Welcome to the West Coast Avengers story guide. The West Coast Avengers (or WCA), also known as Avengers West Coast (AWC), was a comic book spun off from Marvel's long-running Avengers comic book series (which ran for 402 issues from 1963 to 1996). The original Avengers series featured the adventures of the super-team of the same name; the group was always based in New York until writer Roger Stern introduced a second headquarters for the ever-expanding team outside Los Angeles, so that the Avengers would have an active roster on each American coast. This new western base of operations was first established in the four-issue West Coast Avengers limited series, and the Avengers roster assigned to this new base began appearing in the original Avengers series and related comic books thereafter. At first, Stern planned to feature both the eastern and western rosters of the team in the original ongoing Avengers series indefinitely; the editors, however, decided that two rosters' worth of characters were enough to support two ongoing series, so the western-based Avengers were spun into a new ongoing West Coast Avengers series written by Steve Englehart.

Englehart stayed with the series for nearly forty issues until an editorial dispute prompted his departure and replacement by writer-artist John Byrne. Under Byrne, the series transformed dramatically (inexplicably altering many of the established characterizations and situations); it also changed its name to Avengers West Coast, a marketing-minded move designed to strengthen WCA's connection with its parent series by making their titles more alike. Byrne departed after scarcely more than a year, but the title change (not to mention most of Byrne's controversial retcons and revamps) stuck; the AWC series would continue under new writers Roy & Dann Thomas for a few more years, enjoying roughly the same steady but unspectacular sales as its sister series; then the editors intervened again...this time to kill the AWC.

A new animated television series and action figure line based on occasional AWC member Iron Man were in the works, and Marvel decided to create an Iron Man "family" of comic books distinct from the Avengers to capitalize on these things; so AWC was abruptly cancelled with issue 102 and the team's western headquarters closed, estranging the remaining western-based Avengers from their eastern counterparts (the rather unconvincing reasons for the abrupt split between the two coastal rosters were covered in AWC 102, when the eastern-based members led a motion to close their western base for budgetary reasons and supposedly poor performance on the part of the western team). A handful of embittered western Avengers then joined Iron Man in forming a new super-team called Force Works, which spun into its own ongoing series as part of the Iron Man group of comics. The Iron Man animated series and toy line didn't do all that well, though, and the comics did even worse in terms of both sales and quality. In fact, all the comics involved--even the long-running Iron Man--would soon be discontinued, and Force Works mercifully disbanded after about two years.

The AWC series died for nothing, and will probably never return since the ailing comic book market can barely support big name titles anymore, let alone spin-offs; but various currently or formerly western-based Avengers will undoubtedly continue to appear in the Avengers parent title, which recently returned to ongoing publication after a brief hiatus.

There have been several publications dedicated to indexing issues of the original Avengers series, but never one dedicated to indexing WCA/AWC, which is odd since it was, in essence, devoted to the same subject as the original Avengers series: the ongoing adventures of the Avengers. This document is, in effect, a mini-index of the western Avengers comics:

West Coast Avengers (limited series) 1-4

West Coast Avengers (ongoing series) 1-46

Avengers West Coast 47-102

West Coast Avengers Annual 1-3

Avengers West Coast Annual 4-8

 

For each issue I supply a brief plot synopsis (as brief as clarity allows), a cast list and any additional notes required.

Characters who are part of the ongoing featured cast over the course of the WCA/AWC series include:

Hawkeye (Clinton Francis "Clint" Barton):

Supremely skilful archer armed with specially gimmicked arrows; also a highly formidable acrobat and unarmed physical combatant. A long-time member of the Avengers, arguably second only to Captain America in terms of his dedication and importance to the group. Married Mockingbird shortly before the WCA formed.

Mockingbird (Barbara Morse "Bobbi" Barton):

Superbly skilful unarmed physical combatant and espionage expert outfitted with steel battle staves. Also trained as a biologist. Married Hawkeye shortly before formation of WCA. Formerly an agent of the espionage agency SHIELD.

Iron Man II (James "Rhodey" Rhodes):

Pilot, personal assistant and confidant to the original Iron Man (inventor Tony Stark), Rhodes took over the Iron Man identity when Stark was incapacitated by alcoholism. The Iron Man armor grants Rhodes superhuman strength, enhanced durability, the power of flight and a variety of special weapons and other exotic devices. Though its design has varied over the years, the Iron Man armor remains one of the most powerful fighting machines on the planet.

Tigra (Greer Grant Nelson):

Superhuman cat-woman possessed of enhanced strength, agility and heightened senses. Briefly a member of the Avengers before the WCA's formation, but left the group due to feeling outclassed by her teammates.

Wonder Man (Simon Williams):

Superhumanly strong, physically invulnerable and theoretically immortal man whose body was converted to coherent ionic energy by the criminal scientist Baron Zemo. After infiltrating the Avengers on Zemo's behalf, Wonder Man repented by turning against Zemo, seemingly at the cost of his life; Wonder Man revived years later, though, more powerful than ever, and joined the Avengers once more. He had taken on reserve member status before the WCA's formation to pursue an acting career.

Iron Man (Anthony Edward "Tony" Stark):

Multimillionaire industrialist who invented the battle armor he wears in his secret identity as Iron Man, a founding member of the Avengers. The Iron Man armor grants Stark superhuman strength, enhanced durability, the power of flight and a variety of special weapons and other exotic devices. Though its design has varied over the years, the armor remains one of the most powerful fighting machines on the planet.

Henry J. Pym (A.K.A. Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket):

A founding member of the Avengers as the original Ant-Man, genius biochemist Hank Pym served with the group in a variety of costumed identities over the years but never felt truly comfortable or confident as a super-hero; he eventually suffered a mental breakdown that led to his expulsion from the team, at which time his wife and teammate the Wasp divorced him as well. The disgraced Pym was even framed as a super-criminal by his enemies for a time, but eventually cleared his name and got back on his feet, resuming his original career as a research scientist. His greatest discovery remains the Pym Particles, specialized subatomic particles that can shrink or enlarge existing matter; Pym used the particles to give himself the power to change his own bodily size in his super-heroic guises, but various health problems gradually left him incapable of changing his size.

Thing (Benjamin Jacob Grimm):

Superhumanly strong, rock-skinned adventurer who was a founding member of the Fantastic Four.

Firebird (Bonita Jaurez):

Southwestern-based social worker who became a costumed adventurer after gaining superhuman power over heat and flame from a fiery meteor. Former founding member of the loose-knit Rangers super-team.

Two-Gun Kid (Matthew J. "Matt" Hawk, born Matthew Liebowitz):

Legendary heroic masked gunfighter of the late 19th century American west who befriended the Avengers when they journeyed to his time period. He then accompanied them back to the 20th century, where he formed a crimefighting partnership with Hawkeye and briefly served as a member of their team before returning to the 19th century.

Moon Knight (Marc Spector):

Mercenary who became a heroic adventurer in the service of the Egyptian god Khonshu after a near-death experience, battling evil both as a costumed adventurer and in several civilian identities (an approach that led him to suffer from a form of multiple personality disorder). Moon Knight is a highly skilled armed and unarmed combatant proficient with a variety of hand weapons, notably crescent throwing darts; his strength waxes and wanes with the phases of the moon (reaching superhuman levels when the moon is full), and his cloak serves as a makeshift glider.

Wasp (Janet Van Dyne):

Wealthy heiress and fashion designer who can shrink to the size of an insect, augmenting her strength in the process; when she shrinks, she also grows wings with which she can fly and antennae with which she can control insects; and she can generate bioelectric "sting" bolts from her hands. She was given her powers by her ex-husband and former crimefighting partner, Hank Pym, whom she divorced when he suffered a mental breakdown and became abusive. A founding member of the Avengers, Wasp had risen to become the group's leader by the time the WCA was founded.

Vision:

Synthezoid (artificial being) created by the Avengers' robotic adversary Ultron, who is himself a rogue creation of Avengers founder Hank Pym. Possessed of a human consciousness based on the brain patterns of Wonder Man, Vision quickly turned on Ultron and joined the Avengers instead, devoting his life to the team and eventually marrying his teammate the Scarlet Witch; the couple are among the most powerful and longest-serving Avengers. The Vision can alter his density at will, varying from diamond hardness to wraith-like intangibility; he is superhumanly strong and durable; and he can project beams of solar energy. It was the Vision who conceived the idea of the WCA during his one term as Avengers chairman, and the WCA was established under his supervision.

Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff):

Adventurer who augments her probability-warping mutant "hex" power with knowledge of true sorcery, allowing her to perform seemingly impossible feats. An early, long-serving member of the Avengers. Sister and wife to her teammates Quicksilver and Vision, respectively.

Mantis (true name unrevealed):

Adventurer possessed of undefined mental, martial and mystical skills that led to her selection as the Celestial Madonna, a woman fated to bear a child of immense importance to the universe. As the lover of the Swordsman until his death, she became an associate of the Avengers and eventually discovered her Celestial Madonna role through interaction with their enemy Kang, who sought to control the Madonna. Mantis escaped him with the Avengers' aid and left for space with her destined mate, the alien Cotati, though not before she'd been made an official member of the Avengers.

USAgent (John Walker, AKA Jack Daniels):

Superhumanly strong government agent armed with an impact-absorbing vibranium shield. Originally the self-promoting vigilante demagogue known as the Super-Patriot; later served as the government-imposed replacement for Captain America, but relinquished the role upon realizing he was unworthy of it due to his emotional instability and brutally violent tendencies.

Human Torch (AKA James Hammond):

Android adventurer able to burst into flame at will, with the power to generate and control heat and fire. First active in 1939, he was a member of the Invaders and the All-Winners Squad before disappearing in the 1950s.

Quicksilver (Pietro Maximoff):

Mutant adventurer able to move at superhuman speeds. Early member of the Avengers and brother to his teammate, the Scarlet Witch. Known for his mercurial temper and impatience with humans, Quicksilver has taken several long leaves of absence from the Avengers, ultimately leaving the group for the hidden city of Attilan when he married Crystal, a member of the Royal Family of the Inhumans.

Machine Man (X-51):

Sentient robot who leads a double life as a robotic adventurer while posing as human insurance investigator Aaron Stack.

Spider-Woman II (Julia Carpenter):

Costumed adventurer who gained spider-like powers--enhanced strength and agility, and the ability to weave adhesive psychic "webs"--from a government experiment gone awry. She then became a US government agent, both alone and as a member of Freedom Force.

Living Lightning (Miguel Santos):

Youth who was transformed into sentient electricity by an electrical accident.

Darkhawk (Christopher Powell):

Youth who can assume a superhuman armored form through contact with an alien amulet. As Darkhawk, Powell is superhumanly strong and durable, can glide on wind currents and can fire energy blasts. He also wears a wrist-mounted grappling hook.

So to sum up, the characters featured in the WCA/AWC ongoing cast at one time or another include Hawkeye (AKA Goliath II), Mockingbird, Iron Man II (AKA War Machine), Tigra, Wonder Man, Iron Man, Hank Pym (AKA Doctor Pym), Thing, Firebird, Two-Gun Kid, Moon Knight, Wasp, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Mantis, USAgent, Human Torch, Quicksilver, Spider-Woman II and Living Lightning. Darkhawk and Machine Man become reserve members of the AWC over the course of the series, but neither of them appears in enough issues to be truly considered part of the ongoing cast: Machine Man appears in only two issues of the series (AWC 83 and Annual 5) and Darkhawk appears in only four (AWC 93-95 and Annual 7). It should also be noted that the capsule descriptions of the twenty featured characters listed above apply to their situations as of the time they first appeared in the WCA/AWC comics; circumstances have changed for most of them since then, drastically in some cases.

Synopses of the WCA/AWC comics to date follow below:

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WCA LS 1:

Hawkeye, Mockingbird, Iron Man (Jim Rhodes), Tigra and Wonder Man found the West Coast Avengers under the direction of the Vision. Hawkeye is appointed chairman and the group makes its headquarters in the new Avengers Compound. The Shroud--a costumed vigilante who poses as a crimelord--meets and skirmishes with the team until they learn who he is, and he respectfully refuses their subsequent offer of membership.

Avengers Assembled: Hawkeye, Vision II, Wonder Man, Tigra, Mockingbird, Iron Man II.

Other Characters: Shroud, Jessica Drew, Lindsay McCabe

Ongoing featured characters as of this issue: Hawkeye, Mockingbird, Iron Man II (Jim Rhodes), Tigra and Wonder Man.

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WCA LS 2:

As the new WCA continues to set up shop, a weird thief called The Blank eludes Wonder Man during a robbery. The assembled WCA join the hunt, but the Blank--a nobody who stumbled onto a unique force field device--escapes again; while recharging his equipment afterward, the Blank accidentally releases the Avengers' old enemy Graviton from an otherdimensional limbo.

Avengers Assembled: Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra, Mockingbird, Iron Man II.

Other Characters: Blank, Graviton.

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WCA LS 3:

The WCA participate in removing unseasonable snow from the streets of Los Angeles, capturing some looters in the process. Tigra, unsure of herself and concerned about how edgy Wonder Man has been since the Blank's escape, asks Iron Man's advice; he confides in her that he is not the original Iron Man she once knew and suggests that she can handle Wonder Man herself. Tigra approaches Wonder Man and they compare notes about their respective pasts and insecurities. Deciding that action will lift their spirits, Tigra convinces Simon to seek the Shroud's help in apprehending the Blank. A visit to the Shroud reveals that he has troubles of his own with an aggressive new crimelord, and Wonder Man offers to help. The trio go to confront this new crimelord, who turns out to be Graviton. Graviton and the Blank skirmish with the heroes until an impatient Graviton sends Tigra, Shroud and Blank hurtling into the ocean. He then pins Wonder Man to the bottom of a pool to watch him drown.

Avengers Assembled: Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra, Mockingbird, Iron Man II.

Other Characters: Blank, Graviton, Shroud, Cat & Mouse (Shroud's aides).

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WCA LS 4

Tigra manages to keep herself and the unconscious Shroud afloat in the Pacific until Iron Man comes to their rescue, but the Blank is missing and presumed drowned. The WCA begin plotting strategy to rescue Wonder Man from Graviton, and Iron Man reveals his true identity of Jim Rhodes to the team, confessing that he is not the original Iron Man as they had believed. Hawkeye is initially shocked and angered at the deception, but realizes that Rhodes has proven himself several times over and deserves a chance to continue doing so. Rhodes is anxious to mount a full frontal assault on Graviton, but Hawkeye--musing on how much his own role with the Avengers has changed--says they must have a plan first. The team concocts an elaborate and effective strategy in short order, freeing Wonder Man and defeating Graviton. The WCA celebrates its first major victory with a barbecue and receives congratulations from ECA chairman Vision, leaving all of the WCA firmly convinced that they are indeed full-fledged Avengers.

Avengers Assembled: Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra, Mockingbird, Iron Man II.

Other Characters: Shroud, Blank, Graviton.

Note: Vision II appears in this story only in a video recording.

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Following the WCA limited series, the WCA appear in Avengers 250, Iron Man Annual 7, Avengers 253-254, Iron Man 191, Iron Man 193-196, Captain America 308 and Iron Man 200, battling such foes as the new Goliath, Maelstrom and Doctor Demonicus. During this interim period, Jim Rhodes gives up the Iron Man role and Tony Stark resumes it, taking Jim's place in the WCA (this happens between Iron Man 200 and WCA vol.2 no. 1; Iron Man 200 is chronologically earlier, though WCA 1 was actually published first).

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WCA 1

Retired Avengers founder Hank Pym visits Avengers Compound to study the new criminal Goliath (Erik Josten) held captive there. Hawkeye offers Hank WCA membership but Pym testily refuses. Meanwhile, Tigra and Wonder Man are still feeling fairly insecure despite the WCA's recent triumphs. Tigra in particular is struggling with cat-like impulses that are gradually overriding her humanity. Among other things, these impulses lead her to become flirtatious with old teammate Hank despite her budding romance with Wonder Man. After attacking the WCA with robots, Ultron-12 lures the team into an adamantium death-trap on behalf of his mysterious new ally, who wants the Avengers dead and Wonder Man alive. Hawkeye manages to free the team from Ultron's trap and they return to the Compound, which is soon attacked by Ultron-12 and the Man-Ape. The two villains free Goliath and the criminal trio depart, taking Hank and Wonder Man hostage. Realizing which old Avengers foe is obsessed with Wonder Man and has employed both Goliath and Man-Ape in the past, Hawkeye correctly deduces that their enemies' mastermind is the Grim Reaper.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Hank Pym (as retired member and ally); Wasp (via teleconference).

Other Characters: Goliath III, Ultron, Man-Ape.

Ongoing featured characters as of this issue: Hawkeye, Mockingbird, Tigra, Wonder Man, Iron Man and Hank Pym.

This story continues into Vision and Scarlet Witch (2nd series) 1: After leaving government custody with the support of federal agent Sikorsky (the Vision having been held for questioning after ISAAC manipulated Vision into attempting world conquest), Vision and Scarlet Witch battle Black Talon, Nekra and the Grim Reaper, who try unsuccessfully to abduct the Vision. The Reaper has a history of love-hate fascination with the Vision since Vision's mind was patterned after the brain of the Reaper's brother, Simon Williams, AKA Wonder Man. After escaping the Reaper's clutches, Vision and Wanda contact the WCA to pursue the matter further.

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WCA 2

Captured by the Grim Reaper, Wonder Man grapples with his lingering dread of death as fellow captive Hank Pym urges him to be a man and stand up to his fears. The Reaper reveals his latest mad plan to "restore" his brother Simon Williams (who mutated into Wonder Man), this time by stealing the Vision's and Wonder Man's minds, erasing whatever is not common to both and programming what remains into the mind of a reanimated zombie surgically altered to look like the original Simon Williams. Meanwhile, Mockingbird minds Avengers Compound while Vision, Scarlet Witch and the rest of the WCA seek information on the whereabouts of the Grim Reaper. To this end, the Avengers contact Simon's mother, who relates her sons' strange and tragic background--including how Simon was jailed for embezzling money actually stolen by his brother Eric (the future Grim Reaper). Moved by her woes, the Vision shares a tender moment with Mrs. TŲWilliams--whom he regards as a mother of sorts. The Avengers depart in their quinjet, but are attacked in mid-air by Ultron-12 and his robot army.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Vision II, Wonder Man, Tigra, Mockingbird; Hank Pym (as retired member and ally).

Other Characters: Grim Reaper, Nekra, Ultron, Black Talon II, Man-Ape, Goliath III, Mrs. Williams.

This story concludes in Vision and Scarlet Witch (2nd series) 2, in which Ultron succeeds in subduing the Avengers for the Grim Reaper. Inspired by the example of the stoic Vision, whom he has come to regard as a twin or brother of sorts, Wonder Man finally conquers his fear and single-handedly battles his captors until Mockingbird arrives to turn the tide by freeing the other Avengers. Black Talon and Man-Ape, already estranged by the Reaper's contemptuously racist attitude, desert their allies and flee. Ultron and Nekra escape during the battle, too, but Goliath is defeated and recaptured. The Grim Reaper tries to flee as well, but Vision and Wonder Man join forces to track him down, taking a moment to bond as brothers in the process. Confronting their mutual sibling, the Grim Reaper, they make him see that they are both real beings deserving of existence, that Wonder Man is a mutated Simon and Vision is, in a sense, a transplanted Simon. They force him to see that they are brothers, of sorts, both to each other and to Eric. Simon also takes this opportunity to admit that he, not Eric, was guilty of the embezzlement that ruined his career and led to his transformation into Wonder Man, despite Eric's claims that Simon was innocent. Realizing that the "perfect" Simon he idealized never really existed and that he had been trying to kill his true brother, a guilt-ridden Reaper runs from his erstwhile siblings in a remorseful rage and falls from a ledge to his death.

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WCA 3

Tormented by her dual personality and feelings of inadequacy, Tigra goes prowling solo to prove herself and battles her old enemy Kraven the Hunter. Kraven has Tigra at his mercy after a lengthy battle, but is defeated thanks to the last-minute intervention of Hawkeye and Mockingbird, who remind Tigra of the importance of teamwork. Meanwhile, Hank Pym offers his services to the WCA as their resident scientist and major domo, hoping to make a contribution to the Avengers again without playing hero. After Kraven's defeat, the WCA continue their ongoing discussion of how to find a sixth member for their active roster when, as if on cue, The Thing enters seeking help with a flat tire.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Vision II and Scarlet Witch (brief appearance only); Thing (as prospective member); Hank Pym (as staff member).

Other Characters: Kraven, Goliath III (reimprisoned at Compound), Scourge (stalks Kraven unsuccessfully).

Note: The Thing joins the ongoing cast as of this issue.

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WCA 4

Soured on group dynamics by his estrangement from the Fantastic Four, Ben Grimm--better known as the super-strong Thing--angrily refuses Hawkeye's offer of Avengers membership. An undaunted Hawkeye resolves to persist, certain that Ben will ultimately accept the invitation. As Grimm leaves, he rescues a falling, flaming woman who turns out to be the novice costumed adventurer Firebird. As she tells Ben and the WCA, she had come in search of the Avengers' aid after being attacked by the bizarre mystic Master Pandemonium; he mistakenly believed her to be one of "The Five" he is seeking for reasons unknown. Pandemonium later mistakes the Thing for one of "The Five" as well, and the WCA arrive to help Ben battle the villain. Despite their combined efforts, Pandemonium escapes. Meanwhile, Tigra is aggressively romancing Simon; Hank Pym is receiving threatening phone calls from Ultron; and Wonder Man, determined to make a fresh start in life, publicly confesses to his long-ago embezzlement crime on the Tonight Show.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Thing and Firebird (as provisional members); Hank Pym (as staff member).

Other Characters: Master Pandemonium, Johnny Carson.

Note: Firebird joins the ongoing cast as of this issue. This is the first appearance of Master Pandemonium.

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WCA 5

Hawkeye is furious with Wonder Man for jeopardizing the team's image with his public confession of embezzlement, but he puts a positive spin on it for the media by expressing the Avengers' support for Wonder Man's courage. As it turns out, most of the public are supportive of Wonder Man, too, and his self-confidence begins to grow. Thing departs again, still refusing WCA membership. Firebird leaves, too, on the trail of Master Pandemonium, though she desperately wishes the Avengers would invite her to join.

Meanwhile, Tigra's increasingly powerful feline impulses lead her to throw herself at both Hank and Simon. She confesses her mental problems to Mockingbird, who leads the WCA in seeking advice from another were-being, the werewolf Jack Russell. Stirred by the presence of Tigra, whom his werewolf self once loved, Russell goes on a feral rampage despite the best efforts of his doctor, Michael Morbius; the WCA are forced to subdue Russell with the aid of Firebird, who'd sought out Russell herself for leads on Master Pandemonium. The skirmish seems a dead end for both quests until Morbius reveals that he and Russell do indeed have knowledge of the Cat People responsible for Greer Nelson's transformation into Tigra. Meanwhile, Ultron-12 shocks Hank Pym by claiming that he has seen the error of his ways and wants to reconcile with his creator.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Thing and Firebird (as provisional members); and Hank Pym (as staff member).

Other Characters: Werewolf By Night, Michael Morbius and Ultron.

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WCA 6

Seeking aid for the tormented Tigra, the WCA obtain a spell from Morbius that will transport them to the realm of the Cat People who made Tigra what she is. Iron Man is on leave recovering from wounds inflicted by Jack Russell and Wonder Man departs with Tigra's blessing to start work on a big-budget movie that may be his big break. Since the team is now short two members, Mockingbird convinces Firebird to stay and Hawkeye manages to talk Thing into joining them on this adventure. The five heroes cast the spell and the Balkatar--the Cat People's liaison with the outside world--arrives to whisk the Avengers to the Land Within, the Cat People's otherdimensional realm.

The distrustful Cat People imprison the rest of the WCA while Tigra pleads her case, relating her background and being informed, in turn, of the Cat People's history and the origins of past Tigras who preceded her. In the process, she shares a romantic interlude with Grigar the Balkatar. The King of the Cat People reluctantly agrees to help Tigra on the condition that she murder a troublesome mystic who believes the Cat People to be demons: Master Pandemonium. Tigra resists the idea but decides it is an offer she can't refuse, and she tells the WCA that the Cat People have agreed to help her with no strings attached. Meanwhile, Wonder Man finds out he'll be playing the villain in the big-budget movie Arkon IV and Hank Pym meets with Ultron- 12, who claims that he has outgrown his hatred of his Pym and wants a normal father-son relationship.

Avengers Assembled: Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Thing and Firebird (as provisional members); Hank Pym (as staff member).

Other Characters: Grigar the Balkatar, King of the Cat People, Ultron, Michael Morbius, Dino, Arnold Schwarzburger, Christina Carson.

Note: Mockingbird's hair is cut short as of this issue. Iron Man does not appear in this issue.

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WCA 7

The WCA join the Cat People in celebrating Tigra's supposedly forthcoming cure, but Hawkeye and Firebird remain justifiably suspicious. Meanwhile, Hawkeye keeps trying to convince Ben Grimm to officially join the WCA and the Thing keeps refusing. Firebird, by contrast, wants desperately to be a member but Hawkeye is largely oblivious to her. Back on Earth, Hank Pym meets secretly with Ultron, having made a leap of faith by deciding to trust in his robotic prodigal son's apparent reformation. Hank's worst fears are seemingly confirmed when Ultron attacks him, but then a second Ultron, the true Ultron Mark 12, flies to Hank's defence.

The Ultron who attacked Hank is Ultron-11, who'd survived his apparent destruction during the Secret Wars and returned to seek revenge. The true Ultron Mark 12--or "Mark", as Hank calls him--was created by Ultron's own self-evolutionary experiments and truly did evolve beyond his hatred of Hank, hoping to reconcile with his creator. Ultron-11 decapitates Mark and erases all files pertaining to him, then turns his attention to torturing the captive Pym. Mark manages to reconnect his own head, though, and flies off to recruit Wonder Man's aid. Though skeptical of Ultron's reformation, Wonder Man flies to the rescue and, buoyed by his newfound confidence, easily destroys Ultron- 11. Hank is unharmed, but Mark deactivates due to his injuries and Hank is left to mourn the death of his son. In the conversation that follows, Wonder Man learns of Hank's romance with Tigra and decides to neither reveal nor continue his own romance with her, for Hank's sake.

Avengers Assembled: Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Thing and Firebird (as provisional members); Hank Pym (as staff member)

Other Characters: Cat People, Ultron, Mark (Ultron-11), Dino, Arnold Schwarzburger, Christina Carson.

Note: Iron Man does not appear in this issue.

