Avengers West Coast #100

Issue Date: 
November 1993
Story Title: 
Soul Gauntlet (1st story) <br> Boys will be Boys (3rd story)

First story: Roy Thomas (writer), Dave Ross (penciler), Tim Dzon (inker), Steve Dutro (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist)
Third story: Jim Novak (writer), Tom Tenney (penciler), Avon (inker), John Costanza (letterer), Ariane (colorist)

John Lewandowski (assistant editor) Nel Yomtov (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

(First story)
To rescue Mockingbird, the Avengers West Coast are transported through the realms of Hell by the Scarlet Witch, but after losing Agatha Harkness’s spell book, the Scarlet Witch isn’t sure they can get home, when suddenly, Mephisto appears, revealing that the Lethal Legion Satannish uses was stolen from his realm. Mephisto offers to help the Avengers West, provided they help him in return by weakening the barrier to Satannish’s realm so that he can enter. The Scarlet Witch is against the idea, but Hawkeye, concerned for his wife, is open to it, but the Scarlet Witch casts a spell enabling them to enter Satannish’s realm without the help of Mephisto. There, they find a type of labyrinth, and Mockingbird trapped in the Pillar of Despair. War Machine begins reconnaissance, but is soon taken down by the Hangman and his Lethal Legion. USAgent is the next to fall, crushed by some rocks, he joins the others in the Pillar of Despair. Spider-Woman, separated from Hawkeye and the Scarlet Witch, puts up a good fight, before eventually getting captured herself. The Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye are then surrounded by the Lethal Legion and Satannish, when suddenly, Mephisto emerges from where he had hidden himself inside Hawkeye. Mephisto imprisons the Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye and engages Satannish in battle, as he wants the Lethal Legion returned to his realm. During the battle, Spider-Woman casts a psi-web around the demons’ feet, causing both of the massive demons to stumble and fall into the Pillar of Despair, setting the Avengers West free. Hawkeye and Mockingbird reunite, while everyone battles the Legion - whom are soon returned to their human forms, while the Scarlet Witch is concerned about the eldritch energies from the demons’ battle spilling over into Earth, she casts an aperture which begins to merge the realms of Mephisto and Satannish into one. Mephisto is not happy with this, and the demons begin stretching the souls of the Legion, claiming them for themselves, they are soon destroyed. Satannish has had enough of the Avengers and tells them to get out of his realm, that he doesn’t care if Mephisto gets them. The Scarlet Witch begins transporting her friends back to Earth after recovering Agatha’s book, but Mephisto attacks them on the way. The team all make it back to Palos Verdes through the aperture, except for the Scarlet Witch, who is stuck battling Mephisto. Mockingbird and Hawkeye go back to rescue her, but Mephisto unleashes brimstone balls upon them - one of which almost hits Hawkeye - until Mockingbird leaps in front of him to protect him, Mockingbird dies moments later in Hawkeye’s arms. A few days later, her funeral is held, and Hawkeye expresses his sorrow at losing his wife.

(Third story)
USAgent has a nightmare about his parent’s death, in which he murdered them. Feeling responsible for their death still, he takes some leave and returns to Custer’s Grove, visiting his old home, he then goes to his parents’ graves, only to discover that the cemetery is being used as a party ground by some punks. The punks mouth-off at USAgent, who tracks them down to town, and learns that they do this often, terrorising innocents and causing trouble. USAgent tracks them back to the cemetery where they are about to begin their party, and teaches them a lesson about respecting their elders, before thinking about what his parents have taught him, and deciding that perhaps it is time he stopped blaming himself for their deaths and grew up too.

Full Summary: 

(1st story)
Palos Verdes Hills, where Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the mighty Scarlet Witch, leader of the Avengers West Coast, chants in a language heard by few and understood by less, including her teammate, John Walker a.k.a. the USAgent who asks what Wanda is spouting, remarking that it sounds half-Latin and half-something else. Julia “Spider-Woman” Carpenter tells her friend to be quiet, otherwise he will break Wanda’s concentration. Johnny ignores Julia, before pointing out that Wanda has whipped up some windstorm, and remarks that whatever she is saying, it must be working.

‘For God’s sake, Agent - SHUT-UP!’ shouts Clint “Hawkeye” Barton, declaring that the life of his wife, Bobbi - Mockingbird - is hanging in the balance. ‘I love her - and Satannish has got her!’ Clint exclaims, before alerting everyone to the book, which has suddenly flown out of Wanda’s grasp. ‘That’ can’t be in the script!’ Clint mutters, to which James “Rhodey” Rhodes a.k.a. War Machine declares that from here on it, it looks as if they will have to make it up as they go along.

