Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Kitty Pryde and Lockheed by Ryan Ottley

Friday, March 27, 2015

1983 - Anatomy of a cover - Defenders #117


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

1987: The Whackos' Cross Time Craziness part IV: Mockin' Bird (will let ya fall off a) Hill

By Jef Willemsen (clarmindcontrol.blogspot.com)

When we last left the West Coast Avengers, they seemed destined to remain in ancient Egypt after missing no less than three opportunities to get back to their own time. To make matters worse, in the present Dominus destroyed the Fantastic Four's timeplatform, preventing Hank Pym, Espirita and Moon Knight to travel back. Oh, and Mockingbird was about to do something drastic...

"Vengeance cries the Mockingbird"

West Coast Avengers I#23 marked one of the most controversial decisions writer Steve Englehart made during his tenure on the book. Even though the team was called Avengers, their charter strictly prohibited the heroes from killing. Guess what line Mock was about to cross... But before we get to that, let's review where and when all the other players involved in this transtemporal tragedy are supposed to be. Once more with feeling: "Previously, on West Coast Avengers..." 

"Time has split in seven!"

Luckily, most of those seven time periods are not relevant to the main story. With the Egyptian god Khonshu observing all of time at once, the story continued. Hank Pym, La Espirita and Moon Knight had come to New York to visit the FF in their beat up headquarters. Dominus and his desert troops had disabled the team's time platform but the solution to that particular pickle seemed surprisingly straightforward: "Reed, you're pretty smart, right? Why not repair it?"

"Smushed it maybe, Ben... But it *is* a machine! It can get unsmushed!"

Now, I'm no English major, or even an ensign for that matter, but I'm not sure one can 'smush' machinery. You can smush food, like butter peas in gravy, not to mention the insane amount of smushing that takes place in this video which has Roseanne Barr and the late great Phyllis Diller preparing a spaghetti diner. Check around the one minute mark for a ton of smush. 

At any rate, while Pym and Reed got busy fixing up the time machine... Back in ancient Egypt the West Coast Avengers were surprised to find themselves attacked by the local population. Turns out the royal slaves weren't too pleased by the fact pharaoh Rama Tut's dictatorial reign had ended. Sure, with the pharaoh gone they were now free, but that also meant they had lost *their* slaves as well. Even though Iron Man and Wonder Man could have easily handled the horde, Hawkeye called for a strategic retreat to the temple of Khonshu, much to the vainglorious Wonder Man's chagrin.

Inside the temple, they met with the priests who informed the heroes that, all appearances to the contrary, they'd proven instrumental in overthrowing Rama-Tut. A point Englehart illustrated with a clever bit of continuity based writing...

"Oh, yes, Avenger... You fulfilled your bargain with Khonshu!"

Talk about a practical application of the butterfly effect... By fighting some of the robots who were carrying Doctor Strange to his cell/sarcophagus, the Avengers delayed the mechanical men long enough for Strange to escape in his astral form. Strange was then free to help the FF which he (from our point of view) already did back in 1982's Doctor Strange: Master of the Mystic Arts I#53. Still, that didn't get the heroes one step closer to their own time, no matter what Khonshu had promised Hawkeye. That's why the archer decided he'd better make himself useful while they waited around. He asked the priests for some ivory from which he could craft a few weapons...

"This super-hero business is certainly far removed from the world of Marc Spector, mercenary"

Ah, and this is where Steve Englehart's "wheels within wheels" approach to the Whacko's time travel antics tends to get a bit too cute. Englehart established that Hawkeye was the one who handcrafted the sacred weapons Marc Spector had been using as Moon Knight all this time. While a nice reveal on its own, it got to be a little much if you consider this storyline already featured Hawkeye's message stuck in Bonita's bible, not to mention that arrowhead he dropped in 1776 which happened to prove essential in helping Mockingbird remember who she was in 1876.

Still, the weapons got crafted, in the present the time platform got unsmushed and before too long (again, relatively speaking)....

