Once upon a time, a four issue mini-series combined the unused members of the Avengers into a small unit on the West Coast, called the West Coast Avengers. The mini-series was written by Roger Stern. And it proved so successful, that an on-going series was proposed in the same vein.

After almost two years of adventures and writing the West Coast Avengers, Steve Englehart made arguably one of the most involved adventures spanning some 7 time periods, and is still well remembered by WaCos fans...

The Lost in Space and Time arc.

I recall this adventure beginning to unfold as it came out, and I had avoided buying WCA for the first two years or so...but the gimmick cover of old west villains hiding in plain sight caught my attention.

It wasn't until flipping through the GCD that I noticed the various parts of this arc were numbered, and you could follow which piece you had read or needed. As I recall the original issues were NOT numbered or identified so.(Years later, the Vision Quest storyline would feature a banner on the cover, which wouldl promote the umbrella story arc for so many marvel titles).

Now, I don't recall why Hawkeye and team began this adventure....perhaps they wanted to go back in time to discover what was provoking the ghost of the Phantom Rider so much...I just don't recall.

But I do recall that they "borrow" Dr. Doom's time machine and start working backwards through time, and then discover that "it's broken"...they can only go backwards, not forward in time to return!  This poses an interesting problem, as they continue to pop up in key locations over time.

But the issue that caught my attention was their appearance back in Ancient Egypt and they are present for the Fantastic Four's adventure with Rama Tut at the Sphinx from FF #19 back in 1964. Much like Marty McFly doubles back on his own timeline and watches the events of the first Back to the Future movie unfold before him, the WaCos observe the action without getting directly involved. But when it comes time for them to hitch a ride back to the present, they miss their window (literally) and so are stranded in time.

Now, I wasn't buying the series, and so I don't know how they resolved this, but I do recall a clever move that they had made earlier in the arc, where someone wrote a message on a lace handkerchief and left it in a family bible, saying "HELP! Dr. Doom's time machine busted! Trying to make our way to Rama-Tut. Contact the FF! -Hawkeye"

I always found this a clever way to communicate with the present, and sure enough, a new character who is very religious, discovers the note in her family bible, giving new purpose to Dr. Pym's life...

But I still don't know  how the story resolves. I don't know how Hawkeye and company get back to the present. 

Last weekend, I went to a local comic con and looked for the back issues. No one had them and the few spotty issues I did find were outside the #17-to-24 range of the storyline.  And though recently collected and bound in a hardcover trade just last year, no one stocked it.  Oh, I could find the Family Ties volume, and the Avengers Assemble one, and there was at least one other one as well as the Guardians of the galaxy volumes...but no "Lost in Time and Space" volumes.


I happened to find a link inviting question of Steve Englehart on line last Friday evening, and so I asked him how he resolved the story arc. He was kind enough to tell me that it was so involved with so many elements that had to come together that it would take him longer to explain than it took to write it all. So he said, go buy a copy!  I asked if he made anything on the reprinting of the tale and he admitted "a little bit" so he humorously joked, "Buy lots and lots of copies!"

So here I sit, wondering how they got out of this jam.

Does anyone remember?

Does anyone remember the West Coast Avengers before Byrne took us on the Vision Quest?

What are your fond memories of this series?

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I missed this entirely, I'm only just starting to read the WCA.

Roger Stern & Al Milgrom did THE AVENGERS and the spin-off mini-series (if memory serves), but Steve Englehart & Al Milgrom did the regular WEST COAST AVENGERS from the beginning while Stern continued on the main book with John Buscema & Tom Palmer.

I've only read these issues-- once-- and, absurdly, after I'd read the John Byrne issues.  (I was really backed up on a lot of things at the time...)  I think I read too many comics in too short a space a time to really apreciate any of them.  Also, I kept running into instances where I'd read a sequel to a story before I read the story it was a sequel to (if you know what I mean).

This is funny, Barnabas Collins used that "writing a note" trick in the 1897 storyline on DARK SHADOWS back in 1969.  He was imprisioned in the basement of his house, and noticed that the writing desk which he'd moved up to the living room in 1967 was still in storage in the basement, in the same room he was locked in.  So he wrote a note to his friend Julia and put it in the desk in a "secret drawer".  In 1969, Amy Jennings was playing around with the desk, ran across the secret drawer, and the letter... and Julia saw her holding the envelope and asked what it was.  As it had Julia's name on it, she read it immediately... and was able to save Barnabas via time-travelling.  CRAZY, but that's what happened!

While Steve Englehart had become my favorite comics writer at the time in the 1970's, when he returned to comics in the 80's his work was very erratic and uneven.  He was also working for 3 publishers at the SAME TIME (Marvel, DC and Eclipse!), something that probably would have been unthinkable a decade earlier.

My main impression was his WCA issues were about mid-range for his work at the time.  Not great, but not horrible. At least, not until the very end of the run, when I believe severe editorial interference freaked him out so much he began to write increasingly AWFUL stuff.

