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Avengers West Coast #54: Review

Jan 1990
John Byrne, John Byrne

Story Name:

The troubled Earth

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers West Coast #54 Review by (November 21, 2017)
The cover is obviously an homage to Fantastic Four #1.

The Marvel Chronology Project has more Acts of Vengeance issues between last issue and this than before last issue, and some of them involve Iron Man and Wonder Man. Which makes it unbelievable that those are still searching for last issue's U-Foes here, and Human Torch has only just recovered from X-Ray's attack.
John Byrne writes current Avengers issues as well as this title. If Pym & co's NY trip only involved Av#312 then the above might be acceptable. But Mark Gruenwald included Dr Pym in 2 Captain America issues. And the MCP had to put all the other AoV stuff somewhere - and some of that included apps by AWC members. (This is the general chronology problem that individual titles are written as though they are usually almost continuous, but the rest of the Marvel Universe has to slot in as well.)

US Agent says he's been absent on his own business for a while. He only missed last issue and since #52 he had 3 AWC-related apps:- He was with the team in Marvel Super-Heroes v3 #9. He and Dr Pym had their own non-Atlantis Attacks adventure in  a backup tale in the last Annual. And he's with others of the team in a backup tale in the next Annual which claims to occur between last issue and this.

But after that I have him in backup tales in CA issues. In #372-373 his old partner Battlestar (from when he was the replacement Cap) tracks him down at the AWC. (Iron Man and Wonder Man cameo in #373.) USA denies being John Walker and claims his parents aren't dead. In #378 USA tells BS he *was* John Walker but the Government has given him a new id Jack Daniels. But BS proves John's parents are dead. Then in #380-382 USA learns that he requested to be brainwashed to forget his parents' death, but now he has it reversed. As a side-effect he remembers how his previous partners Left & Right Winger caused his parents' death, and the revenge he took on them that left them heavily injured in a coma.

Mole Man is the villain from Fantastic Four #1, and his latest apps have also been in FF but in a more friendly vein. In #296 he gave refuge on Monster Island to Thing. In #313 the FF tried to save MM from the Lava Men. But in #329 he was betrayed by the Watcher Aron's evil FF clones.

Giganto and Tricephalous were 2 of MM's monsters in FF#1. The 3-headed one hasn't been seen since then, but Giganto cropped up in with Mole Man in FF #264, another issue written by Byrne where he drew an FF#1 cover.

Mole Man and both his monsters will appear next in FF#347 when Skrulls invade Monster Island.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers West Coast #54 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Last issue this title entered Acts of Vengeance when someone in the cabal of villains organised by the man we still don't know is Loki tricked the U-Foes into attacking the Avengers West Coast. Then Dr. Pym, Scarlet Witch, Vision and Wasp headed to New York to find out why the East Coast Avengers had gone silent (answer - because their Avengers Island base had been sunk by Dr Doom's robots in Av#311).

A lot has happened in AoV since then. The Marvel Chronology Project is as usual my guide to the sequence of events.

In the 2nd half of Captain America #365 Sub-Mariner found the sunken Avengers Island and was enslaved by Controller, working for Red Skull, who made him fight Cap. And Red Skull agreed to join the cabal. Then in the opening pages of #366 Dr Pym didn't dare try to remove the Controller's disc from Namor's neck.

Controller's discs also transfered the subject's power to him, which he was supposed to be collecting for Skull. He decided to go after Thor next, but Skull sent Crossbones and the Voice to bring him to heel. CA#366 then got tangled up with Thor #411 where Loki sent Juggernaut to New York hoping to lure Thor out (he doesn't yet know that Thor has a new host Eric Masterson) - it worked. The 2 issues showed part of the Thor/Juggie fight while Controller watched. But in CA#366 Crossbones and Voice took Controller away while in Thor Juggernaut defeated a strangely-weak god and the New Warriors showed up. Then in #412 the NW fought Juggernaut until Thor recovered and sent him to another dimension. Loki wasn't pleased. (But even here it doesn't admit who he is.)

Then we had an interlude with a little bit of X-Factor. In XFa#49 (which doesn't have an AoV banner) Apocalypse noticed AoV happening and Loki asked him to join the cabal. In a backup tale in #50 Apocalypse realised Loki was the master of the cabal, not its servant, and forced him to reveal his identity before turning him down. (This is the 1st time in the sequence that *we* get told it's Loki.)

Then in the end of CA#366 Cap attacked Controller, Crossbones and Voice to get Controller to attach a control disc to him which didn't have any effect because he'd armored his neck (all part of a scheme to free Namor). The Red Skull got Controller to attach a disc to Loki but that didn't work either (because Loki's a god).

