and that's what the Torch remembered during the Invaders annual, and then he fought him a third time after the war. But i've decided instead to just chalk things up to the Human Torch having a faulty memory some 45 years after these events occurred.
I sat down figuring i'd crank out this review in 15 minutes, since it's really just a simple story, fitting for a Golden Age villain. But between the Hyena's chronology and some (ultimately minor) considerations around Quicksilver's appearance here, this entry turned out to be more complicated than i expected! Roy Thomas! *shakes fist*
Anyway, the story is that the Human Torch had been lured to a junkyard, where he's attacked by some thugs wearing monogrammed Hyena logos even as they claim to not know the Hyena.
And he's given a note from the Hyena saying that he knows where Toro is.
So the Torch goes to the West Coast Avengers for back-up, and is disappointed to find only reservists. It's noted that they don't have the firepower of the main (West Coast) Avengers, and that they've never worked together as a team before.
Yeah, alright, but... you're fighting the Hyena. Having Team America as back-up would probably be overkill, let alone a team of (any!) Avengers. And five of those reservists were regular members of the team like 5 issues ago. I think you'll be ok.
They do decide to work together after all.
The Torch approaches the Hyena alone. The Hyena tells him that his powers are blocked because the fact that he can Flame On was actually an error in Professor Horton's design to begin with, and he's eventually built up an immunity to that "problem" (i guess triggered by the Torch's encounter with the Neo-Nazis in the Namor comic, which was acknowledged earlier).
The Hyena has a device that he says will connect the Torch to "all the networked computers in the Los Angeles area". The Hyena says that all that added computer power will let the Torch overcome the factor that is blocking his powers, and beyond that the Torch can use the computers to search for Toro. In return, the Hyena wants information to help him in his criminal activities.
The Torch seemingly goes along with this scheme. In the meantime, as if goons with Hyena monograms wasn't enough, the Hyena unleashes a horde of actual hyenas on the city.
He also sends out a remote controlled monster truck (!) and somehow causes a small plane to crash.
So that's what the rest of the Avengers do. They fight hyenas and manage traffic problems. I told you Team America could handle it.
And yes, Tigra just drove a horde of poor dumb animals to their death. I guess there's no solidarity due to the fact that they're biologically more closely related to cats. If they're going to act like dogs, they're going to die like dogs.
Anyway, it turns out that the Torch is not really going along with the Hyena's plan. Because, you know, he's a Nazi.
The Hyena then tries to detonate a bomb, but it turns out that Henry Pym has already disabled it.
The Hyena's thugs aren't to happy to hear about the bomb.
Listen, those monogrammed shirts come with a price.
It turns out that the Hyena was doing all of this because he is dying, and he wanted to die in a way that caused the Torch to be blamed with innocent deaths. But the joke is on him, because he doesn't die after all.
That's good. We wouldn't want to deprive future writers of the opportunity to write more Hyena stories.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Since this takes place while the other Avengers are said to be returning from space (and while USAgent and Falcon are fighting Flag-Smasher), i've placed this between Avengers #347 and Captain America #401. Quicksilver's appearance here requires a little thought, since i've said that the Hulk/X-Factor War & Pieces crossover takes place at the same time or after Operation: Galactic Storm. Either option is really possible: either Quicksilver appears here and then in War & Pieces (which then definitely takes place after Galactic Storm), or he appears in War & Pieces and then here (which means War & Pieces must take place during Galactic Storm; it can't take place prior since the Hulk knows the name of the Avengers' Operation, which he probably learned from Rick Jones, who was in the early portion of that story). I'm going with the latter option (i.e., War & Pieces takes place during Galactic Storm), only to keep myself lined up with the MCP, which has Quicksilver appearing here after Hulk #392.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showHenry Pym, Human Torch (Golden Age), Hyena, Machine Man, Mockingbird, Quicksilver, Tigra, Wasp
Yeah, this might not be the most powerful group of Avengers, but Hank, Bobbi and Greer were teammates for a long time and Jan was with them for part of that. This group is probably a good example of a low power team that could do well because of knowing each other well. Surprising that Thomas would treat them any other way given how much he had written all of these characters, dating back to the 60's.
Posted by: Erik Beck | March 1, 2016 12:06 PM
"We wouldn't want to deprive future writers of the opportunity to write more Hyena stories."
What? You don't think that character has potential, Fnord?
Just wait. When I become a writer at Marvel, I'll make a whole summer crossover event built around this guy!
Posted by: Piotr W | March 1, 2016 4:13 PM
I believe that this is the last time we see Mockingbird before she is kidnapped and replaced by a Secret Invasion Skrull.
Posted by: Steven | March 2, 2016 1:07 AM
The MCP shows the real Mockingbird until Avengers West Coast #91. Which is only four more real appearances; she appears in #87-90.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 2, 2016 7:26 AM
It's been years since I read Secret Invasion, but IIRC the Hawkeye & Mockingbird tie-in mini suggested that the real Bobbi was kidnapped after she broke up with Clint but before they reconciled. (That was a plot point in the mini: Clint assumes they will automatically get back together, until he learns that from Bobbi's point of view they're not a couple anymore.) Wouldn't that mean she was kidnapped long before this issue?
Posted by: Tuomas | March 2, 2016 9:37 AM
What's weird is saying this team have never worked together when almost all of them were together in Roy Thomas' first bunch of issues on West Coast (sans Machine Man).
Posted by: AF | March 2, 2016 12:23 PM
@Tuomas, Hawkeye and Mockingbird are on speaking terms at this point, but i wouldn't say that they've reconciled, or are back together, yet. They had the bitter argument in #69, Hawkeye was all over Spider-Woman in #76-79, and Mockingbird was complaining about Hawkeye to USAgent in Galactic Storm. I don't remember the specifics of Secret Invasion either, but it seems like the MCP's placement might be ok.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 2, 2016 12:35 PM
From the Wiki entry on Mockingbird -
Posted by: clyde | March 2, 2016 12:45 PM
I like that the Hyena felt the need to use "special paper" that ignites. you know, like regular paper does.
Poor rehash of a golden age villain? Do really need to check is Roy Thomas wrote this?
Posted by: kveto | May 20, 2018 5:30 AM
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