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West Coast Avengers #21: Review

Jun 1987
Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom

Story Name:

Time for every purpose under heaven

Review & Comments

4 stars

West Coast Avengers #21 Review by (January 17, 2017)
To continue the conceit of having 1 more timeframe each issue in this story arc Steve Englehart has had to give us Carlotta Valdez' funeral and the Isabel Ramirez bit on top of the main storylines in 1876, 2940 BC and the present for part 5.

The cover announces that Dr Pym will join the WCA, which is only slightly premature. But it also says that Moon Knight will be a new member, which is a spoiler for a development that isn't even hinted at here.

The title is of course a quote from Ecclesiastes, even more of which in turn was used as the basis for the song Turn! Turn! Turn!.

Khonshu was a real Egyptian Moon God. And he also had a warlike aspect which *could* be interpreted as a God of Vengeance. Moon Knight 1st appeared as a mercenary sent to kill Werewolf By Night in WBN#32-33. He made several other apps, becoming more of a hero, including some starring tales in anthology titles. He's had 2 of his own series, and in #1 of the 1st Khonshu was introduced as we learned MK's mystical origin in Egypt. And the 2nd series was titled MK - Fist of Khonshu.

Kang claimed descent from Dr Doom in Avengers #11. But What If #39 said that he was actually descended from Reed Richards' father Nathaniel who also invented a time machine, and went to an alternate timeline as seen in Fantastic Four #273. It is this timeline that Kang hails from.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #21 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The splash page tells us this story occurs in 5 different time slots. In 2940 BC Hawkeye, Iron Man, Tigra and Wonder Man have just been blasted by Pharaoh Rama-Tut I. In 1776 we''ll visit the funeral of Carlotta Valdez. In 1847 well meet Isabel Ramirez. Mockingbird and Phantom Rider are still in 1876. And in the present Henry Pym and Espirita are engaged on an engineering project.

The WCA had only just arrived via Dr Doom''s time platform when Rama-Tut paralysed them with his ultra-diode ray - even Tony Stark is affected inside Iron Man''s armour. RT takes the time to do the usual villain''s explanation of his origin and scheme. He was born in 3000 AD but its tranquillity bored him and he desired adventures like in the old recordings from the Age of Superheroes. He found plans for a time machine in the ruins of an ancestor''s castle and built 1 in the shape of the Sphinx. He travelled in it back to the age of the Pharaohs in Egypt to rule with his advanced science, which he has successfully done for 10 years. (And thus that is the origin of the Sphinx.)

The Avengers wonder why he he keeps referring to them as native rebels. But he gets his guards to carry them into the temple of the discredited god Khonshu, and 1 guard comments on how strangely heavy Iron Man is. They hand them over to blind priests who leave them with the statue of their god. But Tigra is worried about Hawkeye, suffering from burns to his arm and face (from #19) and deliriously calling the name of his missing wife Bobbi.

In 1876 Mockingbird and Phantom Rider are a vigilante duo who have just defeated another band of outlaws. But suddenly Barbara shivers as if someone she loved had died. Lincoln Slade reminds her that she only loves him, but she violently rejects his comforting touch. And she rides off alone on his horse Banshee (that they''d arrived on together) saying she needs some time to think.

PR wonders if the potion he gave her (#19), which made her love him and forget the past, is wearing off. Neither of them notice Rawhide Kid and Two-Gun Kid watching them from a hilltop. They''ve vowed to rescue Hawkeye''s wife, and Clint Barton''s friend Two-Gun just had the same chill feeling.

Now we move back in time to 1776 and Carlotta''s funeral in California where we finally but briefly meet the Colonel her uncle she was travelling to stay with. Her chaperone and the priest will return to Mexico. The padre will take with him the Bible that Carlotta entrusted to him (the 1 with Hawkeye''s message stuffed inside). And that''s the we''ll see of 1776 in this story arc.

But now we''ll jump forward to 1847 in a church in Ciudad, Corazon, Mexico - a church which contains that very Bible. Poor young Isabel Ramirez enters to pray but is forbidden to touch the Bible, despite the fact that it once belonged to her great-aunt and her once-influential family helped found this church. When the priest has gone she does pick up the Bible, and Hawkeye''s message written on a piece of Carlotta''s petticoat flutters out.