But the heroes suddenly find themselves in a glowing green ball to contain the book, which Wanda then grabs, blackness surrounds them, and Julia points out that the blackness looks subtly different from the route they took before, and suggests that perhaps they are doing what Wanda wanted to do - get to Satannish’s dimension by a less direct path. Wanda replies that she thinks they are, but motions to the spell book she had on loan from Agatha Harkness, which floats out of the bubble, and remarks that without it, she has no idea as to whether they can get back to Earth again.

Suddenly, ‘That, my dear Scarlet Witch - should be the very least of your concerns!’ exclaims a horrid voice. ‘Uh-oh’ remarks Walker, ‘MEPHISTO!’ cries the Scarlet Witch as the Devil himself appears before the heroes. ‘Merely passing through are we, on the way to Satannish’s back door?’ Mephisto asks. ‘Maybe we could’ve picked a better detour?’ War Machine remarks, while Wanda asks the demon-lord to let them by, as this has nothing to do with him. ‘Au contraire - it has everything to do with me!’ Mephisto replies, asking the heroes from whose realm they think Satannish stole the four souls he turned into the new Lethal Legion?

Wanda asks if Himmler, Stalin, Borgia and Borden were all souls that Mephisto had gathered, to which Mephisto replies ‘Real prizes, I’m sure you’ll agree - the crème de la crème of historic villainy!’. Mephisto declares that he wants them back and that he wants to teach Satannish a lesson in the process. Mephisto informs the Avengers West that they may pass, provided they swear that, once in Satannish’s domain, they will weaken the barrier from that side so he can enter the realm also. ‘WHAT? We can’t!’ exclaims the Scarlet Witch.

Mephisto, towering above the heroes, peers down at Hawkeye, ‘What about you, Archer?’ he asks, while Clint aims his arrow right between the Devil’s eyes. ‘Do you want your mate’s life - perhaps even her soul - to be forfeit just to save Satannish’s ruddy hide?’ Mephisto asks. ‘I…’ Hawkeye begins. ‘Think long Hawkeye - and hard’ Mephisto replies. ‘What do you care what happens to a demon?’ Mephisto remarks. ‘When Mockingbird is at stake?’. Before Hawkeye gets to answer though, the Scarlet Witch begins speaking in a language unknown to her friends once more, and raising her hands, she casts a spell. ‘Wanda? What in the -?’ Hawkeye asks, before Wanda says a word the others do know - ‘SATANNISH!’ she cries loudly, before they all vanish.

As the heroes fall through the realms of Hell, the Scarlet Witch explains that she couldn’t risk Hawkeye being tempted and accepting Mephisto’s offer. ‘Are we there yet?’ Wanda then asks her friends, to which War Machine replies that it all depends on where “there” is. Landing near some strange structures, Hawkeye remarks that it appears to be some kind of maze. ‘So what does that make us?’ Walker remarks, while Julia steadies her friend Wanda, who asks the others if they can hear someone calling them from inside the labyrinth.

Indeed, it’s Mockingbird, who, trapped inside some stone, half her body sticking out, calls out to her husband and friends, telling them that they cannot save her, they need to leave before Satannish arrives. But it’s too late, as an image of Satannish’s head appears before them, ‘I warned you cretins about coming here uninvited!’ he bellows. ‘Give me back my wife!’ Hawkeye demands, to which Satannish replies ‘Wife - life - you’ve forfeited both as the price of admission, Bowman!’.

USAgent remarks that demons sure put a lot of stock in size, while Satannish remarks that he should probably be grateful the Avengers West didn’t agree to sneak Mephisto in on their coattails. ‘And you’re not?’ Spider-Woman asks, while the Scarlet Witch declares that they came here for Mockingbird and are not leaving without her. Hawkeye exclaims that he is going to leap into the portal where Satannish appears and asks his teammates to watch his back, but it’s too late as the portal closes. Julia remarks that they need to know where Bobbi is, to which War Machine takes to the air, pointing out that he is the only one equipped to fly reconnaissance, to which Hawkeye asks him to holler as soon as he sees Mockingbird.

‘Affirmative!’ Rhodey replies, before suddenly exclaiming that he thinks he can already see her - only for it to be a false alarm, as Zyklon flies into view. ‘We’ve a special tonight, War Machine - all the poison gas you can eat!’ Zyklon jokes, before remarking that just because he has the soul of Heinrich Himmler doesn’t mean he can’t also have a sense of humor. But as the gas surrounds War Machine, Rhodey replies that Zyklon-B gas is useless against his filters. But Zyklon exclaims that he only needs to slow War Machine down to earn points from his death! With that, a thick rope attaches itself around War Machine’s neck, while the Hangman applauds his soldier.

