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Avengers West Coast #55: Review

Feb 1990
John Byrne, John Byrne

Story Name:

The breaking strain

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers West Coast #55 Review by (November 21, 2017)
So Acts of Vengeance is over and nothing much has changed. No superheroes, let alone any Avengers, were killed by Loki's masterplan. The Superhuman Registration Act and Spider-Man as Captain Universe subplots have come and gone. Magneto has imprisoned Red Skull, but he'll escape in the near future. About the only lasting effect is that the Avengers have lost Hydrobase Island and returned to the basement of what used to be their Manhattan Mansion. They will build a totally new building on the site. (But eventually even the old Mansion will return.) Oh, and Psylocke has a new body which she *will* keep, but that wasn't actually due to AoV.

The alternate title "Let There Be An Ending" on the cover, contained within a banner/scroll-like border, is deliberately reminiscent of the style of some 1960's covers - especially Fantastic Four #43 with a similar title.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers West Coast #55 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The Marvel Chronology Project has very little of Acts of Vengeance interest happening since last issue.

Quasar #7 was not bannered but did follow a subplot of AoV concerning Spider-Man with the power of Captain Universe. Q and Spidey fought the returned Terminus and got rid of him - but only until some of this year's Annuals.

In Captain America #368 Machinesmith used a Red Skull robot to cover for Skull's disappearance (abducted and imprisoned by Magneto in the previous issue). He and Crossbones sent a robot Magneto out to unsuccessfully try to lure the real 1 into the open.

Damage Control in their #3 repaired Avengers Mansion (that they raised from sunken Avengers Island in the previous issue) but then dropped it in the sea again before they could put it back in its original place in Manhattan.

Thor #413 was also not bannered but *was* directly connected to AoV. Thor discovered Loki was the (pre-AoV) cause of his recent bouts of weakness. Loki revealed himself to us as the power behind the cabal. Somehow Thor knew this too and flew off to warn the Avengers.

It all came together in Avengers #313. Captain America and Wonder Man examined the resunk Mansion and decided just to salvage stuff from within it. Mandarin and Wizard attacked the Manhattan basement Avengers HQ. Thor joined the Av (but didn't mention Loki). Wizard was captured but Mandarin escaped. Magneto took his comatose daughter Scarlet Witch and her house to the edge of space. Red Skull (the robot) joined the remaining cabal members (Dr Doom, Kingpin and Mandarin) and they discovered that their Dr Doom was (at least at that point) a robot.

And the last page of the CA#368 main story showed Magneto greeting his comatose daughter high in the atmosphere.

Now read on ...

This issue opens with Magneto and Wanda Maximoff, who is still closed down because of the series of tragedies she's suffered in recent issues.

But we immediately leave them and go instead to New York and the temporary Avengers meeting room in the basements that are all that remain in situ of their old Mansion. Dr. Pym and Wasp obviously just dropped Scarlet Witch off at the Avengers West Coast compound last issue and flew back to NY because here they are with Captain America, Thor and reserve Avenger Falcon. Iron Man presumably came here with them, and Vision has already transferred to the East Coast team. Hawkeye and Mockingbird are also here from the Great Lakes Avengers.

Thor is (at last) telling them that Loki is behind AoV and all the attacks on super-heroes. Wasp protests that Cloak and Dagger told her it was Dr Doom (in #9 of their Mutant Misadventures). And Vision chimes in that their captive Wizard says *he* is the mastermind. They think it's time to chat to him again ...

... but Wizard has a means of escape, even though they've taken his hi-tech weapons. A false thumbnail contains a device which opens his teleporting door to the cabal's meeting room. But when he steps through he finds Kingpin, Mandarin and Red Skull examining the remains of the just-revealed Dr Doom robot. They speculate whether the real Doom was *ever* amongst them.

However Wizard is more concerned with Mandarin who left him to the mercy of the Avengers. He claims that he didn't crack under interrogation, and waited for the chance to teleport here. The man we know is Loki but the cabal think is their lackey is incensed by this (a bit later we'll learn that he thinks Thor will be able to track Wizard here). But now he is finally sick of his dupes' inability to achieve his goal of destroying the "champions of Midgard", and he reveals himself as the Asgardian God of Evil. Kingpin sees this as his cue to exit through *his* teleportation door.

At this point we have an interlude in a past. John Wilkes Booth is about to assassinate President Lincoln but Lincoln hears the click of the cocking gun and reacts fast enough to knock it out of Booth's hand. As the man is taken away we see that a General in the theatre booth is in fact Immortus, who reluctantly wipes this timeline out of existence (as he did to another alternate reality in #53). He repeats that this is part of his goal to become Master of Time. (But this time he says he wants to *reinstate* himself in that position.)

But when he gets back to his base in Limbo he is dismayed to find that a scanner is no longer centred on Scarlet Witch. Wonder Man flies into view (he must have flown here very quickly from NY where he was in Av#313) to see the place where Wanda's house had been. He is greeted by Agatha Harkness who had been watching over her, but was lured out of the house in Av#313 to investigate a sound. And turned round to see the building shooting up into the sky.

