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West Coast Avengers #8: Review

May 1986
Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom

Story Name:

A bird in the hand

Review & Comments

4 stars

West Coast Avengers #8 Review by (October 18, 2016)
The cover is an homage to X-Men #100 with the New vs Old (actually Sentinels) X-Men with Prof X in the middle.

Carlotta will be named Carlotta Valdez and will turn out to be a distant past relative of Bonita Juarez when the WCA go time-travelling in #19-21.

There are 3 iterations of the Western Ghost Rider, but more often than not they are called Night Rider or Phantom Rider to distinguish them from the motorbike-riding supernatural GRs. Hawkeye met the original 1 Carter Slade, who had his own 7-issue Ghost Rider series, and also featured in Western Gunfighters #1-6. He was killed and his brother Lincoln Slade took over from him in WGF#7, but didn't have any more recorded adventures at this point.
As well as meeting the time-travelling Avengers in Av#142-143 Carter also met time-travelling Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze in his #50.
The 3rd Western Ghost Rider is the modern-day 1 Hamilton Slade, a descendant of Lincoln. He debuted in JB's GR#56 where he found Lincoln's grave and was possessed by that ancestor to be able to transform into a Ghost Rider with mystical powers. Later we'll learn that it's not as simple as that.

Solo Avengers #18 will reveal that the Demon's name is Riglevio and give him a backstory. In particular he lied here (as demons do) and there was a real human Shooting Star who he replaced, but Hawkeye and Texas Twister will get her back in that issue.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #8 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Hawkeye, Mockingbird and Tigra return from the Land Within along with Firebird and Thing. The Cat People's spell has sent them back to the Daemond Mansion that they left in #6.

Tigra reminds them that her people are going to remove her cat persona, but she claims they have to do a little research 1st. Firebird and Hawkeye are both suspicious about this story. Tigra hasn't told them that the King of the Cat People will only remove 1 of her souls if she 1st kills Master Pandemonium. She tries to justify this to herself because MP is a bad guy the team is going after anyway.

As they fly back to West Coast Avengers Compound on skycycles the free-flying Firebird suddenly has a vision from a previous century in California of a woman named Carlotta riding with a troop of soldiers led by Captain Diego. They are attacked by Indians and Carlotta proves a good shot, saving Diego's life. But then someone shoots her from behind. When Bonita Juarez recovers she tells the team that there was a traitor behind her in her vision, but she couldn't see who. This has Tigra worried.

When they reach base they are met by Wonder Man who fills them in on what happened (last issue) while they were away. He destroyed Ultron, confirming his new self-confidence after confessing his guilt (#4) over the long-ago embezzlement (Avengers #9). But Henry Pym had accepted Ultron Mk 12 as his son, and Iron Man (back from treatment for the wounds he received in #5) is consoling him - the pair wander off out of the rest of this issue.

(We don't see all of Simon Williams' tale so presumably he made more sense of this by saying it was Ultron Mk 11 that he killed, and Mk 12 died saving them.) Hawkeye wants to crow about it to the East Coast team. (But of course he should realise that Ultron will be back as always, but not until Daredevil #275 during Acts Of Vengeance.)

Hawkeye tries again to get Thing to join the team - unsuccessfully as usual. Firebird wanders off too. Mockingbird takes her husband aside and tells him off again - this time about not spotting that Bonita wants to join. The duo spar with arrows, battlestaves and gymnastics as they argue. Clint Barton puts up various lame excuses until they reach a compromise - he'll asks Thing 1 more time, and if he still refuses he'll ask Firebird to be a team-member.

Meanwhile Bonita agonises over her sensitivity to evil. It allows her to recognise it, but she may also be attracted to it. She's also resigned to not being asked to become a Whacko, as Ben Grimm calls them. And she comes to a decision.

Wonder Man has flown away with his belt jets. He sees a robbery in progress and descends to stop it. He ignores a hail of bullets, and is only lightly affected by a bazooka. The lightest of taps knocks all the villains out. (We learn that Henry Pym and Iron Man have left also.)

Later Thing and Tigra are sunbathing by the pool when Firebird approaches to tell them something. But she hasn't got time before her fellow Rangers drop in:- Ghost Rider and horse, Red Wolf and Lobo, Shooting Star and Texas Twister.

Hawkeye and Mockingbird join them all. Clint recognises Red Wolf from Avengers #80-81, as does Tigra from her issues of Marvel Chillers. Bobbi Barton recognises Texas Twister as an ex-SHIELD Super-Agent from Captain America #217-218 and #228-231. Hawkeye also thinks Ghost Rider looks like Night Rider who he met in the Old West in Av#142-143 - Red Wolf suggests he is the ghost of that character. No-one but Firebird has met Shooting Star before.

It turns out that the Rangers are here because Firebird called for them. She realises she's never going to be asked to join the WCA so she's leaving the Compound and wants the Rangers to become a regular team. Hawkeye is lost for words, so it's up to Mocky to ask her to stay, but Bonita has made her mind up.

But then Star touches Firebird's back where Carlotta was shot, and Bonita gets an overwhelming feeling of evil. She blurts out that the female is possessed. Hawkeye doesn't believe her until Red Wolf attacks Firebird. Then it's team against team as Clint shoves Bonita out of the way.

Red Wolf turns on his friend Tigra, and he causes Lobo to grow into a giant wolf to attack Firebird. Hawkeye tries the unusual tactic of crawling under the wolf to tickle its belly, but Shooting Star tries to shoot him until Mockingbird knocks the gun out of her hand with a stave. The Ghost Rider attacks the duo, which resolves into H vs GR and MB vs SS, while Texas Twister takes on Thing.

Twister's whirlwind dumps Thing in the pool, but Ben throws water into it which gets sucked up and starts to drown TT in mid-air. While the other battles continue Firebird decides that Shooting Star is still the major enemy. So she swaps opponents with Mocky and blazes into fiery bird mode. Unfortunately this dazzles everybody except SS.

Bonita now realises that Star is actually a demon who is possessing the others. She forces SS to surrender by threatening to incinerate her soul, and the other Rangers regain their senses. The demon reveals its true form, but claims it has always been Shooting Star - there never was a true human SS. It says it made sure that the Rangers never became a team after their 1st meeting in Hulk#265 exactly because it feared exposure by Firebird. Bonita was immune to its control because of what she is (whatever that is).

The demon refuses to explain its mission, but is frightened when they mention Master Pandemonium. So the WCA intend to make it tell them how to find MP. And Tigra fears that she'll soon have to kill him for the Cat People and her soul.

Al Milgrom
Joe Sinnott
Ken Feduniewicz
Al Milgrom (Cover Penciler)
Joe Sinnott (Cover Inker)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Clint Barton)

(Ben Grimm)

> West Coast Avengers: Book info and issue index

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