Avengers West Coast #96

Issue Date: 
July 1993
Story Title: 
Many are Called

Roy & Dann Thomas (writers), Andrew Currie (guest penciler), Don Hudson (guest inker), Steve Dutro (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist), John Lewandowski (assistant editor) Nel Yomtov (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Spider-Woman and Goliath (Hawkeye) have a mock battle to decide which of them is physically stronger, until War Machine stops them mid-battle as he sees an unmoving body under some of the rubble from the Compound. The body is revealed to be that of Roberto, the Avengers West’s groundskeeper. He is alive, and after Spider-Woman helps him up, he informs the Avengers West that he returned to the Compound after helping Rachel Carpenter and Consuela settle into Newport Beach, when he was attacked by a rather odd-acting Living Lightning who was muttering about a church. The Avengers West decide they best check their other teammates, so Spider-Woman heads to the Living Lightning’s mothers house, while War Machine goes to Beverly Hills to find USAgent, and Goliath and Mockingbird go to the Scarlet Witch’s apartment, where they find her in a trance. When they break the trance, she attacks them, casting a spell on Goliath so that he keeps increasing in size. In the process, the Scarlet Witch escapes via some kind of portal, leaving behind confused teammates and a lot of damage at the apartment complex. War Machine finds a similarly trance-like USAgent, who escapes after a small scuffle, while Spider-Woman doesn’t find Living Lightning’s mother, she does find their local church, where the Living Lightning is praying. Trance-like also, he and Spider-Woman have a small fight, but eventually the Living Lightning escapes via a portal. Goliath, Mockingbird and War Machine arrive on the scene, and they discuss their friends, before getting a call on the sky-cycle from the Vision, who announces that heroes all over the world are going missing. Spider-Woman takes a Quinjet to Four Freedoms Plaza to represent the team at a gathering of heroes, concerned about her friends, while War Machine looks through the Avengers files, and Mockingbird and Goliath grab some time

Full Summary: 

‘You’ve had it, Spider-Woman!’ exclaims Clint “Hawkeye” Barton, currently going by the alias Goliath as he engages his teammate and friend Julia “Spider-Woman” Carpenter in combat. Julia uses her agile form to kick the larger-than-average Clint in the face, before the handsome Avenger tells Julia that he is going to swat her like a fly. ‘Make up your mind, Goliath! Spider or fly - you can’t have it both ways!’ Julia exclaims, while Clint’s wife, Bobbi “Mockingbird” Morse-Barton watches on the sidelines.

‘Can’t I?’ shouts Clint as he swats Julia to the side. ‘That hurt!’ exclaims Julia as she kicks Goliath in the back, sending him careening into some of the ruined Compound nearby, claiming that she didn’t mean for that to happen. ‘Well it did!’ exclaims Clint as he rises from the rubble. ‘And what’s about to happen to you - I definitely do mean!’ he exclaims, while Spider-Woman mutters that she is fighting way out of her weight-class here, so she unleashes a psi-web, wrapping it around Clint’s legs to even the odds up a bit.

Clint struggles for a moment with the psionic webs, before managing to free himself, ‘Nice try!’ he tells Julia, remarking that she slowed him down for seconds, and points out that she has now run through her whole bag of tricks. ‘Here’s where I prove, once and for all, which of us is stronger!’ Goliath exclaims as he runs towards Spider-Woman, telling her that hiding behind that pile of debris is not going to help. ‘Who’s hiding?’ Julia asks, boasting that she just needs a place to stand so she can reach Clint’s glass chin for the knockout!

Spider-Woman succeeds in knocking Goliath to the ground, when suddenly, a voice from above shouts ‘Stop it!’ and blasts Clint in the face. ‘Who in the blazes?’ exclaims Clint from where he lies on the ground. Mockingbird motions upwards, while Spider-Woman exclaims ‘He did it!’. Clint gets up and stands by the women, while asking ‘What’s the big idea - butting in like that?’ he asks. ‘Somebody had to!’ exclaims James “Rhodey” Rhodes a.k.a. War Machine, the Avengers West Coast’s newest team member.

‘Says you!’ Clint exclaims crossly, explaining that he and Spider-Woman were just settling an argument over which of them is stronger. ‘Maybe we both got a little carried away, but that still doesn’t mean -’ Clint begins, until Rhodey interrupts, asking if he can get a word in. Landing on the ground, War Machine begins to blow away the debris, announcing that he will show them why he stopped the two of them from butting aheads on this pile of debris. ‘Okay, tin-top, so you make a good leaf-blower’ jokes Clint, when suddenly, shock spreads over his, Bobbi and Julia’s expressions as they see what - who - is under the debris.

