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West Coast Avengers Annual #1: Review

Oct 1986
Steve Englehart, Mark Bright

Story Name:

One of our own

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

West Coast Avengers Annual #1 Review by (December 28, 2016)
This story is in chapters and the title of chapter 1 is used for the issue. Chapters 2-4 for the battles with Zodiac are called "Cardinal sins", "Fixed assets" and "Mutant meltdown".

The Baxter Building was destroyed in Fantastic Four #278, and the FF went to stay in Avengers Mansion. In FF#293 they moved into their new building Four Freedoms Plaza which will be completed in FF#299.

Black Panther is currently without a series. Since his last app in the Iron Man site (Annual #5) he was in the crowd scenes in Contest Of Champions and Hulk's pardoning in #278-279 and appeared on the Letterman Show with other reservists in Av#239. He joined Human Torch and Mr Fantastic for a backup tale in Marvel Team-Up Annual #7, and was with HT again and Spider-Man in SM&HT#4.

Since the recruiting drive in Av#221 and the obligatory COC app Black Widow has been in the Daredevil series between #187 and #222 (#187-190 by Frank Miller involving the Hand and the resurrection of Elektra). But she took time off between #201 and #207 for the Letterman app and MTU#140-141 (also with DD).

Since COC and Hulk#278-279 Falcon has been in many Captain America issues between #282 and #317 (including the Death Of Red Skull story #296-301). During that time he had his own 4-issue mini-series and showed up in Power-Man & Iron Fist #112-113 and #121/123/125 (all part of the Captain Hero story and ending with their last issue and the Marvel-death of IF).

Since Tony Stark took the Iron Man role back in #200 Rhodey has continued as a supporting character in that book where he recently redonned the armour in #211.

After Secret Wars II and his time as a frog Thor grew a beard for Th#367 to hide the facial scars he got in #361. But he's been Sigurd Jarlson since #341, just after SWI. He's here within #373 between the Justice Peace story and 1 involving X-Factor. In that gap he's also been with Cap and IM in Eternals vol 2 #12 and DD#233.

Vision & Scarlet Witch have recently finished their 2nd mini-series in which they set up house in suburbia and had their twin boys. Of course much more happened, including #10 where Quicksilver's break-up with Crystal happened. Since then they had 2 anthology apps. In Marvel Super-Heroes (1990) #10 (in a sequel to Marvel Fanfare #58) they confronted the Leonia residents who had accused them of bringing supernatural threats to the town and showed that the threats were actually revenge for old witch trials there. And in MFan #32 they helped catch a slasher killer.

The truth about Scorpio has been revised several times. He tried to kill Nick Fury in NF, Agent of SHIELD #1 and #5 but himself died both times. In #5 he was revealed to be Nick's brother Jake who had taken the place of the 1 in #1. But the Marvel Handbook Book of the Dead later said that they were both JF and Scorpio's weapon the sentient Zodiac Key resurrected them each time. That Scorpio was part of a human crime cartel Zodiac, where he was replaced by another Scorpio.
However JF created an LMD Zodiac of his own as seen in Defenders #46-50, but with himself still as the human Scorpio. At the end JF committed suicide and the LMDs were destroyed, captured or escaped
Various escaped LMDs showed up in Def#63-64, She-Hulk #12 and IM#183.
But now here we have all 12 LMD Zodiac including a Scorpio. In WCA#26-28 we will be told that the Zodiac Key recreated JF as an LMD, and he recruited/rescued/recreated the rest.
However much later Secret Warriors will turn this account on its head. Apparently all these Scorpio's were an LMD copy of the real JF, who has meanwhile been underground infiltrating Hydra.

The earlier Gemini LMD in Defenders looked somewhat different to this 1 and had a different power - he could split into 2 beings, whereas the current 1 can double in size. But they both share the trait of being of 2 minds as to which side they're on.

We don't get any explanation why Zodiac is following Quicksilver. Nor for that matter why the Avengers take up Pietro's challenge. He doesn't actually threaten them with anything and the fights don't promise to clear their name. In fact nothing here explains how they clear their name - unless it's just that the witness backs out.

The 2003 Hawkeye mini-series will claim that he was working for the Keibler Circus when the Hulk was there. However there it will say that it was the Tidboldt circus run by Maynard Tidboldt the villainous Ringmaster. The Unofficial Appendix to the Marvel Handbook explains this by saying that Tidboldt had taken Keibler's Circus over and renamed it before the Hulk joined. But when Hawkeye exposed Ringmaster's crimes and got him arrested the Circus resumed its original name. And that happened before the Avengers tracked Hulk down in Av#1.

