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West Coast Avengers #17: Review

Feb 1987
Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom

Story Name:

Outta time

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

West Coast Avengers #17 Review by (January 10, 2017)
At the end of the issue this story is revealed as the 1st part of Lost In Space-Time.

The Albuquerque control tower welcomes the WCA with a comment that it's been quiet since the Defenders left. That team was based in the Colorado Rockies when they were known as the New Defenders, ie from #125 to the end in #152. Their HQ was probably in Colorado but may actually have been in New Mexico.

The story of Dominus and Lucifer will be covered in #24.

Butte, Cactus and Gila are semi-sentient constructs created by Dominus. I don't think Sunstroke is ever given a proper origin, but X-Men: Earth's Mutant Heroes will suggest that he is a mutant.
I learned while investigating this issue that these 4 have been given a previous appearance in a backup story in Marvel Tales #262 (a mainly reprint series), where they fight the X-Men of the time.

How Dr Doom's time machine turned up in the desert where Dominus found it will be (not really) explained next issue. But we will also learn that Dominus' cave is in Arizona near Tombstone, so the WCA followed the villains a long way from near Albuquerque.



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #17 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Henry Pym and Tigra have returned from their stay in San Francisco with Daimon and Patsy Hellstrom (Hellstorm and Hellcat) last issue. Now the West Coast Avengers are going to Albuquerque, New Mexico to recruit Firebird as their 6th member. In #4-10 Hawkeye ignored her interest in joining in favour of trying to persuade Thing to become a member. Clint Barton hopes she can forgive him for that. Bonita Juarez left to consider her role in life - God's plan for her as she put it. Hopefully she's sorted herself out by now. But Tigra still doesn't like her - citing her 'holier-than-thou' attitude.

Before they leave Clint gives Hank Pym 1 more chance to give up being site manager for the WCA Compound and return to superheroing, but HP is still adamant that he's done with that life. No-one notices how down he is.

After watching the quinjet leave Hank closes the hanger door. He makes sure everything is secure and in working order. He thinks back to last issue when Whirlwind taunted him for giving up his superhero identity - all 4 of them. He doesn't specifically think about Tigra ending their relationship last issue too, or his failed marriage to Wasp. But he considers that he's made a mess of his life. Now no-one needs him so it's time to kill himself.

Hank calls the ground staff together and tells their leader Joachin that he's made a plan for the development of the grounds that they should consult if he's unavailable. Then he retires to his office and writes farewell letters to each team member, and to all the other Avengers past and present. All except 1.

Oblivious to this Hawkeye joyfully pilots the quinjet across the southwestern desert, and over the town where they fought Quicksilver and Zodiac in a circus (Annual #1). This makes Iron Man recall the adventure there in Avengers #1. Henry Pym as Ant-Man sent ants to undermine the ground beneath Hulk then. And at the end of the tale it was Hank who proposed they form a permanent team. But Tigra confirms he's serious about not wanting to be a hero again. As they land at Albuquerque airport Hawkeye expresses annoyance at a dismissive comment Wonder Man makes about the ex-Avenger. (And a later insensitive comment to Tigra makes Tony Stark muse that Simon Williams' new self-confidence is going too far.)

The team cause a stir as they walk through the city. Tigra suggests they buy civilian clothes so they don't draw attention to Bonita when they find her. She gets Clint to buy her clothing because she doesn't have pockets for money in her bikini. They change in an alley. (What happens to Shellhead's armour?)

As they head towards Firebird's address they don't notice a cactus watching them.

After getting lost 3 times they arrive at the apartment building. The manager tells them she's not been here for 40 days, and he wants his rent. Tigra gets Clint to pay again. (What, Tony's so rich he doesn't carry money?) Next they try the Social Services Office where she works, but they haven't heard from her either. Then they go see Father Ramirez who Bonita mentioned, but she's stopped attending church too. But he saw someone in the darkened chapel 1 night 40 days ago who looked like her in a strange costume. She was praying for guidance until all the candles in front of her flared up brilliantly.

Later the WCA are back in costume and wondering what to do next when they are are suddenly attacked by 4 superbeings:- Butte, Cactus (the 1 who was watching them), Gila and Sunstroke. Wonder Man shields Hawkeye and Mockingbird from Cactus' projectile spines. Gila's tail manages to flip Iron Man out of the battle for a while. Tigra's claws are useless against Butte's rocky substance.

WM smashes 1 of Cactus' 'arms' off but it instantly grows back. MB tells Simon to fight someone more suitable, and uses her battlestaves to bat aside the next stream of spines. Hawkeye fires a stink arrow at Gila because gila monsters have sensitive noses. And Tigra jumps on him as more suitable for scratching.

Meanwhile Sunstroke has been hovering overhead explaining who they are. He says Dominus created the other 3, but he himself existed beforehand. He uses his power of the Sun's heat against the returning Iron Man. But since Master Pandemonium attacked him with (magic) fire (#4) the Armoured Avenger has coated his armour so that it reflects the heat and light back at the sender. Sunstroke says that this only increases his power, but cocky Wonder Man takes over the fight.

IM sees Butte and Gila trying to grab athletic Tigra and decides to show WM what power really is. He grabs both villains and smashes them together. But Sunstroke's emissions have no effect on Simon Williams' ionic body. And he shreds the bad guy's glider wings sending the baddie plummeting to the ground. Meanwhile Hawkeye has Cactus entangled by a net arrow.

But suddenly the villains are picked up by a forcefield and dragged away at speed. Only Iron Man can nearly keep up with them. He radios back to the others that he will track them by infrared, and the team should follow in the quinjet. The trail leads to a cave entrance - a cave in which he can detect electronic machinery.

The quinjet arrives and Iron Man leads the way inside. His chestbeam highlights the 4 villains, but then lights come on and reveal Dominus. Tony Stark recognises the costume as belonging to an alien called Lucifer (IM#20). Dominus says Lucifer was his predecessor, and he will succeed where the other failed - to conquer the world.

He found Sunstroke in the desert and created the other 3 minions. He sent them to spy on the local heroes the Rangers, including Firebird, in case they were a threat. But he has found Dr Doom's time machine and uses it to send the WCA into the past. After they've gone he gloats that the machine is damaged and can only travel backwards in time, so the WCA are stuck in the past.

Henry Pym couldn't just write a letter to his ex-wife Jan. He calls her up at Avengers Mansion where Wasp explains that they are still clearing up after the Masters Of Evil invaded (Av#273-277). She warns him that some of the villains escaped, but he informs her that Tigra and Hellcat already dealt with Tiger Shark and Whirlwind (last issue). Jan wants to hear all about Patsy and her new husband Daimon but Hank wants to talk about themselves.

He commends her on how she's built herself up to become chairperson of the (East Coast) Avengers, even as he was destroying his own life. He doesn't blame her at all for divorcing him. Jan says she wishes they could have made it work, and Hank says that's the best thing he could have heard - a fitting ending. Worried Wasp wants to talk to Clint but Henry tells her they're all away. With a final "Goodbye. I love you." he switches off.

With everything now done to his satisfaction Hank retires to his bungalow. He takes a gun and prepares to blow his brains out. But he's interrupted by Bonita Juarez in a new costume and with a new codename. Firebird is now La Espirita and she brings him hope from God.


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> West Coast Avengers: Book info and issue index

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


Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Hellcat
Hellcat

(Patsy Walker)
Hulk
Hulk

(Bruce Banner)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Thing
Thing

(Ben Grimm)

Plus: Whirlwind.