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West Coast Avengers #18: Review

Mar 1987
Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom

Story Name:

Time was ...

Review & Comments

4 stars

West Coast Avengers #18 Review by (January 10, 2017)
Hawkeye used Dr Doom's time machine in Av#137 to go back in time to rescue Black Knight from the 12th Century. But he ran into Kang in the timestream and they both ended up in the Wild West in 1873. In #140 the time platform returned without Hawkeye. In #141 Immortus took Moondragon and Thor back in time to rescue *him*. But they found him teamed up with Kid Colt, Phantom Rider, Rawhide Kid, Ringo Kid and Two-Gun Kid and in #142-143 helped them defeat Kang. Hawkeye, Moondragon and Thor used Kang's time-sphere to return to the present in #147.
The current story doesn't really mesh with this. Dominus said last issue that he found Doom's time machine. We are told that Dominus' cave is near Tombstone which is where Hawkeye ended up in Av#137. The implication to me is that he found it lying around in the desert where Hawkeye left it. And that it has got damaged either by the collison with Kang or by lying around in the desert for a century. But the time platform returned to the present in Dr Doom's castle in Av#140 in working order.
Also in previous apps the time machine itself didn't travel in time, just transported people. Someone had to operate the controls in the present to bring people back. Now it seems the control console travels with the platform. Maybe another aspect of being broken.
None of this is made any clearer in later issues of this story.

Kid Colt and Ringo Kid don't get dragged into this tale.

We'll learn more about Phantom Rider's history next issue, but it's worth mentioning here that at this time the hero's identity is Lincoln Slade.
Hawkeye refers to him as Night Rider but he's never actually named here, and next issue he'll be called both Night Rider and Phantom Rider. Mostly in these issues he's called things like 'He Who Rides The Night Winds'. This really reflects his confused state of naming at Marvel. The character was originally called Ghost Rider, but to prevent confusion with the later bike rider he was renamed Night Rider, and then to Phantom Rider.

Rawhide Kid had his own 16-issue series in the 50's as Johnny Clay published by Atlas. The series was revived by Marvel in the 60's with a new origin in #17 as Johnny Bart. But later it was established that Johnny was born a Clay but his family were killed when he was an infant, and he was adopted and raised as a Bart.
His 2003 mini-series will reveal him to be gay, which maybe explains why he mostly ignores Tigra's advances here.

The original Two-Gun Kid was Clay Harder in his series published in the 40's by Timely and in the 50's by Atlas. But in TGK#60 Marvel invented a new Two-Gun Matt Hawk, and Clay Harder was retconned as a fictional character who inspired Matt.
Boom-Boom Brown was a semi-regular sidekick from #64.

The villains:-
Dr Danger and his magnet was an enemy of Kid Colt in his #116,118,127. In that last app he worked with Fat man and Iron Mask.
Fat Man and his boomerang was another KC foe, débuting in #117 before going on to #127 above.
Hurricane drank a potion to increase his speed in Two-Gun Kid #70, then in Western Gunfighters #3 he fought the previous Phantom Rider, Lincoln's brother Carter Slade. Unlike others on this list he will reappear in a much later comic Mighty Marvel Western - Western Legends #1 wherein he will have his own story and be cast in a less villainous light.
Iron Mask was obviously in KC#127 but before that he was quite a regular in #110,114,121. He too will be reused much later when he's brought forward in time to the Savage land in Wolverine & the X-Men #26-28.
Apart from here and his origin in Rawhide Kid #22 the crash-landed alien Living Totem will be mentioned in Marvel Monsters: From The Files Of Ulysses Bloodstone where the monster hunter will claim to have unsuccessfully hunted him.
Rattler (circus aerialist Heath Benson) previously appeared in RK#37 where he tried to frame another aerialist Whirlo Redlin for his crimes. In revenge Redlin became another Rattler in TGK#88 hoping Benson would be blamed. This issue's guy is assumed to be the 1st 1.
Red Raven got his wings from a Navajo medicine man in RK #38.

