West Coast Avengers #26-28
Issue(s): West Coast Avengers #26, West Coast Avengers #27, West Coast Avengers #28
The human Zodiac...
...are infiltrated by the robot Zodiac.
Most of the human Zodiac are wiped out, and Cornelius Van Lunt, aka the human Taurus, goes to the West Coast Avengers for help. He swears on the moon in front of Moon Knight that he'll give up his evil ways if they'll help him.
Hawkeye "kills" the Sagittarius robot during the battle, and the fact that he's upset about the death of a mere LMD worries Mockingbird, who still hasn't revealed that she let the Phantom Rider die. Meanwhile, Scorpio just uses the Zodiac Key to create a new Sagittarius. It turns out that the Jake Fury LMD is possessed by, or bound to, the Zodiac Key. So if i get this right, this is actually Jake Fury, but in an LMD's body.
The next issue opens like my worst nightmare.
Hawkeye is ambushed by the robot Zodiac, and faces the new Sagittarius, who is a mirror image of him.
The real Hawkeye is defeated and Sagittarius infiltrates the Avengers. When Sagittarius turns down a massage from Mockingbird, she assumes it's because Hawkeye is subconsciously sensing that she's been lying to him, so she asks Henry Pym to hack into SHIELD's computers so she can talk to Nick Fury.
Oh, and then there's this:
Fortunately, the Zodiac have sucked all the energy out of me and i can't work up any more outrage over Englehart's treatment of Tigra.
Back to Mockingbird. On Fury's advice, she tells "Hawkeye" about the fact that Phantom Rider raped her and that she subsequently didn't left a finger when he was falling off a cliff, and Sagittarius, obviously not programmed for interacting with humans, tells her not to worry about it, that it's no big deal. Mockingbird goes to give him a punch and realizes (a little slowly, in my opinion) that he's really a robot. Tigra shows up to help Mockingbird defeat it, but it turns out that Tigra has just been replaced with a new Leo.
The Zodiac remain one step ahead of the Avengers for a while. But then in a big uninspired Al Milgrom fight...
...the Zodiac Key exhibits a reluctance to obey Scorpio...
...especially when he tells it to take them to its home dimension. When he finally forces it to do so, the robot Zodiac all collapse.
The Avengers still have to fight the Brotherhood monks from that dimension.
It turns out the Brotherhood are really tough, but they love conflict so much, they decide to let the Avengers go, because defeating them would just end the conflict.
Or something like that. Oh god, my head.
When the Avengers get back, the Avengers discover that Van Lunt has escaped. And since he swore to the moon, that makes Moon Knight very angry. But that's a story for next issue. For now, let me be happy that this arc wipes out just about all the Zodiac. It was painful getting there, and that pain was compounded by referencing previous painful stories, like Gerry Conway's origin of the Zodiac Key, but for the moment i am free! Free, do you hear me?! Free of these boring, uninteresting characters cluttering up my comics pages.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: Regarding the human Aries appearing here, i'm tagging him as the most recently appearing human Aries (in Iron Man #184), making him Aries III. He is colored with a different skin tone here, but as it's said at the Appendix, that could just be a coloring error.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAquarius (Robot), Aquarius II, Aries (Robot), Aries III, Cancer, Cancer (Robot), Capricorn, Capricorn (Robot), Gemini, Gemini (Robot), Hawkeye, Henry Pym, Iron Man, Leo, Leo (Robot), Libra, Libra (Robot), Mockingbird, Moon Knight, Nick Fury, Pisces, Pisces (Robot), Rover (Pym's ship), Sagittarius, Sagittarius (Robot II), Sagittarius (Robot), Scorpio (Jake Fury LMD), Taurus, Taurus (Robot), Tigra, Virgo, Virgo (Robot), Wonder Man
The treatment of the Hawkeye LMD was completely at odds with the way the LMD's are usually depicted. They're supposed to be completely undetectable except to someone like Wolverine or Daredevil and be able to duplicate human behavior. This LMD couldn't react properly to being told that "his" wife was raped and his flesh felt hard.
Posted by: Michael | April 20, 2014 5:34 PM
Added Scorpio and here's a link to that Mark's Remarks column. But i shall not be baited into talking about these issues any further!
Posted by: fnord12 | April 20, 2014 5:40 PM
Not all my comic firsts were noteworthy. The second part of this storyline was my first WCA comic. A LOT of new characters, not just with Zodiac, but every member of the WCA as well. At the age I was, I wasn't familiar with the astrological signs, except for the names of some better known ones, such as Leo and Taurus, so it was all fascinating to me.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | April 20, 2014 5:58 PM
I don't see why these issues should reinforce the idea of Tigra as a 'bimbo'. The point is specifically raised that she is NOT chasing all men anymore--but that doesn't mean she has to be chaste from now on either. The idea that Tigra acting on attraction to someone (for the first time since her cat soul situation was resolved) makes her a bimbo is uncomfortably close to 'slut-shaming', imo.
Posted by: Dermie | April 20, 2014 11:59 PM
Why would the Two-Gun Kid be sorry he missed anything? He never met any of the Zodiac.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 26, 2014 11:55 PM
Zodiac is trying to rob a cattle auction in that scene, which sounds like an Old West crime.
Posted by: Michael | April 27, 2014 12:14 AM
Maybe that "cattle auction" thing would have gone better if they used Man-Bull instead...
Posted by: Ataru320 | May 1, 2014 10:59 AM
Zodiac robbing a cattle auction and a mint in this story seems so at odds with their earlier portrayals, where they were out to conquer the world or kill 1/12 of the people of Manhattan or whatever. Here, they really don't seem to be an organization so much as an unusually large (and weirdly underpowered, minus the Key) team of standard-issue supervillains.
It also doesn't help that Englehart has drained away the winning eccentricities of the android Zodiac in favor of more generic "dysfunctional villain team" dynamics. Or that Jake Fury, whose established motivation is that he hates his brother Nick, decides instead to run a criminal organization and fight the Avengers.
Unlike fnord, I like the Zodiac (especially the Kraft/Giffen LMDS); but there's a reason this story is the last time anyone uses them for a very long time, and why no subsequent incarnation manages to last beyond a single writer and a single arc. By casually wiping out one incarnation and turning another into something very generic, Englehart single-handedly turns the Zodiac into a bunch of "disposable characters."
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 25, 2015 3:33 PM
Fun facts: The original Libra, Gustav Brandt, uses yoga or something to appear dead in this issue, and will return decades later in Avengers Forever. Also, Gustav Brandt is the name of a relatively famous turn-of-the-century German cartoonist.
Posted by: Andrew | June 26, 2017 6:00 PM
Milgrom does uncredited inks on #28
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | July 10, 2017 4:18 AM
I always liked Zodiac, and thought they had great potential, but they always disappoint when they actually appear.
Posted by: OrangeDuke | December 30, 2017 10:59 PM
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