‘We didn’t see!’ Mockingbird gasps. ’But I did!’ War Machine replies, motioning to Roberto, the Avengers West Compound’s gardener. Roberto groans, and Julia exclaims that he seems to be stunned as she rushes over to tend to him. Mockingbird smiles at War Machine and tells him that they owe him their thanks, to which Clint agrees, remarking that if he had charged into that pile of rubble, he might have crushed Roberto. Rhodey replies that it was just luck that he saw Roberto as he flew in, while Clint asks if they think Roberto has been lying there ever since what is left of the Compound was attacked by Klaw and Zvezda Dennista a few days ago, but Rhodey thinks that is unlikely.

Spider-Woman helps Roberto to his feet and asks him if he is all right, to which Roberto, clutching his head, replies that he thinks so, before revealing that it was not one of the Avengers enemies who did this to him - but the Living Lightning! ‘What?’ exclaims a shocked Julia.

(Shown with Flashback Illustrations)
Roberto explains that he had just returned to the Compound from helping Consuela and Spider-Woman’s daughter, Rachel, settle in to Newport Beach when he heard a voice - very soft - from out by the pool, which he soon discovered was that of the Miguel “Living Lightning” Santos, a reserve member of the Avengers West Coast. Roberto continues, revealing that Miguel seemed to be staring into the sky, but there was nothing there - not even a cloud.

When he approached Miguel, the young Avenger mumbled that he had to go to the church, but seemed in a daze, as if he didn’t hear Roberto. However, when Roberto put his hand on Miguel’s shoulder, Miguel instantly transformed into his electrical form, knocking Roberto backwards.

Wiping his forehead, Roberto informs the Avengers West that he remembers nothing else, until they awakened him just now. Clint remarks that due to there being so much rubble lying around from recent fights, they didn’t notice anymore, and apologizes to Roberto. But Roberto replies that it is Miguel he is worried about, remarking that it is as if the Living Lightning was in a trance - or witnessing the Second Coming! ‘Maybe he was’ Spider-Woman suggests, before pointing out that they should contact the others and look into this further.

Goliath agrees, and informs everyone that USAgent is at a Beverly Hills pistol range, and jokes that since USAgent cannot out-point him on sheer strength, he supposes Agent wants to get as tough as nails with a gun as Clint himself is with a bow and arrow. Mockingbird tells everyone that the Scarlet Witch said she wanted to spend some time meditating at the apartment she keeps off Compound, and walks over to the car to call her on the car phone, only Bobbi gets no answer. ‘Maybe she’s really into this meditation bit’ Clint suggests, before telling his team that he and Bobbi will go see if Scarlet Witch is home, and asks Julia to go and talk to Miguel’s mother.

Spider-Woman gets into the flash red car and replies that perhaps Miguel’s mother can direct her to the church Miguel was talking about, while War Machine tells everyone that he will try and roust up USAgent, before taking the air. Julia drives off in the car, and Clint and Bobbi take off in the sky-cycles, with Clint telling everyone to rendezvous back here as soon as they have their quorum. ‘If we do, lover, call me superstitious if you want - but I’ve got a bad feeling about this!’ Mockingbird tells Goliath.

A short time later, Clint and Bobbi descend upon an apartment complex, to which Clint points out that it resembles the bungalows on the Compound. ‘It might - if half the roof were gone, and there were enough holes in the walls that the tenants didn’t need air conditioning!’ Mockingbird replies, before Clint asks his wife if she said Wanda lives on the second floor of this wing. Residents of the complex gather below and motion upwards at the heroes, while Mockingbird points to a window and tells Clint that she can see the Scarlet Witch in there now, and that she is in some kind of trance in the middle of a big pentagram.

Mockingbird notes that the Scarlet Witch’s eyes are open, but it appears she has not heard the sky-cycles. Bobbi knocks on the window in an attempt to get a response, but that too fails to attract the attention of Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch. Bobbi tells Clint to set his cycle on “hover” and exclaims that they have to go inside. As the husband and wife team climb through the window, Bobbi tells Clint that she doesn’t like this, adding that Wanda didn’t bat an eyebrow when they forced the window open.

