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West Coast Avengers #9: Review

Jun 1986
Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom

Story Name:

Hot pursuit

Review & Comments

4 stars

West Coast Avengers #9 Review by (October 18, 2016)
This team of Rangers never does jell.
This Ghost Rider will be important in future issues of WCA starting with #29 and 31-34.
Texas Twister joins him for #31 before he saves the real Shooting Star from the demon Mockingbird impersonates here in Solo Avengers #18.
Red Wolf goes down his own path with solo tales in Marvel Super-Heroes (1990) #2 and Marvel Comics Presents #15 and #72.

Mephisto is in this flashback immediately after Fantastic Four #277. The fact that he was there blasted apart by Franklin Richards will become relevant as we learn more of Master Pandemonium's origin in #15.
MP will appear next in #14-15.
Balkatar will also be in #15 for the wrap up of Tigra's subplot.

Thing's membership will be very brief, as we'll discover next issue.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers #9 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
We open with the figure of Shooting Star on the the run in the back streets of Los Angeles from the West Coast Avengers and allies. She meets up with Master Pandemonium who invites her into a nearby building. He sheds the 2 demons that form his arms and leaves them to guard the door while he interrogates his guest. She begins the explanation of what happened when Firebird called her to the WCA Compound (see last issue). But we leave the scene as she surreptitiously triggers a signal device ...

... which is picked up by the WCA (Hawkeye, Iron Man, Tigra and Wonder Man) plus Firebird and Thing flying overhead on skycycles or under their own power. As team leader Clint Barton remembers what happened after the and of last issue ...

... Shooting Star had just been exposed as a demon by Firebird, and had stopped possessing the rest of the Rangers. Only Hawkeye, Mockingbird and Tigra of the WCA were present, alongside Thing. The demon had admitted a connection to Master Pandemonium, who the WCA and Firebird had their own reasons for pursuing.

Hawkeye didn't want the Rangers' help. Texas Twister and Red Wolf didn't want to be part of the Rangers anyway, but wanted to help their Avenger friends. The enigmatic Ghost Rider said nothing. It was Firebird who called them here hoping to properly form the team they had just once been briefly part of, but now she sees their reaction she decides to stick with the WCA.

Mockingbird is happy about that, although husband Clint still won't offer Bonita Juarez team membership (because he's still holding out for Thing to become the 6th member). But Bobbi Barton has a plan - the former SHIELD Agent will go undercover disguised as Shooting Star. Hawkeye reluctantly agrees.

At this point Iron Man returns from consoling his old friend Henry Pym over the death of Hank's 'son' Ultron-12. Wonder Man also returns from his mini-adventure last issue. While these 2 are updated with what's going on the don't-want-to-be-Rangers leave. Thing chooses to go with the WCA. (And Hawkeye thinks his ready agreement means that Ben Grimm has at last given in to the idea of joining the team.)

Bobbi dresses as Star, and that brings us to where we came in ...

... now our heroes descend on Master Pandemonium's lair, but his watch-demons warn him. He reabsorbs as his arms and then vanishes with Shooting Star/Mockingbird as Wonder Man busts in. And the homing beacon she wore is left on the floor. No-one, not even Firebird, can tell where they've gone. But Tigra summons Balkatar, the Cat-People's representative from #6-7.

Meanwhile MP has taken Bobbi to what looks like a medieval dungeon where he begins the usual villain rant. His name Pandemonium means 'abode of all' demons (and we saw in #4 that he can spew hordes of them from his chest). He controls them but at the same time claims to hate all their kind. He flourishes something called the Amulet of Azmodeus which he says was the only obstacle to his will. Then he begins his origin story ...

... He was a big Hollywood star named Martin Preston. 1 night he was drink-driving along a twisting road on the side of a steep hill when he went over the edge into a canyon. He survived but lost an arm, and wound up hanging upside-down from his seatbelt.

Then Mephisto appeared. Preston offered his soul for his arm. The devil instead replaced the missing arm with a demon. And then said "Why stop with 1?". (And we saw in #4 that all 4 limbs are now detachable demons.)

Now MP mentions the 5. He was looking for them in #4 where he thought Firebird might be 1 of them. (He claims to detect demonic traces on her.) Now he wonders if the Shooting Star demon is 1 of them instead. But we see Balkatar in the background.

The Cat-Demon transports himself back to the WCA and describes where he found his prey. Tigra recognises it as the abandoned Anvil Pictures studios, which Hawkeye remembers as churning out B-movie horror films (which explains the apparent torture dungeon above).

When they enter the building the floor gives way and a giant fan blows them helplessly down 2 separate chutes. Firebird, Hawkeye and Tigra end up in 1 room, with Iron Man, Thing and Wonder Man in another. None of them can get out - the rooms seem specially designed to resist their powers.

Pandemonium appears on viewscreens threatening them. But Mockingbird hits him with the whirling Amulet, banking on what he said about it being the only thing that could stop him. She's right and he's knocked out. It turns out that it was his magic that made the cells impregnable, and now Firebird burns her way out of 1 cell while the strong guys tear down a wall of theirs.

But the teams are now faced with MP's demon army. The strong guy 3 make short work of their foes, but the weaker group find it slower going until Hawkeye brings the roof down with a blast arrow. But as those 3 escape down a dark corridor Balkatar appears again to show Tigra a quicker way to Master Pandemonium.

MP has recovered and is fighting MB. But while she has the Amulet of Azmodeus he seems unable to send demons against her, or transport himself to safety. So she's able to more than hold her own with the martial skills she learned from SHIELD and from Ka-Zar (in Astonishing Tales). She has him defeated when Tigra lands feet-1st on her head and knocks her out.

Tigra of course has promised to kill Pandemonium for the Cat-People, so that their king will settle the war between the human and cat souls within her by removing whichever she wants (see #6). But the villain grabs the dropped Amulet and vanishes in a puff of smoke.

Bobbi Barton awakes and assumes she was attacked by a demon. Tigra says nothing to correct her. The others finally get there. And Thing at last agrees to be a Whacko (as he calls the WCA). Only Mockingbird sees Firebird's disappointment.

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


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Ben Grimm)

> West Coast Avengers: Book info and issue index

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