I want to post a Comic Book Review at least once a week. This week I’m posting my thoughts as I read through Avengers West Coast. This will not be the format of all of the posts but is for this series because I didn’t really look at the writers or artists and so your getting it more in a overall series wrap-up.
The comments follow along with the general storylines and issues I saw with the book as they came up. You’ll notice that I didn’t cover a lot from the first 40 issues, the reason being is because of how generally bad they are.
- Mockingbird was raped by the Phantom Rider – heavy content for a 1980’s book.
- The Night Ranger was a cool subplot and the best thing going the first 40 issues.
- Hawkeye turns against Mockingbird because she was raped and didn’t save the person that raped her when he was about to fall off of a cliff. Hawkeye is being told his wife was raped and he is more concerned about the other person and shows no concern for his wife. He is a total jerk to her. The way they write Hawkeye makes me wonder how anyone can consider him a favorite character. He is nothing but a jerk to everyone on the team and especially his own wife. Yet he is popular enough to get his own Solo Avengers title and be a key character for Marvel.
- This series reeks of 1980’s Marvel storytelling. Very Jim Shooter-ish. Not that it is bad, it just feels like the book is aimed primarily at an early teen audience. Except for the whole Rape issue which takes up 40 issues. It also explains way too many things that should just be told through the art. You can read all the way through until the John Byrne run and remember nothing from it except for the Mockingbird/Night Ranger story because of how
- Firebird was transformed into this angelic character and then written out of the book. Wasn’t she also having a thing with Hank Pym? He got a lot of action in this series for a guy that was supposed to be so down on himself. It’s funny reading Chuck Austin’s Avengers run where they make Hank basically this hideous wife beating creature when if they were going to that, it would have been resolved here. Not over 20 years later after they had started having an affair again and just had a full issue dedicated to their current relationship.
- Wonder Man by himself is more powerful than all the villains this team fought combined except for possibly Ultron. They have to put other people in harms way or remove Simon from the book for many of the villains to actually appear as threats. This is the strongest reason they removed him from Force Works, that and they thought it would get peoples talking about the book right away.
- When did Mockingbird get replaced by the Skrulls? I know it was before the Ultron issues near the end of the series but it would have fit better if it had been before she turned the vision into the world governments, that would have made more sense.
- John Byrne makes the whole book better. The book looks better, reads better and is just . . . . better. Byrne took over the book with the team basically falling apart and it’s all back together when he starts without any explanation. He left the book after turning the Scarlett Witch into what could be the most powerful mutant/character in the Marvel U. He left a ton of opportunities for the creative team following him and they dropped the ball. Byrne left because of creative differences and an editor that did not want him to do the big Wanda story that he was working on.
- If it was worth it for governments to take out Vision because of the threat he posed, what about Wanda? Everyone was surprised by House of M, M-Day and Disassembled but you could easily see how it happened here. Makes you wonder why nothing was done about her, seeing as how she had a total mental breakdown and has that much power at her fingertips, wasn’t anyone else worried? The Avengers are so willing to go after Hope and the Phoenix force, yet they had someone just as powerful in their ranks for years without a concern.
- I don’t see how Quicksilver was such a bad guy for the first 60 issues or so of this book and then he helps get Wanda back to normal (still being a bad guy during this whole time) and the team just forgives him for it and he is sleeping in their mansion. That is a really quick flip from Villain to Hero.
- Magneto is portrayed in this book like he just walked out of Uncanny X-Men 1 and not the Magneto that was running the New Mutants and part of the Hellfire club at this time. Roy Thomas and his editors must not have been following the X-Books, it was a total reverse of what was going on at the time with Magneto trying to fix his image. At worst, he just wanted to help mutants, but he is so bloodthirsty in this book.
- Wonder Man has a scene in issue 60 where it appears that Wanda does something to him against his will, sexually. It does not go into detail and they are not lying down, it just has her going off panel and him yelling NO for two panels from the waste up. This is the second Rape scene in this book in just five years. That is heavy for a book that was written obviously for a younger kid/teen audience. Especially heavy that both genders are raped in this series. Comic Book Legends Revealed recently ran a post at it, check it out to see what was going on behind the scenes at Marvel to get the version of it that we got. Also amazing that this got a Comic Code Approved stamp on it.
- The Great Lakes Avengers are sort of a fun idea but really nothing that sticks and are really just silly.
- Tigra is reduced down to a smaller size by Pym and has reverted back into a cat like creature at the end of Byrne’s run but the next time she is seen in the book she is back to normal and no mention to it. What happened here?
