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Context

West Coast Avengers was a spin-off of Marvel’s Avengers.

It launched in 1984. That was shortly after the Secret Wars crossover saved the publisher from eternal ruin and cosmic obliteration. Or at least bankruptcy.

The book was eventually retitled Avengers West Coast, so it would sit next to other Avengers books on the shelves.

Scope

This profile covers everything up to West Coast Avengers Vol. 1 #37, cover-dated October, 1988.

Once research resumes on the WCAs, this here article will receive some additional material. For instance, additional details about the WCAs’ base and support staff appear later on. But look, at some point there has to be a research cutoff.

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Profile

Organisation

Full Name:
West Coast Avengers.

Members were nicknamed “wackos” by the Thing, and it stuck from there. The “whackos” often called their East Coast counterparts “eakos”, which I’ll admit made no sense.

Purpose:
To neutralise global threats too powerful for any single super-hero to handle. Such as alien invasions, the most powerful superhuman criminals and other severe crises.

To expand the Avengers’ response coverage and roster.

Modus Operandi:
Superhuman force or assistance response, depending on the situation.

Extent of operations:
The team tends to restrict their activities to the Western half of the US, the other half being the original team’s turf. But it’s not a hard rule.

Operations have been run in other countries, dimensionsOther realms of existence that are not our universe, and time periods. But the team doesn’t have at this point space or underwater projection capabilities.

Relationship to conventional authorities:
Early on, the Avengers (both teams) have a close but conflict-prone relationship with the US government. There also were links with the United Nations, but these were mediated by the Feds.

After the 1985 Vision takeover plot, this relationship breaks down. The teams still have certain privileges, but their access is considerably restricted. On the other hand, they no longer have to abide by Federal micromanagement of their activities.

In the whackos’ case that doesn’t change much to their operations. They never had a government minder on their back, and their member Mockingbird can still obtain a modicumA small quantity of something valuable of S.H.I.E.L.D. cooperation.

Bases of Operations:
Avengers Compound, 1800 Palos Verdes Drive  , California. This is on the seashore, south of Los Angeles.

Major Funding:
Split between the Maria Stark Foundation (the financial backer behind the Avengers as a whole) and the United Nations.

There were multiple, unspecified private grants to help with the construction of the Avengers Compound.

Known Enemies:

Known allies:

  • Main Avengers team in New York.
  • Most former Avengers, reserve Avengers, Avengers associates, etc..
  • Esperita (Bonita Juarez, formerly Firebird).
  • Two-Gun Kid (Matthew Hawk).

Avengers West Coast (early) (Marvel Comics) first lineup in the Master Edition of the OHOTMU

First roster.

Membership

Organizational structure:

  • One designated leader.
  • A roster of five members.
  • A number of reserve members.
  • Support staff.

Roster (1984):

Officers:
Hawkeye (Clint Barton) was the founding leader.

Roster evolutions (1984/1985):

  1. In early 1985, Mr. Rhodes has to take an extended leave for medical reasons. Tony Stark replaces him, but it takes some weeks due to his own medical issues.
  2. Shortly after that, the Thing (Benjamin Jacob Grimm), who just wanted to fix a flat tyre fer cryin’ out loud, is talked into taking the still-vacant sixth slot. So by this point we have :

Roster (1985):

Roster evolutions (1985/1987):

  1. In early 1986, Firebird (Bonita Juarez) temporarily reinforces the team, as both Stark and Williams are unavailable.
  2. The Thing is soon forced to leave for medical reasons.
  3. Hellcat (Patsy Hellstrom) and Hellstorm (Daimon Hellstorm) reinforce the team during one demon-fighting mission.
  4. In mid-to-late 1987, Dr. Henry Pym (who had been support staff for months) joins the active roster.
  5. In late 1987, Moon Knight (Marc Spector et al.) joins as a provisional member. So by this point we have :

Roster (1988):

Roster evolutions (1988):

  1. Iron Man went renegade during the “Armour Wars”, and was kicked out of the WCAs.
  2. The Wasp (Janet van Dyne) volunteered to bolster the WCAs while they were short one.

