You've heard me ramble on about Ultron before, mostly here and here, and even a little bit here. Really, when you're talking about the Avengers, there's no getting around the topic of Ultron. With Ultron, it's not just about eliminating mankind to usher in a machine age - with Ultron, it's personal… because he's family.
Ultron was created by one of the original Avengers, Hank Pym, whom he calls 'father,' and he is in love with another, the Wasp, whom he calls 'mother,' and finally, he himself (itself?) created the Avenger known as the Vision, whom he calls 'son.' Oh yeah, it's a messed little Oedipus complex he has going there. And he pretty much wants them all, and the Avengers, and mankind exterminated.
In Age of Ultron #1, the first issue of the maxi-series crossover event by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Bryan Hitch, the worst thing that could possibly happen, happens. Ultron wins. He gets what he's been after. Let's let that sink in a little bit. Ultron wins.
In a world where Ultron rules the planet, where are the Avengers? On the run, and in hiding. Who will stop Ultron now? Find out in Age of Ultron: Book One, now on sale at All Things Fun!. Be sure to get in on the ground floor of what is sure to be the comics event of 2013, and watch your back, Ultron is everywhere!
By Glenn Walker
Christmas decorations are everywhere, Christmas music is on the radio, everyone is running from store to store to get all the good bargains. Yes, it's that time of year again - it's time to spend time with the family, whether you like it or not.
The holiday season is here, and the holidays are all about family. The Avengers is my favorite superhero team, and in a way, they are a family of sorts. In my opinion, the Avengers has always worked better as soap opera in superhero trappings, after all, superhero comics are the bastard stepchild of mythology and soap opera. The problem is, when you get right down to the roots, the Avengers family tree is rather twisted and dysfunctional. What better time to explore this nest of incest and insanity than the holidays, right?
Let's start with the team's inaugural couple, and while they are no longer officially or romantically still together (depending on the writer), Dr. Henry Pym (known alternately as Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, Doctor Pym, or the Wasp) and Janet Van Dyne, the original and best known Wasp, have had no children, and yet they leave quite a family legacy.
Pym created an artificial intelligence called Ultron, soon to be the big bad in the next big Marvel crossover event, who would become the Earth's Mightiest Heroes' deadliest foe. This machine menace wanted only two things, the complete and total eradication of the human race… and daddy's love. Hank was not forthcoming, leading to an Oedipal complex of catastrophic proportions. I'm being vague, and sarcastic, but trust me, this covers it.
Ultron considered Pym his father, and in a twisted way, that made the Wasp his mother. Since it's likely Ultron was programmed with Pym's brain patterns, he wanted his mother, and eventually, rather than 'have' her, he created a bride of his own - the aptly named Jocasta, a machine woman programmed with Janet's brain patterns. Jocasta would eventually turn against her master, join the Avengers, and creepily become enamored with Hank Pym. Ew.
It gets worse. In an attempt to be more like his own 'father,' Ultron endeavored to become a father himself, and created the Vision. While more of a reactivation than a creation, Ultron still would call the Vision his 'son' for decades.
Of course, that's not the machine monster's only son. Each time Ultron rebuilt himself, he gave himself a number designation. The Ultron Mark 12 seemed to have gained some form of evolution and wanted to be a good son to Pym. Unfortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your outlook), this model sacrificed itself to save the Avengers from a resurrected Ultron-11.
Speaking of the Vision, he is another source of incest and conflict in the Avengers family. I've talked before on this blog about his romance with the Scarlet Witch, their marriage, their children, her breakdown, and then how she tried to destroy the whole team.
If that's not enough to make things uncomfortable at holiday dinner, there's also Wonder Man. His brain patterns were originally used to program the Vision, he fell for the Scarlet Witch, and his first and last encounters with the team have involved trying to destroy them. I'm sensing a theme here…
The Vision isn't innocent here either when it comes to relationships outside of Wanda either. He's also been involved with Mantis, Stature, and the aforementioned Jocasta as well. If that's not difficult enough, imagine the Vision sitting at the same table with Wonder Man, with whom he has shared a mind, and the original Human Torch, with whom he has shared an android body. Go ahead, just imagine the small talk.
