Wednesday, March 24, 2010

West Coast Avengers -- Why?

I have every single issue of this series, including the limited series that preceded it.  The West Coast Avengers was, and I can't believe I'm going to say this, hot for a time.

I can't remember why.

The line-up was pretty good.  Iron Man, Hawkeye, Tigra, Wonder Man and others made for a good core group.  If I recall correctly, however, the stories were often less-than-ideal.  In fact, some were downright horrible.  (As an aside, the entire "No more mutants" had its start in the pages of WCA.)

I remember wanting to read the series because of Iron Man and Hawkeye, two characters I enjoyed in The Avengers.  Tigra was a nice addition, too, because the writers actually portrayed her as she should be.  Once I actually read it, however, I started thinking, "Well, maybe the next issue will be better." 

The series could have been worse.  (Heck, it could have been Dazzler.)  It should have been better, though.  It had all the trappings of a good series, it had some good talent (John Byrne was on it before he totally sucked), and some passable art.  It squandered all that, though, and attacked readers to crap like Master Pandemonium and Firebird. 


Marvel, in the mid-Eighties, was enjoying quite a bit of popularity, and it tried its hands with some new ideas.  Some were horrible.  Some were pretty good.  Some, like WCA, were misfires.  WCA had enough potential and popularity, however, to last until 1994.  I can only attribute that to idiots like me who kept giving it second chances (and third and fourth ones, too).

Looking back on the series now, I can't help but think it's like the old television shows I used to dig, but now, when looking back, I can't figure out why I ever watched them in the first place.  Some still hold up, but aren't nearly as good as my memories make them out to be.  Some seem like they were never good in the first place, but I never realized it until much later.  WCA falls into the former category, as I'm sure I'd still enjoy some of the issues, but the majority of them would make me wish I never bought any issues in the first place.  I still think the idea has merit and could've worked.  Unfortunately, the team and the book was treated as second tier goods.  The heroes fought moronic villains, and at the end of the day the clout the Avengers name has in comic book history was tarnished by the series. 

One thing I can say about the series that is in its favor is that it never felt like a cash-in on that Avengers name.  I believed the creators were trying to do something new, something to set it apart from the main series.  It never felt exploitive, like all those X-Men spin-offs, and it never read like the core title with different characters.  In the end, though, it just wasn't worthy of that Avengers title.  The Avengers had tales that were epic in scope (most of the time).  They were, after all, Earth's mightiest heroes.  The West Coast Avengers, which had some tales that were pseudo epics, was not the Earth's mightiest heroes. 

At least we got a decent Scarlet Witch story out of it years later.  

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