Back with the others, the Scarlet Witch calls out to War Machine, asking him where he is, while Hawkeye readies an arrow to send through the maze, while Spider-Woman asks her friends if they just heard a loud crash also.

Indeed, War Machine has crashed to the ground, pulled by the Hangman’s ever-faithful noose. Axe of Violence rushes over, ‘Can I have a piece of him?’ she asks. ‘As many as you can chop into him!’ Hangman tells the reanimated Lizzie Borden, who exclaims that Hangman can call her whatever he wants, so long as he calls her in time to help kill an Avenger! With that, she clangs her axe against War Machine’s armor. ‘Magic! I really do hate it!’ Rhodey mutters as he manages to evade Axe, swinging his body round, he fires a blast of energy at Axe, knocking her over.

Rhodey then does the same to Hangman and Cyana, reminding himself that some of his systems need time to reboot, but that he can still take these clowns down. Suddenly though, Coldsteel leaps down from a ledge above War Machine, forcing his large form down, Coldsteel exclaims ‘Man of Iron - after this Man of Steel is done with you - you will curse the day you were born!’ and lands on War Machine, knocking him over, before punching him hard, while Cyana tells Coldsteel that for the reincarnation of a soviet dictator - Josef Stalin - he throws a mean hook.

Hawkeye and the others hear the commotion and wonder what is happening, when suddenly they hear evil laughter. ‘Must be Satannish or his crew, cause it sure didn’t sound like War Machine!’ Walker remarks, as indeed, War Machine has just become trapped in the rock alongside Mockingbird. Hawkeye raises his bow and fires an arrow, which shatters large rocks, creating several paths into the labyrinth. Spider-Woman and USAgent make their way through one of the paths, but as they pass through, the rocks quickly re-form themselves, trapping USAgent in the process.

Spider-Woman, who managed to get through, turns to help her teammate, who points out that the rock is even tougher than before. Johnny’s entire shield is free, which he holds onto, but Julia knows that, as she pulls on the shield, she could pull the shield free, the rest of him might not come with it due to the density of the rock. She suddenly has an idea, but it’s too late, as in a blinding light, Johnny vanishes, only to appear as a prisoner on the same large rock as Mockingbird and War Machine.

Hawkeye tells the Scarlet Witch that, by the sounds of things, the others are dropping like flies. Wanda calls out to Julia, asking her if she is all right and informing her that they will meet her at the top of the rise. Hawkeye fires an arrow to the top so that he and Wanda can climb up it, while Julia, carrying Johnny’s shield, uses her own abilities to climb to the top of the rise, while calling back to her friends to be careful, as one of these pillars just ate USAgent.

Julia thinks to herself that she is probably next on the menu, when, as if on cue, she is bombarded by gas. Julia tells herself not to inhale, and drops from the ledge to prevent this, where she can get some fresh air, but she lands in the middle of a deadly trio - Axe of Violence, Cyana and Coldsteel, ‘Not that these guys ever want to see you inhale again!’ Julia tells herself, before calling out to her friends and suggesting they find another route in, but to watch out for Zyklon at the summit.

Julia leaps over Axe of Violence, who stumbles into Coldsteel, while a voice suddenly shouts out ‘A real team player, aren’t you, Webs?’ as a thick noose is tossed at Spider-Woman, grabbing her around the ankle. ‘Maybe we’ll let you sign on with ours - as soon as your nice and DEAD!’ shouts the Hangman as he pulls his rope and noose back, forcing Julia to the ground.

Hawkeye and the Scarlet Witch, who are nearly to the top of the ridge, still climbing up the rope, hear the commotion and call out to Julia, asking her if she is in trouble. ‘Not as much as they think!’ Julia replies as she uses her enhanced spider-strength to swat the Hangman aside when he approaches her. However, unfortunately for Spider-Woman, Coldsteel comes over to her and swats her aside, boasting that until he came along, Spider-Woman had only to contend with second-raters.

As blood streams from Julia’s mouth, Coldsteel begins to boast that his second blow will finish her off, but, before he throws that second punch, Zyklon covers Julia and Coldsteel in gas, preventing Coldsteel from seeing where he must hit. ‘You! Again you attempt to steal my thunder!’ Coldsteel shouts at Zyklon.

On top of the rise, Clint helps Wanda up as the Avengers West Coast leader asks her friend if he can see anything. Clint replies that he hasn’t had a chance to look, but when both of them look down the other side of the ledge, they see Zyklon’s poisonous gas. Wanda points out that the gas is beginning to dissipate, but as it does, they don’t see Spider-Woman, until they lay eyes on their large rock containing their other teammates, trapped in it, Julia now with them.

