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West Coast Avengers #20: Review

May 1987
Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom

Story Name:

In the meantime, in between-time

Review & Comments

4 stars

West Coast Avengers #20 Review by (January 17, 2017)
This is part 4 of Lost In Space-Time, and it continues a trend from the previous issues of having events taking place in a number of different times which matches the part number - ie in this case 4. The strain of keeping this up is already showing by the choice of 2 different months in the same year.

Dr Strange went back with his love Clea to 1776 in DrS(1974)#18-19 where they met Benjamin Franklin. Their unreported dialogue and thoughts here reflect the fact that Clea had an affair with Franklin. However it it will turn out not to be the real Franklin but an enemy sorcerer Stygro in disguise. (Steve Englehart wrote #18 but it was the end of his run.)

Iron Man knows King Arthur was real because he went back in time to visit him with Dr Doom in IM#150. But he never met Merlin.
An editorial comment suggests that Hawkeye read the Merlin entry in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (1985 edition) #8. This lists 3 Merlins. The bad 1 is also known as the Mad Merlin and Mah Yogi. The 2 good 1's are Arthur's Merlin and Merlyn of Otherworld connected to Captain Britain. But the entry has to say that these last 2 may be the same person. Other authorities vary on that subject between possibly and definitely.

Prester John's non-timetravel suspended animation story is as told in Fantastic Four #54. However in Defenders #11 he *did* travel back in time to retrieve the Evil Eye from Prince John and Mordred which the Defenders had taken back with them to try to rescue Black Knight.

Kang took on the role Rama-Tut twice. 1st at the beginning of his career, before he actually became Kang, He travelled back to ancient Egypt to be its despotic ruler. 2nd later, between being Kang and Immortus, when he'd learned the error of his ways and returned to Egypt to be a good ruler.
In GSAv#2 Rama-Tut II explained that he destroyed his time-sphere in Egypt because he'd given up trying to conquer everything. But later he realised that he should try and stop the devastated future that would be the result of Kang gaining control of the Celestial Madonna. Hence the suspended animation trick.

Rama-Tut I used the ultra-diode ray against the Fantastic Four in FF#19.

I don't think we ever find out who shot Carlotta Valdez. The Indians don't have guns so maybe it was just an example of friendly fire.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #20 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This issue we''ll follow events in 4 different times, although 2 of them are only a month apart. Hawkeye, Iron Man, Tigra and Wonder Man are in July 1776 but we see Carlotta Valdez in August of that year. Meanwhile Mockingbird is with Phantom Rider in 1876 and Henry Pym and Espirita are in the present.

The WCA are flying the long way from Arizona to Egypt. WM is carrying Dr Doom''s time machine while IM carries Tigra and Hawkeye - Clint with a burned face and arm. Carlotta gave him a soothing ointment last issue but now he''s developing a fever so they''re heading to Philadelphia for a doctor.

Their ultimate aim is to get the time platform to Egypt so they can travel back to ancient Egypt - the machine is broken and will only travel in time not space, and then only to the past not the future. There they hope to contact the time-travelling Pharaoh Rama-Tut and get him to mend the device. Then they can return to 1876 to rescue MB, and to the present to deal with Dominus who sent them on this 1-way trip in the 1st place (#17). But since time-travel is involved, spending time now getting Hawkeye healed won''t make any difference.

Clint Barton has also initiated another escape plan. Last issue he realised that Carlotta Valdez was somehow linked with Bonita Juarez in the present - they''d had dreams/visions of each other. He gave Carlotta a written message for Bonita hoping that it would get to her in the future so she could organise their rescue from that end.

Simon Williams pooh-poohs the idea. Tigra suggests giving Tony Stark a rest and letting her ride on the time platform. Wondy says that''s no problem for him. But really Greer wanted to have a private word with Simon, to tell him off for his newly-overdeveloped ego. Teammates are supposed to support each other, not score points. But he retorts that maybe he''s too good for the team now.

1 month later Carlotta Valdez is riding in a coach with her chaperone and a priest. They are accompanied by a troop of Spanish soldiers on horseback, on the way to San Luis Obispo in California to join her uncle there. Carlotta''s 2 companions are shocked when she tells them how she helped 4 flying ''British spies'' last month, and bandaged Hawkeye''s burns with part of her petticoat. She also shows them a message he wrote on another piece of the garment, asking her to keep it in her hope chest (where a girl would collect things in anticipation of marriage) and hand it down to her descendants.

Then the unusual young lady stops the coach and steps out to ride her horse Escarlata beside the captain of the soldiers. Then we see the events of Firebird''s vision from #4. Indians attack, Carlotta pulls out her pistol and helps the soldier shoot back, and she gets shot in the back. Now we see more. As she dies Carlotta asks the priest to take the message and keep it safe. He promises.

A month before that the WCA reach Philly. Wonder Man seems more of a team player now, but Tigra doesn''t know if he''s just pretending - he is a movie actor. The 2 strong guys leave Tigra to guard unconscious Hawkeye. They steal some clothes (because their 20th Century money couldn''t be accepted) so they can walk the streets. They pass Dr Strange, Clea and Benjamin Franklin, but neither group notices the other.

