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Avengers West Coast #59: Review

Jun 1990
Danny Fingeroth, Gary Hartle

Story Name:

Get smart

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers West Coast #59 Review by (May 20, 2023)
This is a 2nd fill-in issue between John Byrne's final #57 and where Roy and Dann Thomas pick up the plotlines in #60. Last issue the West Coast Avengers were too busy to continue the ongoing plot, and this issue is set in an alternate timeline (so none of *our* Avengers actually die at the end) with only Immortus to link it in to the other issues.

Brad Vancata supplied the pencils and inks for the last 2 pages containing the explosion and funeral.

This issue has Immortus in the headshot corner box. That should have warned us that something was fishy. That also initially suggests that the 1st mysterious stranger is him, something I fell for again on the re-read after several decades.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers West Coast #59 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
A tidal wave hits a small section of San Remo California and laughs as it scatters the guards of an armoured van outside a bank, seeps inside and pressurises its way violently out carrying with it many money bags. The 'wave' sweeps to the ocean where it surrounds the bag, 'dives' in and carries them to a deserted stretch of shore. There it reforms into Hydro Man (Morrie Bench) who dries out the bags of money by absorbing the moisture.

Later he's relaxing in a bar with a holdall full of money and a cold beer. He overhears 2 Yuppies commenting on his recent string of bank jobs. 1 says if he had that power he wouldn't waste it on robberies he'd go for real power like Dr Doom. The other comments that Hydro Man isn't smart enough for that. Morrie holds back his anger so's not to blow his cover, but he reflects that what they say is true. But he should be content to be rich however he does dream of more.

Then a mysterious stranger intrudes on his thoughts and claims to know exactly what Bench feels. And he says he can help. So saying he lays his hand on Morrie's forehead ... who suddenly sees things so clearly. He knows how he can make his dreams come true. And he runs off without bothering to take his money. The stranger leans back to watch what happens.

In the West Coast Avengers Compound Hawkeye and Wonder Man are trying their skills/powers against each other. Simon Williams jets down towards Clint Barton who fires multiple arrows at him. WM catches them in midair but Hawk gets him with another arrow that encases him in a block of ice. However the superstrong hero breaks free and zooms at his comrade again, his invulnerable ionic body shrugging off a blast arrow. Clint rolls aside as Simon swoops through the space he'd been in. But then he shoots 2 more arrows at the retreating figure which clog up his belt-jets with glue. Wondy may have many abilities but flying under his own power isn't 1 of them, and he falls into the Compound's pool.

Then they get a call from Dr Pym, the only other WCAer around, who's got an emergency police message saying Hydro Man has taken hostages and threatens to kill them unless the WCA come to face him. WM and Hawk figure he'll be easy to deal with and they fly off to the rescue (Clint on his sky-cycle and Simon with replacement jets).

In downtown LA in a corporate HQ skyscraper with a 15-storey atrium Hydro Man has a dozen of the employees suspended from its ceiling in an open-fronted box and he's standing on a walkway at their level. He says he'll let them go once he's established a new rep by killing the Avengers. (And his thoughts tell us that he's got a backup plan in case they actually beat him.) He's disgusted when only 2 opponents appear, telling them it'll take more than they 2 to beat the new him.

He drains away as water to avoid WM's flying lunge and so Hawk has to dodge his team-mate again. But unfortunately he accidentally fires off the heat arrow he had nocked for their foe and it narrowly misses the hostages. Simon breaks free of the wall he smashed into but boss Clint sends him to make the hostages safe while he handles the villain. Wondy complies even when Hydro Man 'drowns' his friend in water because he knows Clint will don a Stark air-mask. However Bench then makes the water squeeze the hero with intense pressure and Wondy abandons the hostages to help his friend. He dives through HM's water body knocking the other WCAer out of it but unconscious. Hydro Man tries the same trick on *him* but he doesn't need air and his body is super-strong. So Bench changes tactics and sends all his water down Wondy's throat and exerts pressure from the inside. Now it's the other Avenger's turn to black out.

Hydro-Man exits Wonder Man the way he came in. He uses Hawkeye's communicator to contact WCA HQ and demand that the rest of the team face him within 10 minutes. Hank Pym says OK but doesn't let on that *he* is currently the 'rest'. HM ties the unconscious duo to the cable suspending the hostage box in such a way that if WM wakes up and tries to escape it will send the box plummeting down the 15 storeys.

The 10 minutes are nearly up and Morrie picks a hostage to kill. But then Pym's mini-plane Rover smashes in through the glass wall. Bench is even more disgusted at facing the WCA's weakest member. Hank's 1st action is to enlarge a shrunken blaster from 1 of his pockets, but he uses it to breaks the suspension cable (below the other 2 heroes). The hostages understandably panic but Rover magnetically latches on to the top of the metal box and flies them down to the ground. Hydro Man attacks Dr Pym but he enlarges a wide-angle heat blaster and evaporates the foe.

The police take the hostages to be looked after. Hank frees his partners who have just regained consciousness and they join him in Rover. But then they are surrounded by steam which signals the return of Hydro Man. Wonder Man attacks him before he can fully reintegrate his body while Dr Pym enlarges a containment tank. But Bench spots the move before Pym can finish and he smashes him unconscious with solid water. Hawkeye tries the freezing arrow he used on Simon earlier but HM lets it pass through a tunnel in his water body and then crushes the archer unconscious again. Then he picks up Wondy and smashes him against solid surfaces like a rag doll.

Hydro Man prepares to kill the 3 Avengers when the mysterious stranger turns up again. He reveals that he is Loki and he caused all this for fun. But if anyone's going to kill Avengers it will be *him*. And with a snap of his fingers he removes Morrie's increased intelligence. Confused Bench is distracted by a flare arrow while Wonder man KO's him.

When he awakens he's in the fully-enlarged containment tube. He may have lost his smarts but he still remembers his backup plan. He tells them he designed a powerful bomb that was activated when he lost consciousness. It will explode in 15 minutes and only he knows where it is and how to stop it. Let him go and he'll fix it. The Avengers don't know whether he's bluffing, or if he'll keep his word if they *do* free him. But they know they have do what he asks. However as Dr Pym is about to open the tube Morrie gloats that the bomb is under the WCA's own pool (and his thoughts tell us that something *made* him say that).

The team rush back to the Compound with containered Hydro Man in tow. Pym gets into scuba gear and retrieves the bomb but says it's too complicated for him to figure out in time. Hawkeye asks Bench how to deactivate it but he says that now he's not smart he can't remember. Wonder Man takes it (presumably to fly it out into space). But it's too late and it explodes killing them all.

Later there's a funeral for the 3 heroes attended by Wasp, US Agent, Paladin and many others. Another mysterious stranger approaches Janet Van Dyne with condolences and assures her that he will "attempt to prevent a recurrence of such a tragic divergence as this one". Then that reality dissolves away and we see that *this* stranger is Immortus who's been wiping out alternate timelines in previous issues. But he regrets that he probably won't be able to keep his promise.

Gary Hartle
Chris Ivy
Bob Sharen
Lee Weeks (Cover Penciler)
Lee Weeks (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Jade Moede.
Editor: Howard Mackie. Editor-in-chief: Tom DeFalco.


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> Avengers West Coast: Book info and issue index

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