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West Coast Avengers #36: Review

Sep 1988
Steve Englehart, Mike Machlan

Story Name:

Return of the Ant-Man

Review & Comments

4 stars

West Coast Avengers #36 Review by (January 14, 2023)
This issue is titled The Return Of The Ant-Man on the last page. This completes the storyline following Henry Pym's search for his 1st wife, with the run of titles taken from his old Ant-Man series in Tales To Astonish. This 1 of course is from his 1st app as Ant-Man in TTA#35.

The Voice previously appeared in Tales To Astonish #42, whose title was strangely used for last issue.

This really is the end for the Beasts Of Berlin, El Toro and Madame X.

Quicksilver will reappear in Fantastic Four Annual #21 in the care of the Inhumans. We will learn that his loss of superspeed here is permanent (at least for now). And he's finally recovered from his 'evil' personality which was caused by Maximus. So now he'll lead the Inhuman militia.

Dr Pym, Wasp and the Voice will hang around for the beginning of next issue. But we won't see Maria Trovaya/Pym again until Solo Avengers #16 where she'll turn out not to be Maria at all but a Soviet agent Olinka Barankova, and there AIM will turn her into SODAM, later MODAM.

Hawkeye, Mockingbird, Moon Knight, Scarlet Witch, Vision and Wonder Man (but not Tigra) will pop in to Nick Fury Vs SHIELD #2 before the whole team continues with next issue.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #36 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
In #33 Henry Pym seemingly found evidence that his 1st wife Maria Trovaya was still alive in Communist Hungary. The West Coast Avengers went to Bratislava and were confronted by an array of his old Ant-Man Communist foes. They also found Scarlet Witch and Vision in a prison there. In #34 they discovered that the now-evil Quicksilver was behind it all but they escaped to Latveria. Where in #35 they got caught up in the feud between the exiled real Dr Doom and his adopted son Kristoff who *believes* he's Doom. But they got away from there and have now returned to Hungary to continue following the possibility that Maria is alive.

Now the WCA (Dr Pym, Hawkeye, Mockingbird, Moon Knight, Tigra and Wonder Man) with their associates Scarlet Witch, Vision and Wasp break into the Bratislava prison where some ants heard Maria being talked about. But Clint Barton and his wife Bobbi are no longer talking since he found out (in #34) that she let her rapist Phantom Rider fall to his death.

Suddenly they run into Quicksilver and another old Ant-Man foe the Voice whose amplified voice stops them all in their tracks. Quicksilver starts to retell how Ant-Man went after Communist villains (rather a biased view of the past) in revenge for the death of his wife, so in turn the Communists here experimented in creating their own superhumans. Not having much success they recruited Pietro Maximoff to help them.

But now Voice insists on taking over the tale and concentrates on *his* story. How in TTA#42 an accident gave him the power to make anyone do what he commands. But Ant-Man infected him with laryngitis so that he lost his voice. Now we learn that Madame X recruited him and the Hungarian government surgically altered him so that his voice was amplified and output via speakers on his shoulders. And his voice still had the power.

Now Voice orders all the other heroes to hunt and kill Henry Pym. And no-one should try to escape. Quicksilver tries to interrupt to say he wants Vision to die instead but Voice forces him to shut up. Dr Pym is taken to the superbeing test area of the prison and ordered to run with a 5 minute head start.

Hank does so but reasons that he's going to have to use his wits to survive. He examines the miniaturised objects he keeps in his pockets. He selects 3 of them to enlarge, snaps the camera on to the flying jet and receives the transmission on a wrist TV so he can see where the others are. Now the hunters split up, with Hawkeye and Mockingbird deliberately heading in opposite directions. But we learn that Moon Knight is being controlled by the Moon God Khonshu who is immune to the Voice, and he will try to save Pym surreptitiously.

The fugitive has super-enlarged his brace and used another flying jet to hide on top of it. But Hawkeye passes by and detects the heat of expansion. He fires off an arrow but Pym drops down on a line and blasts him with his electric disruptor gun. However Clint has already grounded himself with another arrow so isn't shocked. They tussle until Hank grows a Captain America-like shield and tosses it to break the grounding arrow so he can shoot Hawk again. However the archer manages to toss an arrowhead which breaks on contact with Pym to release water, and DrP is shocked by his own weapon. Then Clint recovers and tries to strangle his friend. But not even the Voice's command can make the Avenger kill him. And Hank is able to KO him with a punch (and a nearby wall) and stagger away, pausing to shrink and pocket his brace.

His wrist TV shows him that Scarlet Witch is heading towards him, but she's only a distraction so that Vision can phase out of a wall to grab him. Pym throws a bottle of gas which renders Wanda Maximoff unconscious. The angry synthezoid starts to crush his spine but Hank grabs his passing flying camera and super-enlarges it so that it falls on Wanda. Vizh lets him go to save his wife from being crushed and DrP limps away.

Now Tigra leaps at him but he dodges into a complex of tunnels. Tigra follows but meets Moon Knight who leads her the wrong way. However Bobbi Barton grabs Pym from behind and starts to throttle him. And he knows that she has proven willing to kill (or at least let die) before. Desperately he shrinks the brace holding her battlestave to her forearm, which breaks that arm and the shock renders her unconscious. He enlarges her brace again before leaving her.

Now he sees a trail of faithful ants which he follows to a locked reinforced door, which he breaks open by enlarging *his* brace. And inside he finds a seated woman surrounded by machinery. Her brain is extremely enlarged and supported above by a transparent casing. And he recognises her as his wife Maria. He stops the intravenous drug which keeps her sedated. She can't speak to him but her thoughts appear on a screen with which she relates *her* history.

We already know from TTA#44 and our #33 how he married the daughter of a Hungarian scientist who had fled to the West. But when the couple honeymooned (ill-advisedly) in Hungary Maria was taken to make her father return. However her dad killed himself instead, and the Hungarian's supposedly disposed of Maria. But now she says that they kept her alive on the grounds that she must know something of her father's work. They used an intelligence-boosting ray on her (the 1 they used to create the Beasts Of Berlin seen in TTA#60 and our recent issues) but it made her brain start growing. They kept her sedated so she wouldn't turn on her creators (as MODOK did to AIM). And they used her intelligence to help them create superbeings such as Crimson Dynamo, Red Guardian and Titanium Man.

Now Maria asks Henry to put her out of her misery but instead he swears to find a way to cure her. However to do that he's got to survive and escape, and now Wasp's sting brings him down. And the others join her, including Mockingbird with her arm in a sling. They all pile on him (hence the cover shot) while Moon Knight/Khonshu ponders whether to reveal himself. But Henry calls to Maria to help him. Without the sedating drug she's able to use her mind to release the Avengers from Voice's command.

And now she calls together most of the foes from recent issues (Quicksilver, Voice, Madame X, the Beast of Berlin, El Toro and the spies from TTA#35, but not the Scarlet Beetle), prevented from using their powers - or even physically attacking. Pietro tries to escape but finds that he can't run.

Finally Henry Pym announces that he's leaving the team to concentrate on curing Maria. His 2nd wife Wasp points out that since Maria is alive *they* were never really married anyway. He responds that this means they were never divorced either. They agree to forget the bad times and remember the good bits. Married Scarlet Witch and Vision are happy to see another 'couple' getting on. But Bobbi chooses this time to tell them all that she and Clint are splitting up.

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)

(Pietro Maximoff)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

(Greer Nelson)

(Janet Van Dyne)

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

> West Coast Avengers: Book info and issue index

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