Kelly Thompson is one of the rising talents that Marvel has in their stable of writers. Her work on Hawkeye and Rogue & Gambit has shown that she has a strong understanding of how much fun the Marvel Universe can be. To continue her rise Thompson has been given her own Avengers title in the form of the West Coast Avengers. As a series the West Coast Avengers has been a niche title within the Avengers franchise. At this point the Avengers franchise is the hottest it has ever been after the Infinity War movie. Building off that momentum after the franchise has been reset in the comic books thanks in part of Jason Aaron it was not surprising Marvel brought back the West Coast Avengers. Now let’s see if the series can have a hot start with West Coast Avengers #1.
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At Hawkeye Investigations, Clint Barton (Hawkeye) is asked during an interview why he is letting Kate Bishop (Hawkeye) lead the team. Clint questions the interviewer for their lack of knowledge on Kate and begins questioning the interviewer’s own credentials.
Four weeks earlier in Santa Monica Kate is having trouble with an army of land sharks attacking the beach and calls Clint to get her some back-up. As soon as Clint sees what is going on Ms. America (America Chavez) pulls him through portal to get to Kate’s location immediately. Ms America jokes how Kate could’ve just asked to hang out rather than finding trouble to get into.
Back in the present Ms. America is interviewed and calls the person interviewing her an idiot for questioning Kate being the West Coast Avengers leader.
Back in past Clint, Kate and Ms. America lead the Sharks to the ocean. Fuse (Johnny Watts who is also Kate Bishop’s boyfriend) shows up to help out.
In the present when he is interviewed Fuse says he has no doubt about joining the team since his girlfriend is on it. He hears what he just says and tries to rewind the interview a bit.
Back in the past one of the sharks crash through a building. Clint gets off his shark and with Fuse’s help make sure the debris doesn’t fall on anyone.
They then notice that Kate is going into the ocean with the sharks. Clint tells Ms. America to get Kate before she is eaten.
At Hawkeye Investigations, Kate wants to rest but Clint reminds her that the sharks that rampaged on the beach were created by someone and will likely return. Clint then says that Kate is right about no one being in the west coast to help and Kate should create a team to fill that hole since he doesn’t live there. Kate says she has tried calling all the heroes she knows but they are all busy.
Ms. America asks if Kate called Noh-Varr (Marvel Boy). Kate says she is not calling her ex. They then decide to put out a hero wanted flyer to hang in places.
One week later Kate holds interviews but all the people that show up are wannabe heroes and Kate’s friends.
Growing frustrated with all the failed interviews Gwenpool suddenly shows up to see if Kate wants to go get some tacos. Kate asks Gwenpool to join her team of heroes. Gwenpool accepts the offer.
Two weeks later Kate talks about getting a fifth member since Clint is not a full-time member of the team. Gwenpool wonders if they are going to get paid. Kate says they are on their own until they find someone to fund them.
Suddenly Kid Omega (Quentin Quire) walks into Hawkeye Investigations with a video crew. He immediately calls Kate’s team under-powered and offers his services to the team. Kate wonders what is up with the cameras. Kid Omega says that if they play their cards right he can financial back the team. Kate is interested in what Kid Omega is saying.
The day before the interviewing team admits to Kate that Kid Omega has just been living with them when he mentioned filming a team. Kate questions what all the filming will amount to but says this is her last resort so she is fine with it as long as they can be stay being superheroes rather celebrities.
In the background Kid Omega and Gwenpool fight and cause a small explosion much to Kate’s frustration.
In the present Kate is feeling down as no one on the team is getting along and Clint is annoying her by being in and out of the team. Fuse reminds Kate that she’s built something out of nothing and is doing the best she can. Kate kisses Fuse and thanks him for being incredible.
They then suddenly hear Gwenpool and Kid Omega arguing. Kate gets a notification on trouble in Santa Monica and tells the team they need to check things out.
Ms. America portals the team to where the incident is going and they find a giant Tigra on the beach. Kate tells the team that they have to keep Tigra away from the public and give them each an assignment to make sure that does not happen. Kid Omega thinks he should just take care of Tigra but before he does anything Tigra sends him flying with a punch.
In his interview Kid Omega says Tigra was way stronger than he thought and was focused on keeping everyone safe since unlike the X-Men they don’t have powers. They wonder if Kid Omega is an X-Men still but he just ends the interview.
Back at the fight Gwenpool notices Kid Omega about to hit a building so she saves him with creampuff bullet.
In her interview Gwenpool says that working for M.O.D.O.K was better than being on a team with Kid Omega.
Back at the fight Tigra captures Clint and throws a speed boat into the city. Ms. America teleports to where the boat is going and knocks it back before it hits anyone.
Clint tries to reason with Tigra but she just tosses him to the side. Clint is rescued by Kate before he hits the ground.
The team regroups and Kate asks Clint what they should do. Clint thinks that they need to disable Tigra before she reaches the beach and causes greater destruction. Kate tells Kid Omega to shut Tigra down.
Before that happens a random guy shows up and kisses Kate much to everyone’s confusion and Fuse’s anger. The guy then says he is there to save the day and calls himself B.R.O.D.O.K. End of issue.
The Good: West Coast Avengers #1 does exactly what a first issue of a new series must do. From the opening page Kelly Thompson sets the light hearted tone that the West Coast Avengers is going to take. Thompson adds a unique element to this series by adding in the reality TV-style interview. That along with the team chemistry gave this series the hook it needed to grab the reader in its first issue.