In 1876 Phantom Rider brings Barbara (Mockingbird) to Lordsburg, New Mexico where he is Marshall as Lincoln Slade. They hope to hide there from Rawhide Kid and Two-Gun Kid who are trying to get Clint''s wife back from her abductor (#18). But last issue Slade fed Mocky a Comanche potion that made her forget her past and fall in love with him.

Lincoln changes into his civvies and leaves Barbara outside town while he rides in and buys a dress for her. Then he signals to his love and she sneaks in through his bedroom window. She ushers him out while she gets changed. And considers the strange un-Indian arrowhead she found in PR''s cave (which we know Hawkeye dropped there 100 years earlier). Something makes her use it in a necklace. Slade takes her out to show off his ''fiancee'' to the town.

In 1776 Hawkeye is feeling better after a doctor''s treatment, as they fly over the Atlantic. As they approach England Iron Man wonders about changing their plan and going back to King Arthur''s time and getting Merlin to help them. But Hawkeye claims to be a history specialist and says that there were several guys calling themselves Merlin then - they could get a bad 1. Tigra suggests Prester John who''s Evil Eye triggered the Avengers/Defenders clash (Av#115-118, Def#8-11), but Hawkeye says he wasn''t a time-traveller - he just survived a long time in a magic chair.

In the present Bonita Juarez, who has graduated from Firebird to Espirita, and Henry Pym are beginning to wonder why the team haven''t returned from Albuquerque - where they actually went to invite Firebird to join them. But in #17 she turned up here in the WCA Compound as Espirita and stopped Hank from committing suicide.

Bonita picks up her family Bible and offers to pray for their safe return. Something falls out of it - it''s the petticoat message. But she just stuffs it back in, saying that the family has stored many things in the Bible. However HP is not a believer in the power of prayer.

So they return to the topic of finding a role for Henry that uniquely suits him. Last issue he described his discovery and use of the size-changing Pym particles. Now she asks him to describe his other great success - robotics and the creation of Ultron. Hank ignores the villain that later Ultron''s became, and the ''son'' that Ultron-12 was becoming before he died (#7), and concentrates on Ultron-1.

Pym studied the android Dragon Man and developed an AI which unexpectedly became self-aware. Ultron-1 escaped and began to evolve by rebuilding itself into increasingly better mark numbers. This gives Espirita the beginnings of an idea.

Back to 1776 and the WCA reach Egypt, and the pyramids and Sphinx at Giza. As Wonder Man is setting the controls for the jump back to Rama-Tut''s time they are attacked by Mamluk warriors. Iron Man holds them back while Tigra leaps around among them. Hawkeye can''t use his bow with an arm in a sling but he holds his breath and waves a gas arrow around. Then WM says he''s ready and they all dive on the activated time platform ...

... only to arrive in 2920 BC and get attacked by ancient Egyptians. Until the High Priest Shamaz calls a halt. He recognises how the Fantastic Four arrived years ago and wants to parley. (He learned a lot of English from that encounter!)

Hawkeye asks to see the Pharaoh, but Shamaz says he''s preparing to go into suspended animation to reach the future. Clint says that he and Iron Man met Rama-Tut at the other end of that trip (Giant-Size Avengers #2), but they need him to fix their time machine. Shamaz says that the Pharaoh destroyed his own time machine when he returned to them 17 years ago. If he knew how to recreate such a thing he wouldn''t need to go to sleep for nearly 5000 years.

But Wonder Man''s threats seem to change Shamaz'' attitude and he lets them in Tut''s pyramid.

Inside they find a large room with Tut sitting on a throne. he seems to be in a trance but does respond dreamily. He says he''s going to prevent his Kang self from obtaining Mantis, the Celestial Madonna (GSAv#2). Hawkeye tries to get his attention, shouting that he helps Tut in the future. The Pharaoh seems to recognise the archer and tells them to go further back to his earlier reign in Egypt, where he apparently knew more about how time machines work.

Clint reminds his team that the earlier Rama-Tut hadn''t yet repented his evil ways - going then might not be a good idea. IM says they''ll do whatever he decides. But all this time Hawkeye has been suffering from the effects of his burns and also their long arduous trip. He''s literally ready to drop. But his teammates say that he can rely on the team he has forged them into. Clint names Tony Stark as temporary chairman and falls unconscious.

Despite joining in the ''teamwork'' spiel Simon Williams is angry that he wasn''t made boss. Iron Man echoes Tigra''s earlier thought to ask WM if he was acting when he played nice recently. Tigra takes charge of Hawk''s body and they leave the pyramid and use the time platform again.

But when they arrive in 2940 BC they are immediately zapped by Rama-Tut himself with his ultra-diode ray.

Al Milgrom
Joe Sinnott
Ken Feduniewicz
Al Milgrom (Cover Penciler)
Joe Sinnott (Cover Inker)


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