Behold the Vision! Welcome back to Comic Book Classics Revisited. Today, we hit a landmark in our journey through Ultron’s history. Not only does the villainous robot return to terrorize the Avengers once more, but he brings his creation, the Vision with him! Let’s take a look at The Avengers #57…
A heavy rainstorm falls on New York City on a dark night. A lone figure walks through the streets, but the rain does not touch him. Soon, the figure takes flight toward a window in a high rise building. Inside, Hank Pym is leaving his lady, Janet Van Dyne, to go mess with some bacteria in his lab. The mysterious figure busts in through the window and attacks Janet. She’s able to escape briefly by using her Wasp powers to fly through the keyhole of her apartment. But soon, the figure phases through the wall after her. He blasts her with his thermoscopic eyes in an attempt to burn her to death, but suddenly a pain in the mysterious man’s head causing him to break off his attack. Outside, Hank picks up a signal Janet was able to get out and grows into his Goliath form to come to her rescue. He finds the unconscious figure on her floor, and decides to take the assailant to Avengers Mansion for further study.
In another apartment on New York’s lush upper east side, Hawkeye arrives at Black Widow’s apartment (this is before her black catsuit days, by the way, when she looked more like Catwoman and her and Hawkeye were an on-again-off-again item). Just as they were about to, what I assume would be, get down to business, Hawkeye gets an emergency call from Hank to report to Avengers Mansion. Out in the streets, T’Challa is pondering life as the heroic Black Panther when he hears someone calling for help. As Black Panther he stops the robbery in progress, turns the perps over to the cops, and gets some hero worship from a youngster (which helps him in his pondering of his current life as a superhero and Avenger) before answering the emergency call from Hank.
At Avengers Mansion, the team studies Jan’s attacker. Hank discovers that the being’s internal organs are made from synthetic materials. Hawkeye points out this guy is very much like Hank’s “synthezoid”. When asked, Hank tells T’Challa about his attempts to create synthetic life called a synthezoid, but before he can reveal more about his efforts, the attacker begins to stir once again. The attacker resumes his mission of death and attacks the Avengers again calling himself a “Vision of death for the Avengers” based on Wasp calling him a “vision”. The Avengers try to subdue this Vision, but he shows off his powers to adjust his body’s density to throw them off him like ragdolls. Hank is able to grow large enough to hold him down to talk things out.
When the Vision rants on about his mission to kill them and there being nothing to talk over, T’Challa realizes something odd about the attacker. It’s almost like someone in a trance as opposed to someone with real beef with the Avengers. When he finally calms down a little, Hawkeye asks where he got his powers. The Vision (yeah, I’m just going to call him that now) says he doesn’t know where he came from. He says that he feels he should be friends with the Avengers, but a dark mist clouds his mind. Suddenly, he remembers that he was created by Ultron-5! He was programmed to kill the Avengers, but whenever he thinks of the evil robot, he’s filled with hatred for his creator. Now, that he’s remembered what’s going on, he wants to help the Avengers by leading them to Ultron. T’Challa decides they must take a chance on the Vision, but Hawkeye reminds the synthezoid that he’s going to be cautious and keep one arrow aimed at him just in case he’s leading them into a trap.
The Avengers fly to the underground base of Ultron-5, and enter the stronghold. Hank asks who this Ultron is and why he has such a fanatical desire to destroy the Avengers, but the Vision does not know. Inside, Ultron is watching them on a viewer and monologues about how he programmed the Vision to collapse when he did, and then ultimately befriend the Avengers to lead them to his base so he can annihilate them personally. A booby trap goes off and traps Goliath, Hawkeye, and Wasp in a ring of fire, but Black Panther is able to get through it. However, Jan is able to shrink down and fly over it as the Wasp, and Hank tosses Hawkeye over the flame wall, but a trap door sends Hanks into a pit where another one of Ultron’s androids attacks him. Once he’s knocked out by the android, Ultron orders the lackey to bring Hank to the control center.
The remaining Avengers are growing suspicious as the Vision tells them that it’s better to continue on than worry about Hank to take on Ultron before they are attacked again. When they hesitate about continuing on, Ultron springs another trap and the walls start to slide toward the Avengers. The Vision, immediately accused of leading them into a trap, claims he was not aware of the traps, but is not able to destroy the walls because they were built by an “indestructible alloy” that would crush him just the same as the Avengers (indestructible alloy, eh? Sounds familiar…). However, the Vision can phase through the walls. Despite Hawkeye accusing him further, the Vision decides he will prove himself by finding Ultron and destroying him and save the Avengers.
