Sunday, 27 March 2016

West Coast Avengers #4 - Marvel Comics

WEST COAST AVENGERS No. 4, December 1984
Having initially started with Jim Rhodes ‘shellshocking’ his teammates by revealing that he’s replaced Tony Stark as Iron Man, Roger Stern’s script to Issue Four of “West Coast Avengers” subsequently transforms itself into an all-out action fest which not only sees the super-group rescue a truly waterlogged Wonder Man from the clutches of the formidably powerful Graviton. But also hand Franklin Hall a considerable ‘smackdown’ in the process. Indeed the Wackos' victory over “the Master of Gravity” is so compellingly conclusive that few readers must have shown surprise at the Vision’s ringing endorsement of the “…progress… made in just the first few weeks since the founding of our Western Division!”

However that doesn’t simply mean that the co-creator of the Hobgoblin has the heroes wade into the villain’s Santa Monica Retreat and just start throwing punches or firing repulsor rays. Instead the Noblesville-born writer pens a genuinely engaging plot packed full of intrigue and guile, as well as occasional bursts of raw power, that sees a fast-maturing Hawkeye using his brains as opposed to his team’s brawn in order to get the job done. In fact, up until the sudden appearance of the golden Avenger halfway through the twenty-three page periodical, it doesn’t appear as if the master archer's team have even yet arrived at the Canadian physicist’s lair. Let alone infiltrated it by disguising themselves as a barmaid, Maggia henchman and Madame Masque…

Such a well-devised cleverly-executed scheme really helps draw in the reader, and even provides a few stand-out moments such as an overconfident “amateur Iron Man” directly tapping into “the entire south-western power grid” and Tigra viciously slapping a moustached Clint Barton around the face when he momentarily gapes at the submerged ‘cadaver’ of Simon Williams in full view of Graviton; “Louis! What is the matter with you?! You’ve killed dozens of men! How dare you weaken at the sight of one corpse!” Is it any wonder that a year later in 1985, “Marvel Comics Group” launched a “second ongoing Avengers series” based upon the self-same line-up?

Bob Hall’s breakdowns are also nicely rendered throughout the majority of “Finale”. Finished by Brett Breeding and Peter Berardi, the American artist manages to pencil some incredibly expressive close-ups of the main cast, most notably Hawkeye, as well as draw some awesomely dynamic set-pieces like Wonder Man literally tearing down Hall’s lavish retreat just before “Phase Three” of the West Coast Avengers' plan takes effect.
Writer: Roger Stern, Breakdowns: Bob Hall, and Finishers: Brett Breeding & Peter Berardi

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