Suddenly, Satannish in all his grotesque glory appears, leaning on the ledge where Wanda and Clint stand and are quickly surrounded by the rest of the Lethal Legion. Satannish tells the heroes that they will be joining their teammates in a moment - forever. Hangman remarks to Satannish that roping in all six of the Avengers West Coast must fulfil his requirements, to which the Scarlet Witch points out that they are not yet finished. ‘No, but it’s only a matter of moments!’ the lower mouth of Satannish cackles.

Wanda begins to relay a plan to Hawkeye, only for Clint to reel backwards, in pain, he exclaims that his stomach feels like it is on fire, when, suddenly, something pours out of Hawkeye’s mouth - ‘Mind if I come in, brother demon?’ asks Mephisto, making his grand entrance through Hawkeye. ‘He sneaked in - inside the Archer!’ Cyana exclaims, pointing out the obvious.

Mephisto and Satannish stand across from each other, both towering over everyone else, and Mephistopheles explains that he tempted Hawkeye, that Hawkeye wanted to give in to save his wife. ‘That was enough for me, unnoticed, to enter his heart’. ‘And to come out between his teeth, eh?’ Satannish remarks, before muttering that he should have expected as much, since he himself once invaded Mephisto’s sphere through Mephisto’s daughter, Mephista. ‘But you’ll not take back the four souls I secretly drew out of your domain!’ Satannish exclaims.

‘We shall see, two-faced one’ Mephisto replies, before turning to the Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye and declaring that, firstly, the audience must have assumed their places, he then transports them and plants them into the rock, alongside their teammates. ‘You began this pillar of despair, Satannish…but it is I who completed it!’ Mephisto shouts, towering up alongside the pillar, flames surround it as the mighty heroes anguished faces struggle for salvation.

‘Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back!’ Walker warns Mephisto, who remarks that Satannish tried to bind a quartet of souls to him by casting them in new bodies as his Lethal Legion, before Mephisto was aware that they were missing from his realm. ‘They are true prizes - the souls of mortals whose evil was monumental - whose deeds were the most foul in mankind’s history. Your triumph was to forge your own right to possess them, instead of me!’.

‘And I still shall - when I have sent you packing with your tail between your legs!’ Satannish replies, casting a spell, to which Mephisto replies that he has no tail, only a plethora of souls he has plucked from Satannish’s realm to use as his shield. Mephisto does just that, blocking Satannish’s spell with the shield of souls, asking Satannish if he would try to get past it with mere psychic leeches. ‘You surprise me’ he adds. ‘Thought I might - especially when I follow that up with the most unexpected of all - a direct physical assault!’ Satannish boasts as he lunges at a surprised Mephisto.

Spider-Woman watches the demons go at each other head-to-head, but while none of the Avengers West can move, she is lucky enough that she doesn’t need to be able to move to ensnare their feet with her psionic webs. Julia hopes that her webs will be strong enough to trip the uber-demons up, luckily, they are, and the demons topple into the pillar of despair. Spider-Woman tells everyone to get ready to jump, and as the rocks begin to crumble, everyone leaps to safety. The Scarlet Witch congratulates her teammate on a good move, before ordering everyone to regroup. ‘And hurry up about it - or I’ll take on those deadheads by myself!’ USAgent exclaims.

Hawkeye and Mockingbird reunite, ‘That God you’re okay, Bobbi!’ Clint exclaims. ‘We’re getting out of this thing together, lover!’ Bobbi assures her husband, before motioning to Hangman and the Lethal Legion and pointing out that they have a few obstacles to clear out of the way first. The battle thing begins, and the Scarlet Witch remarks that the Avengers West have a better chance against the Lethal Legion now, as Satannish cannot feed them extra power and still fight Mephisto. ‘That two-tongued fool cannot fend me off under any circumstances!’ Mephisto retorts.

As power smacks into Satannish, the horrid demon boasts that he could, if only he hadn’t helped his minions for so long. ‘It isn’t fair!’ the lower mouth mutters. Suddenly, Zyklon transforms back into Himmler - or his ghost. War Machine grabs Himmler, ‘On behalf of every “non-Aryan” on Earth…’ Rhodey remarks, tightening his grip on Himmler, who screams. ‘He got the message’ Rhodey remarks, while the Scarlet Witch announces that all of the Legion have transformed back. ‘Made ‘em easy to beat’ Spider-Woman points out, while USAgent frowns and remarks that hard as it is to believe, knowing what the Legion did while they were alive, they’re only human, before he ties them all up, along with the Hangman.

