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Thursday, January 18, 2018

X-amining Avengers West Coast #101

"Genosha, Mon Amour: Bloodties Part III of V"
December 1993

In a Nutshell
War Machine battles Exodus in the skies over Genosha.

Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciler: Dave Ross
Inks: Tom Dzon
Letterer: Steve Dutro
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Nel Yomtov
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

As the Avengers confront the United Nations over the terms of their charter, the contingent of the team that journeyed to Genosha are confronted by Exodus. War Machine engages him as the Scarlet Witch & Crystal head off to find Luna and the rest of the Avengers try to stop the fighting between the mutates and humans. Elsewhere, Professor X, Beast & US Agent discover a mutate concentration camp in the tunnels beneath the city, protected by the Magistrate Elite. On the outskirts of the city, the X-Men defeat the Unforgiven, while in the skies above the city, Exodus overpowers War Machine, only to find Sersi ready to go one-on-one with him.

Firsts and Other Notables
This is the penultimate issue of Avengers West Coast, which is cancelled as of its next issue and (eventually) replaced with Force Works, arguably the most 90s comics of the 90s (it tries to be X-Force Avengers, fails, then pretty much just becomes Avengers West Coast with a different name). If you think dedicating the second-to-last issue of a long running series to the third chapter of crossover seems like a dick move respective to the book's readers (and very, very 90s), well, you're not wrong.

This is also Roy Thomas' last issue of the series, as the incoming Force Works writers handle the sendoff next issue. Apparently, Thomas was poorly informed about all the circumstances regrading his departure and the transistion to the new book, as evidenced mostly by the presence of Hawkeye in this issue. The previous issue saw the death of Hawkeye's wife, Mockingbird, and next issue, his absence will be noted and attributed to that event (and used as part of the trumped up evidence justifying the dissolution of the West Coast team). Here, Hawkeye is seen leading the charge against the UN's control over the Avengers, and it seems like Thomas is setting up Hawkeye to be the one who dissolves the Avengers' charter (thus giving more justification for breaking up the team), but it will ultimately be Black Widow (of the East Coast branch) who removes the Avengers from the charter (in the story's next chapter, not written by Thomas).

The centerpiece of this issue is a fight between Exodus and War Machine, and at one point, Exodus is able to use the fact that War Machine is African-American to race-bait him into attacking. This will, rather dumbly, also be used as justification for shutting the Avengers West Coast next issue.

The cover to this issue features one of those retro layouts with headshots of characters involved in the story framing the central image.

Creator Central 
Scott Lobdell (but not Nicieza) gets a "special thanks" credit in this issue.

A Work in Progress
Professor X, Beast & US Agent discover a mutate concentration camp in Hammer Bay's sewers in this issue.

The mutates, despite their powers, are being guarded by the Magistrate Elite, on orders from President Cortez, introducing a new faction into the story.

The Cortez who confronted the X-Men in X-Men #26 is revealed here to be a shapeshifting mutate, albeit one psychically-linked to Cortez (so he still learned that Magneto is incapacitated).

Exodus is said to have "boundless psionic powers", which mostly manifests itself as "flying and shooting energy blasts from his eyes and hands".

Young Love
Rogue and Gambit flirt some more while battling the Unforgiven.

Human/Mutant Relations
Beast is uncharacteristically "mutants only!" about US Agent tagging along with him and Xavier.

Austin's Analysis
The third part of "Bloodties" is essentially an issue-long fight between Exodus and the Avengers (chiefly War Machine), and the X-Men & the Unforgiven, which, after two issues of mostly setup, is fine. But it's also indicative of the larger problem with the story, which is that, now over halfway over, very little has still actually happened. A bunch of different people have come to Genosha, and now some of them are fighting. That's about it.

This is also the chapter where the seams are starting to show, in which the handoff between writers is a little less elegant. Hawkeye's presence is curious (caused by behind-the-scenes editorial decisions), given events in this series before and after this issue. We see that US Agent has caught up to Beast & Xavier between issues (which is fine), but the trio has also lost Rene Majcomb and the bipartisan rebel force along the way (huh?). Beast is suddenly scripted as being oddly and suddenly racist (he may not know or like US Agent much, but he is the one member of the X-Men to actually have been an Avenger; all other reasons aside, that makes him a curious choice to voice a "mutants only!" perspective), and then the three end up stumbling across a mutate concentration camp being run by human magistrates empowered by Cortez (okay...), which is something that gets tossed off without much follow-up (it's unclear if this is an attempt by Cortez to simply prolong the conflict and play both sides, or an attempt to contain the Legacy Virus plague, or something else entirely). As an individual chapter of the story, this is (mostly) fine, albeit also mostly action-oriented. But it does little to advance the overall story, while doing much to muddle it, and thus, marks an unfortunate turning point for the crossover.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, Wolverine: Global Jeopardy. Next week, Uncanny X-Men #307 and X-Factor #97.

Collected Editions


  1. I like the the cinematic trick of panning to the bird's eye view on the two civilian factions attacking each other with the Avengers in between. I don't think the Times Squaresque appearance of the street corner is an accident but there to give some "if it was here" gravitas.

    Can't help seeing Hawkeye's argument at the UN as very reminiscent of that of Bush the younger about Iraq a decade later.

    Nice that they found the usually overkill Sersi something to do.

