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Avengers West Coast #64: Review

Nov 1990
Terry Kavanagh, Chris Wozniak

Story Name:

Show and tell

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers West Coast #64 Review by (May 27, 2023)
This is a fill-in issue between Roy & Dann Thomas' #63 and #65. It's hardly a West Coast Avengers issue with only their latest member Human Torch plus 1 panel of Wonder Man. Captain America gets equal page-time and the Great Lakes Avengers are here without any help from Hawkeye and Mockingbird.

The Mystic Ruby Of Cyttorak is normally referred to as his Crimson Gem.

Despite the ending we never see Stevie or his revenge again.

But the Gem will return in the possession of Juggernaut again in Dr Strange Sorcerer Supreme #44 during the Infinity War event. (And coincidentally Nova (Frankie Raye) will be involved there.)

Captain America is here in Avengers terms between Av Annual #19 (part of the Terminus Factor event) and Av#326-329 (the debut of Rage). More precisely the Marvel Chronology Project has it between CA#372-378 (the Streets Of Poison story) and the Nomad mini-series (where the title char adopts baby 'Bucky').

The GLA were last in action in the aforementioned Av An#19 where they really were called in by Captain America. All but Doorman will appear next in some flashbacks in the GLX-Mas Special. Then they'll all be together after Onslaught in Deadpool (1997) #10 as the Lightning Rods.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers West Coast #64 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
In Avengers Mansion Captain America is sent a video of Rick Jones asking for help as he's abducted by a monster. Rick used to be Cap's partner (back in Avengers # 1-16 and CA#110-114) so he's determined to save him. He traces the message as having come from the West Coast Avengers Compound so he contacts them and gets Human Torch (Jim Hammond) who says that the computer he traced it to is a backup that has been switched off for a long time. Cap suggests the android 'interface' with the machine to check and Jim reminds his old Invaders partner that as he well knows he's a very old (WWII) android and isn't compatible like that. But he does do a system check and discovers that the inactive system was indeed used to forward a message to the New York Mansion, and it came from a MidWest amusement park whose address he sends to Cap.

But now we see a young boy named Stevie at his computer in his bedroom watching Cap race to the rescue. Things are going to plan and he just manages to get a final message sent before his mother orders him to go to bed. But after she's gone he sneaks out of his window with his lucky red rock. Cap arrives by quinjet at a nearby amusement park, while elsewhere the Great Lakes Avengers get a video call supposedly from him. And in LA Torch discovers that even the amusement park wasn't the original message source, and that the computer detects a familiar alien energy which fries its circuits.

Cap negotiates the rides of the deserted funfair, at 1 point landing in front of the laughing mouth of a green-haired bone-white face, while the squabbling GLA arrive at the gate. HT tries to warn Cap it's probably a trap but can't get any response, so he asks Wonder Man to take over monitor duty and flies in flames to the rescue. Cap enters the laughing mouth and follows some large arrows (not noticing the boy with the rock in the background) until he runs into some opposition, while the GLA enter the place via Doorman.

As Torch flies along we learn that the alien energy was the power of the Mystic Ruby Of Cyttorak. Jim recalls what he knows of that:- The Ruby was found by Cain Marko and it transformed him into the Juggernaut (original X-Men #12-13). As well as the X-Men Juggy fought many other Marvel heroes, often (since XM#101) with his buddy Black Tom Cassidy. In Marvel Team-Up #150 Marko used the Ruby to turn Tom into another Juggernaut but found that it also halved his own power so he took his full power back and threw the Ruby into space. At this point HT's flying through a thunderstorm and gets struck by lightning.

In the Fun House Cap is under attack by a horde of animated manikins. The lights and sounds are becoming unbearable and the walls are closing in. The manikins keep chanting "Get it" but Steve-with-the-rock pushes a button and Steve Rogers hears a scream that sounds like Rick. So he vaults over the manikins to follow the scream leaving them to be squashed by the walls. The boy pushes another button and Cap is expelled by the Fun House into the waters of the Tunnel Of Love. A raging current threatens to smash him into the boats and then takes him over a waterfall(!). He dives out of it to land on dry land on his impact-absorbing shield. Which is immediately grabbed by the monster he saw taking Rick which declaims triumphantly "Got it".

