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West Coast Avengers #3: Review

Nov 1984
Roger Stern, Bob Hall

Story Name:

Taking care of business

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

West Coast Avengers #3 Review by (June 13, 2016)
It's a couple of weeks since last issue, and in between the week of snow was caused by the Casket of Ancient Winters in Thor #350-353 and Avengers #249.

Iron Man is of course James Rhodes, and Tony Stark's personal problem was his drinking. Tony's a recovering alcoholic now but still doesn't want the armour back.

Wonder Man gives a reasonable summary of his superhero career, but he gets some things wrong. He was an on-off Avenger even before #211, and already alternated it with acting work. His acting career was already very low-level. He was given action-hero jobs *because* he didn't need a stunt double, as in #207. An especial low point was Mr Muscles in a kids TV show in #194,197,201,203. And the scientific job in WM#1 happened *after* the Letterman show.

Tigra's history is more complicated than she said. Greer Grant originally became human superheroine Cat in her own 4-issue series. She was the recipient of super-powers from a project run by an unscrupulous businessman. After sharing Marvel Team-Up #8 she came to the aid of her scientist mentor Dr Tumolo in Giant-Size Creatures #1, at the cost of her own life. But Tumolo turned out to be 1 of the Cat-People who saved Greer by turning her into Tigra.
(Her cat costume was later found in Av#144 by Patsy Walker who became Hellcat.)

As Tigra she had her own series in Marvel Chillers #3-7 and became an associate of the Fantastic Four in FF#177-184. She also had her own tale in Monsters Unleashed #10 and starred in Marvel Premiere #42 where Dr Tumolo died. An editorial comment suggests that the story where the rest of the Cat People died hasn't been told.
She had other guest appearances in that time, but in Av#211 she was 1 of many heroes brain-coerced by Moondragon into applying for Avengers membership. When the dust settled she decided to stay on. But she never felt comfortable and left in Av#216.
After that she had some crowd-scene apps, and then co-starred in Marvel GN #16 The Aladdin Effect with She-Hulk, Storm and Wasp. Another team-up in MTU#125 brings us to her Spider-Woman apps which is where I picked up the story in my comments on #1.

We don't see Blank next issue after being thrown in the ocean here. But he'll turn up 1 more time in Amazing Spider-Man #580, with a flashback to say how he survived.

I mentioned Shroud's associates Cat and Mouse in my comments on #1 and gave their previous apps there. They will continue to work with Shroud in a story in Marvel Super-Heroes (1990) #7 and then his own mini-series.




 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #3 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Iron Man and Wonder Man are helping clear away the summer snowdrifts caused by recent events in the Thor series. Some Los Angelenos are taking advantage of the situation by skiing in shorts and bikinis. Others are turning to looting until Mockingbird and Hawkeye turn up to stop them. A couple try to escape in a car but Tigra foils that. (She's accommodated to the weather by adding boots and legwarmers to her skimpy costume.) But eventually the snow disappears by the same magic that brought it.

The snow was around for a week and the West Coast Avengers have been kept busy troubleshooting (presumably not just in LA). Hawkeye suggests they celebrate with a barbecue tonight (and make it an annual event - why just annual?). Wonder Man doesn't seem as enthusiastic as the others, and jets off for some time alone. Clint Barton and wife Bobbi Morse head off to buy ingredients.

Tigra takes the Golden Avenger aside for a chat about Simon Williams. She's worried about him and thinks his old pal Iron Man/Tony Stark should have a word. IM is shocked that Tigra thinks she knows his identity. She reminds him that she found out when they fought Molecule Man in Av#216. He has to come clean and admit that he isn't Tony. He's a replacement because of Stark's 'personal problems'.

During the time since last issue Graviton has quietly taken over a country estate in the Santa Monica mountains. He bitterly remembers how he was defeated by Thor in his #324 and banished to an interdimensional void. We learn he was in suspended animation there until he was woken by a building flying past (it was the building the Beyonder sent to lure heroes to Battleworld for Secret Wars). Then last issue he detected Blank using a device to charge up the belt that created his forcefield, and after several attempts was able to rematerialise on Earth.