The Rama-Tut the Fantastic Four visited was a despot. He left ancient Egypt the become the future despot Kang. The Rama-Tut who opposed Kang in GSAv#2 was slightly different. He was a *future* version of Kang who repented of his evil ways and went back to a later time in ancient Egypt to become the benevolent Rama-Tut II.
RTII went on to become Immortus. In Av#143 when Kang was apparently destroyed Immortus faded away as a consequence. This should mean that RTII no longer existed either. But eventually Immortus resurfaced in Thor 281-282 and said he was kidding. Kang has been seen since then too, eg in Secret Wars I and II.
In #20 the WCA will meet both Tuts.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #18 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Last issue we left the West Coast Avengers sent back in time while in the present in the WCA Compound La Espirita (Bonita Juarez, ex-Firebird) stopped Henry Pym from blowing his brains out.

Bonita says that since she left (#10) she's had her own dark night of the soul but she's come through to the light on the other side, and she can guide him there. She denies his claim to be a failure. He discovered Pym-particles (Tales To Astonish #27) that enabled him to shrink to Ant-Man/Yellowjacket and grow to Giant-Man/Goliath. He mastered robotics and created Ultron-1 (Avengers #58). Pym counters that he sacrificed his scientific career to be a superhero, at which he was a total failure in all 4 super-ids. Bonita suggests he should become his own type of hero, based on his scientific skill. Hank lets his gun fall.

Hawkeye gives us a recap of some of last issue:- The WCA followed 4 supervillains to the cave in the New Mexico desert where their alien master Dominus waited. Dominus had found Dr Doom's time machine that Hawkeye used (in Av#137) to travel to the Old West, and he used it to send them back in time.

Tony Stark examines the time platform and discovers that it is broken. It can only travel backwards in time. Clint Barton comforts wife Bobbi as she laments that they have no idea when they are, and they can't get back to their present. But Tony will try to fix it. But Simon Williams' growing ego makes him take over, saying that his old company used to rival Stark's for expertise (ignoring the fact that his company failed in that competition). Iron Man is about to argue when they are interrupted by a cowboy yell.

Hawkeye recognises it and leads the team around a butte to where Phantom Rider, Rawhide Kid and Two-Gun Kid are foiling a stagecoach robbery. Which at least establishes more-or-less when they are. The WCA sit back and watch the 3 cowboy heroes in action:- Rawhide Kid's acrobatics, Two-Gun Kid's gun skill and Phantom Rider's apparent supernatural abilities. The thieves run away.

Two-Gun recognises Hawkeye and some of the other Avengers from while he visited our present in Av#147-175. Clint brings him up-to-date with the fact that he's now leading a 2nd group of Avengers based on the west coast. And he's now married to Mockingbird. (The other 2 Western heroes only met Moondragon and Thor with Hawkeye here in the past in Av#142-143.) Tigra is spooked by the fact that the Ghost Rider they met in #8-9 claimed to be the ghost of this Phantom Rider.

TGK tells them that they are in 1876 near Tombstone, Arizona. Hawkeye comments that that is where Dominus' cave was last issue, so the time machine has only moved them in time not space. Simon claims he has some ideas of how to fix the machine. He needs a blacksmith and is told to go see Two-Gun's pal Boom-Boom Brown in Tombstone. He flies off with the time platform.

TGK also explains that the stagecoach robbers are part of a larger group of owlhoots run by a bunch of old-time 'supervillains'. The battle with Kang in Av#142-143 gave them ideas above their station. Hawkeye suggests that the WCA help the Westerners while they wait for Wonder Man and Boom-Boom to do their work.

The cowboys get on their horses. Tigra leaps on behind Rawhide Kid and starts flirting. Hawkeye gets up behind Two-Gun Kid so they can catch up with each other. Iron Man flies on ahead so Mockingbird is left to sit in front of Phantom Rider.