Membership requirements:
Must be a recognised adult costumed adventurer and pass a United Nations security clearance.

Though asking how Hawkeye passed the “adult” part is a fair question, yes.

Those who do not have a clearly documented, exemplary track record as super-heroes can join – but with a probationary status.

Known support personnel:
The vehicular maintenance and engineering guy is Jorge Latham. He’s a friend of Hawkeye, with whom he worked at Cross Technological Enterprises (CTE). Mr. Latham built Hawkeye’s original sky-cycle.

Jorge felt bored and unchallenged at CTE, and presumably took the WCA job for excitement. He has zero screen time in WCA stories, though.

The groundskeeper is a young man named Joachin. When there are large jobs to do he brings in a crew of landscapers, led by one Pepe. The crew works in Spanish, but both Joachin and Pepe are bilingual.

In late 1985, Dr. Henry Pym joins as support personnel. He manages the advanced equipment at the Compound, and provides scientific consultancy.

Pym leaves two years later, for health reasons. But he soon returns after receiving spiritual counselling from Esperita (Bonita Juarez).

Soundtrack

Mwahahaha, another opportunity to inflict Old Person Music on y’all !

So, something famous that strongly evokes 1984, from the West Coast, optimistic and uptempo, that’s comfortably mainstream but spectacular (yet not visionary artiste stuff à la Prince)… uh, that’s not that easy.

But Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose” fits that bill, it was everywhere for a time, and there was a music video with distinctly 1984 visuals.

Equipment

Members are issued an emergency radio beacon, which will broadcast an emergency signal and their location on an Avengers frequency.

It looks a bit like a 1980s pager  . But since Tigra could somehow keep one in her bikini it must be smaller than that.

These also function as talkie-walkies, with a range of several miles. It seems likely that these can piggyback on police repeaters or some such relay for long-range communication.

One scene implies that the WCA’s quinjets can closely track that signal. So they can be set to a “keep hovering above my beacon” autopilot mode.

Quinjets

The WCAs have a fleet of three quinjets. But most of the time there are but two available, because Tigra is a terrible pilot.

Those notables functionalities of the quinjets seen in the reviewed material :

  • Networked flight computers (to share flight plans and coordinates between quinjets).
  • “Sub-sea scanners”, a sort of air-to-underwater high resolution sonar.
  • No anti-missile countermeasures early on. A 1988 story mentions an anti-missiles screen, though – so perhaps it took some time for those to be installed.
  • Can float after a water landing.
  • A forward-facing, laterally-mounted concussion beam cannon. It was powerful enough to down an AIM advanced fighter.
  • A “defensive grid”. It apparently detects stuff that’s about to hit or board a quinjet, and sounds an alarm.

Sky-cycles

The WCA’s first sky-cycle (sometimes skymobile) was Hawkeye’s personal ride. It had been built for him while he was on a sabbatical from the Avengers. He and Mockingbird often rode it together.

Jorge then built a second sky-cycle. This came in handy as previously, for short-range scramble aeromobility, Iron Man and/or Wonder Man had to carry one of the non-flying members.

Avengers West Coast (early) (Marvel Comics) skycycle hawkeye mockingbird iron man

A skycycle in action.

Avengers Compound

The 1985 Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe had several pages about the Avengers West Coast’s base. Including those great floorplans and technical details by Eliot R. Brown.

Now, of course, we encourage y’all to buy it using this affiliate link. But many people simply can’t afford it, so here’s the skinny.

General characteristics

The estate is 15 acres (6 hectares). It was originally built for silent films star Sylvia Powell, then left vacant after her death in 1969.

The place could quickly be overhauled and re-equipped, since :

  1. The modifications were based on existing designs for the Avengers’ Mansion and Stark International facilities.
  2. The job was directed by Dr. William Foster, a former Stark International lead engineer.

The Compound is staffed by five full-time employees – a maid, a butler, a groundskeeper, a cook and a mechanic.