"Avengers assemble!"

With the Avengers and their newfound allies catching up in the Egypt of old, there was only one member of the Whackos unaccounted for: Mockingbird. After Two-Gun and the Rawhide Kid helped her shake off the influence of the Comanche love potion Phantom Rider had subjected her to, she swore vengeance and went after "the spook" herself. In appropriately dramatic fashion, their final confrontation took place during a freak thunderstorm right near the edge of a cliff. What could possibly go wrong?

"You'll be better dead, my love... Because you'll be a ghost like me!"

Mockingbird continued her fight against the clearly deranged Hamilton Slade. There was no reasoning with the man, who was so deluded he actually believed he was a living ghost. Yet, he proved all too human when Mockingbird aimed her battlestaves at his kneecaps, causing him to tumble over the edge of the cliff. Holding on for dear life, the Rider tried one last time to sweet talk his former victim...

"Woman, you will pull me up! The Phantom Rider commands it!"

Yeah, perhaps that's not the best way to approach someone already furious for turning her into your mindless love slave for heaven knows how long. Mockingbird did nothing when the weight of Hamilton's body caused the soaked cliffside to give way and... well...

"Drop dead!"

A lot has been said about Mockingbird's refusal to help the Phantom Rider. Did she cause his death? Probably. Was it self defense? Maybe. Didn't he have it coming? Possibly. Was it the right thing to do? What am I, a magic 8-ball? Reply hazy, try again... 

Avengers don't kill, that's for sure. But before she became an Avenger, Bobbi Barton-Morse was an agent of SHIELD. She was a scientist, true, but all SHIELD agents are trained in the proper use of lethal force. The fact she was by no means an objective participant in this particular case clouds the issue. There's no doubt she felt personally vindicated by watching her assailant get his comeuppance (by dropping down, ironically enough)... Yet she still attended the funeral the Comanche Indians held for their fallen champion. During the ceremony, she was reunited with some very welcome, familiar old faces.

"The Bird! Clint! Everybody!"

In another fine example of Englehart's realistic scripting, Hawkeye called his wife "the bird!". Sure, it's an endearing take on her codename and yes, only in Great Britain is "bird" slang for either "hot girl" or giving someone the finger... but it's hardly romantic. Semantics aside, the two lovers reunited, but instead of coming clean about her involvement in the Phantom Rider's death she kept quiet. 

"How are ya, honey? Did the Ghost Rider hurt ya? It took us a while to track ya! Two-Gun told me how he drugged ya! Where is that banana slug?"

Oh goodie, more natural dialogue.

It is a little difficult to confess a murder with your husband's tongue in your mouth...And having him call your rapist a, erm... "banana slug" of all things doesn't exactly help either. So, Mockingbird merely claimed he killed himself. Which isn't a lie per se, merely the kind of stretch that would give Mr. Fantastic muscle spams. While it's true that the Phantom Rider would probably still be alive if he hadn't kidnapped her, she still could have saved him. Only she didn't. 

With the Avengers once again fully assembled, the heroes headed back to the present to finally deal with Dominus. The villain had been busy in his hollowed out butte, filled to the brim with alien technology. Moments before the unexpected happened in West Coast Avengers I#24, he was explaining his master plan to Sunstroke, the one human operative in his employ.

"It is a complex process! It takes years! But when completed, the machine's ray deadens natives' wills, turning them to mindless slaves!"

Sheesh, who knew Dominus was behind Candy Crush? All kidding and poor attempts at topical humor aside, he was a member of conquering alien race called the Arcane who were ready to claim Earth using their so-called master machine. The device was nearing completion, and while Dominus gloated that not even a single superhero was aware of his plans an alarm sounded.

"Oh, my master!"

That's right, the Dominus we've been seeing during these reviews wasn't the real villain. He's merely a stooge mentally controlled by the sentient mechanical complex running the base. The power behind the throne is, well, the throne itself. But even though its host freaked out because the Avengers showed up at the front door, the Arcane computer mind simply ordered Sunstroke to take a few men to deal with the situation.