Let's talk about the Scarlet Witch's family a little bit now. There are her two children, Young Avengers Wiccan and Speed, whose continuity are better left untouched, especially if you're running low on Tylenol. There's also her brother, fellow Avenger Quicksilver, and of course her dear old dad, arch-foe and sometimes ally of the X-Men, Magneto. Mags notably enslaved Wanda and her brother as members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and has also battled the Avengers more times than this vast storehouse of useless comics knowledge can count.
Quicksilver eventually left the Avengers for a time because he resented his sister's love for the Vision, because he was a machine. Imagine that, a racist mutant. He then fell for Crystal of the Inhumans. Hmmm… sounds like someone could use an attitude adjustment. It's okay though, karma is a bitch, just like his wife Crystal, herself a jilted romance of the Human Torch, she eventually found solace in the arms of fellow Avenger, the Black Knight.
If you want to talk about relationship hopping, no one does it like the Black Widow. She was originally one of Iron Man's enemies, who reformed along with erstwhile romance Hawkeye, to join the team. When she was later briefly rejected by Daredevil, she finally joined the Avengers before going back to him. Notably, her ex-husband, the Red Guardian fought the Avengers on occasion. She's had close relationships with Captain America, Hercules, and is currently with Winter Soldier. Is your scorecard filled up yet? Turn it over, there's more.
Speaking of villains who have reformed, especially after fighting the Avengers, there's the original Thunderbolts, who were also the same Masters of Evil team who attacked the Mansion and nearly beat Jarvis and Hercules to death. Just sayin'. Hawkeye later led that team. There's also the Swordsman, who spent most of his career as an enemy of the Avengers before joining the team. Just for the record, he trained Hawkeye, and also brought Mantis onto the team.
And then there's Kang. Like the other Avengers greatest foe, Ultron, Kang the Conqueror is also family, although we're not sure exactly how. Kang is many people, due to the vagaries of time travel and the paradoxes involved, he's also Rama Tut, Immortus, the Scarlet Centurion, possibly even the Justice League of America foe the Lord of Time, and many, many alternate versions of himself. But the arguing point is who was he originally?
For decades the conventional wisdom at Marvel Comics suggested that Kang was Nathaniel Richards, but that might not be completely or even still correct. You know how comic book continuity changes every other day. Since the brilliant and award winning Young Avengers series by Allan Heinberg, there is much speculation that he may in fact be Iron Man or a descendent of Tony Stark. I bet that makes Hank Pym feel better about his sins.
Kang has other more sinister relationships with Avengers though. In the infamous Avengers #200, Immortus, a version of Kang, kidnapped Carol Danvers - then known as Ms. Marvel, now known as Captain Marvel - and took her to his home in Limbo, brainwashed her, impregnated her, returned her to Earth, and then she (I'm not making this up) gave birth to him, whereupon he swept her off her feet and returned with her to Limbo to supposedly live happily ever after. And for the most part, the Avengers let him get away with it. This dark point in comics history is known as The Rape of Ms. Marvel.
You think it's rough with your family, be glad you're not having a holiday dinner with the Avengers family. Yeah, imagine what's going on at that holiday dinner table. Ya gotta admit, the conversation is going to be interesting… at least before combat breaks out. As I said, I love the Avengers, but man, they are soooo not the kind of family I would want to sit down with for the holidays...
By Glenn Walker
The thought occurred to me on a recent episode of the All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast that not everyone knows who the Vision is, or why he is so important to the Avengers. As I said on that episode, when it comes to the Avengers in the late 1960s, the 1970s, and the early 1980s -- the Vision is the fo-shizzle.
