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Avengers West Coast #56

March 1990
John Byrne, John Byrne

Story Name:

Darker than scarlet

Reviews & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

By Rob Johnson on November 28, 2017

Quicksilver was a villain in #34-36. But that and earlier evil deeds were revealed to be the work of Inhuman baddie Maximus in Fantastic Four Annual #21, and Q was cured by the Inhumans. He returned to them and his Inhuman wife Crystal and their daughter Luna on the Moon for Marvel GN #39: Inhumans and Inhumans: The Untold Saga. So as is obvious here he's only pretending to side with Magneto until he can de-evil his sister.

John Byrne started turning Tigra cat-like as soon as he took over in #42 until Dr Pym had to shrink her in #49. And she'll still be in that state when he ends his run next issue. She won't return to the team until Roy and Dann Thomas' #66 after they've restored her humanity in Avengers Spotlight #38.

The 2nd story is basically positioned in Atlantis Attacks between Iron Man An #10 where Sub-Mariner appears to be killed and Av An #18 where all 4 chars gather with other Avengers. Human Torch has come from our #50-52 where he was reanimated and immediately dragged into the Master Pandemonium story. Sersi was last in Av#308-310 with other Eternals as mentioned. Cap's last meaningful app was out #47-49 where he helped rescue Scarlet Witch from a different predicament. Iron Man will get involved in an AIM/Hydra/ Maggia tussle in his #246-248 and Hulk #361 before Av An #18.

Human Torch is unsure whether Cap is Steve Rogers because he's worked with 3 other Cap's since Steve 'died' in WWII. What If #4 revealed that Spirit of '76 and then Patriot continued the role in the Invaders and the All Winners Squad. And then CA#155 told us about the 50's version.




 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Last issue as Acts of Vengeance came to a close Magneto kidnapped Scarlet Witch who was in a self-induced coma because of all the traumatic things that happened to her over the last year of issues, and he took her in her house to the edge of space. Somehow he snapped her out of it but now she's evil (with a new darker costume). Wasp found her in her house back on the ground with injured U.S. Agent, who said that she'd killed Wonder Man.

Now we join SW who has Wasp, USA, Agatha Harkness and a very much alive WM trapped in a force field of her making. And Simon Williams believes he *was* dead - again. Wanda Maximoff agrees with Janet Van Dyne that she doesn't have the power to restore life, but Simon really didn't survive the explosion of her house in space last issue. However she then used her power to alter probabilities to change reality to 1 where her house was intact on the ground and Wonder Man wasn't killed.

She now has total control over her hex power. She merely has to *think* what she wants and it happens. And Wanda is *revelling* in reaching her full potential. She ignores her mentor Agatha's attempt to talk her down.

She also used her power to change her costume and hairstyle. She now approaches Wonder Man and asks how he likes it. Wanda says she knows Simon is in love with her. Now that her husband Vision has left her (as has her sense of morality) she is free to respond to him. Simon tries to play dumb until she scratches her fingernails down his chest - and her power breaks his invulnerable skin.

Meanwhile Dr. Pym went to look in on miniaturised Tigra last issue. On the way he meets Ann Raymond and Human Torch (Jim Hammond) who report all has been quiet lately (obviously when Magneto took Scarlet Witch and her house last issue he did it very stealthily). But he does mention the strange cat he saw running around the grounds (this was back in #52). Henry Pym recognises the description and rushes to find Tigra's glass cage smashed open. (So he hasn't checked on her since then!)

He explains to the other 2 some of Tigra's history. In particular how she reverted to her feral feline state in #49 (after she had been previously cured of that by the Cat People). Hank miniaturised her for her own good hoping to find a permanent cure. Since then she's been in this cage with an automatic feeding system (you don't expect a comic to mention the waste disposal system). Something must have caused the system to fail and the hungry cat broke out.

We get a quick view of Immortus, the regular behind-the-scenes villain of this comic, who says *he* caused the equipment failure. And he boasts that he's been controlling the team's lives in minute detail - they are pawns in his plan to rebuild the universe. And Scarlet Witch is central to his plot.

Be that as it may, Ann and Torch leave to start looking for Tigra while Dr Pym will contact the rest of the Avengers West Coast. But before he can do that 2 indistinct figures materialise and 1 speaks to him. (They're not so indistinct that we can't tell they're Quicksilver and the Inhumans' teleporting dog Lockjaw.)

HT is flying around not really expecting to be able to spot mini-Tigra when he sees a motorcade arriving at the front gate. A man steps out of 1 of the cars and asks Ann if she's a representative of the AWC. Torch lands and takes the responsibility - and he's handed an eviction notice.

Meanwhile Iron Man is flying home to Tony Stark's residence for some long-deserved time out of the armour. But as he lands he receives the Avengers emergency signal and turns right round. But he won't get here until next issue.

Dr Pym is creeping up on Wanda's house, not sure whether to believe that it went to space earlier. (OK it's obvious Quicksilver must have told him about it, but it's not so obvious how *he* knew.) As he creeps he recalls an experiment he performed with Scarlet Witch. (We haven't seen this before, but supposedly it happened just before Master Pandemonium struck in #51.)

