Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Daniele Di Nicuolo
Color Artist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Stefano Caselli & Nolan Woodard
Graphic Designer: Carlos Lao
Editor: Alanna Smith
Less than a day after the defeat of M.O.D.O.K., Kate Bishop gets a call from Captain America, who is less than joyous about the revival of the West Coast Avengers. The team soon finds he is not the only one unhappy about the return, when Madame Masque herself calls.
The West Coast Avengers fight a fresh supervillain named Gridlock and handily defeat him after Quentin uses his powers to keep machines out of Gridlock’s reach and Kate and Clint fire off well-placed arrows. All is not well for Quentin and Gwen as it becomes clear their relationship is on thin ice and ready to shatter. Clint Barton, tricked by a phone call from Madame Masque, goes with the team to an abandoned theme park, only to be quickly ambushed.
West Coast Avengers #5 is a welcome departure from the wild and wacky first four issues of the series. Where those issues let themselves have fun and be lax with the consequences, this issue dives into the relationships of the characters. The relationship rightfully given the most focus is that of Quentin and Gwen. We see that, in stark contrast to issue 4 where the two seem happy, reality takes hold and Quentin and Gwen have to talk through their relationship issues. Had Kelly Thompson not centered the emotional conflict there, it would have had the appearance of being glossed over and thus implicitly suggesting that the way Quentin has been acting up until then towards Gwen and the team, in general, is acceptable. A succinct and fantastic visual metaphor is given in the form of a swan with a crooked neck and positioning Gwen standing alongside it, forming an incomplete heart. This displays Gwen’s seriousness about the relationship, which adds to the emotional gravitas of the issue.
A great contrast to the Quentin and Gwen relationship is that of America and Ramone. Where the former two are rocky, the latter is clearly smooth, though not without bumps. Ramone is clearly frustrated that America’s being a superhero cut their date short, and the story does not place fault on her or America for this. Rather, it is accepted as a thing that can happen and America attempts to alleviate the frustration by taking Ramone inter-dimensional hopping and perhaps more.
The last relationship given attention here is that of Johnny and Ramone. Similar to America and Ramone’s relationship, theirs is on an even footing. None of the frustration seen before is witnessed here and that highlights the familial love Johnny and Ramone have for each other. The disparities in relationship dynamics here also highlights Kelly Thompson’s hatred of “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” which is involved in Quentin’s flawed thinking toward Gwen.