There’s a certain attitude in how Kelly Thompson writes her characters that’s addictive. We saw it with Hawkeye, and it continues on in West Coast Avengers. We here at AiPT! loved volume 1, and the second and final volume entitled “City of Evils” is out today in comic shops. Let’s explore this incredibly unique superhero team.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Marvel Boy is back, and the timing couldn’t be worse for Kate Bishop. Her relationship with Fuse is looking shaky, and the last thing she wants is her very hot ex hanging around! Not to mention Kate’s former Young Avengers teammate has brought a mountain of trouble to the West Coast! Can Kate clean up after Noh-Varr while keeping him far away from her love life? Read on, True Believers!
Why does this matter?
This is an interesting team of mostly low-level powered heroes (America is their heavy) who take on a variety of villains in this collection. It opens with the heroes fighting a guy called Gridlock, dives into a kidnapping caper involving Madame Masque M.O.D.O.K and others, and finishes off with a vampire cult. This book has variety when it comes to villains, which match up well with the variety of heroes on this team.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
There are two elements that really make this collection sing, and both involve character — which Thompson nails in spades. The first is how the characters are being filmed for a reality TV show, which is hilariously brought up on the first page thanks to Captain America not being too cool with the idea given how Civil War started. The interview portion of all reality TV shows is used here to allow characters to speak candidly to the reader, further embroiling you in the drama between them. The second element is the many different dynamics in play with these characters. Like any group of friends some folks like each other more than others, romantic relationships get in the way of productivity, and dealing with people’s baggage is very common. This is a family and you get that vibe from the very start.
Standout elements of this story arc involve Gwenpool and Quentin Quire’s relationship, Hawkeye learning truths about her mom, and the origin/creation of a brand new hero related to Johnny Watts aka Fuse. I’ve always liked Gwenpool’s schtick, but here it works even better due to her inability to break the fourth wall with ease. Her relationship with Quire, an unlikely thing to say the least, is fun and actually works. Thompson does a fantastic job making these two believable with their sniping at each other and teasing nature. Learning new details about Hawkeye’s mom is interesting since it makes this book feel like an extension of her solo series. Then you have Fuse’s sister, who comes into her own by the end of the book. Her relationship with America is believable too, and you get the sense Thompson was laying down bones so as to write this series for many more issues to come. It’s a bummer it ends where it does.
The art has a bouncy, cartoony feel, which helps sell the humor and sometimes outlandish elements (like a shark-dog pet!). Art is shared between Daniele Di Nicuolo, Gang Yuk Lim, and Moy R. with colors by Triona Farrell and Gang Hyuk Lim. Being a character-focused drama, it’s all about the emotions and dialogue, which all pass with flying colors. There are some serious standout moments due to the expressions working so well with the dialogue to hammer home the dramatic nature of characters.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
The villains tend to be cliched and boring when it comes to plans in this series. They’re colorful, cartoonish even, which is probably the point, but you have to roll your eyes when you get another, “Don’t kill them or the more powerful heroes will show up” plans take place.
The dialogue can sometimes drag things down a bit when all you want to do is get into the action. It happens rarely, but near the end there’s a moment or two where characters stand around talking and doing nothing but talking it can get a tad boring.
Is it good?
I had a blast with this series and it’s sad to see it go. Kelly Thompson clearly has a great talent for character writing and team books. Give her Avengers or something as important and you won’t be disappointed, Marvel!
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