However, the Scarlet Witch remarks that Mephisto and Satannish are not human, and all the eldritch energy that they are tossing at each other like water is likely start to spilling over into the Earth Plane by now. ‘So let everyone in on the fun!’ Wanda tells the demons as she casts a hex towards them. Suddenly, Mephisto goes wide-eyed as an aperture opens behind him, between Satannish’s desecrated domain and that of his own. Hawkeye tells his dear friend to keep on doing what she is doing, remarking that whatever it is, both of the big guys have become frantic.

War Machine remarks that it is like floodgates have opened somewhere, while USAgent protects debris falling onto the Scarlet Witch by holding his shield up over her, Wanda explains that what is happening now is more like if the Panama Canal suddenly vanished and two oceans on different levels came crashing together. ‘I’ll not have our worlds merged into one - at the level of his monumental mediocrity!’ Mephisto declares, announcing that he is going to depart, but take with him what is rightfully his - the Lethal Legion.

‘No! Those four most sinister souls belong to me! I stole them…and I shall keep them - or no one shall have them!’ Satannish bellows. Suddenly, as the souls are being returned to Mephisto’s realm, they begin to stretch out, to nothing. Wanda explains to her team that the souls are caught between the two demons - torn apart like strands of taffy. ‘We’ve just witnessed the destruction of four souls!’ Wanda gasps. War Machine asks if neither demon got them then. ‘Like kids fighting over their toys’ Walker remarks, while Hawkeye holds onto his wife. ‘Thank God’ he whispers.

Suddenly though, Satannish turns his attention to the heroes, ‘We’re next if I can’t get us out of here!’ Wanda exclaims, casting a bubble around her friends. Satannish, forlorn, mutters ‘Let Mephisto have you! Just get out of my realm!’ The heroes begin floating through the dimensions of Hell once more, and Wanda exclaims that they need Agatha’s book. ’And there it is!’ War Machine remarks, pointing ahead. ’What are the odds of - ? Oh, yeah, that hex power of yours’ Rhodey exclaims.

Hawkeye tells War Machine that he will get used to it, they all did, and fires and arrow out of the bubble to the book, which he then reels in. Handing the book to his friend, Clint asks Wanda if she is up to, ’You look -’ Wanda interrupts before Clint can finish his sentence, exclaiming that there is time enough to collapse - if they survive. Wanda begins speaking in that ancient language again, before announcing that she can see the Earth Plane. ’And Mr. Devil-may-care sees us!’ Mockingbird announces as Mephisto appears beside them. ’Six pure souls must pay for four foul!’ the Devil bellows. ’Thanks for the compliment!’ Spider-Woman jokes.

Mephisto begins firing brimstone balls at the heroes, Wanda warns her teammates that they are deadly. ’Don’t let them strike you!’ she exclaims. ’I’m doing my best!’ Walker replies, before the heroes suddenly find themselves back on Earth, onto the Palos Verdes Cliffs. Hawkeye motions to the aperture behind them and exclaims that it is beginning to close, while Mockingbird asks where the Scarlet Witch is. ’There! She didn’t make it!’ exclaims Hawkeye, pointing to the portal. ’Because she through us through first!’ Bobbi exclaims, before announcing that she is going back to rescue Wanda. ’And don’t try to stop me!’ she warns her husband.

‘Who said I was gonna? But you’re not going back in there without me!’ Clint replies as he and Mockingbird leap into the aperture to rescue their friend. ’Give our regards to L.A.!’ Clint exclaims as he grabs the Scarlet Witch and tosses her back down to Earth, before adding ’See? I told you two was better than one’, when, suddenly, Bobbi shouts ‘Look out!’ as Mephisto appears behind them, firing more brimstone balls from his mouth. Mockingbird dives towards her husband, tackling him out of the way of danger, Clint realizes he would have been creamed if not for Bobbi.

‘That’s what I’m here for!’ Bobbi exclaims as they begin falling from the aperture. ‘Check, lady! And I’m gonna see to it that you stay right where you -’ Hawkeye’s sentence is interrupted by a most disturbing, shocking scream - the scream of his wife being slain, as Mockingbird receives a brimstone ball right in her back. ‘BOBBI?’ exclaims Clint as they land back on Earth, seconds later. ‘Bobbi!?’ he shouts again. ‘Say something, girl!’ Clint pleads, as smoke rises from his wife’s back, her costume torn. ‘Hawkeye…?’ Spider-Woman asks, everyone looking on, shocked, USAgent especially wide-eyed with horror.

Hawkeye holds onto his wife, ‘You can’t leave me, Bobbi - not after we just found each other again! You saved all our lives…’ suddenly, Mockingbird speaks, weak, ‘No…Clint…I did it…to save…you…’. And everyone goes silent, as the song of the Mockingbird comes to an end.

