Thursday, February 20, 2014

Comics Weekly Review: Issue 03

This week on CWR I will be continuing the story our beloved West Coast Avengers and the quest to rescue Wonderman and Hank Pym who were captured by Ultron-12.  This issue was written by Steve Englehart, drawn by Allen Milgrom and inked by Joe Sinnott.

All images Copyright of Marvel Entertainment, LLC 1985.

In this issue we meet up with the team after they fly to New Jersey to help Vision and Scarlet Witch.  Since they have not found a house there yet, the meeting actually takes place in a motel.  I found it hilarious to think of today's Avengers meeting in a Motel 6 parking lot.

After the team gets together in New Jersey they go to investigate an old factory that was once an investment of Simon Williams before he became Wonderman.  During the course of this investigation Iron Man tells a story of how Stark Industries put Williams Manufacturing out of business and Simon saw this as a failure.   Then Tigra gets into an argument with Iron Man about how Simon is not a thief.

Then the group heads of to continue their investigation by questioning Simon's mother.  Because Vision's brain is based off of Simon's, as soon as Vision hears Martha Williams talk about her two sons Vision shouts out Mother and has a touching reunion with his Mom.  It helps to develop Vision as more of a human character, rather than just a robot.  Which, in turn helps make it more believable that Wanda would fall in love and marry the syntheziod.

Also, a big part of the story revolved around the brother's relationship between Simon (who is now Wonderman and the brain of Vision) and Eric (who is now Grim Reaper).  I'm not even sure that I realized that Wonderman and Grim Reaper were brothers from the last issue.  If it was made clear, then I certainly missed it.

The whole 4-issue crossover is coming together now in my mind. It is a story about family. At first we were examining the relationship between father and son (or creator and creation) in the plot-line involving Hank Pym and Ultron. Then there are two ongoing stories about marriage comparing the relationship of Hawkeye and Mocking Bird with the relationship between Vision and Scarlet Witch.

Of course the brothers relationship between Eric and Simon Williams is also a bigger part of the story.  The down side of this is that there has been little action in this issue.  So much of the story involves looking at the complex web of relationships that we don't really get the chance to see the superheroes being super.  I have a feeling that this will change in the 4 issue of the crossover, The Vision and Scarlet Witch issue 2.

There was also an interesting exchange between Man-Ape and Grim reaper that shows the time period that this comic was written in.  Apparently Grim Reaper is a racist.  He refers to Man-Ape as a "black savage" and then continues to berate him for being incompetent.  Man-Ape then goes and complained to Black Talon who is also of African descent and they even go as far as saying that working for Grim Reaper is like slavery.  I can see that this is being used as a plot development to get Man-Ape and Black Talon to abandon Grim Reaper making him easier to defeat but this all just seem so heavy handed that it distracted from the story.

It is also addressed that Nekra is black as well, but she is an albino.  I just find it hard to believe that if Grim Reaper really was a bigot that everyone he hires to help him, except Ultron, is African American.

Although the premise was all about looking into Wonderman's past to see what they could find about Simon's brother, it was really about telling Vision and Wonderman's back-story.  I was a little disappointed finding this out because I wanted to see more of the relationship between Ultron and Hank Pym.  I know that Ultron shows up a lot in these old Avengers comics but part of the reason I'm taking a look at this series is to get some back story about Ultron in preparation for the second Avengers movie that comes out in 2015.

What I liked:  Again, I'm going to focus on the character development.  I'm reading these old comics to get to know some of these characters better so they are clearly doing their job in that respect.  I had no idea that Wonderman and Vision basically have the same brain.  I also had no idea that Vision was the original Human Torch, long before the Fantastic Four came around.

I'm also seeing how much different comics are written today.  This is a big idea story with a lot of knowledge necessary to really understand what is going on in each issue.  There are complex ideas being thrown at the reader every few pages that can really make you think.  But at the same time, to much emphasis on these story ideas can

What I didn't like:  I don't like all the insecurities that these superheroes have.  In this panel to the right Simon is confessing his fear of death to Hank Pym.  I know it is supposed to make Wonderman more relatable but really it just makes him look like a wimp.  He is practically invulnerable, has super strength and the ability to fly.  All that has been done to him so far is to have him captured and sealed in an energy field.  He is losing it and telling his entire back story to Hank Pym.  Why can't he just sack up, and wait to be rescued?

Looking Forward:  I'm looking forward to how this story finishes and how all of these different plot lines come together.  I'm also hoping that this results in adding a sixth member to the West Coast Avengers team.  In truth, I already know who is on the team in later issues, but I can't for life of me remember how the team got to it's roster.  I'm also looking forward to Ultron doing his thing in the 4th issue of the crossover and how Pym continues to be an important part of the story.  Cheers!

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