U.S. Agent arrives. He says he just got back from his encounter with Giganto last issue in time to see the takeoff, and he's tracked where it's gone. Simon Williams is about to fly in pursuit but USA persuades him to accompany him in a quinjet. They find the house and WM dons a space helmet to fly towards it ... but flies into an explosion.

Cut to the cabal room where Loki has his remaining cabal members (Mandarin, Red Skull and Wizard) in magical stasis as he rants at them for messing up his plan to kill all super-heroes by pitting unfamiliar foes against them. In particular he wanted the Avengers dead to erase the stain of being responsible for their formation (original Av#1 of course).

But then his earlier premonition comes true as Thor warps in, closely followed by the rest of the group from the East Coast meeting room. Loki causes the walls of the cabal room to fall away. And Thor recognises the scene as the Isle of Silence.

Loki sends a couple of local Trolls against Cap, causes vegetation to ensnare Hawkeye and Mockingbird and winds to blow Falcon and Wasp away, and then fire to engulf Iron Man. (John Byrne seems to have forgotten about Dr Pym and Vision who are here but aren't seen in the fight.) Thor himself goes after Loki who erects a wall of ice between them.

But the God of Evil has forgotten about the spell holding the 3 villains in stasis and they rush to escape through the magic doors which still exist in the fallen walls. (An Avengers Annual #19/3 flashback will reveal that Mandarin gets away but the forgotten Dr Pym stops Wizard and Vision unveils Skull as a robot.)

Thor smashes through the ice and causes a deep fissure to open in the ground into which his brother falls. And the Thunder God closes it up over him. And his friends' problems all vanish away.

Thor tells them Loki isn't dead, and the trap won't hold him long. He also claims that this is only a simulation of the Isle of Silence where their foe was imprisoned when he inadvertently triggered the formation of the 1st Avengers team in Av#1. That action has long annoyed him, and AoV was his plan to get the assembled villains of Earth to wipe out that stain. But he's only made them stronger.

As an epilogue we return to California where Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne bid adieu to Iron Man before taking their quinjet back to the AWC compound. Dr Pym goes to check on Tigra (who he miniaturised for her own good back in #49). Wasp goes to check on Wanda in her house (which has returned to its place). But inside she finds an injured US Agent who urges her to get away. He tells her Wonder Man has been blown to pieces in space. And a menacing Scarlet Witch suddenly appears to take the credit (in a new costume and hairdo).

The MCP has 2 AoV-relevant things before that epilogue. Outside of AoV Loki resurfaces immediately in Thor #414 disguised again as a new crimelord. Av Spotlight #29/2 is an AoV Epilogue. The Avengers and others deliver various captured villains to an improved Vault - including Wizard whom it says *here* was delivered to the cops by angry Loki's teleportation system, with his weapons in a locked briefcase. Iron Man discovers the case is booby-trapped with Klaw the villain made of sound, and he has to fight both. (The Hawkeye tale in AvSpot#29/1 isn't AoV at all.)

There are also AoV things that happen later, tying up some loose ends:-

In Damage Control v2 #4 Kingpin is discovered to be behind DC's new owners but with SHIELD help DC become independent. But KP's still happy because he's made a lot of money out of AoV somehow. In AvAn#19/3 Cap, Thor and Vision piece together what happened in AoV (with lots of flashbacks, some with new info). Also we learn the Superhuman Powers Act will be shelved. In Uncanny X-Men #258 Lady Mandarin attempts to brainwash Wolverine but instead gets her Psylocke personality back. They escape from Mandarin. And in Amazing Spider-Man #329 (billed as an AoV Aftermath) Spidey easily defeats Graviton again with his Captain Universe powers. Loki converts 3 Sentinels owned by Sebastian Shaw into a Tri-Sentinel. Spidey destroys it but it drains the CU power from him.

Much later Spidey has another 2-issue AoV Aftermath. In Web of SM #64-65 Graviton rescues Brothers Grimm, Titania and Trapster from a prison van and they all want vengeance on Spidey. But crimelord Chameleon hires them to kill Spidey anyway alongside his other AoV foe Goliath. They think they've succeeded but Chameleon skips town without paying them. But he leaves fake evidence that rival Kingpin was in on the deal. When the villains go after KP for their money Spidey saves him, lowering KP's rep which is what Chameleon wanted.

John Byrne
Paul Ryan
Bob Sharen
John Byrne (Cover Penciler)
John Byrne (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Bill Oakley.
Editor: Howard Mackie.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Sam Wilson)

(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Wilson Fisk)

(Loki Laufeyson)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

U.S. Agent
U.S. Agent

(John Walker)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Agatha Harkness, Doctor Pym (Henry Pym), Immortus.

> Avengers West Coast: Book info and issue index

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