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West Coast Avengers #24: Review

Sep 1987
Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom

Story Name:

Before we were so rudely interrupted

Review & Comments

4 stars

West Coast Avengers #24 Review by (January 23, 2017)
Last time the WCA met Dominus it was in #17, considered as Part 1 of the Lost In Space-Time arc. Steve Englehart arranged (often very contrivedly) to have each Part happening in 1 more time, with 7 times in last issue. Luckily this issue is considered, if anything, an Epilogue and so doesn't need 8 times. Which is just as well because it all happens in 1 time.

In previous appearances Dominus' alien race have been called Quists. Here Dominus says their name is actually a secret, but they are *known* as the Arcane. In X-Men #2 Lucifer's computer was called Dominus, so we might have suspected that Dominus in this series was also the computer. The Marvel Universe Handbook Update '89 #2 says that Dominus took over the Arcane since the Lucifer stories.

The studio's dislike of Wonder Man's costume here is actually because the comic fans hate it and have been demanding he change back to 1 of his older looks (in the letter column of course, this was all pre-Internet).

That's the end for Dominus, and we don't hear from the Quists/Arcane again as such.
But in Avengers (1998) #12 we learn that the Arcane had a super-robot Dominex which would destroy a planet if the mind-control failed. Dominex (or presumably 1 of a set) lies dormant in Dominus' base until it's awakened by the Thunderbolts. Dominus' army of his creations is all destroyed except for 1 Cactus which is seen imprisoned in the Vault in Avengers Spotlight #26 as part of Acts Of Vengeance.
Sunstroke however has a bit of an afterlife. He's 1 of the horde of villains in Captain America #411-413, and a large Masters Of Evil team in Thunderbolts #24-25, and then part of the Hood's gang in Dark Reign: The Hood #5.

A lot happens before the next issue:-
1st Iron Man takes time out to catch up with his own stuff. The 3rd story in Marvel Super-Heroes (1990) #13 (an all-IM issue) has him facing an old foe Midas. Then in IM#215-221 Tony Stark restarts Stark Enterprises, finishes off the AIM storyline and introduces new villain the Ghost. Clytemnestra Erwin is killed off but new supporting characters are introduced including Abraham Zimmer.
Then the main 5 WCAers join the East Coast team in Mephisto Vs ? #4 and Thor #381. In the 4-issue series Mephisto fights various teams, and in #4 it is the combined Avengers as they help Thor who is being fought over by M and Hela.
Wonder Man is still in his current costume there, but he switches to a new 1 for WCA Annual #2 and Av An #16 and the 2nd annual team-up, where they get caught in a game between 2 Elders Of The Universe Collector and Grandmaster. Dr Pym is now a team member but Espirita and Moon Knight aren't, but they all get involved anyway. Silver Surfer is in the mix too and he finishes things off by rescuing Espirita from Collector in SS(1987)#3.
Then everyone gets back for #25.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #24 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Inside an Arizona mountain Dominus shows his underling Sunstroke the vast machine that he has completed now that he got the West Coast Avengers out of the way (#17). He sent them on a 1-way trip to the past on Dr Doom's broken time platform. Just to make sure they couldn't get back he and his minions destroyed the Fantastic Four's version of that time machine (behind the scenes in #22).

Dominus also recounts his history. His alien race, the Arcane, have conquered many planets. They send an agent to construct a machine like this which will emit rays that turn the world's inhabitants into mindless slaves.

Agent Lucifer was sent to Earth many years ago but he was foiled by Charles Xavier (before he formed the X-Men, as recounted in XM#20). He left Prof X crippled, but PX and the XM defeated him again in XM#21. And Lucifer was banished for his failure to the Nameless Dimension by the Arcane's Supreme One.

Lucifer tried taking over human hosts from his place of exile (Iron Man #20 and Captain America #177-178). But this wasn't advancing the Arcane cause so he was killed, and Dominus was sent to continue building the machine.

Dominus recruited Sunstroke and created his minions to guard against discovery by the XM or the nearby Defenders or Rangers (Firebird's team). But it was the WCA who stumbled on him in #17. So he got rid of them.

Just as he finishes his supervillain boasting an alarm goes of and he sees the WCA (Hawkeye, Iron Man, Mockingbird, Tigra and Wonder Man) and allies (Dr Pym, Espirita and Moon Knight) in the cave entrance to his lair.

As various members light the way in their own unique ways the group finally runs into Dominus' gang Butte, Cactus, Gila and Sunstroke. But although Sunstroke is a superpowered human the other 3 are semi-sentient creations of Dominus. And it turns out he's made loads of copies of them.

While everyone else fights the clones, including Henry Pym with a miniaturised baseball bat that he enlarges for action, Espirita flies after Sunstroke (and we discover she's got her old Firebird costume under her Espirita robe. They are equally-matched, so the villain runs away when he sees that the WCA are making mincemeat of his army.

Sunstroke flies up a spiral staircase and the heroes follow him to the control room where they are confronted by Dominus. But he reveals a twist. The Arcane kept improving their Master Machine to handle different aliens until eventually it enslaved the Arcane themselves. The alien they call Dominus is just a mindless slave, and Dominus is the Master Machine.

Now the machine is completed it can use its power, and brain blasts start to take over the heroes. Dominus detects that all 8 of their minds are now under his control. He orders Sunstroke away to prepare for domination of the Earth. And intends to use the WCA as his prime subordinates.

But Moon Knight walks up to him and punches him in the jaw. Dominus can't understand why MK is free - his sensors say even the Knight's mind is subjugated. But just in case he blasts Moonie again. The figure in white staggers, but continues his advance. The villain resorts to a gun, but MK dodges and grabs him. The Master Machine can't understand what is happening and blows a fuse. By-bye computer.

We are privy to Moon Knight's thoughts. He's a schizophrenic with 3 personalities:- Marc Spector, Steven Grant and Jake Lockley. Dominus only controlled 2 of them. A 3rd brain blast would have taken the last 1 out too. But the secretive hero isn't going to explain all this to the Avengers.

The whole place is falling apart so the heroes rush out to escape. Looking back they see the Master Machine itself rising into the sky as a very phallic rocket. Espirita, Iron Man and Wonder Man pursue it. As they reach the edge of space IM's armour provides him with oxygen and WM doesn't need to breathe, but Espirita is surprised to find that she's alright too. Then Wondy's shoulder jets fail, unlike Shellhead's boot rockets. Tony Stark turns back to save the falling Simon Williams, and Bonita gives up too.

But Simon is far from pleased at being 'saved' by Stark. He points out that his invulnerable body would have survived the fall, but Tony says he couldn't be certain of that. Last issue it was Tigra who broke up their argument, this time it's Espirita. Hawkeye's just happy that the team has gained some much sought-after new members (and he hopes he's not about to lose any).

They return to Albuquerque to get their quinjet from the airport (left in #17) and fly back to their Los Angeles WCA Compound. Where movie-actor Williams is greeted by Menachim Heitz, his producer's right-hand man, with bad news - the public hate Wonder Man's latest costume. Although it's nothing to do with his film role it's a PR disaster so he must change back to something like his previous look.

Simon angrily rejects any advice from his teammates, especially Tony, and wonders whether it's time to just quit the Avengers.

Al Milgrom
Mike Machlan
Paul Becton
Al Milgrom (Cover Penciler)
Mike Machlan (Cover Inker)

> West Coast Avengers: Book info and issue index

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