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Avengers West Coast #83: Review

Jun 1992
Roy Thomas, Herb Trimpe

Story Name:

The Hyena's last laugh

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Avengers West Coast #83 Review by (June 12, 2018)
Dann Thomas as usual shares the scripting with husband Roy. Charles Barnett helps Herb Trimpe with some inking.

This is an addendum to Operation: Galactic Storm recounting what the Avengers West Coast Reserves did while the big guns were off in space.

How did this exact Reserve line-up come into being?
In #69 the Avengers started working for the UN and the West Coast team was allowed 7 regular members and 7 Reserves. At the time the Reserves were Human Torch, Machine Man (because of his help during Terminus Factor), Mockingbird, Quicksilver and US Agent and they were 2 short. USA refused to be a Reserve and quit, making it 3 short. Then Dr Pym and Wasp announced they wanted to leave the main team but would hang around for a while.
In #74 DP&W finally quit and Tigra left too. They all retained Reservist status so that roster is filled. And the main team welcomed US Agent back and also added Living Lightning and Spider-Woman to fill the numbers.

Writer Roy Thomas is responsible for Hyena being in the modern marvel Universe. His knowledge of Timely comics allowed him to resurrect the villain from his only pre-Marvel app (which was Human Torch Comics #30, not #27 as stated within this issue). He backdated him to a WWII existence in Invaders Annual #1, a sort-of crossover with Av#71 amidst the 1st Grandmaster story in Av#69-71. And now he continues his story into the present day.

Hyena's base the Gingerbread House sounded like it was a real place. But I haven't found a house of that style that is or was in Downtown surrounded by high-rises.

Since losing his power in Namor #12 Human Torch has only been seen at Subby's birthday party in a backup tale in Namor Annual #1 and in the crowd scenes in Infinity Gauntlet #2.

As the title says this is the Hyena's last laugh.

Dr Pym, Mockingbird and Wasp will join the main AWC group for the operational debriefing in Captain America #401. Them MB will disappear until our #87-90 after which she will be kidnapped by Skrulls until Secret Invasion. SP and Wasp will be dragged into Infinity War.

Quicksilver will go back to X-Factor in XF#77-83 until he too gets involved in IW. Human Torch will go back to his role in the Namor series for #26 and make a single IW app in New Warriors #27. Then after some more Subby apps he'll join the Heroes For Hire in their 1997 post-Onslaught Namor spin-off series.

Tigra will pop in for our Annual #8 and #100. Machine Man won't be seen again until the new Avengers series after they return from Heroes Reborn when he counts among the complete roster involved in their 1st story-arc.




 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers West Coast #83 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The WWII villain Hyena sits in a wheelchair in an old Victorian mansion in the Downtown area of modern Los Angeles surrounded by Freeways. He takes delivery of a mysterious box and he laughs, something he hasn't done since 1947.

In an automobile junkyard the WWII android Human Torch calls out to his old enemy Hyena saying he's here as requested. And he's assaulted by 4 men with Hyena symbols on their shirts. He doesn't flame on but he easily defeats them and retrieves a note from Hyena telling him to come to the Gingerbread House at a precise time the next day. But before that Jim Hammond drives to the Avengers West Coast Compound for help.

However when he gets there he is surprised to find only his fellow Reserve members there:- Doctor Pym, Machine Man, Mockingbird, Quicksilver, Tigra and Wasp. Hank Pym and Jan Van Dyne explain that the regular team are out in space with the East Coast Avengers in Operation: Galactic Storm (in #80-82 and issues of Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man, Quasar, Thor and Wonder Man).

The AWCers were attacked in California in #80 and went to New York for a grand meeting with the East Coasters in Av#345 where Dr Pym and Wasp joined them. Most of the team went to space but Spider-Woman and US Agent were left with Pym, Wasp, Mockingbird and some others to guard prisoners in Project Pegasus in #81 and a cameo in #80. We learn now that Machine Man, Quicksilver and Tigra were called in to man the West Coast HQ.

Tigra came over from Australia (last seen there in Marvel Comics Presents #162-164). Since he helped out in the Terminus Factor crossover annuals Machine Man has only appeared in Deathlok (1991) #2-5 vs a rogue Doombot called Mechadoom. Quicksilver is really only here to tender his resignation as an Avenger because he's joined X-Factor (see XF#71-76). Spider-Woman has gone to spend some time with her daughter while in a backup tale in CA#400 US Agent has gone with Falcon to rescue D-Man from Flag-Smasher.

