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Avengers West Coast #70: Review

May 1991
Roy Thomas, Steven Butler

Story Name:

The Big One

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Avengers West Coast #70 Review by (January 3, 2018)
This is part 1 of the 5-part Pacific Overlords story.

Julia Carpenter is the 2nd Spider-Woman (after Jessica Drew). We 1st met her in Secret Wars I where a chunk of her home town Denver was taken to Battleworld. She was already Spider-Woman then, but we won't learn her true origin until #84.
Back on Earth she joined the Commission on Superhuman Activities' Freedom Force in Uncanny X-Men #206 and X-Factor #8-9. But she jumped ship when they attacked the Avengers in Av An#15, and helped the heroes escape.
She was on the run with a bounty on her head in Iron Man #214. There we 1st learned of her daughter Rachel, and IM persuaded her to turn herself in for Rachel's sake. SpW then started undercover solo work for the Commission. Which is what she was doing in Spectacular Spider-Man #125-126.
Why is she in LA? Wikipedia and Marvel Wiki say the Commission's sent her to investigate the Pacific Overlords. It doesn't seem like that here - in the opening pages she says she's trying to kick being Spider-Woman, and she only runs into the bad guys accidentally. In #84 we'll learn that she *is* still working for the Commission who allowed her to move to California to be nearer her ex-husband and daughter - but it still doesn't say she was investigating the Overlords for them.

Dr Demonicus discovered the Lifestone meteor on an Aleutian island. He and his mercenary army took over the island, and he used the meteor to mutate creatures into monsters. But when his creations tangled with Godzilla in it's #4-5, SHIELD followed the big lizard there and captured DrD. (But it is only in this issue that we learn they shattered the Lifestone.)
He was back making monsters in Shogun Warriors #7-14 in a space station behind the Moon provided by the ShW's enemy Maur-Konn. The Warriors destroyed *that* base, and the Doc was handed over to SHIELD again.
But he was free again in IM#193 and #196 where he had a South Pacific undersea base, and a mutated Godzilla under his control (Marvel had lost the rights to Godzilla by then and so couldn't name him or use his exact likeness). He was captured yet again but obviously no jail can hold him.

Quicksilver may have left but he'll appear next with others of the WCA (presumably visiting his sister) when they guest star in Excalibur #37-39 vs Dr Doom. And then he'll be at the Avengers' parties in Damage Control v3#3 and Av#332-334 (against Dr Doom again) that I mentioned for Mockingbird last issue. He then really does move away from the Avengers when he becomes part of Havok's X-Factor from their #71.




 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers West Coast #70 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Julia Carpenter (Spider-Woman) has moved from Denver to Newport Beach, California. For reasons she herself doesn't understand she's put on her super-suit and gone walkabout on the roof of the Balboa Pavilion tonight. But she sees a boat coming into harbour suspiciously without lights. She spins some psionic weblines and attaches them to the dock and slides down them, leaving them to fade away.

She sees the cyborg character from the end of last issue on the boat. Then a line from the boat seems to tie itself to the dock, and then a woman in black becomes visible. She calls the man Jawbreaker and he refers to her as Kuroko. The cyborg comes ashore carrying a chest and a 3rd unconscious person. Kuroko hurries him along to meet their boss the Doc.

Spider-Woman follows but a creaky board gives her away. Jawbreaker turns to face her and Kuroko goes invisible again. The cyborg drops his burdens and attacks but SpW judo throws him. However he gets up again and socks her in the jaw. Julia is down but not out and tangles him in psionic webs - which unfortunately he is able to bull his way through. Spidey backs up and is tripped by the invisible woman. Guessing where she is SpW kicks her in the chest. But the big guy punches her out into the ocean.

The unconscious costumed guy recovers but Jawbreaker punches his lights out again. And the group continue on their way.

In Avengers West Coast Compound a group meeting temporarily chaired by Wasp has ended. She and ex-husband-but-still-good-friends Dr. Pym are eager for a permanent chairman to be elected so that they can drop to reserve status and leave to lead their separate lives.

Tigra flirts with the 'new' Iron Man but only to get him to ask his boss Tony Stark for a date. (She at least seems to be going with the story that it's no longer Tony in the armour.) He says Stark's currently out of town and he's been standing in for him. Tigra switches to human Greer Nelson (in the same bikini costume) and takes that as an offer of a date with *him*. Which she accepts and nips off to get better dressed.

Hawkeye cries on Scarlet Witch's shoulder about being put on probation for fighting with US Agent last issue. (Especially galling because he's the founder and ex-leader of the team.) Wanda Maximoff reminds him that USA got thrown *off* the team. Clint Barton apologises because Wanda's had it so much worse, 'losing' her husband Vision and their 2 kids. Wanda says she's concentrating on the future.

