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"Lost in Space-Time" was a storyline in the West Coast Avengers, running between issues #17 and #24, published across 8 months in 1987. It was written by veteran comic book writer Steve Engelheart, and pencilled by Al Milgrom.

Memory is an odd thing: we can have very specific, detailed memory of some things, without being able to put them in context. And sometimes, in context, they make less sense. During my childhood, I had periods of intense interest in comic books, interspersed with periods where I would find other interests (Transformers, dinosaurs, etc). And so I remember, one day, in the Thriftway in my town, seeing the cover of West Coast Avengers and excitedly telling my mother about it, rekindling my interest in comic books. The problem is, this doesn't quite match up, because the cover I remember is issue #19, with Hawkeye and the other Avengers disappearing into a Time Vortex type thing, which was two issues into the series. So perhaps this memory is mixed. Perhaps I was already reading other comic books at the time. But in any case, I do remember this storyline as being one of the first I read and followed closely. Eight single issues of an 80s comic book can be read over a lunch break, but for me, this story spanned from the end of second grade to the beginning of the third grade. It took quite a lot of attention span to get through this story!

This story is probably one of the all time great Avengers stories, although it isn't always recognized as such. It combines character drama with cosmic plots in a way that is hard to do well. The story begins when the West Coast Avengers, led by Hawkeye, go to the desert Southwest to recruit Firebird, a Hispanic heroine, to their team. They leave behind Hank Pym, the former Ant-Man, to take care of their base. They are not aware that Hank Pym, due in part to his failed career as a super-hero, is in a deep depression and planning suicide. While we are viewing what Hank Pym is planning to be his final moments, the Avengers are ambushed by a super-villain in his desert base, and are sent on a time machine into the past. They find themselves a hundred years in the past, on a broken time machine that can only go backwards. Meanwhile, the woman they went looking for, Firebird, has gone to the West Coast Avengers compound to rescue Hank Pym. She has undergone a religious conversion and has returned to guide Hank Pym on a spiritual journey of self-discovery.

And that was just the first issue.

In the Old West, the team decides to go back in time to Ancient Egypt, where they know that Pharoah Rama-Tut has a time machine. Before they leave, Mockingbird, the wife of Hawkeye, is kidnapped by The Phantom Rider, supposedly an ally of the team. He brainwashes her with a magic potion into what the comic refers to euphemistically as "falling in love" with him. So now the team has to get back to their own time, but also rescue a brainwashed Mockingbird. As the team goes further back, the action switches between the journey of self-discovery of Hank Pym in the present, Mockingbird's captivity and eventual escape and vengeance in the 19th century, and the main team's adventures in Ancient Egypt.

Thirty years later, I can say that this series is notable for how much it combines serious drama with the most over-the-top, silly Marvel continuity. Hank Pym trying to have one last conversation with his ex-wife is mixed in with scenes of Old West outlaws fighting gunslingers. Mockingbird's sexual captivity is interspersed with Hank Pym playing with his new robot dog. Doctor Strange is flying around Ancient Egypt while a time-traveling Pharoah holds the Fantastic Four hostage. Secret messages are sent through time hidden in family bibles and telepathic messages from Egyptian gods. Pretty much everything is thrown at the reader, and at least some of it sticks.

Most people will look at the comic books of the 1980s as being "standard super-hero fare", a time when mainstream comics were still aimed at children, while next generation talents like Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Barry Windsor-Smith and Grant Morrison were still bubbling to the surface, and right before the overly "dynamic" and "grim and gritty" style of 90s creators like Ron Liefeld, Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee. What is interesting about this story, is that while it occurs in a normal single issue format, which I bought for 75 cents each at the local super market, and while it had fairly standard art and story-telling, it both had a very experimental, intricate plot, and also dealt with some very serious issues, like rape and suicide. In retrospect, many of the "mainstream" creators of the 1980s, like Steve Engelheart, who wrote this, but also including Peter David, J.M. DeMattheis, Ann Nocenti, and Walter and Louise Simonson, were writing stories that were comparable to what both the avante-garde and grim and gritty were doing---but were not remembered for it, because their work was also still accessible, as evidenced by the fact that my seven year old self could both physically and mentally get ahold of stories like "Lost in Space-Time".