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Avengers West Coast Annual #6: Review

Jun 1991
Roy Thomas, George Freeman

Story Name:

A storm in Subterranea

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers West Coast Annual #6 Review by (May 30, 2018)
As with the series issues this Annual's main story is written by Dann Thomas as well as Roy Thomas. The whole crossover is based on an idea by Paul Ryan. Andrew Pepoy and Bob Wiacek help Danny Bulanidi ink the tale.

This is the 2nd year in which the Annuals are bunched into small crossovers. The other Annuals crossovers for 1991 are:- Captain America An#10 in The Von Strucker Gambit with Daredevil An#7 and Punisher An#4. Thor An#16 in The Korvac Quest with Fantastic Four An#24, Guardians Of The Galaxy An#1 and Silver Surfer An#4. The Vibranium Vendetta running through the Spider-Man Annuals Amazing SM #25, Spectacular SM #11 and Web Of SM #7. And the X-people have Kings Of Pain in New Mutants An#7, X-Factor An#6, X-Men An#15 plus New Warriors An#1.

Av An#20 includes a history of the Subterranean races tracing them back to the Deviants.
The Celestials 1st visit created the Deviants who, based in Lemuria, enslaved the later humans except for the inhabitants of Atlantis. The Celestials returned during a war between these 2 sides and sank both continents, but 1 Atlantean city was protected by a dome and became the Netherworld.
The remaining Deviants retreated underground and mutated some humans to produce a servant race. These rebelled under their leader Gor-Tok and became the Gortokians. Some of these worshipped a demon who turned them into the Lava Men. The Deviants created 2 more servile Subterranean races, yellow-skinned and orange-skinned. They used them in a war against the Gortokians, but the Deviants lost the fight and retreated to their sunken Lemurian capital.
Romulus Augustulus ruled as a teen as the last Emperor of the Western Roman empire for < 1 year until he was deposed and vanished from history. Marvel has him later invading King Arthur's Britain and being banished to Subterranea by Merlin where he became Tyrannus and ruled the orange Tyrranoids. They showed him the Fountain of Youth which keeps him alive today, and abandoned Deviant machines which he can use.
Recently shunned Harvey Elder escaped the modern world and wound up on Monster Isle where he became Mole Man and discovered the yellow Moloids, more Deviant machines and monsters they had created.
The Fantastic Four met Mole Man in FF#1. The Hulk met Tyrannus in Hulk #5. Kala Queen of the Netherworld met Iron Man in Tales of Suspense #43. The Lava Men turned up in Av#5. The Gortokians were destroyed by a man-made earthquake and their last survivor Grotesk sought revenge in X-Men #41-42.
Since then he came to rule the Gortokian offshoot race the Lava Men. Mole-Man and Tyrannus fought many wars against each other. Kala got involved in FF#127-128 siding with Tyrannus, but Mole-Man took her in when she aged (in Marvel Treasury Edition #25 which also introduced the Outcasts seen in IM An#12).

Mole Man will appear in Sensational She-Hulk #32-33 and allow Warlock and the Infinity Watch to use Monster Isle as a base in their series. In FF Unlimited #4 he'll ask for help to de-age Kala, but then agree to marry her in her aged state. (This despite the facts that in SSH#33 he tried to marry SHulk and succeeded in rejuvenating someone.)

I don't know that Tyrannus goes to Netherworld, but he'll be back briefly in Hulk An#18 and then in the aforementioned Warlock and the Infinity Watch.

Wasp will next have an adventure with Captain America in Av#340 before being sucked into Infinity Gauntlet. Then she'll cameo in our #76 where she's still having script conferences. But I don't think her film career is mentioned again, and her film script sinks the way most Hollywood properties do.

"Justice, like lightning" from a poem by Thomas Randolph inspired DC's Black Lightning and will later be used as the motto of the Thunderbolts. (And Miguel Santos here refers to himself as a parttime thunderbolt.)