Intelligent Isabel has taught herself English (and Latin), and as she reads this message between the ages she gets a vision of the wide vista of space-time. And she runs out with the book determined to hide it and keep it. And that''s the end of 1847 in this story, but not the end of Isabel as we''ll see her in later life next issue.

But for now we return to ancient Egypt and someone else has a vision. Hawkeye awakes in a space populated by moons, facing Khonshu the Moon God who tells him he is in the land of the dead. But the god is willing to make a deal - he is also the God of Vengeance, and he wants revenge on Rama-Tut. He used his powers to make RT and his men think the WCA were merely natives. Now he''ll return  Clint to life if the team will fight Tut.

Barton tries to bargain. He''ll do what Khonshu wants if he''ll also send the whole team back to the present afterwards. Khonshu says he doesn''t have that power - he works more by subtle nudges. So Hawkeye asks him to influence the future so that someone comes back to this time to rescue them, and the god agrees.

1876 - Mockingbird fingers the strangely familar arrowhead she found (which Hawkeye discarded), and her chill is replaced by warmth. But then an arrow whistles past her and she turns to see a man in a costume (which we recognise as somewhat like Hawkeye''s). She ducks another arrow and derides his bowmanship - but the figure comments that she obviously knows what good archery should be like. And he calls her Bobbi Barton.

Bobbi replies that her surname is Morse. Her foe is able to trip her - he thinks because her subconscious is tampering with her reflexes. She says that she''ll fight him even though he''s dressed like ... . And the man asks who does he remind her of? Then he sees the arrowhead on a necklace - and rushes in and grabs it. He asks her who''s it is - and she finally says "Hawkeye".

Now the spell is broken and she remembers everything. The Rider took her from her husband Clint Barton. He drugged her and made her love him. ''Hawkeye'' unmasks as Two-Gun Kid, and Rawhide Kid joins them. Mockingbird wants to find Lincoln Slade and kill him. The other 2 agree to ride with her, with reservations.

2940 BC again. The WCA are mobile again - and Hawkeye is fully cured of his burns. The seeds of doubt sowed in recent issues are sprouting, and Iron Man wonders if power-seeking Wonder Man''s joy at seeing team leader Clint well is just an act.

The blind priest of Khonshu return and address Hawkeye as ''beloved of Khonshu''. They will take them to a secret passage that will lead to Rama-Tut''s Sphinx. And on the way Clint will explain his deal with the Moon God.

Now a new player enters in the present day - Moon Knight foils an art robbery in New York. But then he gets a mental summons from Khonshu. Marc Spector summons his aide Frenchy in his helicopter, and says he wants the Moon-Jet ready to fly to California.

At the same time in the WCA Compound Henry Pym and Bonita Juarez have finished their engineering project - a 2-seater flying bug that Pym calls Rover. It has VTOL capability as well as flight. It can shoot flames, acid or gas, and climb walls and lift things. And it can talk. But this AI won''t get too clever and go rogue like Ultron did.

Hank has used his size-changing abilities in a new way too. His body can''t take the strain of changing size himself anymore, but it is still saturated with Pym-particles which is how he was able to change size at will in the past. His body''s size-changing field extends out somewhat too (which is presumably why his costume changed size with him). But now he has shrunk a variety of useful inanimate objects which he will carry with him, and he can use his size-changing field to enlarge 1 for use. (They discovered in #19 that doing it to living things would kill them.)

Espirita asks if he has picked a new superhero name. But he says he''s not going to be a costumed hero - he''s going to be a scientific adventurer Dr Pym. And he''s going to ask to officially join the WCA.

Hank thanks Bonita for her help, but she says it was what any Christian would do. This dampens his mood somewhat as he''d hoped there might be more between them. But she responds to that by kissing him.

And finally we move to the Arizona Desert where lurks Dominus, the bad guy who started this whole saga off in #17. He believes he''s got the Avengers out of his hair by sending them on a 1-way trip to the past with a defective time machine. But he wonders if there''s some loophole he''s not blocked up.

Al Milgrom
Joe Sinnott
Paul Becton
Al Milgrom (Cover Penciler)
Joe Sinnott (Cover Inker)


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