I admit, I find most of the post-Byrne stuff virtually unreadable...and the art isn't much better either. Bendis's big Avengers Dissembled owes a great deal to Byrnes's "Darker than Scarlett" storyline that was ended abruptly, when they walked out.

Byrne, you say?  Walked out of a series in mid-story, you say?  Well, I never...

No, I'm making reference to how Magneto, Pietro and Wanda walked out of the ending of the last Byrne issue together... leaving the defeated WCA in their wake.

It does sound like Byrne himself left the series before that story was properly finished?  Or maybe it was always planned to end there?  Give his successor something to do...

 

Edited to add:  OK I think I get it now.  Byrne ended that story abruptly, but continued as writer on WCA?

I have always been an Englehart fan and his run on WCA was something I enjoyed beginning to end. One of the major factors for me was that he actually made me care about Hank Pym. Up until this point, although I had read the earlier stuff, Pym was Yellowjacket who I found to be one of the most boring characters. Basically The Wasp with none of the personality. Then when they had him become a wife beater, THAT was it. Sorry but that is one of my buttons in fiction and definitely in real life. The character disappeared and as far as I was concerned it was good riddance to bad rubbish.

I was not enthused when I saw him come back to The Avengers but I liked the concept and I liked the others so I grudgingly kept with it. I liked how he was portrayed and Mr. Englehart gave him more characterization in a few issues than I had seen in over 5 years with the East Coast team. The Lost in Space-Time story was great. The ONLY drawback (and this is something that Mr. Englehart had working against him in the past) was the art. It just seemed, for me at least, a bit sub par. Of course, that mess that was Wonder Man’s costume at the time DID NOT help. I also found it was a bit over the top to dress Doctor Pym (as he decided to call himself, well really it IS his name) as a knock off of Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor. I have the originals of the story and enjoy re-reading it from time to time, that and the East Coast/West Coast Annuals crossovers.

I have mixed feelings about this series and this arc.

I loved the idea of the WCAvs, but disliked most of the members.

Hawkeye as the leader was always a superb idea but he was written as a bit too flippant and desperate - I felt he'd moved beyond that.

No problems with Iron Man other than he was in his silly heavy red and silver look and I think they engaged him in a childish pissing contest with Wondy..?

Wonder Man finally got out of his pointless safari suit that I hated but wished he'd brought back as they put him in his hollywood christmas tree costume. (I was always a fan of the original - or the Perez version - a minority view I know!)

Pym as suicidal I didn't buy into I'm afraid, I could see why and how he'd become the fallen star he had ...but suicidal...I didn't find that credible at all. (I also didn't like the Tom Baker look either...please!)

Other than them we had Tigra and Mockingbird.... Tigra who had proven in her short tenure in the main Avengers team she shouldn't have been in the group - but gets to become a founding WCA-er...(!) and Mockingbird who whilst I initially didn't dislike her too much, had no real credits to her abilities or personality and became such a whinger I absolutly hated her more than I had Tigra. Neither 'worthy' of being in my favourite team.

And then - the art never seemed quite 'worthy' either - "sub-par" has been quoted and I agree wholeheartedly. The whole thing was 'Avengers-lite'.

---As for the "Lost In Space Time" arc - I also cannot remember why they began flying through time - all I can remember is that Hawkeye actually (not a hoax !!) DIES. - Turns out he created Moon Knights weapons (although they have nothing to do with bows and arrows...?)!! And Pym met the 'very-devout' - but dull and wet Firebird - who came from I don't know where or why.

Mainly I remember the WCAs as having so much unrealised potential!

In my humble...

 

 

No, figs. You had it right the first time.

He was frustrated with mandated cross-overs, and so, as he got to this possible break-off point in the tale, he quite literally had Wanda, Mags and Pietro walk out on the WCA after they had been so thoroughly trashed and caught off-guard.
The story could have (and eventually DID) gone on toward a resolution, a very unsatisfactory one issue tie-up of the Immortus, Wanda, and Time-Watchers/Keepers storyline. I found it a poor substitution for what Byrne could have done. Eventually, we see Bendis grab hold of the reigns and REALLY take charge, taking the "corrupted Wanda" concept to the ultimate extreme....Avengers Dissembled. 

When asked if Avengers Dissembled was where he would have taken the book, Byrne remarked, "Something like that, I'm sure"... but it was clear that he had not plotted beyond the walk-out point and didn't want to steal Bendis' thunder. He was uncharacteristicly humble about it.

(I think the reality is that when Byrne leave a series, he doesn't worry much about where it goes from there. So asking questions like "Is this what you would have done" or "what did you have in mind for their future" doesn't have much meaning.  He didn't go that far, and so, there's no real answer to that.  It just indicates that the fans wanted MORE of him.)

Figserello said:

It does sound like Byrne himself left the series before that story was properly finished?  Or maybe it was always planned to end there?  Give his successor something to do...

 

Edited to add:  OK I think I get it now.  Byrne ended that story abruptly, but continued as writer on WCA?

If he had only finished it maybe Bendis wouldn't have been able to use it to mangle Wanda's character.

Or set the Avengers up as the comics equivalent of THE blockbusting franchise of the last 10 years?

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