Scientist Henry Pym was interested in how SW's hexes actually cause the effects they produced. Wanda herself can't predict what will happen, so does her power pick on some existing possibility to amplify into certainty? He had a titanium bar which he had checked for no fractures. But he now had it under pressure, so when Wanda cast a hex he expected it to break - which it did. But he scanned the bar as it broke. He then showed her 2 pictures - of the perfect rod before her hex, and the rod with flaws the millisecond after her hex hit.

But the Witch pointed out that the before picture had identical fractures. Hank looked at it and was astonished to see she was right. That could only mean that her hex had caused flaws to exist *before* she cast it. And even more amazingly it had changed the data he had collected to *show* those flaws.

Now peering into Wanda's house Dr Pym realises that SW is more powerful than they had thought. And the info he has just been given (obviously by her brother Pietro) makes things even worse.

Inside, the captives are increasingly disturbed by the new Wanda as she turns her attentions from Wonder Man to US Agent. But Magneto enters before she can get started, and tries to reign in his daughter. Hank Pym now sees that the info he was given (ie by Pietro) is correct. He recalls that Magneto was part of Loki's cabal in AoV but he wasn't there in the final act (last issue) - obviously because he was here with the Witch, turning her allegiance while she was emotionally weakened (but how did he get her out of her coma?).

Pym now shrinks the components of a part of the wooden wall so that it falls apart leaving a big hole he can walk through. Magneto says he's not here to fight - he only wants his daughter. Wanda tells Hank she wants to go with him, to stand by his side in the inevitable war between humans and mutants. Pym pulls a miniaturised gun from 1 of his many pockets and enlarges it to aim at his teammate. But then Quicksilver whizzes in and knocks him out.

Father and daughter are overjoyed to see the 3rd member of their family join them. And Pietro says he's here to help them become masters of the world.



There's a backup tale in this issue entitled "Reunion":-

It's a scene obviously missed out of Atlantis Attacks as the WWII android Human Torch meets up with his partner in the Invaders, Captain America, for the 1st time after several decades.

In Avengers East Coast HQ (still on Avengers Island/Hydrobase at that time) Cap is talking to Sersi of the Eternals. There have been early signs of trouble on the coasts. Steve Rogers suspects the Atlanteans but he can't get hold of Sub-Mariner (still officially an Avenger). Sersi is here because *she* senses the involvement of the Deviants, the foes of the Eternals. Besides which she enjoys the chance to flirt with Steve ...

... who is quite glad when someone interrupts them. Even more so when he realises it's Jim Hammond. (Cap has obviously heard that android Jim was found and reactivated in #50.) Torch wasn't sure it was the Cap he knew in the War, but is convinced by his enthusiastic welcome - if a bit taken aback by such a non-40's display of emotion.

Cap introduces Jim to Sersi, who shows off her knowledge of recent (to her) human history by reminding us that HT fought evil in the 40's and 50's with his young sidekick Toro, and during WWI they joined Cap and Bucky along with Sub-Mariner and others to form the Invaders. Torch has to let them know that Toro is dead, and Cap mentions dead Bucky too. Hammond says Hank Pym told him that Bucky died in the event that the Invaders thought killed Steve near the end of WWII (although he would have known *that* - the *news* would have been that Cap had actually been in suspended animation until the Avengers revived *him*).

Steve now muses aloud how irresponsible they were to take such young kids into danger, including others in the Kid Commandos. Jim says the kids enjoyed it, and crammed a lifetime of experiences into a short period.

Torch also says that the reason he came here was because he learned that Cap was still alive and in the Avengers. And Namor too. But just then Iron Man enters with news to put a damper on an Invaders reunion - Namor is dead.



And there's a 1-page 3rd section to this comic:-

It's a cartoon in which John Byrne is forced to make a public apology for something that happened in Atlantis Attacks. Mike Higgins wrote the episode in Avengers Annual #18, and when he asked John what Avengers West Coast members he could use confused Byrne included Tigra. John even drew the cover for that issue with Tigra on it. But he forgot that Tigra would be cat-sized and in a cage in that whole period. So now he tells us to forget any appearances of Tigra in Atlantis Attacks - they never happened.

Actually Byrne deals with a similar mistake in the 2nd story here. As writer of Avengers too he presumably listed *their* current members also. And Sersi is in several chapters of AA in various Annuals. But she doesn't join the Avengers until #314, after AA and AoV. (She was also in some issues before those Events as a guest star along with other Eternals.)
So although story 2 is mainly to show Cap and HT meeting for the 1st time since Torch was reactivated (because in AA they are just working together) it also provides a reason why Sersi was with the Avengers during AA.

Elektra


John Byrne
John Byrne
Paul Ryan
Bob Sharen
John Byrne (Cover Penciler)
John Byrne (Cover Inker)
Howard Mackie

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America
Human Torch
Human Torch
Iron Man
Iron Man
Magneto
Magneto
Quicksilver
Quicksilver
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch
Wasp
Wasp

Plus: Agatha Harkness, Ann Raymond, Avengers West Coast, Dr. Pym (Henry Pym), Immortus, Lockjaw, Sersi, U.S. Agent, Wonder Man.