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers West Coast Annual #6 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This is part 5 of 1 of this year's Annuals crossover Subterranean Wars.

In Avengers An#20 some of Mole Man's Moloids, Tyrannus' Tyrranoids and Lava Men now ruled by Grotesk fled to the surface to escape an attack by Deviants and their servant Mutates led by the Deviant Brutus. The Avengers followed the Subterraneans back to their leaders who explained the situation. Black Widow and Captain America headed back to the surface to recruit other heroes like the Fantastic Four and the Avengers West Coast, secretly slowly followed by the aged Kala, ex-Queen of the Netherworld. The other Avengers helped fight the Deviants but were captured by them.

In Hulk An#17 the Deviants invasion had cut Tyrannus off from his fountain of youth. Morbidly afraid of ageing he persuaded Mole Man to kidnap Betty Banner and Rick Jones to persuade Hulk to retake the fountain for him. Hulk fought the Deviants at the fountain which then got buried under rubble. But Hulk brought a canteen of the water back to Tyrannus. However when he drank it he found Brutus had poisoned it.

In Sub-Mariner An#1 the inhabitants of El Dorado used the War as a chance to invade the Moloid homeland, killing the left-behind women and children. Sub-Mariner went to the Avengers for help but they'd already gone to the War. Reservist Stingray helped him stop the genocide.

In Iron Man An#12 aged Kala reached the surface and contacted Iron Man for help for her consort Mole-Man. But MM's Outcasts came to bring her back. IM followed them but Kala persuaded them to take her to Netherworld instead. The Netherworld atmosphere restored her youth and the Netherworlders asked her to stay and rule them again. But Kala decided instead to return to her love Mole Man, even though he now spurned her and she would revert to being old.

Now in this issue Iron Man brings aged-again Kala to the Avengers West Coast Compound. She asks them to help her consort Mole Man, Tyrannus, Grotesk and 10 missing East Coast Avengers. Kala can't understand why Black Widow and Captain America haven't already got here before her. She summarises the events of AvAn#20, adding that the Deviants attacked to retrieve weapons tech that the Subterraneans had originally got from *them* and improved upon.

The AWC use Tony Stark's new Groundhawk tank and Kala guides them through caverns (measureless to man). On the way Hawkeye's hawk-like eyes spot some chips of rock falling from the side of a tunnel. They stop to investigate and find BW and CA attracting their attention from a hole where they were tied up. They were attacked from behind on their way to the surface and dumped here by someone unknown. (We never do find out who.)

Kala loses track of where they are and the tank suddenly enters in midair into a huge cavern filled with the 3 Subterranean races. Who attack them when they land until Mole Man calls them off. He now reveals what his spies have learned of Brutus' plans. Combining current Deviant tech with that of the Subterraneans Brutus has constructed the Oscillatron which will shatter Earth's crust to destroy surface civilisation and pave the way for Deviant domination.

We meet Grotesk who once had his own dream of wiping out the surface-men whose seismic experiments had killed the rest of *his* underworld race, even if the revenge killed him too. He confirms that he now sees that revenge would be a hollow victory. We also look in on Tyrannus who has had to be restrained. Fear of ageing combined with fear of the poison he drank has turned him into a raving madman. When Moley disparages Kala Iron Man tells him what happened in the Netherworld but it doesn't soften his attitude.

The Avengers agree to lead the Subterraneans into battle. Secretly Grotesk and Mole-Man are willing to sacrifice their followers if it means the surface superheroes die too. The Avengers, each in their own way, fight the Mutates that Brutus commits to the war. It turns out that the position the Avengers defend is just the best place for the Oscillatron, and he doesn't care how many Mutates die taking it. His Deviant followers wonder why he hates the Mutates so much. Other Deviants just see them as useful slaves.