"Oh, you eight can have some payoff, Avengers... The fifty of us will be glad to close your account!"

We're in the home stretch, so let's ignore Sunstroke's corny comeback, even though it reads like something straight out of a 1966 Batman script. What Cactus, Butte and Gila lacked in skill, power or flair they made up for in sheer size of numbers. During the fight, the individual heroes took the time to reflect on what they'd been through in the past several days. Hawkeye remained blissfully oblivious to the fact Mockingbird was in severe emotional distress....

"I've never let myself down! No matter what anyone does to me..."

While Mockingbird was working through some of her anger and frustration by hacking apart Dominus poor, underachieving underlings... Moon Knight and La Espirita also made a mark for themselves, with Bonita taking on the heat generating Sunstroke and Marc Spector openly considering joining the Avengers. In the end, even 50+ mutated desert creatures couldn't stop eight p.o.'ed superheroes. They breached Dominus' base where they were subjected to one final, ever so nasty surprise... the Arcane's computer complex was ready for them. And then some.

"The sensors on my mechanized form show all eight of your minds... Are mine!"

What is this, a Chris Claremont comic? By simply flicking a switch, Dominus took over the minds of all the heroes, effectively ending their threat. All, except for Moon Knight who appeared to be impervious and struck Dominus when the villain briefly had his back turned. But hey, if at first you don't succeed... try, try again!

"Sorry! Your blasts don't mean squat to me, purple-puss!"

Failing to restrain a glorified acrobat whose only weapons are 2000+ years old and made of ivory was enough to make the advanced alien computer mind freak out. Faster than one could yell "abandon ship", Dominus launched its main computer core, including the nearly completed Master Machine into space. With the Avengers freed, Hawkeye ordered Wonder Man, Iron Man and La Espirita to chase the ship shaped like erm, like a... giant, purple erm. Well, we all know what it looks like, eh?

Unfortunately, Wonder Man's jet pack gave out as soon as they reach the outer edges of the atmosphere, proving you can't break the laws of thermodynamics no matter how big a wind bag you are. Not wanting to risk their theoretically indestructible teammate getting hurt, Iron Man and La Espirita broke off pursuit to catch him. As was to be expected, the smug and arrogant Simon was appropriately grateful...

"Here you go, Wonder Bread... Consider it my gift to the moviegoers of the world!"

In the closing pages of West Coast Avengers I#24 we learned that this latest perceived insult to his greatness was enough for Wonder Man to announce his retirement from the team altogether. We also discovered how Moon Knight was able to shake off Dominus' mental paralysis: Marc Spector was incapacitated along with the other heroes, but his split personalities were unaffected. Millionaire playboy Steven Grant took over, only to fall prey to Dominus' second blast. That left tough talking New York cabbie Jake Lockley to act. One more blast would have done it, but by then Dominus had already ran off. 

And so ended the West Coast Avengers' whackiest temporal adventure ever. Despite his sometimes dated scripting, even for 1987, Steve Englehart delivered a truly impressive piece of writing. The various elements came together naturally and functioned as a well oiled machine. Plot points crossed over neatly and threads from as far back as #6 were woven in to tell a rich tale that also set up future storylines. 

To readers in 1987, the end of Lost In Space Time must have felt like a completely new beginning for the Avengers West. Not only was Wonder Man as good as gone, Hank Pym had succesfully reinvented himself as the scientific adventurer and there were even two new Avengers: the mysterious Moon Knight and Bonita Juarez, who indirectly started the entire adventure back in #17. 

Unfortunately, nothing much came of it. Bonita never officially joined, prefering to continue her work as a Christian social worker in New Mexico. Wonder Man returned to the fold with his proverbial tail tucked between his legs in #25. He almost died fighting the Abomination at the Tonight Show studios following an appearance with Johnny Carson, but his Hollywood buddies merely thought it was a cheap publicity stunt. In a true After School Special-moment, Williams realized the Avengers were his real friends.

