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Avengers West Coast #84: Review

Jul 1992
Roy Thomas, David Ross

Story Name:

Along came a spider

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers West Coast #84 Review by (July 10, 2018)
Roy Thomas doesn't have wife Dann as co-writer this issue. But he thanks Danny Fingeroth, who wrote the last half of Spider-Woman's pre-AWC apps, for previously unpublished details of her back-story.

Her appearance in Secret Wars I and as a member of Freedom Force revealed nothing but her name Julia Carpenter. But when Danny Fingeroth wrote Avengers Annual #15 he made her leave the FF to help the Avengers. Danny then imported her into other series he was writing for. In Iron Man #214 he introduced Larry and Rachel Carpenter and the custody situation, and also Mike Clemson as her CSA contact who was immediately signaled as having his own agenda. In Spectacular Spider-Man #125-126 he mentioned that Julia's super-activities had caused her to lose custody of Rachel. The rest of her back-story presented here including her relationship with Val Cooper may have been intended for an SpW mini-series Danny didn't get published.

Clemson sent US Agent after her in our #71-72.

The Conclave is new here, but Clemson referred to some secret employers in SSM#126 who may have been them.

Apart from their cameo in #82 Deathweb are also new.

The Liberty Party is also new here. The Presidential race here would be where Bill Clinton beat George H W Bush.

Spider-Man is here straight after his Infinity War apps including Spider-Man (1990) #24.

Rachel and Larry Carpenter were last in #78.

After Operation: Galactic Storm (including our #80-82) the whole team attended the debriefing in Captain America #401.
#83 was a tale of what the AWC Reserves did during O:GC.
Iron Man guest starred in Marvel UK's Knights Of Pendragon (1992) #1-4 while US Agent had a 1-off tale in Marvel Comics Presents #104 and working for the Commission on Superhuman Activities in Nomad (1992) #2-3.
Then IM, Hawkeye, USA and Wonder Man appeared in various combinations in CAGE (1992) #6-8.
IM went home to his #280-283 where his neurological problems worsened and he created the War Machine armour (for his use, not Rhodey's). And then it was back to Marvel UK for Warheads #3. Meanwhile WM had his 1992 Annual (part of the System Bytes Annuals crossover) where he holidayed on a Hydra island, and #10-12 of his 1991 series where #12 overlapped the start of Infinity War.
Then Infinity War itself. Hawkeye and IM played minor roles:- IM was 1 of the heroes replaced by doppelgangers created by Magus. Hawkeye was invalided out after resisting his own doppelganger. The rest of the team were in action through to #4 and Living Lightning, Scarlet Witch and WM made it to #6, and some of the action occurred in WM's #12-15.
After IW WM had a 1-off in MCP#119 where Hollywood met the Mojoverse, and most of his #16. Meanwhile while Spider-Woman visited an old friend in Denver in a tale in our upcoming An#7.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers West Coast #84 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
In a skyscraper in Century City, Los Angeles lawyer Henry Drummond is working late when the lights go out. He sees a collection of glowing eyes in the dark. Something destroys his deskphone with a corrosive substance. Something hurls him across the room. And something pierces his neck. A security guard answers his scream and finds him webbed up on a wall - dead.

Spider-Man web-swings through New York heading to an NY Globe-Recorder press conference which promises to expose the mob connections of a Presidential Candidate. The only people who know the details are the whistle-blower Walter Weston and the Globe's lawyer who's currently in California (do you smell a connection?). Suddenly Weston is teleported onto the stage with a swelling on his neck. He falls off the stage dead. And his documents have gone missing.

Much to his surprise J. Jonah Jameson pays for Peter Parker to go interview the Candidates, who are currently in California.

Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch and U.S. Agent of the Avengers West Coast are discussing the news over breakfast in their Palos Verdes Compound. As well as the Republican and Democrat runners the Liberty Party's Michael Galvan is gaining ground on a law & order ticket. Predictably US Agent supports Galvan. Hawkeye gets into an argument with him and Wanda Maximoff tries to keep the peace. Living Lightning comes out of his bedroom with his girlfriend Mona (from #76-79's Hollywood adventure). Miguel Santos doesn't care which of the politicians might be dirty. They're all as bad as each other and he's not going to vote. Until indignant housekeeper Consuela tells him off. Iron Man and Wonder Man turn up just as the radio announces the death of Drummond the Globe-Recorder lawyer (told you so). They decide to investigate.

