West Coast Avengers' initial team. Artists: Al Milgrom and Joe Sinnott.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1984
Creator: Roger Stern
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The Avengers, Marvel Comics' answer to DC's Justice League of America, is probably the biggest, most unwieldy superhero team in comic book history. The only other credible candidate for the …

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… "honor" is The All-Star Squadron — even The Legion of Super Heroes doesn't approach it on those counts. Tho relatively few Avengers are active in any given issue, dozens of Marvel characters have been members at one time or another during its 40+ year history. It wasn't surprising to see it undergo mitosis during the 1980s, with a West Coast branch splitting off from the main body.

The group had just come out of a period in which the U.S. government held it to an active membership limit (and mandated affirmative action, which is how The Falcon had come to be in it for a few months). As a reaction to that (in the stories at least — in the real world, the reason was to expand a popular franchise), The Vision, current chairman, ordained that there be two entirely separate Avengers teams, the other to be located on the opposite side of the continent. The writer who maneuvered the split was Roger Stern, who a few years later created one of the characters named Starman for DC. The new division first appeared in West Coast Avengers #1, dated September, 1984, which kicked off the 4-issue mini-series that served as their test run. The artists on the mini-series were Bob Hall (The Champions) and Brett Breeding (Thor).

Hawkeye, a member since the early days, headed up the West Coast Avengers. He took Wonder Man (another old-timer) and Tigra (a recent addition) with him. He recruited Mockingbird (with whom he was romantically involved) and Iron Man (not the Iron Man, but a newer character using the same technology) as new members. The "Wackos", as he called them (it was his way of pronouncing the initials, WCA) were installed in the Avengers' new West Coast headquarters, The Avengers Compound.

The Compound, purchased from the estate of silent movie star Sylvia Powell, was located along the Pacific Coast, south of Los Angeles. It had everything the parent group's Manhattan mansion had — office space, secure storage, residences for the various members, etc. — and then some. With 15 acres, there was plenty of room to store jet planes, chemical laboratories, space ships, and whatever else a bunch of superheroes would find handy. It also had a four-hole golf course.

The group moved into an ongoing, monthly series with a cover date of October, 1985. There, they started out with scripts by Steve Englehart (Batman) and art by Al Milgrom (Firestorm). Others wrote or drew the series after them, including John Byrne (Alpha Flight), Roy Thomas (The Invaders) and Mark Gruenwald (Squadron Supreme). And, as in the East Coast branch, a lot of members came and went. Mainstream Avengers who were part of the West Coast division at one time or another include The Scarlet Witch, The Vision and The Wasp. Superheroes who drifted in and out from other parts of the Marvel Universe include The Thing (during an absence from The Fantastic Four), Machine Man, Moon Knight and the original Human Torch.

West Coast Avengers was well received by fans — for a time, in fact, it out-sold the original. But it faded some in their estimation after a few years. A minor ploy to boost circulation was to change the name to Avengers West Coast as of the 48th issue (September, 1989), so the two titles would be displayed together in stores that racked their comics alphabetically. But it gradually declined.

Eventually, the title ran completely out of steam. In the final issue (#102, January, 1994), there was an acriminious break up, with the group disbanding and most members quitting The Avengers altogether. Several of them formed a new group, unaffiliated with any other, called Force Works. This team got its own title six months later, but it lasted only 22 issues.


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