Tuesday, 13 October 2015

West Coast Avengers #1 - Marvel Comics

WEST COAST AVENGERS No. 1, September 1984
Whilst Roger Stern’s somewhat pedestrian-paced script for Issue One of the “West Coast Avengers” limited series is nowhere near as frustratingly tedious a read as Stan Lee’s Silver Age story “The Old Order Changeth!” There is, perhaps understandably, a number of similarities between this “bold new chapter in the annals of Earth’s mightiest heroes” and the May 1965 “spectacular special issue” of “The Avengers” which heralded “the start of a great new Avengers line-up!”

In fact the narratives for “Avengers Assemble!” and its thirty year old predecessor are in some ways upsettingly undistinguishable from one another with both featuring a new team leader pulling together a fresh collection of hesitant, nervous and somewhat unproven super-heroes, and then housing them within an expensively lavish state-of-the-art compound. The Noblesville-born writer even goes so far as to include several ominous nods to the one-time publishing President’s original storyline by having 'his' Hawkeye once again refer to the Super-soldier serum enhanced Captain America as an Avenger who doesn’t have “any amazing powers” and then offer a perceived super-villain, in this case the anti-hero Maximillian Quincy, a place on the “Wackos” having been impressed with the Shoud’s skill in penetrating their Los Angeles-based estate's defences; “Besides, what you did reminds me a little of how I introduced myself to the Avengers -- I broke in too!”

Putting aside such potential plagiarism of a “classic Avengers” comic however, Stern’s twenty-three page periodical also proves to be something of an inauspicious experience due to its failure to live up to its initial concept’s promise. Bob Hall and Brett Breeding’s cover art genuinely gives the impression that this ‘new’ title could really be something innovatively different, and even suggests that diverse characters such as Rom the Space Knight, the diminutive acrobat Puck and “genius psychiatrist” Doc Samson may be permanent cast members. Disappointingly though, with the exception of Mockingbird, the American author instead simply regurgitates a number of arguably failed former “New York team” associates, and even portrays a couple of these “out of my league[rs]” as being somewhat displeased when awarded a “spot” on the line-up. Indeed Tigra is actually paid $1,000 by the Vision just to catch “the next shuttle flight” to California and “help the [West Coast] Avengers out.”

Fortunately Hall’s precise and detailed pencilling goes a long way to help make amends for the graphic novelist’s uninspiring storytelling. With the former “Charlton Comics” inker’s depictions of an overly enthusiastic, somewhat pushy Hawkeye and self-doubting "Jimmy Rhodes" Iron Man, resplendent in his shiny red and gold armour, looking as good as any bibliophile could ask for.
Writer: Roger Stern, Penciler: Bob Hall, and Inker: Brett Breeding

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