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Avengers West Coast #76: Review

Nov 1991
Roy Thomas, David Ross

Story Name:

Make way for the Night Shift

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Avengers West Coast #76 Review by (June 5, 2018)
,The cover says 'Infamous Monsters of Filmland part 1 of 4', but the succeeding issues change it to 'Infamous Monsters of Hollywood'. Maybe because the 1st title was too near its inspiration 'Famous Monsters of Filmland' magazine.

This Hangman's identity will be revealed next issue. The previous Hangman (Harlan Krueger) was a violent vigilante of questionable sanity in the Werewolf By Night series. He then appeared in Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew) #4-5 which also involved the original Brothers Grimm. And then SpW#50 played host to him and lots of other villains, many of whom would become the Night Shift. He had a continuity implant app in Iron Man: Legacy #6-7 before dying in Bizarre Adventures #31 while executing creators of a violent film.

Shroud and the Werewolf were amongst those in SW#50. In Captain America #330 Shroud assembled the Night Shift with Werewolf plus Dansen Macabre, Gypsy Moth, Needle, Tatterdemalion and Ticktock also from SW#50 and Digger and the new Brothers Grimm. After a few apps Misfit was added in our #40 (his 1st app). Digger is missing here because he's been in jail since then, but he'll break out and join them next issue.

Misfit didn't get an origin until this issue where it is mentioned that he's 1 of the Power Broker's augmentations gone wrong.

Shroud was a hero pretending to be a criminal, and his Night Shift usually battled other criminals.

#40 was the last app of the full group before this. Dansen Macabre and Gypsy Moth were part of Superia's Femizons in CA#389-391. Brothers Grimm featured in the Hawkeye stories in Avengers Spotlight #22,24-25 and then got caught up in Acts of Vengeance in Spectacular Spider-Man #159 and Web of SM #64-65. Werewolf popped up in Hulk #362. Shroud had an adventure in Marvel Comic Presents #54 and then with his associates Cat & Mouse in Marvel Super-Heroes #7. After that he enlisted the help of Werewolf and a Brother Grimm in MCP#87. So it must be after that that Hangman took over.

We'll learn more about Tower of Shadows #5 next issue.




 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers West Coast #76 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
A circus artist high-dives into a small tank of water. But is then thrown out of the tank, followed by a monster. But it turns out they're both stuntmen working for a film 'The Demon That Devoured Hollywood'. Simon Williams (openly Wonder Man) has brought Spider-Woman (secretly Julia Carpenter) and Living Lightning (Miguel Santos) to watch the film being made. He's not in it but he was a stuntman during the 1st attempt to film it. But the star Jason Roland, who played the monster, disappeared (a tale in anthology Tower of Shadows #5). Now the film is being completed with a replacement Wes Nelson, who shows up now the stuntwork is finished.

They watch, with 1 of the crew Mona, as Nelson in *his* version of the monster suit gets ready to continue the scene from where his stunt 'double' left off. But then a noose dangles from above and hoists up upwards, and it's not in the script. Lightning sends a bolt of electricity to sever the rope, and Wes falls to the ground.

The rope was lowered from the diving board, now shrouded in cloud. Which parts to reveal a hooded figure who calls himself the Hangman. Wonder Man jets up alongside Lightning to deal with the threat saying he thought the Hangman was killed by a movie critic Jack O'Brien a short while ago (actually called Matt O'Brian in a story in Bizarre Adventures #31).

But the clouds either side of the villain turn out to be supporting the 2 Brothers Grimm, who Simon recognises from the Avengers West Coast clash with Night Shift in #40. And for some reason they're finishing each other's sentences in rhyme. They have the ability to conjure things out of nowhere, and 1 of them throws an egg which misses WM but hits a metal pole which it corrodes away. Lightning attacks the cloud the other Brother is standing on but flies through it because it really is a cloud.

