Marvel continues to roll out a large number of niche titles. West Coast Avengers #1 is yet another niche title looking for an audience. The roster for this title is a collection of some characters who have failed in their own monthly titles and other characters who are C-list characters from other team titles and one brand new character. At first impression, this is a weak roster that is a mix of D-list and C-list characters. Hawkeye, Clint Barton, is the only relatively big name character on this title. There is no doubt that West Coast Avengers #1 is an All New All Different MarvelNOW comic even if those initiatives do not officially exist anymore.
West Coast Avengers is an excellent franchise with a storied history. West Coast Avengers #1 has a daunting task in front it it just based on this franchise’s history. It might have been wiser for Marvel to roll out this roster under a different name. It would have prevented inevitable comparisons.
Kevin has already posted an excellent review for West Coast Avengers #1. However, I figured that since this is a #1 issue of a new title that another take on this title would provide for some good reading. Plus, differing opinions is exactly what the Comic Book Revolution has always been about. Let’s go ahead and hit this review!
Words: Kelly Thompson
Art: Stefano Caselli
Colors: Triona Farrell
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Please see Kevin’s fantastic synopsis of this issue.
The Good: Kelly Thompson does deliver a story that is extremely new reader friendly. The reader does not have to have any knowledge at all of any of these characters in order to completely understand this issue. Everything that the reader knows to enjoy West Coast Avengers #1 is delivered in this issue.
Thompson also presents the reader with a story that is definitely kid friendly. This is a light story that focuses on humor. There is nothing in here that would be inappropriate for a child. Even the fight scenes are sanitized and kid friendly.
Stefano’s Caselli’s artwork is the clear strength of West Coast Avengers #1. Caselli’s artwork is absolutely fantastic. And that is even with the fact that Thompson gives Caselli very little to work with in this issue. Still, Caselli makes the most with what he has to work with. Caselli’s vibrant artwork is able to take Thompson’s shallow story and attempt to give it some depth. Caselli is able to inject plenty of emotion into the story with the wonderful facial expressions of the various characters. Caselli is also able to deliver some dynamic looking action scenes. I also appreciate how when given something other than talking heads to draw that Caselli is able to come up with some creative and interesting panel layouts. Caselli is such a talented artist. it is a shame that Marvel has not placed him on a title more worthy of his skills.
The Bad: Debut issues of new titles have to deliver the mission statement to readers in order to tell them what they can expect to get on the title. The writer also has to quickly sell the reader on this new title and why the reader should purchase it rather than the myriad other super hero titles crowding the shelves. Thompson fails to do any of that.
What is the point of West Coast Avengers? Who knows? Thompson certainly does not tell us. We get the vague impression that this is going to be a “cute” and “funny” indie styled story in terms of dialogue and pacing. Thompson only installs one plot line: Giant Tigra. That is it.
From a technical standpoint, West Coast Avengers #1 is a poorly written issue. the plotting is a chaotic mess. The issue is sloppy and all over the place. Thompson appears to have no point or purpose in mind with this new title. There is certainly no sense of urgency to the start of this new title.
The scene transitions are clunky and poorly delivered. They make the issue a choppy read. The lackadaisical pacing does not help any with a story that is already shallow and lacks any real direction with the plotting.
Thompson kicks off West Coast Avengers #1 with a one page scene of Clint Barton doing an interview with a reality TV crew. It is fully of “witty” indie style banter which means it is pure fluff that wastes an entire page and delivers zero content or substance. What a great way to start a new title.
Let’s address the decision to add a reoccurring “reality TV” aspect to this issue. This is an unwelcome intrusion into the story that does absolutely nothing to advance any of the characters or plot lines. It is pointless and simply hinders the characters and the story that Thompson is trying to tell. This approach also contributes to the feeling that this title is trying way too hard to be trendy to the point where it just comes off as pandering.
We then get an eight page scene dealing with the land sharks. The entire point of this scene is to introduce each member of their team and a general explanation of their powers. It was also designed to get Kate Bishop over as a true leader. This scene was generic. Yes, it did the perfunctory job of introducing each team member and their powers, but it was done on a generic manner that made it feel like Thompson was simply mailing in this scene. This eight page scene was also crammed full of plenty of “witty” banter that any lacked substance at all.
We then get a two page scene of the team back at Hawkeye Investigations. This scene further emphasizes the land sharks as a pointless and meaningless threat, Thompson simply writes them off with a shrug by having Kate believing that leading them back into the water will solve the problem. That the creatures will just go and get lost and not return.
Such a lazy way of handling the land sharks makes them seem even more of a meaningless plot devices designed to create false peril in order to introduce the various members of the team. It also contributes to the growing feeling in the reader that West Coast Avengers #1 lacks any substance or depth at all.