Quicksilver will return in FF#304 getting 'revenge' on Crystal's 1st love Human Torch. He'll be imprisoned by the FF until the Inhumans take him home in #306. In X-Factor Annual #2 it will turn out that his madness is due mind-manipulation by the evil Inhuman Maximus. But he'll still be out for revenge on V&SW in WCA#34-36.

As mentioned above Scorpio and the LMD Zodiac will return in AWC#26-28 where we'll find that this Scorpio is an LMD with Jake Fury's consciousness. They'll kill nearly all of the human Zodiac Cartel, but wind up in the Ankh Dimension where the Zodiac Key comes from and are shut down by alien physics.

H P Gyrich (along with Val Cooper from the Avengers Annual) will be in several issues of the John Walker/Captain America run in CA#333-350 as part of the CSA group running the replacement Cap. In a gap he'll pop in to #2 of the Nick Fury vs SHIELD limited series.

Black Knight and Hercules are in when Franklin Richards brings Power Pack home for a visit to Avengers Tower in PP#28. (Presumably FR's not yet moved in to the unfinished FF Plaza. He won't be seen there until FF#296.) Meanwhile CA fights Flag Smasher in #321-322 and BK and Herc are still at home when we 1st meet John Walker (as Super-Patriot) in CA#323. Then the whole team will reunite for Av#273-277 (with side trips to CA#324 and Amazing SM #283) when Zemo's Masters Of Evil attack, injuring Herc and Jarvis. (This run was reprinted in Marvel Premiere Classics #51 as Avengers: Under Siege.)

Hawkeye and IM will be in WCA HQ when Val Cooper asks them in IM#214 to help hunt down the renegade Spider-Woman (from the Av Annual part of this story). They refuse and IM helps SW against the Seekers who are out for the bounty on her head. Then WCA#14-15 concludes the Master Pandemonium storyline (for now). And the team aren't available to help the Av in #274 because they're in Indonesia.
Daimon Hellstrom and Hellcat, who were only mentioned here, will show up in WCA#14-16.

V&SW are also unavailable in Av#276 because they're away on holiday. They're not seen again until WCA#30.

Falcon will also be unavailable in Av#276 because he's got the flu. He'll join DD and Spidey in ASM#287-288 to fight Kingpin before returning as a semi-regular in Cap's series from #332.

And Thor will return to his own series picking up partway through #373. But after #374 he *will* be available to help in Av#276-277, paving the way for his return to the team to replace Herc.

James Rhodes will continue as a supporting character in the IM series sometimes, like IM#215-216, in his IM armour.

Black Widow will return sporadically to DD from #236, and also the DD/BW: Abattoir GN.

Black Panther will continue on the guest star trail for a while. Next stop also with DD in #245, and in FF#311-312 with Dr Doom.



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers Annual #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Continued from AVENGERS ANNUAL #15.

In that issue the Avengers and West Coast Avengers were arrested by Freedom Force for treason and imprisoned in the Vault under the Colorado Rockies. Some unknown Avenger has brought evidence against them. But the new Spider-Woman left the other (ex-villain) members of FF and helped the Avengers escape (although they don't know it). Now we see them enter the cave that we actually left them in at the end of that issue.

The 2 teams are:- Avengers - Black Knight, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Hercules and Wasp. WCA - Hawkeye, Iron Man, Mockingbird, Tigra and Wonder Man. Plus Henry Pym.

Now they try to work out who the traitor might be. Hawkeye immediately discounts the current Avengers here, including ex-Avenger Hank Pym who's working with the WCA. Everybody agrees, and he starts working through a list of other candidates.

They were told the traitor is/was an Avenger, so Clint Barton rules out Thing and Firebird because they never actually joined the WCA (#4-10). Similarly Moondragon and Hellcat never became full members of the Avengers. And MD Marvel-died in Defenders #152, and Patsy Walker retired and married Daimon Hellstrom (Def#125). Ms Marvel became new heroine Binary in Uncanny X-Men #164 and is off in space.

Wasp takes up the list and says Starfox is in space too since Av#261, and Mantis since way back in Giant-Size Av #4. Swordsman died in GSAv#3, as did Jocasta in Marvel Two-In-One #93. Sub-Mariner has just left the ranks in Av#272 (for personal reasons). And Hulk is currently in SHIELD captivity split between Hulk and Bruce Banner (Hu#324).

Hawkeye takes the reigns back. The remaining possibilities are Thor, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, She-Hulk. Tigra adds in Black Panther. Mockingbird suggests Black Widow and the James Rhodes Iron Man. Clint finishes off with Beast and Falcon.

