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?
It was used in Iron Man #149 as well. Or maybe it was some other time machine?
The FF had it in Fantastic Four Annual #15, and earlier used it to travel into Makhizmo's alternative future in Fantastic Four #152 and to WWII in Fantastic Four Annual #11, Ben using it again in the continuation of the story in Marvel Two-In-One Annual #1. It would be characteristic of Steve Englehart to get a detail like that right, however.
The West Coast Avengers issue post-dates Kristoff-Doom's destruction of the Baxter Building, and everything inside it except the FF, in Fantastic Four #278; presumably that means the time machine was no longer in it at that point, unless Englehart's supposition was that it fell it Earth as debris.
I'm mistaken. According to this Wikipedia page Hawkeye used Doom's machine in the original the-Avengers-in-the-Old West storyline. A scene in Fantastic Four Annual #11 established that the version of the machine the FF had at that point was a copy of Doom's machine created by Reed, the original machine having been returned to Doom.
So, WHO broke the time machine? Was it sabotage by Dominex or was it just broke before our heroes got to it?
I've not read the Avengers-in-the-Old-West story. If I understand the Wikipedia page correctly, the idea may have been that it was damaged when Kang attacked Hawkeye.
I've just read the Wikipedia page Luke suggested, and it does appear that perhaps the machine was damaged when Kang attacks Hawkeye as he's traveling to the old west. in Avengers #137. However, the platform or the machine returns tot he present, with blood on it, and Iron Man and Moondragon smell a trap. There is nothing to say that the machine did not return to the old west then, OR that it never came back to the preesnt, but WAS a trap set by Kang...and never utilized. That is, the machine remained in the Old West. And therefore was in the desert when Dominex was searching for it. (He must have had some knowledge or reason for looking there or near there...Hawkeye's trip to the Old West must have been the lead.)
I haven't read the old west story yet, but I think it's coming up in either Marvel Masterworks or Essential Avengers shortly.
It’s liable to be some time before MMV gets around to the “Old West” story, but it was reprinted in volume #87 of Marvel’s (now sadly defunct) “Premiere Classic Library” series in 2006 (FYI… description below.)
Volume 87 - "Avengers: The Serpent Crown!" Collects Avengers (1963-1996 1st Series) #141-144 and 147-149. Written by STEVE ENGLEHART Art and cover by GEORGE PÉREZ. It's twin threats to time and space as campaigns by Kang and the Crown coincide! The Avengers fight the Set-serving Squadron Supreme in a clash between Earths and head for the nineteenth century to keep the West from getting wilder! Continuity questions continue as Kang and Immortus mix it up! Plus: the menace of...President Nelson Rockefeller?! Hardcover, 136 pages, full color. Cover price $24.99.
OK, after all the deliberation, and after some helpful summarizing from some of the members of the round table here, I bit the bullet and ordered two issues that I KNOW fall after the WACOS in Ancient Egypt adventure with the FF & Dr. Strange. I KNOW that I bought that one issue when it came out, cause I recognised the significance of the adventure.
Anyway, I shopped around and found #23 & 24 on sale on ebay for 99c ents each, and after some serious complications of trying to "buy it now" and asking the seller to reduce the shipping since they were coming together, it finally arrived and I sat down at midnight to read them.
Sure enough, the solution is found in #23, which ties that up nicely, and then #24 is a pointless clash with Dominex or whatever Lucifer was calling himself this time out. I could have done without #24, in my humble opinion. But it does tie up some threads and start a new plot thread about Wondy's hollywood career.
So, now it can be told: I can answer my own question.
Yep, Moon Knight calls attention to the message in the Bible that Firebird carries around... and then Dr. *(Hank) Pym and Reed Richards repair (gosh Hank is brilliant with printed circuits all of a sudden!) the smashed FF version of Doom's time machine in record time. As a result, the three of them go back and surprise the four stranded WACOS in Egypt, and they all go pick up Mockingbird, and then prepare to assault Dominex or whatever he's called next issue.
Long way to go for a fairly simple answer. No, I don't thing the artwork stands up well, but as one of the two high water marks of the 102 issue series, I'm glad I looked into it.
I STILL think Byrne's time with Vision Quest from #42 to the Walk-Out #58 issue is the finest I've ever seen the storyline run. Still wish he'd come back and write a proper end to that whole arc for us. Just a one issue special that would have done what they attempted to do in #60--62 the RIGHT WAY!