Moon Knight's tenure with the team was equally brief and uneventful. Apart from almost being kicked out when he went after Cornelius "Taurus" van Lunt on his own to make the crimeboss pay for breaking a promise he swore on the Moon, Marc Spector played no significant part. After a four part Zodiac storyline a few forgettable fill ins followed. Then the Wasp of all people joined while the Phantom Rider returned from the dead to tell Hawkeye that Mockingbird had let him die.

Instead of backing up his wife or even being remotely sympathetic to the fact she was the one who had been kidnapped, drugged and raped, the archer gave her hell. This conflic led to the end of Clint and Bobbi's marriage and caused a schism within the team, with all the Avengers taking sides on the issue. Tigra and Moon Knight supported Mockingbird and went with her when she left the group.

What followed was even worse. Shoddy, haphazard and thoroughly unpleasant issues marked the title's plodding march towards #42 when John Byrne would take over and changed everything. Before he left, Englehart had added Vision and the Scarlet Witch to the mix and... wouldntcha know it, even Mantis suddenly put in an appearance or two. Because, hey, why not?

Allegedly, Tom DeFalco wasn't too pleased with Englehart's insistence to include Mantis. As Marvel's newest editor in chief (he succeeded Jim Shooter in late 87), he made an executive decision to keep Mantis' involvement in the ongoing storylines to a bare minimum... Even actively altering already completed stories, like these scenes from West Coast Avengers Annual I#3. In the middle of 1988's Evolutionary War crossover, Mantis had plenty to say. Or did she?

Fun and games... Englehart dutifully served out his tenure on the book, in spite of the editorial edicts. In the end, Steve would simply move his planned Mantis/Cotati storyline over to Fantastic Four, where the FF offered Mantis the help she hoped the WCA would give her.

With Byrne at the helm, the West Coast Avengers became Avengers West Coast. This, according to Byrne's byzantine logic, was necessary to emphasize the fact the heroes are defined by being Avengers, not that they happened to be in California. Byrne's Avengers West Coast is often praised and lauded, though mostly for the art. It had very little to do with the heroes who once lived at the Palos Verdes compound.

The real West Coast Avengers, marked by their sly sense of whimsy and cavalier approach to superheroics, perished shortly after Lost In Space Time. The book lost its innocence after Mockingbird's rape and never recovered from the gloomy, dark clouds that started to gather when Bobbi didn't immediately tell her husband what had happened to her.

... If only we could go back in time to change it. 

1983 - Daredevil House Ad

Sunday, March 22, 2015

1987: The Whackos' Cross Time Craziness part III: Khonshu Forget About Me?

By Jef Willemsen (clarmindcontrol.blogspot.com)

When we last left the West Coast Avengers, they were actually in the Far East... Ancient Egypt, to be precise in a desperate attempt to get Rama Tut to repair their damaged time platform. Instead, the heroes were shot by the evil pharaoh the minute they arrived. And even worse: back in the present, no one even had the slightest clue something was wrong.

Your name is Dominus, you're an alien with a purple turnip for a hat who is ready to take over the world. You're all set to launch your masterplan and have already successfully rid yourself of the West Coast Avengers by sending them into the past with no obvious way of ever coming back.

Yet, you remain uncomfortable sitting in your hollowed out butte in the Arizona desert...

"Is there any loose end? Anything I've overlooked? That I need to rectify?"

The answer to that sort of speaks for itself. But for now, let's get back to the stars of the book... the Avengers West, sent down time's stream without a paddle on a defective time platform. They're stuck around 2900 before Christ but they're by no means alone...

"Ancient Egypt rocks with Doctor Strange and the Fantastic Four!"

