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Avengers West Coast #51: Review

Nov 1989
John Byrne, John Byrne

Story Name:

(Unknown title)

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers West Coast #51 Review by (August 29, 2017)
Last issue was cover-dated Nov and this issue is Mid-Nov. In a similar way the next 2 issues will be included within Dec. This happened across all Marvel's titles and was aimed to reduce the difference between cover-date and publication date from 4 months to 2.

The title is a modification of "I sing of arms and the man" the opening words of Virgil's Aeneid.

The West Coast Avengers threw Iron Man out in IM#229 over his questionable actions during Armour Wars. Tony Stark faked Iron Man's death in #230 after creating a false identity for him. Then in #231 he introduced a 'new' IM in a new armour - but it was really still him.
But in #242 Tony was shot by jealous girlfriend Kathy Dare, and in #243 he was left paralysed. But in #244 he modified his armour to work with his disabled body. According to the Marvel Chronology Project he's here after IM#245 (a slight change from the Official Index).

We 1st met witch Agatha Harkness as the nanny to Reed and Sue Richards baby Franklin in Fantastic Four #94. But the FF crossed paths with the Avengers at the wedding of Scarlet Witch's brother Quicksilver to Crystal of the Inhumans in Av#127/FF#150, and in Av#128 Miss Harkness stayed with Wanda to train her in real witchcraft on top of her mutant hex ability.
Later Agatha returned to the FF. But later still her old enemies Salem's Seven, children of her evil son Nick Scratch, burned her at the stake in Vision & Scarlet Witch (1985) #3. However she was still able to contact Wanda from the spirit realm in #4-5.

Master Pandemonium's story from WCA#15 is slightly different than here. Mephisto replaced all 4 of MP's limbs with demons, and sent him in search of the 5 demons who had the fragments of his soul. MP can detach the demons who are his limbs to do his bidding. Since then he has collected many more demons which he can disgorge through the hole in his body. But so far he's only found 1 fragment which he got from the Cat-People in WCA#15. At the end of that issue he was left in the River of Oblivion which flows through the various Hells (and other places).
It actually took him to the planet Arcturus IV. Morbius the Living Vampire had previously taken the same route in Fear #22-24. And the FF followed in FF#314-315. They met Master P and they all found a way back to the Savage Land on Earth in #316. (It was a report of this that led some of the WCA to the Savage Land in their Annual #3 where they got involved in the Evolutionary War event.)

Immortus will take a break from monitoring Scarlet Witch but he'll be back for #53.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers West Coast #51 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Iron Man has returned to the Avengers West Coast and is now confronted by 4 of the current members - none of them completely happy to see him. Leader U.S. Agent is the most outspoken and states the facts as the world knows them. The Iron Man who founded the Avengers is dead, and his replacement doesn't automatically rate Avengers status. He decides to go and check with Washington (ie his superiors at the Commission on Superhuman Activities).

Janet Van Dyne confers with her ex-husband (and it seems current lover) Henry Pym. Hank says IM's voice modulator means they can't tell who's in there. Wonder Man adds that they know James Rhodes subbed in the armour (in the original West Coast Avengers mini-series). But now that untrusted newcomer USA is no longer there they can ask him directly "Are you still Tony Stark?". (They don't mention that TS is currently paralysed.)

We know he is, and his thoughts remind us that for health reasons he's having to spend more time in his armour these days. He figured in that case he might as well use the time more effectively as an Avenger again. But at this point he says that he can't tell them who he is.

We leave them now to find the other team members (not counting Tigra who's currently a cat) Scarlet Witch and Vision walking across the Compound to their quarters. Vision is more robotic since he was taken apart and rebuilt in #42-45. He tries to use more human turns of phrase in order to sound more human again to his wife. But Wanda tells him not to bother - as a mutant she doesn't care about humanity. Vizh reminds her she has spent years with the mostly-human Avengers. But she says she now regards that as a mistake.

Then they enter their house to find Agatha Harkness (and her cat Ebony) waiting for them. SW is surprised because she believed her mentor in witchcraft was burned to death (V&SW (1985) #3). Miss Harkness dismisses that as a triviality for 1 such as her.

