West Coast Avengers #5
Issue(s): West Coast Avengers #5
In any event, the Avengers show a united front for a press conference and then go back to their dysfunctional lives, with Hawkeye and Mockingbird having a fight and Wonder Man and Tigra hooking up on the beach (her cat-influenced sexual drives apparently overriding her cat-influenced fear of water).
The Thing and Firebird have been awkwardly waiting around to say goodbye during all of the fighting, and they finally take their leave, with Firebird wishing that she was invited to join the team while Hawkeye continues to badger the Thing to join instead.
Later, Tigra finds Mockingbird on the beach, and distraughtly asks for help. Mockingbird initially thinks that Tigra is telling her that Wonder Man raped her ("attacked" per Comics Code parlance), but Tigra says it was actually the other way around.
We don't see Wonder Man's point of view on that, but a couple of pages later Tigra is hooking up with Henry Pym while Wonder Man happily strolls by, and he's grinning.
Iron Man is similarly considering pursuing Tigra.
Tigra wanted help from Mockingbird to try to regain her human side, since she's blaming her cat side for her sexual appetite. After hooking up with Hank, she's less enthusiastic about going forward with the plan, but Mockingbird has already tracked down the location of Jack Russell, who was involved (tangentially) in Greer Nelson's transformation to Tigra. This really should have been a dead end (it was the Cat People that transformed Tigra, and Mockingbird's "the most likely person to provide a clue to Cat People is a wolf-person" makes no sense) but as it turns out, Russell is currently under the treatment of Michael Morbius, who has had dealings with a group of Cat People.
Independently, Firebird is hunting down Master Pandemonium, and an occult book dealer tells her that if she wants to investigate demons, she should look for a book called the Darkhold ("it's a classic work!"). The last he heard, Jack Russell had the book. That's outdated information, but it's enough to get Firebird to show up at Russell's place at the same time as the Avengers.
It's the full moon, so Jack is unable to control his transformation. Morbius has locked him behind a heavy reinforced wooden door, but the smell of sexy Tigra's sexiness is enough to get him to break out and steal away with her.
This results in a big fight between the Avengers and the Werewolf, and Iron Man is badly injured and forced to retreat.
They manage to take him out, with the final blow coming from Wonder Man.
It seems a bit wrong, since it should really only be magic or silver that stops him, but Hawkeye did manage to tag him with a silver arrow earlier, although it was only a superficial hit, so maybe that had a delayed effect. Or maybe Firebird's flame has a mystical characteristic.
After the fight, Morbius confirms that Jack won't know anything useful about the Cat People but that's when Morbius mentions his own encounter with them.
Meanwhile, Henry Pym gets a phone call from Ultron, who is now saying that he wants to bury the hatchet with his father.
Kudos to Englehart for utilizing some disparate pieces of the Marvel universe - the Darkhold, Werewolf By Night, the Cat People, Morbius - all of which leads to a battle where the Avengers find a single Werewolf foe to be quite a difficult opponent. But the method for getting here, all around Tigra's cat-influenced insatiable sexual appetite, just really makes me uncomfortable. And the idea must be that it's not just that she can't control her sexual urges, but that she's also releasing pheromones that are affecting the men, considering that both Tony Stark and the Werewolf are drawn to her while she's also having sex with both Wonder Man and Henry Pym in the span of a couple of pages. Giving a sexy cat woman in a bikini nymphomania just stinks of fan service. I suppose we have a combination of the Comics Code Authority and Al Milgrom's stiff awkward artwork to thank for not having to deal with any exploitative imagery on top of the plot, but the plot is bad enough. I always go back to the fact that Greer Nelson was explicitly created as a feminist character, and her transformation to Tigra was an attempt to keep her in publication (at a time when Marvel's monster line was growing, she was turned into a were-woman) and increase her powers beyond "acrobat in a suit", not turn her into a sexy cat girl. Since Englehart's series began, she's been a weak victim not even in control of her own urges. There'd be nothing wrong with Tigra deciding that she wanted to be sexually liberated and unbound by conventional norms, but what's happening here isn't that at all. Forces she can't control are making her have sex with her co-workers, and she's also having to fend off advances from the Werewolf, and she's not even the one that puts a stop to him.
