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West Coast Avengers #23: Review

Aug 1987
Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom

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Review & Comments

4 stars

West Coast Avengers #23 Review by (January 23, 2017)
Once again Steve Englehart is stretching it to give this episode, Part 7 of Lost In Space-Time, the right number of times (=7). The action within only occurs in 3 of the time:- the present, 1876 and 2940 BC. 3 of the other times only show where & when characters from last issue went. (At least this time he gives equal importance to Dr Strange as to the Fantastic Four, and throws Rama-Tut in for good measure.) Adding Khonshu in god-space as the 7th time-zone is a bit suspect, but at least he sort-of takes part in the story.

Last issue I mentioned that Marvel's sliding timescale put FF#19 (1963) as 10 years ago. This time DrS#53 (1982) is quoted as 2 years before this 1987 issue. At this point this timescale can be considered not actually sliding but an extension of George Olshevsky's pre-shrunk chronology as embedded in the early official Marvel Indexes. But later years will make this increasingly untenable.

The FF are here between FF#303 and #304. Human Torch and Alicia Masters got married in #300 and they are away on honeymoon, so don't appear here. They return in #304 where our scribe Steve Englehart takes up the reigns (and continues the Quicksilver plot from our Annual #1).

Rawhide Kid and Two-Gun Kid will have solo Western adventures in Marvel Holiday Special 1996 and Marvel Comics Presents #116 before teaming up with Kid Colt for a Black Panther time-travel tale in BP(1998)#46-47 and then the 3 get involved in more timey-wimey stuff in Thor Corps 3. After that there'll be lots of Western mini-series to occupy them.

Lincoln Slade will indeed return, possessing the current PR (Hamilton Slade) from #29 onwards.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #23 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The splash page this issue mentions 7 separate times connected to it:- Mockingbird is in the 1876 Old West chasing Phantom Rider. The rest of the West Coast Avengers are trapped in 2940 BC Egypt. In the present Henry Pym and Espirita have teamed up with Moon Knight and the Fantastic Four to rescue them. Various actors have just left 2940 BC:- The FF return to FF#19. Rama-Tut meets Dr Doom in FF Annual #2. Dr Strange returns to DrS(1974)#53. The 7th slot is filled by the Egyptian god Khonshu who exists in ''cosmic no-time''.

In the present HP (now going by the non-superhero codename Dr Pym), Espirita and Moon Knight have flown from Los Angeles to New York even though Mr Fantastic told them last issue that the FF''s time machine has just been trashed by Dominus and his minions. MK had alerted Bonita Juarez/Espirita/ex-Firebird to the message Hawkeye had left in 1776 in her family Bible - saying that the WCA are trapped in the past but they hope to meet the FF in Rama-Tut''s Egypt. (Marc Spector doesn''t explain that Khonshu told him this after meeting Hawkeye back in 2940 BC.)

Thing greets Hank and Bonita who he knows from when he was toying with the idea of joining the WCA. They bring him up-to-date with what''s happened since he left in #10:- Bonita has changed from Firebird to Espirita, but neither she nor anyone else has joined since then (despite what it said about Dr Pym and Moon Knight on the cover of #21).

Reed Richards and Henry Pym join forces to fix the time machine while young Franklin Richards pets Pym''s new semi-sentient flying car Rover (which Espirita helped him build after restoring his faith in his robotics skills). Thing brings them some very large machinery, which he drops when he trips over some of the debris from Dominus'' attack. Before Sue Richards can raise her forcefield Hank whips out a miniaturised brace and expands it to hold the device up - demonstrating his other new idea.

Back in 2940 BC the WCA are battling Egyptian warriors again. The locals aren''t happy that Rama-Tut has gone - he was a dictator but he made them powerful with his weapons from the future (which seem to have been destroyed along with all his other tech). Hawkeye doesn''t really want to fight the natives so he orders a retreat to Khonshu''s temple. Wonder Man wants to stay and fight. Iron Man''s irritation boils over with Simon Williams'' movie-star ego, but Tigra steps between them.