- I feel like a lot of this series happens in other books, Solo Avengers and regular Avengers and sometimes in Annuals with no real explanation in this series. The editors must have expected everyone to be picking up all the Avengers books at the time. That is the only way I can think of how Tigra was changed back to normal. It makes it feel like you are often missing part of the story and reads horribly coming into it years later.
- I hate Immortus and Kang stories. Time changing stories feel like copouts to me. Immortus just feels like one of those villains that is always gone and then comes back with no real explanation besides it being him from a different point in time.
- Nekra is killed by the Grim Reaper in issue 65, which is strange since they have been in a relationship. Nekra is brought back to life by Hellstrom in another book which you wouldn’t know if you didn’t pick up Solo Avengers (which no one was at the time, that’s why it was cancelled).
- One of the best comments made by Jan/Wasp around issue 70 to Pym. “I don’t remember why I divorced you but I always remember why I married you.” I guess it is easy to forget how your husband went crazy, turned against the Avengers and hit you in the face.
- US Agent leaves the team because he said he was fired/voted out by the current members, yet earlier on in the series, the Government appointed him to be part of the team and he mentions that he can’t get fired. Total contradiction, where is the editor on this book? He is then shown as part of the team with a huge beef with Hawkeye.
- Night Shift should have been more of a threat to them and recurring villains. They went almost 3 years from the time they first appeared to their next appearance. Their team was a good match against the WCA except for Simon who could beat their whole team almost by himself.
- The second Night Shift storyline started out really well. It’s a 4 part story that starts out strong but ends poorly. Having Hangman take over as leader and get Night Shift members power amped up was a good idea. The problems start with Satannish giving the power to them so he could steal souls through a TV program that they would be on. There is tons of ridiculousness that really doesn’t read well for anyone that is over thirteen. There is a part where Simon leaves to do a movie with Night Shift and US Agent has to take his spot in the movie he was in as a movie monster. Yet he does it without removing his own costume. Really, I mean really, that is how stupid this story arch becomes.
- The AWC integrates with the rest of the Avengers for Operation Galactic Storm and the next storyline guest starred Spider-Man, all of which were rating boosters. It didn’t help, the editors had to know the book was going to die soon, this must have been a last ditch effort to bring up sales.
- In the last 24 issues of the series, 6 of them are crossover issues with the X-Men, Avengers and Infinity Crusade. That is 1/4 of the issues dedicated to things not actually directly involved with this teams characters.
- I remember loving issue 102 when it came out and thought how cool it was that the team was quitting the Avengers. Reading it now, this book is horrible. The team has an issue with member of AWC willing to kill and Avengers don’t kill. Iron Man backs his team (this is an imposter at this point) and they decide they would rather start over. It was obvious that they wanted to take this team in a more 90’s violent direction – more action than just a guy with a bow shooting at someone and treating his wife horribly and that’s basically what this book was reduced to.
- War Machine joins the book but then leaves quickly because he would not reveal his true identity and the team only wanted him around if they knew who he was. WHAT? Darkhawk joins/teams up with them shortly after that and no one cares that they don’t know who he is.
Final Review – I would never recommend this series to be read today unless you just cannot get enough Avengers. It reads horribly. Many of the stories were cool when I was 11 and 12, just trying to pick up comics wherever I could but if you are over the age of 13, this series is not for you. You might really like this series if you like every panel explained to you instead of just showing you what is going on with character development. The series spends more time explaining what is going on instead of actually moving the story forward.
I kept the Galactic Storm issues so that I still had the full run but did not keep another issue from this series. I didn’t even keep the crossover with the X-Men in #101. That story has so many problems, mainly the fight with Exodus lasts over three issues with many of the surrounding plotlines being forgotten or written differently with each writing team working on the books.
The writing really goes in circles and many things are left unexplained. This book often felt like someone had a contract to write so many books each month and this was at the bottom of the list. The art is poor for most of the series, it’s not something where you are going to remember it the next day. Many of the villains in this series never felt like actual threats and left you wanting a major villain for this team, not just throwaway characters each story arch. The art does pick up near the end of the series but is really just a poor clone of many of the 90’s style artists. You can tell when it hits the 90’s boom because everything tries to get edgier, which today just looks like a joke.
Just to show that Marvel is willing to Reprint anything, you can get this series collected in TPB form through issue 62. Why anyone would pay the retail price of a TPB when you should be able to pick up every issue for around a quarter is beyond me. I sold this whole series on eBay for around $45. That’s over 110 issues if you include the limited series and annuals.
Look for a review of Force Works, the comics from this years Free Comic Book Day and many other series.