Who knew Rama Tut's reign would prove to be one of the most popular hot spots for 20th century superheroes? But as always, we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves. The West Coast Avengers might be stuck in 2900 B.C,. but the Lost In Space-Time arc revolved around a lot of players in multiple time periods. So, time for ye olde, obligatory "Previously, on West Coast Avengers..."

"Time has split in five!"

The recap page really is helpful to keep track of the myriad threads writer Steve Englehart was trying to pull together. Not only were the Avengers stuck in ancient Egypt, the mind controlled Mockingbird was still madly in love with the Phantom Rider in 1876. And while Hank Pym and Bonita Juarez were busy welding something in 1987, her family bible was making its way into her hands through the ages. 

Starting with the Avengers: after Rama-Tut shot them with his futuristic weaponry, they were forced to lie in the sands and hear him monologize. Though paralyzed, they were still thinking up a storm, which meant it was time for some classic Englehart exposition....

"My power's gone! Can't move a muscle! It's like... when I was dead! But there's no panic any more!                         I've made it, all the way back from the darkness! Even now I'm a star!" 

...Riiight, Wonder Man. With an ego like that, comparing yourself to a giant, exploding ball of gas is only fitting. Still, as clunky as Steve's scripting is, it does tell you everything you need to know about the team, plus a little something about their personalities and individual plights. Thought balloons are a thing of the past in today's comics. And while their absence does add realism, having them can sometimes be beneficial to both the story and any new readers out there eager to play catch up. As former Marvel editor in chief Jim Shooter was fond of saying: every comic is someone's first.

In Englehart's defense: the reason his scripts tend to be so exposition heavy might be related to a policy initiated by Shooter during his reign. To make the comics as accessible as possible, writers were "(t)asked" to include all the characters names, codenames and powers. Such an edict spells certain death for organic scripting, because no one outside an Alzheimer's ward repeats facts about themselves everyone already knows. Check out some of John Byrne's early Fantastic Four issues for some prime examples. They littered with mentions like "Sue, darling", "my brother Johnny" or Ben Grimm explaining for the umpteenth time Alicia Masters is blind, his girlfriend and a sculptress...

Content with having defeated his enemies, Rama Tut ordered his underlings to drag the Avengers away. They decided to take them to the temple of Khonshu, Egyptian god of the moon. After Rama Tut took over the country ten years ago, he abolished all other religions though a small sect of priests remained loyal to their gods. They took care of the Avengers, but the already ailing Hawkeye pretty much died there, lying in the deity's temple. 

Clint's demise didn't go unnoticed. Not even back in 1876...

"All of a sudden I felt a chill... As if everything I loved in the world has died".

Somehow, the death of her husband nearly 3000 years ago gave the addled Mockingbird a sudden jolt. She took Phantom Rider's horse and took off, desperate to clear her mind. This scene was witnessed by Two-Gun Kid and Rawhide Kid who were still on the Phantom Rider's trail after he'd kidnapped Bobbi. Two-Gun decided the best way to shock her back to her senses was by confronting her dressed as Hawkeye. Quickly crafting a makeshift version of the archer's costume, he approached her and, following a brief altercation, her memory was restored.

"The Spook-Man hit me, and he gave me some drug and made me love him!
I'll KILL him!!"

A seething Mockingbird joined the two gunslingers and prepared to get her pound of flesh. But her revenge will have to wait for the next entry. Let's visit the Avengers in Egypt again where we find out Hawkeye might not be quite so dead after all. He was saved by Khonshu, a god with a fondness for reviving down on their luck heroic types, just ask Marc Spector. Hawkeye had a heart-to-heart with him and surprised the Egyptian god with his moxie: Clint actually wanted him to send the Avengers home. 

Unfortunately, the answer was no-Konshu.

"Send a subtle message to friends of ours in the future..."

Hawkeye was returned to life, his health fully restored and ready to lead once more. The Avengers decided that if Rama Tut wouldn't help them, they'd simply raid his pyramid which was filled with all the futuristic technology needed to fix the time platform themselves. Hawkeye didn't give Khonshu's promise too much thought, but the god of the Moon kept his word.