Clint Barton asks Matt Hawk how he's doing back in his own time. TGK left the present because it was too strange, but now the 1870's seem tame. He doesn't know where he really belongs. Rawhide isn't used to women as bold as Tigra, but he soon starts to flirt back. Bobbi Barton tries to draw the silent Phantom Rider out, but is disturbed when he refers to her as a goddess.

Meanwhile Simon Williams figures that he should be able to repair tech like Doom's time platform because it dates back to when  he was an engineer (before he went into a coma as Wonder Man in Av#9), better than Tony Stark who is now used to more modern stuff. He intends to replace some non-essential parts with iron from the smithy, and use he hopes to use those parts to jury-rig repairs to damaged essentials.

Iron Man finds he can't track the outlaws and their horses, but he detects something big moving underground. Rawhide Kid has much more success but the trail leads to where IM is anyway. Tigra comments that he was so intent on tracking that he ignored her. The trail leads to a large cave with the whole villain gang inside.

The armoured Iron Mask accuses the WCA of being copycats, and the flying Red Raven tackles Iron Man as a copy of both of them. But it is actually 8 lassos from ordinary outlaws that threaten to down the Armoured Avenger. Except of course he easily flies rings round them and pulls them off their horses with their own ropes.

Meanwhile Hawkeye is knocking other outlaws over with blasts arrows until Dr Danger pulls all the arrows out of his quiver with a large magnet. And Fat Man knocks his bow out of his hands with his boomerang. But Two-Gun destroys the boomerang with a couple of well-placed shots. Except that Danger's magnet can attract his guns too. Until Hawkeye 'accidentally' lets go of his last arrow - which releases sleep gas when it reaches the 2 villains.

Iron Mask takes Mockingbird as a hostage, but Phantom Rider and his horse Banshee force him to let her go.

Tigra needs all her speed to dodge the bullets of the superfast gunslinger Hurricane, until acrobatic Rattler grabs her in mid-leap. But the cat-woman panics him by starting to shred his costume with her claws. And then she throws him at Hurricane, knocking them both out.

Up above, Iron Man pulls Raven's wings off and lets him fall to Earth (much as he did with Sunstroke last issue).

Iron Mask is the only supervillain still standing, and he calls forth his secret weapon - the large alien the Native Americans called the Living Totem. Which Iron Man realises was the large underground thing he detected earlier. Rawhide Kid thought he'd dealt with him (in RK#22) by pushing him over a cliff into a crevasse. But LT says he slowly climbed out.

The WCA attack the LT until MB trips his little legs up with her battlestaves. Then IM buries him in a rockfall.

They grab Iron Mask and the cowboy heroes take the captured villains into Tombstone and hand them over to the Sheriff.

At the smithy Simon has to admit he hasn't been successful. The time machine needs some replacement transistors which they obviously can't get in this time. Iron Man offers some from his armour, but Simon says they're the wrong type (presumably too modern).

Two-Gun offers to make them feel at home in this year. But Wonder Man has another idea - they should continue on into the past. He reminds them that the Fantastic Four used this time machine to go back to ancient Egypt in FF#20 where they met Pharaoh Rama-Tut, who was time-travelling Kang in another name. But in Giant-Size Av #2 good Rama-Tut fought his earlier Kang self. Wondy's plan is to go back to ancient Egypt and get the good RT to mend their time machine so they can get home.

The WCA accept this as a desperate plan but the only 1 they can think of. But Phantom Rider tries hard to convince them it could all go wrong. However WM sets the machine for a test run of exactly 100 years to make sure it's working properly in at least that respect. And the time platform starts to take them away.

But then the Phantom Rider KO's Mockingbird and rides off with her, shouting that the goddess must stay with him. Simon and Tony stop Clint from diving after her because the energy flux is now too dangerous. As they disappear Rawhide and Two-Gun swear to get MB back from PR.

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


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)


> West Coast Avengers: Book info and issue index

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