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West Coast Avengers #29: Review

Feb 1988
Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom

Story Name:

Dead run

Review & Comments

4 stars

West Coast Avengers #29 Review by (April 18, 2017)
At this time Taurus was believed to be the only survivor of the massacre of the human Zodiac in #26. But Avengers Forever will reveal that Libra survived too.

This issue has a prologue in the 2nd story in Solo Avengers #3, on sale at the same time. Moon Knight was seeking leads on where to find Cornelius Van Lunt.. He contacted Jack Russell the Werewolf who directed him to a California crime boss. The lead led through a series of traps which MK negotiated until he faced the Shroud. They fought, but it was all an initiation test. Shroud invited him to join *his* team the Night Shift (including the Werewolf) in their mission to infiltrate the state's underworld. Spector turned him down, but Shroud promised to locate Van Lunt. Which brings us to the start of this issue.
Shroud met the WCA in their initial mini-series, where he was offered a place on the team.

This issue falls between Iron Man #226 and #227 which are part of Armour Wars I where IM is going after villains who have Stark technology in their armour, and confiscating it. In #226 he wouldn't explain himself to the WCA (minus MK who was presumably on his VL hunt, and Dr Pym just because ...). Then he mistakenly targeted hero Stingray, and so for PR reasons Tony Stark 'fired' Iron Man.
His quest will continue in #227 where Hawkeye, Mockingbird and Tigra will ask him what all the 'firing' was about. Which is strange because they don't ask him in this issue which the Official Index places between those 2 issues.
Hawk&MB will then show up in the Black Widow: Coldest War GN, and then they'll join Tigra and WM with IM in Hulk Smash Avengers #4. Then everyone will get back together for our next issue.

Taurus is really dead.
That Phantom Rider figure will show up again in #31.
Shroud will join H&MB in Solo Av #9, before returning here in #40 along with the Night Shift.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #29 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Taurus, the only surviving member of the human Zodiac cartel, is trying to rebuild the criminal empire. He's meeting with Shroud in a Los Angeles warehouse to offer him the job of Pisces, and he can continue to operate in California. Shroud turns him down (mainly because it would make more difficult his secret self-appointed task of destroying the local underworld from within).

But the Master of Darkness also says he heard that Taurus was under the thumb of the West Coast Avengers. Big T declares that the WCA and the LMD Zodiac are dead in the home dimension of the Zodiac Key (see last issue). He's right about the LMDs but wrong about the WCA, as he realises when Shroud points to Moon Knight behind him.

MK just stares impassively as Taurus blusters that he couldn't be so stupid as to believe the villain's promise to go straight, sworn as an oath to the Moon. Marc Spector just thinks about his role as the Fist of Khonshu, vengeful servant of the Egyptian Moon God. Taurus tells Shroud to help him, but the anti-hero just fades into the darkness.

Taurus whips out his Star-Blazer gun and fires several blasts. But Moon Knight too can hide in the shadows, where Shroud wishes him well before really leaving.

MK leaps on Taurus but is shocked to hear his god's voice in his head, which has never happened before. Distracted he allows the villain to get some hits in. Things get worse when he also hears the 'voices' of his ex-aliases Steven Grant and Jake Lockley. Leading multiple lives had led him to schizophrenia, but he believed he had suppressed the others when he joined the WCA. But his determination to be only Marc Spector makes him start fighting back against his foe.

Taurus decides to stop wasting his time fighting the Avenger and flees to get on with rebuilding the cartel. But he keeps finding MK in front of him. He hijacks a car to escape, but sees his nemesis on a skycycle overhead. Cornelius Van Lunt's desperate driving gets more and more erratic as he makes his way out of the city - until he crashes the car.

Meanwhile Khonshu strikes up a conversation with his Fist of Vengeance. Once more distracted Marc doesn't avoid a Star-Blazer blast which brings down his 'cycle. Van Lunt is jubilant until he finds no body in the crashed craft. He starts running again.

Meanwhile Shroud contacts the WCA to tell them what's occurring. Hawkeye isn't happy about MK going solo and learning about it from someone else, but Tigra sticks up for him. An editorial comment says that this makes 2 of the team uncomfortable - Mockingbird because she still hasn't told her husband the truth about Phantom Rider's death, and Iron Man because of his 1-man crusade in the current Stark Wars/Armour Wars storyline in his own mag. Hank Pym tracks the location of the skycycle and they all head there, including Wonder Man who I haven't had reason to mention so far.

Van Lunt reaches a small airfield and forces at gunpoint a pilot to fly him away. He keeps scanning the sky for signs of his pursuer, but turns and finds the pilot is Moon Knight (and the plane's now on autopilot). He daren't fire his Blazer inside the plane so it's a hand-to-hand fight which makes the small craft veer wildly. Until the bad guy manages to throw Moonie out of the door.

But the plane goes into a tight turn, and Taurus realises MK is hanging on to 1 wing. Van Lunt opens the door again and leans out to shoot his opponent. But the Knight lets go of the wing, and the plane flips over. The villain accidentally shoots through the ceiling, and the craft goes into a spinning dive. He desperately tries to pull up, only to see Moon Knight silhouetted against the Moon - using his spread cloak to glide.

Marc Spector watches as the Zodiac leader plummets to his death. Khonshu has his vengeance! Or was it Moon Knight that killed him? MK's glide fails and he too starts to plummet. But Iron Man swoops in to save him and takes him to the WCA's quinjet.

Inside leader Hawkeye tears a strip off Spector for going after their joint enemy alone without telling them. Marc is unrepentant, but Clint Barton ploughs on - it looked like maybe MK wanted to kill Van Lunt, and Avengers don't kill or even look like they might. But Bobbi Barton suggests maybe the old Avengers' rules need to be relaxed, and Tigra chimes in that the world has changed to a harsher place. Founder members of the original Avengers Iron Man and Henry Pym strongly disagree. Simon Williams looks like he's thinking it over.

Marc Spector knows why Greer Nelson is on his side - because they have begun a relationship. But why did Mockingbird support him? And we see the figure of Phantom Rider watching the quinjet fly away.

Al Milgrom
Mike Machlan
Bob Sharen
Al Milgrom (Cover Penciler)
Mike Machlan (Cover Inker)

> West Coast Avengers: Book info and issue index

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