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West Coast Avengers #13: Review

Oct 1986
Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom

Story Name:

The unified field theory

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

West Coast Avengers #13 Review by (November 29, 2016)
Graviton's origin is exactly as reported in Avengers #158 (but in more detail than I mentioned then). G of course survived Av#158-159 and returned in Marvel Two-In-One Annual #4 where he pursued Judy who had since become Jarvis' girlfriend. He became a living black hole and fought Thing and Black Bolt. Then in Thor #324 he met her again when she was married (not to Jarvis) with a kid. He was also 1 of the 99 villains assembled by Mephisto in Secret Wars II #7, after his app in our mini-series.

G's ego considers gravity the prime force. Has no-one told him it's actually the weakest of the 4?
There is no particular attraction between matter and antimatter so Graviton's description of the weak force is wrong. It is actually responsible for radioactive decay which is where the term halflife comes from - and that process is what suggested Halflife's power of halving someone's life with each attack.
Another science-geek niggle. G says his power affects light waves because they have mass. Actually they have no mass but they do have energy, Special Relativity says energy is equivalent to mass, and so General Relativity allows gravity to bend light rays. But it would take a humongous amount of gravity to bend light rays like he did last issue. And even more significantly bending light rays is a long way short of writing messages on them.
The title of this issue refers to the unification of all 4 fundamental forces, and 3 of them sort-of get unified near the end of this tale.

#3 of the mini-series said Tigra's amulet didn't turn her human, just made her look like it. I don't know if this idea has been dropped when Steve Englehart introduced the concept of her conflicting personalities for the main series, but it will be rendered somewhat irrelevant by future developments.

Graviton's mountain will fly into space. But he will return on it in Fantastic Four #322 (during the Inferno event). And will attack Spider-Man in Amazing SM #326 and #329 and Web of SM #64-65 (all during Acts of Vengeance). So he obviously likes Marvel's mega-crossovers.

Halflife and Quantum make only a few more apps (to date).

Quantum returns in Quasar #4 with a modified origin. He is a Dakkamite, the same alien race as Wundarr/Aquarian.
Wundarr was sent as a baby to Earth because his parents mistakenly thought their sun was going to explode. He grew up inside his spaceship and emerged in Fear (Man-Thing) #17 as Wundarr. (A deliberate bow to Superman's origin, and his pal Mon-El the Daxamite.)
We now learn that the Dakkamites noticed that Earth's sun gave him superpowers and hoped to give some of their soldiers similar powers. So they sent a group to orbit the sun in suspended animation. When Quantum awoke he found his team-mates gone, but answered Graviton's summons.
Now in Q#4 he's searching for the others he calls the Elect, and runs into Quasar and Wundarr now known as Aquarius. We also get a more quantum explanation for Quantum's ability to multiplicate. He's actually briefly actualising himself at multiple points in his probability field.
The next piece of the puzzle turns up in Q#14-15 where a bunch of guys like Quantum are amongst the prisoners of the Stranger that get released. They are of course the Elect. Then during Infinity Crusade they appear on Earth in Avengers West Coast #96-97 as the Power Platoon, but reject Quantum's call to arms.
Power Platoon are some of the many aliens in the Maximum Security mini-series when Earth is turned into an alien prison planet. And Quantum makes a last app in Annihilation: Ronan #3 on an alien planet.

Halflife has a much more limited career. She gets captured by Quasar in Q#10 and dumped in the Vault, where she's seen in a story in Captain America Annual #10.

The final scene is a lead-in to the East/West Coast Avengers 1st annual baseball game in Av An#15 and WCA An#1.
And in our next issue we'll learn more about the demoness, whose name is Allatou.
But before we get to the Annuals Iron Man will have his #210-213 vs Spymaster and Living Laser and helping Dominic Fortune deal with some ex-Nazis.
And between the Annuals and next issue in IM#214 Hawkeye and IM will help the new Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter) who helped *them* in the Av Annual.



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #13 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Last issue the West Coast Avengers (minus Tigra) defeated new villains Halflife and Quantum (and made Zzzax evaporate again). But Graviton interrupted their success with captive Tigra on a leash.

Now everyone is on Graviton's flying mountain. Iron Man and Wonder Man are pressed to the ground by extreme gravity. Hawkeye and Mockingbird are trapped in a 'gravinet', and any attempt to escape will make them super-heavy too. Tigra is also constrained by gravity - the leash is just for show.

It turns out Halflife and Quantum (and Zzzax) were working for Graviton, who now goes into an origin spiel and an explanation of the current situation.

Frank
Hall was a an ordinary lab worker who was single-handedly inventing a teleportation beam (ordinary?!). But it blew up and ported him into a nearby anti-gravity experiment. The result was his power over gravity. He initially kept his power secret but soon realised he was destined to rule over lesser men.

In Av#158-159 he took the name and costume of Graviton and raised the 'research city' he worked in into the sky. The Avengers came after him but he defeated them. He offered to make a colleague Judy his 'queen', but she rejected him by leaping to her death. The Avengers then won (and butler Jarvis saved Judy).