Days later, beneath a sky no longer roiling, a scene common to all humankind is enacted. Hawkeye stands before his wife’s grave, the Scarlet Witch and Spider-Woman at his side, comforting their friend. USAgent stands towards the side, staring at Mockingbird’s grave, while War Machine, Living Lightning, Tigra and Captain America round out the assembled Avengers.

The Scarlet Witch tells Clint that they are all so sorry, words cannot express it, but they want him to know he has them, his friends, and that he is no alone. ‘Not alone, Wanda? I’ve never felt so alone…so empty. And all the words in the world won’t help Bobbi draw one more breath…or smile at me the way she used to…or give us back the life we wanted to make…together’. With that, Clint Barton places a bouquet of flowers on his wife’s grave, marked Eternity Was In Our Lips…And Eyes.

(3rd story)
(In USAgent’s dream)
‘It’s good to have you home, son’ Caleb Walker tells his youngest son, John Walker. ‘It’s good to be home, Dad’ Johnny a.k.a. USAgent replies, ‘Mom, you made my favorite!’ he exclaims as Emily Walker dishes up some food, replying that it wouldn’t be Sunday dinner if she didn’t. Suddenly, the doorbell rings, Emily asks who that could be, just as they are sitting down for dinner.

Opening the door, USAgent smirks, ‘Oh, hi guys - come in’ he remarks, and stands aside as three purple and orange clad men enter the Walker hope, unleashing fire, killing Caleb and Emily in cold blood. ‘Mom…Dad…dead. You killed them - but who are you?’ USAgent asks. The leader of the Watchdogs removes his glasses. ‘Me. You’re me!’ USAgent exclaims.

(Present / reality)
‘NOOOOOOOOOOOOO’ shouts USAgent as he wakes from his dream. Sitting in a sauna with just a towel around his waist, Johnny realizes that he is not home, but here, in the Palos Verdes Compound, home of the Avengers West Coast. Johnny reminds himself that is not how things happened - he never let the Watchdogs into his family home. ‘Is that the way I really feel about myself?’ he wonders.

Suddenly, there is a knock on the sauna door, it’s James Rhodes a.k.a. War Machine, who asks his teammate if he is all right. Walker replies that he is okay, while thinking to himself that the steam must have triggered a flashback to his interrogation at the hands of Caprice and Bloodshot. Johnny then storms out of the sauna, ‘Is he all right?’ Clint “Hawkeye” Barton asks. ‘I think so. Anything you want to talk about, Agent?’ one of the others replies. ‘No - I’ll be all right!’ USAgent snaps.

Walker looks at his teammates, who also include Julia “Spider-Woman” Carpenter, and Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch and realizes that he shouldn’t have snapped at them, as they were just showing their concern. Johnny then tells his teammates that there is something he wants to tell them, and announces he needs a few days off, as there is something he must do. Rhodey asks if they can help, but Walker replies that this is something he must do himself, adding that he won’t even need the Quinjet or his jet cycle. Julia tells Walker that if he needs them to call. ‘Thanks - really’ John replies, before deciding that it is time he was going.

Later, in Custer’s Grove, California. Johnny stands outside his old family home, which hasn’t been kept up since the murders of his parents. He walks up to the front door, telling himself that he still cannot get over the way strangers react to the sight of him in his uniform, especially on an airplane. He supposes that a super hero is still something special. Johnny thinks it is funny that sometimes he feels closer to strangers than he does to his fellow Avengers, and decides that it shouldn’t be that way, as they are really the only family he has now. Johnny adds that it looks like the outside of the place could use some repairs and a fresh coat of paint.

Opening the door and entering the house, Walker sees that it is in order, that someone is taking care of it, as everything is in the same place, just like when he was a kid. ‘But it’s not the same. You’re both dead - and I’m responsible!’ Johnny exclaims, picking up a framed photo of his parents, then slamming it onto the mantelpiece, turning away quickly, ‘No! No! Gotta get out! Gotta run!’ Johnny exclaims, rushing out of the house, ‘Gotta forget!’ he shouts.

Shortly, the handsome hero arrives at Grove Rest, a cemetery, where he quickly goes to the graves of his parents. Suddenly though, ‘What the -??’ he asks as a car drives through the cemetery, ‘PARTY!!!’ the people in the car shout. ‘Hey, man, wanna party with us?’ one of the people in the car asks USAgent as they drive up to him. ‘Nice suit, clown!’ someone else remarks, while the others laugh. ‘Why don’t you young men go “party” somewhere else? This is sacred ground’ USAgent suggests to the punks.

