Christian A. Dumais

West Coast Wednesdays: West Coast Avengers Vol. 1, #1

West Coast Avengers #1

West Coast Avengers, Vol. 1, Issue 1 (September 1984)


Writer: Roger Stern

Penciler: Bob Hall

Inker: Brett Breeding


Hawkeye gathers Mockingbird, Tigra, Wonder Man and Iron Man together for the first time. And before some of them can voice their concerns about being on the team, the West Coast Avengers compound is attacked by a mysterious figure.


Even though this is the first issue of the series, this one feels exceptionally heavy in the exposition. Everyone seems to be talking to one another for the first time in their lives, even though it’s established they have known and worked together before. The use of a misunderstanding to provide the team with its first fight feels unnecessary and ultimately disappointing. On top of that, there’s no cliffhanger, unless readers are meant to be on the edge of their seats wondering if Hawkeye will be able to finish pep talking the team to death.

Through all that exposition, team dynamics are being established. Mockingbird appears to have a secret. Tigra is insecure about being on the team. Iron Man is actually Jim Rhodes instead of Tony Stark, and the team is unaware of this detail, despite the fact that Stark doesn’t stutter his way through conversations like Rhodes does here. And Wonder Man’s conflict appears to be his inability to effectively hide how incredibly lame he is.

Speaking of Wonder Man, his powers include invulnerability and an overabundance of pockets. He does have one cool moment where his body is so hot that water boils off of him when they try to cool him off. But then he immediately goes to his trailer (he’s a stunt man on a movie set) and puts on the kind of costume a schizophrenic hobo would find on a shopping spree at Goodwill. And then to make matters worse, he sports porn sunglasses from the Seventies.

If I’m not mistaken, this particular costume is the first of many poor fashion choices Wonder Man will be making throughout this series.

I want to point out that Rom being on the cover was the coolest thing ever when I was a kid. And I’m fairly convinced that his floating head on the cover was designed solely for me to part with three quarters for the issue. I’m not sure I’ve ever forgiven Marvel for lying to me like that.

Maybe if Rom were never on the cover, I would never have picked this comic book up, and I wouldn’t be spending my free time now re-reading all of these books. I’d be outside, with or without pants, running free, meeting people or doing whatever it is normal people do.

Yeah, it looks like this is going to be a long couple of years.


I’m going to have to roast this one. The absence of a major threat to kick things off is problematic and there’s way too much standing around and talking.

Sorry, eleven year old me.


Really, Iron Man?

WCA 1.1





  1. nfpendleton

    I’ve noticed that my favorite comics were intentionally tongue-in-cheek or goofy in direct proportion to how seriously I took them.

  2. Derek Handley

    Roger Stern was doing some of his best work ever on “The Avengers” at that time… maybe he’d used up his best dialogue and plots already? Or maybe he needed John Buscema to keep him focused.

    I agree: roast. This didn’t get the series off to a good start. It also didn’t stop me buying the next 100+ issues! Ah, young me.

    That Iron Man and Tigra interaction is priceless. Good times.

  3. Christian A. Dumais

    Nick: Yeah, I’m beginning to see the same thing. Another thing is how I’ve outgrown the storytelling tools that were a large part of Marvel’s bag of tricks.

  4. Christian A. Dumais

    Derek: Stern’s only around for the mini-series, interestingly enough. Steve Englehart takes over when the regular series begins. Stern gives the team a lot of crutches, to the point that it’s painful. I often wonder if it was just the attitude of the time for New York writers to think that if the story’s set in California, then there has to be a lot of insecurity and self-doubt. I know that’s a weird observation, but after a while you have to wonder if it’s the characters or the geography that’s bringing out the worst in the writers.

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