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West Coast Avengers #33: Review

Jun 1988
Steve Ellis, Mike Machlan

Story Name:

The man in the ant hill

Review & Comments

4 stars

West Coast Avengers #33 Review by (December 17, 2022)
The title is of course taken from Henry Pym's 1st app in Tales To Astonish #27 before he became Ant-Man. The flashbacks of Hank's 1st marriage and the circumstances of his meeting Janet Van Dyne are mostly faithful renderings of panels from TTA#44.

Moon Knight is claimed to be the 24th Avenger. My count of Avengers so far is:-
Ant-Man(etc), Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Wasp, Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Swordsman
Hercules, Black Panther, Vision, Black Knight, Mantis, Beast, Wonder Man, Ms Marvel, Falcon, Tigra
She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, Starfox, Iron Man(James Rhodes), Mockingbird, Sub-Mariner, Dr Druid, Moon Knight
I make it 28th not counting Black Widow, Firebird, Hellcat, Jocasta, Moondragon and Thing who never actually joined (up to this point).
I'd have to lose 4 more to get down to 24th. Possibilities are Swordsman, Mantis and Iron Man(JR) but I struggle to find a 4th.

Wasp's antennae only appear when she's insect-size but seemingly shrank due to disuse between the end of the pairs' regular adventures in TTA#69 and their return in the Sub-Mariner tale in TTA#78.

We'll learn what Scarlet Witch and Vision are doing here next issue.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #33 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The West Coast Avengers convene to make Moon Knight a full member. Team leader Hawkeye proposes him not just because of his 'rescue' of Clint Barton's wife Mockingbird last issue. The other members have their own reasons for agreeing:- Tigra because she's Marc Spector's girlfriend. Wonder Man has got past MK's mercenary past because his own isn't spotless. Bobbi Morse because he knows about her secret Phantom Rider problem (last issue again). Wasp has no vote but she's glad to see the team expanding. Marc accepts because he thinks he can help them fight mystic foes, but they don't know he's being increasingly taken over by the Moon God Khonshu. Only Henry Pym is missing ...

... and then he bursts in asking for help. He tells them he was hacking an Eastern Bloc security network just for fun but then came across a mention of Maria Trovaya, who Janet van Dyne explains was his 1st wife. Hank then relates the tale 1st told in a flashback in Tales To Astonish #44. How he met and married the daughter of a refugee scientist from Communist Hungary. They made the mistake of honeymooning in Hungary assuming nobody would realise who his wife was. But she was arrested and killed. Afterwards he threw himself into his research which resulted in him discovering how to shrink to ant-size (TTA#27) and then become Ant-Man (TTA#35).

Now he adds that all evidence he's unearthed since then has supported the idea that Maria is dead, but now he has to find out for sure. The team express solidarity. Hank apologises for ruining Moon Knight's induction but ex-merc Marc is glad to fight tyranny in this cause. So they set off for Hungary by quinjet. En route Jan remembers how she met Hank and became Wasp, also from TTA#44, investigating the murder of her father by the Creature From Kosmos.

When they land in Budapest in the Communist (at the time of publication) country they are met by a gathering of Pym's old Communist enemies. Some Soviet spies from TTA#35. Comrade/Madame X from TTA#36. El Toro from TTA#54. The Beasts Of Berlin from TTA#60. They all claim to know nothing of Maria but they intend to arrest the Whackos as criminals against the regime.

Dr Pym breaks free, desperate to find his ex-wife. X pulls a gun but shrunken Wasp attacks her face. Hawkeye yells "Avengers Assemble". Tigra tackles the mutated-ape Beasts but Toro stabs her in the back with his horns, which turn out now to be poisoned. X's gun fires poison gas which Hawkeye somehow dispels with an arrow as Mockingbird clonks her with her battle-stave. The Beasts pile on Wonder Man while Moon Knight hits regular troops with his crescent darts until Toro poison-stabs him too. Mocky is KO'd by some Beasts. Wasp blasts them but then flies off to help her ex. Hank faces some more troops with seemingly empty hands, but then he enlarges the miniature machine-pistols he holds and fires rubber bullets at them. Jan stings some of them as Hank enlarges some shears from 1 of his many pockets to clip through a metal fence. Troops restrain Hawkeye and Toro gets Wonder Man to surrender to save his poisoned teammates as 'Ant-Man' and Wasp escape into the city.

The duo bicker as they used to but then laugh about it. Hank puts finding Maria over rescuing the Avengers. Because he no longer has his cybernetic helmet he can't contact the local ants but he uses his enlarging power to stimulate Jan's dormant antennae into growth. She interrogates the ants of Budapest and learns that Maria's name was spoken this morning in the Bratislava prison. They go there and Wasp sneaks in through a keyhole, stings a guard unconscious and lets Hank in. An ant leads them to the cell where Maria Trovaya was mentioned. But inside they find Scarlet Witch and Vision.

Mike Machlan
Mike Machlan
Paul Becton
Al Milgrom (Cover Penciler)
Mike Machlan (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Layouts: Al Milgrom. Letterer: Bill Oakley.
Editor: Mark Gruenwald. Editor-in-chief: Tom DeFalco.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Clint Barton)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

(Greer Nelson)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Doctor Pym (Henry Pym), El Toro, Madame X.

> West Coast Avengers: Book info and issue index

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