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West Coast Avengers #34: Review

Jul 1988
Steve Englehart, Mike Machlan

Story Name:

Prisoners of the slave-world

Review & Comments

4 stars

West Coast Avengers #34 Review by (December 24, 2022)
Again the title has been borrowed from an Ant-Man story in Tales To Astonish, this time from #41.

Scarlet Witch and Vision have been quite busy since their 2nd mini-series mentioned here. They were involved in Quicksilver's earlier revenge attempt in our Annual #1 also mentioned here. They had a visit from Simon Williams in our #30, and then they were in a tale in Solo Avengers #5 where Wanda met 1 of Marvel's little-used chars John Kowalski, an avatar of Death.
The Witch then soloed in a tale spread across Marvel Comics Presents #60-63 involving her pirate ancestor Red Lucy Keough.

In X-Factor Annual #2 it was revealed that Quicksilver's evil deeds have been caused by the Inhuman Maximus messing with his mind. But he's obviously escaped from the Inhumans before they can cure him.

The Beasts Of Berlin, El Toro and Madame X will return for a final came at then end of #36. Scarlet Beetle won't be there but is more resilient. It's already had a 2nd app in the Ant-Man backup tale in Iron Man #44 plus it will have a retro-app in Untold Tales Of Spider-Man #12. It will return for several more apps starting with Amazing SM Annual #24 in a tale starring the 'new' Ant-Man Scott Lang as well as Hank Pym.

Everyone else including Quicksilver and the Phantom Rider ghost will be back next issue.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #34 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The West Coast Avengers have gone to Communist Hungary because of a rumour that Henry Pym's 1st wife Maria Trovaya is still alive there. They were met by a gang of his obscure old enemies the Beasts Of Berlin, El Toro, Madame X and some Soviet spies from his 1st adventure as Ant-Man. Most of the team were captured but Dr Pym and Wasp escaped. Following a lead from some ants they found Scarlet Witch and Vision in prison.

Now Madame X, boss of those villains, says that Hawkeye, Tigra and Wonder Man can go free (without weapons in Clint Barton's case) but absent Mockingbird and Moon Knight are imprisoned for spying (Bobbi Barton as an ex-SHIELD Agent and Marc Spector as an ex-mercenary). So Hawkeye punches her face, a signal for Tigra and Simon Williams to wade in to the mutated ape Beasts. El Toro charges Hawkeye who uses a Hungarian flag as a toreador cape to cause the villain to get his (poisoned) horns stuck in a wall. Then he turns the flagpole into a bow and uses banister rails as arrows to KO Beasts and regular troops.

When all the foes are down the trio head back to the cell they'd been held in but find the other 2 gone. Then more Communist troops arrive. But the US Ambassador Pickens also turns up to say he has a paper signed by the Hungarian Premier handing over the Avengers into his custody. He tells them that the US suspect that research is being done here into creating superhumans (like the super-ape Beasts). He invites them to the Embassy where they can plan how to rescue their friends (including Dr Pym and Wasp). When they get there they find that the Phantom Rider is there and wants to help them because great guilt needs to be cleansed for (time-travelling) Mockingbird's encounter with his PR ancestor. Clint thinks he means that Lincoln Slade raped Bobbi, but we know he means that Bobbi allowed him to fall to his death (in #23).

Meanwhile Mocky and Moon Knight have been taken to another prison by some Beasts who display unlikely knowledge of WCA recent history. They are thrown into a high-security cell containing Henry Pym and Janet Van Dyne along with Scarlet Witch and Vision. Dr Pym and Wasp describe how they used ants to lead them here last issue. And Vision explains that the walls emit rays which prevent them from using their powers to escape.

MK reasons that the cell was designed to hold superhumans but wonders why it works on the android Vision. Vizh takes the opportunity to recount his history. His body was created in the 1940's as the original Human Torch. That body was reused by Ultron-5 with a copy of Wonder Man's brain patterns for Vision, and this dual heroic heritage (presumably) caused him to turn against his villainous creator and join the Avengers. There he and Wanda slowly fell in love, much to the disgust of her brother Pietro (Quicksilver), and they were married by Immortus (in Giant-Size Avengers #4). Since then Wanda's probability power enabled them to conceive twin boys Tommy and Billy (in the 2nd Vision & Scarlet Witch mini-series).