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WCA 8

As the WCA return from the Land Within, Hawkeye and the strangely intuitive Firebird remain suspicious of Tigra's claims that the Cat People will cure her dual soul with no expectation of reward. Tigra herself is secretly agonizing over the bargain that she actually made with the Cat People, to kill Master Pandemonium. Meanwhile, Firebird experiences a vision of a past life in which she was shot by traitor...a vision that makes Tigra understandably uneasy. When the WCA return to the Compound, Wonder Man gives them the good news about his newfound confidence and Ultron's destruction, but also informs them of Hank losing the benevolent Ultron Mark 12. Iron Man goes off with Hank, attempting to console Pym, while Hawkeye tries yet again to convince Thing to join officially. Mockingbird takes Hawkeye aside and rebukes him for ignoring the invaluable but overlooked Firebird, and after a friendly verbal and physical scuffle Hawkeye agrees to offer Firebird membership if the Thing turns down Hawkeye's next offer.

Increasingly fond of the Avengers, Thing starts to seriously consider joining while Firebird has all but given up hope of doing so. Desperate to do good with her powers, she decides to find new purpose by reuniting the Rangers, a short-lived southwestern team to which she once belonged. The other Rangers--Ghost Rider (Hamilton Slade, AKA Night Rider or Phantom Rider), Red Wolf, Shooting Star and Texas Twister--respond to her call but Firebird somehow senses that they are possessed, and her intuition is verified when the Rangers attack the WCA. Iron Man and Wonder Man are absent, but Thing, Firebird and the rest of the WCA hold their own until Firebird somehow uses her flame power to unmask Shooting Star as a demon--the traitor foretold by her vision--and free the other Rangers from the demon's thrall. The demon claims she is the real Shooting Star and that she prevented the Rangers from forming a permanent team in the past since Firebird was somehow immune to her control. The demon refuses to reveal what her ultimate agenda was, but Tigra correctly guesses that it has something to do with their demonic foe Master Pandemonium.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Thing and Firebird (as provisional members); Hank Pym (as staff member).

Other Characters: Carlotta Valdez (in Firebird's vision), Ghost Rider V (AKA Night Rider or Phantom Rider IV), Red Wolf III, Shooting Star and Texas Twister.

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WCA 9

Mockingbird disguises herself as the demonic Shooting Star and successfully infiltrates one of Master Pandemonium's lairs, learning of how Pandemonium was movie star Martin Preston until he lost an arm in an auto accident and offered his soul to Mephisto, who replaced all of his limbs with demons. Before Mockingbird can learn anything more, though, the rest of the WCA-- with the aid of the Balkatar--track Pandemonium down but fall into one of his traps. Using the Amulet of Azmodeus that Pandemonium mentioned to "Shooting Star" as a weakness, Mockingbird single-handedly subdues Pandemonium--only to be struck down from behind by Tigra, who has decided to kill Master Pandemonium as the Cat People demand. Pandemonium outwits Tigra and flees, though. Still, the case concludes on a happy note: as the rest of the WCA arrive and Mockingbird revives, the Thing announces that he is accepting official Avengers membership.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra, Mockingbird and Thing; Firebird (as provisional member).

Other Characters: Ghost Rider IV, Red Wolf III, Shooting Star, Texas Twister, Grigar the Balkatar.

Note: Hank Pym does not appear in this issue. A later issue of Avengers Spotlight reveals that the "Shooting Star" demon lied and had merely possessed the real Shooting Star rather than being the true Shooting Star all along.

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WCA 10

The Thing has finally agreed to officially join the WCA, but he vanishes without explanation before the press conference Hawkeye had called to announce the new member. Turning the press conference into a public forum through which to announce the Thing's disappearance and request the public's aid in finding him, the WCA lead the search for their errant recruit. Meanwhile, Firebird decides to leave on a spiritual retreat in the belief that her failure to win official Avengers membership was God's way of teaching her humility. Hawkeye apologizes for handling her situation so insensitively, asking that Bonita check back with them and give the Avengers another chance once she's through with her retreat. He also suggests that she look into the nature of her mysterious visions. Firebird agrees, though she says her first priority is to explore the extent and nature of her power, and departs amicably.

Shortly afterward, the Wasp belatedly informs Hawkeye that the Avengers dropped their six-member roster limit some time ago, meaning that Firebird and the Thing could have both joined. While the WCA agonize over this revelation, Hank gets a call from a tipster who sighted the Thing near Zuma Beach. The call turns out to be a hoax leading the WCA into an ambush staged by the villainous Headlok and his monstrous slave, the Griffin, but the WCA defeat their foes through the timely assistance of the Thing--who then says he must leave the group for personal reasons. He departs tearfully with the Avengers' blessing.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra, Mockingbird and Thing; Firebird (as provisional member); Hank Pym (as staff member); Wasp (via teleconference); Mister Fantastic (as non-member ally via teleconference); She-Hulk (as Fantastic Four member via teleconference).

Other Characters: Ms. Marvel II (Sharon Ventura), Griffin, Headlok.

Note: Firebird and Thing leave the ongoing cast as of this issue. The Thing's departure stems from events in his ongoing series, namely his mutation into an even more hideously monstrous form; he goes into hiding and finds refuge with the Mole Man, eventually regaining his old appearance and rejoining the Fantastic Four.

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WCA 11

Upset by the bad press that her old employer SHIELD has been getting lately, Mockingbird decides to offer the organization her help. Hawkeye and Iron Man come along when she goes to visit SHIELD director Nick Fury, her mentor, but Fury's overzealous security agents attack the Avengers and Fury himself testily refuses the Avengers' aid. Mockingbird and Iron Man are incensed at being brushed off by their old associate Fury, but Hawkeye convinces them to leave peacefully. Shortly after departing, though, the trio are attacked by the assassins Shockwave, Razorfist and Zaran the Weapons-Master. The Avengers prevail after a brief scuffle but the villains escape. The criminals claimed to represent a new crime cartel called the Blood Tong but, unbeknownst to the WCA, they were actually hired by someone within SHIELD. Meanwhile, Wonder Man continues filming Arkon IV, a jealous Tigra meets Simon's new love interest Christina Carson, and Hank Pym looks up the ownership records of Master Pandemonium's Anvil Studios only to find that they have been burned away.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Hank Pym (as staff member).

Other Characters: Nick Fury, Shockwave, Razorfist, Zaran, Christina Carson, Arnold Schwarzburger, Dino, Josyane.

Note: The events of this story lead into the Nick Fury vs. SHIELD limited series, which revealed that SHIELD had been infiltrated and subverted by the artificial beings known as Deltites. Fury eventually purged the infiltrators and reorganized SHIELD into a positive force again.

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WCA 12

Wonder Man, Hawkeye and Mockingbird unveil new costumes as questions arise about how Tigra will be freed from her cat-soul, and whether she still wants to be; in fact, her cat-soul has overpowered her to the point where she is planning to give up her human soul. Yielding to her hedonistic cat impulses, Tigra throws herself at Wonder Man and Iron Man, but they both reject her on account of their friendship with Hank and Wonder Man's romance with Christina. The spurned Tigra decides to spite them by dumping Hank, but ends up melting in his arms instead, fuming over how she can't resist any man's attentions anymore. Tigra goes missing in the woods shortly afterward, just before Hawkeye's old foe Zzzax and new menaces Quantum and Halflife go on a rampage in Sunset Boulevard. The remaining WCA defeat these foes only to be themselves defeated by a fourth villain, their old foe Graviton, who has already enslaved Tigra.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Hank Pym (as staff member).

Other Characters: Graviton, Zzzax, Halflife, Quantum and Joachin.

Note: The Avengers Compound groundsman Joachin first appears in this issue.

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WCA 13

With the WCA as his captives, Graviton rants about his origins, his new allies Quantum and Halflife, his defeat of the Avengers, and his planned romantic conquest of Tigra. The tormented Tigra is indeed having a hard time resisting Graviton and even considers joining him as his "queen", but she comes to her senses and suppresses the influence of her cat soul by reverting to her human Greer Nelson form. Determined to prevail as Greer, she escapes her guards and tricks Quantum and Halflife into attacking each other. She then frees the Avengers while Graviton tries to separate his squabbling allies. Quantum is sent hurtling into the stratosphere, Halflife goes up in smoke and Graviton's power goes out of control, sending his floating island headquarters flying into space. The WCA escape, taking Graviton's hirelings with them, but Graviton himself refuses to be rescued by his "inferiors" and is lost in space. The WCA congratulate Greer on her victory, and she resolves to be on guard against the darker impulses of her Tigra self in the future. Meanwhile, Hank Pym follows up more leads on Master Pandemonium and attracts the attention of the demon Allatou.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Hank Pym (as staff member).

Other Characters: Graviton, Halflife, Quantum, Allatou.

Note: The events of Avengers Annual 15 and WCA Annual 1 follow this story and will be described in detail in the Annuals section. In brief, Quicksilver goes mad and turns against the Avengers, first trying to frame them for treason and then trying to destroy them outright before they shame him into relenting. He escapes capture.

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WCA 14

After almost killing Hawkeye in a training exercise, Greer decides to abandon her Tigra form permanently, a decision that Hank wholeheartedly supports as they declare their love for each other. Before they can celebrate, though, the demon Allatou kidnaps Hank and Greer, wrongly believing them to be agents of Master Pandemonium, who arrives seeking Allatou and departs when she escapes. The WCA seek aid from expert demonologists Daimon and Patsy Hellstrom, formerly Son of Satan and Hellcat, long-time members of the Defenders until they retired from that group to marry and set up their occult investigations business. An Avengers reservist as well as a former Defender, Patsy is thrilled to meet the WCA and talk over old times with Hawkeye and Iron Man.

After the Hellstroms advise the Avengers on how to proceed, the Avengers prepare to depart--joined by Patsy in her Hellcat guise (she explains that she retired from the Defenders, not costumed adventuring in general) and Daimon in his new costumed guise as Hellstorm. Together, the heroes invade Allatou's realm with Pandemonium on their heels. A three-way fight breaks out until Allatou manages to strand Hank, Greer, the WCA, the Hellstroms and Pandemonium aboard a boat adrift on the deadly River of Death running through the various realms of hell.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Hellcat, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Hank Pym (as staff member).

Other Characters: Hellstorm, Allatou and Master Pandemonium.

Note: Mark Bousquet has a letter printed in this issue.

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WCA 15

As the WCA, the Hellstroms and Master Pandemonium float helplessly down the River of Death, a disempowered Greer snaps resentfully at Hellcat (Hellcat's physique-enhancing costume was originally designed for Greer, who wore it briefly as the crimefighting Cat before becoming Tigra). The others break up the squabble and change the subject, prompting Pandemonium to reveal the further details of his origin: he explains how Mephisto replaced his limbs with demons and splintered his soul into five shards that were entrusted to five other demons scattered across reality; willing to do anything to regain his soul, Preston became the ruthless mystic Master Pandemonium and began his obsessive quest for "The Five" who hold his soul.

Shortly after Pandemonium tells his tale, the castaways are astonished to find that they have drifted into the Cat People's Land Within. It turns out the Cat People really are demons, not merely regarded as such by Pandemonium, having become demonic through their longtime residence in the demonic Land Within. They even guard a shard of Pandemonium's soul on behalf of Mephisto, and they had Tigra target Pandemonium to protect it from him. The Cat People command Tigra to finally slay Pandemonium as she agreed, but she cannot bring herself to do it. They punish her by stripping away her cat-soul altogether and leaving her human, but Hellcat gives her costume to Greer. Thus clad, Greer leads the Avengers in battling the Cat-People and single-handedly defeats their champion, the Balkatar.

The cat-soul is released from confinement in the struggle, stronger than ever, and inhabits Greer again--but her human strength has been augmented by the Hellcat costume and matches the cat-soul's strength, producing a Tigra that is more physically formidable than ever but wholly controlled by Greer's human intellect. The Cat People surrender, unwilling to battle a "whole" Tigra who now exactly resembles the revered Tigra of their legends. While all eyes are on the reborn Greer, Pandemonium steals his soul-shard and flees in triumph. The WCA let him go, satisfied to have Tigra cured, and prepare to go home and celebrate.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Hellcat, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Hank Pym (as staff member).

Other Characters: Hellstorm, Master Pandemonium, Cat People, King of the Cat People, Grigar the Balkatar.

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WCA 16

Hank Pym and Tigra are on vacation, staying with the Hellstroms in San Francisco, when they encounter two wayward Masters of Evil: Tiger Shark and the Whirlwind, assigned by Baron Zemo to steal the experimental psycho-circuit. Tigra and Hellcat capture Tiger Shark as he flees from the police, but the defeated villain boasts of how he and the Masters of Evil once destroyed Hank Pym, referring to how they framed Hank for treason and helped bring his career as an Avenger to a close. Hank shrugs off the barb and mocks Tiger Shark, who lets slip the fact that Whirlwind was supposed to be backing him up.

The Hellstroms and their guests return home, where Tigra tells Hank that she's breaking up with him since she's now a different person who feels differently about everything and everyone, even though she still likes him. Hank takes it gracefully, but once alone he rages over this latest of so many personal setbacks. He soldiers on, though, deciding to lead Tigra and the Hellstroms in capturing his old foe Whirlwind. Hellcat and Tigra manage to do just that under Hank's direction, but not before Whirlwind hands Hank himself a humiliating defeat and denounces Pym as a failure. Hank remains outwardly upbeat as he and Tigra prepare to return to Avengers Compound, but he is secretly so demoralized that he is contemplating suicide. Meanwhile, the rest of the WCA decide to seek out their old ally Firebird and make her Avengers membership official.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Hellcat, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Hank Pym (as staff member). Tigra, Hellcat and Hank are the only Avengers who actually participate in this issue's mission; the rest appear only in their civilian guises off-duty.

Other Characters: Hellstorm, Tiger Shark and Whirlwind.

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WCA 17

As the WCA depart to seek out Firebird and offer her membership, Hank Pym is planning to kill himself. He makes sure the Avengers Compound is in top shape first, telling Joachin and the other groundskeepers that there are long-term plans for the estate's upkeep in his bungalow if they ever need to consult them. Hank then writes a personal farewell letter to all the other past and present Avengers before having a last conversation with his ex-wife, the Wasp, over the Avengers' communications system.

Meanwhile, the WCA are experiencing group tension on account of Wonder Man, whose growing confidence is starting to bloom into outright arrogance; Iron Man in particular, as a founding member and one of the most powerful Avengers, is annoyed at Wonder Man's increasingly superior attitude. Despite this friction, the team goes undercover and discovers that Bonita Jaurez--the social worker who is secretly Firebird--disappeared without explanation over a month ago. The only person who had seen her recently was her priest, Father Ramirez, who glimpsed Firebird having a mystical experience of sorts in his church before she disappeared in a burst of flame. The WCA resolve to continue their search but are attacked by superhuman foes--Sunstroke, Butte, Gila and Cactus--in the service of the alien subversive Dominus. The Avengers defeat his minions, but Dominus himself sends the WCA into the distant past using Doctor Doom's time machine--which is damaged in such a way that it now only goes backwards through time.

Meanwhile, Hank Pym is about to put a bullet through his brain when Firebird appears in her new guise as Espirita, saying that she brings Hank hope from God.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Espirita (as provisional member); Wasp (via teleconference); Hank Pym (as staff member).

Other Characters: Joachin, Dominus, Sunstroke, Butte, Cactus, Gila.

Note: Firebird rejoins the ongoing cast as of this issue in her new guise as Espirita.

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WCA 18

Hank remains determined to kill himself but Espirita convinces him that he still has worthwhile contributions to make to the world even if he failed as a super-hero, and that his life is worth living; moved to tears, Hank surrenders his gun. Meanwhile (so to speak), the WCA land in the year 1876 and meet three of their old allies from that time period: the Two-Gun Kid (secretly Matt Hawk), once Hawkeye's partner and briefly a member of the Avengers during an extended visit to the 20th century; the Rawhide Kid; and the mysterious Phantom Rider (AKA Night Rider or Ghost Rider). While Wonder Man tries to fix the time machine with the help of Two-Gun's blacksmith friend, Boom-Boom Brown, the rest of the WCA join the old western heroes in hunting for a gang of exotic bandits roughly equivalent to 20th century super-villains: Hurricane, Rattler, Doctor Danger, Fat Man and Red Raven, all led by the armored Iron Mask.

During the search, Two-Gun confesses that he is tempted to return to the 20th century and the Avengers but can't say for sure if he'd do it--he found the 20th century too strange, but now he finds the 19th century somewhat dull by comparison; meanwhile, Tigra flirts with Rawhide Kid and the usually aloof Phantom Rider shows unusual interest in Mockingbird. The WCA and their allies find and defeat the old west villains with relative ease, despite added opposition from Iron Mask's secret weapon, the giant alien known as the Living Totem. Wonder Man then reports that the time machine is beyond complete repair, but suggests that they use it to travel further back into the past and seek the aid of ancient Egyptian time traveller Rama-Tut, once an ally to the Avengers. Hawkeye decides to try Wonder Man's plan, starting with a test jump to the 18th century; but as the Avengers fade away on the time platform, the Phantom Rider strikes Mockingbird down and rides off with her before anyone can stop him.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Two-Gun Kid, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Espirita (as provisional member); Hank Pym (as staff member).

Other Characters: Rawhide Kid, Phantom Rider III, Iron Mask, Red Raven, Hurricane, Rattler, Doctor Danger, Fat Man, Living Totem, Boom Boom Brown.

Note: Two-Gun Kid joins the ongoing cast as of this issue.

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WCA 19

Hawkeye, Iron Man, Wonder Man and Tigra land in 1776, where they are attacked by Spanish soldiers. The WCA hold the troops at bay easily, but Wonder Man's show-off attempt to crush all their guns at once causes an explosion that badly burns Hawkeye and forces the Avengers to flee; they then meet Carlotta Valdez, a precocious young Spanish noblewoman who witnessed the fight and offers medical aid. As she tends to Hawkeye's burns, Hawkeye realizes that she is the woman from Firebird's long-ago vision of a past life, the woman who will soon be killed by a traitor in the Spanish ranks. Gambling that Carlotta is probably Firebird's ancestor, Clint scrawls out a message to Bonita on a piece of cloth with an inkjet arrowhead and asks Carlotta to keep it somewhere safe until someone claims it, even if she must pass the cloth on to future generations. Though confused, she agrees and departs with the message. Their hearts heavy with the knowledge that Carlotta will probably soon die and that her message for Bonita is a long shot at best, the WCA set out for Egypt so that they can travel to the time of Rama-Tut.

Back in 1876, the Phantom Rider uses an Indian herbal potion to brainwash Mockingbird into loving him and forgetting her past life. They defeat the pursuing Two-Gun Kid and Rawhide Kid and flee, but not before Mockingbird stumbles upon Hawkeye's inkjet arrowhead, discarded a century ago. Strangely drawn to it, she decides to keep it as a souvenir. Meanwhile, in the 20th century, Espirita helps Hank explore the potential applications of his Pym particles--never dreaming that a message from the time-lost WCA is pressed within the pages of her family Bible.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Two-Gun Kid, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Espirita (as provisional member); Hank Pym (as staff member).

Other Characters: Rawhide Kid, Phantom Rider III, Carlotta Valdez.

Note: The Phantom Rider seen in WCA is the third such adventurer, Lincoln Slade; he replaced his brother, Carter (the original Phantom Rider until his death) and Jamie Jacobs (a youth who briefly filled in as the Phantom Rider before dying as well). All three were originally known as Ghost Rider (not to be confused with the 20th century motorcyclists by that name) but are also known as Night Rider, Phantom Rider and He Who Rides The Night Winds. To avoid confusion with the more recent Ghost Riders, all will be referred to as the Phantom Rider in this text. Lincoln's 20th century descendant, Hamilton Slade, is the current Phantom Rider thanks to supernatural powers conferred upon him by his ancestor's spirit; he is the Phantom Rider (AKA Ghost Rider) who teamed with Firebird and other heroes to form the Rangers.

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WCA 20

Carlotta dies in 1776 as Firebird's vision foretold, and she passes Hawkeye's note on to a priest. In 1876, the fugitive Phantom Rider resumes his civilian identity as marshal Lincoln Slade and introduces the mesmerized Mockingbird (also unmasked) to the townsfolk as his fiancee. In the 20th century, Hank and Espirita continue to explore Hank's scientific past in search of clues to how he can forge a future for himself; and back in 1776, the rest of the WCA make their way to Egypt while Hawkeye struggles to endure his burns and the others struggle to endure Wonder Man's arrogance. Finally arriving in ancient Egypt, they find their old ally Rama-Tut in a near- incoherent state as he is about to enter suspended animation. Hawkeye manages to coax a clue out of him, though--that they should seek aid from Rama Tut's past self, who better knew the science the Avengers need. The plan is risky since Rama Tut was a villain in his early years, but Hawkeye rallies the Avengers into soldiering on and appoints Iron Man interim leader--much to Wonder Man's chagrin--before finally passing out from his injuries. The foursome then travel back to Rama-Tut's earlier reign, only to be shot down by the evil early Rama-Tut himself.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Two-Gun Kid, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Espirita (as provisional member); Hank Pym (as staff member).

Other Characters: Carlotta Valdez, Phantom Rider III, Rama-Tut, Rawhide Kid, Doctor Strange, Clea.

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WCA 21

When Carlotta Valdez died in 1776, her bible--with its note from Hawkeye--was given to a priest. The bible and the note remained in the clergy's hands for decades until young Isabel Ramirez--a descendant of Carlotta's family--took the bible back in 1847, eager to reclaim a family heirloom and somehow sensing the transcendent importance of both the scriptures and the message the book contained. In 1876, Mockingbird continues to serve as the Phantom Rider's unwitting love slave until Two-Gun Kid attacks her in the guise of Hawkeye, shocking her back to her true self and leaving her determined to destroy the man who violated her. In ancient Egypt, the rest of the WCA are shot down by Rama-Tut but the moon god Khonshu offers the dying Hawkeye a chance at restored life if the Avengers will strike down Rama-Tut, who seeks to raise himself above Khonshu and the other gods in the hearts of Egypt; Hawkeye agrees on the condition that Khonshu will send a message to the future soliciting aid for the time-lost WCA. Khonshu complies, restoring Hawkeye and the rest of the WCA to fighting strength and sending Hawkeye's message to Khonshu's 20th century disciple, the costumed adventurer Moon Knight.

Meanwhile, Hank Pym and Espirita have assembled the tools Hank needs to succeed as an adventurer again without losing sight of who he is, by concentrating on his scientific skills and relying on his inventions rather than trying to make himself super-powerful: now calling himself simply Doctor Pym rather than hiding behind yet another costumed identity, Hank makes use of a new robotic sidekick named Rover and a miniature arsenal of shrunken tools and weapons that he can enlarge for use at a moment's notice, having realized that he can still change the size of other objects even though he can no longer change his own bodily size. Determined to regain his place in the Avengers, the newly self-confident Hank admits that he is romantically attracted to Bonita and is overjoyed when the feeling proves mutual.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Hawkeye, Two-Gun Kid, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Espirita (as provisional member); Moon Knight (as non-member ally).

Other Characters: Isabel Ramirez, Rama-Tut, Khonshu, Rawhide Kid, Frenchy, Rover, Dominus.

Note: Moon Knight joins the ongoing cast as of this issue.

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WCA 22

Seventy years ago, an elderly Isabel Ramirez died of a heart attack while saving the life of young boy Benito Jaurez, just after she had bequeathed her family Bible to her young granddaughter Chita. Chita vows to keep and study the Bible always, eventually marrying Benito and starting a family that produced a granddaughter of her own, Bonita "Firebird" Jaurez; so it was that Hawkeye's message from the past reached the present via Bonita's family Bible. Back in the 19th century Old West, an enraged Mockingbird joins Two-Gun Kid and Rawhide Kid in hunting down the Phantom Rider, and insists on pursuing him alone after an initial scuffle. In the era of Rama-Tut's ancient Egypt, the WCA try to find a way back to the present--but despite close encounters with the time-travelling Doctor Strange and Fantastic Four, they are left stranded when Rama-Tut and all the other time travellers unwittingly elude them; despite their seemingly hopeless situation, Hawkeye refuses to give up and rallies the team's spirits, reminding them that his message to the present may still get them home. Back in that present, Doctor Pym and Espirita are celebrating Pym's new lease on life when Moon Knight arrives to draw their attention to Hawkeye's message in Espirita's Bible. The threesome then seek the present-day Fantastic Four's aid only to learn that Dominus--the alien subversive who trapped the WCA in the past--has destroyed the current FF's time machine.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Hawkeye, Two-Gun Kid, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Espirita and Moon Knight (as provisional members); Mister Fantastic and Invisible Woman (as non-member allies); Thing (as member of Fantastic Four).

Other Characters: Isabel Ramirez, Chita Ramirez, Benito Jaurez, Rawhide Kid, Phantom Rider III, Rama-Tut, Doctor Strange (past self only), Human Torch II (past self only), Rover.

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WCA 23

In 1876, Mockingbird finally confronts and defeats the unrepentant Phantom Rider in a scuffle that ends with the villain hanging from a cliff's edge by his fingertips after he tried to kill her. A grim Mockingbird returns the favour by allowing him to fall to his death, making no move to save him. Back in ancient Egypt, the WCA seek refuge from Rama-Tut's vengeful legions with the grateful priests of Khonshu, who explain that the WCA were indirectly responsible for driving Rama-Tut away by making the past victories of Doctor Strange and the Fantastic Four possible. Determined to return home but prepared for a long stay, Hawkeye decides to help the priests protect themselves from Rama's legions by designing weapons for them--the same weapons that the priests later bequeath to Khonshu's modern-day disciple, Moon Knight.

In the present, Doctor Pym and Mister Fantastic are fixing the FF's time machine while Moon Knight muses on his mercenary-turned-mystic origins and how out of place he is in these surroundings. Meanwhile, Espirita catches up on old times with the Thing, who tells of how he left the WCA to shun humanity but ended up rejoining the FF despite his lingering bitterness toward them. Espirita, by contrast, holds no grudge from her sometimes poor treatment by the WCA but confesses that she is no longer seeking active Avengers membership since a religious vision drove her to embrace the service of God over all other pursuits in her new identity as Espirita.

Once the time machine is fixed, Pym, Espirita and Moon Knight use it to rescue Hawkeye, Tigra, Wonder Man and Iron Man from ancient Egypt. The assembled heroes then crash the Phantom Rider's funeral in 1876, where Hawkeye is joyfully reunited with Mockingbird; she does not tell him the truth about the Phantom Rider's death, though, claiming instead that the madman committed suicide, since she fears that Hawkeye and the Avengers would turn against her if they knew the truth. Hawkeye invites his old partner the Two-Gun Kid to rejoin the Avengers, but Two-Gun decides to remain in the past for now. That being said, the WCA return to the present to confront the man who trapped them all in the past in the first place: Dominus.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Hawkeye, Two-Gun Kid, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Espirita and Moon Knight (as provisional members); Mister Fantastic and Invisible Woman (as non-member allies); Thing (as member of Fantastic Four).