Brutus brags that he has the other East Coast Avengers entombed and running out of air. Scarlet Witch reasons that Vision must be unconscious else he would be able to phase out of any trap, but maybe not all the others are. Wanda Maximoff remembers that Sersi is a telepath, and she can use her magic to try to contact her. And she succeeds. She persuades Iron Man to abandon the battle and fly her to where she senses the Eternal is. Hawkeye and Living Lightning give them covering fire while the others (including Spider-Woman, U.S. Agent and Wonder Man who I haven't mentioned so far) continue hitting Mutates.

The duo find the place covered in huge boulders. Iron Man blasts the rocks away uncovering the globular forcefield enclosing their friends. The Witch's hex turns it to crystal which Hercules, Quasar, Rage, Sandman, Sersi, She-Hulk and Vision easily break out of.

Back at the war Brutus has sent in a 2nd wave of Mutates and has placed the Oscillatron where he needed it to be. But then the Avengers reinforcements arrive. A Mutate tries to kill Mole Man with a spear, but Kala takes the blow instead. Sersi probes Brutus' mind and finds a secret. She shouts to his Deviant followers that *he* himself is a Mutate. Brutus tries to deny it but the Deviants realise that is why he hated other Mutates so much. They leave him, ashamed to have followed a Mutate. And the other Mutates rend him to pieces.

So the war is over but now Grotesk makes his play. It turns out he was lying about giving up on revenge for his murdered race. He knew what Brutus was doing and his plan all along to use it himself. (He had rendered the Lava Men mute so they couldn't betray him.) He has upped the setting so it won't just mess up the surface world but will rip apart the planet. His own death will be worth the sacrifice.

But nothing happens when he switches it on because Living Lightning has drained all it's electricity. And the Avengers hit him with everything they've got.

Everyone celebrates except Mole Man who takes Kala back to his palace. Touched by her self-sacrifice he swears to do all in his power to restore her health. And even tells Tyrannus that he has a cure for Brutus' poison. Tyrannus immediately recovers and hatches another plan. Now he knows about the Netherworld's rejuvenating properties he plans to take advantage of that.

Story 2: West side story

Writer Roy Thomas, pencils Jeff Moore, inks John Tartaglione, lettering John Costanza, Colors Kevin Tinsley.

Newbie Spider-Woman reviews AWC history via a computer video file left by Henry Pym.
It covers (with some notable omissions) from Vision proposing a West Coast branch of Avengers run by Hawkeye (Av#243) to our #69 where the UN restricted them to 7 members. They chose Dr Pym, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Tigra, Wasp and Wonder Man. But DP and Wasp immediately announced they intended to leave, and that's when Henry made the recording for their replacements.
Spider-Woman muses that during the Pacific Overlords story (#70-74) Tigra quit as well, US Agent was accepted back, and she and Living Lightning joined.

Story 3: A Wasp in Hollywood

Writer Roy Thomas, pencils Jeff Moore, inks Marc McKenna, lettering John Costanza, Colours Evelyn Stein.

Janet Van Dyne is in Hollywood to discuss the film script she's written about her origin as Wasp with Ant-Man and the birth of the Avengers. She's tried to stick to reality but the producer wants loads of changes to spice it up or make the special effects easier.

Story 4: Justice, like lightning

Writer Roy Thomas, pencils Steve Carr, inks George Wildman, lettering Clem Robbins, Colours Paul Becton.

After escaping from captivity by/subservience to Dr Demonicus Living Lightning joined the AWC in #74. Now Miguel Santos flies immediately home to let them know he's OK. He's been away many weeks searching for the base of the Legion of the Living Lightning his father used to belong to (in Tales To Astonish (Hulk) #97-98). Then an accident gave him his electrical powers and he fought the android Human Torch (#63), and then he was held by Demonicus (#70-74).

His mother is distraught when she sees him and his younger brother José explains that his sister Lisa was killed in a drive-by shooting by the neighbouring Vietnamese gang the Snakes. Mama blames it on José joining the Jaguars. In his anger Miguel lets some electricity leak out, and has to explain the contents of the previous paragraph. He needs his super-suit to contain his electricity. José thinks that's great, the Avengers will get revenge for Lisa. Miguel says it doesn't work like that, and José runs out to find his gang.

