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West Coast Avengers #19: Review

Apr 1987
Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom

Story Name:

The times of their lives

Review & Comments

4 stars

West Coast Avengers #19 Review by (January 10, 2017)
Clint worries about Bobbi being alone, especially since he persuaded her to leave the spy business. But as she said in Hawkeye #2 she'd already left SHIELD. Mind you he had fallen asleep by the time she got to that part, so maybe she never told him again.

The potion Lincoln Slade gives Mockingbird sounds like 1 out of folk tales and the story of Tristan and Isolde and Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, that makes you fall in love with the 1st person you see when you awake.

Henry Pym had problems due to the strain of changing size as early as Avengers #28 when he and Wasp returned to the team after their 1st leave of absence in #16. And again in #48 when Magneto took Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch back into his fold. But in both cases the immediate problem was resolved after a short while. After becoming Yellowjacket in #59-60 he decided it was growing that was the problem so he retained that id and only shrank. This situation basically remained until he abandoned his superhero life in #230. But the strain of size-changing wasn't quoted as a reason then, and I don't think it was ever considered fatal.

I believe the mass-shunting explanation for Pym's size-changing is also new. Later the Thunderbolts will discover that the mass-shunting dimension is where the Creature from Kosmos came form in Tales To Astonish #44 (Wasp's origin issue). They will find out because their member Atlas (Goliath from early issues of our series) also uses Pym-particles to grow.

Next issue and #22 will rather weakly explain why Bonita never noticed the petticoat message before.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #19 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Our characters are now split across 3 different times. Hawkeye, Iron Man, Tigra and Wonder Man are travelling by time machine from 1876 to 1776. Just as they were leaving, Phantom Rider KO'd Mockingbird and took her from the time platform. And in the present La Espirita has persuaded Henry Pym not to commit suicide.

The WCA are travelling back in time via Dr Doom's time platform which is damaged so that it can only travel backwards. Their eventual target is ancient Egypt where they hope the time-travelling Rama-Tut will be able to get them back to the present. But Simon Williams moved them back 100 years to test that he could make it work accurately.

But of course Clint Barton is now desperate to go back and rescue his wife. However their only option is to continue with their plan. Tigra reassures him that Rawhide Kid and Two-Gun Kid will be looking for Bobbi. Wonder Man's response is to offer to take over as leader to ease the strain on Hawkeye, but Clint turns him down. And Tony Stark sees this as another example of Simon's enlarged ego.

Tigra wonders how they can check what year it is. They discovered last issue that the platform travels in time to the same place. (It used to be able to travel in space too, but this is another aspect of it being broken.) But there's only desert around them because nearby Tombstone hasn't been built yet.

A clue that they may be in the right time ballpark is that they are now accosted by Spanish-speaking soldiers on horseback who want to know what the strangely-dressed English-speakers are doing in their territory.

In his secret cave hideout in 1876 Phantom Rider feeds the unconscious Mockingbird who he calls a goddess an Indian herbal potion. While he waits for her to wake he recalls his origin.

A Comanche medicine man saw a shooting star and took it as a sign to rename himself Flaming Star. But a voice spoke to him and told him to gather dust from the meteor and keep it until he found a champion.

Later another Comanche found Carter Slade dying in the desert and took him to Flaming Star to heal his wounds. When Slade recovered against the odds FS took this as another sign. He gave CS the sacred dust and the white stallion Banshee and told him he owed it to the spirits to become the Ghost/Night/Phantom Rider.

Carter created a white costume and cape coated with the reflective dust, but left the inside of the cloak uncoated. The costume and cloak would be invisible where there was no light, and the dark inside of the cloak could be used to hide inside. Thus he could appear and disappear at will - fostering the illusion that he was a ghost. He also affected a sepulchral voice to strike fear in the bad guys.

His exploits were described in Ghost Rider #1-7 and Western Gunfighters #1-7 with Avengers #142-143 thrown in. In WG#6 he came to help his brother Marshal Lincoln Slade but got buried in a collapsing mine. In WG#7 Lincoln dug GR out and found him dying. GR revealed his identity and died, and his brother took up the role. But then no more adventures were published.

Now Lincoln says that the spirits of the night have consumed his life so that he fears the man he was no longer exists. But when he saw Mockingbird he knew that she was the 1 to bring back the man. As she stirs he kneels and says "I love you". The potion he gave her has taken effect. Bobbi Barton has lost her memory, but replies "I love you too".

