West Coast Avengers #5 // Review
Team books with Marvel and DC can be incredibly hard to make interesting on more than one level. After all, most team books tend to be filled with heroes who also happen to have their own comics on the rack. The Justice League has Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman just to name a few. The Avengers get Captain America, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and many others with a monthly solo magazine. But… what if a creative crew hand-picked a bunch of kooky kids (and an adult) who didn’t have their own book right now? Could a creative team provide both action and meaningful character development? That, among other things, is one of the driving ideas behind the current West Coast Avengers.
Issue five of West Coast Avengers is written by Kelly Thompson once more, Danielle Di Nicuolo provides both the pencils and inks for the art. Triona Farrell provides the colors, while Joe Caramagina letters the pages.
Opening the issue with a fantastically fun battle with new villain Gridlock, the book spends a fair amount of time developing the growing relationships between several characters on the book. Quentin Quire and Gwen Poole both equally decide to explore and ignore their growing relationship, instead engaging in some truly enjoyable banter. America Chavez also has a truly delightful date moment with Ramone… who also happens to be the best friend of Hawkeye the younger and brother of the same Hawkeye’s boyfriend, Johnny Watts. Drama aside, the character drama and interaction just so happens to involve an abandoned amusement park that the mayor of LA has asked them to investigate, and totally isn’t a trap.
This is easily the best issue put out by Kelly Thompson so far. While the antics of giant monster women and B.R.O.D.O.K. was a delight, Thompson seems to have had a blast slowing down for some genuine development between characters. Gwen and Quentin, for example, have moved past the “will they or won’t they” phase of a relationship and straight into trying to figure out one another while stubbornly refusing to admit their feelings for one another. Very similar, and very hard to pull off successfully, but Thompson does a great job of it. Another highlight of the book is the return of Bridgitte, a woman who was turned into a monster by B.R.O.D.O.K. who chose to remain a monster. Normally characters like this would be a one-off joke, or forgotten about. Even though it’s an issue later, this kind of continuity is still vastly appreciated.
Once more, the art on WCA is nothing short of fantastic. Danielle Di Nicuolo has some wonderful facial expressions, capable of telling the story almost entirely without Thompson’s clever dialogue. Special mention goes to the splash of art across pages two and three, featuring a giant robot made out of cars on the 405 freeway fighting the Avengers. Triona Farrell also has a great handle on colors, with some wonderful background lighting choices. Special note goes to some flame effects near the middle of the issue.
West Coast Avengers is a rare breed right now. Not only is it a team book, but it’s a team book that actually invests in its characters and has personal drama. That already makes WCA worth looking into, but Thompson has some real magic in her dialogue and a knack for personal drama without dragging the book down. This is one of the few comics that is always worth your purchasing dollar, and this is a great issue to start at if you haven’t been following.