This scene also has the team deciding that they need more members. Of course, this is done in the form of a flyer with paper tabs on it like you would see posted on a bulletin board at a college campus or on a utility pole in a city where people advertise for music lessons or tutors and such. It is supposed to be cute and funny, but at this point we have had so much “cute” and “funny” that it is neither.
This move also serves to make the reader view this team of D-list characters as a simply punchline. That they are such a joke of a team that this is how they would try to go about getting new members. It is counter productive to what Thompson is trying to do with this new team.
Thompson then delivers a four page scene of all the auditions for a spot on the West Coast Avengers roster. This might be the low point of this issue. In this scene, three full pages are nothing but small panels of talking heads. In fact, two of the pages is a double page splash shot of nothing but eighteen small panels of talking heads. Lucky Caselli. This is exactly the type of double page splash shot that every artist dreams of drawing.
Again, Thompson is continuing to be “cute” and “funny.” The problem is that this is all Thompson has been trying to do with this story up to this point. And much of it is not particularly “cute” or “funny” in the first place. And by continuing to give the reader nothing but this “cute” and “funny” material, Thompson has made this entire issue up to this point seem like nothing more than one-dimensional fluff. We are now fifteen pages into the issue and there is no depth, texture, substance or content to West Coast Avengers #1 at all. At this point, the “cute” and “funny” is beginning to simply be annoying.
At this point in the issue, Thompson appears to be completely lost in her own humor to the point that it appears that she has no idea where she wants to go with the story. West Coast Avengers #1 gets very choppy at this moment. We get a two page scene of Quentin joining the team. There is little substance to this scene other than introducing Quentin to reader who have never seen his character before.
We then get a one page scene of Kate talking to the reality TV crew. This is completely pointless scene that does nothing for the story and did not need to be in this issue at all.
Next is a one page scene with Kate and Johnny. Again, another pointless scene that does nothing for the issue. And this is a problem because the reader has already felt like West Coast Avengers #1 is lacking any direction or purpose. This point in the issue simply compounds that problem.
Then we get a one page scene of the “wackiness” that is Gwenpool and Quintin fighting. Again, the reader is left feeling impatient as it seems that Thompson has no idea what she wants to do with the story in this issue. It feels like Thompson is content to just float lazily down the river with no long-term vision or plan for the title.
Thompson then delivers an eight page fight scene with Tigra. Unfortunately, this eight page scene pointlessly burns three pages before kicking the fight off. We get an entire page wasted by just showing the team arriving on the scene and standing there. This is nothing more than blatant decompression.
Then we get a single page splash shot of giant Tigra. This is the page that should have started this scene. The prior page was unnecessary.
Then we get another page of the team just standing there like slack-jawed idiots before deciding to engage the giant Tigra. This all just contributes to the feeling that Thompson is purposely dragging her feet and wasting panel space.
The reader is finally jolted out of the coma that they slipped into twelve pages ago when the fighting begins in the fourth page of this eight page scene.
We then get a two page final scene with B.R.O.D.O.K. appearing. Just when the reader thought this issue could not possibly get any worse…it does. Amazing. At this point, a shallow and meandering issue ends on such an incredibly unintelligent note. The reader feels dumber for having read the issue.
The pacing in West Coast Avengers #1 is terrible. Thompson vacillates from choppy at points to slow as molasses at other points. West Coast Avengers #1 is an issue that meanders and wanders about in no hurry to get to anywhere at all.
Thompson delivers the bare minimum of actual content in West Coast Avengers #1. There is little substance to this story at all. This issue is nothing more than a sugar cookie. There is very little real meat to the story for the reader to actually sink their teeth into and enjoy. West Coast Avengers #1 is largely just fluff that the reader consumes in quick fashion but is left with an empty and unfulfilled feeling.
This entire issue tries way to hard to be too cute and witty to the point that my teeth hurt from all of the sugar falling off this piece of fluff. It is impossible for the reader to take any of the characters seriously or the story itself seriously when the author clearly is not taking anything serious at all. Some humor is a wonderful spice that can enrich the story. However, when all the author uses is “humor” then the end result is a story that is nothing more than a one-dimensional product that rapidly becomes stale and unappealing to the reader.
Thompson’s fight scenes are bland at best. The two fight scenes in this issue lack any real psychology. They do not provide for any real impact on the characters or the story in general. At no point does there feel to be anything of value at peril during these fight scenes.
Thompson’s dialogue is nothing more than “snappy” and “witty” indie dialogue. It is very much like reading a Bendis penned issue where all fo the characters get the exact same external voice. And that is exactly the problem with Thompson’s dialogue. In the end, all fo the characters end up sounding identical to each other.
Thompson also delivers zero character work. Again, when everyone is given the same “witty” indie-styled external voice then all of the characters end up having largely the same personality.
There are some moments when Thompson makes some of the characters stand out from each other. However, Thompson does it by writing the characters as caricatures rather than unique and fully developed original characters.
