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West Coast Avengers #16: Review

Jan 1987
Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom

Story Name:

The dive

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

West Coast Avengers #16 Review by (January 3, 2017)
It's not the title but the cover this issue that sports a play on words which mimics Charles Dickens' "A tale of two cities".

Tiger Shark was in Egghead's Masters Of Evil in Avengers #222 and #228-230. Whirlwind was only with him in Av#222, but Henry Pym wasn't involved in that issue so it's a little strange that he included WW in the list from the later issues.
Since then both villains were in Baron Zemo's MOE in the Siege storyline in Avengers as WW remembers here, but not together.
WW was mentioned in #271&273, being sprung from prison and then sent to keep Captain America from returning to New York which he tried in CA#324. He got his new costume and wrist-buzzsaws from Tinkerer in that issue. He says here he easily escaped from the police afterwards.
TS was part of the main assault on Avengers Mansion in Av#273-274, and was mentioned as escaping in #275.

Henry Pym's size-changing tech has been used by several others. Obviously he gave it to Wasp. Others used his names as well as powers:- Clint Barton was Goliath in Av#63-99. Bill Foster became Black Goliath in Power Man #24, later Giant-Man in Marvel Two-In-One #55. Scott Lang took over as Ant-Man from Marvel Premier #47. Ex-Power Man Erik Josten became the villainous Goliath in Iron Man Annual #7. And Rita DeMara has been the villain Yellowjacket since Av#264.

Daimon & Patsy Hellstrom will remain married business partners for a long while but won't actually appear together again until Marvel Fanfare #59/2. Before then Hellstorm will return to these pages in #41 to help Mockingbird deal with the vengeful spirit of Phantom Rider. Meanwhile Hellcat will have multiple apps beginning with facing her ex-husband Mad-Dog in Solo Avengers #9/2, and Av#305 where she is invited to rejoin a super-team of Avengers (including the WCA).

Tiger Shark/Todd Arliss will clash with Stingray over his sister Diane Arliss in a tale in Marvel Comics Presents #53-56, and then in Acts Of Vengeance in Wolverine #19-20.
Whirlwind will next show up during Acts Of Vengeance in Avengers Spotlight #26 (vs Hawkeye and Iron Man) and Fantastic Four #336.



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #16 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
We open on San Francisco''s Golden Gate Bridge as Tigra dives into the strait - and joyfully survives the usually-suicidal plunge. Henry Pym helps her onto Daimon & Patsy Hellstrom''s boat Hell''s Belle and we learn she did it to prove that her now-merged cat/human personality no longer fears water. And she survived because of her increased strength.

Suddenly they see Harbour Patrol boats racing towards them, and they expect Tigra to be told off for the dive. But it transpires that they''re after someone else who speeds through the water ahead of them. Daimon turns the boat to intercept and Patsy (wearing her ability-enhancing Hellcat costume in case Tigra needed rescuing) fires a claw-line to hook the fish - who turns out to be the villainous Tiger Shark.

The amphibious villain attacks Hellcat until Tigra leaps on his back and distracts his attention. Leaping away she complains about nominative determinism - she fought Leo of Zodiac in Annual #1 and then got involved with Hellcat and the Cat-People in the last 2 issues, and now Tiger Shark. His response is to break the mast she clinging to.

The cat-heroines have to fight TS on their own. Hellstorm hasn''t got his trident, his spells only work against supernatural opponents, and he''s too busy controlling the tiller to fight physically. And Henry Pym is too busy stopping being thrown overboard.

But the women both have the same idea and rip rents in Shark''s costume. It keeps his body soaked in water, and without that he can''t survive long in air. Then they wrap him up in HC''s claw-line and Tigra''s tail and hand him over to the harbour police.

Tiger Shark taunts Hank Pym as he''s taken away that he was 1 of the group that destroyed him. HP replies that they may have ended Yellowjacket''s career but Henry Pym is still going strong. Daimon Hellstrom doesn''t know what he''s talking about so Hank gives him (and us) a potted review of his downfall.

He was was making a mess of the superhero career that he now knows he wasn''t cut out for. In his frustration he struck his wife Jan/Wasp (Av#213). Trying to prove his worth to the Avengers YJ struck down not-really-evil Elfqueen from behind when she was trying to surrender (#212). The team convened a court-martial which YJ arranged to be interrupted by a robot that only he could defeat - but it all went wrong and he was dismissed from the Avengers (#213 again). And Jan divorced him in #217.

Hank''s old enemy Egghead convinced Hank he''d reformed and gave him a science job. But it was all a plot to get his nemesis apparently guilty of a crime and arrested (#217 again). Then Egghead''s Masters Of Evil ''rescued'' HP from his trial in #228 making it seem like he was their partner. Egghead wanted Henry to really work for him on evil science and Hank strung him along until he could turn the tables and prove his innocence while the Avengers fought the MOE (#229). Then in #230 he relinquished all his super-ids and returned to being a scientist.