‘Yeah, well, at night it’s our sacred ground - our last sacred party ground - last Friday party before school starts. Why don’t you leave? One of the punks tells Walker. ’Yeah, leave! But have a drink on us first!’ one of them exclaims as they toss an empty bottle at USAgent, ’Go, go! He’s getting mad!’ another exclaims as they quickly drive away. ’Freakin’ punks!’ Walker exclaims, gritting his teeth and clenching his fists. Johnny begins to run after the kids, declaring that they are going back to school a little early - and he has their new lesson plan.

In the town, a couple of men on the side-walk motion to the punks inside their car. ‘There they go again!’ one of them grins. ‘What a hoot!’ the other remarks, as the driver of the car notices in the rear-vision mirror that “super-clown” has followed them. ‘Go get him! Turn it around!’ one of his friends encourages, but as the car begins to reverse, a young girl is on the road behind it. ‘My baby! My baby!’ screams the girls mother - luckily for them, USAgent leaps in to rescue the girl, and handing her back to her parents, asks what is going on in this town. ‘Those boys are just letting off a little steam before going back to the University, same as we did when we were their age!’ a civilians remarks. ‘Yeah, uh, USAgent, you know how it is, don’t you? Boys will be boys!’ someone else remarks.

‘And no one lifts a finger to stop them?’ USAgent replies, to which someone explains that one of the boys’ father is the sheriff. ‘Besides, they’ve never hurt anyone!’ someone remarks. Walker points out that they came pretty close tonight, and declares that everyone has to grow up sometime. ‘Tonight is their time!’ he exclaims, while thinking to himself that the punks will probably head back to the cemetery, as animals like them feel most secure on familiar turf. ‘But they have no way of knowing that I still remember a shortcut back there’ Johnny tells himself.

As the punks arrive back at the cemetery, ‘Look! It’s the super-clown!’ one of them exclaims, wondering how USAgent made it back here before the rest of them. ‘It doesn’t matter - he’s history now!’ the driver exclaims, speeding towards USAgent, who tosses his trusty shield straight at the car, causing the kids to brake. ‘We’re in trouble!’ one of the kids tells the driver, who replies ‘No, super-clown’s in trouble!’ and produces his father’s gun. The driver gets out of the car and begins firing at USAgent, who warns him that he is in trouble, dodging the bullets, he corners the punk up against his car, before giving him some advice: ‘Spend less time drinking and more time respecting your elders!’ USAgent declares.

‘Namely - me!’ Walker adds as he punches the punk in the stomach, causing him to keel to the ground. The other two punks attempt to make a quick getaway, but Johnny collects his shield and throws it towards them, joking ‘And here at Custer’s Grove Lanes…USAgent completes a 7-10 split to pick up the spare!’ as his shield smacks the punks over, ‘Yeah - two spare butt-heads’ Johnny adds, standing over the three losers, he tells them to quit whining, and assuring them that if he was not pulling his punches, the three of them would not even be conscious now.

USAgent tells the punks that they have a lot of growing up to do, pointing out that they were born to a life of privilege and opportunity and therefore they shouldn’t blow it. ‘Now go home to mommy and daddy - and don’t let me catch you partying here again!’ he warns them, and as they scamper away out of the graveyard, he assures the kids that he will be watching them. ‘Yeah…right…just like a baby-sitter watches a bunch of unruly brats!’ Walker tells himself.

USAgent turns back to the graves of his parents and remarks that sometimes he feels that baby-sitting is all he is good for - compared to Captain America and the Avengers, perhaps he is a second-rate joke - in a second-rate team. Johnny wonders how Captain America does it, making it look so easy. ‘He’s a real hero. We’ve both fought our share of super-villains…but is that what being a real hero is all about?’ Johnny wonders, certain that he knows in his heart what he fought for tonight was real - more real than most of the battle he has had with countless super-villains. ‘There’s a greater truth at work here…but Cap seems to have latched onto that greater truth - beyond blind devotion to a super hero group - to a cause - or even to country’.

Walker reminds himself that his parents raised him to be more than he is, but heels that he has let them down in so many ways and that he still feels that he somehow caused their deaths. ‘Maybe it’s time I grew up, too’ he wonders. Johnny crouches down and picks up a piece of the smashed alcohol bottle and asks his parents to forgive him, but to remember, he loves them. Johnny looks at his reflection in the bottle glass, part of the label still on it - Jack Daniels, ironically, his alias, its slogan “100% Proof”. And Johnny sheds a tear….

