Comic Browser:


West Coast Avengers #4: Review

Jan 1986
Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom

Story Name:

Master Pandemonium

Review & Comments

4 stars

West Coast Avengers #4 Review by (September 26, 2016)
Thing quit the Fantastic Four for 2 reasons. While he stayed on Battleworld after Secret Wars I his girlfriend Alicia Masters transferred her affections to Human Torch. (Although this was blunted by the fact that he fell in love with someone else while there.) (And later it will be discovered that AM had been replaced by the Skrull Lyja.) The 2nd reason is that Reed Richards admitted that it was a psychological problem that stopped Thing from transforming to Ben Grimm at will. But not knowing this, on Battleworld Thing gave up his Ben Grimm-ness forever (well, Marvel forever).
The Thunderiders created his special motorbike after he joined their stuntriding team at the end of Thing #27. But they let him keep it in# 28 when he quit and became a wrestler.
Thing *does* briefly contemplate joining the WCA when he's out of earshot. He remembers that Tigra was an extra for the FF in their #177-184. And he'll stick around until #10.
His term Whackos for the West Coast Avengers will be taken up by Hawkeye.

Since her origin in Hulk #265 Firebird has only been seen in the crowd scenes in Hu#278-279 with some of the other Rangers.
Despite the appearance of her energy bird Firebird isn't connected to the Phoenix Force.
She too will hang around until #10.

Steve Englehart continues to tinker with the details of Wonder Man's origin here. Simon Williams wasn't actually *convicted* of embezzlement because the Masters of Evil paid his bail before his trial and then he 'died' as WM.
He's also invented the idea that everyone has assumed that brother Eric really did the crime. It was obvious in #2 that Martha Williams claim that it was Eric was news to the Avengers.

Pandemonium was invented by John Milton as the capital of Hell in Paradise Lost. He created the word from other Greek words, and 1 of its possible meanings is indeed 'the abode of all demons'.

Azmodeus is more usually spelt Asmodeus and was the name of a king demon in Jewish legend who also found his way into Christian mythology. It's also been used for several other Marvel characters, usually demons.

Rakasha seems to be another spelling of the Hindu demons Rakshasa or Raksha. Steve Englehart may have got this spelling from Roger Zelazny's science-fictional refashioning of the mythology in Lord of Light.

Master Pandemonium will reappear in #9 and other issues, and will play a significant role here in the story of Scarlet Witch's children. But he'll also be a driving force for the plot in the issues before #9.

Iron Man takes time out for his own #202-204 where he has an adventure with Ka-Zar and then discovers that Bethany Cabe and Madame Masque have had their minds swapped. And in #203 Tony Stark consults with Henry Pym about a computer/money problem. Then the 5 core members combine with the other Avengers for a fight with Beyonder at the end of Secret Wars II #5.

Thing also gets on with his life between this issue and next. In his #31 he goes to see Sharon Ventura being a film stuntwoman on a Pacific island, but he messes up the movie. It seems the director makes the best of a bad job by incorporating him in the film in SWII#7. Then he returns to LA with Sharon in #32.
Ultron also shows up in SWII#7 before returning for next issue.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #4 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Last issue ended with Thing getting a flat tire outside West Coast Avengers HQ, and Hawkeye having an idea.

Now we see Ben Grimm absolutely refusing to join the team, and Clint Barton telling him to sleep on it. He quit the Fantastic Four in FF#277 and his own #23 and now he''s a wrestler. He gives them free tickets to his match tonight in Los Angeles against the Blond Blaster, and leaves saying "No" in as many ways as he can think of. Hawkeye interprets that as he needs a bit of persuading.

Outside he surveys his 3-wheel, 3-seater motorbike. He went into the Compound to use the phone to call for roadside assistance but now decides to carry the bike to a garage himself. But no sooner has he picked it up than he throws it aside to go help a flaming figure falling from the sky. He assumes it''s the Human Torch (who stole his girlfriend Alicia Masters) but discovers it''s a young costumed female when he catches her.

Ben takes the unconscious woman to the WCA, not noticing a bird with very long legs watching him from a tree. Mockingbird uses her SHIELD medical emergency training to check her over. Thing leaves again asking to be kept informed about the girl, just to satisfy his curiosity. As he exits Henry Pym gets another dead line phone call like last issue.

Outside Ben finds he bent the bike when he dropped it. But Iron Man says they can bend it back into shape together. (I don''t know if they succeed.) Inside Clint thinks Thing is hooked. He''s always been a team player so he''s bound to want to join.

Wonder Man is wandering the main building thinking about facing the fact that he embezzled money from his company before he became an Avenger. But then Tigra playfully leaps on him. They became friends during the WCA mini-series, talking about their pasts. But last issue she realised thinking is overrated - following her cat instincts is much better. Now she suggests they become more than friends - despite cosying up to Hank Pym in #1. But Simon Williams has to take a rain check because he has an appointment to keep.

The falling girl has woken up and Hawkeye calls a meeting (but WM has gone). Tigra feels an instant antipathy towards her, which she expresses to herself as disliking the yellow and red costume which like Mockingbird''s doesn''t reveal enough. The young woman tells them her name is Bonita Juarez, codename Firebird, a social worker from Albuquerque. She relates her story.