Blank is now his (very) junior partner in his scheme to get revenge on the Avengers. The nervous subordinate makes the mistake of reminding Graviton that the Avengers and Thor beat him before. Gravy swears that won't happen again.

Tigra finds Simon Williams walking on the private beach of the WCA's Palos Verdes compound. She gets him to unburden himself. Simon says he feels he's not really cut out to be an Avenger, and relates his history. He was given his powers by villains (Masters of Evil in Av#9) to fight the Avengers, but changed sides and appeared to die. Later (Av#151) he came back to life changed, and joined the team. But his experience of 'death' made him a reluctant superhero. During 1 of their periodic reshuffles he left the team (Av#211) to use Hercules' contacts to start a Hollywood acting career.

But that didn't pan out so he hired his muscles out to a couple of scientific research groups (probably in Marvel Team-Up #136 and his own 1-shot). Then (Av#239) he appeared with some other ex-Avengers on the David Letterman show. This led to offers of work as a film stunt double. This dangerous work diluted his fear of death, so he was ready for it when Hawkeye asked him to become an Avenger again (WCA#1). But the 1st thing he did as a WCA was let the Blank escape (last issue).

Tigra replies that her 1st stint as an Avenger (Av#211-216) didn't work well. And like so many other things in her life, that job and this were just situations that she fell into. She shows Wondie her dark-haired human version, but explains it's only an illusion of her old look cast by the cat amulet in the centre of her bikini top. She's really still furry Tigra. Then she tells him how a race of cat-people turned her into Tigra to save her life. But they all died a year ago.

Tigra decides to help Simon catch the Blank in order to get past his 'failure'. She takes him to Cat's Jazz Club to talk to Shroud. But inside they find his associates Cat and Mouse and a wrecked room. The duo don't want to explain what happened until Shroud ghosts in and vouches for the Avengers. Then we learn that a gang that used to work for mob boss 'Lucky Man' Galeno brought a message from their new boss saying they were taking over.

Shroud masquerades as a crimelord and so needs to be seen to deal with this himself. But Wonder Man owes him for a violent tackle in #1 so deals himself in. He'll have to be in disguise, but then he is an actor (although some would dispute that).

There's a mobster party at Galeno's old place which Shroud gatecrashes with a blond henchman. Tigra, hanging outside a window to watch, tips us off that the blond is actually Simon. 1 of Galeno's gang apologises for smashing up the club - he was only following orders. But Simon picks him up and demands to see the boss. Enter the Blank. (So this is obviously the place Graviton took over - as if we hadn't already guessed.)

Blank also apologises, but says it was a necessary move in consolidating all the West Coast mobs. Simon is only too happy to beat some sense into the guy. But he finds himself floating in mid-leap. And Shroud's feet are too heavy to move. Blank throws Simon against Shroud and his blond wig falls off. And Blank recognises him as Wonder Man.

Tigra smashes through the window and leaps on Blank. The mobsters draw their guns. But Graviton enters the room to take over the fighting.

He increases WM's weight so he falls through the floor. Shroud cloaks him in darkness but Gravy dispels the cloud by making everything in the room spin, including the partygoers. When he stops the whirling he hears Blank calling for help from a corner which is still dark. Another burst of gravity removes that cloud, and pins Blank, Shroud and Tigra against a wall.

Despite still being superheavy Wondie climbs back up through the floor to attack. But Graviton 1st holds him at bay, and then sets him floating again. The mastermind has gotten tired of Blank's uselessness. With another gesture he sends his underling, Shroud and Tigra out a window and into the ocean.

Back at Avengers Compound Hawkeye has the barbecue fired up, and Iron Man is wondering how he's going to eat anything without raising his faceplate and revealing he's not the old Shellhead. They're beginning to wonder where the other 2 are, and why they don't answer calls.

Back at the Galeno estate Graviton is relishing his revenge more personally by holding Wonder Man underwater in the pool.



Bob Hall
Brett Breeding
Juliana Ferriter
Bob Hall (Cover Penciler)
Brett Breeding (Cover Inker)


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