    How exactly does Exodus know Rhodes to be an African-American? "Psionic", I guess. But, for someone kept mostly out of loop about Rhodes' time spent in armor, I can't help but appreciate how stuff here (perhaps fully accidentally) juxtaposes to the Secret Wars and Rhodes' exchange with Reed Richards about his supposed surpriseness of a "black man" being in the Iron Man armor. Having read only these, Rhodes comes out a bit as someone with chip on his shoulder. Question to thise who know better, did they ever do anything with it in the decade in between?

    1. Rhodey of this era definitely has a chip on his shoulder - he's specifically pissed at Tony Stark for faking his death and not telling him, even while he left the Iron Man armor and control of Stark's company to Rhodey. Whereas before, their relationship was always that of good friends (the issues angmc43 outlines below aside).

      So while I can't say that he was carrying around a chip for racial reasons, he's definitely much angrier in general at this point than in his earlier appearances.

  2. Don't know about racism, but in IRON MAN, Rhodey did have issues about possessing the armor during Tony's big alcoholic relapse; the pride of wearing it fulfilled a life-long dream of being a hero, but the guilt that he was getting joy from someone else's suit, the resentment that he was some sort of stand-in for the real thing, and fear that the now sober Stark might take the suit back, gave him some massive psychological headaches that made him moody (snapping at Tony's advice), arrogant (feeling he's done a fine job while Tony was too busy being a drunken homeless bum), and reckless (endangering people while fighting villains). It was only when Tony convinced him that he didn't want the armor back and a mystical exercise by Shaman that Rhodey lost his issues.

  3. I was a loyal AWC reader back then and yes, #101 was ridiculous for what was essentially a worthless crossover. Still, I remember being hyped for Force Works, thinking it was the most interesting idea ever, and now wondering what the hell was I thinking.

    Come to think of it, Force Works (a dumb name for a team) seems like a...Century...ago.

    1. Ah, I see what you did there!

      I remember being excited about FORCE WORKS too. But I didn't stick with it for long (which was rare for me back then).

  4. While I knew that AWC turned into Force Works-and Force Works was awful-I had no idea the turnover was this awful, and the second to last issue of a long running title was devoted to an utterly skippable chapter of a cross over. And while Roy Thomas was past his sell by date by then, that was a crappy way to send him off an Avengers book. This issue was so disposable I forgot I owned it until this post, and that's no way to send off the guy who wrote the Kree-Skrull War.

  5. Yeah, I finished the crossover in its entirety last week, and this is easily the weakest chapter, both in terms of writing and with regards to the artwork. That said, I have to admit to finding this iteration of Roy Thomas more palatable than the sixties/seventies version, who was way, way, way, way, way, way too verbose in his captions for anyone's good.

    I feel like Rogue enjoying the idea that "The South Will Rise Again" is something that probably wouldn't make it into a comic written nowadays...

    1. I've been thinking about the 1989-1992 series Pony Express in similar terms. Today there would be a social media rage if Tespoon Hunter was to tell and rationalize that he was going back home to Texas to fight the Civil War for them, never mind that a black character already did call him out for that in the scene.

    2. This may just be the result of my dirty mind at work, but I read a fair amount of sexual innuendo into their dialogue, for what it's worth.

    3. I don't know, speaking as someone who constantly fails to read double entendre without a hem, hem, my meter doesn't much twitch on this one.


  6. The only note I took while/after reading the issue was that it’s pretty much entirely negligible to the overall story. Other than…

    // Exodus is able to use the fact that War Machine is African-American to race-bait him into attacking. //

    Without even trying, I think, or at least without benefit of knowing that War Machine was specifically African-American, beyond it simply being a mutants-are-superior-to-you-normal-humans spiel. I see Teemu got there and even No-Prize’d an explanation (unless Exodus’ psionic abilities having a telepathic dimension was actually an inference that RT intended the reader to make and/or he was just misinformed about Exodus’ powers) if one wants to see it that way. Your reply also speaks to my internal debate on whether Rhodey was simply reacting or overreacting, although whether there’s a difference when it comes to race-baiting is perhaps moot.

    1. For what it's worth, all else aside I describe Exodus as race-baiting War Machine here mostly because that's how Captain America describes it when railing against the West Coast Avengers in issue #102 (using War Machine allowing Exodus to (metaphorically) get inside his head here as partial justification for shutting down that branch).

  7. I always thought we were supposed to assume Exodus could read minds- Exodus is clearly able to control minds at the end of Bloodties in Avengers 369, and in the MU telepaths that can control minds can usually read minds (Karma being the exception). Plus, Exodus is able to sense Cable is still on board Avalon in X-Force 25.

    1. Yeah, I've always assumed Exodus was telepathic as well as telekinetic - AVENGERS #369 makes that pretty explicit. And we know he as "psionic" abilities, which can mean telepathy, telekinesis, or both.

  8. "If you think dedicating the second-to-last issue of a long running series to the third chapter of crossover seems like a dick move respective to the book's readers (and very, very 90s), well, you're not wrong."

    Marvel compounded the mess by failing to properly solicit the book as part of the crossover and thus many retailers didn't order an expanded amount. Consequently the issue rapidly became scarce/overpriced and some regular readers without hold orders found themselves missing an issue because of it.

    Then a few months later Marvel generated even more anger when they launched "Marvel Mart", a mail order service for various merchandise, tradepaperbacks and pack collections of recent storylines at about cover price, accompanied by an eight page catalogue added to some issues. Bloodties was one of the storylines included and it added to retailer outrage that Marvel was going back to press on high demand issues but not making them available to retailers.


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