REVIEW: West Coast Avengers #1 – “Avengers Don’t Assemble”

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WEST COAST AVENGERS #1
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Penciller: Stefano Caselli
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Price: $4.99

Release Date: 8/22/18

Kate Bishop goes from running a solo private investigation outfit to running a whole new team in West Coast Avengers #1. Can she handle the responsibility? Is the line-up up to par? Let’s read on to find out.

Plot: West Coast Avengers #1 proves Kate’s leadership skills by flashing back to the time she saved California from a frenzy of land sharks, then introduces each team member by showcasing their memorable contributions to this first adventure.

Story: The opening scene of West Coast Avengers #1 already sets the tone for the series, allowing Clint to introduce Kate as the leader of the team and defend her abilities to both the interviews and the skeptics in the audience. This storytelling technique continues throughout the issue, with characters like America Chavez joining in the defense of Kate’s reckless ways. It’s an interesting meta-commentary that reminds readers that Kelly Thompson knows how to poke fun while still remaining steadfast in her artistic vision.

The official formation of the team is equally tongue-in-cheek, with the explicit acknowledgement that the West Coast is vulnerable to villains when 80% of Marvel villains are in New York and the rest are off-planet or “dead.” Then there’s the rundown of interviews searching for the right team, which doesn’t necessarily move the plot along but certainly emphasizes Thompson’s knack for humor and outlines Kate’s own interests. Not to mention how nicely it leads into Gwenpool being hired on the spot, because when your other options are Bread-Boy and Dutch Oven, you take what you can get.

Quentin Quire’s arrival is what changes the game and retroactively explains the on-camera nature of the first issue. It’s a fun little reveal that is certain to provide a decent source of drama in future issues, and in the meantime sets West Coast Avengers apart from the various other team-up books available at the moment. But his caustic personality, which clashes so perfectly with Gwenpool’s own snark, isn’t the only characterization that enriches the story. Johnny AKA Fuse, Kate’s new boyfriend and a welcome holdover from her previous run, is a level-headed and generous man whose relationship with Hawkeye is lovely to witness. There’s no doubt that living together while fighting crime will test this fledgling romance, but I look forward to seeing where it goes.

Finally, Tigra reappears to be the first real obstacle that the team must face – and dealing with her immediately makes the differences among the members clear. This part of the plot felt like it could belong in a separate second issue, but it also provided a gravitas that the first half of the story lacked. Or at least it did until B.R.O.D.O.K. and the final two pages. I’m willing to wait until next month to see what the kissing robot is all about, but it was a less than intriguing way to end the first issue.

Art: Stefano Caselli’s art is a huge asset for West Coast Avengers #1, so hopefully he sticks around for some time. He captures every character’s essence with designs that are both easily recognizable but also add a bit of a twist. More importantly, he deftly handles the density of the action and fills up the background with layers that add to the story without detracting from the events at hand. Unless they’re supposed to distract, such as in the case of Gwenpool and Quentin causing a small explosion during Kate’s interview.

Triona Farrell matches Caselli’s energy quite well when it comes to the coloring for the story. The reds and pinks are apropos for California and help the characters and settings stand out even when the group is just chilling at Kate’s office. Together, the art team have created a unique look that is aesthetically pleasing and fits the sarcastic yet earnest tone of the previous Hawkeye run while still allowing room for the new characters to affect the story in their own ways.

Verdict: West Coast Avengers #1 is a fun and introduction to a team that’s sure to be more than the sum of its parts. With most of the cast getting their moments to shine, it looks like Thompson is ready to let plot and character development go hand in hand as she takes the West Coast Avengers through some growing pains.

Star Rating: 4 out of 5

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