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Force Works #8: Review

Feb 1995
Andy Lanning, Stewart Johnson

Story Name:

Tidings of comfort and joy

Review & Comments

4 stars

Force Works #8 Review by (March 26, 2019)
Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning continue to share the scripting. After Dave Taylor's stint on the Hands Of The Mandarin issues Stewart Johnson steps in as penciller for 1 issue, with Don Hudson taking over the inking for the issue from Rey Garcia.

This title has got a new FW logo in the corner box. And Iron Man and War Machine gain the same logo this month to signify that they are now a tightly-connected group of titles post-HOTM. 1 of those connections will be Hawkeye, starting here.

The issues of the 3 titles this month are villain-free personal business tales. In IM#313 alcoholic Tony Stark deals with VOR/TEX getting him drunk, and other stuff. In WM#11 James Rhodes reveals his superhero identity to his Worldwatch companions, and asks his lover Rae LaCoste to meet his folks.

The call from Rhodey saying he can't make it actually happens during WM#12 when War Machine is flying to Jim's parents' home in Philadelphia.

Since HOTM ended in IM#312 Iron Man joined Captain America in a special issue of Tales Of Suspense helping SHIELD fight terrorist organisation DANTE. And Scarlet Witch was 1 of those infected by Pym-particles in the Giant-Man half of the Double Feature issues of Avengers #379-382, but I believe only managed a 1-panel cameo in #382. But Hawkeye was in that story arc as well.

As was Captain America, followed by the TOS special and his own Christmas tale in Marvel Holiday Special 1994 before turning up at this party.

Giant-Man was of course in the Double Feature issues, and then starred (in his Dr Pym persona) with Wasp and Hulk in a Tales To Astonish special against Loki.

Agatha Harkness and Living Lightning were both last in the 1st Scarlet Witch mini-series and will be next seen at Wonder Man's memorial in Tales Of The Marvels: Wonder Years #2 and the backup in our #10.

Giant-Man will return to his Avengers duties in their #383 guesting Fantastic Force, but Cap will skip that issue in favour of Fantastic Force's own #4 before going to the memorial.

Hawkeye misses the memorial, and also 1 for Mr Fantastic, but will be back for the Brothers In Arms crossover with US Agent and War Machine in backup tales in our #12/WM#15/IM#317.

While Tony Stark attends Alcoholics Anonymous in IM#313, Scarlet Witch will take time out to help Blade, Man-Thing and Strange in Midnight Sons Unlimited #8. Then they'll rejoin the rest of our team for Wonder Man's memorial in Tales Of The Marvels: Wonder Years #2 and backup tales in FW#9-10. Followed by the main story in #9-10.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Force Works #8 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
It's the evening of Christmas Day and someone is watching Force Works HQ.

Inside Century is watching A Christmas Carol on TV while Amanda Chaney, Julia Carpenter and her young daughter Rachel are decorating the Christmas Tree. (Is Amanda's Native American getup supposed to indicate she has Native ancestry?) Fisher Todd gives Rachel Carpenter a present of a hoverboard, which annoys Julia again (after nearly getting Rachel injured in the Vroom Room in #5). Recorder RE-404 wanders around trying to understand Earth customs, including John Walker/Jack Daniels making alcoholic eggnog. John/Jack makes him go away by suggesting he take a cine-camera and record the party they're preparing for.

Later as Wanda Maximoff surveys the decorations the AI P.L.A.T.O. informs them that many guests have arrived. (Erica Sondheim, Felix Alvarez, Abe Zimmer, Mrs. Arbogast, Happy Hogan, Pepper Hogan, Bethany Cabe and Philip Grant, ie the regular cast of Iron Man.) Wanda sends Amanda to greet them while she tries to find Tony Stark whose party this is. After dodging a speeding Rachel she finds him in the Chaos Vault where he's brooding over a message from James Rhodes which says he can't be here because he's got business 'back East'. (An editorial comment directs us to War Machine #12, but we aren't told that the 'business' is Rhodey taking his girlfriend Rae LaCoste to meet the parents.) Tony is upset because he thought Rhodey and he had mended fences (see the end of IM#312 and a flashback in IM#313) but now Jim seems to be snubbing him. Wanda drags him away to the party.

And the mystery guy uses a grappling line to get to the roof.

Jack Daniels seems to be expecting someone. More guests have turned up. Captain America, in the exoskeleton uniform that is keeping him alive during his Fighting Chance story arc, shakes hands with Jack, the man who once replaced him. Henry Pym is glad to see it and Tony says Jack has mellowed in this team. Hank expresses his regret over the death of Simon Williams (Wonder Man in #1), but is glad to see others of the West Coast Avengers have found a new home. But he's confused at to how Iron Man is at the party as well as Tony. Miguel Santos, another ex WCAer, is confused about that too but can't ask about it without giving Stark's double life away. Tony explains to Henry that it's an armour remote-controlled by PLATO. Julia introduces Miguel, 1 of the few guests in their hero costume, to Mrs A as Living Lightning. He explains that these days he's taking time off to go to college.