‘We’ll be lucky if the other tenants don’t call the cops on us!’ Clint remarks, before calling out to his long-time friend, ‘Rise and shine - it’s daylight in the swamps!’ he exclaims. Suddenly, Wanda turns to them. ‘What are you doing here?’ she demands to know. Taken aback, Bobbi replies that they are sorry to intrude, but they had to make sure she was all right, explaining that the Living Lightning has gone missing, among other things. ‘You are okay, aren’t you?’ Clint asks.

‘I was - until you two burst in here!’ Wanda replies harshly, before exclaiming that she has never felt better, that she feels alive, transcendent. Wanda then reveals that, as far as Miguel is concerned, they should not worry about him, as she knows he is in good hands, before excusing herself, as she needs to get going. Wanda strides past her teammates, but not without Bobbi telling Clint to grab her. Clint does, and tells his friend that she is not going anywhere until she tells them what she meant by that comment. ‘Let go of me!’ Wanda snaps back, ‘I said LET GO!’ she shouts as she raises her hands and points at Clint.

Suddenly, Clint finds himself growing uncontrollably. Mockingbird exclaims that it is Wanda’s hex power, and urges her husband to concentrate on shrinking down, reversing his growth before he crushes her. ‘I cant!’ Clint replies as he begins to burst through the apartment block. ‘Look out, everybody!’ one of the residents down below exclaims, while another mutters ‘I knew this would happen when this place went public!’.

‘Goodbye, Avengers!’ the Scarlet Witch exclaims as she makes her way outside, ‘You will not see me again!’ she declares, while Clint continues to grow, mumbling that he feels like the outtakes from Alice in Wonderland as he asks his wife if she can manage to squeeze past him. ‘If I don’t - our love life is definitely gonna be flat!’ Bobbi replies.

Outside, the apartment’s Super approaches Wanda, telling her to wait a minute as he demands an explanation. ‘What I have just learned, you could never comprehend’ Wanda replies cryptically. ‘What I could tell you - you could not understand’. But the angry Super tells Wanda not to feed him that mumbo jumbo that new age types like her dish out, and informs her that he is taking her to court. ‘What’ve you got to say to that?’ he asks. ‘Oh go soak your head!’ Wanda replies, and raising her hand, casts a hex which sends the Super tumbling into the swimming pool.

At that moment, Bobbi flies by Clint on a sky-cycle, and Clint tells his wife that he is glad she got out. He exclaims that it is getting to be a real tight fit in here, before informing Bobbi that he is going to try shrinking down one last time. But Barbara tells her husband that she isn’t sure that is a good idea. ‘Nuts! I might as well - what can it hurt?’ asks Clint, only to grow even bigger, bursting out of the top of the apartment complex. Bobbi manages to evade falling debris as she remarks that she was afraid of this, explaining that Wanda has put some kind of reverse hex on him, so when Clint tries to shrink, he just grows even more.

Clint remarks that Tony Stark - or the U.N - or somebody better have really deep pockets for this one, as he and Bobbi regroup, Mockingbird then motions to Wanda, still entranced, she walks along the middle of the road. Clint motions to the approaching car and exclaims that it cannot stop, that it will run right into Wanda. But suddenly, Wanda vanishes as portal opens up midair and swallows her. ‘Clint, watch out!’ Mockingbird exclaims, but it’s too late as the car smashes into Clint’s lower leg. ‘Oh, yeah. The car’ Clint mumbles.

Bobbi points out that at least the diver wasn’t hurt, ‘The heck I wasn’t!’ exclaims the driver as he steps out onto the road, complaining that he probably has ten kinds of whiplash. ‘Uh, you guys are Avengers, aren’t you?’ he asks. ‘Yeah - those of us that are left’ Goliath replies, before remarking that Wanda was acting just like Roberto said Miguel was, and asks Mockingbird what she thinks is going on around here. ‘Whatever it is, we’re not going to figure it out standing around here’ Bobbi replies, before wondering how War Machine is doing with everybody’s favourite right-wing sociopath….

‘USAgent!’ exclaims a pistol training supervisor in Beverly Hills as he tries to get USAgent’s attention. The supervisor turns to War Machine, and addressing him as Iron Man, remarks that USAgent has been standing still for twenty minutes. War Machine replies that he is not actually Iron Man, ‘Whatever’ the supervisor mutters, before explaining that USAgent was examining the target when he suddenly froze up like that. ‘He’s disturbing the other shooters - and I want him out!’ the supervisor declares, ‘adding that he doesn’t care if USAgent is an Avenger or not.

