Marvel Comics dips into the back issues and creates an entertaining Epic Collection for us that continues the story of the Avengers West Coast. After television shows like WandaVision, I’m sure many fans went back to the source material to see how the stories originally played out; thankfully, with the Epic Collections, you can get quite a set of back issues. I watched the prices of several issues of Avengers West Coast and saw the John Byrne issues rise in value, so this collection is helpful to my frugal collecting needs.
Darker Than Scarlet is volume 5 in the West Coast Epic line, featuring issues #53-#64 and Annual #5 of the series — Avengers #311-#313, material from Avengers Annual #19 and What The –?! #6 are included too. The issues here are from 1989 and take us into 1990, so they will be a bit dated in their style and quips, but the stories inside pack such an emotional punch. Characters like Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, and the original Human Torch seem to be on John Byrne’s radar, and he gives them some challenges. I found myself drawn to Wonder Man’s pain as he dealt with his feelings towards Wanda, the Torch’s dealings with being alive in the “modern” world, and the tidal wave of suck that happened to Wanda.
We are treated to a murderer’s row of creative talents, featuring John Byrne, Paul Ryan, Danny Fingeroth, Gary Hartle, Roy and Dann Thomas, James Fry, Herb Trimpe, Terry Kavanagh, and Dwayne McDuffie. It is great seeing these legends in their early stages and others in the prime of their careers. I appreciated how Byrne and the Thomases handled the group dynamics while building up the drama within. The two sets of writers share a main story that will have you drawn into this collection in issues #57 and #60–#62. Now I will note that there are not always great tradeoffs for the creative, but once they get settled, they rock.
Here they show us how much of Wanda’s soul was being victimized by those seeking opportunity. We see just how much the team and Wanda will have to overcome in this story once the true mastermind, Immortus, shows himself. The reveal was a nice payoff since we saw Immortus in various historical periods and eventually clean up the timeline as a subplot in earlier issues. If you enjoyed Disney+’s Loki, you will enjoy the payout with Immortus being the big bad. This set of issues feels like an excellent idea for what a potential season 2 could look like for either Loki or WandaVision.
What’s most enjoyable about this Epic Collection is that it can entertain a wide variety of fans. Say you are a fan of television shows? Then, you’re in luck because you get treated to many of the characters you’ve seen on those shows, and they get to interact with each other. You’ll get to see another side of rising star Kang as Immortus, and how he interacted with the Time Keepers, while Agatha Harkness and U.S.Agent are there. The battle will feel like an incredible moment when you see these characters gather.
If you’re a comic book fan, this will be a fun trip down memory lane or a deepening experience in your Avengers lore. I started collecting Avengers very seriously when the Heroes Return relaunch happened and was able to watch the team in their prime; the Bendis era was the next major milestone to happen to the team, and I was shocked by the drama and reveals. Now, between collections like this one and Vision Quest, I feel like I can dig deeper and understand why Avengers Disassembled and House of M happened. It adds to my overall experience with the larger Marvel Universe, keeps me entertained, and reminds me why the Avengers are Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
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