Characters Involved: 

First Story:
Hawkeye, Mockingbird, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Woman II, USAgent, War Machine (all Avengers West Coast)

Living Lightning (Reserve member of the Avengers West Coast)
Tigra (Former member of the Avengers West Coast)
Captain America (Member of the Avengers)

Hangman II
Axe of Violence / “Lizzie Borden“, Coldsteel / “Josef Stalin“, Cyana / “Lucrezia Borgia“, Zyklon / “Heinrich Himmler” (all Lethal Legion)

Third Story:
Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Woman II, USAgent, War Machine (all Avengers West Coast)

Little Girl

In Photographs:
Caleb & Emily Walker (USAgent’s parents)

In USAgent’s Dream:
Caleb & Emily Walker

The Watchdogs

Story Notes: 

This marks the 100th issue of the Avengers West Coast series, which began as West Coast Avengers (2nd series), changing the title and team name to Avengers West Coast in issue #47. In addition to the original four-issue mini series which featured the teams formation, the series spawned 8 Annuals.

This is technically the final issue of the series proper, with #101 part of the “Bloodties” crossover, and #102 is the classic Avengers West Coast versus Avengers issue in which the team is forced to disband, before becoming Force Works.

This issue sports a stunning red-foil cover featuring the Scarlet Witch, USAgent, Mockingbird and War Machine in the clutches of Mephisto and “In this issue: the Death of an Avenger!” splattered on it. [Hey it was the early 90’s, gimmick covers were all the rage, though this is one issue where it was particularly effective].

The following heroes have been members, reserve members or honorary members of the Avengers West Coast / West Coast Avengers since the teams formation: Hawkeye, Mockingbird, Iron Man II / War Machine, Tigra, Wonder Man, Dr. Hank Pym, Iron Man, Moira Brandon, the Thing, Firebird / Espirita, Moon Knight, Two-Gun Kid, Wasp, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Mantis, USAgent, Human Torch I, Spider-Woman II, Living Lightning, Machine Man, Darkhawk.

The other stories in this issue are:
2nd story: A flashback story of how Hawkeye and Mockingbird acquired the Palos Verdes Compound, featuring pretty much the only appearance of posthumous Honorary Avenger, the elderly Moira Brandon.

4th story: A solo War Machine story.

First Story:
Mockingbird was kidnapped by the Lethal Legion, for Satannish in Avengers West Coast #99.

An artistic error occurs on page 22, as the Scarlet Witch can be seen with her new short hairstyle and evening-gown costume, which she does not don until the Scarlet Witch limited series.

Mockingbird first appeared in her true identity in Astonishing Tales #6 (this was way back in 1971), then as the Huntress in Marvel Super-Action #1 (also early - 1976), before appearing as Mockingbird in Marvel Team-Up (1st series) #95. Hawkeye and Mockingbird married in the first Hawkeye limited series, and for some time had a model relationship. When Mockingbird allowed the Phantom Rider, who had raped her, fall to his death, [West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #18-23] this drove a major wedge between her and Clint when he eventually found out, and even split the West Coast Avengers into two separate teams for a short while. [West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #37-41]. Mockingbird and Hawkeye were reunited when they took over leadership of the great Lakes Avengers [West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #46], and were off-and-on since then, with Hawkeye rejoining the Avengers West and Mockingbird aiding them on occasion before rejoining fully in Avengers West Coast #89, and the two reconciling, despite the possible relationship between Hawkeye and Spider-Woman II forming, and USAgent and Mockingbird’s seeming affection for each other.

Mockingbird has appeared on occasion in the afterlife, notably in Avengers (3rd series) #10-11 as a pawn of the Grim Reaper’s alongside other deceased Avengers, where she alerts the Avengers to the fact that Hellcat is in danger in Hell, and also in X-Static Presents: Dead Girl, alongside Moira MacTaggert and Gwen Stacy. An alternate version of her appears in the House of M: Avengers limited series.

Mockingbird’s death was seen by some as simply a way of adding further depth to Hawkeye’s character, turning him somewhat darker and brooding.

Legendary writer of the Avengers, Kurt Busiek has mentioned that he was never a fan of the Hawkeye / Mockingbird pairing as it reminded him too much of DC Comics Green Arrow / Black Canary pairing, and therefore he had no plans to resurrect her during his lengthy stint on Avengers.

Mockingbird remains one of the few notable Marvel Characters to remain dead to this day.

Notably absent from Mockingbird’s funeral are long serving West Coast Avengers Iron Man, Wonder Man, Hank Pym and the Wasp, Moon Knight who along with Tigra formed their splinter-team with Mockingbird when she broke up with Hawkeye, and Firebird, whom Mockingbird befriended, and wanted on the team, during the early days.

Third Story:
This story takes place following the first USAgent mini series.

USAgent’s parents were murdered by the Watchdogs in Captain America (1st series) #345.

USAgent does have some family left - his sister Kate Tolifson, her husband and their children, though they are rarely mentioned and even less seen.

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