Then we had a run of side issues. In Marc Spector, Moon Knight #8-9 MK and Punisher tackled Flag Smasher and Ultimatum who were taking advantage of all the super-fighting in New York for terrorism purposes. In the beginning of Punisher #28 Dr Doom and Kingpin each thought *he* ran the cabal. KP goaded DrD into going after his enemies Punnie and Daredevil. In DD#275-276 Doom created Ultron-13 from the remains and brains of previous Ultrons to send against Daredevil to show Kingpin who's better (while he himself went after Punisher). But the conflicting minds (especially of -11 and -12) confused Ultron, enabling DD and 2 Inhumans to defeat him.

Meanwhile Kingpin got on with his own business and sent Tiger Shark to Tierra Verde to protect his drug interests against revolutionaries in Wolverine #19-20. The only connection with AoV here is KP attended a cabal meeting - and this storyline continued without AoV in #21-23. Wolverine then moved over to Uncanny X-Men #251-253, also not AoV-related, but in #253 Magneto defended his position as head of the Hellfire Club (didn't mention Loki's cabal) and abandoning the New Mutants as playing the villain so that humans would hunt him and leave other mutants alone.

Kingpin sent Goliath against Spider-Man in Web of SM #60. He failed but Dr Doom implanted a device which would absorb SM's new cosmic power when he uses it and allow G to grow even larger. SM still defeated him, and we saw the Captain Universe image superimposed over Spidey for the 1st time. Doom seemed to recognise it. Then the cabal asked Sebastian Shaw to kill Spidey in Amazing SM #328. He sent Grey Hulk to do the job.

The other X-branch showed up next in a small strand in New Mutants #84-86. Loki got Tinkerer to make a new set of wings for Vulture with instructions that he should escape prison and attack Speedball, but Vulture had his own plan. Rusty Collins and Skids tried to stop him from freeing the explosive Nitro. Rusty fought Vulture while Skids contained Nitro's blast. But Freedom Force arrested the mutant pair as prison escapees.

Then in the middle part of Pu#28 Dr Doom lured Punisher into a trap with 1 of his robot doubles. Punnie escaped the forces sent against him.

Then it was another Spider-Man double-bill. In Spectacular SM #160 Spidey easily defeated Hydro Man, Rhino and Shocker (we saw the Captain Universe image again). Dr Doom found the Tess-One robot in the waters around sunken Avengers Island, and he modified it to absorb SM's new powers too. SM destroyed it but Doom rescued the wreckage with some of the power within. In WoSM#61 Spidey discarded his mask in 1 of his regular 'Spider-Man no more' moments, and Wizard used it to track him with Dragon Man. Dr Doom tried to siphon the cosmic energy from Tess-One but Loki secretly made the robot explode.

This is where Alpha Flight #79-80 fitted in. Asp, Nekra, Owl and Scorpion headed to Canada to escape the super-conflict and the looming Super-Hero Registration Act. But Llan the sorcerer had compelled them here and used their conflict with AF to open the Eye of the World/Gateway of Night - to be continued in AF.

And finally the last part of Pu#28. Punisher invaded Doom's castle in Latveria to steal a Fabergé egg which he hoped to use to persuade Doom to leave him alone. But he was caught by Kristoff Vernard as Dr Doom who claimed the Doom attacking him in New York was a renegade robot. He demanded Castle's aid in catching it.

There's an intricate bit of interplay next. In a flashback in Mutant Misadventures of Cloak & Dagger #9 Dr Doom hired Jester to attack the Avengers. At that point Typhoid Mary was waiting for a meeting with Doom, which happened in Power Pack #53. Most of that issue was TM relating in flashback how she'd followed his instruction to destroy the PP kids - she'd done it by killing their father. But she was lying about succeeding at that, in a bit of psychological manipulation of Doom. Then in MMCAD#8-9 Jester led the cosmic Hulk robot (lent him by Doom) plus Hydro Man (again), Fenris and Rock (lent by the Leader), and tried to recruit C&D. They pretended to join but then switched sides when Jester & gang attacked Captain America, Iron Man, She-Hulk, Thor and Wasp who were holding a public meeting in NY to try to sway opinion against the Registration Act. (And Dagger was also in the PP#53 flashback.)

Dr Pym, Scarlet Witch, Vision and Wasp were with Falcon in the Avengers basement HQ in Av#312 when Avalanche, Blob and Pyro of Freedom Force came to arrest them. Loki's cabal bickered amongst themselves as they watched this event, which they (nor Loki) didn't initiate. It turns out Loki's masterplan was the destruction of the Avengers. At the end Cap arrived with evidence that this wasn't a government-sanctioned FF operation.

A continuation of Av Spotlight #28/2 had previously-escaped-from-the-Vault Thinker send Gargantua to disrupt the Congressional Committee meeting where Wasp and Wonder Man were testifying against the Registration Act. As he expected Gargantua fell to the heroes which weakened the case for the Act (which would be against his own interests).

Then in CA#367 Dr Pym got the control disc off Subby. Namor told Cap & Pym about the offer to join the cabal (including Red Skull). He went to the magic door intending to pretend to join them but it had gone. Cap went to the last place he met Skull but had to fight Controller again. Meanwhile holocaust survivor Magneto came after the Nazi Skull. He captured him and imprisoned him underground.