In our 3rd strand Bonita Juarez tells Henry Pym he needs a purpose in life based on his unique scientific talents, and his discovery the size-changing Pym-particles. He protests that his superhero life as Ant-Man or Goliath is over - changing size would kill him. Bonita is glad to see he's no longer suicidal, and asks him to tell her about the particles.

He explains that he ingested them as a gas or liquid and they gave his body a special property that he could mentally control. To shrink they siphoned part of his mass to another dimension. To grow they brought extra mass from that dimension. As it happened he retained his normal strength when he shrank but gained strength when he grew. Over the years his body retained enough particles that he no longer needed to take more. But eventually the strain became too much.

La Espirita asks what the Pym particles can do for an ant she has found. Hank takes a growth serum he recreated while studying the criminal Goliath who had also gained the size-changing ability (#1 on) and pours some on the ant which grows to more than human size. He quickly administers a shrinking serum returning it to normal, except it dies. Bonita wonders how else to use the serums.

Back in 1776 the WCA make short but humane work of the soldiers. But when overconfident Wonder Man grabs their powder horns and crushes them the resulting explosion badly burns Hawkeye's face and arm. Iron Man assumes charge and flies away with Clint and Tigra, telling Simon to follow with the time machine. Competitive WM isn't happy.

They fly a long way so that soldiers won't find them, until they come across a large cave. Simon has an idea - use the time machine to go back an hour and fly away before the soldiers arrive. Tony Stark doesn't point out that this makes no sense (Clint will still be injured). Instead he goes into a spiel about minimising possible changes to the timestream. (He seems to believe that things that happen by accident are things that (may?) already exist in their past, but if they make a deliberate change then that won't be true.)

Then another 'accident' happens as a woman enters the cave.

In 1876 Lincoln and Barbara are chatting. She can't remember how she hurt her jaw. But then Slade sees that Rawhide Kid has tracked him to the cave and is here with Two-Gun Kid. They comment that they've never known anything about the man who pretends to be a ghost, and so they've never been able to trust him completely - but he has helped them in the past (including Av#142-143 but that was Carter Slade - they presumably don't know about 2 different PRs).

Phantom Rider comes out to warn them off but they just ask for MB back. PR says he can't do that and starts to fight them with his ghost-tricks - including making his head seem to disappear and dodging it aside when TGK tries to hit where it should be. But the 2 cowboy heroes manage to grab him - but then Mockingbird comes to the rescue (and she's not forgotten how to use her battlestaves). The confused heroes are now easily beaten.

And Lincoln suggests they leave the discovered cave and hide in his civilian identity of Marshall Slade.

In 1776 the woman announces herself as Carlotta Valdez (in English her Aunt made her study). She saw the fight from a distant ridge and followed them here on her horse. She has cream for sunburn which might help the burned man. And the reason she is helping them is that she craves excitement which is why she is riding her horse Escarlata without her chaperone. And as if to prove her boldness she rips off part of her petticoat as a bandage and sling for the burned arm.

Hawkeye picks up on the name Escarlata which he remembers from Firebird's vision in #6. As a crosscheck he asks if she can fire a pistol and if she is going to San Luis Obispo. Yes to both, and the 2nd 1 next month. And Clint knows the vision says she will be shot in the back on the way.

On an hunch he asks Carlotta if she ever dreams about being someone else. She says yes, but 2 different people. She draws pictures in the sand. 1 is the Firebird costume. The other is the angelic raiment of La Espirita which these WCA have never seen before.

Hawkeye has a wild idea for which he needs a small square of the petticoat. He takes the head of an inkjet(?) arrow and uses the contents to write a message on it:- "Bonita. We are lost in time. Contact FF. Tell them we're trying for RamaTut's Egypt. Hawkeye." He asks Carlotta to pass this message on to future generations until someone claims it. Put it somewhere safe, like the family Bible.

As she leaves Clint makes a small attempt to save her life - he suggests she doesn't have to go to Obispo. But she says it will be exciting with her uncle there. As a last stab he warns her to watch her back.

Tigra is angry that he didn't tell her what would happen, but Hawkeye agrees with Iron Man's earlier advice that they mustn't deliberately change the past.

So they prepare to fly to Egypt so the time platform can take back to the right place as well as the right time.

In 1876 Lincoln and Bobbi are in PR's cave packing up his things on Banshee. And Mockingbird finds something which looks strangely familiar. Something makes her keep it.  We see it's the empty inkjet arrowhead Clint discarded in the cave in 1776, which is coincidentally the same 1.

And in the present Bonita and Hank prepare to share a meal. Bonita mentions in passing the family Bible she brought with her which we see on a table. With the petticoat message sticking out of it.

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


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