Spider-Woman has been guarding the fallen movie star but now the flying Gypsy Moth appears and levitates Wes Nelson via the cloth of his costume. Spi tangles her in psychic webbing and the villainess then drops her victim. But Julia catches him with her super-strength. Moth and the Grimms tell Hangman they'd better run because they weren't expecting Avengers. He reluctantly agrees and the Brothers cover their exit by tossing exploding jacks.

But they leave behind a piece of paper which flutters down into the hand of the director Waite. It says they want 40% of the gross profits from the picture or they'll kill the star. Wes Nelson quits. Simon Williams offers to take over the role - and he can do his own stunts. Waite snaps him up.

Janet Van Dyne gets a cameo as she leaves a script conference with Dino Domani. (See a backup tale in our Annual #6 for more on her film script based on the origin of the Wasp and the Avengers.)

The Night Shift are meeting in the Tower of Shadows. As well as those we've already met there are Dansen Macabre, Misfit, Needle, Tatterdemalion and Ticktock. Misfit demands to know why they should accept Hangman as their boss to replace Shroud. Hangman says he has plans for them, and by the way he's not the 1 Wonder Man was talking about. Misfit makes a bid to take control himself by killing *this* Hangman but the magic noose finds its way round his neck.

Hangman tells them they can all have magically enhanced power if they do what he says. He makes his rope rise up through a glow in the air above them. When the others grasp the rope on his command it rises higher taking them through the glow. Hangman follows them without telling them their souls will be forfeit.

The 3 AWCers have returned to the Compound and called a team meeting to tell them what happened. Simon says he's taking the film job to be there when the Night Shift strike again, and he asks for someone to accompany him to keep guard when he's actually filming. But the team prefer to proactively search for the villains, and chairman Iron Man says they'll come to his aid if he raises the alarm.

Spider-Woman offers to investigate the disappearance of Jason Roland which might be connected. Hawkeye jumps at the chance to accompany her, but he gets a phone call from his estranged wife Mockingbird. Bobbi Barton tells him she's flying from Detroit to Los Angeles tonight to discuss their relationship. But he brushes her off saying he's helping a (male) AWCer tonight on a case. He mentions the Night Shift, reminding her that she caught 1 of them Digger (#40 again).

Meanwhile Scarlet Witch has decided to go with Wonder Man. And U.S. Agent has volunteered to join Clint Barton and Julia, just to annoy Clint. That leaves IM and Living Lightning to fly around looking for the baddies.

The trio take a quinjet to the house of Stella Houston who co-starred with Roland in the original picture. They were lovers at the time. Jason had made his name in several films with his superior monster make-up but now reporters were following a rumour that it wasn't all his own work. He went into his dressing room to remove half the make-up supposedly to somehow prove the rumour false. But then he ran away still in full disguise and was never heard from again.

When they walk out with Stella onto her balcony the Hangman's noose hoists Hawkeye into the air. While USA holds off the rest of the gang Julia spider-climbs up to Clint with 1 of his dropped arrowheads and starts to saw through the rope. But it has an electrified metal core which gives her a shock and she falls to the floor. And Hangman drops Hawkeye on top of her.

Tatterdemalion attacks Agent with his weighted scarf. Gypsy Moth easily mentally lifts him into the air and throws him through a wooden wall. The Brothers Grimm each grab an arm and nearly pull them out of their sockets, but USA throws them off. Dansen Macabre blinds him with her dance. He tries to escape but runs straight into Misfit who knocks him out. Their enhancements have proved their worth.

The 3 AWCers awake to find themselves clamped on a circular dais. Hangman tells them that now they're conscious they can be sacrificed. The Night Shift chant a strange incantation in a circle. And a huge clawed hand descends from above.


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> Avengers West Coast: Book info and issue index

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David Ross
Tim Dzon
Bob Sharen
David Ross (Cover Penciler)
David Ross (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Bill Oakley.
Editor: Nel Yomtov. Editor-in-chief: Tom DeFalco.

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: Brothers Grimm, Dansen Macabre, Gypsy Moth, Hangman, Living Lightning (Miguel Santos), Misfit, Needle, Night Shift, Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter), Tatterdemalion, Ticktock, U.S. Agent.