West Coast Avengers #1 review

Land sharks are attacking Santa Monica. Massive-jawed, lumbering brutes with meat on their mind. Luckily, there’s a superhero around.

Unluckily for Hawkeye Kate Bishop, her skills as a bowperson aren’t a lot of good against a mob of monsters. So she’s calling for help.

Two archers. That should make all the difference.

Despite their longtime friendship, Hawkeye Clint Barton wasn’t Kate’s first choice, but California isn’t exactly awash with superheroes. It turns out she isn’t alone in her beach battle, though. As well as teleporting Young Avengers pal America there’s new boyfriend Johnny, a teenage Absorbing Man trying out the codename Fuse.

Together, they make a difference and the threat of the land sharks is over. The more experienced Hawkeye points out that while they’ve won the battle, there’s almost certainly a war ahead.

Time to organise. Kate puts out the word, in a very lo-tech way, that heroes are required to join her…

The pickings aren’t good.

Eventually, two actual super-powered types show up.

The massively powered Quire, though, comes with a catch. And that’s in addition to his obnoxious nature. A camera team.

Kate agrees to be filmed, and a few days later…

… who’s the giant? Only an actual original West Coast Avengers! If you’ve read the issue, you’ll know who that is. If you haven’t, I urge you to try this comic, I had a terrific time with it. And I wasn’t expecting to, what with the publicity making it sound more like Great Lakes Avengers than a successor to the classic West Coast team led by Clint Barton.

And while I’m unconvinced Gwenpool will settle into a mainline Marvel series – surely she’s too wacky to work within a team organised by the tactically minded Kate? – the book as a whole is terrific. The reasons for a new group make sense, the membership is an interesting mix of powers and personalities, writer Kelly Thompson has a great ear for naturalistic dialogue and her plotting is strong, while artist Stefano Caselli shows a real knack for expressive faces, and convincing body language – check out Kate on the floor in the pizza scene. The skilled pair are joined by colourist Tríona Farrell, who balances the sunshine tones of the outdoors with the cooler hues on the interiors. I love the way Caselli and Farrell depict America’s teleport stars, it’s a little touch that makes a big difference. Letterer Joe Caramagna is wonderfully neat, and has fun with little bits of display lettering… already, though, I’m irked by Gwenpool’s pink word balloons, is that a thing with her, what’s it saying about her voice?

New hero Johnny – from the last Hawkeye series, apparently -seems like a great guy, and an asset but good grief, does he have to look like a human curtain rail? The minute Magneto attacks, he’s toast.

The aspect I’m not thrilled about is the TV stuff – as Johnny says, ‘82% of California is currently a reality show’. The idea feels played out, heck, it’s already been done by a version of the New Warriors, and that – I’m understating here – didn’t go very well.

Still, Thompson is very smart, so let’s see where she goes with it. There’s plenty to enjoy about this first issue, and I look forward to seeing the series blossom.

7 thoughts on “West Coast Avengers #1 review

  1. Sorry. Thompson’s trying for laugh a minute was cringe a minute for me. That character at the end sealed the deal for me about no touching another issue…

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  2. This week Doctor Aphra and Life Of Captain Marvel were pretty good, but Aphra is near the end of an arc and probably impenetrable. Life Of Captain Marvel #1 was slightly better but it’s surprised me both are any good, much less this good. Stohl(?) had done an amazing zero issue of Mighty Captain Marvel where she repaired the damage Civil War II did to Captain Marvel and Spider-Woman’s friendship and then gave us pure meh afterwards. From the way Life soars I think no one told her she does best with character work with action sprinkled in then the other way around. Thompson might be in the same boat. Jessica Jones #1 and Mr & Mrs X #1 were delights thanks to character work. Mr & Mrs X #2 and WCA I think suffer because she ditched that and went for jokey and I found very little amusing about either book…

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    1. Bigshadow, yes we do, but I see it’s going to be delayed for a couple of months. I shall likely lose interest!

      Luridpenguin, thanks so much. I’ve never actually read a Star Wars comic, I’ve seen and enjoyed a few of the films but am not a big fan. I think Captain Marvel is moving to the Marvel Unlimited list. Mr and Mrs X, eh? I’m really not a Gambit fan, but as you mention it, maybe I’ll give it a try. I’m intrigued by Jessica Jones, the idea of a new writer is appealing.

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      1. as a glass half full guy October means double Iron Man Madness a free repulsor glover with every issue step right step right get a repulsor glove full functionally and able to smite evil with it’s repulsor rays get them while in stock hurry hurry hurry
        eye apologize my inner carny took over eye will see myself out

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