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West Coast Avengers #26: Review

Nov 1987
Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom

Story Name:

What is Scorpio?

Review & Comments

4 stars

West Coast Avengers #26 Review by (April 11, 2017)
Tigra is missing from the heads box on the cover again despite being in the issue. There are 7 members of the team but seemingly only room for 6 heads. From next issue Tigra will be reinstated but Dr Pym will be dropped. That will remain constant until #31 where Iron Man solves the problem by resigning because of Stark Wars, later known as Armour Wars.

The history of issues with the Jake Fury Scorpio in is littered with titles with a very similar pattern:-
Nick Fury Agent Of SHIELD #1 - Who is Scorpio?
NFAOS#5 - Whatever happened to Scorpio?
Avengers #72 - Did you hear the one about Scorpio?
Defenders #46 - Who remembers Scorpio? (Also used as the name for the story arc in #48-50.)
Def#48-49 don't mention his name in the title.
Def#50 - Scorpio must die. (Not really fitting the pattern.)
and now this issue - What is Scorpio?

Scorpio's history here uses the new LMD theory to explain away his apparent deaths and his previous explanation in Def#49.
In Def#49 he claimed that the Scorpio in NFAOS#1 wasn't him, but he found the Key after that and used it in NFAOS#5. There he lost it to brother Nick, who discovered his identity. In Av#72 we knew that the Scorpio there was actually NF undercover in Zodiac.

The Key made various other apps after that:-
Aries of Zodiac got hold of it and used it in Av#80-82.
In Iron Man #25 and Daredevil #73 we learned the origin of the Key in the Dimension Of Ankh. Def#49 claimed that this was a duplicate - but I understand it is usually considered to be the same 1, and next issue will confirm it.
Everyone agrees that the Zodiac Key in Ghost Rider #7 was a fake created by Mephisto for use by the One-Man Zodiac.
But Def#49 then said that the (genuine) Key then delivered itself to Jake. And in that issue he unveiled his new LMD Zodiac.
(Coincidentally Moon Knight was involved in Def#48-50.)

This is the end for this version of the human Zodiac apart from Taurus who will continue in this series for a few more issues and Libra who will play a large part in the Avengers Forever limited series.

A organization calling themselves Zodiac but only containing a Libra will show up in the First Sign Crossover (Captain America #449/Thor #496/IM#326/Av#396) in 1996. But a proper new Zodiac won't appear until issues of Alpha Flight (1997).


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #26 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
We begin with a meeting of the human Zodiac crime cartel. By convention Cancer chairs the meeting because that's the current Zodiac sign. They're worried about the L(ife)M(odel)D(ecoy) Zodiac, and Cancer gives them and us a rundown of their history.

He reminds them of the original Scorpio Jake Fury who found the Zodiac Key and used it in a vendetta against his brother Nick Fury, boss of SHIELD. Scorpio later used it in pursuit of that agenda to create a Zodiac of SHIELD LMDs in Defenders #49-50. Cancer explains what happened to 11 of the LMDs after that, including LMD Taurus attacking their own Taurus in Iron Man #183. (He claims not to know what happened to the 12th LMD, but Scorpio didn't create an LMD version of himself.)

Then a full set of 12 LMDs (many of them looking different from the originals) turned up working for rogue Avenger Quicksilver in our Annual #1. 10 of them were captured and 2 destroyed. But Cancer has learned that they were released last night, and he doesn't know why.

Taurus suggests they take precautions, but their Scorpio says it's too late. He removes his mask to reveal the face of Jacques LaPoint, Jake Fury's replacement. But then he claws off a disguise to reveal Jake Fury. Who claims to be an LMD ...

... and the rest of a complete LMD Zodiac burst in. They make short work of their human counterparts except for Taurus who escapes.

Ex-SHIELD agent Bobbi Barton is having a chat with old colleague Josayne (who we met in #11). She wants to know if Nick Fury is still having problems in the organisation. Josayne says yes but he still doesn't want outside help. Disappointed Mockingbird had hoped Nick would be more available to give her advice. The spy trade taught her to lie and be ready to kill. But she's unhappy about lying to her husband Hawkeye - not telling him that she let Phantom Rider die (#23), because that was against the Avengers no-killing code.

Hubby Clint and Marc Spector pick her up in a car. Moon Knight has decided to be open about his civilian identity with the West Coast Avengers. Even though they haven't officially made him an Avenger yet.

