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West Coast Avengers #39: Review

Dec 1988
Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom

Story Name:


Review & Comments

4 stars

West Coast Avengers #39 Review by (February 4, 2023)
Rick Parker aids with the lettering.

Avengers Mansion was wrecked during Avengers Under Siege and they moved their HQ to Hydrobase in Av#278.

Steve Englehart wrote all the Mantis apps in her original run from Av#112 to Giant-Size Av#4 (except for Captain Marvel #31-33 by Jim Starlin, GS Av#1 by Roy Thomas and Fantastic Four #150 by Gerry Conway). He brought her back for Silver Surfer #3-9 and Annual #1. And now he's imported her into this series for #37-39 and An#3.

After this he'll take her back to SS#20 and then she and Surfer will visit Steve's other series FF for #323-325. But Steve wasn't happy with the editorial decision to make her seek to get her son back from the Cotati and he kills her off. Other writers will revive her for a few apps until Englehart returns to her story in the Avengers: Celestial Quest limited series which continues the story of her son the Celestial Messiah.

Hawkeye will star in Solo Av#12-13 vs Abomination and Bullet Biker.
Wonder Man will have the backup tale in Solo Av#13.
Then they and rest of both WCA groups are here for next issue.

The Phantom Rider plotline will be back in #41.

Giant-Man will have tale in Marvel Super-Heroes v3 #11 and then his own serial within Marvel Comics Present #113-118 against Dr Nemesis and Goliath (Erik Josten).


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #39 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The West Coast Avengers Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Vision and Wonder Man with their guest Mantis are returning by quinjet from their adventure in Wakanda and the Antarctic Savage Land (WCA Annual #3) when pilot Hawkeye almost ditches them in the ocean. They use their various powers to protect themselves from harm and then Clint Barton explains that shock made him jerk the stick. He'd contacted the (East Coast) Avengers to warn them about the menace down there but learned that they'd already been told about it by his estranged wife Bobbi (Mockingbird) and her breakaway group. Wanting to avoid her Clint suggests they leave things to the those 2 teams and instead honour their promise (#37) to help Mantis get her memory back.

Wanda Maximoff asks them to make a diversion 1st. If she and her husband Vision are going to permanently join the Whackos then they need to pick up their twins from their 'grandmother' in Paterson, New Jersey. Mantis agrees. She became the Celestial Madonna (Giant-Size Av #4) in order to conceive a prophesied child, even if currently she's lost all memories from that point on including whether she actually *had* the child.

They drop in on Martha Williams, Wonder Man's mother. (Vision has Simon Williams' brain patterns so they consider themselves brothers and Martha accepts him as another son.) Vizh and Wanda tell her that they are relocating the family to the WCA Compound in Los Angeles. Martha declines to accompany them as she has too many roots here. They'll rent out their house in Leonia so they may return some day. For the moment Wanda will stay here to sort things out and Vision will accompany the others on the Mantis quest.

Meanwhile Hawkeye goes outside to brood on his failing marriage, but Mantis follows him to commiserate. Clint regrets losing the dream he had of having kids with Bobbi. Mantis says he at least knows what he's lost while she has lost all memory. As the quinjet leaves Martha asks Wanda if she's worried about leaving Vision with Mantis, who once tried to seduce him. But Wanda is certain of *her* marriage.

Now we catch up with the other WCA team. The East Coast Avengers have refused them permission to land their quinjet on Hydrobase because they are no longer official Avengers, so they've diverted to Newark. Giant-Man suggests they continue opposing High Evolutionary (see An#3 again) but Mockingbird thinks the Eakos will call in Clint's Whackos and *they* don't want to team up with *them*. (So now we know why no West Coasters join the East Coasters for the finale of Evolutionary War in Av An#17.) GM says he's going to stay at 20 foot until the extra mass he's picked up extra-dimensionally finishes cleaning up his cancer damage. He's going to see his old boss Henry Pym for confirmation that it's working, and he'll stay to help him cure his wife Maria (see #36).

When he's gone Moon Knight says he wouldn't have been ruthless enough to help save Mockingbird from the Phantom Rider. This is totally news to Tigra. But before Bobbi Barton can explain the situation the Rider himself attacks them on his ghost horse Banshee. Greer Nelson is confused because PR aided them in Budapest (#34) but he now admits that was only a ploy so he could turn Clint and the other WCAers against Bobbi. And Lincoln Slade sort of admits that he's possessing his grandson Hamilton Slade (seen in #32). MK is KO'd by the ghost and his horse so the Egyptian Moon God Khonshu leaves that body to attack PR spirit-to-spirit. The heroes can't see him but the Rider can and he retreats. And the god returns to the body and the Knight revives. And in New Jersey Scarlet Witch senses something evil in Newark.

