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West Coast Avengers #37: Review

Oct 1988
Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom

Story Name:

Avengers disassemble

Review & Comments

4 stars

West Coast Avengers #37 Review by (January 28, 2023)
We aren't told how the team managed to get Maria Trovaya/Pym out of Hungary, what with her body being incapable of supporting her giant brain and the Communists not really wanting to let her go.

In Fantastic Four #314-315 that team found themselves on an interdimensional journey which included the land of the Cat People (from several of our issues between #6 and #15) where they met Master Pandemonium on Arcturus IV. Eventually they all wound up in the Antarctic Savage Land where they left him in FF#316. (You might well guess that Steve Englehart has been writing the FF as well as this series.)

Mantis has actually appeared in many issues of Silver Surfer between Giant-Size Avengers #4 and her amnesia in SS Annual #1 but I'll explain more about that in #39. (But of course Steve wrote the SS issues and her old Av apps as well.)

Voice is next seen in Captain America #366 during the Acts Of Vengeance event (probably having escaped from the Vault during the mass breakout at the start of the event).

Henry Pym will be called in to help Spidey against Nekra in Web Of Spider-Man #46.

Tiny Wasp confronts the giant robot Ronin in Solo Avengers #15.

Hawkeye's West Coast Avengers will help Mantis in #39 after a fill-in #38 set some time ago. But before that both WCA teams will get caught up in the Evolutionary War Annuals crossover in WCA An#3. Mockingbird's team will go to the Savage Land looking for Master Pandemonium but instead find the High Evolutionary's citadel, while Hawkeye's team including Mantis will answer a call for help from Black Panther because Wakanda is being invaded by HE's troops.
But even before that the Marvel Chronology Project has Hawkeye in Solo Av#10-11 fighting 2 gangs of thieves but also involving an astrologer and a dying millionaire with psychic powers.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #37 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The West Coast Avengers and hangers-on have returned from their Hungarian/Latverian adventure of the last 4 issues, and married couple Hawkeye and Mockingbird (still with her arm in a sling from last issue) are still arguing. Clint Barton tells Bobbi Barton she's fired and she says she quits. Wasp tries to mediate. Clint reminds Janet Van Dyne that Bobbi admits she let the Wild West Phantom Rider die (#26). Jan points out that's not the same as killing him and anyway he's a ghost so he's not dead. But Bobbi interrupts to say he *is* dead, he deserved it and she won't apologise for it. Clint tells Jan to butt out. Bobbi claims that Clint's not really angry because she let her rapist die but because she kept it a secret. Clint ripostes that she actually lied about it.

Now it's Jan's ex-husband Henry Pym's turn to try to calm things down. He takes Clint aside to his bungalow to talk to him as a man who's been divorced and has just got his 1st wife back (Maria Trovaya last issue). Vision joins them with more marriage advice from someone who as an android originally thought it impossible, and *his* wife Scarlet Witch goes to talk to Bobbi. Tigra joins *them* and takes them to *her* bungalow, reminding them that she used to be married too (but *her* husband died).

Wasp is left with Moon Knight and Wonder Man. Simon Williams and newbie MK ask original Avenger Jan if there really is a no-killing rule, and she has to admit that it's in the original charter. But she thinks Bobbi is right about WCA leader Clint's reaction being mainly wounded pride. As a visitor she has no say, but if she were boss (as she has been of the (East Coast) Avengers) she'd let it go. Simon disagrees - as a  movie actor as well as an Avenger he thinks heroes should set an example. Moon Knight (really these days with his god Khonshu in control) says heroes are human and his god believes in vengeance. WM tries to dismiss this which of course irks Khonshu. Jan finds herself being mediator again.

The 2 groups return from the bungalows with the couple still mad at each other. Clint says marriage should mean facing things together, but he can no longer trust her in his marriage or his team. Bobbi reminds him that she had to face Phantom Rider alone because the team left her alone with him (in #18 due to time-travel complications), and she used her SHIELD Agent training to survive. Hawkeye brought her into the Avengers' world but she never really fitted.

They tell each other goodbye, and before she leaves Bobbi tells the others it was a pleasure to know them. However Tigra and Moon Knight say they're coming with her, Tigra because her feline nature tells her killing prey is sometimes necessary. Hawkeye protests that they can't split the team up, but Mocky says he's already done it. She asks if anyone else wants to join her.
Dr Pym reminds them that as a founder member he helped make the rules but then he broke them (by shooting a villain in the back (Avengers #212)) so they threw him out (Av#213). But he slowly redeemed himself, and being an Avenger again is a privilege.
WM agrees. Being a film star is great but being an Avenger tops it.
Clint reminds them that *he* killed Egghead while saving Hank (Av#224). He thought the villain deserved to die but it was an accident.
Jan thinks that when a woman is facing a crazy man threatening to kill her, saving his life is not mandatory. But she also knows that only the chairman can make the tough calls so she defers to Clint.
Vision says that he and Wanda have been on extended leave from the Avengers but they always intended to return some day So he urges everyone to consider the 3 as going on leave.
Wanda talks about marriage and how a couple is better than the 2 partners solo, but both sides have to be willing to compromise.
But the 3 still leave.