Nobody notices a blurry figure amongst them. And then there's a draught as they decide to contact the shortlist.

Captain Marvel heads to the Moon to contact Quicksilver (in Attilan with his wife Crystal and the other Inhumans).

Iron Man (Tony Stark) also heads high up to contact Rhodey in Los Angeles by line-of-sight without using any hackable satellite. He trusts his friend completely and invites him to join the hunt.

Tigra visits She-Hulk in the Fantastic Four's under-construction new HQ. She accepts Jennifer Walters' assurances that she isn't the traitor, but reminds herself that her own cat-side isn't so trustworthy lately. Mr Fantastic offers the Fantastic Four's help, but Tigra declines it.

Hawkeye rings up Black Panther in Wakanda, and T'Challa sets off to join his friends.

Thor is angry with Hercules. It's not because Herc has jeopardised his secret identity Sigurd Jarlson. And Herc doesn't seem to have suggested he might be the traitor. But Herc is wasting time eating Kentucky Fried Chicken when they should be flying to their friends' aid.

Captain America recruits Falcon at his social worker office.

Wasp rings Beast who's now back to looking human and with the original X-Men as X-Factor. Henry McCoy says the team are trying to stay under the government's radar currently, but offers his help if they really need him. Wasp says it's cool.

Mockingbird looks up Black Widow. They both think about the fact that they've both been Hawkeye's lover. Ex-spy Natasha Romanov guesses that Henry Peter Gyrich may not have told the truth (in the WCA Annual) about what treasonable information he has nor what his source is. But she's going to lend her expertise.

Wonder Man visits Scarlet Witch and Vision at home with their new babies. He accepts that they aren't traitors and can't leave their children to help. But when he's gone they exchange worried comments about who they think the traitor might be ...

... because there's only 1 person not accounted for yet. Black Panther, Black Widow, Falcon, Iron Man (James Rhodes) and Thor have joined the 2 current teams in a cabin in the woods. And Captain Marvel arrives to say that Wanda's brother Quicksilver is no longer with the Inhumans on the Moon.

Iron Man (Tony Stark) definitely thinks he's a possibility for the traitor. Hawkeye leaps to the defence of a fellow member of Cap's Kooky Quartet from Av#16 onwards. Thor too thinks Pietro earned their trust then, and prefers to accuse Henry Pym who shamed the team in #212-217. Now it's Hank's ex-wife Wasp to do the defending. Since he was cleared of some of the events then and accepted responsibility for the others he has found a new equilibrium in his new non-superhero scientific support role.

Quicksilver ends the arguments by showing himself and brazenly admitting his 'guilt' of taking vengeance on them. He claims to have always been an outsider, and continually betrayed. He launches into his history in support of these claims.

Their father Magneto 'enslaved' Pietro and Wanda in the original Brotherhood Of Evil Mutants (from X-Men #4 on). They escaped and joined the Avengers (with Hawkeye from Av#16), but the synthetic Vision 'seduced' his sister - supported by the Avengers. In #104 he was seriously injured by Sentinels and the team didn't try to find him.

Instead he was rescued by Crystal of the Inhumans. He loved her and married her and went to the Moon with the rest of her race - but again an outsider. But then in Vision & Scarlet Witch #10 Crystal had an affair with a human, and Wanda tried to get him to forgive her - more betrayals.

The bitter mutant gave information against the team to Gyrich. But if the government can't punish them then he will do it himself - the only person he can actually trust. (Except for the small 'army' he's assembled to work for him.)

Pietro tells them he has set up battles in 3 places:- The circus where the original team 1st came together to fight Hulk. Avengers Mansion. And the Australian site where they left him to die. Then he zooms off. CM gives chase in light-form, but Quickie's speed makes him invisible.

The group splits up. The current Avengers take the Mansion. The WCA go to the circus. And the extras head for Australia. Henry Pym is left behind, but he has his own plan.

In New York's Central Park we discover who QS's army is - the LMD version of the Zodiac gang created by Scorpio in Def#50. 4 of them are here:- Aries, Cancer, Gemini and Taurus. Pietro arrives and leads them into Avengers Mansion where they are greeted by Henry Peter Gyrich and Freedom Force. HPG admits to losing the Avengers, but Quicksilver informs them that he has lured some of the heroes here.

However he doesn't want FF involved, only his Zodiac. Mystique objects to the use of the criminal LMD's, but Pietro counters that FF themselves used to be the criminal Brotherhood Of Evil Mutants. (In his mixed-up way he calls them an inferior version to the original group, who he had just slagged off to the Avengers.) HPG gives in diplomatically and the FF exit. Gyrich still has guards everywhere, but Quicksilver is confidant the Avengers will get past them.