But that's the end of the breakaway team for this issue. The other WCAers have flown to the Connecticut home of Mandy Celestine. This is Mantis' current alias but as she told them in #37 she can only remember waking up in that house a few days ago. The doorbell rings and she changes her skin tone from green to pink as she accepts a delivery of CDs ordered by 'Mrs Celestine'. The mailman comments on her fancy dress costume. She explains to the Avengers that despite her memory loss she knew that she could change colour like a plant (from green leaves to red).

They don't find any clues here so they fly to the Vietnamese temple where she was raised by the Priests Of Pama and where she married the Cotati alien plant (GS Av#4). The place is deserted and overgrown but a solar blast from the Vision uncovers the gravestone of Swordsman (Avenger and lover of Mantis who died in GS Av#2). His body was used as a host for the Cotati spirit to marry Mantis. But after the ceremony they both converted their bodies to energy and left for space. And that's the last she remembers before waking up as Mandy Celestine. Wonder Man is unhappy about all this on Swordsman's behalf, because he knows what it was like to be 'dead' and buried (between Av#9 and #151). *She* returned to her physical form but he wonders what happened Jacques DuQuesne's body.

Then the body in question rises up out of the grave bearing his sword, glowing green as he was when animated by the Cotati, and calling Mantis his wife. He also says he can restore her lost memories but tries to slice her in half with his sword. She of course dodges and strikes back with martial arts blows. The other 3 pile in but Swordy dispels them all with a blast from 1 of the weapons Mandarin installed in the sword (in Av#20). Then he stops Mantis with nerve gas that is absorbed by her skin, a force blast disrupts WM's ionic energy, and he aims a disintegrator beam at Vision. The synthezoid stops that with his solar beam but a force blast sends him smashing through trees. Hawkeye fires multiple arrows but his old tutor is able to cut them all  to pieces.

However the tide seems to turn when ghostly hands emerge from Swordsman's grave and grab his ankles. It's Vision who traps the foe while Wonder Man's waist jet-pack aims him for collision. But Jacques DuQuesne's sword slams Simon into his 'brother', and lying on the disturbed grave brings back thoughts of being dead. But WM conquered his fear of death some time ago.

Now it's Mantis' turn to sneak up and attack again, demanding that Swordsman tell her what she wants to know. In response he runs away and tells her to follow him. He leads her into the temple to the sacred grove of the Cotati. She is confused when he refers to her as the vessel of the Chosen One, and more so when vines attack her and bind her to a tree. He tells her that to regain her memories her body must die. Vision leaps in to stop him but he hurls his sword so that it pierces her body. She is surprised to find that she bleeds sap, and then dies.

Hawkeye and Wonder Man arrive to accuse him of murder, but he denies it. And it seems he's right when a pink-fleshed Mantis rises out of the grave next to his and explains what's going on. The Mantis they've been associating with was just a plant-body that housed her consciousness. Her real body has been lying here in suspended animation since GS Av#4. What they thought happened then wasn't completely true. Her and Swordsman's bodies weren't converted to energy beings. Instead her and the Cotati's spirits left those bodies behind and the Priests Of Pama buried them.

After they conceived the Celestial Messiah the Cotati's spirit went back to its own plant-body and she returned to Earth and created a Mantis plant-body to inhabit and give birth. She took the name Mandy Celestine and raised him in suburbia. But eventually it came time to hand him over to the Cotati so he could develop the plant-side of his being. And she herself went back to space in spirit form and then created another plant-body so she could have adventures with Silver Surfer, starting in SS(1987)#3 and ending in #9 when that body was destroyed in an explosion. The shock sent her back to Earth to instinctively create another plant-body but without memory.

Now her Cotati husband says that he reunited with Swordsman's body help her regain her true state, But now she is free to continue her human life. She will always be the Celestial Madonna but their seedling no longer needs a mother. Mantis isn't sure she's happy about that. The Cotati entrusts the sword to Hawkeye and then allows Swordsman's body to crumble to dust. The WCA invite Mantis to come home with them but she chooses to stay in the temple to meditate.

Al Milgrom
Al Milgrom
Andy Yanchus
Al Milgrom (Cover Penciler)
Al Milgrom (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Bill Oakley.
Editor: Howard Mackie. Editor-in-chief: Tom DeFalco.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Clint Barton)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

(Greer Nelson)

Plus: Giant-Man (Bill Foster), Phantom Rider (Lincoln Slade).

> West Coast Avengers: Book info and issue index

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