When West Coast Avengers was announced, it felt like a balm for my soul. It brought back my favorite characters (Kate Bishop, America Chavez) added a bunch of characters I thought were pretty cool (Quentin Quire, Gwenpool, Noh-Varr) and created Johnny and Ramone, Latinx powered people, one of whom was queer. This book was funny, exciting, full of Young Avengers deep cuts, and it just made me happy to read every month.
I suppose a diverse book that makes people happy will inevitably be canceled at Marvel. Before the first trade numbers are in, *again*.
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Moy R.
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Cover: Gang Hyuk Lim
I just finished reading West Coast Avengers issue #10, and I feel gut-punched. Quentin Quire, master of in-joke T-shirts, wears one this issue that says “I’m ready for the reboot.” I tweeted Kelly Thompson: “I’m not ready.”
This comic had everything I loved in a great team-up book. Diversity—not just in racial or cultural makeup, but in personality. A team that squabbled, but then went to fight the bad guy—and squabbled while they fought the bad guy. Kelly Thompson is also a master at the deep cut, and there were so many Young Avengers jokes that made me cackle. They were invisible to the new reader, so if you didn’t get them they didn’t interrupt your experience. But if you’ve been a fan of Kate Bishop since she saved her family with—according to one observer—her Daddy’s credit card, then this book was perfect. It built off Thompson’s Hawkeye: Kate Bishop series, which built off the L.A. Woman mini-series that existed inside Fraction and Aja’s momentous Hawkeye run.
And it’s over now.
I’ve lost a lot of comics in the last few years. America, Unstoppable Wasp, and the aforementioned Hawkeye: Kate Bishop are the ones that hurt the most. But for some reason, West Coast Avengers is leaving me particularly gut-punched. It reminds me why I have a hard time trusting Marvel, why I’m angry—yet again—about a book getting canceled before the first trade even comes out. I don’t know why I have to keep having this conversation.
The last two issues of West Coast Avengers wrapped up a lot of storylines way too fast. The half a dozen pages that showed Ramone gaining the powers of Alloy should have been an entire arc. The reveal of Kate’s mom, the knowledge that she’s back in order to take down Kate’s dad, the potential of her being a half-vampire… they made the storytelling part of these two issues really suck. The team was there, the banter and intertwined relationships were there, but the story wasn’t. It couldn’t be because it was cut so very short.
It didn’t help that issue #10 got an artist who hadn’t ever worked on the series before, and while I would have liked the art in a lot of other contexts, it didn’t work for me in this book at all. Granted, I’ve been fussy every since Stefano Caselli left, but this feels like a book where the team gave everything they had and Marvel didn’t give a shirt. Not a single forking shirt.
Apparently, I’m in the Bad Place, and my torture is having all my favorite comics get canceled just as I settle into them.
West Coast Avengers deserved more of a chance than it got. This book made me feel good about being a fan without feeling excluded. It gave me gay characters, it gave me bi characters, it gave me a girl who is trying to figure out her relationship with her parents, and it gave me a family that was tied together by common enemies and the kind of bickering that you can only have with people you actually secretly like.
Volume 1 (Best Coast) is already available in trade, and volume 2 (City of Evils) will be out in June. Maybe the trade will sell in the kind of numbers that will give it a second try (welcome back, Unstoppable Wasp). But Marvel ought to stop pulling a Mockingbird and trust that the readers are there. Because every time this happens, I’m a little more wary, a little more distant, and a little less comfortable buying what they’re selling. This is why people are angry—they aren’t giving us anything else for more than two trades, canceled before the sales of the first one could factor in. Maybe one of these days Marvel will figure this out… but today is apparently not that day.