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West Coast Avengers #35: Review

Aug 1988
Steve Englehart, Mike Machlan

Story Name:

The voice of Doom

Review & Comments

4 stars

West Coast Avengers #35 Review by (January 7, 2023)
The 'title' on the cover is The Man Who Would Be Doom, an obvious play on the film The Man Who Would be King. The equally appropriate inside title continues the run of old Ant Man titles, this 1 from Tales To Astonish #42.

Dr Doom had lost the throne of Latveria and he regained it in Fantastic Four #247. Kristoff Vernard's mother was killed by the opposition and Doom adopted him. Doom was killed in FF#260 but no-one knew that he survived by swapping minds with a bystander. In FF#278 we learned that Doom's robots had implemented a backup plan whereby Kristoff was given Victor Von Doom's memories and now believes himself to be Victor trapped in a child's body. He was captured by the FF who tried to cure him, which was where Quicksilver met him in FF#304-305.

But before that the real Dr Doom was restored to his body in FF#288 by the Beyonder during Secret Wars II in order to transport him temporarily back in time to take part in Secret Wars I (which had occurred while he was supposedly dead). And he became boss of Latveria again.

Just after FF#305 Doom kidnapped young Franklin Richards in FF Annual #20 to try to use him to rescue Victor's mother from Mephisto. But during this Kristoff escaped from the FF and returned to Latveria. At the end when Victor admitted that his plan had failed his Doombots lost faith in him and 'realised' that Kristoff must be the true Doom, which is how he got to be ruler of Latveria here. In FF#312 Victor tried to get Black Panther's Wakanda as an ally against Kristoff. This is where we are now.

Kristoff will appear next in several issue continuing his conflict with Victor:-
Thor #410 Victor attacks Kristoff in Latveria with Mjolnir stolen from Eric Masterson/Thor.
Punisher #28-29 During Acts Of Vengeance Kingpin goads Victor into attacking Punisher. Punny responds by invading the Latverian castle but of course come up against Kristoff.
Alpha Flight #90-91 Kristoff tries to get Canada and Alpha Flight as allies. At the end Victor gloats over his failure.
But then in FF#350 Victor invades Latveria and cures Kristoff of his belief that he is Dr Doom. From this point on they are allies.

The Phantom Rider subplot will be picked up again in #39.

The rest of the cast including Quicksilver will continue on to the next issue.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #35 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Mockingbird awakens on a bed next to husband Hawkeye in a palatial room, but there's a boy-size armoured and masked figure watching them who announces himself as Dr Doom. While she tries to wake Clint Barton, Doom reminds her how the West Coast Avengers quinjet invaded Latveria. Bobbi Barton protests that they crashed but she doesn't want to admit that they were escaping from Hungary. Now Clint does wake up and immediately recognises the figure before them as the 9-yr old Kristoff Vernard (who the real Dr Doom had adopted as his heir). But angry Doom finger-blasts him and declares that as a Fantastic Four lie. Doom claims he is the real Victor Von Doom inhabiting the body of Kristoff as he once became Daredevil (DD#37-38), and the current adult Doom is a mad imposter who stole his body. Mocky interjects that Reed Richards disagrees, but Doom points out that Mr Fantastic dropped out of public sight soon after he said that (actually he and wife Sue left the FF to look after their son Franklin in FF#307).

Be that as it may Doom makes them an offer. He and the fake Doom are vying for the throne of Latveria, and this Doom is seeking allies. He knows that the WCA are wanted by Communist Hungary and has talked to their Ministry Of Defence about a deal - they'll be his ally if he returns the WCA to them. But he'd rather have the Avengers on his side and he'll free them if they promise to aid him when a shooting war starts. He gives them the rest of the evening to decide, and then leaves them trapped in the room by a forcefield.

Most of the rest of the team (Dr Pym, Wasp and Wonder Man plus Scarlet Witch and Vision who they rescued last issue) are trapped in a large cell. DP, SW and WM have restraints specially designed to prevent them using their powers. Vision can't break or phase through the walls and there are no holes big enough for Wasp to get through. Last issue Henry Pym enlarged Janet Van Dyne's dormant antennae so she could contact ants. They've disappeared again but now he suggests she should be able to mentally bring them back. She does that but Doom's forestalled them again - he's exterminated all insects in the castle.

