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West Coast Avengers #1: Review

Oct 1985
Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom

Story Name:


Review & Comments

4.5 stars

West Coast Avengers #1 Review by (September 13, 2016)
This is an extra-large edition at $1.25.

Wonder Man has had this black&red costume since Avengers #253.

Erik Josten became Power Man in Av#21 using a restricted version of the process that made Simon Williams Wonder Man. After ceding the name Power Man to Luke Cage in PM#21, he lost his powers to Count Nefaria in Av#165. A brief unpowered career Smuggler ended in Spectacular Spider-Man #49. Dr Karl Malus restored and increased his PM power in Iron Man Annual #7. His eyes sometimes glowed there so that is probably when his body was converted to ionic energy like WM's. Malus also dosed him with stolen Pym serum, giving him growth power and the Goliath name.
(Note - at this time I don't believe the phrase 'Pym articles' has been coined yet.)
Hawkeye mentions he was Goliath too. That was in Av#63-99 while Henry Pym was Yellowjacket or in 1 of his scientist periods.

The original Avengers all had jealously-guarded secret identities. Thor officially learned Iron Man's id in Av#113. Captain America didn't know until Av#216, when Tigra found out too. Wasp was clued in during Av#224. Tony Stark came clean to Hawkeye and Mockingbird in IM#193 (in the period when he wasn't actually IM anyway), and presumably WM was let in on the secret while TS was using the West Coast Avengers' labs in subsequent issues.
I don't think Henry Pym is shown being told the secret in any preceding issues but he obviously knows here, and Tony knows he knows. Later retcons will say that he worked it out way back in Av#4.

Tony Stark as Iron Man joined the WCA at the end of IM#201. He had hung around as TS for a while, and then Clint & Bobbi Barton were there when he reclaimed the IM role from James Rhodes in IM#200. In Marvel Graphic Novel #27: Emperor Doom he was already on the team. And now this issue.

Tigra will actually have a relationship with Henry Pym and Simon Williams at the same time until she gets her cat personality under control in #16, and then ends the relationships. But she will get together with Pym during the Initiative era, and have a son by him. Unfortunately that Pym will turn out to be a Skrull.

Ultron-11 stayed on Battleworld after Secret Wars I (despite then appearing on an alternate Earth in the Marvel 1985 limited series). He was destroyed apart from his head in Thing #22, and the head lost on Earth in Fantastic Four #277. A flashback in #7 will show how that head gets rebuilt as U-11 again.
Meanwhile a reference in #7 will also explain that U-11 was in the process of creating U-12 when Beyonder took him to Battleworld. It is U-12 who appeared in MGN#27 and is here now. Both Ultrons will show up together in #7.

Man-Ape was originally a Black Panther foe in Av#62, representing the sacred White Gorilla Spirit against BP's Panther God. But since then he's basically been cannon fodder in villain groups.

We'll learn about Grim Reaper in part 2 in Vision & Scarlet Witch #1.

Henry Pym has been in demand as a scientist since he cleared his name but left the Avengers in Av#230. He cameo'd in Spectacular SM #89 by not answering the phone when Black Cat rang during her quest to get a superpower. Wasp called him in along with Dr Strange to help save Spider-Woman's life in Av#240-242. He worked with Reed Richards and Hank McCoy in Av Annual #13 to study Bruce Banner's notes. He helped rejuvenate aged Captain America in CA#302. He tried to cure James Rhodes headaches in IM#194 (and had an adventure in another dimension).

The team have been quite busy since the mini-series. I followed their apps up to a certain point (Av#253-255 and ROM #64-65) in #4 of the mini-series. I left the rest for here because there was a continuity problem with the Emperor Doom GN - basically Dr Doom can't be in it. This problem is still unresolved but the Marvel Chronology Project places EDoom here.
Tony Stark and Iron Man Jim Rhodes continued in IM#191-196 with Stark sometimes using the rebuilt version of his original bulky grey armour. Hawkeye, Mockingbird and Tigra guested in various issues. Then TS and IM appeared in Secret Wars II #1 leading directly into IM#197. Then while JR's time as IM was ended in #198-199, Hawkeye, Mockingbird and Wonder Man were in CA#308 when Cap came to visit. Then it was IM#200-201 as TS became IM again in the new red&white armour and joined the team. Then they were all together in EDoom.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
We open at West Coast Avengers HQ with the married Bartons smooching, but they're interrupted by Henry Pym ringing the doorbell. Hawkeye introduces Mockingbird to Ant-Man/Giant-Man/Goliath/Yellowjacket but now emphatically not a superhero (since he abandoned all costumes in Avengers #230). He heard that the team captured the criminal Goliath in Iron Man Annual #7 and wants to ask him where he got his size-changing ability from.

