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West Coast Avengers #5: Review

Feb 1986
Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom

Story Name:

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4 stars

West Coast Avengers #5 Review by (October 17, 2016)
The regular price goes up from $0.65 to $0.75.

Steve Englehart has Wonder Man repeat the version of history Steve has built up over the preceding issues that he's been telling everyone a lie that it was his brother Eric/Grim Reaper who was the embezzler.

Hawkeye debuted in the Iron Man story in Tales of Suspense #57 where he was mistaken for a villain and then fell in with Black Widow. BW continued to lead him astray in #60 and #64 until the Avengers gave him a 2nd chance as a member in their #16. (And Widow stopped being a Russian spy and joined him later.)

I'm not sure why Thing is with the WCA at the beginning. He wasn't at the Compound at the end of last issue, and he keeps saying he's not joining the team.

Jack Russell featured in Marvel Spotlight #2-4 and then had his own series Werewolf By Night, all this during the Marvel horror boom. Then he migrated to being a frequent guest star in Spider-Woman. After that series ended he made the Moon Knight appearance mentioned by Morbius.

Morbius the Living Vampire is another result of that boom. He debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #101-102. He didn't have his own series but had simultaneous strips in Vampire Tales and Adventures In Fear. He was mostly cured of his pseudo-vampirism by a random bolt of lightning in Spectacular SM#38. He worked on turning 'mostly' into 'completely' in various apps in Savage She-Hulk. And appeared to be completely cured in Fantastic Four #266-268.

It was in AIF#22 that Morbius met some Cat People who had been created from cats by a human sorcerer and then banished to a Land Within where 1 of them (always called the Balkatar) would act as a summonable demon. Meanwhile Greer Grant's friend Dr Tumolo gave her (cat-like) powers in Cat#1, revealing herself as 1 of some Cat People on Earth as she transformed Cat into a version of their legendary warrior Tigra in Giant-Size Creatures #1. What If #35 combined these stories and said that the Earth Cat People are descended from 2 specimens who avoided being banished. Next issue will expand and modify that story to include the original Tigra.

The Darkhold is a mystic tome that featured heavily in the Werewolf's career in MSp and WBN. It includes a spell known as the Montesi formula which can destroy all vampires, which dragged Dracula into the story. Various apps have added to its backstory, including its prehistoric creation by Chthon in Thor Annual #10. Dr Strange was corrupted by it, under another name the Shiatra Book of the Damned, in Marvel Team-Up #76-81. Modred used it to sacrifice Scarlet Witch to Chthon in Avengers #185-187. It brought the Werewolf into Spider-Woman's series because Morgan Le Fay was after it. DrS took it from the Avengers in DrS#60-62 to destroy all vampires, including Dracula.

Iron Man doesn't appear in the next 2 issues - next issue Hawkeye says that he's recovering from his werewolf wounds. His only app that the Marvel Chronology Project places in the gap is Hulk #316 where IM and Wonder Man team-up with Hercules and Sub-Mariner of the other Avengers to subdue the Hulk (at this time separated from Bruce Banner). WM has this between our #6 and #7. Hercules has been in the main team since Av#250 and Sub-Mariner just joined them in #262-264.

For that reason I'm not documenting those 2 issues on this site, so I'll briefly describe them here.

In #6 Iron Man is off wounded and Wonder Man gets a movie role so Hawkeye persuades Thing to sub for them. Firebird stays as well. Morbius teaches them the spell to summon Balkatar and then leaves. Balkatar take them to the Land Within. Tigra tells the King she wants her cat-persona removed. He agrees but says he'll have her human-persona taken instead.
Balkatar tells Tigra the Cat-People history as in WI#35. But he changes the ending. The 2 remaining Cat-People (created from cats) on Earth created the 1st Tigra from a human. The 1st Balkatar was summoned and mated with her, and it was from *these* 2 that the current Earth Cat-People were descended.
The King then relents and says Tigra can have whichever personality she wants removed, but 1st she must kill their enemy Master Pandemonium. She doesn't mention this when she tells her teammates that everything's been decided.
Meanwhile Henry Pym meets with Ultron-12 who seems very friendly.

