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West Coast Avengers #41: Review

Feb 1989
Ralph Macchio, Tom Morgan

Story Name:

When ghosts can die, even gods must fear

Review & Comments

4 stars

West Coast Avengers #41 Review by (February 25, 2023)
This is the 2nd issue written by a fill-in scribe since Steve Englehart left the title. This issue is plotted by Editor-In-Chief Tom DeFalco and scripted by Ralph Macchio. Tom uses it to clear the decks for incoming writer John Byrne. He ends the Phantom Rider plotline, freeing Tigra and Mockingbird to return to the main team. He gets rid of Khonshu, freeing Moon Knight to start a new more Batman-like series. And he even throws in a crossover with the story he's been writing in Thor.

Moon Knight reunites with some of his old supporting cast when he has a tale in Marvel Super-Heroes v3 #1 and stars in MK: Divided We Fall 1-shot before starting his new series Marc Spector: MK.

Leir, Seth and Sif are here between Thor #399 and #400. Khonshu doesn't actually show up in Thor #400, nor in MK's series. But he does feature in the succeeding 4-issue MK mini-series.

Hellstorm's last app was when he and his wife Hellcat worked with the team in #14-16. The couple will appear next in a tale in Marvel Fanfare #59 when they visit Patsy Walker's home town. But then it's the Hellstorm: Prince Of Lies series where he goes bad and Patsy goes mad, dies and goes to Hell.

Carter Slade was invented by Dick Ayers as the original (Western) Ghost Rider in the 1st Marvel series of that name. After his comic ended he moved to feature in the 1970 Western Gunfighters anthology series. He next showed up in Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze) #50-51, the 1st set in the Old West and the 2nd in the present day. In order to avoid confusion he was renamed Night Rider there.
(Actually Ayers created the char with a different civilian ID for Magazine Management in 1949 and had a successful run with it, including its own title, in the early 50's. Then Marvel forerunner Atlas reprinted those stories in the later 50's with the name changed to Phantom Rider.)
Carter died in WG#6 and Lincoln took over the role of GR in WG#7 but only for that issue. Lincoln then appeared in the Old West in Av#142-143 as Night Rider.
But Night Rider had unfortunate connotations so they're both here now as Phantom Rider.
Hamilton Slade possessed by Lincoln began in GR(JB)#56 then as part of the Rangers in Hulk #265. He was part of the crowd in Contest Of Champions #1 and then started his apps in this series with the Rangers in #8.

PR (Hamilton+Carter) will share a tale in Marvel Comics Presents #102 but then they'll seemingly split up.
PR (Hamilton) will have a few more apps starting with a rangers app in Amazing Spider-Man: Chaos In Calgary #4.
PR (Carter) will appear as a ghost in Xstatix: Dead Girl #2-5 and then more.
PR (Lincoln) will obviously escape from his banishment in 2011 to haunt Bobbi Morse again in the Hawkeye & Mockingbird mini-series, and the other 2 PRs will also be involved.

When John Byrne takes over next issue Tigra will be back with the main team without any explanation. But the Marvel Chronology Project gives her several apps before then, most of them with the team.
She's with Hawkeye, Wonder Man and Henry Pym (who Byrne also has already back with the WCA next issue) in Avengers #302-303 helping them against Super-Nova. The same 4 are on hand as Quasar joins the Avengers in his backup tale in Av Annual #18. Then she, Pym and Wonder Man are joined by Scarlet Witch to feature in Fantastic Four #333. Tigra will appear solo in Iron Man #243 bringing flowers to Tony Stark's hospital bedside.

Before all that Mockingbird secretly helps Hawkeye and Black Widow against AIM in Solo Av #14-16, and Hank Pym is in the last issue as we find that the woman with the artificially large brain in #36 wasn't really his 1st wife Marya Trovaya but a female version of MODOK called SODAM. (Thus editor-in-chief/writer Tom DeFalco removes *another* obstacle from Byrne's way allowing him to have Dr Pym back on the team.)
Bobbi Barton herself will reappear at the end of next issue as a reluctant ally of the WCA.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #41 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This story begins with a battle in Asgard. Sif stands alongside lightning-lord Leir of the Celtic pantheon against a horde of the Egyptian death-god Seth's armoured warriors (as part of a story that will climax in Thor #400) as Seth and his General Cheops look on. Seth expects that Asgard will soon fall to his troops and he will use it as a base to conquer every dimension. Cheops has private reservations about the likelihood of success.

The breakaway group of the West Coast Avengers (Mockingbird, Moon Knight and Tigra) accompanied by Daimon Hellstrom are visiting Hamilton Slade in the archaeology department of the University Of Nevada. Slade has some idea of why they're here from when he was attacked by Mockingbird (along with Moon Knight in #32). She accused him of being possessed by his great-great-grandfather Lincoln Slade who's now haunting her. Demonologist Hellstrom has been brought in to resolve the situation. And the Egyptian Moon God Khonshu who's currently possessing Moon Knight feels Daimon's stare directed at him  too.