Miguel turns into electricity and flies off to see his girlfriend Asuka. She's glad to see him but it turns out since he was gone so long she's hooked up with Song, leader of the Snakes. Santos demands to know who shot his sister, but Song's gang overwhelm him. Song slits open the suit, and the gang and Asuka have to run from the released electricity.

The Snakes and Jaguars face off, but recovered Lightning gets between them. Song tries to shoot him but the bullet passes through his electric plasma and wounds Carlos, leader of the Jaguars. A demo of the LL powers quiets most of the gang members down, but Carlos shoots Song dead. And Asuka blames Miguel.

More electric arcs frightens the gangers off. But José stays with Miguel and Asuka stays with the body of her lover. Lightning had called the cops before he came here, and explained he was an Avenger. But they arrest José and take Song's body away. Miguel assures José it'll be OK. But he doesn't really think it'll be OK for anybody.

The team members don't make many apps before they reconvene for #76. Spider-Woman has her solo story 2 here. Iron Man solos in a tale in Marvel Comics Presents #82. Scarlet Witch shares an Infinity Gauntlet epilogue with Dr Strange as he helps Adam Warlock tame the Gauntlet in DrS, Sorceror Supreme #36. And Wonder Man gets caught up with Dr Pym and She-Hulk in the shenanigans in the lead tale in Impossible Man Summer Vacation Spectacular #2.

Who's in the East Coast Avengers these day?
This crossover occurs with lots of other stuff between Av#340 & #341, immediately following the Infinity Gauntlet mini-series.
The team leading up to Av#329 was Captain America, Sersi, She-Hulk, Thor and Vision with Quasar a trainee (and various reservists).
In #329 the team had the same UN restructure as the AWC did in #69. They promoted Quasar and added Black Widow to make 7 main members. Black Knight, Captain Marvel, Falcon, Hercules and Spider-Man (previously a member in #316-318) were made the official reservists with Rage and Sandman on probationary status.
Thor left after #331 because Eric Masterson became the new Thor. Hercules was promoted to his place.
Rage and Sandman are in most issues. But Sandman quit in anger in Amazing SM #348, so maybe he's here in these Annuals to clear the air.
Spider-Man doesn't appear much after #333.
Black Knight, Captain Marvel and Falcon wander in and out but aren't in this Annuals crossover.

Sandman really has gone now and he'll join Silver Sable's Wild Pack.
She-Hulk effectively leaves after this. She'll do some of her own stuff and the  answer the call for Operation: Galactic Storm but then won't be back.
Quasar will appear as an Avenger in his own comics and issues of Captain America and Thor but after O:GS he'll quit too.
Black Widow and Vision have a solo adventure each before joining Cap and Rage for Av#341-342 vs Sons of the Serpent. But they'll discover Rage is underage and he'll leave to join the New Warriors.
Cap meets the new Eric Masterson Thor with Hercules in Thor #436, and makes him and the Inhuman Crystal Avengers in Av#343. Black Widow and Vision are there too, along with Black Knight. Sersi is with the other Eternals in the Eternals: Herod Factor 1-shot, but she rejoins the Avengers for #344. These 8 then form the regular team (until Cap quits after O:GC).

George Freeman
Danny Bulanadi
Bob Sharen
Tom Morgan (Cover Penciler)
Tom Morgan (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Bill Oakley.
Editor: Nel Yomtov. Editor-in-chief: Tom DeFalco.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Wendell Vaughn)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

(Jennifer Walters)
U.S. Agent
U.S. Agent

(John Walker)

Plus: Grotesk (Gor-Tok), Kala, Living Lightning (Miguel Santos), Rage, Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter).

> Avengers West Coast Annual: Book info and issue index

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