The Vision does confront Ultron, and tells his creator to release the Avengers and officially introduces himself as the Vision. Ultron gains the upper hand quickly by saying he will release the Avengers causing the Vision to pause and ask what caused the sudden change of heart. Ultron then attacks saying that his only weakness are the nodes on the sides of his head while the Vision is weakened by the gamut of emotions, including trust. He tries to toss the Vision into a vat of pure energy, but the Vision survives by shifting his density to nearly nothing. Before dishing out the final blow to Ultron, the Vision asks why he was created with human emotions and memories, but Ultron responds by saying he will never tell his creation. Ultron lunges at the Vision, but his creation, yet again, shifts his density sending Ultron to his own destruction.
With Ultron destroyed, all of his traps stop. The Vision rejoins the Avengers and explains that the explosion must have destroyed the nodes on Ultron’s head. In fact, it’s only the head that cannot be found by the team, but the twisted remains of the body is all the evidence they need to know the Ultron threat is ended. Outside, the same kid who praised the Black Panther finds the decapitated head of Ultron and begins playing with it by tossing it around and kicking it like a ball. When he accidentally snaps the nodes on the sides of the head, the kid just tosses it away like so much trash.
So… Ultron returns and a new character, who will feature heavily in the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron movie takes his bow. However, there are a lot of neat things to talk about in this issue. So much so, I actually took notes this time to make sure I touched on them all!
Frist, I just gotta say that the Wasp has an uncanny ability to name things. As I once pointed out already (back in my Secret Wars #1 article), Janet Van Dyne named the Avengers way back in the very first issue. I’ll someday get around to that issue in a future Comic Book Classics Revisited article. On top of that, she also, later, had a titular line naming the whole thing the heroes and villains went through as a Secret War. In between that time, she named this new character “Vision” as seen below. I wonder if that was a tradition writers gave her or if it was just totally by accident. Really, I could go either way on how that was handled. If anyone knows for sure, please comment and let me know!
Next, I found much of the first few pages of the issue kind of interesting. Each Avenger starts the issue as being off duty. They are all dealing with personal life stuff. Hank and Jan have important relationship stuff to talk about. Hank is more interested in his culture of bacteria and Jan is getting frustrated with all this business. Black Widow is frustrated with how little time Hawkeye’s been spending with her and Hawkeye thinks the constant Avengers obligations is getting in the way of his love life. Black Panther, though, is the most interesting. He thinks about how he left his home country of Wakanda, full of riches and stuff, to defend the world against those who wish to tear apart society. However, he seems unhappy with his choice to do so. That is until he gets the adulation of a young, black kid and that re-energizes him to make a decision on his life (though that will be later seen in the series).
While it’s not so uncommon for us to see heroes in their personal lives these days, Marvel really handled this in a much less subtle way back in the 60s. These characters were all meant to be depicted as normal people with extraordinary gifts, but that didn’t stop them from being kind of down about whether or not they were actually doing any good. Certainly, you can place T’Challa in that category. It was almost Peter Parker-like how he seems down and out about the life he leads until he hears a young boy talking about how awesome he is at doing the things he’s chosen to do. Since T’Challa is handled very differently these days as a regal and very intelligent leader of a country, it almost seems out of character when you look at his internal dialog in this issue. Regardless if he’s a hero or a king or both, he’s still a normal dude who questions the good he’s doing.
The third thing to point out in this story is how this whole thing is totally a Frankenstein story. While it’s not 100% obvious that Ultron (Dr. Frankenstein in this story) is using the “dead” to create the Vision (the monster in this story), it still has that life from lifelessness angle and the creation turning against its creator tone. Ultron would later play god quite a bit – constantly trying to create life that shares his outlook on organic life and sometimes even trying to turn organic life into mechanical monstrosities like himself. Much like Dr. Frankenstein, his creations often ended up hating him and only caused more headaches for him than organic life.
Finally, and building off that third point, Ultron only hints at his, and subsequently the Vision’s, creation. As we would later see, Ultron has a massive Oedipus Complex against his “father”, Hank Pym. His creation of the Vision is almost a “like father, like son” sort of thing too. This becomes incredibly tangled up though. We’ll learn much more about this next time, and we will also learn where Ultron AND the Vision come from!
So, come back on Friday as we delve into the fourth part of our Ultron Handbook as well as our second part of the introduction the Vision. If you don’t come back, you’ll just have to deal with the angry Vision and his unbridled rage…