Meanwhile Wonder Man is flying over the nearby ocean with Tigra in his arms. She's catly afraid of falling in the water - and she fears she's becoming more cat than human as time passes. For his part Simon Williams is still afraid of dying, since he 'died' in his 1st appearance in Av#9, and he still doesn't feel good enough to be an Avenger (a feeling Tigra has shared).

Suddenly Iron Man zooms past them to attack some clunky robots that were sneaking up behind them. WM joins the fight without stopping to put Tigra down, but he has to keep shielding her from blasts. So she struggles free and dives into the ocean.

The other 2 keep battling. Tearing the robots' arms off seems the best tactic, and then hitting them with them. In mid-fight Tony Stark thinks Simon Williams' 'inadequacy' is nothing compared to the alcoholism he himself has had to fight free of in the recent long stretch in his own title. But some of the robots escape. And WM dives to rescue Tigra.

Back in his holding cell Goliath refuses to answer Hank Pym's questions, his ionic energy glowing in his eyes like Wonder Man's. He insists that he will soon be free.

Clint Barton tells Bobbi how Pym messed up and was fired from the Avengers in Av#212-213. But they move on to how the team is still looking for a 6th member. Hawkeye's insecurity shows beneath his bluster as he comments that nobody wants to join an untested team, especially 1 that was created by Vision while he was under the control of the Titanian computer ISAAC and tried to take over the world (as revealed in the issues leading up to Av#254).

The other 3 arrive, Tigra swathed in a towel. Tony Stark is taken aback to see Henry Pym because he feels guilty about dating his ex-wife Jan in Av#224 soon after their divorce (and while Pym was in prison). But Hank greets him like a friend. Goliath unexpectedly laughs when they mention the robots.  And Tigra's kittenish nature causes her to make a play for Hank, even though she didn't like him while Jan was divorcing him in Av#213-217. And Pym responds.

The team detect a large power source in San Pedro. Hank offers to mind the store while the others go investigate in a quinjet. On the way out Simon objects to Clint trusting Pym, possibly out of jealousy over Tigra. (Tigra and Wonder Man struck up a close friendship in the WCA mini-series. Maybe he read more into it than that.)

The power source turns out to be a boat, and Tigra wishes she'd stayed home again. 3 of them wait while Hawkeye and Wondie investigate the boat. Tigra confides in Bobbi how Greer Nelson became the Cat (in her own short-lived series) and then was converted to the form of Tigra, fabled warrior of the Cat People, in order to save her life (Giant-Size Creatures #1). But the personality of the original Tigra has begun to surface, making her act more like a cat. (She wasn't afraid of the sea in #4 of the mini-series.)

Hawkeye signals all clear. Iron Man flies MB over, but Tigra challenges her aquaphobia by running up a mooring line. They enter a cargo hold strangely filled with steel beams welded together in a rat's nest. As they pick their way through they are assaulted by Ultron-12.

Hawkeye fires an arrow that releases a gas designed by Yellowjacket (Av#171) to protect them from Ultron's Encephalo-Ray eye blasts. Meanwhile he considers that Ultron may have sent the robots but he can't have anything to do with Goliath. Maybe he's after his creator/'father' Henry Pym (who was a different Goliath, but not then).

As Ultron goes into his standard rant about killing the Avengers and then all humans, Clint orders everybody out. But the spaces within the tangle of beams start filling with adamantium rods. Ultron says they must eventually kill all the humans, even armoured Iron Man. Wonder Man says his body composed of ionic energy will survive, but Ultron says he want him alive.