In #7 the rest of the team stay to party with the Cat People while this issue concentrates on Hank Pym and Ultron. We also learn in flashback how Ultron-11's head was found after Thing lost it in FF#277. And it controlled people to gradually bring it to its old lab in California to be united with a spare body.
Henry Pym meets Ultron Mark 12 again, who wants to be called Mark. He agrees to give his son a 2nd chance, and Ultron takes him to his lab. Mark leaves Hank to look round. But then suddenly Ultron attacks Pym. And then another Ultron attacks the other 1.
It transpires that the Ultron who attacks Hank is Mk 11, and the 1 still on Hank's side is of course Mk 12. 11 rips 12's head off and drags Pym away. But 12's head commands his body to put him back together (with the head on backwards) and goes to get Simon Williams' help. Wonder Man kills Mk 11, but Mk 12 is too damaged and dies as well.
Ultron won't be back until Daredevil #275 where Dr Doom uses Ultron's lab to create Ultron-13 combining the minds of the previous 12.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #5 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Hawkeye calls a team meeting to tell Wonder Man off for ruining the team's image by confessing to embezzlement on TV last issue. Tigra bites back that Hawkeye himself was originally a crook. As his original foe Iron Man protests that he was just misled by Black Widow, who was then a Russian spy. Mockingbird sides with Clint Barton, but she later says it was only because he's her husband.

Firebird, Henry Pym and Thing are excluded from the meeting but can hear every shouted word. Bonita Juarez has recovered from her fight with Master Pandemonium last issue and is just waiting to thank the team for their hospitality before leaving. Hank comments on her being the 1st Hispanic superhero, and she says she takes being a role model seriously.

The press besiege the West Coast Avengers Compound until the team come out to give a statement. Hawkeye says they stand behind Simon Williams' courageous confession, and hope that the people will take into account his later good deeds and forgive his 'youthful mistake'. WM says he's willing to take whatever punishment he's given.

Tigra follows him down to the beach where he tells her Hawkeye was right to criticise him for not consulting the team before his action. But the cat-woman is more interested in having the romantic encounter they missed out on last night.

In private Bobbi Barton tells Clint he was wrong. This triggers off a marital spat where Mocky thinks it was a mistake to become her husband's teammate, and Hawkeye agrees with her.

Firebird and Thing say they're leaving. She's going to hunt for Master Pandemonium. Thing is going back to his wrestling gig. He gives her a lift in his (repaired since last issue) 3-seater motorbike. On the way Ben Grimm explains that if he was to join any team it would be the WCA, but don't tell 'Cockeye' that. And Juanita wishes they'd ask her.

Bobbi is on the beach fuming when Tigra rushes up agitated. She says the cat side of her personality just made her sexually attack Simon. She reminds Mockingbird that she promised to help solve the problem. Bobbi says she'll go search the Avengers' database now.

Tony Stark finally gets round to apologising to Hank Pym about dating Jan Van Dyne soon after their divorce and while Henry was in prison. This has been eating at him since Av#224. But Pym just brushes it off.

But then Henry gets another threatening phone call from Ultron Mark 12 which he takes in private. And tells his 'son' where to get off.

And then Tigra rushes in and is all over him. She made up to him in #1 but since then he's backed off because she seemed interested in Simon. But she says Simon's all brawn and she prefers brains. They make out on a couch while oblivious and happy Wonder Man walks past the window.

Hawkeye consults with Iron Man, the only person who seems to think he was right about Simon. It's a basic Avengers rule that the members are all entitled to their private lives, but they should consider the group as well. Stark checks up on news reports, which indicate that public opinion is swinging in Simon's favour.

