Wednesday, 23 March 2016

West Coast Avengers #3 - Marvel Comics

WEST COAST AVENGERS No. 3, November 1984
Fans of Wonder Man were probably in two minds about Roger Stern’s handling of the Ionic-energy empowered superhero in this penultimate issue of the “West Coast Avengers” Limited Series. For whilst Simon Williams is shown ruggedly clearing the Santa Monica Freeway of unseasonal snow at the start of the comic, and later provides an enjoyable plotted history of his origin, Don Heck’s co-creation is for the most-part depicted as little more than a sullen, brooding super-hero who is rather worryingly solely preoccupied with his public image and the perceived battering it has taken following “that Blank… getting away… a couple of weeks ago.”

Admittedly such a flawed personality trait as hubris does make “the son of rich industrialist Sandford Williams” a far more compelling character, especially when he quite touchingly confides in fellow ‘Wacko’ Tigra that he doesn’t feel much of an Avenger having let the force field generator-powered felon escape his custody. But any reader’s sympathy to his confidence-lacking plight is then soon dispelled by the Noblesville-born writer dressing him up with the most absurd-looking curly blond wig and shades imaginable, just so the ‘experienced stuntman’ isn’t recognisable when escorting the Shroud on a visit to “what was once the home of one “Lucky Man” Galeno…”

Fortunately the narrative to “Taking Care of Business!” also spends a considerable time focussing upon former gravity researcher Franklin Hall and his return from being “exiled to the interdimensional void” by Thor. Able to manipulate “the subatomic particles that carry the force of gravitational attraction”, Graviton proves as formidable a foe for Wonder Man, Maximillian Coleridge and Greer Nelson in this comic’s later stages as he is mentally deranged. Indeed the supervillain’s spiteful toying of Clyde, the man whose charging field actually helped rescue the Canadian physicist from his “state of suspended animation” shows a decidedly nasty streak to a criminal clearly capable of taking on “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”; “There is no room in my organisation for whiners, Blank!”

Equally as engrossing as Graviton’s determination to “organize California’s criminal element!” is Bob Hall’s wonderful artwork for a twenty-three page periodical that is rather dialogue-heavy in parts. In fact the University of Nebraska-Lincoln attendee’s drawings of the Shorud repeatedly stepping from out of his Darkforce is arguably worth the cost of this comic’s cover price alone, even if the ‘Master of Darkness’ is accompanied by a ludicrous-looking Williams.
Writer: Roger Stern, Penciler: Bob Hall, and Inker: Brett Breeding

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