"1987, New York City..."

Khonshu's modern era avatar Moon Knight received his god's message and made preparations to travel to California to warn the Avengers. Just why Marc Spector didn't simply contact the East Coast Avengers, he was in New York after all, is a mystery for the ages. It would have prevented a lot of confusion by the time he got to the West Coast Avengers' Palos Verdes compound. But more on that later... The Avengers had just gained access to the pharaoh's main pyramid using a secret underground passageway the priests of Khonshu pointed out. Once inside, they quickly realized they weren't the only superheroes who happened to be visiting Rama Tut's Egypt.

"Hey Whackos, it's the FF! They must have gotten my message from Bonita!"

Not exactly, this is actually yesteryear's FF, from a time not too long after the team's founding. They had used Doctor Doom's time platform to travel to Egypt in order to look for a cure to Alicia Masters' blindness. They were prisoners of Rama Tut before too long, with the pharaoh deciding to turn the male members into his slaves while planning to marry the Invisible Girl. But, the WCA ran into yet another old, familiar face they'd encountered once before during their current time travel crisis.

"It's Doctor Strange! If we rescue him, he can get us home with a coupla spells or somethin'...                                                                        Avengers assemble!"

Yeah, Doctor Strange also happened to be in Egypt in an ongoing time travel tale written by Roger Stern back in 1982. The Doctor was moving through time to chase a soul shard belonging to his ladyfriend Morgana Blessing. The shard kept manifesting in Morgana's past incarnations, and by the time Strange reached ancient Egypt "Morgana"was a mere handmaiden in service to the pharaoh. But before he could locate her, Strange was attacked and kidnapped by Rama Tut's robots and brought to the main pyramid.

In a rather clever bit of retroactive storytelling, the WCA attempted to rescue Strange only to barely miss the mage no less than two times.

                           "I must locate Morgana Blessing's past life and turn back her soul-shard!"

It wasn't all for nothing, Wonder Man got a much needed attitude adjustment when he failed to open the coffin Rama Tut's robots had put Strange in. Focussing their efforts on getting to Rama Tut and forcing the pharaoh to help them, they were stunned to find out the FF (thanks to some unseen help from Dr. Strange), had all but brought down the mad man's reign. Rama Tut decided to flee back to the future he came from while the Whackos could do nothing but watch.

"He can't escape! He's our main chance to get home!"

But escape he did... And while Tigra was right when she said both the FF and Strange were still left as viable options to return to their own time, the fickle finger of faith was giving them the middle one on both options. Not too surprisingly, after all having the West Coast Avengers interact with either the Fantastic Four or the sorceror supreme would have upset established continuity. That's why, to no one's surprise but the Whackos, this happened...

"They're already using their time machine!"

And with that, the West Coast Avengers watched their final chance of getting home the easy way slip through their fingers. Understandably frustrated and desperate, all they had to rely on now was the message to Bonita Juarez written by Hawkeye back in 1776, a message that Carlotta Valdez promised to keep safe inside her family bible. But, as the recap page of West Coast Avengers I#21 showed, Valdez died later that year. The padre she served with took her bible back to Mexico with him where he used it every single day of his life. After his death, the good book became the principle bible of a mission post in Ciudad, Corazon.

In 1847, a young girl called Isabel Ramirez was visiting the mission her family helped found. Ignoring the pious priest who ordered her not to touch the good book, deeming it too holy for peasant hands, she picked it up and almost immediately discovered a by now familiar message...

"A note... in English?"

Isabel was then hit with a sudden (perhaps Konshu khaused) flash of divine inspiration. She felt it was important for her to have the bible and proceeded to steal it. To make sure the theft couldn't be traced back to her, Isabel hid the bible inside an old tree near a remote cliff. There, the book remained undisturbed for seven decades until the now elderly Isabel returned to the site with her own grand daughter Chita and her young friend Benito Juarez.