Torch understands why he wasn't called in because he lost his fire/flight power (in Namor the Sub-Mariner #12 by giving a total blood transfusion to save the life of Spitfire). Apparently Henry Pym has been trying to reverse the problem.

But now he tells them about today's Hyena events (without telling them exactly why he wants to meet the villain). Machine Man's database doesn't contain info on such an ancient villain so Jim Hammond fills him (and us) in. He fought US Nazi Hyena during WWII (Invaders Annual #1) and again in 1947 as a hijacker (HT Comics #30). HT has 2nd thoughts about dragging the team into his personal affairs but they all insist on helping him.

Next day Hank Pym drives Torch to his rendezvous but traffic is heavy so Hammond gets out and finishes the journey on foot. He finds Hyena in the house in his wheelchair with the machine that arrived in the box. Apparently he's agreed to meet the villain because Hyena promised to help him find the body of his old sidekick Toro (who died in Sub-Mariner #14 and who Jim quit the team to search for in our #65).

Henry Mortonson says that scientists in his employ have studied Torch's problem. His android body was never designed to burst into flame, it was an accidental side-effect. The scientists believe his body gradually built up a defence against flaming on and the blood transfusion triggered it. But the device Hyena holds has been designed to help HT overcome that defence amongst other things.

It will allow Hammond to interface with all online computers in LA. That amount of computer power should enable him to break the block (why?). It will also give him access to official files where he will find the location of Toro's body if anyone knows it. In return Hyena wants info he can use for gain.

Jim agrees to the terms and puts on a headband connected to the machine. Hyena switches it on and things start to happen.

On Hollywood Freeway a trailer opens to disgorge a horde of starving hyenas which cause havoc among the slow-moving traffic. Where the Harbor Freeway becomes the Pasadena Freeway a monster truck starts driving over other cars crushing them. And a light plane crashes onto Santa Monica Freeway. All the vehicles appear to be driverless. And all the Freeways are now completely stalled.

Machine-Man, Quicksilver, Tigra and Wasp are overhead in a quinjet with Mockingbird flying alongside on her sky-cycle. Dr Pym is in a mobile control van trying to access Hyena's prison records.

Machine Man flies out of the jet carrying Pietro Maximoff and Tigra. He drops Tigra off with the hyenas. She establishes dominance with a loud tiger roar, except for the dominant male which she has to attack with her claws. Then she uses 1 hyena to bash the others and soon has them running off the side of the Freeway. (It sounds like the fall will kill them.)

Mockingbird has landed near the monster truck and Wasp is with her. As Bobbi Barton uses her battlestave to lever free people trapped in cars, insect-sized Jan Van Dyne squeezes through a slightly-open window into the truck. She manages to turn off the ignition just before it reaches a trapped little old lady.

Meanwhile Pietro races round the burning plane causing an updraft which puts the fire out. Then Machine Man pushes the plane off the Freeway. And Pym has got the prison records which tells him what Hyena is doing. But we're left in suspense.

Henry Mortonson is urging Jim Hammond to become the Human Torch. But Jim removes the headband and says that's just what he's been using his willpower to *avoid*. And he picks up the machine and smashes it. He knew that whatever Hyena wanted was exactly the thing *not* to do. But Hyena says he isn't beaten yet and pushes a button on his wheelchair ...

... and nothing happens. Except his 4 goons rush in and start beating on Torch again. However the other Avengers smash their way in and make short work of the 4. Quicksilver says he's disconnected the explosives in the basement.

Now it's time for Hyena to explain his plan. The big bomb would have destroyed this building and many blocks around. And the blocked Freeways would ensure that the casualty effect would be magnified. Mortonson didn't care about living because he was in the late stages of an incurable cancer, which was why he was released from prison. Torch flaming on was supposed to have triggered the explosion. Even if Hammond survived he would know he was responsible for all those deaths. And now frustrated Hyena gratefully collapses in death.

But he wakes up in a hospital bed surround by the Reserve Avengers. A doctor tells him that his deliberate avoidance of laughter, or even smiling, since his arrest in 1947 must have caused his cancer. Because his recent high spirits have sent it into remission. He can look forward to many more years in prison.


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> Avengers West Coast: Book info and issue index

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Herb Trimpe
Herb Trimpe
Bob Sharen
Herb Trimpe (Cover Penciler)
Herb Trimpe (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Bill Oakley.
Editor: Nel Yomtov. Editor-in-chief: Tom DeFalco.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Human Torch
Human Torch

(Jim Hammond)
Wasp
Wasp

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Avengers West Coast, Doctor Pym (Henry Pym), Hyena.