Avengers West Coast (early) (Marvel Comics) compound HQ grounds

Main building

A large, posh neo-Mediterranean villa. The floorplans show everything clearly.

There’s an intercom/PA system, which presumably covers the bungalows and some of the grounds.

The charmingly-named “servants’ quarters” are the living space for the maid and the cook. The charmingly-named “master bedroom” is occupied by Mockingbird and Hawkeye.

The lounge has billiards, pinballs, 1980s video arcades – and a wall-sized TV screen, which was major equipment back then.

The 20,000-books library has reference material on the first floor, and fiction/entertainment on the second. Technically the Internet was already around (Prodigy  launched that year) but you def still needed books.

The basement is mostly normal support facilities for a mansion with a huge pool.

Avengers West Coast (early) (Marvel Comics) compound HQ main building floorplans

Sub-basements

These were added once the property was bought by the Avengers. The construction crew bored through the cliffside and added two new levels about 50 feet (15 metres) under the basement.

Back then the “main computer” would have been something like a System/370 compatible Q96 IBM mainframe  . Or rather, the Stark International equivalent.

The mainframe was originally linked with the Eastern Avengers facilities, the Fantastic Four’s mainframes, and the networks of both S.H.I.E.L.D. and Project: PEGASUS. The access to the latter two presumably was cut after the Vision takeover attempt.

Avengers West Coast (early) (Marvel Comics) compound HQ sub-basements floorplans

Hangar and garage

In 1985, the garage was temporarily cleared and medicalised to hold an unconscious Goliath (Erik Josten). Since he was far too large for conventional prisons.

Avengers West Coast (early) (Marvel Comics) compound HQ hangar floorplans schematics

Bungalows

Avengers West Coast (early) (Marvel Comics) compound HQ bungalow floorplans

Security

The grounds and the main building have good, but not-Avengers level security. It doesn’t normally hold sensitive data or activities. The sub-basements, on the other hand, are fully hardened.

Those security measures we can see in the material are :

  • A web of visible-spectrum and infrared video cameras all over the buildings and grounds.
  • Implicitly, movement detectors.
  • Unspecified “dozens” of sensors that the Shroud (Maximilian Coleridge) bypassed.
  • Security computers that sound an alarm, and provide selected visual feeds so operators can see what has tripped the sensors.
  • “Stunulator” non-lethal energy light cannons, mounted on unarmoured motorised arms. [DEX 04 BODY 03, Energy blast (Bashing only): 06, Misc.: these are immobile despite having APs of DEX].
  • Fast-opening, hidden pit traps with a restraining net near the bottom. These could detain the Armadillo (Antonio Rodriguez), though he didn’t make a strong effort to get out.
  • Arrays of pop-up knockout gas sprayers.
  • Pop-up clusters of restraining metal tentacles, looking similar to Doctor Octopus (Otto Octavius)’s.
  • Clusters of smaller, less orientable stunulators hidden among tree branches.

The security system can be locally neutralised by an energy handgun called a deactivator. These were seldom seen, and it’s unclear where they usually are stored. “Aboard quinjets” would make sense, but would be a bad security risk.

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History

In 1984, the US federal government and the United Nations agreed to the creation of a second team and base for the Avengers.

Chairwoman the Wasp (Janet van Dyne) and previous chairman Captain America (Steve Rogers) had been discussing the pros and cons of the six-members roster limit established by Rogers.

The idea of a temporary expansion, a sort of new branch, emerged at this point.

The next chairman, the Vision (Victor Shade) then convinced the authorities to greenlight a West Coast Avengers (WCA) project.

However, this — and the Vision being chairman in the first place — was achieved through subtle mind manipulation.

California knows how to party

The Vision tasked Hawkeye (Clint Barton) with establishing this branch.

Extensively assisted by Dr. Bill Foster (formerly Giant-Man), Barton bought a suitable property near Los Angeles. It was turned into a base in record time, as Foster led a hand-picked crew of ex-Stark people.

Barton also had his wife Mockingbird cleared to join the team.

Meanwhile, the Vision paid several former Avengers to visit Hawkeye in L.A. so the archer could make his pitch.

