West Coast Avengers #1
West Coast Avengers opens with Clint Barton just starting an interview with a film crew. This is used as a framing device for most of the issue. He defends Kate Bishop’s ability to lead.
Four weeks earlier we find Kate riding a “Land Shark” in Santa Monica, calling Clint on her earpiece. Clint picks up in a coffee shop before being picked up and teleported by America Chavez. He lands on Kate’s shark while America flies alongside.
Kate’s boyfriend Johnny Watts (Fuse) admits in his interview: “I’ve been a superhero for about… two minutes.” Back on the shark, the Hawkeyes agree on a plan. Kate shoots an arrow through the shark’s pectoral fin (thanks Google) and swings from the rope in front of its gaping mouth. She succeeds in fashioning makeshift reins and avoiding being eaten.
Clint jumps off the shark (I am hopeful that is different from jumping the shark) to stop a falling building by blowing it up #safe. Meanwhile, Kate has redirected the sharks towards the ocean without really considering that she remains on the shark. America flies to her aid, much to the relief of Clint and Johnny.
Back at Hawkeye (Kate’s) Investigations, Clint points out that Kate needs to form a team to protect the west coast. Kate eventually agrees and creates a flyer. The issue of pay is raised and not for the first time. The next three pages are dedicated to a series of failed hero interviews. Gwenpool comes in on her way to get tacos and is immediately recruited.
Quentin Quire (Kid Omega) appears in the doorway of Hawkeye Investigations with a film crew, offering his services and funding. In Kate’s interview she discusses the nature of the film project that will be paying for her team. In the background a disagreement between Kid Omega and Gwenpool results in a small thermonuclear explosion.
Finally in the present day, Kate bemoans the dysfunctional nature of her team…
Awwwww… meanwhile Quire and Gwenpool are not getting along quite so well.
Kate announces that there has been another incident in Santa Monica. America teleports them there.
I think the page speaks for itself. Kate says that they must stop Tigra from reaching the town but only using nonlethal force. Kate directs America to fly Clint up to talk to Tigra with Quire providing a TK shield. Meanwhile, the others will clear civilians from the streets.
Clint fails to reason with Tigra who swats Kid Omega out of the sky. In his interview, Quentin claims he was distracted. Gwenpool assists bystanders at gunpoint before helping Quire by shooting him with her gun’s “creampuff” setting. In her interview, she talks about her former employer M.O.D.O.K. (Mental Organism Designed Only For Killing.)
Clint ends up in Tigra’s claws. He again tries to reason with her but she tosses him over her shoulder. Kate saves Clint with a creampuffesque arrow (what? That’s a word!)
Having repeatedly failed to reason with Tigra the team agrees that they are “going to have to put more options on the table.” B.R.O.D.O.K. (Bio-Robotic Organism Designed Overwhelmingly For Kissing) appears, kisses Kate (to Johnny’s chagrin) and declares that he will save everyone. Gwenpool appears unimpressed.
I’m going to state this upfront, this review is going to come off as very harsh because this isn’t a bad book, it’s actually a pretty good book but the problem with West Coast Avengers is that it’s not funny. It made me smile but did not make me laugh and that would be fine if it wasn’t trying to be funny on almost every page. To be fair it isn’t annoyingly unfunny but it’s quite clear what the book is trying to do and it doesn’t quite do it. Every element of the book makes it clear that this is supposed to be an action-adventure like Guardians of the Galaxy or Spider-Man Vs Deadpool and the lack of humor undermines that.
You can see what they are going for with the wraparound interview structure of the book, the page full of one-panel interviews, the catch-as-catch-can approach to forming a team and it’s dysfunctional nature. There are a lot of comedic structures, but they’re not funny. Likewise, the dialogue is good, but not funny. The characters are likable, but not funny.
There are also issues with the action in the book. It seems to be secondary to the dialogue. In the land shark section, there is a surprising amount of sitting and talking. There isn’t much of a sense that Kate and Clint are clinging on for their lives. This brings me to another issue, there isn’t a great deal of sustained peril. Whenever there is any immediate danger it is resolved within a panel or two, so you don’t have time to actually invest in it. The “creampuff” arrows are the most obvious example, but there’s also America flying to save Kate straightaway and Clint destroying a falling building (though I still don’t really see how that helped.) The arrows also tie into my final problem with the action, it lacks physicality. Between the two Hawkeyes I think they only fired one arrow with an actual point. I’m not saying there should be gore flying everywhere, that’s clearly not what they are going for, but you can still make action seem like it matters. The one exception, America delivering a cracking shot to Tigra’s jaw, shows what the rest of the book is missing. Again none of this would matter so much if the book was funny.
I should point out that most of these issues are not the artist’s fault. Stefano Caselli’s art is good. I like the way that Quire leans and lies on nothing in the air. The whole Tigra sequence is beautiful and the pastel style is really appropriate for the setting. Props to the color artist, Triona Farrell and while I’m on under-appreciated work Joe Caramagna’s lettering fits the tone of the book too. The land shark attack pages are appropriately crowded and chaotic. I particularly like the details of the shark’s extending jaws.
So to repeat my opening disclaimer, this is not a bad book, really there is only one significant problem with it. Unfortunately, that problem undermines the whole issue. Hopefully, the second issue will be slightly tighter. It is entirely possible that the series may improve dramatically.
A pretty good book that is unfortunately undermined by trying and failing to be funny. Currently difficult to recommend but as the book’s problems are mainly in one area the next issue could be much better. I’ll check it out, I mean, it’s my job, right?
West Coast Avengers #1: Insufficient laughter, that’s grounds for divorce
Writing - 7/107/10
Storyline - 7/107/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 7/107/10
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