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West Coast Avengers #27: Review

Dec 1987
Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom

Story Name:

Star struck

Review & Comments

4 stars

West Coast Avengers #27 Review by (April 12, 2017)
In the lettercolumn Mark Gruenwald proposes changing West Coast Avengers to New Avengers. #31 will tell us the fan reaction.

SHIELD's problems were mentioned in #11 and the reader was advised to watch out for the Nick Fury vs SHIELD limited series. Well they're still looking at this point. The problems are mentioned again last issue and this 1, but it will still be 6 months before the series is published. And the problems will turn out to be related to *other* LMDs.

Life Model Decoys are a SHIELD invention originally designed to duplicate a SHIELD Agent and act as a decoy. Scorpio (Nick's brother Jake) somehow got hold of the technology and a Nick Fury LMD (Defenders #46-50). Much later Secret Warriors #25 will give LMDs a deeper origin which directly involves Jake Fury. And it will say Scorpio was an LMD copy of Jake right from Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD #1, while the real Jake has been deep undercover in Hydra.

Before the NFvsSH NF will guest in Iron Man #227 during Armour Wars and Hulk #342,345-346 while Grey Hulk battles the Leader, which leads to GH becoming Mr Fixit. The Marvel Chronology Project also backdates to here the Daredevil/Black Widow GN Abattoir, the bulk of the BW GN Coldest War, a Dr Strange story in Marvel Fanfare #49 and NF reminiscing in Marvel Holiday Special 1993 - because all of them feature NF in charge of the large SHIELD organisation.
This is because NFvsS#1-6 reveals that SHIELD has been taken over from within by advanced LMDs. (This was the inspiration for the plot of the Captain America: Winter Soldier film - but not with LMDs.) It ends with SHIELD disbanded.
CA#351 and an epilogue in BW:Coldest War have NF after SHIELD finished. Then a new NFAoS series will show Fury building a new smaller SHIELD. But eventually the large institution we know and love will be back.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #27 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
It's a week after last issue's fight with the LMD Zodiac and Hawkeye is walking from his 5th viewing of Simon Williams' latest film Arkon IV to his parked skycycle. He wonders where the Zodiac gang have been hiding since then, oblivious to the fact that they're creeping up all around him. Suddenly they leap out at him.

With an arrow he knocks the Zodiac Key out of Scorpio's hands, and can now concentrate on the members without such powerful weapons. A net arrow confines the bruisers Aries and Taurus. Another arrow damages the power source for Aquarius' electro-blasts, and the leaking electricity sends a jolt through the mist Pisces is generating taking out both of them plus Gemini.

But then somebody else's arrow knocks his next 1 out of the air. And the new LMD Sagittarius steps forward - created as Clint Barton's duplicate at the end of last issue. An equally-matched duel of arrows ensues, while Scorpio retrieves the Key and zaps our hero in the back.

A little later 'Hawkeye' crashlands the skycycle outside the West Coast Avengers Compound. When Iron Man, Mockingbird, Tigra and Wonder Man come out to see what's wrong he says he ran out of gas. WM carries the cycle in and they all accompany their returned leader. And Sagittarius congratulates himself on getting past the Compound's defences.

But when they get inside the LMD Sagittarius is astonished to see Dr Pym and Moon Knight talking to Taurus of the human Zodiac, the rest of whom the LMDs killed last issue. Henry Pym has written a computer program with which Taurus and Moon Knight can make astrological predictions about where the LMDs will strike next. (It doesn't matter that Pym and Cornelius Van Lunt don't believe in astrology - the LMDs have been programmed to act as embodiments of their astrological signs.) And Van Lunt has named the Denver Mint as the target on Friday.

'Hawkeye' excuses himself with a headache because the crash shook him up a bit. He brusquely dismisses 'his' wife Bobbi's offer of a massage (because she'd discover his body wasn't flesh.). Tigra suspiciously notes that Clint is heading the wrong way to his quarters. And as soon as he gets out of sight he contacts Scorpio to tell him about Taurus predicting their every move.

Meanwhile Mockingbird's guilty conscience interprets Clint's brush off as evidence that he suspects her of lying to him. She enlists Pym's computer-whiz help to get through SHIELD security and give her a direct line to Director Nick Fury. And then she asks him to leave her to make a private call.

