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West Coast Avengers #22: Review

Jul 1987
Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom

Story Name:

The time of sands

Review & Comments

4 stars

West Coast Avengers #22 Review by (January 17, 2017)
The 6 times on the splash page are part of Steve Englehart's ongoing quest to have the number of times going up by 1 each issue, to match the part number in the Lost In Space-Time arc. But some of his choices are suspect.
We don't actually see the Fantastic Four in their recent timeslot apart from the splash page panel. Instead we meet them in ancient Egypt with the West Coast Avengers. And splitting yesterday from today is rather artificial, especially as we don't see Henry Pym and Espirita in *their* designated timeslot either, only in 'today' with Moon Knight.
If we accept the FF's initial panel as reasonable, then equally we should have seen Dr Strange preparing to go back to ancient Egypt too, from a different time. This would have made more sense than having HP and Bonita in yesterday. But presumably Steve wanted to show HP&B on the splash page, and couldn't yet have them in the same panel as Moon Knight.

The FF's time trip is from their #19, which is quoted as happening 10 years ago. This is an example of the sliding timescale which continually changes the date of FF#1, and all other Modern Era comics, so that the characters aren't so much older than they are portrayed. (By the present time the timescale has relaxed a bit more so that it is considered 14 years since FF#1. But then the reboot after Secret Wars III could have changed it to anything.)

The comics code wouldn't allow the writer to out-and-out say that Bobbi Barton and Lincoln Slade had had sex (the nearest we get is Bobbi accusing Slade of 'stealing .... her fidelity'). But it has been taken as implied, and because of the drug it was rape.

There is a confusion of horses between last issue and this. Last time Mockingbird rode off on Phantom Rider's white horse Banshee. (They'd arrived both riding on it.) Now PR has Banshee and MB has a different white horse.

Dr Strange's appearance this issue is from a different time trip then #20. The app in #20 was part of a trip in DrS(1974)#18-19. This time it's from #53. In #52 he was chasing Morgana Blessing's soul as it slipped back into past lives. In #53 he caught up with it in the scenario here, and safely brought it back to the present.
Brian Hughes has suggested that this issue may be resolving an art inconsistency in DrS#53. There DrS is placed in the sarcophagous by the 4 yellow robots seen here with an antenna on their heads. But in an earlier panel he was picked up by 2 shadowy robots with *no* antennae. So here we have his body initially in the possession of 2 antennaless green robots.

Hawkeye says their broken time machine is the same as the 1 the FF uses (hinting at a temporal paradox), and they are both Dr Doom's time platform from FF#5. I don't believe this is true because subsequent to that issue both the FF and Doom had such tp's in the Baxter Building and Doom's Castle respectively. The FF used theirs in FF#19. Hawkeye used the 1 in Castle Doom in Avengers #137, and if you believe his theory in #18 (which I actually find unconvincing) then the WCA's machine is that 1.
The fan-built Marvel Wiki says that the FF kept the 1 from #5, and Doom built another. But in FF Annual #11 Reed Richards said that the FF gave Doom his machine back because it was Latverian property, but 1st he made a copy. Either way they aren't the same machine so no paradox.
I think this *is* the end of the FF's copy of the time platform. But if it does turn up again then presumably Reed just rebuilt it.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #22 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The splash page describes this issue as occupying 6 times:- Hawkeye, Iron Man, Tigra and Wonder Man are back in 2940 BC in ancient Egypt. Mockingbird is in 1876 in the Old West. Isabel Ramirez is in 1917. 10 years ago the Fantastic Four is about to use Dr Doom's time machine to go back to that 1940 BC time. Yesterday Henry Pym forged his new hero identity with help from Espirita. And today Moon Knight is heading for California.

1876:- Mockingbird, Rawhide Kid and Two-Gun Kid ride into Lordsburg looking for its Marshall Lincoln Slade, secretly Phantom Rider. He's not there, but Bobbi Barton knows where PR's cave hideout is and she leads the Kids there.

The glowing 'ghost' confronts them at the entrance. Despite Rawhide and Two-Gun's attempts to calm her down it is a blazing mad Mockingbird who rails at the man who claims to love her. She accuses him, rightly, of kidnapping her and feeding her a drug that made her forget her past and her husband Hawkeye and think she was in love with Lincoln.

The Phantom fights them in the darkness of his cave using his usual ghost tricks. He strikes invisibly from the dark, appears to float in midair and to continue fighting after his head has been knocked off. Bullets pass through his headless body, and his disembodied head speaks to them.

But MB knows how his tricks work. She exposes the blackout cape he hides in, the stilts he walks on, and a fake head. But PR escapes in to darkness again, and then they see him floating in the sky. Until Mocky breaks the lantern he uses to project the illusion. Flying shards of glass hit the real Rider and he cries out, attracting Rawhide Kid's gunfire.

But then Slade rides out of the cave on his white horse Banshee. The Kids want to go after him but Mockingbird persuades them to let her go alone. She wants the satisfaction of defeating him by herself.

2940 BC:- A blind priest of Khonshu leads the West Coast Avengers along a secret tunnel from his god's temple to inside Pharaoh Rama-Tut's time-sphere within the Sphinx. He gives them a map of the Sphinx marked with routes that won't set off alarms. Then he leaves them.

