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West Coast Avengers #28: Review

Jan 1988
Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom

Story Name:


Review & Comments

4 stars

West Coast Avengers #28 Review by (April 12, 2017)
There is some confusion here. Daredevil #73 did establish that the Zodiac Key was powered by conflict, the Ankh dimension grew too peaceful and the Brotherhood sent it to Earth to regain its power. The Brotherhood needed its power to provide them with power. The idea is new here that the Brotherhood themselves loved conflict. In DD#73 they only wanted people to fight to power the key.

Last issue Van Lunt predicted the LMDs would attack the Denver Mint, but then he realised that his astrology didn't distinguish between that and the Philadelphia and San Francisco Mints. The fake Hawkeye insisted they consider all 3, and planned to ensure the WCA didn't go to Denver where he knew Zodiac would be. But then he was exposed and destroyed. This issue says the team then just guessed the correct target.

The LMD Zodiac do die here, and their only further appearance is when 4 of them are brought through time in JLA/Avengers #4.

The Brotherhood and the Zodiac Key will return in Avengers (1998) #57-60. In DD#73 the Key was described as maintaining a balance between Chaos and Order. In this later story the Key is used to split the In-Betweener into his Chaos/Order components.

Taurus will be back next issue where Moon Knight will hunt him down for Khonshu's vengeance. But before that in Solo Avengers #3 MK will get the help of Shroud in finding him.
While MK's on this quest the rest of the WCA will deal with the Defiler in a backdated fill-in #38. And then all of them bar Dr Pym will cameo in Iron Man #226 asking him why he's hunting other armoured characters (as part of Armour Wars I). (They all, including IM, will appear briefly next issue to tell MK off for going solo.)


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #28 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
6 West Coast Avengers, Iron Man and Wonder Man carrying 2 each, fly down and crash through the roof of the Denver Mint. They guessed which Mint the LMD Zodiac would attack - and they were right. As the battle commences IM tries to trap the Zodiac Key with a magnetic beam but Scorpio fends it off. Mockingbird tries to find out where her husband Hawkeye is - they discovered that he'd been replaced by a new Sagittarius LMD last issue. But no-one's talking.

Then leader Scorpio declares that they've loaded enough silver into their craft to finance their new criminal cartel. So he tries to use the Key to whisk the gang away. But at 1st the Key won't obey him. Until suddenly it does and the WCA are left holding nothing.

Little do they know that Tigra is really another LMD substitution. At the moment she's playing the part, so maybe that's why she says she doesn't understand this Key business and gets Iron Man to explain what he knows. He remembers how he, Daredevil, Madame Masque, Nick Fury and some of the human Zodiac (in IM#35-36 and DD#73) were abducted to another dimension by the Brotherhood of Ankh. Apparently the Key fed on conflict and their realm was now too peaceful so they sent it to a better feeding-ground Earth. But he doesn't know why Scorpio has it.

Now the team return home to the 1 surviving member of the human Zodiac, Taurus - Cornelius Van Lunt, who has been using astrology to predict the LMDs' actions (because they are built to represent their astrological signs). Moon Knight has been using his own astrological knowledge to crosscheck Taurus' forecasts. Dr Pym provides the current planetary positions and asks where the LMDs will have gone. This time MK whispers to Tigra his own prediction, and then it matches Van Lunt's - Death Valley.

The LMD Zodiac are bickering again with Leo strongly challenging Scorpio's leadership as usual. As Virgo claims astrological reasons for supporting the contender Scorpio regrets having made the other LMDs so sign-dependant.

And then the Avengers' quinjet arrives. Scorpio aims to blast it with the Zodiac Key but Shellhead has flown here under his own steam and used the quinjet as a distraction. He sneaks up behind Scorpio and this time does magnetically grab the Key. The boss leads Aquarius, Capricorn and Virgo against IM to get him to release the Key. 3 of them try direct assault but get beaten off. Virgo sneaks up with the energy siphon she defeated him with in Annual #1, but the Silver Centurion (as he gets called in his red and white armour) is prepared with a forcefield.

Leo chooses Wonder Man and they both enjoy the scrap. Mockingbird faces Gemini and Libra again (as in #26) but the tricky athlete gets them to knock each other out. Aries attacks Dr Pym but finds himself encased in a (force?) ball. Moon Knight gets Cancer and Taurus. Fake Tigra is left with Pisces and easily captures her. (Of course there is no Sagittarius because he got scragged last issue.)

But then Tigra grabs Virgo's energy siphon and sticks it on the back of Shellhead's armour freezing his armour's system. The magnetic beam turns off freeing the Key. Scorpio grabs it and a blast of energy knocks the other Avengers down.

Scorpy gloats that Tigra is his 2nd infiltrator - the new Leo. The old Leo doesn't take kindly to this and attacks his leader. But this causes Scorpio to release his hold on the Avengers, and battle commences again. WM joins Leo in attacking him as the Key again refuses to obey its holder. Leo rips Scorpio open, and the LMDs cease fighting in shock.

But then the Zodiac Key rises into the air and speaks. It restores Scorpio and other damaged LMDs to their former glory. Someone has taken the energy siphon off Shellhead's back, and it all looks set for the battle to start again.

But Scorpio decides to change the battleground and tells the Key to take them all to its home dimension. The Key disobeys again but this time it explains itself - it doesn't think it's a good idea. But when Scorpio insists it reluctantly does his bidding.

The WCA's villainous ally Cornelius Van Lunt is chained up in the quinjet. But with the Avengers gone he reaches a radio and calls for members of his mob to come and get him.

The Avengers and LMDs take a trip which Iron Man remembers from his earlier encounter with the Zodiac Key, and sure enough they end up in the dimension of the Brotherhood of Ankh. But then the LMDs (including Tigra) collapse and die. The Key explains that the zodiacal energy that powers them doesn't exist here.

But the WCA's problems aren't over. Deprived of the WCA/Zodiac conflict the Key will find another. It blasts through a mountain, and on the other side the Avengers see the real Hawkeye and Tigra fighting the Brotherhood. The Key attacks the WCA and then flies to join the Brotherhood. It looks like they're in for another scrap.

But the head of the Brotherhood calls a halt and Hawkeye and Tigra explain what's happening. The Brotherhood crave conflict and they made a deal with the pair. The duo would hunt them, and for as long as the hunt was interesting they wouldn't be killed. But now they have the Zodiac Key back they could kill all the Avengers in seconds (but Ion Man isn't so sure about that). But that wouldn't be an enjoyable fight, so they send the WCA back to Earth - with the promise to strike again when they least expect it.

Back in Death Valley Bobbi Barton takes husband Clint aside to confess about killing Phantom Rider (#23). But he's full of praise for her sussing out his LMD double (last issue) as he was sure she would - because she's a true Avenger. So she chickens out.

In the quinjet they find Taurus gone. Moon Knight reminds them that he made Van Lunt swear to the Moon that he had abandoned his villainous past. Now as the Fist of Khonshu (Egyptian Moon God) he must make him pay.

Al Milgrom
Dave Hunt
Phil DeWalt
Al Milgrom (Cover Penciler)
Mike Machlan (Cover Inker)

> West Coast Avengers: Book info and issue index

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