In Pu#29 Punisher confronted Dr Doom in NY while Cap, Sub-Mariner and Thor were tangling with the Freedom Force 3 again. Castle and Doom came to an arrangement.

And in UXM#256-257 The Hand had found amnesiac Psylocke who the Siege Perilous had given an Asian body. They brainwashed her to be a telepathic assassin and gave her to Mandarin. As Lady Mandarin she took control of the Hong Kong underworld and then captured Wolverine. (This storyline hadn't really anything to do with AoV.)

MSMK#10 had Moon Knight fighting Coachwhip, Killer Shrike and Ringer who just wanted to join in the supehero bashing.

Then it was Pu War Journal #12-13. Now that Dr Doom had failed, Kingpin and Loki sent Bushwacker to kill Punisher. And in Damage Control v2 #2 Punnie attacked the company because he didn't know Kingpin didn't own it anymore, but was repelled by their Dr Doom robot. DC raised Avengers Mansion from the sunken Island.

And now this issue ...

... Mole Man sends a monster (which we of course recognise as Giganto from Fantastic Four #1) to attack Los Angeles. Iron Man and Wonder Man spot it from the air. (Supposedly they're still searching for last issue's villains the U-Foes.) Shellhead lifts the giant monster into the air where he's buzzed by the AWC leader U.S. Agent on a sky-cycle who urges IM to kill it. But Iron Man (who *doesn't* recognise it) doesn't want to do that because it might be innocent. So he dumps it in shallow water offshore and creates an earthen barrier to protect the beach.

Wonder Man has found the large hole Giganto came out of. He's joined by Human Torch (Jim Hammond) who has recovered from being zapped by X-Ray last issue. They both fly into the hole to investigate. A mile down they are set upon by lots of smaller monsters and find Mole Man himself.

Meanwhile Dr Pym, Scarlet Witch and Wasp are flying back from New York by quinjet - without Vision who as he said last issue has elected to transfer to the East Coast team. And Wanda Maximoff has reverted to the trance she was in last issue. Henry Pym woke her then by telling her her husband Vision was in danger. And all during their sojourn in NY she's been acting as if the android Vision was back to his yellow & green version with emotions, who loved her. Hank doesn't think he should try that again now that Vizh has left.

Suddenly the autopilot takes emergency action to avoid a giant 3-headed flying monster (Tricephalous, again from FF#1). But a large hoof smashes the craft which spins out of control towards the ground. Hank tells Janet Van Dyne he's going to shrink Wanda so Wasp can fly her to safety. But Jan won't leave her lover/ex-husband behind. Their dilemma is resolved when a magnetic force field keeps the plane from hitting the ground.

They get out and Hank gives Wanda to Jan to look after. As the Tricephalous dive-bombs them Dr Pym shrinks *that* to an innocuous size. Then he sends Wasp to fly for help to a Forest Rangers tower they can see in the distance.

*We* see Scarlet Witch's father Magneto, master of magnetism, watching over his daughter - part of his master plan. But we also see Loki (still not named) mystically watching *him* and gloating that he's the real mastermind behind AoV. He's also watching the rest of the AWC in action.

Simon Williams asks Mole Man why he's attacking LA. Harvey Elder claims that he was living peacefully on Monster Island when it was assaulted by Iron Man, Vision and him - Wonder Man. So now he has sent Giganto to the AWC's home, and Tricephalous to harass the East Coast Avengers. Jim Hammond protests that they *haven't* attacked him. Mole Man is just confused that the Human Torch doesn't sound like Johnny Storm.

Meanwhile Giganto is heading back to land. US Agent stops him by firing his sky-cycle's rocket exhaust into the his face. Even though the monster now cowers away from him USA claims that it didn't really hurt him. Then Giganto lashes out and knocks him off the cycle - to be rescued from falling by Iron Man.

Wonder Man tries to convince Mole Man the Avengers mean him no harm. He tells Elder to blast him repeatedly with his staff and he won't fight back. MM does so, keeping on knocking WM down, until eventually enough doubt is sown in his mind that he stops. Simon tells him that someone tricked the U-Foes into attacking the AWC last issue, and he suspects Moley has been tricked too. Harvey Elder uses a supersonic whistle to call Giganto home. Iron Man follows him into the ocean to a big hole in the sea-bed.

Later in the AWC conference room the team (without comatose Wanda) hear news that the debate over the Super Powers Registration Act continues. They contact Captain America, Quasar and Vision in NY. They all conclude that although other heroes and teams have been suffering random attacks, the ones against the Avengers seem more coordinated. Someone is out to destroy them.

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


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Human Torch
Human Torch

(Jim Hammond)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Loki Laufeyson)

(Wendell Vaughn)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

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

(John Walker)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Doctor Pym (Henry Pym).

> Avengers West Coast: Book info and issue index

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