There are other potentially good things happening here - Hawkeye's problems with Wonder Man's revelations, the weird revelation about Ultron, the Hawkeye/Thing/Firebird drama around the sixth member - but it's all clunkily done in both art and script.
There's an art mistake in this issue; Iron Man flees after getting injured by the Werewolf and returns at the end of the issue saying "I'm back - more or less! I'll need a few stitches, but i'll live." But in between those scenes he appears again in the middle of the fight.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: At the beginning of this issue, the Thing and Firebird have been guests at West Coast Avengers compound while Firebird was recovering from her encounter with Master Pandemonium last issue. Iron Man #202-204 are placed between last issue and this one. The beginning of this issue also features a formal inquiry and press conference regarding Wonder Man's confession on the Johnny Carson show that he was guilty of embezzlement. But it may have been a few days since the airing of that episode, with the inquiry and press conference not happening right away. And as Benway notes in the comments, Wonder Man says to Tigra, "We never made it down here [to the beach] last night", but they could have delayed their date more than once. So i'm allowing a little space between last issue and this one, as long as no Thing issues appear in between. The gap between this issue and next one requires an explanation as well, but i will cover that in the entry for next issue. For now i'll just say that i've placed the Emperor Doom graphic novel in between.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showFirebird, Hawkeye, Henry Pym, Iron Man, Mockingbird, Morbius, Thing, Tigra, Ultron Mark Twelve, Werewolf By Night, Wonder Man
i share all your comments on Englehart's writing. He has big ideas and some cool concepts, but his execution is less than stellar - not awful - but something that prevents WCA from being a top title. Especially in comparison to Stern's Avengers, it is a weak sister.
How do the titles compare in publishing? I think WCA was still very popular although I don't know if it was selling less, more, or equivalent to the main title at this point.
The one thing I do like is that Wonder Man is growing into his own as a hero. With his strength and invulnerability, he should be a top hero. And that he looks human unlike other super strong characters (as the panel shown with bystander calling him a "real guy" shows) so he should be very popular with ordinary people.
Posted by: Chris | December 18, 2013 9:54 PM
According to West Coast Avengers 20'a statement of ownership, it sold 245,183 average and the latest issue sold 234,925. According to Avengers 279's statement of ownership, it sold 237,241 average. So West Coast Avengers was slightly outselling Avengers at this point.
Posted by: Michael | December 18, 2013 10:45 PM
"It seems a bit wrong, since it should really only be magic or silver that stops him, but Hawkeye did manage to tag him with a silver arrow earlier, although it was only a superficial hit, so maybe that had a delayed effect. Or maybe Firebird's flame has a mystical characteristic."
Or, maybe Wonder Man is just THAT darn strong! A solid hit from him will put just about anyone down and out.
Posted by: Bill | January 14, 2015 11:03 PM
" It's not said how long their visit was"
As to the issue itself, I liked this more than I was expecting to and take the Tigra stuff as intentionally disturbing at this point rather than just misguided. I guess I'll blame the resolution for wrecking it if this pans out badly. The Ultron stuff is really creepy and interesting. Certainly a big advancement on him being the Grim Reaper's muscle. I'm hoping against hope that this storyline doesn't fall apart like the opening one did.
Posted by: Benway | March 22, 2016 7:55 PM
"Greer Nelson was explicitly created as a feminist character, and her transformation to Tigra was an attempt to keep her in publication (at a time when Marvel's monster line was growing, she was turned into a were-woman) and increase her powers beyond "acrobat in a suit", not turn her into a sexy cat girl. Since Englehart's series began, she's been a weak victim not even in control of her own urges."—fjord
" I…take the Tigra stuff as intentionally disturbing at this point rather than just misguided." —Benway
My thoughts exactly. Greer's feminist beliefs (and her still mourning her husband) were in conflict with the "Hey there, big boy" way she'd been written too often of late. So, by having the "sex kitten" aspect get out of control, Engelhart sets an arc in motion that resolves the conflicting characterizations.
Posted by: Dan Spector | August 21, 2016 8:40 PM
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