Friday, 6 November 2015

West Coast Avengers #2 - Marvel Comics

WEST COAST AVENGERS No. 2, October 1984
Featuring the debut of Roger Stern and Bob Hall’s creation The Blank, Issue Two of “West Coast Avengers” disappointingly pits the ‘fledgling’ super-group’s rather formidable roster up against one of the New York publisher’s most uninspiring and frankly third-rate villains ever. Indeed, if the “unemployed drifter” hadn’t conveniently encountered a Stark International Research scientist whilst waiting for a bus and subsequently stolen the inventor’s force field generator, then the Wackos really would spend the entire length of this comic book battling nothing more than an ordinary, powerless, criminally-minded “disgruntled” nobody.

Presumably however, such a forgettable foe was actually devised in order to allow the American author to spend a considerable portion of this twenty-three page periodical concentrating upon the doubts and fears of this “expansion of the main Avengers team”. Something the Noblesville-born novelist does to a disconcerting depth as practically every single one of the super-heroes featured within the narrative inwardly demonstrates some considerable team angst; “I’m not anywhere near being in his league… Why did I let Hawkeye talk me into joining his new Avengers team?”

Foremost of these doubting Thomas’ is arguably Wonder Man, the son of a rich industrialist who is clearly not half as confident with his “personal performance” as his self-assured Simon ‘stunt man’ Williams alter ego would suggest. In fact having demonstrated his inability to “handle one gimmicky bank robber by myself” the angry “ionic” powerhouse becomes worryingly obsessed with “nabbing” the Blank by himself just to prove ‘what good he is to the Avengers’.

Equally as image-driven, and quite possibly power-mad as well, is Jim Rhodes’ Iron Man. Concerned that Hawkeye’s gruelling daily workout showed him up and that he may be trading “on another man’s rep” since replacing Tony Stark “inside this metal suit”, the armoured “amateur” admits to revelling in the power bestowed upon him because it “felt good… read good!”

Fortunately this magazine does feature some incredibly lively action-packed artwork by Bob Hall. Admittedly the one-time “Charlton Comics” inker isn’t as consistent with his illustrations as some readers may have hoped for, particularly when sketching the Blank’s origin flashback. But the former “Marvel Comics” editor’s drawings of Iron Man, Tigra, Mockingbird and Hawkeye during the Wackos ‘mock’ battle against “Shellhead” prove to be an incredibly dynamically-charged way to start an otherwise rather run-of-the-mill story.
Writer: Roger Stern, Penciler: Bob Hall, and Inker: Brett Breeding

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