Agatha tells the couple that she is concerned about their children Thomas and William. Wanda protests that they are normal children, but Miss Harkness says that how could that be for offspring of a mutant and a synthezoid. She claims that whenever Wanda isn't thinking about them they disappear. SW vehemently claims that they are always in her thoughts, by AH points out that there are times of danger when she must concentrate only on herself, and times when she has been unconscious. (Presumably being asleep doesn't count.) She reminds her ex-pupil that she has sacked various nannies who have tried to tell her about this. Wanda desperately tries to block the message out.

So we'll look in next at the 2 guests of the Compound. The WWII android Human Torch is flying around exulting in his new life and marvelling at the new world he's in. He's also been asked to join the team. When he lands he's seen by a woman who hesitantly calls him Tom. He introduces himself and discovers that she is Ann Raymond, the grieving widow of his once-youthful sidekick Toro - Tom Raymond.

But before they can commiserate with each other they are attacked by a horde of demons. And Ann's scream attracts most of the other Avengers as HT is knocked into the swimming pool. Wasp bio-stings them, Wonder Man bashes them and Dr. Pym shoots them with guns he enlarges out of a pocket. Pym guesses they are emissaries of their old enemy Master Pandemonium. Iron Man queries didn't they last see him in the River of Oblivion in Mephisto's domain. Hank replies that the Fantastic Four saw him back on Earth recently (FF#315) - and wonders to himself how the 'new' IM knew such details about their exploits.

US Agent joins the fray and bashes demons with his shield. Torch climbs out of the pool, flash-driers himself, flames on and starts burning baddies. But Wasp and DP start to suspect this fight is merely a diversion ...

... as more demons burst into SW&V's main room. Agatha Harkness prepares to hold them off when Master Pandemonium follows them and spits a blast of demonfire at her. Vision puts his hand into MP's chest but the villain claims to have no heart to be stopped. Scarlet Witch's hexes seem to have more effect. But then Pandy calls his demons off and vanishes with them. And Wanda realises the twins are gone.

The Master has the children in his hellish domain, and he of course tells them his origin. Martin Preston had a car accident which ripped off his right arm. Mephisto appeared at the crash sight and replaced both arms with demon's versions. But he also removed Preston's soul and scattered it in 5 pieces, and left him with a 5-pointed hole in his abdomen. He has so far retrieved 1 piece (in West Coast Avengers #15), which has closed up 1 point of the pentagram.

Back at the Compound all the super-characters have gathered together in SW&V's wrecked dwelling. Henry Pym tries to enquire further into how come Miss Harkness is still alive, but angry Wanda brings the subject back to her kidnapped kids. Wasp wonders whether they've just vanished again like the nannies said, which earns the shrunken heroine a slap from SW.

The Witch curses them as 'prattling humans' and demands that the witch send her where Pandemonium has gone. Agatha says she mystically tagged him before he left so she can find the target. The other heroes want to go with SW, but Dr Pym tells Torch to stay behind because the team isn't used to working with him. With Wanda's help to get past some magic barriers Miss Harkness opens a portal for them.

As usual Immortus is watching the proceedings from his palace in Limbo. He fears his long-range plan could be derailed if anything happens to Scarlet Witch. And he can't see into MP's realm.

That realm appears peaceful. But Agatha Harkness mentally warns the team to beware as the local plants leap into life and attack them. They battle their way through towards a citadel. Wanda is the 1st to get there and blasts the door open. But inside she finds Master Pandemonium with her babies attached to his arms, and 2 more points of his pentagram gone.

John Byrne
Mike Machlan
Bob Sharen
John Byrne (Cover Penciler)
John Byrne (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Bill Oakley.
Editor: Howard Mackie.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Human Torch
Human Torch

(Jim Hammond)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)
U.S. Agent
U.S. Agent

(John Walker)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Agatha Harkness, Ann Raymond, Billy Maximoff, Doctor Pym (Henry Pym), Immortus, Master Pandemonium, Tommy Maximoff.

> Avengers West Coast: Book info and issue index

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