Other Characters: Rawhide Kid, Franklin Richards, Rover; and in flashbacks, Dr. Strange, Wong, Rama-Tut, Doctor Doom and Human Torch II.

Note: The Two-Gun Kid leaves the ongoing cast as of this issue.

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WCA 24

Together again and back from the past, the WCA--now including Doctor Pym, Espirita and Moon Knight--attack Dominus in his lair. Though they defeat his minions, they are mentally immobilized by Dominus himself, who explains that he is actually a sentient machine and that he mentally enslaved his creators, the alien Arcane, just as he has enslaved countless other worlds in their name. As Dominus rants, though, he is assaulted by the Moon Knight, whose multiple personalities enable him to resist the mind control. Unable to comprehend his failure to control Moon Knight, Dominus goes mad and flees Earth, taking the base that housed him along as he rockets into space. The flying Avengers pursue, with Iron Man protected by his armor and Firebird finding that she can somehow breathe even outside the atmosphere, but Wonder Man's jets fail in the vacuum of space and the others are forced to turn back and rescue him; worse yet, his injured pride prompts him to react angrily rather than gratefully. As the WCA return home, Hawkeye is cheered by the presence of several new recruits but sobered by the knowledge that Wonder Man may be leaving the group as he grows more egotistical and preoccupied with his movie career.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Espirita and Moon Knight (as provisional members).

Other Characters: Dominus, Sunstroke, Butte, Cactus, Gila, Menachim Heitz.

Note: WCA Annual 2 (which continues into Avengers Annual 16) follows this story. Its events will be covered in more detail in the Annuals section. In brief, the ECA and WCA join forces to thwart a plot by the Collector and the Grandmaster to usurp the power of Death herself. Wonder Man adopts a new costume and hairstyle as of that story on the advice of his film colleagues (advice relayed in WCA 24) in a move reflective of both his increasingly superficial ego and most Avengers readers' hatred of the red-and-green costume he wore in WCA 12-24. As production assistant Menachim Heitz told Simon, "The public hates that costume!"

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WCA 25

Wonder Man basks in the publicity and adulation that the debut of Arkon IV brings him, and is even considering quitting the Avengers to concentrate on solo stardom. When the jealous Tyrannus (trapped in the grotesque body of the Abomination) attacks Wonder Man, Simon beats the monster with a supreme heroic effort--but is then hurt and humbled to discover that his Hollywood peers couldn't care less, thinking it was all just another publicity stunt. Realizing that his role as an Avenger is more important than movie stardom could ever be, Wonder Man swallows his pride and resolves to stay with the WCA. Meanwhile, a tormented Mockingbird denies that the Phantom Rider violated her (which he did) and continues to conceal the fact that she all but killed him in revenge for it, convinced that either revelation could destroy her relationship with Hawkeye; Moon Knight parts company with his sidekick Frenchy in preparation for officially joining the Avengers; and Espirita departs on a spiritual quest to better understand her mysterious powers, parting amicably with Hank before leaving.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Hawkeye, Wonder Man and Mockingbird; Espirita and Moon Knight (as provisional members).

Other Characters: Abomination/Tyrannus, Dino, Christina Carson, Menachim Heitz.

Note: Espirita leaves the ongoing cast as of this issue. Tigra does not appear in this issue.

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WCA 26

The twelve leaders of the Zodiac crime cartel meet to discuss strategies for dealing with the gang of LMDs (androids) who have formed a rival Zodiac group, but the meeting turns out to be far too late: the original Scorpio, whom the rest of the original Zodiac thought dead, actually survived in the form of an LMD and infiltrated the original Zodiac in the guise of a new human Scorpio. After revealing himself, Scorpio then leads the android Zodiac in slaughtering the rest of the original Zodiac--all but Cornelius Van Lunt, AKA Taurus, who escapes and seeks protection with the Avengers, volunteering his aid in defeating the android Zodiac. Though suspicious of their old foe Van Lunt, the WCA accept--and Van Lunt swears to Moon Knight by the moon that he will not take advantage of the situation for criminal gain, though he has no intention of actually keeping this astrological oath.

Regardless, Van Lunt correctly guesses where the androids will strike next and the WCA are there to oppose them. The two sides seem evenly matched until Hawkeye accidentally shoots the android Sagittarius dead, after which the android Zodiac panic and flee to their lair. Once there, Scorpio muses on how the sentient otherdimensional Zodiac Key through which he creates and empowers the Zodiac's android bodies is linked to him in such a way that he cannot die, instead reincarnating him in a series of android forms. So long as the key exists on the Earthly plane, so does he; and using the Key, Scorpio creates a new Saggitarius--this one an exact double of Hawkeye.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Moon Knight (as provisional member).

Other Characters: Scorpio, Josyane, Mike (Simon's agent, in his first on-panel appearance), Aquarius II (Zachary Drebb), Aries III (unrevealed), Cancer (Jack Klevano), Capricorn (Willard Weir), Gemini (Joshua Link), Leo (Daniel Radford), Libra (Gustav Brandt), Pisces (Noah Perricone), Sagittarius (Harlan Vargas), Virgo (Elaine McLaughlin) and the android Zodiac.

Note: This is the last appearance for all of the original Zodiac except Scorpio, Taurus and Libra (the latter is reincarnated as the hero Moonraker during The Crossing).

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WCA 27

The android Zodiac ambush Hawkeye, sending the new Sagittarius (Hawkeye's exact double) to infiltrate Avengers Compound in his place. The switch works, though the fake Hawkeye's indifference to Mockingbird leaves a guilt-ridden Bobbi certain that her marriage is cracking under the strain of her secret. On the advice of her old mentor Nick Fury, Mockingbird finally works up the nerve to tell Hawkeye the whole truth about what the Phantom Rider did to her and what she did to him. When she confronts "Hawkeye" and tells him the truth, though, she realizes that he is an android double and destroys him with the aid of Tigra...not suspecting that Tigra has been replaced by another LMD, the new Leo.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Moon Knight (as provisional member).

Other Characters: Scorpio, the android Zodiac, Nick Fury, Cornelius Van Lunt (Taurus).

Note: Before her abduction and replacement, Tigra makes romantic advances toward Moon Knight in this issue.

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WCA 28

The WCA battle the android Zodiac twice more before Scorpio decides to destroy the Avengers by battling them in the Zodiac Key's home dimension. The Key reluctantly complies by transporting the combatants there, but the Zodiacal energies that empower the androids do not exist in the Key's dimension, so the entire android Zodiac is rendered inert. The conflict-loving Brotherhood who rule the dimension then send the WCA--including the captive Hawkeye and Tigra--back to Earth so that they may be ready to face the Key and its Zodiac in new conflicts in the future. Mockingbird tries again to tell Hawkeye the truth about the Phantom Rider, but simply cannot bring herself to hurt him so badly. Meanwhile, the rest of the WCA discover that their ally Van Lunt has double-crossed them and escaped, a deception that Moon Knight is eager to avenge.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Moon Knight (as provisional member).

Other Characters: Cornelius Van Lunt, Scorpio, the android Zodiac.

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WCA 29

After escaping from the WCA, Cornelius Van Lunt (AKA Taurus) starts rebuilding his Zodiac crime cartel by inviting the Shroud to join as the new Pisces. The Shroud is both an ally to the Avengers and a hero who merely poses as a crimelord, though, so he refuses; what's more, he steps aside and lets the pursuing Moon Knight attack Taurus. Taurus flees and a desperate chase ensues, ending with Van Lunt's apparent death in a fiery plane crash. Alerted by the Shroud, the WCA show up in time to save Moon Knight from going down with the plane--but Hawkeye is furious with Moon Knight for pursuing an Avengers enemy on his own without informing the team, especially since it led to an apparent fatality. To Hawkeye's surprise, though, Mockingbird and Tigra stick up for Moon Knight by suggesting that it may be time for the Avengers to rethink their refusal to kill opponents. Meanwhile, Moon Knight himself is surprised to find that his patron god Khonshu has actually begun speaking to him in his mind, communicating directly with him for the first time.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Moon Knight (as provisional member).

Other Characters: Khonshu, Cornelius Van Lunt, Shroud, Phantom Rider IV.

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WCA 30

The alien Sligs, seeking to succeed where the Kree and Skrulls failed by conquering Earth, abduct the WCA to test the Avengers' mettle. When each Avenger succeeds in besting the Sligs' Examiner combat robot despite its ability to adapt new defences after every defeat, the Sligs' ship blows up under the strain of trying to compensate for the resultant power overload, and the Slig empire resolves to leave Earth in peace lest the Avengers destroy them.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Moon Knight (as provisional member); Vision II and Scarlet Witch (non-participating guest appearance).

Other Characters: Thomas and William Maximoff.

Note: This issue is guest-written by Al Milgrom.

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WCA 31

Moon Knight is communing with his patron god, Khonshu, who professes a growing fascination with the Avengers, when Tigra interrupts. The two Avengers share a passionate kiss but are themselves interrupted by a brooding Iron Man, who picks a fight with Moon Knight. Hawkeye breaks it up and asks why Tony has been so testy lately, but Iron Man refuses to elaborate and flies off, asking Clint to trust him. Shortly after his departure, though, the eastern Avengers call with the shocking news that Iron Man recently attacked the Vault--America's prison for superhumans--and assaulted Captain America in the process.

Meanwhile, the modern-day Phantom Rider--who is possessed by the spirit of the 1870s Phantom Rider, Lincoln Slade, who abducted and violated Mockingbird before she caused his death-- has joined forces with the Texas Twister in an effort to contact otherworldly demons. Twister is doing so in an obsessive quest for his lost love Shooting Star, who was stolen away by demons, while the Phantom Rider assists only because he hopes to bend any demon they summon to his will and send it against the WCA. Instead, their magicks summon the otherdimensional warrior king Arkon, an old foe of the Avengers, who was on his way to Earth to vent his wrath over the motion pictures made in his name and image...the latest of which co-stars Wonder Man. Arkon attacks the WCA, forcing Wonder Man into single combat by threatening a nuclear disaster if the other Avengers interfere. After a fierce struggle, Wonder Man manages to convince Arkon that the film industry did not know of Arkon's feelings and might be persuaded to stop making Arkon movies if Wonder Man explained the situation. Arkon grudgingly agrees to give Simon a chance to settle the matter diplomatically, and departs.

While the WCA are distracted by Arkon, Phantom Rider arrives and lures Mockingbird away, revealing to her that he is now a true ghost in a mortal host body and that he now possesses the supernatural powers he formerly faked as an 1870s vigilante. They scuffle, and the ghostly Phantom Rider easily outfights Mockingbird until she is hanging from a cliff's edge as he was in their previous battle. He spares her life and departs, though, vowing that he will make her suffer and beg for mercy before he finally kills her.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Moon Knight (as provisional member); Black Knight III, Captain Marvel II, Sub-Mariner and Doctor Druid (cameo via teleconference).

Other Characters: Khonshu, Phantom Rider III, Texas Twister, Arkon.

Note: Iron Man departs the ongoing cast as of this issue. His departure hinges on events in his own comic book, namely the then-current "Armor Wars" storyline. In that storyline, Tony embarked on a one-man vigilante crusade to confiscate and destroy all copies of his armor technology after learning that his designs had fallen into the hands of criminals; so he began attacking friends and foes alike--anyone who might be using his armor technology--to ensure that his inventions could no longer be used for evil. Iron Man committed many illegal acts in the course of this crusade, even attacking Stingray (a government agent and Avengers associate), SHIELD's armored Mandroids and the Vault's armored Guardsmen, injuring Captain America in the latter incident. He also assaulted and incapacitated a host of armored super-criminals, and invaded Russia to neutralize their armored heroes Crimson Dynamo and Titanium Man, accidentally killing the latter. Before long, Tony Stark was forced to save his company's image by claiming to have dismissed his alter ego Iron Man from Stark's staff. Similarly, the WCA were forced to follow suit by expelling Iron Man from the Avengers when he refused to give up his vigilante crusade. This expulsion (depicted in Iron Man's comic book) happens between WCA 31 and 32. Shortly afterward, Iron Man concludes his quest by neutralizing the last of his targets, and fakes his death in the process, returning to action as a supposedly new Iron Man on the Stark payroll. He does not rejoin the Avengers until much later, though, long after this latest estrangement from the group.

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WCA 32

The Wasp, recently retired from her post as eastern Avengers chairwoman, visits Avengers Compound to boost the WCA's spirits after Iron Man's expulsion. Meanwhile, Mockingbird discovers that Hamilton Slade is the last living descendant of 1870s Phantom Rider Lincoln Slade, and correctly deduces that Hamilton is the current Phantom Rider's host body; resolving to confront him, she finds out that he is on an archaeological dig in the Grand Canyon and suggests that the WCA go there on a vacation to escape their troubles. Once there, Mockingbird unleashes the giant monster Yetrigar (trapped years ago by SHIELD and Godzilla) to distract the WCA while she goes after Hamilton Slade. She finds him and tries to beat him into confessing his crimes and leaving her alone, but Hamilton is unaware of his Phantom Rider identity (he remembers his possessions only as mental blackouts) and cannot comply since he doesn't know what she's talking about. Moon Knight observes the confrontation and restrains Mockingbird--not because he disagrees with her brutal, potentially lethal assault on Slade, but because he says she must be certain of his identity before taking decisive action. They apologize, promise Slade compensation and convince him to keep this episode to himself. Meanwhile, the WCA subdue Yetrigar--and when the others ask where Mockingbird and Moon Knight were during the fight, the pair claim that Mockingbird was pinned under a boulder from which Moon Knight freed her.

Avengers Assembled: Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Moon Knight (as provisional member).

Other Characters: Khonshu, Hamilton Slade, Phantom Rider III, Yetrigar.

Note: The Wasp joins the ongoing cast as of this issue.

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WCA 33

The WCA officially induct Moon Knight (whose mind is increasingly dominated by Khonshu) into their ranks just as a shocked Hank Pym reports that he has stumbled upon Eastern Bloc security computer files referring to his first wife, Maria Trovaya--files hinting that she may still be alive, though Hank thought her dead at the hands of communist agents in her native Hungary many years ago, when she was abducted on their honeymoon. The WCA decide to accompany Hank to Hungary to investigate, but on arriving the Avengers are confronted by communist agents (mostly old foes of Hank) who declare the Avengers criminals and try to arrest them. All are captured except Hank and the Wasp, who decide to continue the search for Maria before rescuing the Avengers. To that end, Hank regrows Wasp's atrophied forehead antennae so that she can communicate with the local ants and see if they've seen or heard of Maria recently. One ant has heard mention of her in Bratislava Prison--but when Pym and the Wasp break in, the only captives they find are their old teammates the Vision and the Scarlet Witch.

Avengers Assembled: Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Vision II, Wonder Man, Tigra, Mockingbird and Moon Knight.

Other Characters: Ambassador Jim Pickens, Beasts of Berlin, El Toro, Madame X.

Note: The Vision and the Scarlet Witch join the ongoing cast as of this issue.

Note: This issue contains a house ad melodramatically advertising the Walt Simonson run on Avengers as the end of the team. Ironic since some Avengers fans came to regard the Simonson run and the subsequent WCA/Avengers run by John Byrne as the end of the book's glory days.

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WCA 34

The communist officials free Hawkeye, Tigra and Wonder Man but refuse to release Mockingbird and Moon Knight, claiming that they are criminals. Hawkeye, Tigra and Wonder Man don't accept this ruling and attack the communist agents and soldiers until US Ambassador Jim Pickens appears with a document remanding all Avengers in Hungary to his custody; however, Mockingbird and Moon Knight are nowhere to be found since they have already been transferred to Bratislava Prison, where they are held with Vision, Scarlet Witch, Doctor Pym and Wasp in a cell that neutralizes their powers. The renegade Avenger Quicksilver suddenly appears, gloating over the captive Avengers and explaining how he has formed an alliance with the Hungarian authorities to help them develop super-beings while he pursues his own plans of revenge and conquest.

Once he departs, Scarlet Witch apologizes for her brother, trying to justify Quicksilver's behaviour by the fact that the madman Magneto was their father, but Vision professes his love for her and deems such an explanation absurd since that would mean Wanda was mad, too. The other Avengers are moved by the scene, Mockingbird so much so that she finally breaks her silence and confesses to all present what the Phantom Rider did to her and how she caused his death--not knowing that the Phantom Rider himself is watching invisibly in his ghost form, having offered to "help" Hawkeye by finding the missing Avengers. When all the Avengers present react to Bobbi's tale with understanding and forgiveness, Bobbi is overjoyed to think that Clint and the others might forgive her, too. The Phantom Rider, on the other hand, is determined to make Bobbi suffer and leads Hawkeye and the others to the captive Avengers--though not before he tells them his version of how Mockingbird "murdered" him in his past life, turning Hawkeye and Wonder Man against Bobbi. The team sets its personal dispute aside long enough to free the captive Avengers and fly their quinjet out of Hungary--but not before a Hungarian surface-to-air missile wings them, forcing the quinjet down into the nearby country of Latveria.

Avengers Assembled: Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Vision II, Wonder Man, Tigra, Mockingbird and Moon Knight; Quicksilver (as adversary).

Other Characters: Ambassador Jim Pickens, Beasts of Berlin, El Toro, The Horde of Scarlet Beetles, Madame X, Phantom Rider III/IV.

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WCA 35

The WCA awaken to find themselves prisoners of the mad child Kristoff, who claims to be Doctor Doom, ruler of Latveria, trapped in Kristoff's body (this text refers to him simply as Doom for ease of reading). Doom offers to free the Avengers if they will swear to join him in opposing the adult Doom--whom Kristoff calls a mad impostor--seeking to depose the boy Doom. The Avengers are reluctant to consider an alliance with any incarnation of Doom, but Khonshu--who has almost entirely usurped control of Moon Knight's body by now--emerges long enough to persuade Doom to free the team. Quicksilver appears as Hungary's emissary to Doom afterward, realizing too late that this Doom is the Kristoff Quicksilver once scorned; Doom tries to murder Quicksilver, but the Avengers stop him and the super-swift mutant flees. The Avengers then depart to continue their mission in Hungary, though beset by internal strife: Hawkeye is outraged at Mockingbird's betrayal of his trust and the Avengers' principles, while Mockingbird is furious with Hawkeye's apparent insensitivity to her plight. Both angrily demand a divorce.

Avengers Assembled: Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Vision II, Wonder Man, Tigra, Mockingbird and Moon Knight; Quicksilver (as adversary).

Other Characters: Kristoff, Khonshu, Phantom Rider III/IV, Boris.

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WCA 36

The WCA invade Bratislava Prison again in search of Hank Pym's wife Maria but are ambushed by Hank's old foe the Voice, who has joined the communists and whose power enables him to control the Avengers' minds through speech. He commands the other Avengers to hunt down Pym and kill him: Hawkeye subdues Hank but cannot bring himself to kill him, while Moon Knight resists the Voice's power since Khonshu now rules his psyche; Hank Pym manages to hold off the rest of the WCA until he stumbles upon Maria, whose brain has been enlarged to superhuman proportions since the communists experimented upon her, trying to replace her defector father's scientific skills by creating a superhuman intellect in their service. As their drugged captive, she has been responsible for creating many of the communists' weapons and superhumans--but Hank frees her mind long enough for her to free the Avengers' minds and immobilize the communist forces. Hank then announces that he is leaving the Avengers to devote his time to finding a cure for his wife's freakish condition. The assembled Avengers are touched by the Pyms' reunion, but Mockingbird sours the moment by announcing that she and Hawkeye are splitting up.

Avengers Assembled: Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Vision II, Wonder Man, Tigra, Mockingbird and Moon Knight; Quicksilver (as adversary).

Other Characters: Beast of Berlin, El Toro, Madame X, Voice, "Maria Pym" (later revealed to be SODAM).

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WCA 37

Hawkeye and Mockingbird bitterly argue over their differences as the Avengers try in vain to mediate, with all but Wonder Man arguing for leniency. Still, Hawkeye is unable to forgive the fact that Mockingbird all but murdered the Phantom Rider and then lied to him about it repeatedly, while Mockingbird is outraged at Hawkeye's callous reaction and decides to leave both him and the Avengers. Moon Knight and Tigra, sympathetic and unable to agree with Hawkeye's stance against killing, decide to go with Mockingbird; the trio depart, leaving the heartbroken Hawkeye behind as his team and marriage fall apart around him, though at Vision's and Scarlet Witch's suggestion the threesome's departure is declared a leave of absence rather than a permanent resignation.

Doctor Pym and the Wasp leave as well, Pym to seek a cure for his wife and Wasp to return to her vacation, and the two part as friends. That leaves the WCA a team of two with Hawkeye and Wonder Man, but Vision and Scarlet Witch volunteer to stay on with the group as long as Hawkeye needs them. This boosts Hawkeye's spirits considerably, though it still leaves the WCA somewhat short-handed--until long-lost Avengers member Mantis shows up. A pleasant reunion ensues until Mantis mysteriously attacks the team, holding off all of them single-handedly; while the battle rages, Hawkeye correctly deduces that the Voice is controlling Mantis and stalks the villain, subduing him and forcing him to free Mantis's mind. Mantis then explains that she recently awoke in an amnesiac state remembering nothing of the past several years since her time with the Avengers, and sought out the team to ask their help with this conundrum. Hawkeye agrees gladly, elated to have found a fifth member.

Avengers Assembled: Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Vision II, Mantis, Wonder Man, Tigra, Mockingbird and Moon Knight.

Note: Doctor Pym and the Wasp leave the ongoing cast as of this issue. Mantis joins the ongoing cast as of this issue.

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WCA 38

While the WCA seek the secrets behind Mantis's amnesia, Wonder Man thinks back to a time when the WCA defeated the Defiler, an extradimensional energy parasite posing as a heavy metal rock musician. The Defiler's fans (prospective victims) were rescued, and the Defiler himself was trapped in his own barren dimension with nothing and no one to feed on.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird in the flashback story; Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Vision II, Mantis and Wonder Man in the framing sequence.

Other Characters: The Defiler.

Note: Moon Knight does not appear in this issue. The WCA members featured in the Defiler flashback (which takes up almost the entire issue) are Hawkeye, Mockingbird, Tigra, Wonder Man, Iron Man and Doctor Pym, indicating that this story takes place before Iron Man was expelled (WCA 31-32) but after Doctor Pym joined (WCA 25). More precisely, the Defiler story probably takes place between WCA 28 (the defeat of Zodiac) and WCA 29 (Moon Knight's hunt for Cornelius Van Lunt), which would explain why Moon Knight is absent. WCA 38 is a fill-in issue, written by D.G. Chichester & Margaret Clark and drawn by Tom Morgan & Dave Hunt.

WCA Annual 3 takes place shortly after this story; it features Hawkeye's WCA and Mockingbird's splinter group waging separate battles against a common foe, the High Evolutionary. Black Panther, Giant-Man II, Ka-Zar and Shanna guest-star.

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WCA 39

While Scarlet Witch settles her and Vision's affairs in New Jersey with the aid of Mrs. Williams, the rest of the WCA explore the mystery of the amnesiac Mantis's recent past. The trail leads first to a suburban house where Mantis apparently lived a quiet life as "Mandy Celestine" for a time; the WCA then visit the Vietnamese temple of the Priests of Pama, who raised Mantis and groomed her for her destined role as the Celestial Madonna, foretold mother to a child of cosmic importance. Her fated mate--the eldest of the alien Cotati plant beings--inhabited the body of her late lover, the fallen Avenger called the Swordsman, and married her, after which they vanished into space to conceive their child. As she has already told the WCA, Mantis's memories end with that departure years ago; just as she recounts this, though, the Cotati-animated Swordsman bursts from the Swordsman's grave and attacks, impaling Mantis.

To the Avengers' surprise, the true Mantis then emerges from a second grave, and the reunited lovers explain what has happened: when the couple went into space to mate, they did so in spirit form; the bodies they left behind were buried by the Priests of Pama. Mantis created a plant-based version of her body in which to bear her hybrid child, and raised the baby on Earth as Mandy Celestine until it had to leave the world and experience its alien heritage. Restless and depressed without her spouse and child, Mantis projected her spirit back into space and took on other plant forms, eventually allying herself with the Silver Surfer and seemingly dying in battle with the Elders of the Universe. Her spirit was shunted back to Earth, where it assumed a new plant-based duplicate of her body, but the near-death trauma produced amnesia that did not end until the Cotati-Swordsman's attack forced her back into her true form. The Cotati Swordsman, his work done, allows his borrowed body to crumble to dust after bequeathing the Swordsman's blade to Hawkeye (who had been the original Swordsman's protégé). The WCA head home, but Mantis remains at the temple to meditate on what she has lost and what she has regained.

Meanwhile, a grateful Giant-Man (Bill Foster) parts company with Mockingbird, Moon Knight and Tigra after they battled the High Evolutionary together (an adventure which restored Foster's super-powers). Shortly after Foster leaves, the Phantom Rider attacks Mockingbird again but is scared off by Khonshu, who emerges invisibly from Moon Knight's body during the fray.

Avengers Assembled: Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Vision II, Mantis and Wonder Man; Tigra, Mockingbird and Moon Knight (as members on leave).

Other Characters: Mrs. Williams, Cotati Swordsman, Thomas and William Maximoff, Giant-Man II, Phantom Rider III/IV.

Note: Mantis leaves the ongoing cast as of this issue. This is Steve Englehart's last issue as ongoing WCA scripter: creative differences with the Tom DeFalco editorial administration (notably Englehart's refusal to drop Mantis from the ongoing cast) led to Englehart's abrupt dismissal as of this issue, which DeFalco had extensively rewritten; much of the script was altered, and the entire conclusion of the Mantis story was a hastily concocted editorial rewrite. By this time, Roger Stern had already been dismissed from his assignment as ongoing Avengers writer for similar reasons. Neither of the Avengers titles ever really recovered in terms of consistency, characterization and continuity after the departure of Stern and Englehart. Subsequent writers--notably Walt Simonson and John Byrne--would undo or contradict much of Stern & Englehart's work (and that of their predecessors) on the two titles, and the books would eventually suffer both creatively and financially.