Suddenly, Johnny “USAgent” Walker swings around ‘I’m holding a gun!’ he exclaims, pointing it at the supervisor’s head. ‘That you are, sir…please don’t…’ mumbles the startled supervisor, when suddenly, ‘She does not like guns!’ Walker exclaims as he crunches the pistol up with his super strength. ‘”She”?’ asks Rhodey, asking Johnny to tell him what is going on here. ’It’s none of your affair. I must go now’ Walker replies as he begins to take his leave, while the relieved supervisor thinks to himself that, in his next life, he wants to come back as a crossing guard.

War Machine raises a hand and tells USAgent that he is obviously not himself, so he cannot go anywhere until the two of them have a little talk. But suddenly, USAgent swings around and shoves War Machine into the wall, ‘The time for talk is OVER!’ Walker shouts, before using his shield to smash an exit for himself and he strides away. War Machine tells the supervisor to get out of his way as he tries to follow Walker, but the supervisor points out that the wall is going to collapse.

Rhodey realizes that the supervisor is correct, and as he steps into the makeshift exit Walker created, he holds it up while ordering the supervisor to get everyone out, and quickly, while he keeps it from falling until everyone is clear. But Rhodey knows that, Walker could be anywhere by now, and realizes that whatever happened to the Living Lightning has also happened to USAgent, but not to him or several other Avengers West, and wonders what the common denominator is here.

Elsewhere, Spider-Woman drives towards a church, thinking to herself that Mrs. Santos was working, but that a neighbour said this is the family church. But Julia realizes that it doesn’t necessarily mean it was the one Roberto heard Miguel refer to. ‘But I’ve got to start somewhere’ Julia tells herself as she enters the church, calling out to the priest, she introduces herself, and is about to explain who she is looking for, when the priest exclaims ‘Miguel Santos, yes?’. Julia asks if Miguel is here then, and the priest motions to the altar, where Miguel is kneeling, and informs Julia that he has been silently praying like that, without moving, for over an hour.

The priest tells Spider-Woman that he never wishes to disturb anyone in the middle of worship, but offers to if Spider-Woman thinks it is best. Julia replies that she will handle this, if he doesn’t mind, and the priest comes along with her, just as Miguel rises, and approaches them. ‘Talk about timing!’ Julia thinks to herself, before asking Miguel if he is all right, informing him that they have all been very worried about him. ‘She said - that the fire that is within me can expel the darkness!’ Miguel exclaims as he bursts into his lightning form, knocking Spider-Woman and the priest aside.

‘I must go to her - NOW!’ exclaims Miguel as he bursts through a colored-glass window. Spider-Woman calls after her young teammate, asking him to come back - but he doesn’t hear her. Leaping after him, Julia knows that if she grabs him it will be like shaking hands with a light socket, so uses one of her psi-webs to lasso him, hoping that, as they are formed purely by her thoughts, they will not conduct any electricity back her way.

‘Let me go!’ Miguel exclaims, snared by the psi-web, before using his powers on the webs, disrupting them. Julia begins hurling more of them at him, faster than Miguel can zap them. One gets tangled around his leg and Miguel is unable to free himself from it. Julia forces the psi-web upwards, while recalling that some scientists say thoughts are forms of electricity, so wonders if she accidentally hit the right wave-length.

Spider-Woman begins pulling on the psi-web and thus reeling the Living Lightning in. Although she is relieved, Miguel suddenly returns to his human form and smacks into the ground on freefall. Worried that he could be seriously hurt, Spider-Woman calls out to him urgently, ‘If I’ve hurt you…’ she utters, when suddenly, Miguel quietly utters ‘You stupid woman…did you think she would let you hurt me?’ he asks as he blasts Spider-Woman with some energies.

Miguel then returns to his electrical form as he takes to the air, exclaiming that he is going to join her. The priest calls out to Miguel, asking him to come back, before he tends to Julia, ‘May God forgive you, my son, for what you have done this day!’ the priest exclaims. But Julia tells the priest that she is not bothered by that, explaining that she is more worried about what Miguel is going to do.

As Goliath, Mockingbird and War Machine land, the priest nervously asks Spider-Woman if these are friends of hers. War Machine announces that they witnessed the tail end of what happened, but that they could not catch the Living Lightning before he disappeared into some kind of space warp. Clint adds that whatever is going on has now claimed three Avengers, as far as they know, while Mockingbird asks Julia if she is all right.

