WEST COAST AVENGERS #1 by Kelly Thompson and Stefano Caselli
WEST COAST AVENGERS #1 is a fantastic debut, with a ton of fun and ridiculous adventures to keep you entertained from page one. Land sharks and giant former superheroes may not be for every reader, but Kelly Thompson manages to make this story an incredibly meaningful read as well.
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There are very few characters Marvel has treated better than Hawkeye in the last several years. Whether you are talking about Clint Barton or Kate Bishop, the archers have hit it big in the Marvel Universe. However, neither character has truly seen the same popularity since CIVIL WAR II. After all, Clint Barton killing Bruce Banner left a bad taste in readers’ mouths. Now, both archers are back on the West Coast in WEST COAST AVENGERS #1. And you have to see their newest adventures.

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After a horde of land sharks (sharks with legs) stampede through Santa Monica, Kate Bishop decides that enough is enough. In New York, you can’t throw a rock without hitting some superhero. The West Coast has nobody, though. But with her fortune gone, can she even support a new superhero team? Nobody knows, but she is going to try. Now, her new West Coast Avengers are riding the reality TV trend as they take the fight to West Coast baddies. Just in time, too, as a 200-foot tall Tigra has started to stomp through Santa Monica.

Bringing the Team Together

WEST COAST AVENGERS #1, Page 1. Courtesy of Marvel Comics

WEST COAST AVENGERS #1 is a really fun and hilarious debut. I honestly found myself smiling from page one. Few writers would have the guts to go in such a ridiculous direction with their story, but Kelly Thompson absolutely pulls it off. From the first page, she wholly focuses in on her team of heroes. She gives them the chance to flex their superpowered muscles in some awesome fight sequences. Then, when things have quieted down a bit, she hones in on the strongest elements of these characters.

Each member of this team has a huge personality, and the way Thompson gives time to this characterization gives the later events a lot of weight. Also, starting with such a ridiculous battle against the land sharks opens the door for any possible story arc. Thompson can literally do anything next and it would fit the atmosphere she created. The reality TV Show angle also goes a long way to help this first issue’s atmosphere. The “confessions” sections, the one-on-one character interviews done by the camera crew, are a stroke of brilliance. Not only do they give Thompson a really great way to characterize her cast. They also make exposition interesting. We get a sense of each of these characters’ interiority without slowing the plot to a standstill.

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Avengers, Assemble!

WEST COAST AVENGERS #1, Page 2. Courtesy of Marvel Comics

The character aspect of WEST COAST AVENGERS #1 is so important to the success of this story. Kelly Thompson has brought together five of comics’ biggest personalities. Quentin Quire and Gwenpool could easily overshadow any other team on their own. Putting them together with America Chavez, Clint Barton, and Kate Bishop? I actually worried that these warring personalities would act as a distraction. However, Thompson does a good job of balancing each of these characters’ moments on the page. No one besides Kate truly steals the spotlight. Their personalities balance each other and make for a fun and quirky read. Seriously, this story simply made me fall in love with this cast even more.

As the leader of this new team, Kate Bishop does get the most focus in WEST COAST AVENGERS #1. She absolutely should, and Kelly Thompson uses this character in brilliant ways. The confessions segments’ focus on everyone’s opinions of Kate works like a charm. We get to see how Kate affects the other characters around her. Meanwhile, Kate is seen throughout the story doubting her abilities. This humbles the character and makes her relatable. I absolutely loved the fact that this team is literally figuring things out as they go. They start with no money and no idea what to do next. Kate relies on Clint’s experience, but he can’t always be there. As such, we have these moments where Kate has these intense and believable moments of self-doubt that stand out well.

Depicting the West Coast

WEST COAST AVENGERS #1, Page 3. Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Stefano Caselli takes the reigns of the art in WEST COAST AVENGERS #1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this creator’s work before, but I have to say how impressed I am with his art. WEST COAST AVENGERS #1 is an absolutely beautiful book, and much of the light and fun tone can be attributed to Caselli’s art. His character poses and expressions always look so dynamic and expressive, and his fluid linework gives this story a huge amount of energy. And to be honest, any artist who can believably portray land sharks has my vote of confidence. I hope Caselli sticks around for a while. I can’t wait to see how his style evolves over the coming issues.

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WEST COAST AVENGERS #1: Final Thoughts.

WEST COAST AVENGERS #1 may not be for every reader. The hyper-ridiculous elements of this debut story may turn certain readers away. But for me, this was an incredible release. The story is packed with a ton of fun and energy. From the very first moment, Kelly Thompson and Stefano Caselli had me hooked. This is a book that absolutely drips personality and style. More importantly, Thompson knows when to slow the plot down and take things more seriously. This is a fun book, but its cast is incredibly believable. That is where this book shines brightest.

If you haven’t read WEST COAST AVENGERS #1 yet and you are in the mood for a fun, no holds barred superhero story, then this is the book for you!

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