The mystery man is inside the building where Rachel almost runs into *him*.

Wanda's witchcraft mentor Agatha Harkness is here too. She's passing on some herbal lore to her pupil but doesn't take kindly to Recorder recording her. Tipsy Happy Hogan is quite happy about it. Julia isn't and guesses it was U.S. Agent who put him up to it. He catches Hank and Tony discussing Janet Van Dyne who they've both been romantically attached to. Bethany Cabe confesses on record to being Iron Man, as does Felix Alvarez. (Beth has actually worn the armour, IM#300, but Felix hasn't and doesn't know the secret.) Abe Zimmer is more interested in the robot behind the camera. Jack is just learning from Cap about his illness (his body is breaking down after he had to get rid of the Super-Soldier serum in his blood) but Rachel drags him away urgently.

She takes Jack to meet the gatecrasher - Hawkeye.

Cap congratulates Wanda on the successes her team has notched up. They reminisce about when the Avengers was just they 2 plus her brother Quicksilver and Hawkeye. Wanda mentions that Tony keeps forgetting he put *her* in charge.

It turns out US Agent invited Hawkeye here, and arranged for PLATO to let him through the security. Clint Barton still isn't sure about this - he still doesn't trust Tony Stark (after he let everyone believe he was dead in IM#284-289). Jack tells him that Rhodes and Stark have buried the hatchet, and Jim's beef was worse than Clint's. He says Tony's trying to make amends for all the hurt he caused.

After his wife Bobbi (Mockingbird) died (Avengers West Coast #100) archer Clint took to living in the woods hunting his own food. Jack tracked him down and talked him out of that in Marvel Comics Presents #159-161, and asked him to join Force Works. But Clint is still undecided. Jack tells him Stark is going to have a private chat with the old West Coast team later, and invites Clint to listen in so he can see for himself that Tony has changed. Then he can come join the party. (Young Rachel is hanging around while the grownups argue.)

Amanda tries to have a conversation with Century but his alien mindset makes it difficult, as does Recorder recording. But something she says triggers another of his returning memory fragments. When Mandarin temporarily took his staff Parallax away (during Hands Of The Mandarin) he began experiencing different personalities as well as bits of memory. Now he recalls a life-mate and their child. But he assures Amanda and Wanda that he's OK.

Tony Stark has his meeting with the members of the old WCA:- Scarlet Witch, Spider-Woman and US Agent plus Henry Pym and Living Lightning. He apologises for his deception and abandoning the team. Clint his showing Rachel how she could attach 1 of his special arrowheads to her hoverboard to make a loud whistling noise. Then he notices the meeting has started and turns the volume up on the monitor. He hears Stark announce a memorial service for Wonder Man (see #10). And then talks about Hawkeye the loud-mouthed joker. So Clint angrily switches him off ...

... and doesn't hear Tony go on to say that Clint grew into the backbone of the WCA, and his absence here today is felt deeply. Turning to Hank, now back with the (East Coast) Avengers as Giant-Man, he says that although the break between the 2 Avengers teams (in AWC#102 leading to the formation of Force Works) was somewhat acrimonious he hopes they can get back on good terms again now.

Then everyone goes back to the party where the FW staff Amanda and Fisher are asking 'Iron Man' why he's the only 1 who hasn't told them his real identity. Cap promises to attend Simon's memorial. He commends Tony's work with the new team but suggests he lets Wanda do her own thing. Rachel finds Jack and tells him Clint's gone after listening to the meeting. Wanda tells Julia she hopes Tony means what he said. And Century compulsively watches part of Recorder's recording over and over - where he says he can't remember the names of his family.

Stewart Johnson
Don Hudson
Joe Rosas
Dave Taylor (Cover Penciler)
Rey Garcia (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Jack Morelli.
Editor: Nel Yomtov. Editor-in-chief: Tom DeFalco.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Hank Pym)

(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Pepper Potts
Pepper Potts

(Pepper Hogan)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)
U.S. Agent
U.S. Agent

(John Walker)
War Machine
War Machine

(James Rhodes)

Plus: Abe Zimmer, Agatha Harkness, Amanda Chaney, Bethany Cabe, Century, Erica Sondheim, Felix Alvarez, Fisher Todd, Living Lightning (Miguel Santos), Mrs. Arbogast, P.L.A.T.O., Rachel Carpenter, Raven (Philip Grant), Recorder RE-404, Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter).

> Force Works: Book info and issue index

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