He faced the WCA in #2-4 of their initial mini-series and was defeated again. He now says that he easily escaped from the US Marshals. And after seeing Tigra then he now knows she is the 1 for him.

It also seems that since then he has created this flying mountain base with a science lab and a cadre of costumed guards. He started thinking about the 4 fundamental forces of Physics:- gravity, the force of attraction between massive bodies; electromagnetism that holds an atom together; the strong force that holds an atomic nucleus together; the weak force of attraction between matter and antimatter.

He used his power over gravity to imprint a message on all light waves leaving Earth asking for alien representatives of the other 3 forces to join him. Quantum embodies the strong force. He came from an alien sun and took up residence in ours. Halflife exemplifies the weak force. Each touch takes half your remaining life away, and she wiped out her whole planet. Nobody turned up to symbolise electromagnetism so G resorted to Zzzax. But he never expected much from someone who could be defeated by Hawkeye (Hulk #166).

Gravy sent his allies to distract the WCA while he captured Tigra last issue. He'd been watching her and noticed that she couldn't resist the attentions of men - this time there would be no rejection. Hawkeye suggests that the leash just signifies slavery, not attraction. But the villain kisses Tigra, and as usual she can't help but respond.

Quantum can't speak Earthian but Graviton somehow understands him and vehemently turns down his request. (Maybe he wants a girl like Tigra.) Apparently the 3 of them have a deal to assist each other in their 'projects of evil'. They leave the WCA with guards, but Gravy still has Tigra on a leash.

Mockingbird has a hidden radio with which she tries to contact the (East Coast) Avengers. But Graviton expected that and diverts the message into space.

Meanwhile Henry Pym has taken up the search of occult bookshops started by Firebird in #5, looking for info on Master Pandemonium or the Darkhold book. A bookseller named Carstairs denies any knowledge, but Hank can tell he's lying. He leaves intending to get the WCA to investigate further. But Carstairs appears to be under the control of a female demon who fears Pym might actually be an agent of MP looking for her. So she follows him by walking through the ground beneath his feet.

Graviton takes Tigra's leash off (and presumably his gravitational hold on her) to see what she will do. She can't escape because all exits are gravity-blocked. He's been watching her for a long time and 'knows' that the cat part of her wants to accept his 'love'. He also saw her talk with Balkatar, emissary of the Cat-People, in #9. He knows she needs to kill Pandemonium, and offers to do it for her. She responds by leaping to attack him, but with a wave of his hand she comes crashing down.

He leaves her trapped in a gravity cage. Tigra's 2 souls war within her. The cat does want to accept his offer of a life of pleasure and ruling the world. But Greer Nelson rebels against it. She activates the amulet that gives her back her human body.

A passing guard doesn't realise who she is and passes through the force-field hoping for a 'good time' with this bikini-clad woman. He explains that the guards have boxes that neutralise G's gravity effects. Greer fights him to get that box, but she's no match for his strength. However when they fall near the the cage wall with herself on top she forces her hands through the force-field. Her arms immediately become very heavy and drop to knock the man out.

She strains to pull her arms free despite intense pain. Then she dons the man's uniform and all-important box and sets out the free the other Avengers. She finds Halflife and tells her that Quantum intends to kill her. Then she finds Quantum and tells him similar. (Apparently he can understand English even if he can't speak it.)

Greer Nelson watches as the 2 meet and fight. As we saw last issue even if Graviton and Quantum can communicate the 2 aliens can't talk to each other. As Quantum multiplies his bodies Halflife rapidly ages them, but some of them get in punches. Then Graviton notices the battle and calls his guards to help stop it.

2 remain to watch over the WCA. Greer, still disguised as 1 of them, manages to grab their boxes and they fall to the local gravity. She throws the boxes to Hawkeye and Mockingbird, which allows them to walk out of their cage. And they apply the boxes to Iron Man and Wonder Man so they can rise up from the ground.

Graviton is now trying to pry the 2 aliens apart. Quantum is back to a single body, but the combined power is escalating beyond their ability to control it. Quantum is ejected from the mountain and Halflife runs away smoking. And the flying mountain shoots up towards space. Iron Man's jets aren't strong enough to push it back down.

He gives up and grabs Bobbi and Clint to fly them off the rock. Wonder Man tries to do the same with Graviton and Greer but the villain won't accept help from his enemy. Then both flying heroes offer a lift to any guards who drop their weapons. They all do, and 2 overloaded heroes watch the mountain disappear upwards.

Later the minions are delivered to jail. Hawkeye congratulates Greer, who says she'll turn back to Tigra to continue as an effective Avenger, but her human side will retain more control. But privately she's not so sure she can live up to that.

And back at Avengers Compound the demoness has followed Pym home. But he puts finding Master Pandemonium on the back burner because the team now have to go to Kansas City. And he examines some baseball equipment.


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Al Milgrom
Joe Sinnott
Ken Feduniewicz
Al Milgrom (Cover Penciler)
Joe Sinnott (Cover Inker)


Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

Plus: Graviton.