While Isabel showed Chita the bible and its hidden message for the future, the clumsy Benito almost fell off the cliff. Isabel managed to save the boy, but the effort caused her to have a fatal heart attack. Though disturbed by her nana's passing, the future missus Chita Juarez made a vow.

"Oh Benito... She'll be my inspiration for the rest of my life!
And there won't be one day when I don't read her Holy Bible!"

Way to drive that particular storypoint home, little girl... And yes, that is the way all preteens spoke around 1915, especially with their grandmother's corpse developing rigor mortis next to them... Another example of Englehart's extremely au naturel scripting. But, that explains how the bible came into possession of the Juarez family, passing on from Chita to her child and finally to Bonita Juarez in the present day.

Bonita who, as La Espirita, had prevented Avengers founding member Hank Pym from committing suicide. So convinced every human life had value, she personally guided Hank's to give his life new meaning, which eventually led him to realize he didn't need to hide behind a codename or a costume to be an adventurer. Simply being himself was all it took...

                  "From this day forward, as an adventurer or an everyday guy, I am... Doctor Pym!"

Truth be told, it's an interesting take on the basic concept of the Hank Pym character. More than any other Avenger, he was always defined by the emotional problems of the man behind the mask, never comfortable with whatever costumed identity he adopted.

As Ant-Man he felt inferior compared to the other, more formidable Avengers. When he was the far more formidable Giant-Man, he still found himself unable to effectively contribute to the team and as Goliath he developed the size-increase related illnesses that forced him to quit growing to giant size altogether. While in his Yellowjacket persona, he suffered a number of mental breakdowns, which would explain his reluctance to return to that particular alter ego... It'd be for the best if he was just himself: Doctor Pym, master of robotics and the size-altering Pym particle, which he used to carry around a vast array of miniaturized weapons, tools and other gadgets he could call up at a moment's notice.

All in all, not a bad power set to have. Add to that the fact he'd fallen for Bonita during their shared journey of self discovery and Hank was ready to take on the world. His first challenger turned out to be Moon Knight, who had infiltrated the West Coast Avengers Compound to deliver Khonshu's message. But, as always, an obligatory fight scene was required...

"I'm not a failed hero any longer.... I'm Dr. Pym... the scientific adventurer!"

That's all well and good, Hank... but just how much of a hero, let alone a rational, empirical scientist, are you when you ignore your perceived opponents' pleas he isn't looking for a fight? Moon Knight just wanted to talk and you attacked him anyway. That doesn't make you either a hero or an adventurer and least of all a scientist acting solely on verifiable facts. No, it makes you a bully, plain and simple.

Luckily, despite the fact he was dressed remarkably similar to Sylvester McCoy, the seventh Doctor Who, he was still no match for the fist of Khonshu.

                                                                  "Then study this now!"

At last, the message gets delivered... Though it is somewhat telling that a supposedly devout Christian like Bonita never even noticed a piece of ink stained petticoat stuck inside her family bible... A piece of cloth with her name on it, something all her ancestors all felt was an important message intended for the future? Still, let's ignore this semi-obvious loophole and see if the Fantastic Four can help save the West Coast Avengers. Hank and Bonita call the Richardses at Four Freedoms Plaza only to find out Dominus had thought of everything after all...

"A man calling himself Dominus and a group of mutated desert creatures just broke into our headquarters. Their object, apparently, was to destroy our time machine... And they did!"

How's that for a call back? Dominus finally figured out that he wasn't the only one in possession of Doctor Doom's time travel technology. Aided by his mutated desert creatures, he invaded the headquarters of the Fantastic Four behind the scenes and disabled the heroes' final option to return from yesteryear.

Next time, we'll cover the way the heroes got home (as if it was ever in any doubt), plus the final fate of the Phantom Rider in an entry we just had to call Mockin' Bird (will let ya fall of a) Hill)*

*(with sincerest apologies to Patti Page


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