Friday, 8 February 2019

Avengers West Coast 56 - Acts of Vengeance Aftermath

Continuing the story of the Scarlet Witch's descent into darkness accompanied by Magneto there are actually three strips in this book. One back-up is a four-pager set during "Atlantis Attacks" and depicts the first modern meeting of the original Human Torch and Captain America, shown by reader demand. It's a straightforward piece showing the two war time comrades briefly reflecting on the old days, how things have changed and how both their partners have died. There's also a one-page strip (not always reprinted) in which John Byrne goes on panel to explain that Tigra's appearance in that year's annual was an error down to him getting muddled when he informed the writer which team members were available.

Avengers West Coast #56

Writer and penciller: John Byrne
Inker: Paul Ryan
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colourist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Howard Mackie
Ed.-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

The main story focuses upon the Scarlet Witch who is changing in more ways than one. Capturing several of the other west coast Avengers she reveals how she has embraced her power and is preparing to take revenge on them. The scenes as she taunts and torments them are chilling, though it's probably for best that the editors modified half a page to avoid the implication that at one point she performs oral sex on Wonder Man. The big revelation is that her powers have changed. Rather than making the improbable happen, they now seem to be altering reality, such as recreating the house that was previously destroyed, bringing Wonder Man back to life and even, in the lab, altering the historic record of a sample piece of metal. Magneto also returns and it becomes clear the family reunion is a step towards a mutant-human war in which the Scarlet Witch will be on the mutants' side.

This quite a talkie issue, bringing various subplots up to date and re-establishing the Scarlet Witch's recent misfortunes. It's also pretty critical both for this storyline and the long-term history of the Marvel universe. Wanda's powers have long been poorly defined and so it helps to take time here to make clear just how they now work. At the same time after the crossover it's handy to catch up on the characters and subplots such as Tigra having gone feral and been shrunk down, as well as new ones such as the team's potential issue. But this doesn't detract from the chilling effects of the scenes of the Avengers suspended in air, prisoners of their own teammate and then a strong cliffhanger suggesting further darkness ahead. This continues to be a strong dark series.

Avengers West Coast #56 has been reprinted in:

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