Comic Book Classics Revisited returns with another installment in our “Ultron Handbook” cycle to help prepare you for the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron movie. Today, we continue with the second part of the introduction of Ultron’s creation, the Vision. A few questions about the origins of both the Vision and Ultron were posed in the previous issue. Now, it’s time for the answers. Let’s jump in, shall we?
Black Panther arrives at Avengers Mansion for a meeting and is surprised to find Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor in attendance. Hank Pym called them in to discuss the Vision’s request to join the Avengers. Black Panther is in favor of him joining because of the power the Vision brings. However, Iron Man doesn’t want to jump to any conclusions. He wants to know a little more about this mysterious Vision character.
To test Vision’s mettle, Captain America tries to attack him and flies right through the density shifted Vision. Next up, Iron Man tries blasting him with his repulsor rays, but Vision changes his density again to be as solid as diamond. When Vision adds a little flourish by lifting Iron Man up over his head, Thor gets involved. Thor and Vision duke it out until Hank comes along to show that Cap was only goading them into a fight to see what powers Vision has. Thor, Iron Man, and Cap are all thoroughly impressed with the Vision’s powers, but they are still unsure because they don’t know anything about him or his origins.
The original Avengers want nothing more than to probe Vision’s memories to learn of his origin, but Vision only has pieces. He flashes back to his first moments of life. He awakens to Ultron-5 welcoming him to the world of the living. Vision starts right off asking about his creation, but Ultron has no desire to answer his creation’s questions. He tries to convince Vision that his questions are beneath their purpose and that they were born for greater reasons and goes right onto teach Vision about the powers he gave him. Still, Vision wants to know his purpose and his name, but Ultron proceeds to just call him a clown and that his mind is meant to be controlled not ask questions. So Ultron sends what he believes is his dumb android slave off to kill the Avengers, and that catches us up to the start of issue #57.
Then Hank Pym starts to think about something… In talking about how Ultron is a solar-powered battery, of sorts, similar to something he had been working on previously that he called a “synthezoid”. When Hawkeye asked what happened to that experiment, Pym suddenly realizes he doesn’t know or remember. They rush out to the suburbs where Pym once lived. When they arrive via Thor’s enchanted portal created by Mjolnir, they find Pym’s old home boarded up and abandoned – something else Pym can’t remember.
He then goes under a memory machine, and, as soon as it is turned on, mental blocks crumble and memories long forgotten rise to the surface. Pym sees when he created a robot that acted as the first step toward creating synthetic life. However, before turning it on, the machine starts talking and working on its own. Creepier still, it continues to refer to Pym as “da-da” and “daddy” in an infantile voice. Soon, attacks Pym and its speech is now much more mature and sounding more like a full grown adult. It overpowers Pym and uses an unearthly light to hypnotize Pym into forgetting he ever created the robot and to abandon the home immediately. When Jan comes to help Hank, he just can’t remember what happened.
In the present, the Avengers realize that Ultron was able to return to the abandoned residence to use the tools to build his Ultron-5 body. He put everything back to where it was as to not raise suspicion, but he did take one thing with him – the memory tape that contained Wonder Man’s memory patterns. This launches into a history of Simon Williams who was dying of a rare disease, but given incredible ion powers from Baron Zemo. He infiltrated the Avengers and helped the original Masters of Evil to attack them. Realizing his mistake, Wonder Man makes amends, but is blasted by Zemo and just before passing away, Pym and Iron Man recorded Simon’s brain patterns into a memory bank so he may someday live again. When all the pieces are put together, it is discovered that the Vision is indeed the synthezoid Hank was working toward, and his memories and emotions come from the loooooong departed Simon Williams (who hasn’t been mentioned in nearly 50 issues of the series). Disturbed, Vision decides it’s time to get out of there as he learned all he cares to.
Back at Avengers Mansion, the verdict on Vision’s membership is concluded very quickly. Hank Pym excitedly proclaims to the Vision that he is now a full-fledged member of the Avengers. Vision, taken aback, is surprised to hear he is a member despite not truly being a human being. Hank explains that the original team roster included an Asgardian immortal and a green-skinned behemoth. What matters more to the team is a person’s worth, not the accident of that person’s condition. The Vision is awkwardly silent. He shows no emotion but excuses himself. Iron Man thought he picked up a hint of sentiment, but that his voice was so cold and emotionless. Hank says that he can’t help that, but if you saw his eyes right now, Tony would learn that…
Stop being a completely emotionless jerk.
Look, once upon a time, it was special to be an Avenger. There was pomp and circumstance to the inclusion of a new member of the team. It’s not like today when just about everyone, including myself, can be an Avenger. Seriously, I just found out like six months ago that I was an Avenger. If they let me in, they’d let anyone in. This wasn’t the case back then. You applied for membership. They’d talk about it. They’d test you. Then you might get reserve status if you weren’t ready for the big leagues yet. We didn’t live in a world lousy with Avengers. So it was special.
Add to that, the Vision is a pretty bummed out dude. He was created by something evil to do bad things, but he didn’t want to be evil. All he wanted to know was why he was created to have curiosity and human emotion. Ultron would not even satisfy that with an answer. It was like he simply created Vision to be abused. That’s some cold shit, man. It also kinda hangs with a person (real or synthetic). If all you know is that you exist to do someone else’s dirty work and will never have questions about why that is or why you have the questions to begin with, you’ll quickly fall into self-loathing. You’d think that you’re a value to no one. You’d be one helluva sad, depressed thing.
Now, in the case of the Vision, imagine you also have strange flashes or impulses of memory that makes you think that these people who you were created to simply destroy should be your friends, and, oh boy, you’ll be a confused puppy. They seem so sure of themselves. They have a purpose and real memories and they can get answers to their questions. So on and so forth. As for you, though, you can’t imagine that you belong in the same room because you have no idea who or what you are or why you even exist.
Then, imagine those people you hold on a pedestal accept you and want to care for you and make you feel valued. Yeah, you’d cry too, jerk-o. And, yes, I want to see some synthetic tears coming out of Paul Bettany’s eyes in the Age of Ultron movie.
Okay, there’s one big elephant in the room to talk about. Hank Pym’s involvement in the creation of Ultron. That seems kind of swept under the rug in this issue. Hank was building something. He built it too well. It gained sentience. Turned against his father. Made his father forget it all. Then went off to upgrade itself into a murderous monster bent on killing the Avengers.
Well, that’s all bad, but it will take some time for that stuff to really manifest as being a long term emotional issue. First, Pym would have to inhale some dangerous chemicals that will make him a schizo. This causes all sorts of other problems down the line, including an identity crisis, betrayal of the team, and spousal abuse. Once he kind of, sort of, overcomes those problems, for many years to come, he will forever feel guilty for what he created with Ultron.
He will come to terms with it – sort of, but that’s a story for another time. For now, though, let’s sign off and when we come back on Monday, we’ll have the next time Ultron appears, and with him, the first appearance of a certain “indestructible alloy” that will become all the rage with a short, fuzzy Canadian with a mean disposition!