Her brother Quicksilver joins them to say goodbye. Pietro Maximoff is only a reserve Avenger after last issue's votes so he's off to see the world. They reminisce how the 3 of them joined Captain America as the 'kooky quartet' after the original Avengers disbanded (Av#16 of course).

Wonder Man is still angry about being dumped by Scarlet Witch (last issue again). She finds him phoning an actress friend for a date. He brushes Wanda aside and jets off to his liaison. She muses how dating Simon Williams was too painful knowing that his brain pattern was the basis for Vision's humanity - gone now the synthezoid has lost his personality and emotions.

Elsewhere Kuroko has led Jawbreaker and his burdens into Costa Mesa to the Filmland In Wax museum which turns out to contain the secret laboratory of their boss Dr. Demonicus in a hidden basement. They find the Doc and many technicians at work on experiments. Jawbreaker's shout to Demonicus causes a techie to drop and break a monitoring device. So Doc orders the cyborg to kill him - and JB strangles him to death.

JB delivers the heavy box and the unconscious guy named Taifu to the boss. Kuroko wonders if this base is safe. Demonicus replies that his 3 previous more remote bases were all discovered so he might as well go for convenience. But this 1 was also nearly detected recently when Human Torch fought Living Lightning overhead (#63). We now learn that DrD captured LL's energy when Dr Pym dissipated it, and he now has him restrained in human form, currently in a coma.

Taifu (or Typhoon in English) is also put in restraints. The geneticist says he created him (gave him his powers?) but expected his betrayal. (He tried to steal the box off Jawbreaker last issue.) Kuroko promises they will find a certain female also, and Demonicus promises dire consequences for them if they don't. (I can only think that the female in question is Pele. But she will turn up next issue under the control of Demonicus, so if Kuroko finds *her* she must do it very quickly.)

They now turn to the box which contains something JB has retrieved from the Aleutian Islands. The cyborg breaks it open and Demonicus triumphantly takes from it something he lost months ago - the glowing Lifestone. Kuroko assures JB that their boss *knows* that this is only a fragment of the original meteor, and wouldn't take kindly to being reminded how SHIELD blasted it to pieces.

Iron Man flies Tigra back from their date. Apparently they went bowling and she's not too impressed. He tries to persuade her that's what Tony Stark does on 1st dates. Tigra's cat-eyes spot a female creeping into the Compound and Shellhead's infrared vision confirms it. Tigra drops to the ground to intercept her. But IM shines a light on them and breaks them apart. The woman recognises his voice. The other Avengers rush to join them and Hawkeye recognises her as Spider-Woman (which we knew already).

Iron Man says he and Hawkeye met her on Battleworld during Secret Wars I, and he had another run in with her in his own #214. (Unfortunately for his supposed new secret id, #214 was when they knew he was Tony Stark. And stranger still the IM in Secret Wars was James Rhodes.)

SpW says she's exhausted because she had to swim a long way to shore, and then she came here to the only local heroes she knew about - to warn them about the Pacific Overlords. (Strange again - the baddies never mentioned that name in her hearing. Or anywhere else for that matter.)

Next we see Iron Man smashing through a wall of Filmland In Wax and everyone else following him in. Apparently Spider-Woman gained the impression that the baddies' destination wasn't far from Newport Beach. And Dr Pym detected an unauthorised power source here from their quinjet. The main building seems deserted but Pym's detector directs them to the entrance to the basement. But that now seems deserted too.

Then suddenly a huge hand reaches out from darkness to crush the detector, and Hank Pym's hand. Followed by a large chubby body with short legs in a costume with a large number 1 on the front. Whoever he is he doesn't speak beyond incomprehensible grunts. Iron Man refers to him as the Big One. (Demonicus earlier threatened Jawbreaker and Kuroko with the Big One - the same thing? We shall see.)

Arrows and repulsor blasts don't stop him, but he responds with gestures that cause a small localised earthquake. Scarlet Witch noticed that he was gesturing earlier to no effect. She and Dr Pym suspect he can use force directed at him to power his power. After he shrugs Spider-Woman off Julia opines that the only way he'll be defeated is if he trips over his own feet. Wanda takes the cue and uses her hex to make the floor under Big One slippery so he falls over and lets go of Tigra.

Julia and Wanda, the 2 women who have (or had) children, have begun to suspect what the Big One is - confirmed when he starts bawling like a baby. The others work it out too from the proportions of their foe. Someone has created a giant baby. Wasp wonders who the mad doctor was. The baby responds with sounds which Iron Man can interpret as the name of an old foe Dr Demonicus. And the Avengers swear to track him down.


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> Avengers West Coast: Book info and issue index

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Steven Butler
Danny Bulanadi
Bob Sharen
Tom Morgan (Cover Penciler)
Danny Bulanadi (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)
Wasp
Wasp

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Big One, Doctor Pym (Henry Pym), Dr Demonicus, Jawbreaker, Kuroko, Living Lightning (Miguel Santos), Pacific Overlords, Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter), Taifu.