**This article contains spoilers for West Coast Avengers #1. You have been warned**
Marvel just relaunched a long-defunct super team with the recent release of West Coast Avengers #1 (October 2018). It is the second incarnation of the team after Clint Barton’s Hawkeye put together a squad by the same name in the 1980s.
The new book features Kate Bishop setting up Hawkeye Investigations in Venice Beach, California, with some help from Barton. Yep, two Hawkeyes. They even mention how that could be confusing on the first page.
- Kate’s boyfriend Fuse, who can change his body into any substance he touches. He is basically Absorbing Man with piercings, which is pretty clever because then he can become metal with a thought because he is always in contact with it;
- America Chavez – sometimes known as Miss America – a red, white, and blue-clad flying powerhouse that can also open dimensional rifts;
- Gwenpool, who is a combat and weapons expert, and seems to know she is in a comic book, and;
- Kid Omega, a hugely powerful mutant specializing in telepathy and telekinesis.
It is that final teammate that offers a way for the team to be financially solvent. He walks in not only with his powers but also with a camera crew. He wants the team to become a reality show.
Ay, there’s the rub.
The world is not so far removed from the impetus for the original superhero civil war that they would allow this to happen again without protests and a huge uproar.
In Civil War #1 (July 2006), the New Warriors star in a reality show but their ratings were slumping so they decided to go after bigger name villains to help. They track a quartet of escaped villains to a house in Stamford, Connecticut, and while trying to arrest them, one of the villains refuses to go back to The Raft. Nitro blows himself up and takes out a children’s park along with a few surrounding blocks.
Almost all of the New Warriors were killed, along with over 600 townspeople. The Stamford Incident makes every other hero livid, including Captain America who couldn’t believe all those people died for a “stupid reality TV show.” The negative reaction of the American people is what opens the door to the Superhuman Registration Act and everyone choosing sides, with disastrous results.
Here are the types of questions that would likely be asked in a television pitch meeting in some Marvel universe production company when this idea was presented: What happens when the public hears that another “stupid reality TV show” featuring superheroes is coming out? How much will our insurance provider charge us to cover this, if they are willing to cover it at all? What companies would want to buy advertising and attach themselves to another potential tragedy?
If the profits aren’t evident, the premise would never get beyond those questions.
Don’t get me wrong, I have loved the West Coast Avengers since I bought the first issue of the mini-series from my local comic shop back in the day, and stayed on the ride with the WACOS (Ben Grimm’s pet name for the team) for the first 40 issues of the ensuing regular series. I was thoroughly entertained with this first issue of the relaunch, and I am looking forward to the see where the series goes. I mean, the issue ends with a super-size Tigra and a big-heated hunk calling himself B.R.O.D.O.K. How fantastically bizarre is that??
It will be interesting to see how writer Kelly Thompson and artist Stefano Caselli address this reality TV problem, and what happens in upcoming issues when Cap, Iron Man, and the rest of the heroes discover the plan. I wouldn’t want to be in Clint and Kate’s purple boots when they come calling, but I would rather see that than have them ignore it altogether and let us readers down.
By Rob Otto