 

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WCA 40

Mockingbird stumbles upon the ghoulish Digger burying three men alive and apprehends him for the police. Digger's colleagues in the Night Shift--a criminal gang that preys almost exclusively on other criminals--decide to attack the WCA and negotiate Digger's release. Like the general public, they are unaware that Mockingbird is not currently a WCA member; they are also unaware that their own gang leader, the Shroud, is secretly a crimefighter who uses the Night Shift against other criminals as part of his war on crime. The Shroud is away on business, though, so they attack the Avengers. The WCA subdue Night Shift while Mockingbird, Moon Knight and Tigra search the Night Shift's headquarters and confront the Shroud, who refuses to explain himself and departs. He then rescues the Night Shift from the WCA, though he does linger long enough to offer apologies and explanations to Hawkeye.

Avengers Assembled: Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Vision II and Wonder Man; Tigra, Mockingbird and Moon Knight (as members on leave).

Other Characters: Shroud, Digger, Brothers Grimm II, Dansen Macabre, Gypsy Moth, Misfit, Needle, Tatterdemalion, Tick-Tock, Werewolf by Night, Thomas and William Maximoff, servant (possibly Joachin or Carlos), Yolanda (of WCA maintenance staff--first appearance).

Note: This is Al Milgrom's last issue as regular WCA penciler. Mark Gruenwald guest-writes, and botches the continuity a bit regarding Mockingbird and Tigra's views on the Shroud; Tigra is an old friend of the Shroud's and both she and Mockingbird were depicted as having clear knowledge of his altruistic motivations in the past, but in this story they simply regard him as a suspicious criminal.

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WCA 41

Mockingbird, Moon Knight and Tigra, accompanied by their occult ally Hellstorm, visit Hamilton Slade and explain how they believe him to be possessed by the evil spirit of his ancestor Lincoln Slade, the Phantom Rider, whose ghost has been tormenting Mockingbird. Hamilton reluctantly consents to an exorcism ritual which releases two ghosts from his body--that of Lincoln Slade and Lincoln's brother, Carter, the original Phantom Rider. Both souls had been using Hamilton as an unwitting host body, competing for influence over him, and the two freed spirits promptly attack each other. When Lincoln seems to be winning, Hellstorm drives Khonshu out of Moon Knight's body to join the fray; this attracts the attention of the rival Egyptian god Seth, whose legions arrive to attack Khonshu.

A wild brawl ensues, during which Moon Knight's Egyptian paraphernalia is destroyed and Tigra temporarily loses control of her feral instincts before Mockingbird restrains her. In the end, Seth's legions are routed and Khonshu leaves the mortal plane--possibly forever--to battle Seth; he restores Moon Knight's full consciousness and free will before departing, though he urges the Knight to keep fighting evil in his name. Hellstorm banishes Lincoln Slade's ghost to the netherworld while Carter Slade's ghost merges with Hamilton, who becomes consciously aware of and in control of his actions as the modern Phantom Rider for the first time in the process. The new Phantom Rider promises to devote himself to atoning for Lincoln's sins, but the ending is otherwise unhappy: Tigra suggests returning to the WCA, but an exhausted Mockingbird still can't face Hawkeye and departs for some time alone, while a confused and disillusioned Moon Knight, freed from Khonshu's control, takes his leave of both Tigra and the Avengers.

Avengers Assembled: Tigra, Mockingbird and Moon Knight (as members on leave).

Other Characters: Leir, Sif, Seth, Khonshu, Hellstorm, Phantom Rider, Phantom Rider III, Phantom Rider IV.

Note: Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Vision and Scarlet Witch do not appear in this issue. Moon Knight leaves the ongoing cast as of this issue. The issue is guest-written by editor-in-chief Tom DeFalco, who incorporates characters from his ongoing Thor comic (such as Seth) while rather abruptly resolving some of former WCA writer Englehart's ongoing subplots; this is all in preparation for John Byrne taking over as the regular WCA writer and artist with issue 42. Tom Morgan supplies the art for this issue.

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WCA 42

The Scarlet Witch awakens one morning to discover that her husband, the Vision, has vanished without a trace; before the WCA can solve this mystery, they are attacked by a robot that appears to be Ultron but is actually an inferior copy, one the Avengers destroy with relative ease. Suspecting the robot was a distraction, the Avengers search their headquarters and discover that their computers have been purged of every file related to the Vision, as if someone were trying to erase all record of his existence. As the Avengers try to figure out who did this, their estranged teammate Mockingbird arrives and claims responsibility.

Avengers Assembled: Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird.

Note: The ongoing cast as of this issue is Hawkeye, Mockingbird, Tigra, Wonder Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Vision (who appears only in flashbacks in this issue) and Scarlet Witch.

Special Note: John Byrne takes over as ongoing writer and artist with this issue and promptly discards or disfigures established continuity and characterization as he sees fit, mostly without explanation. To use some examples: Doctor Pym, Wasp and Tigra are all active WCA members as of this story, despite the fact that Pym and Wasp had resigned for the foreseeable future in previous issues (what became of Pym's Maria Pym project is later revealed in a Solo Avengers story arc); contrary to all previous appearances, Pym and Wasp seem to be rekindling their old romance; likewise contrary to all previous appearances, Pym and Wasp have assumed an aggressive leadership role within the WCA and the team seems to be disregarding Hawkeye's leadership; again contrary to all previous appearances, Hawkeye is portrayed as a leader without the support or confidence of his team, and is much more volatile--Byrne's handling of him seems to be a caricature of Hawkeye's long-ago early days with the Avengers; Pym and Wasp, for that matter, act more as they did in stories long past, too; and Tigra starts to succumb to the animal side of her personality again, despite having seemingly resolved that problem in WCA 15. In the issues to come, Byrne retcons even more Avengers continuity and characterization.

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WCA 43

A contrite Mockingbird explains to the rest of the WCA how she was duped into helping plot the Vision's kidnapping by a covert agency she believed to be SHIELD. She'd been told she was devising a contingency plan for capturing the Vision should he ever attempt world conquest again as he did under the influence of ISAAC, but she found out that the plan was going to be put into action without provocation and that a dangerous diversionary assault on the WCA using a fake Ultron was in the works. When Mockingbird protested, she was imprisoned--escaping only hours too late to prevent the robot's attack and Vision's abduction. The repentant Mockingbird leads the WCA in breaching the phony SHIELD base where she'd been held captive, but by the time they arrive the Vision has been completely disassembled.

Avengers Assembled: Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Tigra and Mockingbird; Vision II (incapacitated).

Other Characters: Cameron Brock (head of the bogus SHIELD operation), Helen Bach (nanny to Thomas and William), Thomas and William Maximoff.

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WCA 44

The WCA have found the Vision--but his body has been totally disassembled; worse yet, his mind and all known backup copies of it--including his accumulated memories and acquired personality traits--have been erased. Even if the Vision can be reconstructed, and the template for his mind recreated by copying Wonder Man's brain patterns again, there is no guarantee that his previous memories and personality can ever be restored. His chief captor, Cameron Brock, confesses that Vision's abduction was a joint operation of every major intelligence agency in the world, a cooperative effort to make sure any potentially dangerous data did not remain in the Vision's mind from his brief domination of the world's computer systems. Since the operation was sanctioned by the US government and most of the participants have diplomatic immunity, the WCA have no choice but to let Vision's abductors go free.

Meanwhile, Tigra loses control battling Brock's men, forcing Hawkeye to subdue her; and the Wasp frees another of Brock's captives: famed scientist Phineas Horton. Horton created the android that became known as the original Human Torch in 1939, and Brock had hoped Horton could advise them on the handling of the Vision since Vision is believed to be the reconstructed Human Torch; however, a confused Horton tells the WCA what he told Brock: that the Vision is not his handiwork. The WCA return home, where a hysterical Ms. Bach claims that Thomas and William have vanished; when Scarlet Witch finds them safe and sound, she promptly fires Bach.

Pym succeeds in reconstructing Vision, but Vision awakens in a mindless defensive mode and attacks the Avengers, forcing them to subdue him. Hawkeye protests the Vision's abhorrent treatment to the team's US government liaison, Raymond Sikorsky, but Sikorsky brushes off the criticism by saying that the matter is closed, apparently unappreciative of the fact that the Avengers considered Vision a living being and that the government operation essentially killed the Vision they knew. Sikorsky then goes on to say that the government is forcing the WCA to take on a new member as their supervisor, someone to prevent future security risks. Said supervisor arrives in the person of USAgent (John Walker), the super-strong, mentally unstable government agent who, unbeknownst to the public, had formerly been the dishonored replacement Captain America who took on Steve Rogers' costumed role for a time at government insistence.

Meanwhile, a mysterious group interested in mutants has targeted the mutant Scarlet Witch for use in their unknown project.

Avengers Assembled: Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Tigra, Mockingbird and USAgent; Vision II (incapacitated).

Other Characters: Cameron Brock, Phineas Horton, Raymond Sikorsky, That Which Endures, Ms. Bach, Thomas and William Maximoff.

Note: USAgent joins the ongoing cast as of this issue. Raymond Sikorsky's characterization here is completely at odds with his previous appearances, in which he's been depicted as a sympathetic friend to the Avengers in general and the Vision in particular.

*********

WCA 45

The other Avengers are resigned to accepting USAgent's role as their new government supervisor in accordance with their government charter, but a furious Hawkeye quits and storms out. Mockingbird follows him. Scarlet Witch hires a new nanny, Mrs. Hunter, who discovers that Thomas and William have mysteriously disappeared again; meanwhile, Scarlet Witch herself is reunited with the reconstructed Vision. He isn't the man she remembers, though: the trauma of his dismantling has turned his synthetic skin ghostly white; more importantly, he has been reprogrammed with knowledge of his past life but lacks any emotional connection to it--and Pym says there's no way to even begin restoring Vision's personality without a new copy of their old template, Wonder Man's brain patterns. But Wonder Man refuses to supply the necessary brain patterns. The Vision returns to Avengers duty anyway, adopting a new costume more reflective of his new appearance, and Pym makes a stunning announcement: despite what the Avengers had been led to believe by Immortus long ago, there is no way Vision could ever have been the original Human Torch.

Avengers Assembled: Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Vision II, Wonder Man, Tigra, Mockingbird and USAgent.

Other Characters: Thomas and William Maximoff.

*********

WCA 46

When a mysterious new team of super-heroes calling itself the Great Lakes Avengers appears in Milwaukee, Hawkeye and Mockingbird go there to investigate while trying to work out their marital problems. The GLA briefly mistake the couple for impostors and a fight ensues, but it quickly breaks up as the GLA realize who they're dealing with and come clean, introducing themselves as novice super-heroes trading on the Avengers name. Even as Hawkeye and Mockingbird chastise them for the unauthorized use of the Avengers title, though, Hawkeye decides that the weird but promising GLA could be forged into a real Avengers team with him as leader. Meanwhile, USAgent discovers to his disgust that Tigra has been hunting and eating mice at the Compound, and Scarlet Witch gets a letter from the Absolon College of Robotics offering to help with the Vision's problems.

Avengers Assembled: Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Tigra, Mockingbird and USAgent.

Other Characters: Great Lakes Avengers (Mister Immortal, Flatman, Big Bertha, Dinah Soar and Doorman), Mrs. Heyges (first appearance, Avengers Compound cook), Carlos (first appearance, AC butler).

Note: Though they do not officially resign from the Avengers altogether, Hawkeye and Mockingbird leave the ongoing WCA cast as of this issue. Wonder Man, Doctor Pym and Wasp do not appear in this issue.

Title Note: As of issue 47, the series is retitled Avengers West Coast (AWC).

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AWC 47

Scarlet Witch wants to restore the Vision's mind, but the other Avengers seem unconcerned since they believe nothing more can be done--and some of them don't find his current state to be much different from his early personality. Desperate, Scarlet Witch decides to accept Absolon College's offer of help and flies there with the Vision. Dean of Robotics Jeremiah Random welcomes them warmly, but it turns out to be a trap: Random wants Scarlet Witch for their mutant experiments, and he subdues her while the unwitting Vision is detained elsewhere. Meanwhile, Wonder Man confesses to the Wasp that he's in love with the Scarlet Witch, hence his reluctance to help recreate her husband's mind from his own brain patterns; the visiting Black Panther helps Doctor Pym overhaul the Compound computer systems; USAgent chastises Tigra for her increasingly feline behaviour; Thomas and William disappear from under the nose of yet another nanny; and an emergency signal from Scarlet Witch's quinjet (destroyed by Random) prompts eastern-based Avengers members Captain America and She-Hulk to investigate.

Avengers Assembled: Doctor Pym, Wasp, Captain America, Scarlet Witch, Black Panther, Wonder Man, Tigra, She-Hulk and USAgent.

Other Characters: Jeremy Random, Thomas and William Maximoff, That Which Endures.

Note: By the time of this issue, John Byrne had taken over writing the original Avengers series as well as Avengers West Coast and began spreading characters around the two books more freely, thanks in part to a new policy begun in Avengers 305 by Captain America; this policy established all willing Avengers as active on-call reservists for either coastal roster, with no set membership limit or jurisdictional boundaries.

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AWC 48

Scarlet Witch's captors are revealed as That Which Endures, a sentient cell present in all life that has evolved on Earth to date except for mutants; since mutants seem fated to become the dominant species, That Which Endures decides to use Wanda as their first test subject, controlling her mind to serve them as they introduce their presence into her system. When Captain America and She-Hulk come to the rescue, the brainwashed Scarlet Witch subdues them--but not before their quinjet's emergency signal attracts the notice of Hawkeye, Mockingbird and the Great Lakes Avengers. Meanwhile, Starfox spies on his grandniece Nebula's plans to create a weapon of ultimate power; a woman named Ann Raymond is on an obsessive quest to reach the AWC after hearing that the Vision is not the Human Torch; Phineas Horton explains to the Avengers that Vision couldn't be the Torch since the Vision is a synthezoid and the Torch was a non-mechanical android, proving that Immortus was lying about their common origin; and Immortus himself gloats over this in his limbo realm, speaking of how the deception figured into his own mysterious plans for the Scarlet Witch.

Avengers Assembled: Doctor Pym, Wasp, Captain America, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Vision II, Wonder Man, She-Hulk, Starfox, and Mockingbird.

Other Characters: Ann Raymond, Nebula, Phineas Horton, Immortus, That Which Endures, Jeremiah Random, Gunthar, Mister Immortal, Big Bertha, Flatman, Doorman, Dinah Soar.

Note: Tigra and USAgent do not appear in this issue.

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AWC 49

Hawkeye, Mockingbird and the Great Lakes Avengers join forces with the Vision to defeat That Which Endures; Mister Immortal destroys the telepathic link joining That Which Endure's human host bodies, freeing Scarlet Witch and all the other pawns from its control and destroying That Which Endures's ability to act collectively for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, Wonder Man whines about his love life some more to the Wasp while Doctor Pym is forced to subdue a now completely feral Tigra, shrinking her to a tiny size in the process.

Avengers Assembled: Doctor Pym, Wasp, Captain America, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Vision II, Wonder Man, Tigra, She-Hulk, Mockingbird.

Other Characters: Jeremiah Random (real name revealed to be Charles Edison), That Which Endures, Carlos (AC butler), Mister Immortal, Flatman, Big Bertha, Dinah Soar, Doorman.

Note: USAgent does not appear in this issue.

*********

AWC 50

A distraught Ann Raymond tells the Avengers of how her husband, Tom, once the original Human Torch's sidekick Toro, was reportedly killed in battle with the Mad Thinker years ago; but the revelation that the Vision is not the original Human Torch gave Ann hope that the Thinker's victim may have been the Torch, and that the similarly empowered Toro might still be alive somewhere. The Avengers investigate despite the impatient grumblings of an increasingly hostile Scarlet Witch and discover that the Human Torch's funeral was a ruse to lure Toro into the Thinker's clutches, and that the original Human Torch himself is still buried at the site of the mock funeral. Scarlet Witch revives him, and Doctor Pym deduces that Ultron must have used Professor Horton's molds and chemicals (left over from the Torch's creation) to manufacture the Vision, rather than remaking the Torch as the Vision. The revelations conclude as the Avengers offer the Human Torch membership in their ranks, and he tearfully accepts. The tender moment is interrupted, though, by the arrival of prodigal member Iron Man. Meanwhile, Agatha Harkness and Ebony arrive to help care for Wanda's children; Master Pandemonium plots against the Avengers; and Immortus gloats over how his manipulation of the Vision and the Scarlet Witch is calculated to make him the absolute master of time itself.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man (cameo); Doctor Pym, Wasp, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Wonder Man, Tigra (as a shrunken captive), Sub-Mariner, USAgent and Human Torch.

Other Characters: Edwin Jarvis, Ann Raymond, Agatha Harkness, Ebony, Thomas and William Maximoff, Master Pandemonium and Immortus.

Note: Iron Man rejoins the ongoing cast as of this issue. The Human Torch joins the ongoing cast as of this issue.

*********

AWC 51

Iron Man has returned seeking to rejoin the Avengers, but under the false pretense of being a new Iron Man (see notes on WCA 31-32 for details); all the western Avengers but USAgent know that Stark was the original Iron Man, but Iron Man refuses to say whether or not he is the original Iron Man they knew. Meanwhile, the increasingly unstable Scarlet Witch's former mentor, Agatha Harkness, arrives and tells Wanda that her mystically conceived children are unreal and have been vanishing whenever she does not concentrate upon them. Unable to accept this and raging against her ineffectual "human" allies, Wanda is already teetering on the brink of madness when Master Pandemonium and his demon hordes steal her sons Thomas and William away. The Avengers accompany her into Pandemonium's realm in a rescue attempt, but they arrive to find the toddlers somehow grafted to Pandemonium's arms.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Wonder Man, USAgent and Human Torch.

Other Characters: Agatha Harkness, Ebony, Thomas and William Maximoff, Ann Raymond, Immortus, Master Pandemonium.

*********

AWC 52

Master Pandemonium gloats of how he stole Scarlet Witch's twins to replace fragments of his soul and discovered that they actually were two of the lost portions of his soul; augmented by the magical mutant power they inherited from the Scarlet Witch, Pandemonium is more powerful than ever and quickly defeats the Avengers. Agatha Harkness bargains for their safety by giving Pandemonium the final fragments of his soul, but instead of becoming all-powerful he collapses into nothingness. The soul fragments he had been collecting weren't his after all; they were fragments of the essence of his demonic patron, Mephisto, who was using Pandemonium as an unwitting pawn to retrieve them after they had been sundered from Mephisto in battle with Franklin Richards. Harkness's familiar, Ebony, battles Mephisto long enough for Harkness to cast a spell that erases the Scarlet Witch's twins from all existence, including Wanda's memories of them; this disrupts Mephisto's reunified form and disperses him, allowing the Avengers to return safely to Earth. Wanda is left an unconscious mental and emotional wreck by the experience, though Harkness hopes that the loss of the memory of her children will be a comfort. Forces are already conspiring to torment Wanda further, though, as she is targeted as a prospective bride for the demon Set. Her ordeal as one of the demon's brainwashed brides was recounted in the "Atlantis Attacks" crossover running through Marvel's annuals, including AWC Annual 4.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Wonder Man, Tigra (shrunken), USAgent, Human Torch.

Other Characters: Master Pandemonium, Mephisto, Agatha Harkness, Ebony, Thomas and William Maximoff, Ann Raymond, Ghaur, Llyra.

Note: Tigra leaves the ongoing cast as of this issue. Her situation would later be resolved in Avengers Spotlight 38.

*********

AWC 53

A coalition of the world's greatest criminal masterminds is plotting the downfall of super-heroes in general and the Avengers in particular. The mysterious lackey who apparently serves these masterminds, the one who first brought them together, gloats over how well their basic strategy is working, a campaign in which they are spurring various villains to attack heroes unfamiliar with their powers; however, one of the masterminds, Magneto, scorns the lackey and admits that he is not interested in the destruction of the super-heroes; rather, he sees an opportunity in the resultant chaos to reclaim a valued ally and advance the cause of mutantkind. Unbeknownst to Magneto and the other masterminds, though, their "lackey" revels in how easily he manipulates them in his plot to destroy the Avengers.

Meanwhile, the WCA have returned from helping to defeat Set (in the "Atlantis Attacks" crossover annuals) but the Scarlet Witch has lapsed into a catatonic state from the cumulative stress of her many recent ordeals. This is finally too much for Wonder Man, who overcomes his selfish desire for Wanda by volunteering to recopy his brain patterns into her husband, the Vision, in hopes that this will restore Vision's original personality and aid the Scarlet Witch's recovery. Vision refuses this offer, though, on the grounds that the recopied brain patterns would make him a facsimile of the original Vision at best, and would not restore his seemingly lost soul; furthermore, the Vision says, he has decided that he would be of more practical use to the Avengers if he returned to their eastern-based roster.

The other Avengers try to convince Vision to stay for Scarlet Witch's sake, but the argument is interrupted when three of the criminal U-Foes--Vapor, Ironclad and X-Ray--savagely attack the heroes. The Avengers hold their own, thanks in part to Doctor Pym reviving the Scarlet Witch by momentarily tricking her into thinking that Vision has been restored to his old self, but the battle ends with the arrival of the fourth U-Foe, Vector. The other U-Foes had been tricked (presumably by the coalition of criminal masterminds) into believing that the Avengers had murdered Vector, but since he is alive they flee, having no reason to fight the Avengers. When Doctor Pym tries to contact the eastern Avengers for more information on the U-Foes, he is distressed to find that there is no answer from the team's eastern headquarters (the masterminds have already destroyed it); rightly suspecting a larger menace at work, Pym flies eastward with Wasp, Scarlet Witch and Vision to investigate.

Meanwhile, Immortus unmakes an alternate reality in which Mary Queen of Scots ruled Great Britain, musing on his ongoing efforts to weed out all such alternate timelines and how the Scarlet Witch figures into those plans.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Wonder Man, Human Torch.

Other Characters: Loki, Magneto, U-Foes (Vector, Vapor, Ironclad and X-Ray), Ann Raymond, Immortus.

Note: Vision leaves the ongoing cast as of this issue. USAgent does not appear in this issue. AWC 53-55 are part of a story called "Acts of Vengeance", an Avengers-based crossover running through most of Marvel's comics. The basic thrust of the story is this: a mysterious figure gathers six of the world's greatest criminal masterminds--Doctor Doom, Magneto, Red Skull, Mandarin, Kingpin and Wizard--and unites them in a plot to destroy the Avengers. In addition to sinking Avengers Island (Hydrobase) in a robot attack, their main strategy consists of manipulating hordes of lesser villains into attacking the Avengers and their fellow super-heroes seemingly at random, selecting targets other than their usual opponents in hopes of confusing and overcoming the heroes. For instance, the U-Foes and the Mole Man (enemies of the Hulk and the Fantastic Four) are tricked into attacking the WCA in AWC 53-54. Acts of Vengeance concludes in AWC 55.

*********

AWC 54

The Mole Man, duped by the coalition of criminal masterminds into believing that the Avengers attacked his subterranean realm, unleashes giant monsters; a flying monster attacks Doctor Pym, Wasp and Scarlet Witch (who is catatonic again) as they return from the east, but Magneto secretly saves their quinjet from crashing, giving Pym the chance to shrink the monster to a harmless size. Another giant monster attacks Los Angeles, where Iron Man and USAgent battle it while Wonder Man and Human Torch take the battle to the Mole Man himself. They soon convince him of the Avengers' probable innocence, and he calls his monsters off. The eastern and western Avengers then regroup, now firmly convinced that someone is out to destroy them.

Other Characters: Loki, Magneto, Mole Man.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Captain America, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Wonder Man, USAgent, Quasar, Human Torch.

*********

AWC 55

Thor tells a group of his fellow Avengers that the true mastermind behind their recent troubles is his half-brother Loki, the Asgardian god of mischief; one of Loki's pawns, the Wizard, was captured by the eastern Avengers but escapes back to the criminal masterminds' meeting place, where he and his peers receive two unpleasant surprises: first, they discover that the "Doctor Doom" among them was a robot; second, the "lackey" who brought them together reveals himself as Loki and takes his anger out on them for failing to destroy the Avengers thus far. Magneto is already gone and the Kingpin flees, but the Mandarin, the Red Skull and the Wizard are at Loki's mercy until the Avengers arrive. Loki's remaining pawns escape as he tries to destroy the Avengers with sorcerous attacks, but the heroes manage to hold their own until Thor seals Loki within a gigantic rock fissure, trapping the villain for the foreseeable future. Thor then explains why Loki masterminded this elaborate plot against the team: because it was one of Loki's schemes that first brought the Avengers together years ago, an irony that has tormented Loki ever since.

Meanwhile, Immortus unmakes another alternate reality (one in which Lincoln was not assassinated) and Magneto accosts his catatonic daughter, the Scarlet Witch, exerting his influence over her in her vulnerable state so that she embraces his agenda of conquering "inferior" humanity. When Wasp and Pym return to the Compound from the final battle with Loki, Wasp confronts a newly malevolent Scarlet Witch who has killed Wonder Man and assaulted USAgent as a prelude to destroying the Avengers and the human race.

Avengers Assembled: Thor, Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Captain America, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch (as invalid turned adversary), Vision, Falcon, Wonder Man, Mockingbird, USAgent

Other Characters: Agatha Harkness, Immortus, Magneto, Loki, Mandarin, Wizard, Kingpin. The "Red Skull" in this story was later revealed to be a robot (in Avengers Annual # 19).

Note: "Acts of Vengeance" concludes in this issue, though an epilogue follows in Avengers Spotlight # 29, and Avengers Annual # 19 recounts the entire Acts of Vengeance story with new details.

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AWC 56

A newly evil Scarlet Witch holds Agatha Harkness, USAgent, Wasp and Wonder Man hostage as she revels in the greater power that her madness has unleashed within her; she can now literally remake reality at her whim, causing whatever effect she desires by retroactively altering the timeline to correspond with her wishes--as she did when she resurrected her would-be lover Wonder Man for her amusement after killing him last issue. She molests him and taunts the other Avengers until Magneto arrives, discouraging her from such "petty cruelty." Meanwhile, Doctor Pym discovers that Tigra has escaped (Immortus freed her to further distract the Avengers from his plans) and the Human Torch goes off in search of her, encountering an official who claims that the Avengers are being evicted from their headquarters. Doctor Pym, meanwhile, encounters a mysterious visitor who informs him of the Scarlet Witch situation. Pym confronts the Witch and Magneto only to be struck down by the Witch's brother, Magneto's son, Quicksilver, the super-swift mutant who had been a longtime member of the Avengers until he, too, went mad and turned against them some time ago. The mutant family exult in their reunion, confident that together they can become masters of the world.

This issue includes an additional short story depicting the previously untold reunion of Captain America and the original Human Torch during the "Atlantis Attacks" crossover.

 

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Captain America, Quicksilver, Wonder Man, USAgent, Human Torch; Scarlet Witch (as adversary); Sersi (as provisional member).