Recently they got an emergency message supposedly from Bova, the uplifted cow who raised Pietro and Wanda, They left the twins with Simon Williams' mother and came to Bova's mountain home (presumably Mount Wundagore). But there they were captured by troops with weapons designed to specifically counter their powers. And they wound up in this cell. Hank Pym at last realises that the rumour of his wife being alive was a lure to get him here just like the message from Bova. And Bobbi says that the assembly of his old villains last issue plus the ability to nullify their specific powers suggests that the person behind this knows them very well.

As if on cue the door opens for a brief second and Quicksilver zooms in. He's still after revenge on the Avengers who he feels betrayed him, especially his sister Wanda who took up with the android Vision and the sided with his wife Crystal when she was unfaithful to him (V&SW v2 #10). He reminds them how he tried to get revenge before (in Av Annual #15 & WCA An #1) by betraying both teams to Henry Peter Gyrich and sending the LMD Zodiac against them. He tried to get lone revenge on Crystal in Fantastic Four #304-306 but the FF made *her* a team member and handed *him* over to her family the Inhumans. He says he escaped from them and has since been working with the Communists developing superpowers, and he's lured them here, especially his sister, to be used in the experiments. He claims it is his destiny to take over the role that his father Magneto has put down, to become King of the Evil Mutants. While he's been ranting various Avengers have tried unsuccessfully to capture him. Now he zooms out the door again.

But he's replaced by the astral body of Phantom Rider (who none of them can see of course). He listens as Wanda explains how Pietro changed after learning that Magneto was their father (V&SW vol 1 #4). He'd tried to overcome his 'awkward' tendencies and be a hero in the Avengers. But afterwards he gave in to his dark side. She fears that she too may follow him into madness some day. Marc says *he*'s been mad and he doesn't see it in her. Vision that she hasn't inherited that from her father, and neither will their boys. He claims that Pietro went mad because he couldn't love, but she can and their love has made them whole. Hank and Jan look on and he absent-mindedly puts his hand on her shoulder. Then he apologises but she says it's OK.

Suddenly Bobbi Barton cracks (with Phantom Rider standing invisibly behind her). She blurts out that she's betrayed Clint. She reminds them how the Wild West PR kidnapped, drugged and raped her. But what she hadn't told them was how after she regained her senses and fought back she knocked him over the edge of a cliff. He was hanging on to the edge and pleading with her to pull him up. But she let him fall to his death. And now his spirit has returned to haunt her. And she couldn't tell Clint because he believes Avengers should save lives not kill.

Jan and Wanda commiserate with her and tell her they understand. Hank believes the same as Clint but he too sympathises. Moon Knight (especially when under the influence of Khonshu as he is now) believes in vengeance. Vision is sure Clint will agree with them, and this all emboldens Bobbi to confess to him. This worries the Rider so he hurries back to his body to make sure she won't have the chance. He rejoins Hawkeye and the other 2 to tell them he's found Mockingbird and the others. And he can even take them to them. But he thinks it's time to explain that he really is a ghost and why.

We don't hear what he says. Instead we skip to Wonder Man breaking into the cell with Hawkeye in tow. Bobbi tries for a joyful reunion but Clint brusquely tells them all to hurry up and escape. However the way out is blocked another old Ant-Man foe the human-sized Scarlet Beetle (from Tales To Astonish #39), but this time he's got an army of similar creatures. Vision and Wonder Man are able to survive the slashing mandibles and go in for close combat. Dr Pym dives in and shrinks them with a touch. Wasp offers to sting the shrunken ones to sleep, but a hex from Scarlet Witch makes a large 1 land on its back on top of them. Hawkeye fires arrows and Mocky fights them with her battlestave, but he still won't talk to her. Then Simon Williams explains that they know she's a murderess.

They quickly finish of the Beetles and exit the prison to where Tigra is waiting with their quinjet. The other villains are too late to stop them getting into the craft, and Quicksilver arrives just in time to see them taking off. But Madame X orders a missile to take them down. It damages the jet and Hawkeye just manages to fly it across the border to safety ...

... in Latveria.

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


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Clint Barton)

(Pietro Maximoff)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

(Greer Nelson)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Doctor Pym (Henry Pym), El Toro, Madame X, Phantom Rider (Hamilton Slade), Scarlet Beetle.

> West Coast Avengers: Book info and issue index

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