She is from a poor Mexican family who came to the US to better themselves. Bonita earned a college degree and started work. 1 night in the New Mexico desert she was hit by fire from the heavens which didn''t kill her but gave her the power of flight and shooting fireballs which she used to stop a robbery - earning the title Firebird.

She made herself a costume. 1 day a call from Rick Jones to the Avengers in Hulk #265 didn''t get through but was picked up by Firebird plus Night Rider, Red Wolf, Shooting Star and Texas Twister. They helped defeat the Corruptor and formed a team called the Rangers, but they haven''t got together often.

Tigra opines that Bonita is playing for sympathy. The others hush her and ask how their visitor she came to fall out of the sky today.

Firebird says she was awoken in bed this morning by a large long-legged bird that smashed through her window. She reflexively flew into the sky, projecting the huge bird of fire that happens when she hasn''t used her power for a while. And met a hovering man who called himself Master Pandemonium who demanded to know if she was 1 of the 5.

To her senses he seemed evil so she attacked him with flame, but he absorbed it. He pointed out that his name means ''abode of all demons'', and demons don''t fear fire. The big bird attacked her for its master, speaking jumbled sentences. MP called it Azmodeus and asked it if she was 1 of the 5. Azmodeus said not.

Disappointed Pandemonium and the bird headed back towards Los Angeles but Firebird chased after them. MP turned and sent 2 demons from his arms to fight her, and she noticed that now the sleeves of his costume hung empty. Then the demons hurled her from the sky to lie unconscious in the desert. When she awoke again she flew here to tell the WCA what had happened, but the strain must have caused her to black out overhead.

Tigra''s fur is bristling and she angrily storms out when the other Avengers asks Bonita to stay and offer to help against the villain. She knows that it''s a cat reaction to resent a stranger entering her territory, but she can''t fight it.

Meanwhile Hank gets another of the mystery phone calls. But this time the caller reveals himself as Ultron-12 who the team recently fought in the crossover with the Vision & Scarlet Witch limited series. The robot says he''ll keep in touch with his ''father''. With usual comics/soap opera logic Pym decides not to tell the Avengers in case they throw him out as too much trouble.

In another meanwhile Wonder Man is on a recording for the Johnny Carson Show. He''s supposed to be talking about his careers as an Avenger and a Hollywood stuntman. But Simon Williams wants to make an announcement. The world knew he was convicted of embezzlement, but when he became Wonder Man and his brother Eric became the villain Grim Reaper he let the world assume that Eric was really the guilty party. But now he wants to confess that it really was him wot dun it.

Simon leaves the studio with a load off his shoulders. He''s prepared to accept whatever the consequences after the show is broadcast. But he spots the Coliseum where Thing is practising for tonight''s bout. He pops in to say hello and sees Master Pandemonium and Azmodeus attacking Thing and asking him if he''s 1 of the 5 - because Firebird seemed to flee to him.

WM missed the whole of Firebird''s story but he somehow knows the villain''s name  and that he''s connected. So he rings HQ to call the team in. Leaving Pym to watch over the base and Firebird they head out - Clint and Bobbi on their sky-cycle, Shellhead carrying Tigra.

Because they didn''t hear Bonita''s story Wondy and Thing are surprised when Pandemonium sheds his arms as demons. Ben throws his demon away with a wrestling move but then Azmodeus attacks him and his claws actually pierce Thing''s rocky skin. MP now figures that Grimm also isn''t 1 of the 5 he seeks. But Ben and Simon must die because they''ve seen him.

At this point the WCA arrive. Remember that Tigra missed the 2nd part of Firebird''s tale, so she too is surprised to see the villain with no arms and suggests that Bonita must be a wimp to have been beaten by him.

The Master''s response is to magically cause a building to imitate the Tower of Pisa. IM, Thing and WM divert to holding it up leaving the 3 weaker members of the team to face the villain as he recalls his arms. Then Panda Bear (as Thing called him) reveals his next trick. He pulls aside the sash across his middle to uncover a 5-pointed hole in his body - out of which streams a horde of demons called the Rakasha.

The 3 deal with the demons with skill and teamwork. But there''s something suspiciously like relief in MP''s eyes as he tries to flee, until Hawkeye tags him with a tear-gas arrow. With the building now stable the stronger 3 rejoin the fight. Thing grabs Pandy''s legs - and they too come loose as demons and attack him. The villain then sends his arm-demons out again against Wonder Man.

The large Azmodeus bird swoops down to carry its now-limbless master off on its back. Iron Man tries to stop them but Pandemonium breathes magic fire at him which starts to melt his armour. Toughing it out Shellhead reaches into the hole in Pandy''s stomach - and is surprised when his hand goes right through the body causing no ill effect. MP calls his 4 demon limbs back, and on their way they knock IM aside.

The restored villain and his bird escape. Thing still insists that he''s not joining the Whackos as he now calls the WCA. Tigra is now determined to get Pandemonium, but not for Firebird''s sake. And in his lair MP says he can''t carry on like this even to save his body and soul. And Azmodeus, now smoking a fat cigar, retorts in his jumbled way "Don''t laugh make me".

Al Milgrom
Joe Sinnott
Ken Feduniewicz
Al Milgrom (Cover Penciler)
Joe Sinnott (Cover Inker)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Ben Grimm)

Plus: Alicia Masters, Grim Reaper (Eric Williams).

> West Coast Avengers: Book info and issue index

Share This Page