West Coast Wednesdays: West Coast Avengers Vol. 2, #39
WEST COAST CREDITS!
Writer: Steve Englehart
Penciler: Al Milgrom
WEST COAST SUMMARY!
After a few detours, the team is on the hunt to solve the mystery behind Mantis’ amnesia. The case takes them around the world from New Jersey to the temple in Vietnam where Mantis grew up. Once there, the answer is finally revealed. But what does the reanimated Swordsman have to do with it?
WEST COAST THOUGHTS!
This issue continues from both the previous issue and the annual, and it kicks off with the Quinjet going out of control and threatening the lives of everyone on board. The pilot is Hawkeye, and he awkwardly confesses to everyone that he lost control of the jet while he was talking to the East coast crew and they mentioned his ex-wife’s name. You’d think that this would be a problem that the team should probably deal with considering that 1) their leader has unresolved marital issues that he needs to sort out, and 2) these said issues are putting the team in harm’s way; but all of this pushed to the side so that Vision and Scarlet Witch can go check on their children in New Jersey.
The best part about the Hawkeye and Mockingbird split is how it completely screws the East coast team. Hawkeye tells the Avengers they’re on their way to help fight the High Evolutionary, but once he learns that Mockingbird is going to help too, he decides not to go. Naturally, he doesn’t contact the team to tell them this. Mockingbird, on the other hand, thinks that since she contacted the Avengers to let them know about the threat of the High Evolutionary, they’ll be calling the WCA to join them and so she doesn’t want to help the Avengers. This means that the Avengers are now stuck fighting the High Evolutionary while waiting for two teams to back them up that’ll never show. Astounding!
Anyway, we check in on Mockingbird and her crew at Newark airport fresh from their adventure in the annual. Giant Man has tagged along for the ride. Speaking of Bill Foster, he exits stage left in order to find Hank Pym and maybe help him cure his recently discovered not-dead first wife. Once he’s out of the picture, the Phantom Rider inexplicably appears to torment Mockingbird. He takes down everyone, and it’s up to Khonshu to save the day. The Phantom Rider rides off at the sight of the Egyptian god chasing him, and so this story will continue another day.
After stopping off to check on Vision and Scarlet’s Witch’s kids, the team goes to Mantis’ home to find some clues. The only thing they do learn is that she’s been sucked into a scam with Columbia House and is being sent CDs she didn’t order every other week. I mean, the advertisement clearly said I’ll get 10 free CDs and all I have to do is order 2 more whenever I wanted. And now I’m being sent all of these albums I don’t want every. fucking. week! What the fuck, Columbia House!? Why are you doing this to me? I’m only 15 years old!
Ahem. Sorry about that.
The teams ends up in Vietnam at a temple where Mantis grew up. There they find the grave of Swordsman, an Avenger who died in the line of duty back in the day. After he died, the Cotati, an alien tree creature, reanimated Swordsman’s body and used it to, as Wonder Man says: “get it on with a living human woman.” Naturally, the Swordsman rises from the grave again and fights everyone until he stabs Mantis with his sword (not a euphemism) to reveal that Mantis isn’t human, but another alien tree creature. Once dead, the real Mantis crawls out of Swordsman’s grave and unloads the mother of all Englehart exposition flashbacks.
The fundamental flaw with this issue is that Englehart is clearly wrapping up the storyline for Mantis (one that’s been hopping to other Marvel books at the time, such as Silver Surfer). The problem with that is no one cares. Mantis’ presence in the WCA has been peripheral at best and to waste so many pages on her story in this book feels gratuitous.
Interestingly enough, as this issue marks the first anniversary of West Coast Wednesdays, this appears to be Steve Englehart’s last issue on the title.
I know I’ve given you a lot of grief over the last year, Englehart, but you’ll be missed.
WEST BOAST OR ROAST?
Roast. What a mess! Not as bad as the last issue, but this one highlights most of the problems Englehart brings to the book. That said, I’m wondering if he got to wrap up his run on the book in the way he wanted to. I’m willing to bet, no.
WEST COAST SCENE (OF THE WEEK)!
The West Coast Avengers will consider anyone to be a member!
Previously on West Coast Wednesdays…
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