Avengers West Coast #84

Background

At one point the powers that be decided to create a spin-off Avengers series set in Los Angeles instead of New York. The approach to this series was the same as their east coast counterparts. The only difference is that these stories take place in sunny Los Angeles.

Story 'Along Came A Spider...'

  Avengers West Coast #84
Summary: Spider-Man appears, Origin Spider-Woman, Death-Web
Arc: Part 1 of 'Deathweb' (1-2-3)
Editor: Nel Yomtov
Writer: Roy Thomas
Pencils: David Ross
Inker: Tim Dzon

Century City: Henry Drummond is working late again when the power goes out. He is attacked by an unknown assailant that kills him and webs him to to wall for the security guard to find.

New York: Spider-Man is swinging to a press conference for the New York Globe. They plan to disclose information on a presidential candidate that links him to the mob. Jonah assigned Peter to cover this event. As Peter arrives he wonders which party will be affected the most by this revelation: Democrat, Republican, or the Libertarians. Once inside he meets with another reporter from the Bugle, Walt.

In the green room, the Globe's informant Walt Weston is clutching his documentation and pacing nervously. Mavis Reilly from the Globe watches over him and tries to calm him down. Weston admits that only he and the Globe's lawyer know the secret he plans to reveal. As she turns to open the door, she hears an odd sound. When she turns back around, Weston is gone.

Weston instantly appears on stage. He is disoriented and noticeably missing his papers. While he tries to explain what happened, people notice a mysterious growth on the right side of his neck. He collapses and soon dies, due to the unidentified growth on his neck.

Avengers' compound, Palos Verdes: Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and U.S. Agent have a discussion over Weston's death with a political debate. A radio report announces the death of Henry Drummond. At this point Iron Man and Wonder Man appear and announce that they're going to find out what has happened.

Newport Beach: Julia Carpenter stops by her ex-husband's house to pick up her daughter Rachel while Larry is working today. Larry is the new P.R. manager for the Liberty party and is even less friendly toward his ex-wife than normal. Julia reluctantly does this to avoid losing her visitation rights. I say "reluctantly" because she has to attend an emergency Avengers meeting at the compound as Spider-Woman II.

As they drive to Palos Verdes, Julia tells Rachel how she became Spider-Woman (Rachel already knows of her secret identity and has been asking for her 'origin story'). She explains that her friend Val Cooper visited her while they lived in Denver. She gave her the opportunity to be a well paid guinea pig shortly after she and Larry split. Due to a lab mix-up, she gained most of Spider-Man's powers and the ability to generate psionic webbing. When she returned to Denver, the Beyonder uprooted the city and used as part of his battleworld. She proved her mettle with the other heroes during this time. After some secret government work, she was put under the supervision Mike Clemson, who she does not trust. She was ultimately invited to join the new Avengers branch. But before the Avengers' meeting she has to meet with Clemson.

She arrives at their pre-arranged meeting spot. Clemson freaks out when he sees her daughter in the car. Rachel misinterprets his actions for hostility and runs toward Clemson spouting harmless threats. When Clemson pushes her aside, Julia picks him up and forcefully throws him aside. She had planned to help out with whatever this assignment was, but with after this outburst she tells Clemson she quits. They proceed to the convention center (I thought they were going to the Avengers' compound?) where the other Avengers are gathered. Julia gives Rachel a spare mask to conceal her identity. Rachel wonders aloud if her dad will be able to recognize her since he'll be there as well. Julia is stunned that she overlooked this little fact.

Clemson makes contact with the Conclave, an ultra-secret group that "runs" the country. He reports his failure to recruit Spider-Woman. They are indifferent to that. They are concerned about today's agenda. Clemson reports that the special operative will be contacted.

Julia and "Spider-Girl" meet the Avengers in the convention center. The Avengers are more than a bit shocked that she'd bring her daughter with her on a mission. Julia fires back that she didn't have much of a choice. Rachel stays in a separate room while the Avengers provide security for the Libertarian candidate Michael Galvan. (When were they contacted for this?)

A power outage during Galvan's speech sends the crowd into a panic. The Avengers ensure that Galvan and his group are safe by placing Living Lightning and Spider-Woman II on crowd control while they investigate a mystery figure running around in the dark. They soon discover that the mystery figure is Spider-Man (who purchased a plane ticket to follow up on Weston's death) and the people responsible for the power outage: an armored individual, a scantily dressed woman, and a spider-like creature calling themselves Deathweb.

General Comments

Not to be a jerk, but has Julia ever heard of this concept called day care? Or having a family friend watch your child while you go out and save the world? I'm know that it's expensive but perhaps that option should have been explored or at least mentioned before taking a child along on an Avengers mission.

An emergency Avengers' meeting is nothing new but at least agree on the location. They went from the compound to the convention center without any warning. For the other Avengers, that's not a big deal, but I'm curios how Julia knew where to go. I'm guessing they notified her through her Identicard. In any case it's a mistake that should have been caught.

Another mistake was that Julia was driving on the freeway in costume with her kid. Perhaps most people wouldn't notice anything different about an attractive female in a black and white body suit, but it seems a bit reckless.

Perhaps the most questionable choice is for our heroine to confide to her young child about her life as a super hero.

Overall Rating

2.5 webs. There are several elements to this story that bring the score down.

The use of Rachel as a super hero sounding board is laughable. Her involvement in an Avengers mission in any capacity falls into child endangerment. And you know roughly what's going to happen, right?

The overall story was well done, excluding the elements I have mentioned. The origin sequence was well thought out and fit into existing continuity seamlessly. The creative team did a very good job with the characters they had to work with.

If they had left out the Rachel sub-plot and paid just a bit more attention to the story details, this would have been a great issue.

Footnote

Spider-Woman II made her first appearance in Secret Wars #7. She joined the Avengers West Coast in issue #74 of this series.