There was a time when the Avengers were too much for just New York, and Hawkeye, taking a cue from the Vision, decided to head west to create a team that would help to expand the idea of the Avengers. Luckily, Marvel has created the Epic Collections, which are great ways to feature a chronological run of your favorite heroes and teams, and Avengers West Coast: Vision Quest is the fourth in the overall run, taking us back to the years 1988-1989. There are a lot of classic moments in this trade and some iconic covers and moments that I’m sure you’ll be seeing in the upcoming Disney+ shows; so if you’re excited for WandaVision or looking to learn more about USAgent then this is a great source.
This collection contains West Coast Avengers #38 – 46 and Annual #3, then we get to experience the rebranding to Avengers West Coast with issues #47 – 52 and Annual #4. There are also a couple of pages from Avengers Spotlight #23 featuring the Vision and an interview with John Bryne from Marvel Age #70.
As you can see, these Epic Collections are quite the bang for your buck. I’ll admit, I did seek this TPB out due to the upcoming WandaVision show as I know the Vision Quest story arc was dealing with a disassembled Vision and how the Scarlet Witch handled that. This is also a great TPB to build on Brian Michael Bendis’ Avengers Disassembled and Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung’s Young Avengers story since we know how involved Scarlet Witch was involved in those situations and characters. Wanda goes through so much heartbreak that even Hal Jordan and Wally West fans would rally to her aid.
The first part of the Epic Collection deals with the fallout from Hawkeye and Mockingbird’s relationship, as Mockingbird killed the Phantom Rider for all the horrendous things he did to her from previous issues and Hawkeye just couldn’t see being a killer. Keep in mind the 616 comic book version of Hawkeye wasn’t a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who became an Avenger, so this is why he has a different moral code, but sadly, in my opinion, it makes him very hardheaded and dense. That was part of ’80s Hawkeye’s charm, though, and luckily, he has grown since then (sort of).
Mockingbird gets to find some closure with the Phantom Rider’s ghost by having a confrontation with him and his ancestor, which was about the only real highlight I could see from first part of the collection. The real action begins when John Bryne takes over.
Bryne comes in swinging when he starts his run in part one of Vision Quest. By the time that story arc is done, you’ll have sadly learned who was behind the dismantling of Vision and see that USAgent is forced onto the team as well. That is the beginning of heartache for Wanda as she learns that part of Vision’s origin was a lie, and even though he is rebuilt you can’t restore the mind/soul he once had. I do enjoy the separation that Vision gets here from Wonder Man and the golden age Human Torch (aka Jim Hammond) as it does make for nice connections, but also makes Vision a stronger character to stand on his own. Another benefit of this was the revival of Jim Hammond, who was a major character for Timely, so it is nice to see him get some respect instead of staying in character limbo.
The pain doesn’t stop there for Wanda, as the next couple of issues deal with the origins of her children, Billy and Tommy, since the big question is how can a woman have children with a synthezoid. While the drama was high and the adventures did move faster, it comes to a quick conclusion. It would’ve been nice to see more of a grounded, “human” level ending instead of rushing onward to the next event. There is gold in this if you are looking to see how Wanda and Vision dealt with his destruction.
One more major thing that was great to finally read: The Great Lakes Avengers! The expansion continues and these new heroes are learning just how much drama comes with being part of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
All in all, this is a lengthily read, especially since comic book writing was way different in that era compared to today’s more decompressed standards and styles. There is a lot of history here and it was exciting to read these adventures as they have grown into the foundation of stories that I love in modern Marvel times. The heroes get some major spotlights and there is drama galore, but that’s what puts their characters to the test and makes us love them even more. So power through the first part, don’t stress the annuals, and enjoy the high stakes as this team bounces from one threat to the next.
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