Other Characters: Ann Raymond, Immortus, Lockjaw, Magneto, Agatha Harkness.

Note: Quicksilver joins the ongoing cast as of this issue. This issue also contains an apology from John Byrne for mistakenly including Tigra in the "Atlantis Attacks" annuals when she was still a shrunken captive of Doctor Pym in AWC.

*********

AWC 57

Magneto, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver have defeated Wonder Man, Wasp, USAgent, Doctor Pym and Agatha Harkness as Magneto triumphantly welcomes his prodigal children--Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch--back into his service. Human Torch and Iron Man arrive to aid the other Avengers, but Magneto escapes and takes Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch to his orbiting satellite base, Asteroid M. The trio seem eager to renew their old war on humanity, but there are hints that Quicksilver is not quite what he seems; regardless, the WCA try to forcibly rescue Wanda and Pietro from Magneto's influence, but Magneto defeats them with ease and returns them to Earth, assuring the newly bloodthirsty Scarlet Witch that he will be less lenient should the Avengers' lives be in his hands a third time.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch (as adversary), Wonder Man, USAgent, Human Torch (deactivated by Scarlet Witch in this issue).

Other Characters: Magneto, Agatha Harkness.

Note: John Byrne abruptly departed as writer and artist of AWC following this issue, leaving his various plots and subplots unfinished. Two fill-in issues followed, after which a new regular creative team began with AWC 60.

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AWC 58

As the WCA return from their defeat by Magneto, they find Los Angeles in the throes of an earthquake artificially generated by Vibro, a mad superhuman bent on drawing attention to the threat of earthquakes by staging a major quake as a cautionary example. The Avengers defeat him by sealing him within a fault line.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp and Wonder Man; USAgent and Human Torch (incapacitated).

Other Characters: Vibro, Ramon (groundskeeping/communication, AC staff), Rover

Note: Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch do not appear in this issue. This is a fill-in issue by Fabian Nicieza (writer), Tom Morgan (pencils) and Randy Emberlin (inks).

**********

AWC 59

In the ongoing pursuit of his mysterious master plan, Immortus unmakes an alternate timeline in which Hydro-Man caused the deaths of Doctor Pym, Hawkeye and Wonder Man after having his intelligence augmented by the Avengers' old foe Loki.

Note: Technically, Immortus is the only in-continuity character who appears in this issue, the rest all being inhabitants of a defunct alternate reality. In addition to alternate versions of the characters mentioned above, alternate versions of the following Avengers affiliates appear at the heroes' funeral: Starfox, Hellcat, Black Knight, Thor, Paladin, Wasp, USAgent, Iron Man, Captain America, Sub-Mariner, She-Hulk, Tigra, Black Panther, Falcon and Vision.

This is a fill-in issue by Danny Fingeroth (writer), Gary Hartle (pencils), Chris Ivy (inks) and Brad Vancata (additional pencils and inks).

Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, USAgent and Human Torch do not appear in this story.

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AWC 60

As Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp and Wonder Man continue to cope with the damage wrought by Vibro's quakes, the recovering USAgent arrives to pitch in; with him is Hawkeye, who announces his intention to return to active WCA membership while his wife Mockingbird mentors the Great Lakes Avengers in Wisconsin. Meanwhile, on Asteroid M, Magneto threatens to destroy the world's weather systems and lures his son Quicksilver into opposing him, revealing what Magneto already suspected: that Quicksilver has not turned to evil again, and that he had infiltrated Magneto's service to watch over his sister, the Scarlet Witch, and bring a halt to Magneto's schemes. Magneto and Scarlet Witch defeat Quicksilver with relative ease, but Quicksilver has hidden Lockjaw (shrunken by Doctor Pym) on his person and uses Lockjaw's teleportational powers to transport all four of them to Earth, into an ambush prepared by the WCA. The Avengers battle Magneto to a standstill and drive him away, but the murderous Scarlet Witch lapses into a trance at the command of Immortus, who appears and gloats to the Avengers of how he has long manipulated them, and how the Scarlet Witch is to be the pivotal figure in his master plan.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Wonder Man, USAgent; Scarlet Witch (as adversary).

Other Characters: Magneto, Lockjaw, Immortus.

Note: The ongoing creative team as of this issue is Roy & Dann Thomas (writers) and Paul Ryan (pencils). The ongoing cast as of this issue is Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch (as adversary), Wonder Man and USAgent. Tigra and Human Torch have not resigned but do not appear regularly in this issue or the next few issues; Tigra is still running loose in her shrunken feral form, and the Human Torch is still deactivated. The Torch, in fact, appears in only two more AWC issues after his reactivation before losing his powers in a Namor the Sub-Mariner storyline and becoming an Avengers reservist.

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AWC 61

Immortus spirits the catatonic Scarlet Witch away to Limbo, where the Avengers battle his Legion of the Unliving for her freedom. Meanwhile, Agatha Harkness uses her sorcery to learn the truth about Immortus; contrary to the various stories he has concocted over the years, Immortus and all his schemes have always been dedicated to a single overall goal: he was appointed custodian of the time period from 3000 BC to 4000 AD by the god-like Time Keepers and was charged with maintaining order within that period; among other things, this entailed preventing or unmaking the many alternate realities spawned by Immortus's temporal counterparts such as Kang, Rama-Tut and the Scarlet Centurion. To better perform his task, Immortus spent years plotting the subjugation of the Scarlet Witch, who as a "nexus being" belongs equally to all realities and could serve as a master key through which Immortus could more easily access and control the timestream. To that end, Immortus manipulated her into marrying the Vision, knowing that this marriage's destined failure would drive her mad and leave her more susceptible to mind control. To speed the process along, Immortus was a secret contributing factor to many of her and the Avengers' recent troubles, including the destruction of her children, the dismantling of the Vision, her abduction by Set and the attack of Master Pandemonium. These things, coupled with coincidental crises such as the threats of Magneto and That Which Endures, combined to drive the Scarlet Witch completely insane and leave her ripe for mental domination by Immortus. He also secretly augmented her power from afar so that she would be better able to fulfill the cosmic purpose he planned for her.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man and USAgent.

Other Characters: Immortus, Agatha Harkness, Lockjaw, Ebony, Legion of the Unliving (Iron Man 2020, Black Knight II, Toro, Swordsman, Oort the Living Comet, Grim Reaper, Left-Winger and Right-Winger).

*********

AWC 62

Immortus defeats the attacking Avengers, but not before Agatha Harkness makes contact with the Scarlet Witch's submerged consciousness; to save the Avengers and Agatha, the Scarlet Witch frees her own mind through strength of will and expels the excess power that Immortus had imbued her with. In the process, she undoes Immortus's timestream maintenance and spawns a host of new alternate realities. Immortus's masters, the Time Keepers, appear and demand an explanation for his failure to properly manage the timestream; the unrepentant Immortus protests his innocence and demands that the Time Keepers grant him the mastery over time that they promised him. They comply by turning him into the inert nexus being he had meant the Scarlet Witch to be, and the Avengers return home with the newly sane Scarlet Witch.

 

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man and USAgent.

Other Characters: Immortus, Tempus, Agatha Harkness, Lockjaw, Ebony, the Time-Keepers.

*********

AWC 63

While the Scarlet Witch recuperates, the other Avengers tend to other business: Hawkeye leaves to visit Mockingbird, Agatha Harkness decides to stay on at the Compound to look out for the Scarlet Witch, the Vision declines a reunion with Scarlet Witch for the foreseeable future, Wonder Man continues to struggle with unrequited love for the Scarlet Witch, and the Avengers start searching for the missing Tigra. Meanwhile, the Human Torch revives and flies off in a daze, wandering into a battle with the rampaging Living Lightning, a youth driven mad by his newfound electrical powers (Miguel Santos's father had been a member of the subversive Legion of the Living Lightning group destroyed by the Hulk years ago, and Miguel was transformed into an electrical being after an accident that occurred while he was trying to salvage the Legion's equipment). Human Torch defeats Living Lightning with the aid of Doctor Pym and the Wasp, and the Living Lightning himself dissipates into thin air.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Vision II (cameo), Wonder Man, USAgent and Quasar (cameo); Living Lightning (as adversary).

Other Characters: Agatha Harkness, Ebony, Ann Raymond.

*********

AWC 64

A boy named Stevie uses the mystical Ruby of Cytorrak to pit Captain America, the Human Torch and the Great Lakes Avengers against each other in an unsuccessful attempt to steal Captain America's shield.

Avengers Assembled: Captain America, Wonder Man, Human Torch.

Other Characters: Great Lakes Avengers (Mister Immortal, Big Bertha, Flatman, Dinah Soar and Doorman).

Note: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and USAgent do not appear in this story, though Wonder Man does. This is a fill-in issue by Terry Kavanagh and Chris Wozniak; the Human Torch's body is incorrectly depicted as being mechanical in this story. GLA members featured in this story include Mister Immortal, Flatman, Big Bertha, Dinah Soar and Doorman.

***********

AWC 65

Wonder Man visits the grave of his late villainous brother, the Grim Reaper, to pay his respects; after he leaves, the Reaper's lover, the mutant Nekra, revives the Reaper as a zombie who needs to drain the life from others to sustain his own existence. In this state, though, the Reaper is seemingly devoid of any human feeling, and he slays Nekra as his first victim. Later, Wonder Man and Wanda Maximoff (the depowered Scarlet Witch) are out on a dinner date when they hear of the murderous Reaper's rampage and confront him. Wonder Man proves immune to the Reaper's life-sucking power but the Reaper manages to escape nonetheless, and Wonder Man vows to hunt him down. Meanwhile, Hawkeye feuds with USAgent; and Doctor Pym and the Wasp are vacationing together in an attempt to rekindle their romance when they stumble upon a pair of robots posing as farmers --robots created and monitored, unbeknownst to them, by their old foe Ultron.

This issue contains a second story in which Namor the Sub-Mariner helps Ann Raymond and the Human Torch locate the site of Toro's long-ago death in battle with the Mad Thinker.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Sub-Mariner, USAgent, Human Torch.

Other Characters: Ann Raymond, Grim Reaper, Nekra, Ultron.

*********

AWC 66

USAgent and Iron Man prevent a county helicopter from accidentally hitting some people with chemical spray; these people were protesting the use of the chemicals as a means of agricultural pest control. Some of the protesters claim that there is additional spraying being done at night and that this is the source of the metallic rash some of them have developed, but the government workers deny knowledge of this and the Avengers return to the Compound, where almost all the western Avengers are assembled: the Human Torch is AWOL but Tigra has returned, having been restored to mental and physical health by Agatha Harkness (in Avengers Spotlight 38).

Doctor Pym and the Wasp display the robots they found on a wheat farm, and the Avengers decide to investigate in case someone is trying to chemically taint the food supply through either controlled farming or chemical spraying. Wonder Man, though, believes this to be all a wild goose chase and storms out in search of his brother, the Grim Reaper. On a hunch, Hawkeye investigates the abandoned Metro Rail Tunnel; Quicksilver and Tigra tag along, but all three are captured by their old foe Ultron-13, who gloats of how his nighttime chemical sprayings and secret farming operations are tainting the food supply with substances designed to turn humans into metallic, robot-like drones who will obey his every command.

Meanwhile, in a short second story drawn by Rik Levins, Wonder Man confronts the Grim Reaper in a vain attempt to stop his brother's killing spree; Nekra's old partner, the Mandrill, vengefully assaults the Reaper during the altercation and the Reaper kills him, fleeing before Wonder Man can stop him.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Tigra and USAgent.

Other Characters: Grim Reaper, Ultron, Mandrill.

Note: Tigra rejoins the ongoing cast as of this story.

***********

AWC 67

As Ultron-13 "robotizes" Hawkeye, Quicksilver and Tigra into more of his metallic servant "andrones", the Grim Reaper arrives and proposes an alliance with his old ally Ultron, to which the robot agrees. The transformed Hawkeye, Quicksilver and Tigra attack the other Avengers at UCLA, where Doctor Pym has used a new super-computer to discover that a wavelength of light may undo the metallic mutation USAgent discovered. With the help of the Scarlet Witch, whose probability-shifting power finally returns, Iron Man finds the right wavelength of light to return Tigra and Quicksilver to normal, though the human Hawkeye's body remains partly robotic. Meanwhile, Ultron plots his first large-scale "robotizing" of humanity as he targets the Rose Parade.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Tigra and USAgent.

Other Characters: Ultron, Grim Reaper, Dr. Jenny Falk (UCLA prof, later revealed to be dating Hank in AWC 71).

*********

AWC 68

The Avengers storm Ultron-13's base only to find he has already fled it, but Wonder Man meets again with the Grim Reaper and strikes a dark bargain: he will let the Reaper go free and kill one human a day for sustenance if he first helps Wonder Man stop Ultron from "robotizing" all humanity. The Reaper is true to his word and attacks Ultron at the Rose Parade, thwarting his plans to chemically mutate the crowds in attendance, but Wonder Man then goes back on his word and attacks the Reaper, unwilling to let his brother go free and kill again. Meanwhile, the other Avengers subdue robots that Ultron unleashed on the crowd. A half-robotic Hawkeye arrives in time to rescue Wonder Man from the Reaper, but is then caught in a crossfire between the Reaper and Ultron. Wonder Man hurls Hawkeye to safety, causing the Reaper and Ultron to collide and render each other inert in the process. With the villains subdued, an exhausted Wonder Man sleeps and Hawkeye is taken away to receive medical attention.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Tigra and USAgent.

Other Characters: Grim Reaper, Ultron.

**********

AWC 69

The Avengers have reincorporated under a new United Nations charter and adopted new membership regulations limiting their active members to a roster of seven on each coast, plus seven designated reserve members or substitutes for each coastal roster. Those elected to full active membership on the western roster include Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man and Tigra; Mockingbird, Quicksilver and USAgent are also present, but receive only enough votes to be designated reservists. The Human Torch and recent Avengers ally Machine Man are also voted in as western reservists, albeit in absentia.

Quicksilver is satisfied since he did not intend to remain an active member indefinitely and had asked that the others not vote for him; Mockingbird departs, angry that her estranged husband Hawkeye didn't vote for her inclusion; and USAgent throws a temper tantrum when he learns that the team's new UN charter no longer allows him to act as an active member imposed on the team by the US government. Wonder Man also leaves angrily after Scarlet Witch tells him that she likes him as a friend but will not continue to date him; and Doctor Pym and Wasp announce their intention to leave the active roster once suitable replacements can be found; they aren't leaving together, though--they've decided to remain just friends, with Pym returning to full-time research and Wasp opting to travel.

Angered by Hawkeye's taunts and the team's total rejection of his bid for full membership, USAgent challenges Hawkeye to a grudge match; Hawkeye accepts, wearing battle armor to help protect against the Agent's superhuman strength. The pair spar verbally and physically for some time until Hawkeye, disgusted by the Agent's arrogance, decides to waste no further arrows on him; instead, Hawkeye discards his weapons and sheds his helmet and gauntlets, engaging Agent hand-to-hand. The superhumanly strong Agent prevails, but Hawkeye keeps fighting back, even after being caught in the blast from one of his own explosive arrows, getting tossed off a cliff, and enduring a prolonged beating at the Agent's hands. The battle ends only once USAgent has finally beaten the unarmed Hawkeye unconscious, just in time for the other Avengers to show up and expel him for gross misconduct. The unrepentant USAgent stalks off in a rage.

Meanwhile, two mysterious superhuman criminals named Jawbreaker and Kuroko smuggle a mysterious trunk into Los Angeles harbor despite the interference of another superhuman, Taifu, whom they capture.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Tigra, USAgent; the eastern Avengers appear in a video recording featuring Captain America, Black Widow, Thor, Quasar, Sersi, Vision and, behind the scenes, She-Hulk; She-Hulk seems to have been misdrawn as Scarlet Witch, and Quasar was miscolored as Nomad.

Other Characters: Jawbreaker, Kuroko, Taifu, General Lewis Hayworth.

Note: Human Torch and Machine Man do not appear in this issue despite being elected active reservists. Hawkeye's battle armor was introduced and last seen in Avengers Spotlight, and he has not used it since this story. This is Paul Ryan's last issue as regular penciler.

***********

AWC 70

The costumed heroine Spider-Woman, formerly of Denver, is exploring her new Orange County home when she stumbles upon the smugglers Jawbreaker and Kuroko and their captive, Taifu; Spider-Woman is defeated after a brief struggle, and the two villains depart with both their captive and their cargo. Back at Avengers Compound, Tigra flirts with the "new" Iron Man in hopes of finagling a date with old Iron Man Tony Stark, not knowing that Stark remains the current Iron Man; Wonder Man, ignoring Scarlet Witch since she dumped him, devotes himself to chasing movie starlets; and Quicksilver, now a reservist, leaves the Compound for the foreseeable future to travel and see the world. Meanwhile, Jawbreaker and Kuroko deliver Taifu and their mysterious cargo, the Lifestone, to the master of their Pacific Overlords group: mad geneticist and would-be world conqueror Doctor Demonicus, an old foe of the Avengers. In addition to his Overlords and many lesser minions, Demonicus has also rescued one-time Avengers foe the Living Lightning from near-death in hopes of adding his power to the Overlords' ranks. Spider-Woman seeks out the AWC and leads them to the Pacific Overlords headquarters, but Demonicus has already fled the base and left behind only a giant, mutated toddler nicknamed the Big One. Spider-Woman and the AWC subdue the Big One after a brief struggle, but are left wondering how they can find and defeat the rest of the Pacific Overlords.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Tigra; Spider-Woman II (as provisional member); Living Lightning (as adversary).

Other Characters: Doctor Demonicus, Jawbreaker, Kuroko, Taifu, Big One.

Note: Quicksilver leaves the ongoing cast as of this issue. Spider-Woman II joins the ongoing cast as of this issue. USAgent does not appear in this issue. Steve Butler guest-pencils this issue. Roy Thomas makes a slight continuity error regarding Spider-Woman: he portrays Hawkeye and Iron Man as being the only western Avengers who know her (from the Secret Wars), but Wasp met her during the Secret Wars, too, and all seven active AWC members but Scarlet Witch met her in Avengers Annual 15 while she was a member of Freedom Force, whom she betrayed to aid the Avengers.

*********

AWC 71

The AWC inter the captured Big One at their Compound, where Hawkeye arrives with clues he unearthed regarding the whereabouts and activities of the Pacific Overlords--and as both the Overlords' name and the history of their leader, Doctor Demonicus, suggest, the locations seem confined to the Pacific rim. While the other Avengers split up to follow leads in Japan and Australia, Hawkeye remains behind at the Compound with Spider-Woman to act as liaison and monitor the Big One; when the Big One reacts excitedly to a photo of Hawaii, though, Hawkeye and Spider-Woman head there to investigate. Two Overlords do appear, both seemingly mesmerized pawns: the Japanese sometime super-hero Sunfire and the self-proclaimed fire goddess Pele, both bent on driving Americans out of the Hawaiian Islands. Hawkeye and Spider-Woman battle them and prevail with the aid of the visiting Namor the Sub-Mariner, who subdues Sunfire though Pele escapes. Freed from his trance, Sunfire can remember nothing of his manipulators except a date: July 18, which happens to be tomorrow; and in a hidden base, Doctor Demonicus tells his lieutenant Kain of how he intentionally left the AWC clues to lead them into traps.

Meanwhile, USAgent accepts a contract from the Commission to kill their rogue agent, Spider-Woman.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Tigra, Sub-Mariner; Spider-Woman II (as provisional member); USAgent and Living Lightning (as adversaries).

Other Characters: Sunfire, Pele, Doctor Demonicus, Kain, Big One, Taifu, Living Lightning; Jenny Falk (on telephone)

Note: Living Lightning joins the ongoing cast as of this issue. David Ross and Tom Morgan co-pencil this issue.

 

*********

AWC 72

Iron Man, Tigra and Wasp learn that Hasanuma Electronics manufactured equipment for Doctor Demonicus at their Kyoto factory, but when the three Avengers go there to investigate, they are ambushed by Irezumi, another of the Pacific Overlords. Iron Man and Wasp are captured, but a badly wounded Tigra escapes in their quinjet to warn the other Avengers of how Demonicus has been luring them into traps. Even as Tigra flees, though, Doctor Pym, Scarlet Witch and Wonder Man arrive at Everard Electronics in Australia and walk into another Demonicus ambush set by two more Pacific Overlords: Jawbreaker and Cybertooth. Meanwhile, Doctor Demonicus persuades the captive Living Lightning to serve him; Spider-Woman confesses to Hawkeye that she's a divorced mother who lost custody of her young daughter because of the time she spent on super-heroics, and that she has to abandon the Overlords case to check in on her child; and USAgent tries to kill Spider-Woman on behalf of the Commission but finds himself unable to do it, saying he won't kill anyone again if he can help it.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Tigra; Spider-Woman II (provisional member); USAgent (as adversary turned ally); Living Lightning (as adversary).

Other Characters: Irezumi, Jawbreaker, Cybertooth, Doctor Demonicus, Taifu, Kuroko.

Note: David Ross takes over as regular AWC penciler for the rest of the series with this issue. Also in this issue, Iron Man reveals to the Avengers--beginning with Wasp and Tigra--that he really is the original Iron Man, Tony Stark, as many of them suspected. Tigra is understandably upset by the revelation since she'd been trying to use the "new" Iron Man to make a romantic play for Stark, but her reaction is curious since she goes on to say that Stark was a man she once loved; I don't recall any such connection between Tigra and Tony in the past.

*********

AWC 73

Tigra makes it to Australia, but her wounds and the damage done to the quinjet force her to crash-land in a wilderness area, where mysterious rescuers pull her from the water. Miles away, in Sydney, Doctor Pym, Scarlet Witch and Wonder Man are captured by Jawbreaker and Cybertooth and brought to the Pacific Overlords' undersea headquarters, where Doctor Demonicus finally puts his master plan in action now that the Avengers are safely imprisoned. By artificially augmenting a "hot spot" in the Pacific Tectonic Plate, Demonicus causes a new volcanic island to rise from the ocean floor, an island that he declares the nation of Demonica.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Tigra; Living Lightning (as adversary).

Other Characters: Jawbreaker, Kuroko, Irezumi, Cybertooth, Kain, Pele, Taifu.

Note: Hawkeye, USAgent and Spider-Woman do not appear in this issue. George Freeman guest-pencils part of this issue.

*********

AWC 74

Hawkeye, USAgent, Spider-Woman and Sunfire invade Demonica, where they free the captive Avengers and defeat the Overlords despite the efforts of Kain, who is revealed to be a powerful Pacific Overlord held in reserve. Unwilling to stand by while the Overlords kill anyone, Living Lightning turns against them and contributes significantly to the Avengers' victory; it proves to be a fleeting victory, though, when the Avengers learn that Demonicus has already won United Nations membership for Demonica through hasty diplomacy and a promise to share Demonica's considerable mineral wealth with the world. Since Demonica is now sovereign territory, the Avengers are ordered to leave and have no choice but to comply. Taifu and Pele are freed from Demonicus's control, and Demonicus persuades them not to pursue revenge against him by showing them that he has restored their son (The Big One) to normal. For their assistance, USAgent, Spider-Woman and Living Lightning are all awarded full Avengers membership, replacing the departing Doctor Pym, Wasp and Tigra (the latter having decided to stay in Australia for a while with her new friends, the aborigines who rescued her).

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Tigra, USAgent, Spider-Woman II, Living Lightning.

Other Characters: Sunfire, Taifu, Pele, Big One, Doctor Demonicus, Cybertooth, Irezumi, Jawbreaker, Kain, Kuroko.

Note: Doctor Pym, Wasp and Tigra leave the ongoing cast as of this issue. The ongoing cast as of this issue consists of Iron Man, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, USAgent, Spider-Woman II and Living Lightning.

*********

AWC 75

The AWC join the Fantastic Four for a fun night out with Spider-Woman's young daughter Rachel Carpenter and Invisible Woman's young son Franklin Richards at an amusement park, but the party is broken up when the warring otherdimensional monarchs Arkon and Thundra abduct the children and force the Avengers into fighting as pawns in their war. The war ends and all the captives are set free when Arkon and Thundra succumb to an overwhelming mutual attraction, becoming lovers and allies. When the heroes return home, Spider-Woman reveals her secret identity to her daughter, who had already deduced it.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, USAgent, Spider-Woman II and Living Lightning; Thing, Mister Fantastic and Invisible Woman (as members of Fantastic Four).

Other Characters: Human Torch II, Arkon, Thundra, Franklin Richards, Rachel Carpenter. .

Note: Herb Trimpe is the guest artist for this issue.

*********

AWC 76

The AWC visit the set of the forthcoming film, The Demon that Devoured Hollywood, in time to see the film's star attacked by the criminal Night Shift group, led by a mysterious new Hangman who has promised to bring them fame and fortune. The Avengers save the star's life, but the Night Shift escape and the star quits, prompting Wonder Man to offer to replace him. Wonder Man hopes this will provide extra security for the film and perhaps boost his sagging movie career, but his enthusiasm dims somewhat when the rest of the AWC decide they can't devote their time to helping him guard a movie set. Spider-Woman decides to investigate the disappearance of horror star Jason Roland years ago, though, Roland having been the original star of the unfinished Demon film; his disappearance left the film unfinished until this recent attempt to complete it, so there may be a connection. Hawkeye, attracted to Spider-Woman, volunteers to come with her, breaking a prospective dinner date with his estranged wife Mockingbird; USAgent comes along, too, and the three Avengers visit Roland's former girlfriend and Demon costar, Stella Houston. Houston is helpful, but the Night Shift show up and subdue the three Avengers with relative ease since Hangman has somehow supernaturally augmented their power. Hawkeye, USAgent and Spider-Woman then awaken to find themselves captives of the Night Shift, who are about to sacrifice them to some sort of demon.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, USAgent, Spider-Woman II and Living Lightning; Mockingbird, Wasp (cameos).

Other Characters: Mona, Carlos (AC butler), Hangman II, Night Shift (Brothers Grimm, Dansen Macabre, Gypsy Moth, Misfit, Needle, Tatterdemalion, Tick-Tock), Satannish, Stella Houston.

Note: Iron Man is referred to as AWC chairman as of this issue, a post he was presumably elected to after AWC 74.

*********

AWC 77

The AWC allow Digger to escape from prison so that they can follow him back to his Night Shift teammates; the plan works, and they find the Hangman and the Night Shift in the midst of trying to sacrifice Hawkeye, USAgent and Spider-Woman to the major demon Satannish. A fight ensues, the ritual is interrupted, an annoyed Satannish departs, and the Night Shift teleport both themselves and their Tower of Shadows away, leaving the Avengers behind.