They plan to locate the time-travelling Pharaoh's control room and force him to fix their time machine so they can get back home. But on the way they see an unconscious Dr Strange being dragged along by a couple of robots. IM and WM find this especially confusing as they just saw DrS in Philadelphia in 1776 in #20. (This was while they were looking for a doctor to treat Hawkeye's burns, which were finally fully cured by the god Khonshu last issue.)

Clint Barton realises that if the rescue Strange he can magic them back to the present. So the team attack the 2 robots - which unfortunately are joined by many others. And during the scuffle some other robots carry Stephen Strange away.

They place him in a transparent sarcophagus as he begins to wake up. Strange manages to escape in his astral form before they erect a forcefield which would keep even that trapped. The robots leave and Stephen also exits the room to search for the past life of his friend Morgana Blessing ....

.... just as Wonder Man leads the rest of the team in. But the forcefield keeps even Simon Williams' ionic energy from touching DrS's body. So Clint reluctantly returns to their original plan ....

.... and they reach the control room to find it empty. But a large screen shows Rama-Tut greeting his captives the Fantastic Four. Hawkeye thinks that team has come to rescue them due to the message he left in 1776 to be given to Firebird/Bonita Juarez (now Espirita) in the present. But Tony Stark points out how young Human Torch is - this is the FF's decade-old visit (from FF#19).

Team leader Clint switches plans again. If they rescue the FF then they can hitch a ride home with them. But they run into a 3rd type of robots.

1917:- In Ciudad Corazon, Mexico Isabel Ramirez takes Carlotta Valdez' Bible from where she hid it as a young girl (last issue) and shows it to her young granddaughter Conchita. And the message inside sent by a man in the past to a woman in the future. Suddenly they see a rope bridge snap, and they save the life of young Benito Juarez. But the exertion makes Isabel die of a heart attack. And Conchita vows to keep her Bible safe.

Back in 2940 BC:- IM and WM have destroyed the new bunch of robots. And Simon continues to be his new obnoxious self. The WCA follow the map to get out of the Sphinx and head towards Rama's throne room, but it runs out of detail before they get there. They try a door and leave the tunnel to find themselves facing Egyptian troops with futuristic weapons.

And behind them Rama Tut enters the tunnel via another door and heads to his control room.

The present:- Henry Pym and Espirita test fly the 2-person bug Rover that they've built. When they get back to WCA Compound Moon Knight surprises them from a wood. He says he sneaked in when Hank lowered the defences to land Rover. Pym recognises the costume but isn't convinced it's the real deal - MK isn't known to frequent the West Coast. So he challenges the intruder to duel.

Moonie dodges behind a tree but HP enlarges a convenient chain saw from his collection of miniaturised equipment and chops it down. And then a shield to block a boomerang. But the Knight gets him with a judo throw. Pym has seen enough to convince him of MK's identity, and also that he wasn't really trying to attack.

Marc Spector says he's here to alert Firebird to the message in her Bible. (Last issue Khonshu agreed to help Hawkeye and contacted his agent Moon Knight through time.) He pulls out the piece of Carlotta Valdez' petticoat and shows it to her. (Bonita says she got this Bible from her grandmother Conchita and it's full of family keepsakes, but she's always ignored them in favour of the word of the Lord.)

Written on the cloth is a message from Hawkeye to Bonita (as we saw in #19). It says the WCA are lost in time and asks her to get the FF to meet them in Rama-Tut's Egypt. Hank Pym immediately takes charge and the 3 set off to talk to the FF.

2940 BC again:- The WCA have mopped up the human guards and re-enter the tunnel. There they find the other door RT left open and go though it to the throne room - which is now empty. So they race back to the Sphinx. But as they get there the whole edifice shakes, and Clint spies a monitor screen which shows Tut's time sphere exiting the statue and flying away.

The FF have reached the space where the sphere had been too late to stop him. But Invisible Girl has found the optic nerve restorer they came for - to restore the sight of Thing's girlfriend Alicia Masters. They realise that Rama-Tut has boobytrapped the place to destroy his future-born technology. And they leave through the escape hatch in the roof where the time sphere went .... just before the WCA enter the control room behind them.

Outside Dr Strange is free and has found Morgana's past life. He sees RT and the FF leave the Sphinx and watches the explosions. He knows the FF will make it back to their own time (which is history to him), and so he uses magic to transport himself home.

Then IM and WM carry their comrades out of the escape hatch before they are blown up. They see the time platform taking the FF back to their present, and make a dive for it - but too late. 3 of them sink into despair but Hawkeye clings to his last hope, the message he sent to Bonita.

In the present:- Henry Pym contacts the FF to ask to borrow their time machine to go rescue the WCA from Rama-Tut. But Reed Richards has bad news. Dominus and his minions just broke into the Baxter Building and destroyed it. (Last issue we saw Dominus thinking about ways his plan to strand the WCA in the past could go wrong.)

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


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange

(Stephen Strange)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Mr. Fantastic
Mr. Fantastic

(Reed Richards)

(Ben Grimm)

Plus: Alicia Masters.

> West Coast Avengers: Book info and issue index

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