Avengers West Coast (early) (Marvel Comics) comms and computer room

Communications and computers equipment at the West Coast Avengers Compound. I suppose it has as much computing power as a modern entry-level smartphone.

Now let me welcome everybody to the wild wild west

The initial roster was wobbly. One position went unfilled for months, the recruits weren’t A-list, and most members had reasons to doubt that they belonged on an Avengers team.

However :

The still-incomplete team thus established that they were, despite appearances, a credible Avengers presence.

But the Vision’s dysfunction got more severe. He eventually tried to take over world governments and arsenals. This wrecked much of the relationships between the Avengers of both coasts and the US government.

Hawkeye even wondered if the Vision’s odd choices about which ex-Avengers to contact first for the WCAs hadn’t been an effect of his temporary insanity.

1985-1986

Here’s a quick list of what was going on :

  • The Western team joined the Eastern one in stopping Maelstrom from destroying the Earth. They clearly pulled their weight.
  • The WCAs joined the early 1985 global military offensive against Dire Wraith presence on and near Earth. This massive effort, backed by just about every super-hero there was, was a success thanks to Rom the Spaceknight.
  • Tigra discovered that Dr. Demonicus had been growing a Godzilla-esque kaijuJapanese term for a rampaging giant monster, like Godzilla. on a discreet island. The WCAs routed him.
  • Along with the Vision and the Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff), the WCAs opposed the Grim Reaper’s (and his Lethal Legion) demented plans about his brother Simon Williams’ mind.
  • Participated in a brief assault against the Beyonder, who didn’t fight back. Then in the attack that actually took the Beyonder out thanks to the Molecule Man (Owen Reece).
  • Repeatedly engaged Master Pandemonium.
  • Embarked on a cross-dimensional quest to find the realm of the Cat People and stabilise Tigra’s souls.
  • Clashed with the Rangers after Firebird (Bonita Juarez) realised that her one-time teammates had been demonically possessed.
  • Joined the Eastern team of Avengers in stopping a mindless Hulk.
  • Defeated Headlok, who was using the Griffin (John Horton) as his muscle.
  • Helped the Fantastic Four with the early stages of investigating the time-warping dome erected over Central City by Harvey Jessup.
  • Assisted Thor and the Eternals of Earth against the Deviant priest-lord Ghaur, who had taken over the body of the Dreaming Celestial.
  • Again clashed with Graviton, who returned with three allies – Quantum, Halflife and Zzzax. Though the odds were overwhelming, Tigra pushed Graviton’s best-laid plans off the furniture.

Both Avengers teams were then betrayed by Quicksilver (Pietro Maximoff), who fed disinfo to the US government. The Avengers were therefore arrested by the Freedom Force – in large part thanks to Spiral (Rita Wayword)’s magic.

Both teams escaped, exposed Quicksilver’s conspiracy, and defeated his version of the Zodiac organisation.

Avengers West Coast (early) (Marvel Comics) second lineup in the Master Edition of the OHOTMU

Second roster.

Demons and cats

The WCAs were then attacked by the demon Allatou. Allatou captured the then-defenceless Henry Pym and Greer Nelson, taking them into a demonic dimension.

Lacking occult expertise, the WCAs enlisted the help of Hellstorm (Daimon Hellstrom) and Hellcat (Patsy Walker). Though the rescue succeeded, both rescuers and rescuees were stranded among hell dimensions by Allatou.

The WCAs thus ended in the Land Within, a dimension controlled by the Cat People. There, Greer Nelson reunited her human soul and her cat person soul.

Both Avengers teams then helped defend Thor against a major assault by Mephisto.

Across time

The team clashed with the alien Dominus, who used Doctor Doom (Victor von Doom)’s time machine to exile them into the past. They ended up in the Old West.

But Hawkeye had allies there. He had met masked crimefighters of that era, such as the Rawhide Kid (Jonathan Clay) and the Two-Gun Kid (Matthew Hawk), during a previous adventure.