Black Knight, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Hercules and Wasp are sneaking in through a submarine tunnel they 'forgot' to tell the government about. But Pietro knew, and he's sent Aries and Taurus to guard it. They rip the access ladder from the wall bringing BK and Herc down with it. The other 3 follow to help. Once they're all in the water QS throws a purge switch and they are all ejected back down the tunnel. CM blasts a hole to the surface in the Park and the others are sucked(?) out behind her.

Quicksilver is waiting for them with Cancer and Gemini. Wasp has worked out that these aren't the (human) Zodiac the Avengers fought in #120-122 (and earlier). CM remembers hearing about the LMD team.

BK and Herc are recovering from nearly drowning. CM chases QS while Wasp fights Cancer who shoots jets of water. CA takes on Gemini who can double his size. But that's not enough against Cap. Also the LMD suddenly switches allegiance, as he has been known to do. Wasp electrocutes Cancer via his water with her sting. CM follows QS inside a building and loses him.

Meanwhile BK and Herc have recovered. But they are all attacked by HPG's agents. CM digs another tunnel and the Avengers escape.

Hank Pym has gone to see Vision.

Quicksilver runs to Monument Valley Arizona to meet Libra, Leo, Scorpio and Virgo. He leads them to the Keibler Circus where they cause havoc that the WCA have to deal with. For some reason the circus' Human Cannonball is eager for Scorpio to fire him at Hawkeye and Mockingbird, knocking them off a trapeze artist's platform and knocking Bobbi Barton out. While Iron Man and Wonder Man put some animals back in their cages, and Tigra attacks Leo.

A Hawkeye trick shot takes down Libra while Pietro runs away. Virgo surrenders to the archer but Scorpio burrows underground and pops up to hit him with a neurotoxin gas. But the same gas also effects WM but not before he tags Scorpio. IM KO's Leo but Virgo freezes his armour with an energy siphon. But Tigra then deals with her.

Wanda is ready to go reason with her brother, but Vizh won't let her.

The 3rd scenario takes place in the deserted 'anthill' HQ of the Sentinels from Av#104. Aquarius, Capricorn, Pisces and Sagittarius are the Zodiac members waiting here. QS arrives and leads them inside. But the place is only deserted because the Avengers have got here 1st and evacuated the government workers who have taken over this base. Zodiac face Black Panther, Black Widow, Falcon, Iron Man (James Rhodes) and Thor.

IM chases after QS. Thor hurls Mjolnir at Pisces. BP tackles Aquarius, and BW goes after Capricorn. Falcon faces the energy arrows of Sagittarius. Natasha is worried about another ex-lover Matt Murdock and is tagged by an electro-blitz from Aquarius, but BP lays him low. Thor's mind too is on other things - Balder having to replace Odin on the throne of Asgard, and the facial scars he himself hides with a beard. But then he pulls himself together and despatches Pisces with ease.

Thor and Rhodey chase Quicksilver but get in each other's way. Panther and Widow combine forces to bring down the acrobatic Capricorn. Sagitttarius' arrows set Falcon's wings alight, but this doesn't stop him from diving onto his foe and knocking him out.

Everyone follows QS outside where they find all the other Avengers have arrived. But Pietro has an experimental particle beam weapon from the Australian site's store, and he's not afraid to use it.

But then the ghostly Vision appears with a gift from the speedster's sister Wanda. It is a ruby, and when Vizh's solar ray and Captain Marvel's laser beam shine through it the gem projects a hologram of Pietro's new nephews Tommy and Billy. If QS is determined to kill all Avengers then that includes the boys' parents. Pietro relents and runs off.

Hawkeye thinks it's time to return to the baseball game they were having in the WCA Annual, only this time with even more Avengers. And he chooses Thor to add to his team.

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> West Coast Avengers Annual: Book info and issue index

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Mark Bright
Geof Isherwood
Petra Scotese
Alex Saviuk (Cover Penciler)
Geof Isherwood (Cover Inker)


Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Panther
Black Panther

(T'Challa)
Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Daredevil
Daredevil

(Matt Murdock)
Falcon
Falcon

(Sam Wilson)
Hellcat
Hellcat

(Patsy Walker)
Hulk
Hulk

(Bruce Banner)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Mr. Fantastic
Mr. Fantastic

(Reed Richards)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)
She-Hulk
She-Hulk

(Jennifer Walters)
Son of Satan
Son of Satan

(Daimon Hellstrom)
Thing
Thing

(Ben Grimm)
Thor
Thor

(Odinson)

Plus: Balder (Balder the Brave), X-Factor.