‘Just had a little too much shock therapy’ Spider-Woman replies, before pointing out that it is a good thing the spider-serum gave her recuperative powers though, otherwise she’d be a basket case, before asking if she heard something about three Avengers. Bobbi replies that Wanda is gone - same symptoms as Miguel, and same escape route too. ‘Ditto for USAgent’ exclaims War Machine, before asking if either Miguel or Wanda mentioned anything a mysterious “She”.

Mockingbird replies that Wanda didn’t, but seemed to know about Miguel’s condition, when suddenly, a call comes in over the sky-cycle from the Vision, calling from Avengers Mansion in New York. ‘There’s trouble - we never hear from those guys unless they want something!’ Mockingbird remarks as she approaches the sky-cycle, where the Vision states that he prefers to ignore that insult, before declaring that he must know if any Avengers West are unaccounted for, revealing that several super heroes elsewhere in the world have vanished.

War Machine informs the Vision that the count here so far is three, and tells him which Avengers are missing, emphasizing the Scarlet Witch, to which Julia whispers that there was no need for that, as Wanda means nothing to the Vision now. The Vision tells the Avengers West that they need to send a representative to Four Freedoms Plaza right away, to which Julia replies that they are on their way.

Soon, at the Palos Verdes Compound, home of the Avengers West, a secret hangar bay opens in the side of the cliff which leads down to the beach, and a Quinjet streaks forward from it, driven by Spider-Woman, who thinks that she hates leaving Rachel with nothing more than a hurried phone message, she knows she cannot beg off duty just because she is a single mother. Julia decides that by remaining an Avenger, she has definitely opted for what is called the “fast track”, before reminding herself that she has always felt a special closeness to the Living Lightning, most probably because they both joined the team at the end of the Avengers West’s first run in with the Pacific Overlords.

Julia realizes though that there is a whole lot more at stake though than just Miguel’s life - and Wanda’s and Walker’s too. She remarks that if what the Vision said is true - and he never lies - then the whole planet may be in danger. ‘And if trying to help save the Earth isn’t a super-powered mother’s first priority - I don’t know what is!’.

Shortly, in a nearby shopping center, Goliath and Mockingbird sit in a coffee shop, and noticing the stares that they get, Clint wonders if perhaps they should have switched to their civilian clothing first, as he is getting tired of being stared at. ‘Since when?’ asks Bobbi, reminding Clint that he became a carnival showman at the age of eight. ‘Let ‘em gawk!’ she declares, before telling her husband that he was right, that they needed a little while to themselves off the Compound.

Mockingbird points out that if War Machine turns up anything relevant on the computer files that he is checking back at the Compound, then he can contact them in a second. Goliath replies that he knows, and exclaims that this is what they needed all right, a little peace and quiet. Suddenly though, there is a huge crash as the window shatters. Bobbi tells Clint to jump away from the window.

A group of men appear at the broken window and Bobbi exclaims that they must be the ones who busted the glass, before noticing that they appear strange, and speak in a unusual language. Kneeled over on the ground, Clint replies that he is just catching his breath, to which Bobbi tells him she hopes he catches it fast, as the costumed men enter the coffee shop, Bobbi announces that Earth has just got a visit from Quantum’s Power Platoon!

Characters Involved: 

Goliath II / Hawkeye, Mockingbird, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Woman II, USAgent, War Machine (all Avengers West Coast)
Living Lightning (Reserve Member of the Avengers West Coast)

Vision (member of the Avengers, via comm-link)

Roberto (Avengers West Groundskeeper)

Quantum’s Power Platoon

Civilians at apartment complex
Supervisor at apartment complex
Pistol training facility supervisor
Civilians at shopping center

In Flashback:
Living Lightning

Story Notes: 

This issue is part of the company-wide “Infinity Crusade” storyline, not exactly a cross-over, but as well as having a six-issue limited series, the “Infinity Crusade” story continued in most series at that time, usually 3 issues.

Roberto, the Avengers West Compound gardener, was last seen leaving the Compound to take Rachel Carpenter and her nanny, Consuela to the Spider-Woman’s new home in Newport Beach [Avengers West Coast #92] following the decision to have the Compound Staff and Rachel leave after Ultron’s attack [Avengers West Coast #89].

Klaw and Zvezda Dennista added to the already decimated Compound by attacking in Avengers West Coast #93.

Spider-Woman II and Living Lightning both joined the Avengers West in Avengers West Coast #74, although Julia had been hanging out with the team since #70, while Miguel was a prisoner of the Overlords at that time.

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