The priests of Khonshu let them in and then bar the door against the soldiers. Hawkeye apologises for not fulfilling his promise to get rid of RT - it was the FF he ran from. But the blind head priest doesn''t agree. His view (via Khonshu) of last issue is that the WCA fighting Tut''s robots gave Dr Strange time to escape in his astral body before they sealed his physical body in a sarcophagus. Then he (in DrS#53) caused Thing to revert to Ben Grimm so he could slip out of his chains and free his teammates. Which is why Rama ran.

Clint Barton decides to make some weapons for Khonshu''s supporters, out of ivory supplied by the priests. He can''t teach them archery quickly, but he can provide them with boomerangs, darts and throwing irons. Khonshu''s statue looks on.

In the present while the scientists work Marc Spector reviews his origin. He was a mercenary who ended up fatally wounded in the Egyptian desert and being taken in by priests of Khonshu. He died but was resurrected by Khonshu to become his agent of vengeance. As well as becoming Moon Knight he invented other identities Jake Lockley and Steven Grant to move in different levels of society. (All this is described in MK v1 #1) But the multiple identities drove him insane, so he gave it all up (MK v1 #38).

However something drew him back to the temple of Khonshu again where he was brought to a secret inner sanctum called the House of Eternity. The priests told him he was the long-destined warrior of Khonshu and he took up the role again. They gave him ancient weapons - ivory boomerangs, darts and throwing irons. (MK v2 #1)

Now we turn to 1876 where Mockingbird has gone to the Indian''s sacred peak which figured in the origin of (the original - Lincoln Slade''s brother Carter) Phantom Rider, because that''s where she knows he will have run to. She''s out for revenge for what he did to her:- Kidnapped her from husband Clint as the WCA left by 1-way time machine. Drugged her so she forgot about Clint and fell in love with Lincoln. And between the Comics Code-approved lines raped her while she was under the influence.

PR tries his spook tricks on her, in this case appearing to float in the air beyond the edge of a cliff. But she knows his methods - the floating body is only a projection, and she strikes with her battlestave-pole at where she sense he really is. As they struggle Slade continues with the fiction that he''s really a ghost - Bobbi Barton must be his, and if she won''t love him in life she can join him as a ghost.

But the fight ends with him slipping off the cliff and clinging to the edge, pleading with Barbara to pull him up. And when she just stands there he orders her to do it. But MB continues to watch as he loses his grip and plunges to his death.

In the present Ben Grimm chats with Bonita Juarez. He learns that the deeply religious girl has decided that her powers are a gift from God, and her new identity Espirita reflects that. Also she won''t be staying with the WCA long.

In turn Thing updates her with what''s happened to him since he left the WCA because of mutating:- Mole Man stopped the mutation in FF#296 (in fact he seems to have reversed it) and Ben rejoined his old team. He admits to still being uncomfortable around the couple of Johnny Storm and Thing''s old flame Alicia Masters.

Henry and Reed have repaired the time platform. The FF offer to go rescue the WCA, but Pym insists that it''s up to him and Espirita as WCA associates. However Moon Knight insists on going too - his identity gives him a stake in this. (The writer makes) the FF agree, and the platform rises to transport them back in time.

In 2940 BC Hawkeye has created the prototype weapons. The priests thank him - they won''t actually use them but they have a prophesy of someone who will.

Just then the time platform appears and sinks to reveal the 3 travellers. There is much jubilation as friends are reunited. But MK is astonished to see the same priests as he met in the temple of Khonsu thousands of years in the future. They welcome him to the House of Eternity. They explain how Khonshu ensured Hawkeye''s message got to Bonita. And in return Hawkeye has created the weapons that MK uses as the Fist of Khonshu.

But now the team have to go rescue Hawkeye''s wife.

In 1876 Comanches and their medicine man Flaming Star take Phantom Rider''s body for cremation, but FS prophesies that he will return. This worries Bobbi a bit because the Ghost Rider in #8 claimed to be Lincoln''s ghost.

But her fears vanish when Hawkeye and the rest ride up alongside Rawhide Kid and Two-Gun Kid. The lovers reunite, and then Clint demands to know where Phantom Rider is. Bobbi tells her husband he committed suicide.

And then they all return to the present, to deal with Dominus who started all this in #17.

Al Milgrom
Romeo Tanghal
Christie Scheele
Al Milgrom (Cover Penciler)
Joe Sinnott (Cover Inker)

> West Coast Avengers: Book info and issue index

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