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Avengers West Coast #52: Review

Dec 1989
John Byrne, John Byrne

Story Name:

Fragments of a greater darkness

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers West Coast #52 Review by (August 29, 2017)
Despite being reduced by 5/6 Mephisto has been busy since Fantastic Four #277. He was in Secret Wars II and had his own 4-issue series Mephisto Vs (various). He fled from another encounter with Franklin Richards in FF Annual #20. But he stood up to battle Satannish in Dr Strange Sorcerer Supreme #6-8, where we discovered he has a daughter Mephista. And after a couple of Silver Surfer apps he created a son Blackheart in Daredevil #270.

US Agent comments here that if someone made his mother forget her children it would kill her. But his parents *were* killed in Captain America #345. It appears that the Commission on Superhuman Activities has wiped that from *his* memory, but he'll relearn the truth in CA#378.

Mephisto will go his own way, 1st revisiting his initial enemy Silver Surfer in the latter's 1987 series #2, then reconnecting with his son Blackheart in Daredevil #278-282.

Master Pandemonium is kept in Hell by Mephisto until Lore recruits him to get revenge on Scarlet Witch in her 1st solo (mini-)series.

The twins are resurrected as Speed and Wiccan of the Young Avengers. But any attempt at building a timeline that links these together is bound to conclude that Marvel's shifting timescale makes the YA pair born before the twins 'die'. (Shades of the argument within this issue.)

Agatha Harkness will remain with Scarlet Witch for a while, appearing next in  Acts of Vengeance in Avengers #313 and our #55.

Ghaur is priest-lord of the Deviants in Lemuria, the major villain of the 1985 Eternals series at the end of which he was discorporated. Atlantis Attacks is his 2nd outing.
Lemuria is also home to a side-branch of Atlanteans. LLyra is a Lemurian/human hybrid, similar to Sub-Mariner. She gained the Lemurian throne but Namor deposed her. Since then she's been a regular enemy of his, last in Amazing Spider-Man #213-215.
They've already appeared in the opening shot of AA in Silver Surfer Annual #2 where Ghaur was reincorporated and made a deal with Set. They'll continue in the next episode in Iron Man An#10 where they ally with Attuma and Warlord Krang and intend to recreate the Serpent Crown.

The team fit in a lot before the next issue and Acts of Vengeance, especially Iron Man, and most of their apps coincide with some of his - initially built around Atlantis Attacks.
IM An#10 features a team-up with Namor as they discover hints of AA and Subby appears to die. IM informs Captain America and HT of that as the ex-Invaders duo meet in a backup tale in AWC#56. Then in IM#246-247 he discovers that AIM and Hydra have combined forces against the Maggia and Madame Masque - the story also involves Grey Hulk and concludes in Hulk #361. Then back to IM#248 where a bio-chip in his spine enables Tony Stark to walk again without his armour. The team (except Tigra and guest Human Torch) are all together when Cupid is tricked into attacking them in Marvel Super-Heroes (1990) #9.
While all that was going on Atlantis Attacks was infesting some other Annuals. But now everyone but USA piles into Av An#18 (Tigra is there too but probably shouldn't be). Ghaur has the complete Serpent Crown and sets out to mark the 7 Brides of Set, as nearly everybody who's ever been an Avenger fights the undersea invasion. The focus then shifts to other Annuals as Ghaur gathers the 7 Brides, until it's time for the last 3 Annuals all of which involve IM and the AWC. In our An#4 the assembled Avengers (except Dr Pym and US Agent who go on a side-trip in a backup tale) invade Ghaur's HQ as Set returns to Earth. In Thor An#14 he and mystic/godly allies defeat Set. And it all ends in FF An#22 where everybody (including not-dead Namor) get together to rescue the Brides, defeat the other baddies and destroy the Serpent Crown again.
After that IM has a run on his own. An extra solo tale in MSH#9 is followed by IM#249-250 where he and Dr Doom go back to King Arthur's court. At the end of the Fury 1-shot Tony Stark and Nick Fury discover that the whole Deltite LMD thing was a plot by Baron Strucker (the rest of the book is a flashback history of SHIELD). Then it's into Acts of Vengeance in Damage Control v2#1, Av Spotlight #26, and IM#251-252 vs Chemistro.

US Agent won't be in next issue but will be back for #54 (still in AoV). Tigra will remain miniature and in the wild until Agatha Harkness finds and cures her in Av Spotlight #38, and she's back on the team in our #66 - both stories by Roy & Dann Thomas.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers West Coast #52 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Master Pandemonium has kidnapped Tommy and Billy Maximoff, the infant twin sons of Scarlet Witch and Vision. The Avengers West Coast have followed him and discovered that he has used them to replace his demon arms.

He now claims that they are 2 of the 5 missing pieces of his soul. And he uses Tommy Maximoff to fire demonflames at his mother Wanda, which Wonder Man takes the brunt of. He also claims that the boys are now invulnerable, so Iron Man feels safe in hitting him with repulsor beams. But MP is unscathed.

Master P explains that he just took the boys, with their powerful heritage, to *replace* the missing bits of himself. And he was right to expect that it multiplied his power. But imagine his surprise when he found that they actually *are* 2 of his missing soul fragments.

He does his trick of spewing demons from the hole in his front. The hole which used to be 5-pointed but now only has 2 points left. This confirms that he has added 2 soul pieces to the 1 he retrieved in West Coast Avengers #15.