America is the only character to escape getting the generic “witty” indie-styled voice. Instead, America is written as a surly person. It does not make America a well-developed and engaging character. It is more of a caricature of a surly person. But, at least it is something different. However, the problem is that Thompson ends up making America’s character utterly unlikable, and not in a good way.
Quentin is also written more as a caricature than a truly developed and well crafted character. Much like the rest of the roster, there is zero depth to Quentin’s character. And, of course, Quentin’s external voice is full of that “witty” banter just like everyone else not named America.
Gwenpool is nothing more of a caricature. She is what she is. A poorly executed rip-off of Deadpool. This is not Thompson’s fault. Gwenpool simply will never rise above what she is: an uncreative creation by Marvel’s editorial staff. “Hey, let’s take Deadpool and make him a teen-age girl! Brilliant!”
Then we have Johnny Watts also known as Fuse. Fuse has the powers of Absorbing Man. Hopefully, Fuse can learn how to absorb the personality of a person. Because, at this point, Johnny is generic at best. In fact, calling him generic is being gracious. And Johnny’s look? Dennis Rodman is calling. He wants his look back. And Johnny’s costume? Tyroc had a hard time pulling off the high collar and no sleeves look. And that was back in the 1970’s when you could pull of almost virtually anything.
Getting a brand new character over with readers is a tough task. I get that. But, Johnny is about as lame as they come at the moment. He has a vanilla personality with a stupid look. That is rarely a combination for success.
Kate Bishop is a miss with me. Thompson writes her far too “cute” and “witty” for her own good. Often, Thompson sacrifices Kate’s credibility due to Thompson’s compulsion to make everything so “funny.” The result is that Thompson makes Kate a character who is not taken that seriously by the reader. Kate often seems more incompetent and scatterbrained than she does a compelling and serious character.
Then there is Clint Barton. Poor Hawkeye. He has been reduced to nothing more than a punchline. Thompson writes Clint as a joke who has no gravitas or competence at all. Clint just comes across as a loser moron. It is a shame to see Clint having fallen to such depths. Fans of Hawkeye will want to direct themselves to Old Man Hawkeye for a good Hawkeye story. That title handles Clint’s character with the respect that he deserves.
West Coast Avengers’ roster is nothing more than Marvel’s version of the Island of Misfit Toys. Hawkeye is the only “big” name character in this title. What Marvel has done is take a collection of characters from failed monthly solo titles and cram them on the same team. This approach was a failure for the Champions. And it will be a sales failure for the West Coast Avengers, too.
Kate Bishop, Gwenpool, and America all had their titles cancelled in early 2018. Gwenpool’s final issue was Gwenpool #25 which sold a paltry 16,340 issues. Kate’s final issue was Hawkeye #16 which sold a meager 11,767 units. America’s final issue was America #12 which sold an embarrassing 6,482 units.
Supporting these three characters from failed solo monthly titles is a brand new character in Fuse, and a D-list X-Man in Quintin Quire. That is hardly the recipe for success.
If Marvel wants to get some of these All New All Different characters to succeed then they might want to stop having them cordoned off from the rest of the Marvel Universe in these slum titles like West Coast Avengers and the Champions. Instead, a better approach would be to sprinkle these characters individually about the Marvel Universe. Put one on an X-Men team. Put another one on an Avengers team. Put one on a Defenders team. This way you spread them out and then try to organically work them into the Marvel Universe in a much more natural and pleasing manner.
By shoving all of these failed character onto one title all Marvel is doing is perpetuating their stigma of failed characters drenched in the stench of the All New All Different MarvelNOW failed initiative. I will be surprised if West Coast Avengers is not in the 20K range of unit sales within the first few issues and then down into the teens after that and then cancelled in a year or two.
I am not too sure who is the target audience for this title. West Coast Avengers #1 is not aimed at the under 10-year-old crowd. But, at the same time, this issue comes across as too dumb for the over 16 crowd. So, I guess we are shooting for the 11–15-year-old crowd? But, the content in West Coast Avengers #1 is not the type of story that is going to appeal to that age group at all.
Overall: West Coast Avengers #1 was a disappointing read. Thompson delivers a story that is as shallow and as dumb as they come. There is little depth or substance at all to this story. This title is certainly not worth the insane $5.00 cover price. You get more entertainment lighting your money on fire and watching it burn than you do from reading this comic. If West Coast Avengers #1 was a digital comic that only cost $1.00 then I recommend giving this title a try. But, $5 for this? No way. That is more than half of one month of Netflix.
I would only recommend West Coast Avengers #1 to die-hard fans of the various niche characters on this roster or to die-hard fans of Kelly Thompson. For everyone else? Save your hard-earned money for the myriad of far superior super hero team titles that Marvel and DC are publishing.