The last member of the team Spider-Woman is in civilian guise as Julia Carpenter meeting her ex-husband Larry to pick up their daughter Rachel. She's late because of traffic and he's angry as usual because he's needed at his new job as PR for the Liberty Party. When they get in the car Julia tells her daughter that she's got to answer an AWC call so she's taking her to the compound. Rachel's happy about that, but as usual she mustn't tell her father who doesn't know his ex-wife's a superheroine.

On the way Julia gives in and tells Rachel her super-origin. She met Larry Carpenter when they were undergrads, and at the same time she played tennis with post-grad Valerie Cooper. She dropped out of college to help finance Larry's progress. They got married and had Rachel. Later they got divorced and Julia got custody. (She is surprised to learn that her daughter knows about Larry's extra-marital affairs.) Mother and daughter continued living in Denver until Val Cooper offered her a job with the Commission On Superhuman Activities in Washington (Rachel Carpenter went to stay with her dad). They injected Julia with experimental drugs as research on super-abilities. 1 day they accidentally injected her with spider extract and she developed superpowers - strength, leaping, sticking to walls and creating psionic webs. They named her Spider-Woman (though she would have preferred Ariadne or Arachne).

Before taking up a role as a Government superhero she revisited Denver where she was zapped into space along with a whole chunk of the city (not including Rachel and Larry). This was her 1st published appearance in the 1st Secret Wars limited series with a load of other heroes fighting the Beyonder on Battleworld. When they were returned to Earth Julia took Rachel to live in Washington and Val Cooper put her in the Government mutant-hunting team Freedom Force (ex-members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants) (Uncanny X-Men #206 and X-Factor #8-9). But the demands of this secret job meant she lost custody of Rachel to Larry.

When Freedom Force captured the Avengers in their Annual #15 Julia rebelled and set them free. She was now on the run and Iron Man defended her from bounty hunters in his #214. She turned herself in and Cooper gave her a 2nd chance as a lone secret agent with Mike Clemson as her handler. Spider-Woman did some jobs like that including 1 in Spectacular Spider-Man #125-126. Then Larry and Rachel moved to California and Val let Julia relocate too. She got involved in the Pacific Overlords story in our #70-74 and joined the team. (And Rachel met them and learned her mom's secret in #75.)

But strangely Julia *isn't* taking Rachel to the AWC Compound, she's going to meet Mike Clemson. (She hadn't really wanted to have Rachel today.) Julia is wearing her costume under her civvies so she meets him as Spider-Woman. Rachel sneaks out of the car and she and Clemson don't don't hit off at all. Spi gets angry and tells Clemson she quits the Commission. She doesn't think the CSA will come out into the open to sue her for breaking her contract.

After she's gone Clemson enters the abandoned factory where they met and reports to the Conclave - a group of silhouettes on screens who claim to be representatives of all arms of the Government secretly organised to control the US. They aren't that bothered that Clemson hasn't been able to recruit Spi to their cause. They are more concerned with another scheme involving a special operative (who we'll meet next issue) and 'death on 8 legs'.

Spider-Woman now drives to the Liberty Party's Convention to meet the rest of the team (but why are the AWC concerned with this 1 particular party?). She has a spare mask for Rachel to wear, but Rachel reminds her that Larry will be there too. The AWC aren't happy about the situation, and they have to remember to call Rachel Spider-Girl when strangers are around.

On stage Galvan's running-mate Wilson Lambert introduces him to the crowd. Galvan makes 1 of his law & order speeches and makes it seem like the Avengers are here to endorse him. Then the lights go out. Iron Man and Living Lightning provide some illumination to check the politicians are OK. Hawkeye spots someone swinging across the room and the team give chase leaving Lightning to maintain illumination and SpW to guard the candidates.

They corner their target and Hawkeye's flare arrow reveals it to be Spider-Man. But there are others in the room:- a 6-armed hulk with multiple eyes, an armoured figure and a female with spikes on her wrists. (We saw them briefly stalking Spider-Woman in #82. There they were named Therak, Antro and Arachne. Here they just call their group Deathweb.)

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


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

(Peter Parker)
U.S. Agent
U.S. Agent

(John Walker)

Plus: Antro, Arachne, Conclave, Larry Carpenter, Living Lightning (Miguel Santos), Mike Clemson, Rachel Carpenter, Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter), Therak.

> Avengers West Coast: Book info and issue index

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