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Avengers West Coast #66: Review

Jan 1991
Roy Thomas, Paul Ryan

Story Name:

Tunnel vision

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Avengers West Coast #66 Review by (December 13, 2017)
This is part 2 of 4 of The Reaper And The Robot story arc.

Since I didn't do last issue:-
The last issues Grim Reaper appeared in on this site were the crossover between this series' 1st 2 issues and those of Vision & Scarlet Witch vol2, at the end of which he died falling off an underground ledge. Nekra from that storyline temporarily revived him as a zombie in V&SW#12. She was still lugging his body around when she featured in Web of Spider-Man #46, alongside Dr Pym with cameos from other AWC'ers.
Ultron-13's claim to have beaten Ultron-12 may or may not be a mistake by the writer. It was good -12 and evil -11 that physically fought in our #7, and they both 'died'. Dr Doom created -13 in Daredevil #275-276 and combined the minds of all the predecessors. But conflict, particularly between -11 and -12 drove the -13 combo mad. So -13 may have eventually mentally 'beaten' -12, the only good Ultron, to become a sane evil version.

There really was a a fire July 14 1990 which collapsed part of the LA Metro system which was under construction.

The 2nd story's creators are writer Roy Thomas (without Dann who continues to co-write the main part of the issue), penciler Rick Levins, inker Keith Williams, letterer Spike E (maybe Chris Eliopoulos who used Spike as an alias). Editor and colourist remain Howard Mackie and Bob Sharen.

Mandrill isn't really Nekra's brother but the mutants share an origin and were very close. Their 1st recorded adventure was in Shanna the She-Devil #4. As well as superhuman attributes Mandrill emits pheromones which give him power over women. The pair led the female villains Black Spectre in DD#110-112, and then Mandrill led another female group Fem-Force in various issues of Defenders.
Despite supposedly dying here Mandrill will appear in a sequence of villain crowd scenes, starting with a group gathered by Brass Bishop in Alpha Flight #121.




 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers West Coast #66 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Iron Man and U.S. Agent have been asked by the Los Angeles authorities to intervene between an official helicopter spraying malathion and protesters. Shellhead disperses the spray with his repulsors while USA tries to get the crowd to disperse themselves. Unfortunately IM misjudges it a bit and has to stop the chopper from crashing. The pilot says he tried to cease spraying but the equipment malfunctioned.

On the ground the Agent discovers some of the people are complaining about something turning their skin metallic in patches. And the helicopter has been secretly spraying at night. *This* 'copter crew say they know nothing about *that*.

Iron Man hasn't been around for a little while (2 issues) so he's pleasantly surprised to see Tigra when they get to the Avengers West Coast Compound. She explains that Agatha Harkness found her and fixed her problems of being cat-sized and feral (a much-abbreviated version of Av Spotlight #38). Tigra tells them Hank Pym and ex-wife Jan Van Dyne have returned early from their mini-break (last issue) and, as Dr. Pym and Wasp, have called a meeting. Greer Nelson also takes the time to flirt with USA, which catches him completely by surprise.

Now that everyone is present except Human Torch (who last issue went off with Ann Raymond to look for the body of his ex-partner, and her husband, Toro) the couple dump a pair of robotic heads with flesh disguises on the meeting table. They met them on a remote wheat farm and wouldn't have realised they were robots except something about their aircraft Rover made them malfunction.

US Agent wonders if it's connected with the metallic rash some of the protesters had. Hawkeye as usual takes the opportunity to snipe at him (and during the ensuing argument USA says he used to be (the replacement) Captain America - I didn't think the AWC were supposed to know that). Quicksilver and his sister Wanda Maximoff (in civilian dress because she's lost her Scarlet Witch super-power) try to calm them down.

Henry Pym says they should check other farms and the metal rash outbreak while he does some computer research. But Wonder Man violently objects. He wants them to track down his brother Grim Reaper who's come back from the dead like a zombie and is draining the life out of people. (He and Wanda found him last issue.) But Pym says the police are searching for *him*. This other thing *could* be a major threat.

Simon Williams storms out and Wanda follows to stop him. She tries to get him to calmly assess the whole picture. But he just asks her to come with him. She uses the excuse of being powerless, but also tries to remind him of his duty as an Avenger. But he just angrily flies away.

Iron Man and Wasp fly around looking for anything relevant. USA seems to do the same thing by jumping across rooftops. Wanda helps Hank with the research on the big computer at UCLA. But Hawkeye seems to have an idea where to look. And Pietro Maximoff and Tigra follow him. He leads them to a closed (due to a fire some months back) section of the Metro. But Clint Barton used the AWC's own computer to verify something he'd heard about reports of nighttime sprayings, and found they were in an area centred here. Tigra guesses that Clint was secretive because he didn't want US Agent to get any of the credit.

She uses her strength to pry apart the bars of a grill blocking the entrance to the tunnel. Inside Hawkeye lights a flare arrow, and Tigra's cat-eyes spot a suspiciously regular crack in a wall. Clint blasts their way through to a hi-tech base containing a helicopter - and 4 humanoid robots to guard it. Which they quickly dispose of ...

... only to meet their master Ultron-13 (who we saw briefly last issue). He knocks Tigra out. Hawkeye's arrows make no impression, and Clint falls to a ray blast. The robot ignores Quicksilver speeding round him until he sticks out an arm and Pietro joins the others on the floor. During this 1-sided battle he claims to have beaten his rival Ultron-12.

When the heroes awake they are shackled inside the ubiquitous containment vessels. The villain admits to being behind the farmer robots, and the midnight spraying that's turning people metal. He also caused the fire to prevent anyone finding this base. Both farmers and sprayers are infecting crops with a crystalline substance which will turn the human race into robots under his control (which he considers a better plan than those of earlier models to just *kill* all humans).

And his 3 captives have been sprayed in their capsules - and they are starting to transform.



The rest of this issue is separated off as a 2nd story featuring Wonder Man, with its own title "... that shall he also reap".

Grim Reaper attacks a homeless ex-Air Traffic Controller and consumes his life energy via his scythe. Wonder Man gets there to late to stop his brother Eric Williams. But Simon asks him if he's anything to do with people being turned into metal robots. Eric responds of course not - he needs people to be flesh and blood so can drain their lives so he himself can live. WM tries to persuade GR to join forces with him and the Avengers to stop their common problem. And the Avengers will find a way to cure him.

But Reaper doesn't want to be cured. He knows (from last issue) that he can't steal Wondy's ionic energy with his scythe. But he can blast him into a wall which collapses on him. And he prepares to bring a whole building down on his brother ...

... but Mandrill leaps on him, out for revenge on Reaper for killing his sister Nekra (again last issue). But GR's scythe cuts him down, and Eric revels in the mutant's lifeforce.

Wonder Man extricates himself from the rubble. Eric says he's decided not to kill Simon yet. He'd rather let his brother feel guilty for all his future victims. Only when he thinks Simon has suffered enough will he grant him the peace of death.

GR dives down a manhole before Wonder Man can stop him. And WM can't give chase because he has to explain what happened to the homeless man and Mandrill to the police who have just arrived.



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

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Hawkeye
Hawkeye

(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)
Tigra
Tigra

(Greer Nelson)
Wasp
Wasp

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Doctor Pym (Henry Pym), Grim Reaper (Eric Williams), U.S. Agent.

> Avengers West Coast: Book info and issue index

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