Later he realised his heart was still with the Avengers even though he didn''t want to be a superhero. So he joined the West Coast Avengers in a support role.

The harbour patrol seem to have hung around with Tiger Shark to listen to all this. Hank turns back to the villain and asks if he and the other Masters Of Evil have done as well. Is he still pals with Moonstone, Shocker, Whirlwind, ... ? At the mention of Whirlwind TS rants that his ''partner'' has betrayed him - he was supposed to create a diversion while Shark escaped with their loot.

The Hellstroms'' de-masted boat is presumably towed back to shore. The quartet return to the Hellstrom brownstone which is also the offices of their Paranormal Investigation business. Patsy jokes about rejoining the Avengers but everyone knows Hellcat and Hellstorm are a team with their own speciality. And the duo disappear upstairs leaving Hank and Tigra alone for a while.

The pair''s relationship reminds Henry Pym of himself and Jan in the past, but he''s glad he''s got a new thing going with Tigra. But she wants to talk to him about that. The bottom falls out of his world as she explains that it was Greer Nelson who fell in love with him and the cat-Tigra personality just flirted with anybody. Now both sides are integrated she''s no longer so promiscuous, but she also doesn''t want a serious relationship. She wants them to remain friends and she thinks he''s a nice man, and she doesn''t rule out a deeper relationship in time.

When Tigra has left the room Hank explodes. He lost Jan''s love and gave up being a hero, and now all he''s got left is ''nice''! Greer loved him but now she''s become someone else who doesn''t. It''s the kind of thing that happens in the superhero world. He should never have come back into it to work for the West Coast Avengers!

But then he forces himself to calm down. He doesn''t want another breakdown. (His actions in Av#213-217 are considered a breakdown. Also I think his schizophrenic creation of an alternate personality (the 1st Yellowjacket) in Av#59-60 counts.) He doesn''t want to go the way of Quicksilver (in Annual #1).

Now we look in on the rest of the WCA in the Los Angeles Compound. They are preparing to celebrate last issue''s success with Simon Williams'' spaghetti dish rather than Clint Barton''s usual barbecue. Tony Stark is impressed with how Hank runs the HQ for them, but he still thinks it''s a shame he doesn''t want to be a superhero again. Clint suggests they go see if Firebird would like to join them - he figures she''s had enough time (since #10) to sort herself out. Bobbi Barton always wanted her in the team, so they all agree to seek her out when Hank and Tigra get back from their SanFran break.

But rather than heading home Henry Pym suggests to Tigra and his hosts that they track down Whirlwind. He was Hank''s major recurring foe in the Giant-Man days and Pym figures he knows all his moves and weaknesses. He proposes they lure WW into the enclosed space of the financial district where he can''t get up to speed, and then Hellcat and Tigra can catch him. Daimon contacts police friends to learn what the villains were after and get their cooperation.

That night Whirlwind watches the police guarding a device called a psycho-circuit as it is transferred to a lorry. He ducked into hiding earlier when Tiger Shark was being chased, and now he can have the psycho-circuit all to himself. He grabs it and whirls out of the cops'' grasps. But he finds his escape cut off by roadblocks on every road. This is all part of Pym''s plan.

He runs into the 2 cat-heroines but easily whirls them off. But they made him drop the device, and now Hellcat takes it out of his reach while Tigra cuts the buzzsaws off his wrists. But then she has to dodge more spinning blades that he throws at her.

But now Davey Cannon escapes by running up the side of a building, coincidentally the 1 with HP on top where he''s been directing the battle. The ladies start climbing the walls to reach him. Whirlwind taunts Pym about giving up his superhero career, and letting others use his hero-names and size-changing powers. He''s ashamed to have Henry as his main opponent. Hank loses it and dives at the villain - who sidesteps letting Pym plummet off the edge of the roof.

Hellcat swings from another building on her claw-line to catch him. While Tigra grabs Whirlwind and threatens to disembowel him if he moves. But what Cannon said still stings Pym.

Next morning Greer and Hank prepare to return to the WCA. They take a last look at the Golden Gate Bridge. Tigra can''t imagine why anyone would want to commit suicide by jumping off it. She doesn''t see Henry''s anguished face as he comments that they must have nothing left to live for.


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> West Coast Avengers: Book info and issue index

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Al Milgrom
Joe Sinnott
Christie Scheele
Al Milgrom (Cover Penciler)
Joe Sinnott (Cover Inker)


Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Hellcat
Hellcat

(Patsy Walker)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

Plus: Whirlwind.