Right out of the gate Thompson establishes an element you don’t see in comics often, especially in an Avengers comic, with the intercuts to reality TV-style interview. This is something that made DnA’s run on Guardians of the Galaxy so special as it gives you a better insight in who the characters are. What makes this angle work particularly well is that Thompson is using this in replacement to inner monologue.
In doing this Thompson is able to get to explore the personality in the West Coast Avengers outside of the normal team headquarters and fights. It is especially necessary given that outside of the original Hawkeye, Clint Barton, is the only mainstream character on the team. And with the team filled with big personalities this is a great way to highlight this. Thompson does just that as she brings out what makes Kate Bishop, Gwenpool, Ms. America, Kid Omega and Fuse unique personalities.
This added to the smooth pacing of West Coast Avengers #1. Though the majority of this issue was about assembling the team Thompson did a good job not making this issue just about that. As each member joined the team Thompson gave us a good idea of who each character on the West Coast Avengers is. And in having the team completely assembled before the fight with Tigra we were assured that we don’t need to go through more recruiting.
Adding fun into the pacing of the team building was the few pages of all the joke recruits Kate had to interview. This is a good way to poke fun at how long the process is to make a solid team. A fun segment like this help make this issue maintain the level of fun the permeated throughout West Coast Avengers #1 while doing something you wouldn’t see in the main Avengers comic.
These reality-TV interview segments also proved to be important in establishing Kate Bishop as the leader of the West Coast Avengers. The self-awareness that Thompson employed by having the early interviews questioning Clint, Ms. America and Fuse on Kate being the leader was executed well. It was just enough to not be over-the-top while setting up how one of the sub-plots for the West Coast Avengers is Kate’s growth as a leader.
That is a strong sub-plot to have as the only other title giving this opportunity to a next generation hero is the Champions. With this it gives the opportunity for Kate to grow from just being the second Hawkeye in many fans lives. And as Thompson showed this will also get Kate out of her comfort zone since she has been out on her own the majority of her career, even though she does have all these superhero connections.
Putting Clint in as a part-time member of the West Coast Avengers is the right role for him. This will allow Clint to still mentor Kate in his own, sometimes annoying, way while not having him around all the time so the reader questions why he isn’t the leader. It also gives Clint the chance to interact with other characters outside the normal Avengers and put him in situations were he doesn’t get overshadowed when he does step-up.
As the first issue of a team book Thompson does a solid job establishing what each of the West Coast Avengers brings to the table power wise. Ms. America in particular was a smart addition as she is shown to be the powerhouse of the team. And with that role Ms. America can further develop how her array of powers makes her a badass. The combination of her strength and portal powers especially make her fighting style standout from the normal power-type characters we see on a team.
Speaking of power, Kid Omega is an another interesting addition as a powerhouse for this series. Kid Omega is a character that, as he said, has been established as an Omega-level mutant during his time as an X-Men student. With how half of the team does is powerless Kid Omega offsets this. Thompson is also able to add some layers to Kid Omega as he is the one that will be helping to bank roll the West Coast Avengers. At the same time, seeing as Kid Omega left the X-Men not under the best circumstances Thompson opened the door to give some real character development for him down the line.
With those power characters Thompson added the necessary comedy character in Gwenpool to liven things up. Thompson does a good job portraying her as a Deadpool or Harley Quinn type. Even giving her a unique purple dialogue box painted her as more of the comedic member of the team. And while she brings the comedy we do see how her eccentricities extend to her combat ability like how she used her gun to save Kid Omega. Gwenpool having an existing friendship with Kate also gives the West Coast Avengers leader a different sounding board from Clint, Ms. America and Fuse when needed.
Of the West Coast Avengers the one that didn’t get the most development was Fuse. As the newest character introduced as part of the team there was very little to him outside of being Kate’s boyfriend. That role was fine for West Coast Avengers #1 since he was able to give Kate the necessary pep talk to build her confidence. This was enough to make him at least come off as a likable character. But as this series moves on Fuse will need more character development so he becomes more than just Kate’s boyfriend.
A giant Tigra and an army of land sharks being the first big threats the West Coast Avengers go up against was a good way to get into the big team fights. With both these events happening at the same time it’s clear something is going on for them to happen at the same time. The giant Tigra in particular gave each member of the West Coast Avengers a chance to show of their powers.
Stefano Caselli did a great job bringing out the fun of Thompson’s writing to life with his artwork throughout West Coast Avengers #1. He help keep the issue moving forward as he packed every panel with energy thanks to how he drew the wide array of character reactions. With this issue packed with comedy that was an important thing to have as the facial reactions to things going on made the jokes land. Caselli also turned on his action senses with how he showed off the wide array of abilities from the West Coast Avengers when they fought the giant Tigra.
The Bad: The only thing that did not land as intended was the inclusion of B.R.O.D.O.K. at the end of West Coast Avengers. B.R.O.D.O.K. introduction was came across as a way to random to be a strong hook ending. That is all because as a reader we don’t have a connection to B.R.O.D.O.K. to make you feel this is meaningful way to come back for the next issue. Luckily the rest of West Coast Avengers #1 was strong enough to lift up a weak hook ending.
Overall: West Coast Avengers #1 was an excellent start to the latest member to the Avengers franchise. Kelly Thompson did a great job making every member of the West Coast Avengers likable in their own way. The addition of the reality TV-style interviews gave the story an fun hook that is unique to the West Coast Avengers. Along with Stefano Caselli’s great artwork, West Coast Avengers #1 is a comic I highly recommend picking up if your a Marvel fan.