A Beginner’s Guide to: The Vision
So everyone who saw Avengers: Age of Ultron can agree that the new characters – the Maximoffs and the Vision – were the best parts of the movie, right? Maybe it was just me, since they’re some of my absolute favourite characters in comics, but we can all agree that they had some of the more successful plotlines in the film. Since Sharona’s already given us the lowdown on my best gal (and I talked about her brother last year), I’m going to take a moment to look at the world’s mopiest synthezoid: The Vision!
From his first appearances, Vision is distinguished from other A.I. characters by his intense emotion – do a quick image search and you’re guaranteed to see the final page from his second appearance in “Even an Android Can Cry!”
Vision is created by Ultron to kill the Avengers, but almost immediately he turns on his creator and joins the Avengers. He learns that while his body is a synthetic replica of a human one, his brain patterns come from a dead Avengers foe-turned-ally, Simon Williams (aka Wonder Man). This starts Vizh down the rabbit hole, and he’ll spend decades trying to negotiate his relationship to his own humanity. Other Avengers note constantly his cold and inhuman voice, and even he can’t seem to get a handle on whether or not he can feel human emotions. He’s been hacked a few times, leading to his personality and emotions temporarily getting a bit wonky, but I think anyone who’s read many of his appearances can see that he’s far from the cold, rational being that Ultron wanted him to be.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in his romance with the Scarlet Witch, which begins to develop shortly after he joins the team. The film pays small fanservice to this eventual relationship, and I’m more excited about the potential for organic relationship growth between these two than probably anything else in the near future of the Marvel films (Black Panther and Captain Marvel don’t come out until 2018). In the comics, their relationship isn’t immediately accepted by everyone (the most notable objections coming from Quicksilver) because of Vision’s dubious human status, but that doesn’t stop them from eventually getting hitched and leaving the team to start a family. As Sharona touched on in her article, their twin sons (created via Wanda’s magic) eventually become members of the Young Avengers. Weirdly enough, a rebuilt younger Vision (who calls himself Jonas) also joins this team, but he’s a separate character.
Eventually, Vision is damaged and he tries to take over the world (again) and after rejoining the team now truly sans-emotions, S.H.I.E.L.D. tries to have him destroyed. Shortly afterward, Wanda learns that their children were created from fragments of a demon’s soul, and she loses them. Obviously this is all too much for any relationship to stand, and their marriage ends. Vision sticks around with the Avengers for a while until the Scarlet Witch has yet another mental breakdown and kills a few Avengers – including her former husband.
He was eventually brought back from the dead (since he’s, you know, a robot) and he’s recently been seen in Uncanny Avengers and Avengers A.I., but neither is very good.
If you can enjoy ‘60s superhero comics, check out Vision’s first appearances in Avengers #57-58. He shows off his cool powers – most notably altering his density so that he can be intangible or as hard as diamond – and then the Avengers let him join. You can keep going with this run to watch his relationship with Wanda develop until they get married in Giant-Sized Avengers #4. You can start this run with Marvel Masterworks: Avengers Vol 6.
Vision and the Scarlet Witch. I have to reinforce Sharona’s recommendation that you pick this one up, especially volume 2. It’s one of my favourite comics, just enough character drama to lend it some weight, but it’s mostly fun and light, absent is a lot of darkness and angst that plagues these two characters. It blends action with domestic drama, and Steve Englehardt’s classic comic book-y dialogue doesn’t feel as dated as some of the early stuff. Plus, it includes the most delightfully awkward dinner party of all time, when Magneto shows up for Thanksgiving dinner to the chagrin of everyone but Wanda, who just wants to see her family together for a night. To make things even more awkward, all of the other super-powered guests show up in costume, and The Master of Magnetism comes in a grandpa sweater and no one wants to talk to him. This is essential reading, folks.
West Coast Avengers: Vision Quest. This series is really where you start to see the deterioration of their marriage, which is especially hard to read after the goofy happiness of the couple’s miniseries. Writer and artist John Byrne has been generally unkind to Wanda, but at least she doesn’t have any mental breakdowns in this particular story, and it really pains my heart to watch her looking in vain for an emotional response from the man she once loved.
Avengers Vol 3 (aka Avengers Assemble). This Avengers run by Kurt Busiek and George Pérez is justifiably celebrated by fans. Contrary to a lot of the dark and gritty comics that dominated the scene in the ‘90s, Busiek and Pérez injected some fun back into the comics. This is just a great general run of Avengers and begins with a bit of a reset, so it’s great for new fans. There’s an excellent focus on character all around, including some progress for both Vision and Scarlet Witch. Wanda’s had a few more romances since her split with Vision, but writers don’t seem to know how to give Vizh a new personal life. He clearly misses his former wife, but he tries not to let that interfere with her new relationship, and he too is eventually given the chance to start to move on.
It’s not easy to track down, but if you can find the Vision miniseries from 1994, please please please read it. It’s an example of everything weird and silly that comics can do. Vision (alongside other AIs Jocasta and Ultron) is infected with a virus that makes him act like he’s in some kind of Film Noir. Vision and Jocasta (or “Jo” as he keeps calling her) open a detective agency, and Ultron… mainly just gets drunk. Crystal and Deathcry (of all Avengers) have to go find Vision, and eventually his grandpa Hank Pym helps save the day. It turns out the virus came from a broken alternate-reality Vision who wants to steal our Vizh’s body. It’s just bonkers, and it’s so much fun, plus it gives you the chance to see Vision interacting with Hank Pym, who will be appearing in the upcoming Ant-Man film.
There are more comics I could suggest, but other than an emotionally-charged Avengers Assemble Annual focused on Vizh, the quality of his recent comics just hasn’t been that high. Avengers A.I. provides some more glimpses at Vision’s weird robo-family, but it’s kind of boring an inconsistent (and I’m praying for the day that Rick Remender is taken off Avengers books). Hopefully soon someone will come along who wants to spotlight Vision and let him set off on some new adventures.
Or they could a monthly series based on that Noir robots story. I’d read that.