Bobbi Barton now tells him her story. While time-travelling with the WCA she was abducted  in the Old West by Lincoln (Phantom Rider), drugged and raped. When she recovered they fought and he fell off a cliff. She could have saved him but she let him fall to his death. But lately she's been tormented by his ghost (in PR form) seeking revenge. The ghost revealed what she'd done to the rest of the WCA and that split the team and her marriage to Clint Barton (Hawkeye) (in #37).

Hamilton agrees to help (because he knows he's been having blackouts) and soon the 5 are arranged around a pentagram and Hellstrom is in his Hellstorm/Son Of Satan costume. Hellstorm's exorcism doesn't involve chanting a spell just hitting Slade with a blast from his trident. And immediately *2* cowboy spirits emerge from Slade's body. They are distinguished by 1 having a cape, and Mockingbird says the capeless 1 is the Phantom Rider who's been harassing her. Lincoln Slade confirms it by leaping at her but the caped 1 stops him with a punch and announces himself as the original Phantom Rider, Lincoln's brother Carter Slade. The ghosts continue to fight while floating in the air. Carter accuses Lincoln of not being worthy because he abandoned his wife and child.

Then ghosts seem evenly matched so Daimon decides to tip the odds. He blasts Moon Knight releasing Khonshu. But in Seth's control room they detect the Moon God active on Earth, and Cheops sends a strikeforce to deal with it. But on Earth both Hamilton Slade and Moon Knight have recovered from Hellstrom's blasts, but Marc Spector doesn't know what's going on. So Khonshu explains that he started taking over his body months ago and nudged him into joining the WCA because he desired the experience. Then he slowly took more control until Marc was completely subsumed. But now he releases his Fist Of Khonshu.

However Seth's troops enter through a portal at that moment so all the heroes with bodies have to fight *them*. Moon Knight is still disorientated and starts losing the mystical weapons he used as Fist Of Khonshu. Hellstorm's trident emits Soulfire which takes out lots of the enemy. Tigra leaps among them with her claws. They cast a net over her but she slashes free of it. Meanwhile some of the troops carry out their appointed task and capture Khonshu with an Etheromic Phase-Out Cannon.

The 2 ghosts have taken their fight outside through the wall of the campus building. Their blows can hurt each other, even shots from their ghostly pistols. Carter Slade tells his brother that he was granted his powers by the Comanche Flaming Star because it was his destiny. But when Carter died brother Lincoln just *decided* to continue the role which wasn't *meant* for him. And it drove him mad. Lincoln is now consumed by revenge and has possessed Hamilton to achieve it. Carter is in the same body to stop him.

Marc Spector is now fully in the battle, as is Tigra savagely wild as she tears into her foes so that Mockingbird has to drag her off and restrain her, ironically repeating the charge Clint made against herself "Avengers don't murder". The Phantom Riders are back inside and Carter beats Lincoln unconscious. He declares that Hamilton Slade is *destined* to be Phantom Rider as he was and merges with him. Now garbed and cloaked in white Hamilton draws 2 6-guns and shoots at the minions escorting floating Khonshu away. This enables the Moon God to escape them and destroy the device that was controlling him. Realising their cause is lost Seth's troops retreat through their portal to face their master's wrath.

Khonshu takes leave of his mortal representative Moon Knight to go join the battle against his fellow Egyptian god Seth. Tigra tries to buddy up with her boyfriend Marc but MK rebuffs her (so presumably their relationship only existed under the influence of Khonshu). Carter Slade's spirit leaves Hamilton's body. Mockingbird wants Hellstorm to get rid of both ghosts because she doesn't trust either of them. But 1st Daimon has to stop her from gaining personal revenge on Lincoln. Carter tells Hellstorm to banish them both to a netherworld where he'll guard his brother for ever. But as Daimon acts Hamilton mentally calls Carter's spirit to him so only Lincoln is banished. Hamilton assures them he will only use his Phantom Rider power for good, and Bobbi accepts that. Moon Knight quits the Avengers and Mockingbird walks away too. Tigra tells Daimon she doesn't know what to do.

Tom Morgan
Tom Morgan
Greg Wright
Tom Morgan (Cover Penciler)
Tom Morgan (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Plot: . Letterer: Ken Lopez.
Editor: Howard Mackie. Editor-in-chief: Tom DeFalco.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Son of Satan
Son of Satan

(Daimon Hellstrom)

(Greer Nelson)

Plus: Khonshu, Leir (Lord of Lightning), Phantom Rider (Hamilton Slade), Phantom Rider (Carter Slade), Phantom Rider (Lincoln Slade), Seth (Serpent God).

> West Coast Avengers: Book info and issue index

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