Bobbi joins them with news for Tigra who she can't find in her bungalow. She and 'Hawkypoo' kiss and make up. Tigra arrives holding hands with Hank, but lets go when Simon appears too.

Mocky summarises her research (for us really). Tigra wants to get rid of the cat side of her personality. Greer Grant Nelson was turned into Tigra (Giant-Size Creatures #1) by the Cat People to save her life after a battle with Hydra which later involved a werewolf. Hydra are difficult to find but the ex-Spider-Woman Jessica Drew met a werewolf named Jack Russell (in SW#6), and his address in Los Angeles is on file. Maybe he'll have some useful info. (Iron Man correctly wonders if it's the same werewolf he fought (in Werewolf By Night #42-43).)

Tigra licks her fur and strangely says she's not that interested really. She whispers to Bobbi not to tell anyone about her and Simon. The team head off leaving Henry in charge of the base.

Thing drops Firebird off at a mystic bookshop lit by candles. As she enters Juanita draws all the flames to her, and the proprietor finds he can't relight them. Then she manifests her bird energy form and asks the frightened man what he knows about Master Pandemonium. He denies all knowledge but says if she wants to know about demons she should consult the Darkhold. He doesn't have a copy of such a rare book but he's heard that Jack Russell does. (An editorial comment says that Dr Strange now has it since DS#62.)

When the WCA knock on Russell's apartment door it's answered by Michael Morbius. Hawkeye reacts by nocking a silver arrow. But Morbius says he's been cured, and anyway he was never a supernatural vampire so silver wouldn't have worked on him - he had a disease which made him act like a vampire.

Now Jack Russell is consulting him about his werewolf problem, but he hasn't been able to find a scientific cure. Most nights Jack can transform to a wolf at will and remain in control. But on the nights around the full moon, like tonight, he loses control. So he is currently shut behind the heavy door which Tigra is sniffing at ...

... and which is suddenly shattered as the wolf bursts through and grabs her, carrying her though a window. Morbius is confused because the wolf allegedly liked Tigra when he met her (in GSCr#1). He says the wolf is worse than he's ever seen, and more vicious than the recent fight with Moon Knight he's heard about (MK#29-30).

Iron Man and Wonder Man carry the other 3 down to the pavement where Tigra is doing quite well against her foe (who is more amorous than angry). IM gets some repulsor blasts in, but then the werewolf gets his claws through his eye and mouth slits. The slits auto-close on the fingers which makes the wolf howl with pain ...

... and leap away spoiling Hawkeye's aim with his only silver arrow. The werewolf still reacts by leaping at the archer so Mockingbird interposes herself and gets in some telling blows with her battlestaves. And Wondie knocks him down.

Iron Man is out of the fight as he flies away to check on the damage to his face where the crowd can't see when he takes his helmet off. Hawkeye fires a fire arrow and the beast runs off aflame. WM tackles him and hits him again. And sympathetic Tigra urges him to run away - saying she doesn't love him.

But then Firebird appears in the sky and rings the wolf with fire. Simon Williams hits the wolf down for the count. And the crowd cheer him. But Tigra's not so happy. And IM returns to say he'll needs some stitches but he should be OK.

When Juanita and the WCA compare notes they discover that they were after the same person, and FB is amazed to find that he's a werewolf. But when Morbius hears that the Avengers are after info on the Cat People he reveals that he's met them before. And he says that Jack Russell doesn't remember anything of his encounter with them because he was in full wolf mode at the time. So next issue they'll be using Morbius' help to contact the Cats.

Meanwhile Henry Pym gets another phone call from Ultron-12 who says he's realised that his anger against his maker was immature, and now he wants to have a real father-son relationship.

Al Milgrom
Joe Sinnott
Petra Scotese
Al Milgrom (Cover Penciler)
Joe Sinnott (Cover Inker)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)
Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange

(Stephen Strange)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Ben Grimm)

> West Coast Avengers: Book info and issue index

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