Shortly afterward, the mystically augmented Night Shift abduct Wonder Man from the Demon set, saying that they want him to help them direct their own version of Demon. When Wonder Man demands answers, Hangman unmasks and reveals himself to be original Demon star Jason Roland. Roland explains how the creator of his original monster make-up and costuming was a demon's emissary to whom he'd promised his soul, not believing the man or the bargain to be truly demonic; however, when Roland refused to keep the bargain, he found the monster costuming had become his real skin, forcing him into hiding for years. Eventually, the desperate Roland called upon the demon he'd been indirectly dealing with, Satannish, and agreed to serve him in a scheme to steal many more human souls than Roland's. To this end, Satannish transformed Roland into the superhuman Hangman. On hearing Roland's story, Wonder Man suggests that he help them make their very own film, The Night Shift Takes Hollywood, and he joins the Night Shift in announcing their joint project on television.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, USAgent, Spider-Woman II and Living Lightning; Mockingbird, Wasp (cameos).

Other Characters: Consuela (first appearance; Avengers Compound maid), Hangman II, Night Shift (Brothers Grimm, Dansen Macabre, Digger, Gypsy Moth, Misfit, Needle, Tatterdemalion, Tick-Tock), Satannish.

*********

AWC 78

While Wonder Man helps the Night Shift make their own movie (with the forcibly conscripted Demon That Devoured Hollywood technical crew), the AWC split up to look for him, determine where his loyalties really lie and see if he needs their help. Reserve member Mockingbird joins the search, to the irritation of her estranged husband Hawkeye, who has shown a romantic interest in Spider-Woman. Spider-Woman is perplexed upon realizing Hawkeye's feelings, though she doesn't outright dismiss the notion, but she has bigger worries: a call from the Hangman's old girlfriend Stella Houston forces Spider-Woman back into action when she was supposed to spend a weekend with her daughter Rachel, prompting an angry condemnation from her ex-husband Larry.

Meanwhile, Iron Man seeks the advice of sorcerer supreme Doctor Strange on how to deal with the Night Shift and their patron Satannish, but Strange is busy tracking some displaced ectoplasmic entities who may pose a threat to Earth's astral plane; and USAgent decides to flush out the Night Shift on his own by volunteering to take Wonder Man's place in the Demon That Devoured Hollywood film. Sure enough, the Night Shift appear and beat USAgent into submission, having already subdued Wonder Man since they were rightly suspicious of his loyalty to them. The Hangman then issues a public challenge to the rest of the AWC to battle the Night Shift; if they do not accept, USAgent and Wonder Man will be killed.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Mockingbird, USAgent, Spider-Woman II and Living Lightning.

Other Characters: Doctor Strange, Hangman II, Night Shift (Brothers Grimm, Dansen Macabre, Digger, Gypsy Moth, Misfit, Needle, Tatterdemalion, Tick-Tock), Mona, Larry Carpenter, Rachel Carpenter, Stella Houston, Wong.

Note: This issue contains a letter from Vince Alvarez praising the Pacific Overlords storyline from AWC 70-74.

*********

AWC 79

While the Night Shift prepare to film their climactic battle with the Avengers West before the eyes of the television news media, Stella Houston tells Spider-Woman she has figured out that the Hangman is really her old boyfriend Jason Roland, so she goes with the Avengers to confront him. Back at the filming location, Mona leads the film crew in rebelling against the Night Shift, who try to kill her but are stopped by the arriving Living Lightning, who declares his love for Mona. Their tender embrace is interrupted, though, when Wonder Man and USAgent are freed to join the rest of the AWC in battling the Night Shift while the film and TV cameras roll. Satannish appears again, prompting Scarlet Witch to summon Doctor Strange, who reveals that Satannish planned to steal the souls of all those watching the Night Shift's broadcast; he had already stolen the souls of the Night Shift, their souls being the entities with which Satannish had led Doctor Strange on a wild goose chase earlier. When the Night Shift realize that the Hangman bartered away their souls in exchange for freeing his own, they take their souls back and turn on him. Together, the AWC and Night Shift attack Satannish and the Hangman while the Avengers disrupt the nearby TV equipment, breaking Satannish's link to his thousands of unwitting prospective victims. Defeated, the humiliated Satannish flees back to his home realm, taking the soul of Jason Roland with him, and the AWC easily subdue the disempowered Night Shift.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Mockingbird, USAgent, Spider-Woman II and Living Lightning.

Other Characters: Doctor Strange, Hangman II, Night Shift (Brothers Grimm, Dansen Macabre, Digger, Gypsy Moth, Misfit, Needle, Tatterdemalion, Tick-Tock), Mona, Stella Houston, Satannish.

*********

Special Note:

The next issue of AWC is the second chapter of "Galactic Storm", a crossover story running though several Avengers-related titles as follows:

Captain America 398 (part one), AWC 80 (part two), Quasar 32 (part three), Wonder Man 7 (part four), Avengers 345 (part five), Iron Man 278 (part six), Thor 445 (part seven), Captain America 399 (part eight), AWC 81 (part nine), Quasar 33 (part ten), Wonder Man 8 (part eleven), Avengers 345 (part twelve), Iron Man 279 (part thirteen), Thor 446 (part fourteen), Captain America 400 (part fifteen), AWC 82 (part sixteen), Quasar 34 (part seventeen), Wonder Man 9 (part eighteen) and Avengers 345 (part nineteen, the conclusion). Epilogue stories of sorts followed in Captain America 401, AWC 83 and Quasar 35.

Galactic Storm is basically the story of the Avengers intervening in a war between the alien Kree and Shi'Ar empires, whose space warps threaten Earth's sun.

 

AWC 80 (Galactic Storm, part two)

Alien Shi'ar warriors--including Oracle, Electron, Tempest and Warstar of the elite Imperial Guard--have kidnapped Avengers associate Rick Jones from the company of Captain America, who calls the AWC for help since they're closer to the site of Rick's abduction than the eastern Avengers. The AWC fly off, leaving reservist Mockingbird to mind the Compound, and join Captain America in tracking the Shi'ar to an abandoned outpost once used by the alien Kree in their infiltration of Earth. Using information gleaned from Jones's memories of his encounters with the Kree, the Shi'ar locate the outpost and steal a component of the Kree matter-restructuring device known as the Psyche-Magnetron. This intrusion activates a robotic Kree sentry, which attacks Avengers and Shi'ar alike until the Avengers disable it and the base self-destructs. The Shi'ar flee with the device they came for, escaping the spacefaring Avengers member Quasar through a space warp.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Rick Jones (honorary), Captain America, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Mockingbird, USAgent, Quasar III, Spider-Woman II and Living Lightning.

Other Characters: Imperial Guard (Oracle, Electron, Tempest and Warstar) and Carlos (AC butler).

Note: Living Lightning gets a new costume as of this issue.

*********

AWC 81 (Galactic Storm, part nine)

While most of the Avengers are in outer space trying to directly effect an end to the alien Kree-Shi'ar war threatening Earth, Spider-Woman and USAgent join Avengers reservists Doctor Pym, Wasp, Falcon, She-Hulk, Mockingbird and Gilgamesh in guarding captured Kree and Shi'Ar warriors (including the Shi'Ar Imperial Guardsman Warstar and the Kree agents Captain Atlas and Doctor Minerva) at Project: Pegasus. When the Shi'ar Imperial Guard attack, Warstar is recaptured and his teammate Nightside is subdued--but not before Imperial Guardsmen Scintilla and Shifter abduct Captain Atlas and escape, taking his nega-bands to serve as the latest of several Kree components the Shi'ar are assembling to create a super-weapon. Quasar pursues the escaping Shi'ar into space, but he and his ally Her are delayed by the assault of Imperial Guardsmen Neutron and Starbolt, giving the rest of the Shi'ar time to flee through another space warp.

Avengers Assembled: Doctor Pym, Wasp, Falcon II, She-Hulk, Mockingbird, Gilgamesh, USAgent, Quasar III, Spider-Woman II.

Other Characters: Imperial Guard (Warstar, Nightside, Scintilla, Shifter, Neutron and Starbolt), Captain Atlas, Doctor Minerva, Her.

Note: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man and Living Lightning do not appear in this issue.

*********

AWC 82 (Galactic Storm, part sixteen)

A contingent of Avengers led by Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau)--including Scarlet Witch, Starfox, Living Lightning and the new Thor (Eric Masterson)--tries to persuade Shi'ar empress Lilandra to negotiate a peace treaty with the Kree or at least stop endangering Earth, but Lilandra's antagonistic advisor Araki spurs her to treat both her Kree prisoners and Avenger guests with contemptuous suspicion. This hostile stance finally sparks a battle between the Avengers and Lilandra's Imperial Guard, one that ends when Living Lightning exposes "Araki" as a shape-shifting Skrull infiltrator, new proof that the Skrulls have been secretly provoking this war between their Kree and Shi'ar enemies. Given this revelation, Lilandra agrees to begin peace talks but is forced to admit that a more immediate threat has presented itself: the Shi'ar super-weapon, the Nega-Bomb, has disappeared, stolen away by the Skrulls with Vision and Wonder Man trapped inside and Quasar on their trail. Meanwhile, back on Earth, Doctor Pym, Wasp, USAgent and Spider-Woman return to Avengers Compound, where Spider-Woman is spied upon by the mysterious spider-like figures Antro, Arachne and Therak.

Avengers Assembled: Doctor Pym, Wasp, Scarlet Witch, Vision II, Wonder Man, Captain Marvel II, Starfox, USAgent, Quasar III, Spider-Woman II, Living Lightning, Thor II.

Other Characters: Star Force (Korath, Supremor, Ultimus, Ronan, Shatterstar) and Imperial Guard (Smasher, Hussar, Titan, Earthquake, Hardball, Astra), Lilandra, Antro, Arachne, Therak; Quicksilver, Mockingbird, Tigra and Machine Man are present behind the scenes.

Note: Iron Man and Hawkeye do not appear in this issue. Galactic Storm concludes in Avengers 347 when the Skrulls detonate the Nega-Bomb, killing untold billions and essentially wiping out the Kree Empire. The Avengers then learn that the Kree's own leader, the Supreme Intelligence, secretly engineered the whole Kree-Shi'ar conflict in hopes that the Nega-Bomb's massive radiation might stimulate the genetic evolution of the relatively few Kree who survived the blast, producing a master Kree race. Some of the Avengers--namely Iron Man, Wonder Man, Vision, Thor II, Sersi, Black Knight and Hercules--are so outraged that they hunt down and destroy the Supreme Intelligence against the wishes of the other Avengers. A disillusioned Captain America then takes an indefinite leave of absence from the team. Unbeknownst to the Avengers, though, the Supreme Intelligence has survived their assault and escapes to plot anew.

*********

AWC 83

When the Human Torch receives a challenge from his old foe the Hyena, he calls on the AWC for help but finds only his fellow reservists--Doctor Pym, Wasp, Quicksilver, Tigra, Mockingbird and Machine Man--who are filling in while the active AWC members are otherwise occupied with the Galactic Storm mission and other pursuits. The seven reserve Avengers join forces to thwart the Hyena's plot, a plan to trick the Human Torch into causing an explosion that would have killed thousands had the Torch succumbed to the temptation of using Hyena's special machine to restore his lost flame powers. The Hyena returns to prison, a bitter and broken old man.

Avengers Assembled: Doctor Pym, Wasp, Quicksilver, Tigra, Mockingbird, Human Torch and Machine Man.

Other Characters: Hyena.

Note: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, USAgent, Spider-Woman II and Living Lightning do not appear in this issue. Herb Trimpe guest-pencils this issue.

*********

AWC 84

When a tabloid newspaper claims it has evidence of mob connections to a leading presidential candidate, the newspaper's informer and the one staffer he confided in are both murdered by killers using spider-like methods. Meanwhile, Spider-Woman angrily resigns from the service of the US government Commission, not suspecting that her unscrupulous supervisor Mike Clemson also works for a secret subversive group known as the Conclave. When the AWC are asked to stand guard at a speech by right-wing law-and-order candidate Michael A. Galvan of the Liberty Party, circumstances force Spider-Woman to bring her young daughter Rachel along. Further complicating matters is the fact that Rachel's father, Spider-Woman's ex-husband Larry Carpenter, will be at the speech since he is handling publicity for the Galvan campaign. The AWC meet eastern Avengers reservist Spider-Man at the speech (which he was attending in his secret

identity as newspaper photographer Peter Parker), and he joins the AWC in confronting the mysterious spider-styled killers, who appear and introduce themselves as Deathweb--the same three criminals who had been shadowing Spider-Woman earlier.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, USAgent, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman II and Living Lightning.

Other Characters: Deathweb (Antro, Arachne and Therak), Mike Clemson, Larry Carpenter, Rachel Carpenter, Consuela, Mona.

Note: Spider-Woman's previously untold origins and personal history are revealed through flashbacks in this issue.

*********

AWC 85

The AWC and Spider-Man successfully protect presidential candidate Michael Galvan from the assassins called Deathweb and the criminals flee, taking Spider-Woman's daughter Rachel along as a hostage. Iron Man then dismisses Spider-Woman from active duty, saying that it was her bad judgment that endangered Rachel and that she is too personally involved to pursue the case further. Desperate to find her daughter, Spider-Woman reluctantly seeks the aid of her former Commission supervisor Mike Clemson in finding Rachel, not knowing that the Conclave--the subversive organization that secretly employs Clemson--is also employing Deathweb, under the supervision of a freelance criminal mastermind known as the Manipulator. When Spider-Woman stumbles upon Clemson in teleconference with the Conclave, Clemson fears exposure and tries to kill her, but Spider-Man--who had trailed Spider-Woman on his own--disarms him. When the Manipulator and Deathweb themselves appear, though, the Manipulator promises that Rachel will remain unharmed if Spider-Woman will agree to kill Spider-Man.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, USAgent, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman II and Living Lightning.

Other Characters: Manipulator, Deathweb (Antro, Arachne and Therak), Mike Clemson, Larry Carpenter, Rachel Carpenter.

*********

AWC 86

Spider-Woman attacks Spider-Man at the Manipulator's command, and their seeming death struggle sparks a fire that explodes the building; Manipulator and Deathweb teleport to safety while Clemson escapes on his own, swearing vengeance on Spider-Woman should she survive; in fact, she has survived beneath the rubble and joins Spider-Man in busting free minutes later, after which they depart in search of the captive Rachel. Meanwhile, the Manipulator warns the AWC that he will murder Rachel if the Avengers try to safeguard presidential candidate Michael Galvan at his next public appearance; Spider-Man and Spider-Woman rescue Rachel, though, and Spider-Woman reveals her identity to her ex-husband Larry in the process; more angry than grateful for Rachel's safety, he vows to cut off Rachel from all contact with her "dangerous" mother and storms out with a tearful Rachel in tow.

By this time, Deathweb have teleported into action and murdered Galvan in front of a crowd of his supporters, but Spider-Man and the AWC finally apprehend the assassins after a pitched battle. Galvan's running mate, vice presidential candidate Wilson Lambert, then steps up to the podium to whip the shocked crowd into frenzied support of his law-and-order platform, but this support evaporates when the captured Deathweb claim that they were under instructions to not harm Lambert, hinting that Galvan was killed to get Lambert elected. Meanwhile, the Manipulator tries to kidnap Rachel to use her as a pawn against the Avengers should he encounter them again; when Larry Carpenter resists, Manipulator kills him, but Spider-Woman and Spider-Man arrive in time to save Rachel herself from the Manipulator, who flees.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman II and Living Lightning.

Other Characters: Manipulator, Deathweb (Antro, Arachne and Therak), Mike Clemson, Larry Carpenter, Rachel Carpenter.

Note: Hawkeye and USAgent do not appear in this issue since they are recovering from injuries inflicted by Deathweb last issue. This issue contains the results of a readership poll on who the most popular western Avengers are. The winner with most points scored was Spider-Woman, followed by Hawkeye, USAgent, Wonder Man, Scarlet Witch, Iron Man and Living Lightning. The winner of the most number-one votes was Spider-Woman, followed by Hawkeye, USAgent, Scarlet Witch. Iron Man, Wonder Man and Living Lightning. The best average of points scored went to Hawkeye, followed by Scarlet Witch, USAgent, Wonder Man, Spider-Woman, Iron Man and Living Lightning.

Iron Man leaves the ongoing cast as of this issue due to events in his own ongoing series: dying from a seemingly incurable degenerative disease, Tony Stark has himself secretly placed in frozen stasis, allowing the world to believe him dead while his scientists search for a cure. Stark concealed his survival from everyone but those scientists, even his closest friends--including confidant Jim Rhodes, to whom he entrusted the Iron Man armor and identity once again.

**********

AWC 87

The Russian superhumans known collectively as the Bogatyri lead soldiers loyal to the defunct Soviet Union in capturing a DEW (Distant Early Warning) base in northern Canada as part of a plot to bury North America in ice. When the mutant adventurer Wolverine stumbles upon them, they capture him. Meanwhile, the AWC receive word that Tony Stark--secretly Iron Man--is dead. Though Stark has either faked his death or been wrongly presumed dead several times over in the past, this report seems genuine and the Avengers are shocked at the apparent loss of one of their founders. Living Lightning starts to reconsider life and his super-hero career. Hawkeye snaps at the visiting Mockingbird when he mistakes her concern for an eagerness to fill Iron Man's active membership slot, but he swiftly apologizes to her; the tragedy seems to have put things in perspective for him, too, and he is more concerned with Mockingbird's feelings than his lingering resentment of her. USAgent is the only AWC member unshaken by the news, and he promptly departs on a secret mission for the Commission to stop the Bogatyri. Wonder Man and Scarlet Witch, suspicious of USAgent's swift departure, follow him; they learn that he is still working for the Commission (against Avengers regulations), and they arrive in time to save him and Wolverine from the Bogatyri, who rally to destroy the heroes.

Avengers Assembled: Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Mockingbird, USAgent, Spider-Woman II and Living Lightning.

Other Characters: The Bogatyri (Svyatogor, Zvezda Dennista, Doctor Vladimir Volkh, Mikula Golubev), Wolverine.

Note: Mockingbird rejoins the ongoing cast as of this issue. .

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AWC 88

Wolverine, USAgent, Wonder Man and Scarlet Witch defeat the Bogatyri, who escape despite the failure of their plan to deep-freeze North America. Meanwhile, Hawkeye falls back into his old leadership role in the absence of reportedly deceased AWC chairman Iron Man; Living Lightning, shaken by Iron Man's apparent death and other events, decides to retire to reserve status and go to college full-time; and Mockingbird informs a crestfallen Hawkeye that their divorce proceedings will be finalized in two weeks.

Avengers Assembled: Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Mockingbird, USAgent, Spider-Woman II and Living Lightning; Captain America (cameo via teleconference).

Other Characters: Wolverine, The Bogatyri (Svyatogor, Zvezda Dennista, Doctor Vladimir Volkh and Mikula Golubev), Rachel Carpenter.

*********

AWC 89

Ultron escapes the Vault, determined to exterminate all organic life on Earth, while the AWC convene to reprimand USAgent for his government moonlighting. During this meeting, the new Iron Man (secretly Jim Rhodes, who had served with the AWC as Iron Man before) shows up to offer his services to the group, but refuses their request that he reveal his secret identity and departs. Living Lightning leaves, too, to start his first day at college. When scientist Doctor Myron MacLain calls to tell the Avengers that he has developed a quicker, easier and cheaper way to manufacture his super-metal adamantium and that he wants protection from those who might seek to exploit his discovery, the AWC fly to his rescue; by the time they arrive, though, he has already been abducted by Ultron and replaced by a robot double whom the Avengers destroy. Ultron himself then attacks the Avengers Compound, killing staff member Carlos and holding the Avengers at bay until the Vision suddenly appears and joins the fray.

Avengers Assembled: Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Vision II, Wonder Man, Mockingbird, USAgent, Spider-Woman II and Living Lightning; Iron Man II (as non-participating membership prospect).

Other Characters: Ultron, Myron MacLain, Consuela, Rachel Carpenter, Roberto, Carlos (killed by Ultron).

Note: Living Lightning leaves the ongoing cast as of this issue. The character referred to as Roberto in this issue seems to be the character referred to as Carlos in previous issues, while a previously unseen member of the AWC staff is called Carlos in this story and killed. Someone mixed the names up, it seems, but the switch sticks in subsequent issues regardless, with the dead AWC staff member being referred to as Carlos.

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AWC 90

Despite the Vision's aid, the AWC are defeated by Ultron, who flees with Mockingbird as a hostage after looting the components from past Ultrons stored at the Compound. Ultron then kidnaps and mesmerizes his creator Hank Pym into aiding the likewise mesmerized Myron MacLain in a new project: using Mockingbird to create a robotic adamantium mate for Ultron. The AWC and the Vision track Ultron down, and Hawkeye--desperate with renewed realization of how much he loves Mockingbird--leads the charge as Goliath, using Hank Pym's growth serum to attain giant size. Despite this, though, it appears they have arrived too late when Ultron unveils the "new" Mockingbird, his wicked robotic bride Alkhema.

Avengers Assembled: Doctor Pym, Hawkeye (becomes Goliath II), Scarlet Witch, Vision II, Wonder Man, Mockingbird, USAgent and Spider-Woman II; Living Lightning (cameo).

Other Characters: Ultron, Myron McClain, Consuela, Rachel Carpenter, Roberto, Alkhema.

Note: For a brief period years ago, Hawkeye adopted Hank Pym's growth serum and Goliath costumed identity in hopes of being a more powerful and more effective Avenger. He soon realized that growth power was no more valuable or effective than his archery skills, though, and resumed his Hawkeye identity for good. Shortly before AWC 90, during Galactic Storm, Hawkeye temporarily resumed his Goliath identity to participate in an outer space mission that required the raw power he could provide as Goliath; in this story, he uses the serum again to become Goliath in his attempt to rescue Mockingbird. He retains the Goliath identity for the next few issues.

*********

AWC 91

Ultron and Alkhema battle the Avengers to a standstill before departing to pursue Ultron's master plan of exterminating all organic life on Earth; the robotic couple quarrel, though, when the more emotional Alkhema decides she would rather wipe out humanity in a gradual, painful fashion for sadistic pleasure than destroy them all at once as Ultron plans. Meanwhile, Mockingbird turns up alive and well, having merely served as the template for Alkhema rather than being transformed into her. Hawkeye (still dressed as Goliath) is overjoyed, and he and Mockingbird embrace passionately after finally admitting that neither one of them wants a divorce. The reunited lovers and the rest of the AWC then join the Vision, Doctor Pym and Myron MacLain in setting a trap for Ultron and Alkhema that hurls the two indestructible killer robots into outer space. As the AWC celebrate their victory, Scarlet Witch finally fully accepts the fact that the Vision is no longer the man she knew and that their marriage is a thing of the past.

Avengers Assembled: Doctor Pym, Goliath II, Scarlet Witch, Vision II, Wonder Man, Mockingbird, USAgent and Spider-Woman II.

Other Characters: Ultron, Myron McClain, Alkhema.

Note: Hawkeye appears as Goliath II in this issue. Wonder Man leaves the ongoing cast after this issue for reasons detailed in his own series, in which he quits the Avengers for personal reasons.

**********

AWC 92

The AWC return from Carlos's funeral to survey the damage done to their headquarters by Ultron and discuss their plans to obtain replacement quinjets; USAgent stalks off after picking a fight with Hawkeye; Spider-Woman and Rachel are moving out of Avengers Compound, taking Consuela with them, so that Rachel won't be endangered in the event of another attack on the Compound; Scarlet Witch goes along to help with the move, after assuring the visiting Living Lightning that he should concentrate on his education and remain a reservist, rather than worrying about how short-handed the AWC is becoming. He reluctantly agrees and departs.

Meanwhile, the criminal Goliath (Erik Josten) escapes prison and goes on a mad rampage to find his hated enemy Wonder Man. Back at the Compound, reunited lovers Clint and Bobbi (Hawkeye and Mockingbird) share an intimate afternoon interrupted by the arrival of their old foe Kuroko, who collapses from wounds she claims were inflicted by her master, Doctor Demonicus. Minutes later, the criminal Goliath attacks in search of Wonder Man and Clint fights back in his own Goliath guise, sending Josten into an even more murderous fury as he rages over Clint "stealing" his Goliath title the way Luke Cage once stole the title of Power Man from him. The battling Goliaths fight their way off the Compound grounds, and the more powerful criminal Goliath has the advantage until Mockingbird intervenes with one of Hawkeye's electro arrows, one she specially modified to negate Josten's ionically powered strength. This stuns Josten long enough for Clint to knock him cold, and the victorious couple return to the Compound, where Kuroko tells them and the rest of the AWC that Doctor Demonicus has gone mad and intends to destroy the world.

Avengers Assembled: Goliath II, Scarlet Witch, Mockingbird, USAgent, Spider-Woman II and Living Lightning.

Other Characters: Consuela, Rachel Carpenter, Roberto, Goliath III, Kuroko.

Note: Hawkeye appears as Goliath II in this issue.

*********

AWC 93

Kuroko tells the AWC of how her master Doctor Demonicus, creator and ruler of the island nation Demonica, has begun acting erratically: renouncing his ties to the United Nations and recruiting criminals as his new country's citizens, including the super-criminal Klaw, whom Demonicus makes vice-president of Demonica. Kuroko then discovered that Demonicus had been turning her fellow Pacific Overlords into his mind-controlled slaves, and that she was next; she escaped, though not before she was badly wounded by a winged demon somehow conjured by Demonicus, and sought out the AWC for help. While the Avengers discuss how to respond to the situation, their one-time ally Darkhawk arrives, summoned by Spider-Woman to help out since the AWC are shorthanded; he draws the team's attention to news reports that Iron Man has returned to action and that their financier Tony Stark (secretly Iron Man) has turned up alive. The group is still reeling from this news when Klaw and their old foe Zvezda Dennista attack on behalf of Doctor Demonicus, abducting Kuroko and escaping. Unable to pursue the criminals without aircraft of their own, the AWC send Hawkeye, Mockingbird and USAgent to Stark International to obtain replacement quinjets; Iron Man is battling attacking robots there, and the three Avengers disable a group of them. Meanwhile, Demonicus's Pacific Overlords have begun capturing aircraft that fly too close to Demonica.

Avengers Assembled: Goliath II, Scarlet Witch, Mockingbird, USAgent and Spider-Woman II; Darkhawk (as non-member ally).

Other Characters: Doctor Demonicus, Klaw, Zvezda Dennista, Pacific Overlords (Kuroko, Kain, Cybertooth, Irezumi, Jawbreaker).

