Avengers West Coast annual #5
Issue(s): Avengers West Coast annual #5
The Terminus Factor
Len Kaminski - Assistant Editor
This issue starts with the West Coast Avengers reviving the Human Torch. There seems to have been a little coordination problem between this annual and Avengers West Coast #63 regarding the Golden Age Human Torch. He's shown being revived here, and also in that issue. It's covered for in the script for AWC #63, saying that he revived here and then immediately went inert again after the Terminus mission.
Notice that Machine Man is with the group. Iron Man has repaired his arm.
Quicksilver then runs into the room to tell them that Hercules has sent out an urgent summons. And here's why:
Don't look now, but that lady in the yellow shirt is taking the opportunity of the chaos caused by the battling Termini to kidnap Lump from Agents of SHIELD.
I actually don't know why Terminus and his clone have to fight each other. If Terminus were just a spacefaring plunderer like originally intended, i could see it (but then i don't know why he would have cloned himself in the first place). But if he's a construct created by a dead alien race to wreak vengeance on the Celestials that destroyed them, why not be happy to have a partner with the same goal?
In any event, Hercules is endearingly happy to see the Avengers arrive.
Internal politics make the rest of the team a little less happy, though. Hawkeye is bitter that Henry Pym has become the de facto group leader.
The team follow a plan by him to set up a pair of lenses that temporarily blind the Termini and then cause them to see illusions of their opponents. This has the effect of temporarily separating them but doesn't last very long or accomplish much.
In fact, there's not much that the Avengers can do.
This could be an epic battle that might have made up for the weird retcon about Terminus, but James Fry has a loose cartoony style that doesn't convey (what should be) the awesomeness of it. Instead we just have the Avengers bouncing randomly off the giant aliens, and the fight between the Termini themselves is similarly unremarkable. Except for this splash, which i thought was laid out nicely.
During the fight, the clone snaps off his tail and starts using it like a lance, just like Terminus' lance. But then they both stab their lances into the Earth. And then the real Terminus opens up his mouth and starts swallowing his clone, who is shrinking.
This results in an even bigger, four-armed Ultimate Terminus.
I guess this is the answer to my question above? Terminus cloned himself so that he could later eat his clone and gain its power?
The final page shows the East Coast Avengers getting ready to join the fight (another nice panel; i guess i like what Fry does with silhouettes).
So this is basically an issue of the West Coast Avengers being insignificant. That's potentially material for a powerful story. An entire issue of a team of Earth's Mightiest Heroes not being able to even get the attention of two giants causing massive destruction while they battle each other. But that sense of desperation is not at all conveyed here. Everything feels harmless, and there's no sense of scale. We don't really see the harm that the Termini are causing, and the Avengers themselves never seem to be in any real danger. The Avengers (and Machine Man, who might as well not be here) just try a bunch of stuff and then at the end something happens unrelated to anything they've been doing. I blame the art to a large degree, but the Thomas' busy dialogue is also a major factor.
As with the previous issues, this annual then has a television feature with some bad jokes (it's by Rob Tokar/James Reddington/Keith Williams). This time they are debating what the Termini are. Of interest is the fact that Dr. Peter Corbeau is among the talking heads.
Now a look at the other back-up features in this annual. I'm saying that they all take place directly before the main story (since the main story continues directly in Avengers annual #19 and i want to avoid breaking these back-ups into separate entries). The first is the long awaited return of the team that you demanded: S.U.R.F.!
They show up at a sea animal theme park to free the whales. Firebird happened to be in attendance, so she calls in the West Coast Avengers. When the Avengers arrive, they make no attempt to negotiate. Pym immediately starts shrinking the whales and putting them in jars...
...and the other Avengers - Hawkeye and Wasp - attack.
Eventually the Avengers get SURF surrounded, and they stop fighting when they realize that Pym hasn't been hurting the whales.
The issue of the whales being held in captivity isn't actually discussed...
...and then SURF leave, saying that they'll do their part at sea. The story ends showing free whales getting hunted by fishermen, and the story is dedicated to "Corky and Orky".
The next story at least has a funny bit. Wonder Man was supposed to make a public appearance but he's been called back to the set of a movie. The other Avengers agree to fill in for him, and it turns out the public appearance is at a monster truck rally.
I love USAgent's enthusiasm. That's the bit i like. The rest of the story is silly nonsense.
The conflict arrises when a Dr. Goodwrench shows up and attempts to liberate the trucks. The story is almost a parody of the previous story with SURF and the whales.
Notice that Iron Man has his thermocouplers back (i observed that his red and silver armor didn't seem to have them in Avengers annual #15).
Iron Man thinks that Dr. Goodwrench's fight for "mechanical rights" is "the stupidest motivation for putting on a dumb costume I've ever heard", but Hawkeye thinks the Porcupine was worse. The Porcupine might have had a dumb costume, but developing an exoskeleton suit for the military and then deciding to use it for personal gain doesn't seem like that bad a motivation. Pretty standard, really. To be fair, Hawkeye is kind of deaf, so maybe he just heard "dumb costume".
Vision, on the other hand, disagrees with Iron Man. "Machines obviously deserve rights." Even non-sentient ones don't deserve to be abused. But the Vision goes to Dr. Goodwrench and convinces him that these machines are not talking to him. And since "machines don't lie". Goodwrench believes the Vision.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is part four of The Terminus Factor. Avengers annual #19 is next. Let's assume the two back-ups i've included here take place right before the main story, maybe concurrently with the Thor part of this annual. But there is still one more story that is included in a separate entry.
Crossover: The Terminus Factor
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showCaptain America, Eel (SURF), Firebird, Hawkeye, Henry Pym, Hercules, Human Torch (Golden Age), Iron Man, Machine Man, Peter Corbeau, Quasar, Quicksilver, Sharkskin, She-Hulk, Terminus, Undertow, USAgent, Vision, Wasp, Wonder Man
That is some sloppy art.
Posted by: Bob | July 8, 2015 5:03 PM
Yup, this is lousy art (although I still prefer it to any by Jim Lee). One of the panels above has Jim-Torch in a pose that is a clear swipe from Johnny-Torch panel in FF #122 or #123.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | July 9, 2015 12:11 AM
Fnord - you give credit for the silhouette (which is really cool) to Fry, but isn't the effect likely the work of the inker? I'd love to see the original pencils and see who did what with that.
Also, you have to love the shout-out to King Kong vs Godzilla. A classic! I clearly agree!
Posted by: Erik Beck | October 12, 2015 8:32 AM
I would guess that inker Keith Williams and colorist Renee Witterstaetter should get credit for the execution of it, but i assume it was Fry's decision to have it depicted that way. I doubt Fry handed them a panel with just machinery and asked them to fill in the characters. I suspect he drew the outlines and probably even did shading to indicate they should be filled in. You're right that seeing the original pencils would clear things up.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 12, 2015 8:40 AM
There's no question that your site has given me a much greater consideration for the work of inkers. I'm sure that would please Banky Edwards.
Posted by: Erik Beck | October 12, 2015 12:01 PM
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