She catches Fury in the shower, and when he's decent he chews her out for this unauthorised call. He's still angry that she left SHIELD to become an Avenger. Bobbi Barton says she's got a problem she wants his advice about. Nick says he's got enough problems of his own running SHIELD. Before continuing she asks if his problems include Zodiac, but Fury hasn't heard anything about them since Iron Man handed (the human) Aries and Aquarius into custody in IM#184-185. (He doesn't seem to have noticed that Aries and Aquarius were free, and killed with the others last issue.)

Bobbi tells Nick she let a criminal die when she could have saved him (Phantom Rider in #23). She lied to husband Clint about it because it's against the Avengers no-killing code. Now she thinks he suspects something. Nick advises her to 'fess up, and Mocky says that deep down that's what she wanted to hear.

In the LMD Zodiac's HQ Scorpio's troops are revolting. They say the failure to kill the human Taurus last issue is another example of Scorpio's unfitness to lead them. But Scorpio just reminds them that he made the others so he's the boss. And they need money to build their own version of the human Zodiac's crime empire, so they'll still strike the Mint. The others are forced to agree because their astrological underpinnings still point them to Denver and Friday. But Leo is still rebellious, and Scorpio threatens to replace him with a new version.

Scorpio retires to commune privately with the Zodiac Key. He hasn't admitted to the others that it is the Key which gives him astrological information (and presumably imbued the other LMDs with their astrological natures). The Key reminds him that it comes from a dimension where it was designed to create the conflict its masters thrived on (Brotherhood of Ankh - see Daredevil #75). They sent it to Earth to feed on the hatred Jake Fury had for brother Nick. And it restored Jake as an LMD after he died in Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD #1. Now it gives him some advice which we will learn about later.

Moon Knight is in his element prowling the woods under a full moon in the Compound's grounds. He thinks back to his 1st outing as MK when he faced the werewolf Jack Russell (Werewolf By Night #32-33) here in California. He decides to look him up sometime when the moon isn't full. But then he sees a figure flitting soundlessly through the trees and wonders if it is in fact the Werewolf. But the figure gets the drop on him and turns out to be werecat Tigra, also out for a nighttime prowl.

Tigra starts to flirt with MK, but Marc Spector tells her he's still getting over a lover who left him (Marlene Alraune). However when Greer lifts his mask and kisses him, she says as thanks for saving her from Leo last issue, he admits she might be able to change his mind. As he leaves her Tigra thinks that her integrated personality may no longer flirt with every man she meets, but she's not a nun.

Bobbi finds Clint practising his archery, with no sign of his headache. She tries to tell him about Phantom Rider's death but he brushes her off. She sees it as more evidence that her lie has ruined her marriage.

Henry Pym and Tony Stark are working on science stuff because they couldn't sleep. Both have a feeling that something's wrong. Simon interrupts to call them to a meeting with Van Lunt.

He now claims that his astrological predictions only indicated a day and a Mint. But there's no way to distinguish between the Mints in Denver, San Francisco and Philadelphia. (He says being on the west coast made him think of Denver, but surely that should have been SanFran?) Moon Knight has been monitoring Taurus' astrology and again has to concur. Iron Man suggests that get the east coast Avengers to guard Philly and they'll take the other 2. But Hawkeye isn't going to give anything away to the 'rival' team. And Sagittarius' thoughts tell us he's going to take the team to the main Mint in Philly leaving Denver wide open for Zodiac.

But Mockingbird corners him and this time she's determined to get things off her chest. She tells him how Phantom Rider drugged her (but can't go into graphic detail of what occurred in a comic of the 80's). Now she says he didn't commit suicide as she said - he fell to his death because she wouldn't save him. And she's lied about it ever since. But to her astonishment and anger Clint says it's no big deal. In her anger she hits him ...

... and discovers he's not flesh & blood. They fight balletically until he uses a gas arrow on her. As he moves in for the kill Tigra arrives and believes Bobbi's claim that Hawkeye is an LMD. But he activates a sonic arrow which is painful to her sensitive cat-hearing. Until MB smashes the arrow with her battlepole and flips his bow out of reach. And Tigra relieves him of his quiver of arrows. And then they both tear him to pieces.

While Bobbi Barton goes to muster the gang to go find her missing husband, Tigra contacts Scorpio to say things have gone as planned. She is the new Leo the Key created. She replaced Tigra in the woods after Moon Knight left her.

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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