Note: Hawkeye appears as Goliath II in this issue. Iron Man appears only in a live television broadcast of his battle in this issue; Iron Man II (Jim Rhodes) appears in a file photo in the same broadcast.

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AWC 94

Hawkeye, Mockingbird and USAgent destroy the last of the battledroids attacking Stark International with the aid of Iron Man II (Jim Rhodes), who is now calling himself War Machine. Rhodes tells the AWC that his friend and employer Stark (the original Iron Man) fooled him into thinking he was dead the same way he deceived everybody else, and that this has estranged him from Stark; in fact, Rhodes is quitting Stark's employ and asks to rejoin the AWC, to which the Avengers agree after Rhodes reveals his identity to them. The AWC then depart with a new quinjet, and a repentant Stark sends them a second new quinjet as well. News spreads of Doctor Demonicus capturing a civilian jetliner and threatening to intercept any ships or planes coming within five hundred miles of Demonica, so the UN asks the AWC to act as an official UN delegation to Demonica to defuse the situation. The diplomatic nature of the mission threatens to exclude the team's ally Darkhawk since he is an unofficial associate, so the group appoints him an Avengers West reservist and he comes along.

The group lands on Demonica, where Demonicus refuses to prove that his hostages are safe, provoking a battle with the Avengers; but the fight ends when Demonicus threatens to execute the hostages, demanding that the AWC depart and leave Mockingbird and USAgent as hostages. The Avengers reluctantly comply, though Hawkeye has to be rendered unconscious before he'll go along with leaving his wife behind; Mockingbird and USAgent soon manage to free themselves, but not before the demon Raksasa, who has been secretly controlling Demonicus, unleashes his full aerial demonswarm to ravage the world.

Avengers Assembled: Goliath II, Scarlet Witch, Mockingbird, War Machine, USAgent, Spider-Woman II and Darkhawk.

Other Characters: Doctor Demonicus, Klaw, Zvezda Dennista, Pacific Overlords (Kuroko, Kain, Cybertooth, Irezumi, Jawbreaker) Raksasa.

Note: Hawkeye appears as Goliath II in this issue. Darkhawk becomes a member of the Avengers in this issue.

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AWC 95

While War Machine, Darkhawk and the rest of the AWC battle Doctor Demonicus's aerial demonswarm, Mockingbird and USAgent join forces with Klaw and Zvezda Dennista to prevent Demonicus and his Overlords from bringing the demon Raksasa to Earth. They succeed in driving Raksasa back to his home dimension, which destroys the demonswarm, but not before USAgent accidentally causes an earthquake that sinks Demonica, taking Demonicus, the Pacific Overlords and Klaw down with it. The AWC escape, as do Zvezda Dennista, the civilian hostages and most of the citizens of Demonica, but not before Zvezda Dennista expresses a grudging respect for and even a romantic attraction to USAgent.

Avengers Assembled: Goliath II, Scarlet Witch, Mockingbird, War Machine, USAgent, Spider-Woman II and Darkhawk.

Other Characters: Doctor Demonicus, Klaw, Zvezda Dennista, Pacific Overlords (Kuroko, Kain, Cybertooth, Irezumi, Jawbreaker) Raksasa.

Note: Hawkeye appears as Goliath II in this issue. Darkhawk leaves the Avengers after this issue.

*********

AWC 96

AWC members Scarlet Witch, USAgent and reservist Living Lightning fall under the mental domination of the Goddess and depart to serve her despite the efforts of the rest of the AWC. Spider-Woman flies east to help the eastern Avengers and a coalition of super-heroes address the Goddess situation while War Machine mans headquarters. Hawkeye and Mockingbird take a break for a cup of coffee only to find themselves attacked by hostile aliens, the Power Platoon.

Avengers Assembled: Goliath II, Scarlet Witch, Mockingbird, War Machine, USAgent, Spider-Woman II and Living Lightning; Vision II (cameo).

Other Characters: Roberto (identified as the team's gardener in this issue), Power Platoon.

Note: Hawkeye appears as Goliath II in this issue. The story of the Goddess's defeat is told in the Infinity Crusade limited series. Andrew Currie guest-pencils this issue. This is the last issue to credit Dann Thomas as co-writer; Roy Thomas is the sole credited writer in the remaining issues.

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AWC 97

Hawkeye and Mockingbird capture the Power Platoon with the aid of War Machine, but their old comrade Quantum appears with Wundarr under his mental control and frees the Platoon, leading them in an attack on the three Avengers. Wundarr and the Platoon balk at killing the Avengers, though, so they shake Quantum's control and depart, as does the frustrated Quantum.

Avengers Assembled: Goliath II (becomes Hawkeye), Mockingbird and War Machine; Spider-Woman II (cameo via teleconference).

Other Characters: Quantum, Wundarr, Power Platoon.

Note: Hawkeye abandons his alternate Goliath II identity in this issue and goes back to using his Hawkeye guise full-time in this issue. Andrew Currie and Don Hudson are the guest artists for this issue. Spider-Woman II appears only via video in this story. Scarlet Witch and USAgent do not appear in this issue. Hangman II and his new Lethal Legion (Zyklon, Coldsteel, Cyana and Axe of Violence) appear in a pin-up by Dave Ross and Tim Dzon in this issue.

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AWC 98

The demon Satannish gives his pawn, the Hangman (Jason Roland), another chance to win back his soul--if he will lead a new Lethal Legion created by Satannish in murdering the Avengers. Meanwhile, Hawkeye resigns as AWC chairman since he and Mockingbird have decided to devote more time to their personal life, and they are even privately making plans to have a baby. Scarlet Witch, as the most senior Avengers member after Hawkeye, is nominated as Hawkeye's replacement and she reluctantly accepts. USAgent, frustrated at being passed over for the group's leadership, goes off alone on patrol and is attacked by the Lethal Legion, who deal him seemingly fatal injuries before the AWC arrive in time to chase the Legion away.

Avengers Assembled: Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Mockingbird, War Machine, USAgent and Spider-Woman II.

Other Characters: Satannish, Lethal Legion (Axe of Violence, Coldsteel, Cyana, Zyklon and Hangman II).

Note: The Lethal Legion formed in this issue is the fourth group by that name; apart from their enmity with the Avengers, they are unrelated to the previous Lethal Legions.

*********

AWC 99

USAgent recovers from his beating at the hands of the Lethal Legion, but the Legion kills Stella Houston (Hangman's old girlfriend) and captures Mockingbird in a series of skirmishes with the AWC. In the process, the AWC learn that Hangman's new Lethal Legion consists of mystical reincarnations of the historically infamous murderers Lizzie Borden (Axe of Violence), Lucrezia Borgia (Cyana), Heinrich Himmler (Zyklon) and Josef Stalin (Coldsteel), all of whom have been promised restored life and the safety of their souls if they slaughter the AWC. Their master, Satannish, easily repels the AWC's attempt to rescue Mockingbird while rival demon Mephisto spies on them all from afar.

Avengers Assembled: Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Mockingbird, War Machine, USAgent and Spider-Woman II.

Other Characters: Satannish, Lethal Legion (Axe of Violence, Coldsteel, Cyana, Zyklon and Hangman II), Mephisto.

Note: Scott Chamberlain has a letter printed in this issue.

*********

AWC 100

The AWC invade Satannish's realm to rescue Mockingbird and are joined by Mephisto, who seeks to reclaim the four souls Satannish stole from him to create the new Lethal Legion; as the two demons battle, the souls they fight over are torn apart and Axe of Violence, Coldsteel, Cyana and Zyklon seemingly cease to exist. Scarlet Witch then thins the barrier between the realms of Mephisto and Satannish, hoping that the demons will be too busy protecting their respective realms to bother the Avengers. Satannish does allow the Avengers to escape, but Mephisto pursues them and spitefully attacks them out of anger over losing the Lethal Legion's souls. Scarlet Witch manages to return the AWC to Earth but is trapped in transit herself until Hawkeye and Mockingbird return to rescue her. All three make it back to Earth, but not before Mockingbird has been fatally wounded by a burst of brimstone while pushing Hawkeye to safety. The Avengers bury Mockingbird as a fallen hero and a devastated Hawkeye mourns the death of his wife.

Avengers Assembled: Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Mockingbird, War Machine, USAgent and Spider-Woman II; Captain America, Tigra and Living Lightning (as mourners).

Other Characters: Satannish, Mephisto, Lethal Legion (Axe of Violence, Coldsteel, Cyana, Zyklon and Hangman II).

Note: Mockingbird leaves the ongoing cast as of this issue with her apparent death. This issue is 64 pages long and features an embossed red foil cover. It also features three additional short stories: the first story is a flashback to the untold tale of how Hawkeye and Mockingbird purchased Avengers Compound and survived an attempt on their lives by their old enemy Crossfire, whom they defeat with the aid of the compound's original owner, silent film star Moira Brandon (Bill Foster also appears in this story as the civilian contractor who was overseeing the establishment of the Avengers' western headquarters); the second story features USAgent making a return visit to his hometown and his parents' graves, subduing some young punks along the way (the rest of the active AWC members make a cameo guest appearance in this story); the third story features War Machine in conflict with the Hate-Monger and the Sons of the Serpent, who were running an illegal weapons business. These three stories are written and drawn by a variety of guest creative teams, though the second story is written by regular series writer Roy Thomas.

On a personal note, AWC would run for two more issues--but in a very real way, this issue marks the end of the series. With long-term core characters like Iron Man, Wonder Man and Hank Pym already gone, Hawkeye and Mockingbird were the only major AWC mainstays left, and this story killed off Mockingbird and soon estranged Hawkeye from the team. This story was the first step in killing the AWC itself, which Marvel editorial wanted to do so that they could replace AWC with their new Force Works series, which was loosely based on the AWC and conceived as the super-team in a new Iron Man "family" of comics that Marvel was preparing in conjunction with an Iron Man animated series and toy line.

AWC 100 was also a pointlessly cruel waste of a key Avengers character, Mockingbird, just to set up some editorial-driven future projects; so the Avengers mythos lost a good character for no good reason, Hawkeye lost the best relationship the character ever had, and the AWC were soon shut down, all to set up an ill-conceived Iron Man comic book franchise that failed miserably; and yet another female character fell victim to Gwen Stacy syndrome (a term coined by Jeanne Burch), the unimaginative but strangely popular gambit of killing off a female character (especially a hero's love interest) for easy angst or dramatic effect (and Thomas milked the angst for all it was worth by having Mockingbird decide to retire and start a family just before she's killed off). On top of all that, Mockingbird's death wasn't just an empty, near-meaningless, editorial-driven story; it was also painfully predictable. The crass "death of an Avenger" blurb on the tacky foil cover pretty much confirmed what earlier hints indicated, that Mockingbird would be the Avenger killed in this storyline; after all, every other member of the AWC was slated to have his or her own series or limited series at the time of this story. All in all, AWC 100 stands as one of the most shameful issues in Avengers history, and a forerunner of worse times ahead for the increasingly mismanaged Avengers franchise.

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AWC 101

This story is the third part of the "Blood Ties" crossover, the first two parts being Avengers 368 and X-Men 26. In the previous chapters, Luna (the daughter of Avengers members Crystal and Quicksilver) was kidnapped by the mutant criminal Fabian Cortez, who intended to use the child as a shield against his mortal enemy, Luna's grandfather, Magneto; to further cover his tracks and discourage pursuers, Cortez then fled to the island of Genosha (a country whose mutants and other genetic deviants are conscripted into a slave population to serve the Genoshan state) and led a revolution there, advocating the violent overthrow of Genosha's human government, appointing himself acting dictator and using Luna as a rallying symbol, she being the granddaughter of the infamous mutant terrorist Magneto. Unbeknownst to Cortez and the world at large, though, Quicksilver, on leave from his role in the US government-sponsored mutant team X-Factor, had joined forces with the X-Men to finally defeat Magneto once and for all in a battle that left Magneto seemingly brain-dead--though Magneto's followers, the Acolytes, still attend him under the leadership of his chief disciple, the mad mutant Exodus. Quicksilver and the X-Men then heard of Luna's abduction and flew to Genosha to rescue her. Crystal and her Avengers teammates--including the AWC--also wanted to get involved, both to rescue Luna and to help quell the bloody Genoshan civil conflict, but the team's UN sponsors refused to let them go since this could be construed as UN interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country. So SHIELD held the Avengers under house arrest on the UN's behalf, but a handful of Avengers--Captain America, Scarlet Witch, Black Knight, War Machine, Sersi, and Crystal--managed to escape and set out for Genosha as well. The remaining Avengers stood down and set out to plead their case to the United Nations. Meanwhile, in Genosha, the escaped Avengers and the X-Men tried unsuccessfully to find Luna and end the hostilities; USAgent and the Beast joined the X-Men's mentor Professor X in a mission to make contact with the Genoshan underground; and Exodus arrived to lead Genosha's enslaved superhumans in eradicating the island nation's human population. Which bring us to AWC 101...

Hawkeye leads the remaining active Avengers--himself, Giant-Man, Vision, Hercules, Black Widow and Spider-Woman--in a vocal protest of the UN's Genosha strategy at an emergency session of the UN Security Council. Though most of the remaining eastern-based Avengers are uncomfortable with Hawkeye's rather undiplomatic and aggressive posture, they and Spider-Woman stand by while he demands to know if the UN will sanction the Avengers' intervention in the Genosha crisis, or if they want the Avengers to cut their ties with the UN; presented with such an ultimatum, the UN officials are momentarily at a loss--though they take some comfort in noting that the Avengers, too, seem beset by dissent and confusion in this matter; eastern Avengers leader Black Widow in particular seems very unhappy with the approach Hawkeye has taken, and the UN's secretary general wonders aloud if the Avengers may break up over this.

Meanwhile, in Genosha, the Avengers angrily confront Exodus after he slaughtered a crowd of human rioters. War Machine attacks him while the rest of the Avengers disperse the warring factions in the immediate area; with the resultant room to move, Scarlet Witch and Crystal set out in search of Luna. At the same time, Professor X, USAgent and the Beast uncover an underground concentration camp housing hundreds of mistreated Genoshan mutates, but before they can act to free them they are attacked by the Genoshan Magistrate Elite. Elsewhere, Cortez's elite guards, The Unforgiven, try to destroy Quicksilver and the X-Men but are quickly defeated. At the same time, Exodus finally defeats War Machine only to be assaulted by the most powerful of the Avengers, Sersi.

Avengers Assembled: Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, War Machine, USAgent, Spider-Woman II, Giant-Man, Captain America, Hercules, Vision II, Black Knight III, Black Widow II, Sersi and Crystal; Beast (as member of X-Men); Quicksilver (as X-Men affiliate).

Other Characters: Exodus, The Unforgiven (Skelter and Syth named), The X-Men (Professor X, Cyclops, Iceman, Archangel, Beast, Jean Grey, Storm, Rogue, Gambit and Bishop; Revanche is also present behind the scenes, appearing in other chapters of the story with her fellow X-Men, but was omitted from the art in this chapter).

Note: This is Roy Thomas's final issue as AWC writer; the next and last issue in the series, AWC 102, was written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, creators of the Force Works comic slated to replace AWC. Hawkeye leaves the ongoing cast as of this issue (though he appears in the remainder of the Blood Ties crossover), going on indefinite leave to mourn Mockingbird's death in solitude. This led into a Hawkeye limited series that pitted Hawkeye against the Viper and the Secret Empire.

The "Blood Ties" crossover story concludes in Uncanny X-Men 307 and Avengers 369. In brief: the Avengers at the UN decide to intervene in the Genoshan conflict despite the UN's objections, making it clear that they are allied with the UN but will not be controlled by them (though it's unclear as to whether or not the group loses its UN sponsorship since there are no apparent changes to their operational procedures or general status after this story); they arrive in Genosha too late to make a difference, though, since by that time Exodus has sealed the island in an impenetrable force field. Inside the field, the X-Men and the other Avengers join forces to defeat Exodus (who seemingly slays Cortez), rescue Luna and put a temporary end to the civil strife.

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AWC 102

In the wake of the eastern and western Avengers' mission to Genosha, a joint meeting is called in which the eastern Avengers abruptly move to disband the team's west coast roster and shut down its headquarters. This is done over the loud and thoroughly justified protests of remaining AWC members Scarlet Witch, War Machine, USAgent and Spider-Woman, despite the fact that the eastern and western branches of the Avengers were established as equal factions of the same team.

The Vision leads the anti-AWC case, claiming that the AWC is an "understudy" operation inferior to the "original" eastern roster in terms of competence (debatable at best) and power (which is true at the time of this story, though the eastern Avengers have had smaller and less powerful rosters than this in the past); that the AWC's fluctuating membership has made them inconsistent and unreliable (a charge truer of many past eastern rosters than it is of the AWC, and the Avengers' membership has always been in flux); that the group is currently plagued by absenteeism, a true albeit trumped-up charge given the fact that Hawkeye is on leave to mourn his wife and Wonder Man departed for personal reasons (and besides, the eastern roster has endured worse absenteeism since the foundation of the AWC--including a period in which Captain America was the only active member); that the AWC headquarters has been attacked repeatedly of late and is in a wrecked state (which is true, though the eastern HQ has been attacked even more often and has even been completely destroyed at least twice since the AWC's founding); and that the team's finances are dwindling (though the eastern Avengers' contention that there is money to support the eastern roster but not the AWC is probably something they can get away with only because eastern-based members currently make up the majority of the active Avengers rosters); in short, Vision says, it is no longer worth the expense to maintain the AWC in its current state.

Captain America follows up the Vision's remarks with an exaggeratively harsh critical assessment of War Machine's defeat by Exodus in the recent Genoshan mission, and throws in some rather snide remarks about USAgent's character while he's at it. The Vision then proposes that the AWC be shut down and its members absorbed into the eastern roster on a trial basis as reservists. The AWC react to this demotion predictably, angry at the implied slight, and Giant-Man (formerly a longtime member of the AWC as Doctor Pym) tries to settle the matter diplomatically by suggesting the creation of a governing committee to administrate both coastal rosters.

Estranged AWC member Iron Man arrives and observes, correctly, that there seems to be an anti-AWC bias in the proceedings. He then rambles about how this dispute is, in his opinion, symptomatic of ongoing dissension in the Avengers' ranks apparent since Galactic Storm, when a rogue faction of Avengers led by Iron Man defied Captain America's orders and the will of the majority of the group's members by executing the Supreme Intelligence for his genocidal crimes (mind you, this sheds little light on the current east-west split since the bulk of the Avengers who defied Cap then were eastern members, including roughly half the eastern Avengers present at this meeting). Captain America restates his belief that the Supreme Intelligence dispute nearly destroyed the team by threatening its ideals; USAgent disagrees and almost provokes a fist fight with Hercules until Jarvis, the eastern Avengers' butler, interrupts to serve lunch.

At lunch, Giant-Man agonizes over his lingering loyalty to the AWC; the remaining active AWC members try to keep their anger in check; Iron Man assures his old friend and employee Jarvis that the butler's place is with the Avengers, regardless of whether Iron Man remains with them; and War Machine, further irritated by the presence of his estranged friend Iron Man, angrily quits the Avengers. This sparks an argument between Captain America and Iron Man that almost turns into a fist fight when USAgent intervenes, but Iron Man restrains USAgent and the Avengers reconvene their joint meeting.

The motion to disband the AWC is called to a vote: Captain America, Hercules, Vision, Black Knight and Black Widow vote in favour, though the Knight seems uncertain of his choice; Crystal abstains; Giant-Man, Scarlet Witch, USAgent, Sersi and Spider-Woman vote against the motion. That leaves the vote tied until Iron Man casts his vote...in favour of disbanding the AWC. When asked why he voted that way, he responds that the resentment and indifference shown the western Avengers by their eastern counterparts would inevitably cripple the AWC anyway, and that it's better to make a clean break. Captain America, satisfied, starts talking about how to integrate the remaining western members into the eastern Avengers reserves, but an outraged Scarlet Witch quits and storms out. Iron Man, USAgent and Spider-Woman resign, too, and quickly depart, despite the pleas of the eastern members for them to stay. Outside, Iron Man explains to Scarlet Witch and Spider-Woman that he felt it was time for a change, and that they could only prosper and grow by finding an identity of their own apart from the Avengers; he says he has some ideas on what they can do now, and that he'll explain it to them in a few days.

Meanwhile, the alien Kree, seeking revenge for the murder of the Supreme Intelligence and the destruction of their empire (for which they blame the Avengers), target the Avengers Wonder Man and Vision for termination; USAgent, heartbroken by the AWC's disbanding, discards his costume and shield; and Wonder Man returns to the ruined, deserted Avengers Compound to rejoin the AWC, only to learn from Iron Man that the AWC has been disbanded.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Giant-Man, Captain America, Scarlet Witch, Hercules, Vision II, Black Knight III, Black Widow, Wonder Man, War Machine, USAgent, Sersi, Spider-Woman II and Crystal.

Other Characters: Edwin Jarvis.

Note: Scarlet Witch's new hairstyle and trashy new costume, seen in this issue, were adopted in a then-recent Scarlet Witch storyline from Marvel Comics Presents. This is the final issue in the AWC series; as such, it is the last issue of the series for regular artists Dave Ross and Tim Dzon. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning guest-write this final issue to set up their forthcoming Force Works comic book series, for which AWC was axed so that its characters could be used in Force Works. Following this story, Iron Man invites Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, USAgent and Spider-Woman to join him in forming the Force Works team. Wonder Man seemingly dies during their first case and things don't get much better for the characters or the readers from there on in. The increasingly arrogant Iron Man eventually goes nuts and turns evil and dies and is replaced by a teenage incarnation of himself from an alternate timeline (don't ask); Force Works mercifully disbands as their series dies after about two years; Scarlet Witch goes crawling back to the Avengers; and USAgent and Spider-Woman trundle off into obscurity.

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THE ANNUALS

The West Coast Avengers ongoing series, later retitled Avengers West Coast, had eight annuals published in addition to the regular monthly series. Brief descriptions of those annuals follow below.

WCA Annual 1

Continued from Avengers Annual 15. The eastern and western Avengers have been framed for treason by a past member of the Avengers and are on the run from the US government while they try to clear their names and discover who betrayed them. All the available Avengers gather together and the traitor turns out to be Quicksilver, who has apparently gone mad after his wife Crystal had an affair with another man. Completely insane, Quicksilver blames the Avengers for much of his life's anguish and vows to destroy them, battling them with the aid of the android Zodiac group. The Avengers defeat the Zodiac and clear their names, but Quicksilver has the team at his mercy with an experimental particle beam weapon until the Vision arrives with a holographic photograph of his and the Scarlet Witch's twin sons, Quicksilver's newborn nephews. Imploring Quicksilver to think of the children, Vision convinces him to relent and Quicksilver flees, sparing the Avengers' lives.

Avengers Assembled: Thor, Iron Man, Wasp, Captain America, Hawkeye, Hercules, Black Panther, Vision II, Black Knight III, Black Widow II, Falcon, Wonder Man, Tigra, Captain Marvel II, Mockingbird and Iron Man II (Jim Rhodes); Scarlet Witch (in non-combat role); Hank Pym (as staff member); She-Hulk (cameo as member of Fantastic Four); Beast (cameo as member of X-Factor); Mister Fantastic (as non-member ally); Quicksilver (as adversary); Hulk, Swordsman, Mantis, Moondragon, Hellcat, Jocasta, Binary, Starfox, Thing, Sub-Mariner and Firebird (in flashbacks).

Other Characters: Thomas and William Maximoff, Zodiac II (Gemini, Cancer, Taurus, Aries, Libra, Leo, Virgo, Scorpio, Pisces, Sagittarius, Capricorn and Aquarius), Henry Peter Gyrich, Freedom Force (Mystique, Avalanche, Pyro, Blob, Spiral and Destiny).

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WCA Annual 2

The eastern and western Avengers' annual softball game is interrupted by the Silver Surfer, who has come to warn the Avengers that the Grandmaster plans to murder them. He has arrived too late, though, as the eastern Avengers are struck dead by energy from the skies. The Grandmaster lost his life in a contest with Death, as seen in the Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions limited series, but the Surfer theorizes that the Grandmaster is now engaging in a game to win back his own life from death, and that the eastern Avengers are the pawns. The Avengers and the Surfer seek out the Collector, Grandmaster's fellow Elder of the Universe, who was resurrected himself as a result of the Grandmaster's contest with Death, hoping he can give them some leads. The Collector tells them that the Grandmaster has offered Death the Avengers' lives in exchange for his own, and that the only way to rescue them is to enter the realm of Death. To do this, the remaining Avengers and the Silver Surfer must die, gambling that they will somehow be able to return. The heroes agree and drink a fatal poison provided by the Collector which kills them all--all but Espirita, who survives despite the fact that the Collector's poison is deadly to any and all forms of life. The Collector, intrigued by a being who is seemingly unable to die, considers adding Espirita to his collection--an idea she resists, holding him at bay by threatening to destroy the rest of his collection.

Meanwhile, in the realm of Death, the Grandmaster tells the eastern Avengers that the Collector has offered the WCA to death in exchange for immortality, and that he, the Grandmaster, brought the ECA into the realm of Death to thwart the Collector's plans by capturing the WCA before Death can claim them. The WCA then arrive--and since they believe the Collector's story while the eastern Avengers believe the Grandmaster's story, the two factions of Avengers do battle to settle the argument while the Silver Surfer seeks out Death herself to request her intervention. In the skirmishes that follow, Iron Man defeats Captain Marvel; Captain America defeats Mockingbird; Doctor Pym defeats the Wasp; Thor defeats Wonder Man; Doctor Druid defeats Tigra; Moon Knight defeats Black Knight; and Hawkeye defeats She-Hulk, resulting in victory for the WCA. The outcome proves a moot point, though, when Death arrives and the Grandmaster subdues her, saying this was what he wanted all along.

Avengers Assembled: Thor, Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Knight III, Wonder Man, Tigra, She-Hulk, Captain Marvel II, Mockingbird and Doctor Druid; Espirita and Moon Knight (as provisional members).

Other Characters: Silver Surfer, Collector, Grandmaster, Death.

Note: This story continues in Avengers Annual 16, in which Grandmaster reveals that he and the Collector have deceived the Avengers into helping Grandmaster subdue Death and usurp her power. Grandmaster then pits the Avengers against his Legion of the Unliving in a contest to see if they can stop him from destroying the universe. They succeed, though all the Avengers but Captain America and Hawkeye are killed again in the process, joining the Legion's undead ranks. Grandmaster then insists that they keep replaying the game until he wins, and Hawkeye and Captain America know they don't stand a chance against the expanded Legion, so Hawkeye tempts the Grandmaster into a simple game of chance. Unable to resist a wager, the Grandmaster accepts and loses since Hawkeye has rigged the game, explaining to Captain America that cheating is a small price to pay to save the universe. Death takes advantage of the distraction to free herself and cast the Grandmaster out of her realm, after which she returns the Avengers and the Silver Surfer to life out of gratitude. The Grandmaster has the last laugh, though, since he has returned to life, and since he got what he wanted: immortality for himself and his fellow Elders, whom Death will not allow back into her realm lest they threaten her again.