Henry Pym is sorry but *he* has to leave now too. He needs to start trying to cure his wife (see last issue). He's setting up a lab away from the dangerous Avengers Compound. But if they ever need a scientific adventurer they can call on him. Clint tells him to take all the time he needs. He deserves another chance at happiness. He's served well as an Avenger, and they'll be there if he ever needs *them*. Jan says she's leaving too. She only came to help them recover from Iron Man leaving (#32). She tells Clint he's got to realise that Bobbi *isn't* him. The ex-couple walk out together but then bid each other a warm farewell.

The quitting 3 are in Bobbi's quarters where she ditches her Avengers communicator, ID card and defence deactivator. She asks her 2 supporters if they want to form a team. Moon Knight says he'll help her against the current Phantom Rider. Tigra agrees and  suggests they call themselves the Ex-Whackos but Mockingbird laughingly points out that would make them sound like mutants. She wants to forget about PR for a while and picks up a message from the Fantastic Four saying that the WCA foe Master Pandemonium is in Antarctica (see FF#315). They agree to go there to investigate.

Hawkeye's team is rapidly evaporating as he guesses that Vizh and Wanda will be going back their kids in New Jersey, leaving him with just Wonder Man. But the duo surprise him by saying they'll stay and bring the kids with them, even if it means they have to take turns heroing and child-minding. Simon and Vizh will welcome the opportunity to bond more as 'brothers', and Simon can babysit sometimes. Clint is still worried about the size of the team ...

... when a *really* ex-Avenger Mantis joins them, saying the other 3 let her in the Compound while they were leaving. They are amazed because the last time they saw her she was flying of into space with her new Cotati husband (Giant-Size Av#4). She tells them she's come to ask their help. Hawk, Vizh and Wanda are glad to see her again and promise to help (although SW is a bit worried because Mantis used to be her rival for Vision's affections). Wondy's never met her but greets her ...

... and Mantis judo flips him and does a flying kick at the others. She agilely dodges a rain of Hawkeye's arrows and then grabs 2 of them in mid-air and leaps onto jet-pack-flying WM and jabs them into his eyes. They may be ionic like the rest of him but the smoke and tear gas still blinds him. And she steers his still-flying form into Clint stunning him. Then she lures Wonder Man into breaking a palm tree so it falls on him, and then she paralyses him with a thrust to his neck. After that she causes Wanda's hex to bring down Vision. She dodges another hex to jump up and land feet-1st on WM's back again.

During the fight she blurts out that she doesn't know what's happened to her husband nor why she's attacking them. And she's lost her empathic power.

Hawkeye wakes to see Mantis fighting the others and it reminds him of last issue when the Voice made them all fight Dr Pym. And he wonders if the same thing could be happening here. He leaves the fight scene to scout the surroundings. He deactivates the defence screen and vaults over the Compound wall. Using his hunter skill he stealthily detects a trail which does indeed lead him to the Voice.

We listen in on Voice's thoughts and learn how he got here. All the time while the Hungarians gave him back his voice (as described last issue) he trained himself to resist their brainwashing. So when Maria Trovaya mentally made the other villains lose their powers (and now-speedless Quicksilver was returned to the Inhumans as seen in FF Annual #21) he was able to retain *his*. The Communists let him leave for California in search of revenge and he was there when a cab dropped Mantis off and he was able to take control of her with his irresistible commands.

But now Hawkeye threatens to kill him with an arrow if he tries to speak, and forces him to enter the Compound where Wonder Man has just managed to pin Mantis' wrists. But her 'mission' forces her to keep fighting even though it threatens to break her arms. Luckily Clint arrives with Voice and makes him tell her to return to normal. Then the Witch hexes the villain to temporary speechlessness, and they plan to hand him over to the Vault where he'll be suitably imprisoned.

The team tell Mantis she has no need to apologise because they know what the Voice can do. But she tells them why she's come to them. She awoke 2 days ago in bed in a house that she seems to own but she has no memories before then since she left them in GSAv#4. (We witnessed that awakening in her backup tale in Silver Surfer Annual #1.) She says she went to Avengers Mansion where a police guard told her the team had relocated to Hydrobase. But the cop recognised her (must be an Avengers fan) and mentioned that her father Libra had been killed with the rest of the human Zodiac by an android version of villain group (in #26), who had then been defeated by the WCA (#28). So she came here for help finding out what happened to her. Hawkeye readily puts the team at her disposal.

Al Milgrom
Mike Machlan
Paul Becton
Al Milgrom (Cover Penciler)
Mike Machlan (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Bill Oakley.
Editor: Howard Mackie. Editor-in-chief: Tom DeFalco.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Clint Barton)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

(Greer Nelson)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Doctor Pym (Henry Pym), Voice.

> West Coast Avengers: Book info and issue index

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