As the others concentrate on avoiding/deflecting the beams Hawkeye fires a vibranium arrow that lodges into a gap between a rod and the hole it is coming out of. As he hoped the metal's vibration-absorption property stops the whole mechanism. And the team work their way out of the maze.

Meanwhile Pym has discovered that Goliath's ionic energy incorporates the growth serum he himself invented. His mind is drawn to his other big invention Ultron, who he believes was destroyed on Battleworld in Thing #22. Then the base gets a video call from his ex-wife Wasp, current leader of the (East Coast) Avengers.

He doesn't want to answer the call, even though they parted on good terms the last 2 times they met (Av#230 and #242). But he can't let her think there's something wrong here. He explains that he isn't joining the team - he's just here for research purposes, and holding the fort while they're on a mission. And just then the team return.

Hawkeye updates Wasp on what's happened. Then she privately asks him for confirmation that Henry isn't returning to the superhero business. And offers to send some Avengers to help with Ultron. Clint answers no to both. He says they can look after themselves, thank you. And reminds Jan of Av#50-51 when that team was just him, her and Hank (coincidentally that time he was Goliath).

An alarm goes off warning of intrusion, and hurting Tigra's sensitive ears. Assuming it's Ultron after Henry Pym Hawkeye tells Iron Man to guard him in the secure basement. He sends Tigra to watch over Goliath and takes Mockingbird and Wonder Man to face the foe.

As they search the grounds Bobbi asks her hubby why Ultron hates Hank. Cue the potted history:- Pym created the 1st crude Ultron with a basic AI. It escaped and continually improves itself to surpass it's 'father'. It also hates the Avengers because they are Hank's friends. It created Vision with Simon Williams' brain patterns expecting its 'son' to follow in its footsteps. But Vision/Simon rebelled.

Ultron overhears this and is astonished to hear that hated Pym is here - this wasn't his target. Apparently he's here to get WM for an ally. And there's a lackey involved.

That lackey is Man-Ape who faces Tigra to reach Goliath. Erik Josten directs M'Baku to a button that will open his cage. Tigra successfully holds Man-Ape off until Ultron clonks her from behind. The robot tells M'Baku and Goliath that they will have to capture WM - he has something more important to do.

That mission is to break into the basement with his eye-blasts (with the humorous sound-effect Bar-Soom). Henry Pym is staggered (claiming that his immunisation gas (see above) only protects from the radiation not the blast effect). But IM's armour is made of sterner stuff, and he takes the fight out of the room.

Goliath grows to giant-size and breaks out of their room with Man-Ape to fight the 3 Avengers on the outside. Wondie launches himself at the giant while Hawkeye fires an ultrasonic arrow, telling Mocky to put earplugs in. Goliath was defeated by ultrasonics from Iron Man (James Rhodes) in IM An #7, but this time he just catches the arrow and breaks it. Meanwhile Bobbi takes on M'Baku.

Ultron tries to drain IM's power as he did in Av#202, but the new suit is proof against that. However IM's repulsors are equally ineffective against the robot. So the battle degenerates into an armoured fist fight.

Wonder Man attacks Goliath again but the giant just smashes him into the ground with his fist. Then a blast from Ultron floors Hawkeye and MB. The robot has apparently won his fight against IM and now carries unconscious Henry Pym over his shoulders. Goliath picks up Man-Ape and Wonder Man in his hands and Ultron grabs him by the back of his costume and flies off with the prizes.

When the other 2 revive Hawkeye has figured it all out. Erik Josten as Power Man and Man-Ape were members of Grim Reaper's Lethal Legion in Av#78-79. Ultron doesn't care about Wonder Man but Grim Reaper hates him. So Ultron must be working with GR. (Which raises the question what was in it for Ultron before he learned Pym was here?)

Continued in VISION & SCARLET WITCH #1.

Al Milgrom
Joe Sinnott
Petra Scotese
Al Milgrom (Cover Penciler)
Joe Sinnott (Cover Inker)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

Plus: Grim Reaper (Eric Williams).

> West Coast Avengers: Book info and issue index

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