This story also continues into Silver Surfer 3, where the Surfer helps Espirita escape the Collector's ship and return to Earth.

Wonder Man has a new haircut and costume as of this story, adopted on the advice of his film associates since the public (and WCA readers) hated his last costume.

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WCA Annual 3

The High Evolutionary plots to detonate a genetic bomb that will mutate all life on Earth, not suspecting that one of the scientists in his employ is plotting against him. The technician, Bill Foster, is an old ally of the Avengers and sends out a message summoning them to the Evolutionary's lair in the Savage Land. The message reaches the Black Panther when he captures some of the Evolutionary's troops in the act of trying to steal vibranium from the Panther's kingdom of Wakanda. The Panther summons the Avengers in accordance with Foster's message, and they arrive in Wakanda in time to help the Panther thwart another vibranium raid by more agents of the Evolutionary, the Sensors. The Sensors are defeated, but the Evolutionary's aide Stack uses the distraction to teleport in and steal the vibranium the Evolutionary needs for his genetic bomb. Meanwhile, at the Evolutionary's Savage Land base, estranged Avengers Mockingbird, Tigra and Moon Knight arrive in search of their old foe Master Pandemonium but find the Evolutionary instead. The Evolutionary captures the three heroes, but Bill Foster rescues them after ingesting the newly improved growth serum he developed in the Evolutionary's employ, healing Foster's cancer-damaged cells and allowing him to resume his costumed identity as Giant-Man. Unable to defeat Giant-Man, the Evolutionary flees and destroys his base to cover his tracks. Giant-Man and the three Avengers fly off to America and the WCA arrive in time to see only the crater that had been the Evolutionary's lair.

Avengers Assembled: Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Black Panther, Vision II, Mantis and Wonder Man; Tigra, Mockingbird and Moon Knight (as Avengers on leave).

Other Characters: Giant-Man II, High Evolutionary, Stack, Sensors (Sight, Touch, Sound, Smell, Taste and Intuition), Ka-Zar, Shanna the She-Devil, Adam Plunder.

Note: This story, finished shortly before Steve Englehart was fired as WCA writer, reflects the conflict Englehart was having with Marvel editorial at the time: editor-in-chief Tom DeFalco hated Englehart's Mantis character and insisted that Englehart drop her from the cast of Silver Surfer. When Englehart reluctantly complied but began using Mantis in WCA instead, DeFalco was furious and soon fired Englehart from WCA, censoring any Mantis stories that couldn't be replaced before press time to minimize her presence. For instance, all of Mantis's dialogue in this issue is cut except for a single panel, a rather heavy-handed edit most apparent on page 10, where Mantis is obviously drawn as if speaking but has no dialogue. This story was one of many chapters in the "Evolutionary War" crossover running though all of Marvel's annuals in 1988. It concluded in Avengers Annual 17 when a contingent of Avengers destroyed the Evolutionary's bomb, seemingly destroying the Evolutionary himself in the process.

This issue also features pin-ups by Al Milgrom of Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Vision and The Scarlet Witch, Tigra, Mockingbird, Mantis, Doctor Pym, Moon Knight, Master Pandemonium and the previously unpublished original cover to WCA 14 (featuring Hellcat, Hellstorm and the WCA versus demons). WCA Annual 3 also features a short chapter in the life story of the High Evolutionary, a feature running through all the "Evolutionary War" annuals.

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AWC Annual 4

The lead story in this annual is part twelve of the "Atlantis Attacks" storyline running through all of Marvel's annuals in 1989: the basic thrust of the story is that Ghaur and Llyra are plotting to reincarnate the demonic serpent-god Set on Earth. To this end, they goaded the warriors of Atlantis into an ill-considered war with the surface world in hopes that the Atlanteans would be slaughtered en masse and serve as a blood sacrifice to return Set to Earth. That failed when the Atlanteans were driven off without significant casualties, but Ghaur enacted a back-up plan to restore Set to Earth through mystical means, kidnapping seven superhuman women to serve as brainwashed brides of the demon, including Avengers members Scarlet Witch, She-Hulk and Invisible Woman. While some of the Avengers drive off the Atlantean stragglers and round up the member's of Set's serpent cult, a group of Avengers led by Captain America sets out to rescue Set's brainwashed brides-to-be and foil Ghaur's plans. The Avengers manage to penetrate Ghaur's lair and find the brides, but not before Ghaur succeeds in bringing Set to Earth. In the concluding chapters following this annual, Set is banished from Earth once more; his most powerful talisman, the Serpent Crown, is destroyed; and Ghaur and Llyra are seemingly killed.

Avengers Assembled: Thor, Iron Man, Wasp, Captain America, Vision II, Beast, Wonder Man, Thing, Quasar III and Human Torch; Sersi (as provisional member); Scarlet Witch, She-Hulk and Invisible Woman (as pawns of Set).

Other Characters: Ghaur, Llyra, Set, Marvel Girl, Andromeda, Storm and Dagger.

The second feature in this annual is a "Rate the Hunks" piece in which Wasp and She-Hulk judge how attractive their male teammates are, the highest possible score being 20. Thor scores 20. Captain America scores 18. Hercules and Black Panther score 17. Iron Man scores 16. Wonder Man scores 15. Hawkeye, Starfox, Sub-Mariner and Gilgamesh score 14. Mister Fantastic scores 13. Black Knight, Falcon and Quasar score 12. Quicksilver scores 9. USAgent scores 8. Vision scores 4. Doctor Druid scores 2. There is an error in this feature: She-Hulk says she's never met Quicksilver, but the two did meet in Avengers Annual 12.

The third feature in this annual is a story in which USAgent captures a leftover stormtrooper from the High Evolutionary's Evolutionary War. Doctor Pym helps out.

The fourth feature in this annual is related to the lead story: it features Avengers reservist Firebird sending some of the straggling Atlantean warriors back to the sea after handing them a humiliating defeat. In the process, she shows off the greater control over her powers she's developed since learning their origins in Avengers Spotlight # 23.

The fifth feature in this annual is a chapter in the history of the Serpent Crown running through all the Atlantis Attacks annuals.

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AWC Annual 5

The lead story in this annual is the fourth chapter of "The Terminus Factor", a story running through 1990's Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, AWC and Avengers Annuals. Essentially, the tale pits the Avengers against rampaging giant alien monsters: Terminus and its spawn the Termini, who battle each other and then merge into an ultimate Terminus despite the interference of the Avengers and their ally, Machine Man. Terminus, incidentally, was created to ravage worlds spared by the cosmic judges known as the Celestials--worlds such as Earth; Terminus's own world was judged unworthy by the Celestials and suffered their wrath, so Terminus spitefully assaults worlds spared by the Celestials. After meeting with little success in this chapter, the Avengers manage to destroy Terminus in the concluding chapter, Avengers Annual 19.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Hercules, Vision II, Wonder Man, She-Hulk, USAgent, Quasar III and Human Torch; Machine Man (as non-member ally); Scarlet Witch is present behind the scenes, recuperating after the traumatic events of AWC 60-62.

Other Characters: Terminus and the Termini.

The second feature in this annual is "Media Watch", TV news commentary on the events of the lead feature; Media Watch runs throughout the "Terminus Factor" annuals.

The third feature is a story in which Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye and Firebird battle the Atlantean mutants SURF (Eel, Sharkskin and Undertow), who cause a panic trying to "liberate" whales from captivity at an aquarium. After Firebird subdues the trio, the remaining Avengers reason with them and convince them that the whales in the aquarium are not being harmed, after which they depart.

Note: This story was Firebird's last appearance with the Avengers until 1997, when she was among the many Avengers to appear in the initial story arc of the current Avengers ongoing series.

The fourth feature is a story in which Wonder Man convinces Iron Man, Hawkeye, Vision and USAgent to fill in for him by making a publicity appearance at a monster truck rally. Once there, they battle a mad mutant "mechanical rights activist" named Doctor Goodwrench who turns the show's vehicles against the crowd, seeking to liberate machines from human control. The Avengers manage to prevent any casualties, though, and Goodwrench gives up after Hawkeye and Vision force him to realize how irrational his actions are.

The fifth feature is a story in which Doctor Pym misplaces a shrunken hyperatomic anti-proton cannon and must find it before it's accidentally triggered, in which case it could vaporize the entire Avengers Compound. Hawkeye, Wasp, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man and USAgent help Pym look for it, but the search becomes a moot point when Wonder Man accidentally eats it while snacking on chips. Fortunately, his invulnerable body safely contains the resultant explosion without harming him or the Compound.

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AWC Annual 6

The lead story in this issue is the concluding chapter of the "Subterranean Wars" crossover running through Avengers-related annuals in 1991. Mole Man, Tyrannus and Grotesk, the rival tyrants who rule the primitive subterranean races known as Moloids, Tyrannoids and Lava men, have joined forces to stave off an assault from their common enemy, Brutus, who is leading a mutate army in an effort to confiscate Deviant technology from the subterranean tyrants. The eastern Avengers stumble onto the war and are captured, but the Mole Man's one-time consort Kala recruits Iron Man, who in turn recruits the rest of the AWC. Together, they free the eastern Avengers and thwart Brutus's plot to devastate the surface world. In the process, Brutus is revealed to be a mutate posing as a Deviant; his Deviant officers desert him and his mistreated mutate army turns on him, killing him. Grotesk takes advantage of the distraction to steal Brutus's doomsday weapon and attempt to blow up the Earth with it himself, since he still blames humanity for the extinction of his subterranean race, but Living Lightning cripples his machine and the other Avengers quickly subdue Grotesk. Peace is restored to Subterranea as Tyrannus and Mole Man resume their respective reigns, with Mole Man taking Kala as his consort after she saved his life.

Avengers Assembled:

Iron Man, Captain America, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Hercules, Vision II, Black Widow II, Wonder Man, She-Hulk, USAgent, Quasar III, Sersi, Rage, Sandman, Spider-Woman II and Living Lightning.

Other Characters: Mole Man, Tyrannus, Grotesk, Kala, Brutus, Lava Men, Moloids, Tyrannoids.

The second feature in this annual is a story by Roy Thomas in which Spider-Woman views a computer-simulated history of the Avengers West Coast designed by Doctor Pym, covering the group's history up to AWC 69 (shortly before Spider-Woman joined). Items of note: Costuming details and other visuals are messed up in quite a few spots in this rather messily illustrated story; Iron Man (in his red and silver armor) is incorrectly depicted as a founding member of the WCA instead of Iron Man II in this story; Balkatar is misspelled as Balkator in this story; Doctor Pym attributes Mockingbird's refusal to save the Phantom Rider's life to residual side effects of the mind-altering drug the Rider gave her in this story, a claim never made in any previous story; Pym also says Mockingbird never forgave herself for the Rider's death, which was never really expressed as such outside this story; Pym says the anti-killing bylaw in the Avengers charter that led to a membership walkout in WCA 37 has since been revised, though he does not say how or why; Pym incorrectly recounts the events of WCA 40 as Hawkeye's WCA teaming with Mockingbird's splinter group (in actuality, the two teams acted separately); and Pym says that the Human Torch took a leave of absence from the group circa AWC 64, a fact implied but never made explicit until this story (at the time, the Human Torch simply disappeared from the pages of the ongoing series without explanation).

The third feature in this annual is a story in which the Wasp tries to sell a screenplay based on the early days of the Avengers. Wonder Man's old movie cronies Dino Domani and Arnold Schwarzburger appear.

The fourth feature in this annual is a story in which Living Lightning (Miguel Santos) returns home for the first time since his transformation into a superhuman, only to learn that his sister Lisa has been killed by the Snakes, a street gang, after Miguel's brother Jose joined a rival gang, the Jaguars. Miguel tells Jose and their mother about how he got his powers, became the Living Lightning and joined the AWC. Jose asks if the Avengers will help them avenge Lisa's death, and when Miguel says no, Jose goes off with the Jaguars to attack the Snakes. Miguel follows and finds out his girlfriend has left him for the Snake leader Song, who admits to killing Lisa. A fight breaks out in which one Jaguar is wounded and Song is shot dead, but Living Lightning breaks it up before there can be further casualties.

 

AWC Annual 7

The lead story in this annual is the second chapter in the three-part "Assault on Armor City" storyline begun in Darkhawk Annual 1. The plot: The AWC and their new ally Darkhawk join forces to protect Stark Enterprises from the forces of Professor Power, who has stolen Iron Man-based technology and plans to mass-produce it. Meanwhile, USAgent is secretly rehired by the Commission, who send him in search of Power's stolen Iron Monger armor. Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Woman and Darkhawk destroy the stolen technology and defeat Power while the rest of the AWC defend Stark Enterprises from attack. The story concludes in the 1992 Iron Man Annual.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, USAgent, Spider-Woman II and Living Lightning; Darkhawk (as non-member ally); Jim Rhodes (as civilian ally).

Other Characters: Professor Power.

The second story in this annual features the Scarlet Witch in a training exercise during which her new power somehow gives her a glimpse of an alternate reality in which her husband the Vision was never lobotomized and their children were never wiped out of existence. She takes some comfort in knowing that somewhere, in another life, she preserved the happy family of her dreams.

The third story in this annual features Spider-Woman saving a crash-landing plane while visiting with an old friend who's dying from cancer.

The fourth story in this annual features the AWC (Hawkeye, Iron Man, Wonder Man, Scarlet Witch, USAgent, Spider-Woman and Living Lightning) whiling away a rainy night by making a list of their worst enemies. Villains mentioned include Ultron and Zodiac (both dismissed as primarily eastern Avengers foes), Quicksilver (dropped from contention since he was temporarily insane rather than evil and soon rejoined the Avengers), The Blank (dismissed as too minor), Doctor Demonicus and his Pacific Overlords, the Hangman and the Night Shift, the Grim Reaper, Immortus, Master Pandemonium, Quantum, Halflife, The Cat People, Dominus and Graviton.

The fifth story in this annual features Living Lightning defeating Lou Denham, a veteran of the Legion of the Living Lightning who tries unsuccessfully to force Miguel to reveal the secret of his electrical powers.

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AWC Annual 8

The AWC thwart Ultron's plans to eradicate all life on Earth by volcanically inducing a "nuclear winter" effect. The Avengers prevail with the aid of Raptor (Gary Wilton), a young mutant who turns into a savage winged bird-man under stress; and Ultron's own creation and erstwhile mate Alkhema, AKA War Toy, who enjoys individual murders too much to wipe out humanity all at once as Ultron desires. In the resultant battle, Ultron is captured and Alkhema escapes.

Avengers Assembled: Iron Man, Doctor Pym, Wasp, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Tigra, Mockingbird, War Machine, USAgent, Spider-Woman II and Living Lightning.

Note: All of Marvel's 1993 annuals introduced new characters, characters who were also featured on trading cards polybagged with each annual. The new character featured in AWC Annual 8 was Raptor. Hawkeye uses his Goliath powers in this issue though he does not resume his Goliath identity. More recently, he was supposedly stripped of the growth power for good in the Giant-Man flipbook limited series.

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EPILOGUE

So that's all she wrote for the West Coast Avengers. The eastern Avengers kept on trucking in their own series for a couple more years until horrible revampings and terrible stories (particularly The Crossing story arc) drove readers away en masse. The series was canceled after 402 issues, just before the Avengers and Marvel's other classic super-hero team, the Fantastic Four, were both zapped into an alternate reality in the Onslaught: Marvel Universe one-shot. Their adventures in that alternate reality were chronicled in several simultaneous year-long limited series, after which they returned and the Avengers series resumed publication under the crack creative team of Kurt Busiek and George Perez. Most of the WCA characters appear in the initial storyline of the revived Avengers series, as virtually the entire membership of the team to date shows up to combat the threat of Morgan Le Fey. More specifically, though, here's what became of the characters who made up the WCA/AWC cast over the years:

Hawkeye:

After Mockingbird's death, Hawkeye sank into a bitter loner rut for a while, playing wilderness hermit and making occasional appearances in books like Force Works, War Machine, Iron Man and Marvel Comics Presents. He also starred in his second limited series, a story that teamed him with War Machine against Viper and the Secret Empire, with Hawkeye's old mentor Trick Shot caught in the middle as Viper's reluctant employee; nothing really came of the limited series except for a slightly revamped costume, a sporty new sky cycle and a mutated dog-boy sidekick named Rover, all of which disappeared before too long. Hawkeye rejoined the Avengers in a totally new (but definitely not improved) costume during the Crossing, and was among the Avengers sucked into another world in Onslaught: Marvel Universe. These dimensionally displaced Avengers then appeared in a new Avengers series by Rob Liefeld (later taken over by Walt Simonson), in which Hawkeye got an even worse costume. They returned to the real world in Heroes Reborn: The Return, after which Hawkeye showed up scrapping with the Thunderbolts before returning to the Avengers in their new ongoing series. Avengers and Thunderbolts writer Kurt Busiek (a big Hawkeye fan) says Hawkeye will also be appearing in his new Iron Man series, but not on a regular basis.

Mockingbird:

Still seemingly deceased, though there are many fans who'd like to see her lame demise undone, and it would be easy enough given the supernatural forces involved in her apparent death. Some folks theorize that Mephisto has trapped her soul since he said something about "pure souls" to replace the foul ones he'd lost when he attacked the AWC. Current Avengers writer Kurt Busiek says he has plans related to Mockingbird, but these plans probably won't include returning her to life since he didn't like the Hawkeye-Mockingbird relationship--it reminded him too much of DC's Green Arrow-Black Canary pairing.

War Machine:

Rhodey got his own ongoing series after leaving the Avengers, but it didn't last long; before it ended, though, he got a new set of semi-sentient alien armor to replace the Stark-designed "War Machine" suit, which he lost in action. Rhodey made a few appearances in Marvel Comics Presents, Iron Man, Force Works and Avengers, particularly during the "Crossing" crossover between his series and those other books. When Iron Man seemingly died, Rhodey took over Stark International; he resigned, though, after destroying Iron Man armor technology lest it fall into the hands of the company's new owners; Rhodey was forced to destroy his own alien armor in the process (as seen in the Tales of the Marvel Universe one-shot), so he has since retired from adventuring and opened a marine salvage business. He was one of the few surviving past Avengers members to not show up for the recent mass membership reunion, but Avengers writer Kurt Busiek says Rhodey will be appearing in Iron Man, albeit not on a regular basis.

Tigra:

Since AWC folded, Tigra hasn't had much to do apart from a solo story in Marvel Comics Presents, though she did appear in the initial storyline of the current Avengers series.

Wonder Man:

Wonder Man was seemingly slain in battle with the Kree and the Scatter in Force Works 1, but recently returned to life in the first storyline of the current Avengers series.

Iron Man:

The increasingly obnoxious and erratic Iron Man continued to appear in his own series, Force Works and other comics until the events of the Crossing crossover, in which it was revealed that he'd been the brainwashed pawn of the Avengers' foe Kang for years. Tony apparently went mad and turned bad, killing some friends and associates and battling the Avengers before repenting at the last minute and turning against Kang in a battle that seemingly cost him his life. He was replaced in his own series and in the Avengers by a teen incarnation of himself from an alternate timeline (introduced in Avengers: Timeslide), but his book was axed and "Teen Tony" disappeared into another dimension along with the rest of the Avengers in Onslaught: Marvel Universe. When the Avengers returned to Earth, it was the benevolent adult Tony Stark of old who returned with them rather than the teen version. How this happened and what it all means remains to be seen, but current Iron Man writer Kurt Busiek promises to explain it all eventually. In the meantime, the original Iron Man is back from the dead, appearing in his own new series and the new Avengers series.

Hank Pym:

After retiring to reserve status with the AWC to concentrate on scientific research, Doctor Pym eventually rejoined the eastern Avengers in his old guise as Giant-Man. Why he rejoined the easterners rather than the AWC is unclear, as is why he returned to the Avengers at all; why he returned to one of the old costumed identities he'd sworn off is also unknown, as is how he regained the power to increase his physical size. Chalk it all up to bad writing by then-Avengers-writer Bob Harras. At any rate, Hank returned to the Avengers as Giant-Man, and also starred in a Giant-Man "flip-book" limited series that appeared on the flip side of part of the print run of Avengers for four issues. That limited series reunited Hank romantically with the Wasp and also depowered most of Marvel's size-changers (including Wasp) apart from Hank (who retained his growth power), Ant-Man II (who retained shrinking power) and the criminal Goliath (who retained his growth power). Giant-Man and Wasp split up again after she rejoined the Avengers, but they reconciled just before disappearing into another dimension with the rest of the Avengers in Onslaught: Marvel Universe. They are both currently appearing in the new Avengers series.

Thing:

The Thing, as noted earlier, returned to the Fantastic Four not long after leaving the WCA. He remains with them at present, starring in their current ongoing series.

Firebird:

Firebird made a few appearances in books like Avengers and Avengers Spotlight after leaving the AWC, but she vanished from the comics racks for years after appearing in a couple of AWC Annual back-up stories. She did appear in the initial storyline of the current Avengers series, though.

Two-Gun Kid:

Two Gun starred in the Two-Gun Kid: Sunset Riders limited series, a tale set in the last days of his career as the Two-Gun Kid, which ended when he faked his death and embarked on a new life as the anonymous leader of a band of adventurers called the Sunset Riders. Whether this was an alternate timeline or what really became of Two-Gun remains to be seen, though the fact that he lives in the 19th century meant he was absent from the current Avengers series regardless. He has made appearances in such recent comics as Marvel Comics Presents, Thor Corps and Unlimited Access. He may be appearing in the new Marvel Universe anthology series and a forthcoming limited series about Marvel's western heroes. Two-Gun hasn't appeared with the Avengers since WCA 18-24, though he was among the past members depicted on a monitor display in the first issue of the new Avengers series.

Moon Knight:

Moon Knight recently starred in his own limited series after returning from his seeming death, but has severed his ties with the Avengers for good after an ideological dispute with the team in his own ongoing series some time ago. He made a cameo appearance in the first issue of the new Avengers series but declined to get involved with the current incarnation of the team.

Wasp:

After retiring to reserve status with the AWC, Wasp concentrated on her personal life for a while and kept a fairly low profile. She returned in the Giant-Man "flip-book" limited series, where she renewed her romance with Hank Pym and lost her powers. She became a supporting character in the Avengers series and then became a full member of the team again after gaining strange new powers and a new, more insect-like form following a near-death experience during the Crossing. She was among the Avengers sucked into another dimension in Onslaught: Marvel Universe, and recently returned to Earth along with the others. She and Hank are currently appearing in the new Avengers series, though whether they will remain together or apart remains to be seen, as does whether or not they stay with the Avengers.

Vision:

After resigning from the AWC in AWC 53, Vision rejoined the eastern Avengers and remained with them until he and they were sucked into another dimension in Onslaught: Marvel Universe. Before that event, Vision gained a new body that more closely resembled his original form and also learned that he still had the capacity for human emotion (the latter plotline climaxing in a Vision limited series). He was even trying to restore his marriage with the Scarlet Witch, though she was wary of the idea. The two of them have yet to speak since they and the other Avengers returned to Earth, but both are currently appearing with the team in the new ongoing Avengers series.

Scarlet Witch

After quitting the AWC, Scarlet Witch became the leader of Force Works and appeared regularly in their ongoing series until the series ended and the team disbanded. She also starred in her own limited series and appeared in Marvel Comics Presents. After Force Works folded, she rejoined the Avengers and was among the Avengers sucked into another dimension in Onslaught: Marvel Universe. They recently returned to Earth, and she is currently appearing in the new Avengers series. Whether she will reconcile with her estranged husband and teammate the Vision remains to be seen.

Mantis:

After the events of WCA 39, Mantis appeared briefly in a Moondragon story from a Fantastic Four Annual and returned next in the "Crossing" storyline running through the Avengers series and related comics. In that story, she was the ruthless consort of the Avengers' enemy Kang and conspired to destroy the team. Those events remain unexplained to date, and it may be that the Mantis involved was not the real Mantis. Regardless, current Avengers writer Kurt Busiek has expressed reluctance to use Mantis since he considers her the territory of her creator Steve Englehart, but Busiek has also said he hopes to explain the events of The Crossing eventually.

USAgent:

After the AWC disbanded, USAgent became a founding member of Force Works with a new costume whose gauntlets could generate "photonic" energy shields. He appeared throughout the run of the Force Works series until the team disbanded and the book folded. He hasn't appeared much since then, though he did appear in the initial storyline of the new Avengers series.

Human Torch:

The depowered Human Torch, now simply civilian Jim Hammond, found work with Namor the Sub-Mariner's Oracle corporation and ran the company during Namor's recent absence. During that time, he founded a non-profit super-team for hire, the Heroes for Hire, and currently appears in their ongoing series. Hammond is retired from adventuring and was one of the few surviving past members of the Avengers to not participate in the recent reunion of the team.

Quicksilver:

After leaving the AWC, Quicksilver joined the government-sponsored mutant super-team X-Factor and remained with them until a crisis reunited him with his estranged wife Crystal, prompting him to rejoin the eastern Avengers around the same time the AWC disbanded. He and Crystal have since reconciled. Quicksilver was one of the few then-active Avengers not sent to another dimension by Onslaught, and after the Avengers temporarily shut down he starred in his own ongoing series, in which he has become the leader of a contingent of the High Evolutionary's New Men. Quicksilver was recently reunited with the Avengers, including his wife Crystal and sister the Scarlet Witch, and they are all currently appearing in the new Avengers series.

Machine Man

Machine Man only served as an AWC reservist for one case before the AWC broke up, and he hasn't appeared much since then. He is among the many Avengers currently appearing in the new Avengers series, though.

Spider-Woman:

Spider-Woman joined Force Works after the AWC disbanded and remained with that team until it disbanded at the end of its series. She has appeared infrequently since then, notably in an as yet unexplained tale from a Spider-Man Annual in which she helped Shadowoman rescue the original Spider-Woman from another dimension. Like most of the other Avengers, she appeared in the initial storyline of the current Avengers series.

Living Lightning:

Living Lightning hasn't appeared much since leaving the AWC apart from a minor Force Works guest shot, but he did appear in the initial storyline of the current Avengers series.

Darkhawk:

Darkhawk's ongoing series was axed some time ago, as was the ongoing series of the New Warriors super-team he occasionally worked with. He never worked with the Avengers again after his brief AWC reserve stint until recently, when he was among the many Avengers to appear in the initial storyline of the current Avengers series.