Iron Man is having a training session with Henry Pym in his flying craft Rover. Rover has a limited AI and can make tactical decisions in combat.

When they land on the roof of the Stark Enterprises building they find human Taurus waiting for them. Pym recognises him from the 1st appearance of Zodiac in Av#72. Stark recognises the Star-Blazer pointing at them from Av#120-122. But Taurus just wants to talk.

Iron Man calls in the rest of the WCA to an in-costume meeting at the WCA Compound. The trio in the car head that way. Tigra is outside play-hunting a squirrel when she gets the call. Movie star Simon Williams is in discussion about the 3-picture deal he wants. When he has to leave as Wonder Man his agent reminds the studio execs about the publicity they'll probably get from whatever he's off to do, and they quickly agree to talk terms.

When everyone's present Taurus explains that he wants the team to help him destroy the LMD Zodiac. Hawkeye is 1 of those who knows that Taurus is really rich businessman Cornelius Van Lunt, who tangled with the Avengers in that id in their #77 and #80-81. Zodiac was involved with that last story but it wasn't until #122 that the Avengers uncovered Van Lunt's connection to that cabal. Lately Taurus sent some of the Zodiac against Iron Man (actually James Rhodes) in IM#183-185. These events don't exactly endear him to the team. But Taurus says the LMD Zodiac are a much greater threat than the human ones were.

He adds that he knows their great weakness. To the human Zodiac the astrological motif was more of a gimmick, but the LMDs have been created to represent their signs exactly. This makes them predictable. They follow astrology strictly and so he can predict where they will strike.

Moon Knight is suspicious that Van Lunt just wants the LMDs out of the way so he can recreate the human Zodiac. The Moon God's avatar Moon Knight also knows about astrology - the Moon is currently in Taurus which links them. Spector gets Taurus to swear that he won't recruit a new cartel. But Van Lunt secretly fully intends to do so.

Somehow astrology leads Taurus to send the WCA to the Breeder's cattle auction in Wichita. Which is indeed where the LMDs are to be found robbing the cattlemen of the money they brought. Until our team interrupt them.

Iron Man takes on Scorpio but can't get past the Zodiac Key. Despite his renewed commitment to the team Wonder Man can't help but gloat over that as he tackles Scorpio hand-to-hand. But then the Key blasts him. Tigra faces Leo again, ignoring Virgo who is then blasted with Aries and Capricorn by IM.

Moon Knight attacks Cancer while Dr Pym enlarges 1 of his miniaturised devices - a conductor which redirects Aquarius' blast onto Pisces. Mockingbird uses her 2 battlestaves to deal with Gemini and Libra.

Hawkeye is left with Taurus and Sagittarius. The bull barges into Clint as he fires an arrow at the other 'archer'. This spoils his aim and he pierces his foe in the 'heart'. The LMD 'dies'.

The sight distracts Tigra and Leo catches her off guard. But MB and MK gang up on him. Pisces is affected by her fellow LMD's death and starts a panicked exodus of all the other LMDs. Scorpio is angry but follows after stampeding all the cattle to give the WCA something to keep them busy.

Clint Barton is disturbed about killing Sagittarius even though he was an LMD. This convinces Bobbi even more that she daren't confess what she did to Phantom Rider.

We end this issue by following the villains back to their lair. Scorpio is angry at Pisces for starting a retreat. And then he's angry at Leo for defending her. Then he sends them all away while he uses the Key to create a replacement Sagittarius. While it's happening Scorpio relates his history to the Key, which talks back to him.

Scorpio used the Key to try to kill brother Nick in Nick Fury Agent Of SHIELD #1 and apparently died in an explosion. But then Jake Fury found himself alive with the Key, and the conviction that the guy in #1 had been someone else. He attacked Nick again in NFAOS#5 and lost the Key. He remembers somehow reuniting with the Key to form the LMD Zodiac in Defenders #46-50, and committing suicide at the end.

But then he was alive again, and this time he realised what had happened. The Key confirms that Jake Fury died in NFAOS#1 and the Key recreated him as an android, and did it again after the suicide. But the 1st time Jake wasn't ready to understand his new form so the Key allowed him to believe the guy in #1 wasn't him.

And now Scorpio introduces the new Sagittarius the Archer to the Key (and us). This LMD is a duplicate of Hawkeye.

Al Milgrom
Mike Machlan
Juliana Ferriter
Al Milgrom (Cover Penciler)
Mike Machlan (Cover Inker)


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