Meanwhile Jim Hammond has arrived but his circuits have not fully recovered from the lightning blast. He enters a building and is menaced by several other Torches. He blasts them until he realises they are only mirror reflections. The boy with the glowing red rock wasn't expecting this but he can work it into the fun. The real Torch tries to burn his way out of the room but now the mirrors reflect his flame back at him multifold. Then he's attacked by a monster who can phase into his body (like Vision), followed by ghosts from his past (of dead Toro, Union Jack and Baron Blood but also Sub-Mariner?). But then he sees Rick Jones running out of a door and chases after him.

Outside Rick leads him into the Wax Museum while Cap chases the monster in through another door and manages to get his shield back. Inside both heroes are faced with animated wax figures of Marvel chars (mostly heroes) who seem to have weak versions of the originals' powers. The monster now has Rick again. The 2 heroes win free of the mob of fakes and head for Rick. But they each think the other is just 1 of the wax dummies. Cap hurls his shield as Torch fires some flame and the 2 things meet in the middle and rebound. They both shout "Where's Rick Jones?" as HT melts the floor to make Cap's boots stick to it while Cap throws his shield again to ricochet and hit the android in the back. And they both react in horror as they see the monster gouge Rick's eyes out.

A wall starts to fall on our heroes as they realise who they each are. HT melts Cap's boots free and Cap throws his shield yet again to deflect falling debris from Torch as they both escape. But then the GLA make the scene and say they've been sent here to retrieve Cap's stolen shield from an imposter. However they now accuse both heroes of being not only imposters but also murderers of Rick. So of course they attack.

Torch tries to fly away with Cap but Dinah Soar swoops at them with razor-tipped wings and knocks them back down to the ground. Flatman wraps Cap up in his extensible body while Dinah tries tries to lead HT away but she crashes avoiding his flame. Cap's rebounding shield helps him escape from FM's grip as HT blasts Mr Immortal who's sneaking up on them. But he's horrified to see that he's killed him. However Cap assures him that he's so-named because he'll come back to life. Which he does and steals the shield. However HT now doesn't hold back and incinerates him again. Big Bertha lands on Torch and Cap throws that shield again to make her get off him, but Doorman interposes himself and sends the shield elsewhere. So Cap and HT pick Bertha up and throw her through DM.

Cap now determines that as he suspected 'Rick Jones' was just another animated wax figure. HT meets up with the GLA outside and they sort out what's been going on without any clue as to who's behind it except that they were using the Mystic Ruby Of Cyttorak. Cap's shield has gone from where Doorman teleported it, but Cap joins them with another shield and says he noticed how everything was after the shield so he switched it while in the Wax Museum.

Next morning we see Stevie at school doing a show-and-tell. He shows the class his red rock and tells them it was somehow sent from space to Earth. (An editorial comment suggests that Nova (Frankie Raye) unknowingly knocked it out of orbit in Excalibur #25.) Stevie picked it up when it landed. The teacher remembers the incident on a geology trip and comments that they couldn't identify it. Stevie then claims that the rock gave him super-powers which enabled him to defeat Juggernaut. (Another editorial comment says that Hulk had much more to do with it but the tale has never been published.) Stevie now claims that he just aided the Avengers against an amusement park run wild, and Captain America gave him his shield as a reward. He now takes the shield out of the case he's carrying it in only to discover that it is a wax model that's melting. The class laugh at him (as usual) and he swears revenge on them and the Avengers.

Chris Wozniak
Danny Bulanadi
Bob Sharen
Chris Wozniak (Cover Penciler)
Chris Wozniak (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Jack Morelli.
Editor: Howard Mackie. Editor-in-chief: Tom DeFalco.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Human Torch
Human Torch

(Jim Hammond)

Plus: Big Bertha, Dinah Soar, Doorman, Flatman, Great Lakes Avengers, Mr Immortal.

> Avengers West Coast: Book info and issue index

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