Comics : Avengers West Coast #64

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Worst of the Worst

This review was first published on: 2008.

In Detail...

"Show and Tell"
Avengers West Coast #64
Nov 1990 : SM Reference
Summary: Spider-Man Reference: Fun House Figure
Editor:  Howard Mackie
Writer:  Terry Kavanagh
Pencils:  Chris Wozniak
Inker:  Dan Bulanadi
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Review

At Avengers' mansion in New York, Captain America is sent a live video of his former sidekick Rick Jones being captured by a creature with talons and yellow skin (the creature's face is not shown). When tracing the source of the video he discovers that it came from the Avengers' west coast compound.

Cap then contacts the android Human Torch (not Johnny Storm) about the message. The Torch states that the system allegedly used to relay the video is a back-up system has not been operational in a long time and couldn't have been used in this manner.

Cap "delicately" suggests that the Torch "try 'interfacing' .. with the system" to double check. (Is that a euphemism? Seriously, that sounds creepy.) The Torch replies that his much older systems are incompatible with modern technology. However he agrees to perform a systems check by running a specialized diagnostic program. They quickly learn that despite being "inactive" the system was able to be used as a relay station for the signal, which originated in the Midwest. After the Torch provides Cap with the coordinates, Cap leaves to investigate.

In an unidentified house in the Midwest, there sits an uber nerd-child identified as "Stevie" putting the finishing touches on a video of Captain America and uploads it to an unidentified location. Despite his mother's call for bedtime, he ignores her and sneaks out of his room with his "lucky red rock" to perform their task for the evening.

Cap arrives via Quinjet at the provided coordinates, which turn out to be an amusement park. He is drawn through the closed park toward the fun house as there are odd sounds of laughter emanating from it. He walks through the clown's head entrance (which looks VERY similar to the Joker) to uncover the source, knowing that he is walking into a trap.

Stevie's fake Captain America video arrives at its location and prompts its recipients, the Great Lakes Avengers, into action. They use Doorman to teleport them to the same amusement park.

Back at the West Coast compound the Torch continues to run systems checks to discover how it was used to relay the video despite being inactive. During his inspection he detects an energy residue that originated from the Ruby of Cyttorak (which created the Juggernaut) just before the console overloads. The Torch gets Wonder Man to cover for him while he flies to assist Cap. While en route Torch recalls that the Juggernaut had thrown the ruby into orbit to prevent anyone else from acquiring his powers.

Back at the fun house, Cap is attacked by various animatronics, noteably Superman (yes another DC reference) and Spider-Man. Watching from a safe distance, Stevie exposes Cap to a water-based deathtrap, which he escapes. When he reaches the surface, one of the creatures manages to take his shield.

When the Torch finally arrives, he discovers Rick Jones running toward a wax museum. He follows trying to assure him that he's a friend. Cap follows the creature to the wax museum as well. Stevie sits atop the building laughing to himself. Once both heroes enter they are attacked by wax figures given life by the Cyttorak Ruby. They meet up during the fight and recognize each other as the original. They watch as "Rick Jones" is killed by the yellow creature. At that point the GLA arrive and misread the situation, thinking that the "Rick Jones" lying on the ground is the real one, attack Cap and the Torch. The battle is over quickly with the GLA losing definitively.

Once the fighting has stopped, the Torch asks the GLA what brought them here. They admit that they received a video message from someone that looked like Cap asking them to retrieve his shield from an impostor that stole it. The Torch theorizes that the mystical power of the Cyttorak Ruby was used to break into the GLA systems and link up to the Avengers' network.

When they ask what happened to Cap's actual shield, they are unable to find it. They assume that whoever was behind this took it during the fight. Cap quickly assures them that he has the shield. He realized early on that this was an elaborate plan to steal it and took precautions to protect it. He planted a fake shield where the mysterious enemy would be able to easily get it.

The next morning during "show and tell" at school, Stevie explains that due to his lucky red rock discovered during a field trip, he was able to "help the Avengers" on a recent mission and as a reward for his help was given Cap's shield. When he produces the shield from his case, he soon learns that he was outsmarted by Cap. He substituted a wax replica for the actual shield, which has partially melted.

As the other children – who constantly berate him – laugh at his latest failure, Stevie decides to use the Cyttorak Ruby against his classmates.

In General...

I'm not sure if the mystic ruby of Cyttorak could be used in the manner that has been presented here. Hacking into the Avengers' network, animating wax statues, and making a punk kid with a superiority complex an actual threat to Captain America seems to be a bit of a stretch for the gem that birthed the Juggernaut. One would think Loki was responsible for this.

I'm unclear as to how Cap could switch shields during the fight. I'm sure the intent was off-panel, but I cannot determine when this would have happened. There were too many things occurring to work that in logically.

Finally, how fast can the Torch fly, exactly? Flying from California to an unspecified spot in the Midwest under your own power in a matter of minutes seems to improbable. I can't prove this, but I do want to point this out.

Overall Rating...

1 web. Having a child attempting to beat the Avengers (or in this case just two of them) is a lame idea, even when you use the Cyttorak Ruby .. in ill- defined ways. And what was the purpose of this? Show and tell?!? Gimme a break!!

Footnote...

The Cyttorak Ruby was returned to Earth in Excalibur #25.