The WCAs could only use the damaged machine to go backward in time. They decided to reach the Rama-Tut era, since a fully functional time machine existed back then.

However, as they left the Old West, an insane Phantom Rider (Lincoln Slade) kidnapped Mockingbird.

After many near-misses, the Avengers made it back to the future. Their first stop was 1876, where they picked up Mockingbird. She had gotten rid of the Phantom Rider, who fell to his death during their confrontation.

As they were investigating his schemes, alien invader Dominus psychically paralysed the team. But new ally the Moon Knight (Marc Spector) defeated him.

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Elders and Death

Two Elders of the Universe, the Grandmaster and the Collector, slew both teams of Avengers. Then manipulated them into fighting each other in an afterlife.

The WCAs narrowly prevailed. But it was revealed to have been a trick, so the Grandmaster could destroy and recreate the universe using the power of Death.

Captain America challenged the Grandmaster to a new game to prevent this. Both Avengers teams were pitted against a new Legion of the Unliving. This too was rigged and unwinnable.

However, Hawkeye then challenged the Grandmaster to a simple game of chance. The Elder couldn’t resist, and Hawkeye used an old carnival trick — a sort of 3-card monte  variant using arrows — to cheat and win.

This saved the universe.

Because Steve Englehart loves his astrology-themed stories

In late 1987, the WCAs clashed with a new version of the Zodiac organisation.

This one was made up of superhuman LMDsLife-Model Decoy. A lifelike robot double., led by a LMD of Jacob Fury wielding the Zodiac Key. They killed all members of the previous Zodiac, except for its leader Taurus (Cornelius van Lunt), and replaced them.

Van Lunt enlisted the WCAs’ help in stopping this deadly conspiracy. But Jake Fury managed to replace two Avengers with LMD doubles – Sagittarius (a fake Hawkeye) then Leo (a fake Tigra).

The Avengers still outmatched the Zodiac. Fury sent everyone into the Dimension of the Brotherhood – where the Zodiac Key comes from. But in so doing, he destroyed himself and his Zodiac.

Probationary member Moon Knight then went after van Lunt alone, for religious reasons. Their clash ended with van Lunt’s accidental death.

To their shock, the historical Avengers (Barton, Stark and Pym) realised that the others (Spector, Morse and Nelson) did not unconditionally condemn the use of lethal force.

Mockingbird (Marvel Comics) (West Coast Avengers) with team

1988

  • The alien Sligs captured the whackos, to test their might in preparation for an invasion. It was a complete failure for the Sligs.
  • Arkon of Polemachus came to settle a beef with Wonder Man, mano a mano.
  • Giant caveman Yetrigar attacked at the Grand Canyon. The WCAs didn’t realise that he had been freed by Mockingbird as a diversion, as she attempted to covertly deal with the Phantom Rider (Hamilton Slade).
  • Dr. Pym was told that Maria Trovaya, his first wife, was still alive. The WCAs flew to Hungary to investigate, but it was a trap set by Soviet-aligned agents there – led by Madame X (Nina Tsiolkovsky). All at the behest of Quicksilver.

The WCAs managed to leave Hungary, but their quinjet crashed in Latveria. Doctor Doom (Kristoff Vernard) detained them, but he also sought to ally with them against Doctor Doom (Victor von Doom).

Barton vs. Morse

Vernard failed to imprison the team for long, and our heroes stormed out.

However, Hawkeye and others had been turned against Mockingbird by the Phantom Rider (Lincoln Slade). A communication failure between Barton and Morse took this past the point of no return, and they now both sought a divorce.

The Avengers returned to Hungary to complete their mission. Dr. Pym was reunited with a mutated Maria Trovaya — though it wasn’t actually her, long story — and left the team to take care of her full-time.

Furthermore, the group split over Hawkeye’s treatment of Mockingbird. Most Avengers present disagreed with the Chairman, and Tigra and Moon Knight went so far as to leave the team along with Mockingbird.

Writeups.org writer avatar Sébastien Andrivet

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Marvel Comics.

Helper(s): Darci.

Writeup completed on the 25th of August, 2022.