Doom then speaks to them from beyond a forcefield barrier to tell them the deal he's proposed to Hawkeye. They refuse to help him but Kristoff (who has Victor's memories and has been brainwashed into believing the story he spouts) reminds them that the (East Coast) Avengers did aid him (ie the real Doom) against Attuma (Av#156 during a crossover story running through Avengers and Super-Villain Team-Up) because they temporarily had common interests. Wonder Man and his 'brother' Vision (sharing the same brain patterns) figure opposing the real Dr Doom is a reasonable plan. But Hank Pym is still intent on finding out if his 1st wife Maria Trovaya is still alive (even though the evidence in #33 turned out last issue to be a set-up) and Wanda is still worried about her currently evil brother Quicksilver (again last issue). Wasp agrees with them both. Kristoff gives them until midnight to sort it out.

Then he contacts the remaining 2 of our cast Moon Knight and Tigra via a viewscreen. They are new to him and he wants to study their strengths and weaknesses so he turns on a load of death traps. He watches them both dodge and survive for 70 minutes and then leaves some technicians to continue monitoring.

Meanwhile Clint Barton has reverted to refusing to talk to Bobbi, even to discuss Kristoff's request. But now he rounds on her and tells her that (last issue again) the Phantom Rider 'ghost' told him and some others how she killed him (back in the Wild West during the time-travel adventure in #18-23). Bobbi retorts that she *didn't* kill him, just didn't save him. And it was because he drugged her into having sex with him. Clint says that's not PR's version, and he's angry that  she didn't tell him what happened. Bobbi is angry too that he doesn't believe her. They shout at each other until they both say they'll divorce the other. The Rider as an invisible ghost laughs to see his plan working.

In the communal cell divorced Hank and Jan still find it easy to miscommunicate.

In the 'danger room' Moon Knight whispers to Tigra that he has a plan, and she should keep fighting whatever he does. Then he allows himself to be knocked unconscious. The tech's report to Doom's aide Boris that MK lasted 86 minutes. However we see that the spirit of the Moon God Khonshu leaves Marc Spector's body and heads towards Doom. On the way he muses that ever since MK started associating with the WCA (#22) he's increasingly taken over from Marc and MK's other 2 personalities. The god makes himself visible to Doom on his way to meet an ambassador from Hungary at midnight. He tells Doom that he demands that he free the Avengers. Kristoff is pleased that the god recognises him as the real Dr Doom and so agrees. At a push of a button the attacks on Tigra cease and the Avengers are all let out of their rooms. Khonshu returns to MK's body as clocks strike midnight.

In the throne room Quicksilver arrives as Hungary's ambassador. He doesn't recognise the figure before him as Dr Doom and then realises it is Kristoff who he called an obnoxious child (in FF#305). K said then that he would kill him for that, and he now seals the room and has his robotic servitors attack the speedster until he uses a ray to freeze Pietro's muscles. And then he personally starts to strangle him ...

... but then Scarlet Witch and Vision burst in. Vizh restrains Doom while Wanda tries to revive Pietro. Then the other Avengers show up having dealt with Doom's guards. Quicksilver wakes up and tries to get them to attack the 9-yr old imposter who tried to kill him. Then he zooms off and Doom gives the team a 'ship' to take them home. But Hank Pym says they'll use it to return to Hungary.

Mike Machlan
Mike Machlan
Steve Buccelatto
Al Milgrom (Cover Penciler)
Mike Machlan (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Layouts: Al Milgrom. Letterer: Jack Morelli.
Editor: Mark Gruenwald. Editor-in-chief: Tom DeFalco.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Clint Barton)

(Pietro Maximoff)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

(Greer Nelson)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Doctor Pym (Henry Pym), Khonshu, Kristoff Vernard, Phantom Rider (Lincoln Slade).

> West Coast Avengers: Book info and issue index

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