The team respond in their unique ways. U.S. Agent punches demons and hits them with his shield. Wasp blasts 1 with her sting but it just breaks into many smaller versions of itself. Which her partner Dr. Pym shreds with a handy flechette gun he had shrunk about his person. Vision is just letting the horde pass through his intangible body when 1 of them surprisingly twists his head round on his neck, and the synthezoid falls until he can internally repair the damage. Wonder Man attacks Pandy directly but has to face a demonised boy/arm.

Back on Earth the newly-revived android Human Torch was left behind to guard the fort. He's scanned the Avengers Compound but all the demons left with MP last issue. As he lands he's sees a strange cat dash past, which he doesn't know is Tigra shrunk by Henry Pym (#49). He returns to Ann Raymond and Agatha Harkness who is still in a trance contacting the away team.

Ann wants to know why Master P kidnapped the kids. Jim Hammond repeats the villain's origin he heard from Pym last issue. Movie exec Martin Preston was dying in a car crash when he made a deal with Mephisto. The devil saved his life but replaced his arms with demon versions, and also took his soul and left him with a 5-pointed hole in his stomach, representing the 5 shards his soul had been split into. MP became Master Pandemonium and went looking for the bits of his soul. He found 1 in WCA#15, and now he's back for more.

Agatha Harkness now leaves her trance to tell them another piece of the puzzle - the origin of the twins. After Scarlet Witch married Vision and they left the Avengers for a normal life, Wanda desperately wanted children. This would normally be impossible for her android husband to provide. But the Witch used a combination of her mutant hex ability and the magic she learned from Miss Harkness to make her pregnancy possible.

But Agatha is convinced that Wanda can't really have created life. The children are a product of Wanda's will - witness the fact that they occasionally vanish when SW is forced by circumstances to stop thinking about them. They can't be real, but Dr Strange declared them normal at their birth (V&SW (1985) #12) so there must be something AH is missing.

Torch is (more) worried about the Avengers now that Miss Harkness has taken her eye off them. But Agatha assures him that her cat Ebony is there to watch over them. (Ebony is also the 'tag' AH used to track MP with last issue.)

And indeed it is watching as Dr Pym is overwhelmed by demons, Wasp is trying to avoid being swallowed, US Agent is engulfed by a glob, Iron Man is captured by another demon, Scarlet Witch has her hex-wielding hands pinioned and the Tommy arm is eating Wonder Man's face. Master Pandemonium is about to add Wanda's soul to his collection for even more power when Henry Pym makes an observation. The twins were born before Martin Preston met Mephisto so how can they be parts of his soul.

We now switch to Mephisto himself who has been following events with interest. He gloats for our benefit that as usual what he told Preston was a lie. The devil himself was destroyed by powerful young Franklin Richards in Fantastic Four #277. When he regenerated it was only with 1/6 of his essence. The rest was divided into 5 hidden parts. Rather than use his own diminished self to search for them he tricked Martin Preston into doing it.

Meanwhile Master P is in denial about the twins not being parts of his soul, even when reminded that they were indeed born before his 1st app in WCA#4 (and conceived 9 months before that). (There is a hole in Pym's argument of course, because they don't actually know how long ago Preston's meeting with Mephisto was. But the truth we have been told above means that the conception just has to be later than FF#277.)

This is all forgotten about as Human Torch arrives courtesy of Agatha Harkness clutching the last 2 soul fragments MP was searching for. (AH's witchy ability must be so great that she was able to quickly locate what he had spent a long time looking for, and even the reduced Mephisto expected to be difficult to find.) Before giving them to the villain HT extracts a promise that he'll let the Avengers go.

Pandy inserts the final 2 pieces in the hole in his stomach. Then of course he says he's not going to honour his promise. But then he notices that the centre of the hole is still there. And he's sucked into it like a black hole. His demons vanish and the Avengers are free. HT says he wasn't expecting that, but Miss Harkness had a contingency plan. Wanda of course wants to know where her kids are.

Then Mephisto shows up and says that the souls MP collected have been restored to their rightful place within *him*. But AH's contingency Ebony shows itself and grows to huge size and attacks the devil. Wanda thinks the cat is trying to save her sons, but she worries about it as both combatants are getting heavily damaged in the fight.

Agatha contacts Scarlet Witch mentally. She says Ebony can look after himself but Wanda must open her mind so the Avengers can be saved. The Witch and Mephisto cry out at the same time. The devil vanishes and the team find themselves back home. Ebony is once more in his mistress's arms. Wonder Man holds unconscious Wanda.

Miss Harkness explains how she saved the day. The twins Mephisto had absorbed were still bound to Wanda by the spell that created them. Agatha erased them from Wanda's memory, and this sent a shock through Mephisto which dispersed him for a little while enabling AH to rescue everyone.

This tampering with SW's mind angers WM. But Agatha makes it clear that the Witch unconsciously grabbed 2 of Mephisto's missing bits when she 'created' her children in the womb. Making her forget them was the kindest thing. For now it is best to let her sleep, and they'll tell Vision what has happened when he 'wakes up' from his injury.

There is an epilogue where Deviant priest Ghaur tells the Lemurian Llyra it is time for the 7 Brides of Set. This heralds the Atlantis Attacks crossover in this year's Annuals including our An#4. Then next issue will segue from there to the Avengers crossover Acts of Vengeance.

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)

(Greer Nelson)
U.S. Agent
U.S. Agent

(John Walker)

(Janet Van Dyne)

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

> Avengers West Coast: Book info and issue index

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