The origin of the Vision is one of the first to be mostly retcon: that's retroactive continuity for folks not familiar with comic book lingo. It means that the story we're now told comes from slightly altering or bending events already established as history in the comics. It's made to fit with what we already know, but it's a story that is being told later. Got it? Good, we'll get to that part shortly.
Outside of comic book continuity, the Vision's origin is part of what was called a secret crossover. Back in the dark ages, before cross-company crossovers happened on a semi-regular basis, sometimes writers would get together and do them subtly for their own entertainment. The introductions of the new Vision in Avengers #57 by writer Roy Thomas and the new Red Tornado in Justice League of America #64 by Gardner Fox was one such event.
Both characters had several similarities. They were both androids who were taking on the names of long forgotten Golden Age heroes, sent by villains to infiltrate a superhero team and destroy them, but eventually they each turned good and joined that team. Both had super powers their namesakes did not, both were struggling to become human, and both would eventually find love. They appeared within a month of each other, with the Red Tornado beating the Vision to print by a month.
The Vision, at first, was the creation of the Avengers' arch-foe Ultron, itself an artificial intelligence built by Hank Pym, Goliath at the time. The Vision was an android, technically a synthezoid, an artificial being who had seemingly plastic-like flesh and blood organs beneath his crimson skin rather than gears and machine parts. He possessed complete molecular control over his body. He could become intangible and float or fly, and become as hard as diamond. He was sustained by solar energy through a gem in his forehead and could discharge powerful solar beams from his eyes. His deadliest attack by far was passing a hand into a victim intangibly then solidifying, disrupting the target on a molecular level… painful.
The Vision quickly became one of the most popular characters in the Avengers, so popular in fact that it was his image that appeared next to the price and Comics Code info on the cover of the title for almost a hundred issues. The Vision was the Avengers. Rarely an issue went by without him in it, or on the cover (besides the corner image). He was one of the most powerful Avengers, humbled only briefly by bouts of unexplained claustrophobia, a drive to become more human -- and love.
Yes, perhaps the most important factor in the Vision's life was his love for the Scarlet Witch. Two outcasts from society, non-humans, the android and the mutant, found love in each other's arms. It was a not-so-clever analogy for interracial relationships while mixed into the Marvel Universe world of superheroes. Their forbidden love shocked the world, alienated Quicksilver, the Witch's brother, and endeared the Vision and the Scarlet Witch to Avengers readers everywhere.
Around this time, the Avengers came into conflict with Kang, and the Legion of the Unliving. The Legion included beings plucked from time just before the moment of their deaths to serve Kang and destroy the Avengers. Among them were Wonder Man, whose brain patterns were used by Ultron to create the Vision's mind, and the original android Human Torch. In the battle, the Vision had been nearly destroyed, yet was saved by the above two, along with the Frankenstein Monster, all of whom felt some sort of kinship to the fallen Avenger.
The Monster perhaps sensed another artificial being. Wonder Man maybe understood on some level that they shared a mind. The Human Torch saw something very disconcerting. He saw himself. The Vision's crimson body was in fact his own! The truth became very evident that Ultron had used the Torch's inert android body to create the Vision. The android Avenger's weakness of claustrophobia was clearly inherited from the Human Torch from years of being trapped underwater.
The Legionnaires, after saving the Vision's life, were returned to their proper places in time. Wonder Man would return from the dead, vying for the Scarlet Witch's affections, and adding more of a soap opera element to the Avengers comic. It was an intriguing dilemma, as they were essentially the same man. Circumstances made it so the Vision was dismantled at one point, and his wife fell fully for Wonder Man.
Things got worse for the Scarlet Witch as time went by. She became more and more powerful, eventually gaining the power to alter reality itself. She had had this power all along, having created children for herself and the Vision with it. Once she realized that her children were not even real, she snapped, and snapped hard.
In the event called "Disassembled," the Scarlet Witch succeeded in doing what no other villain -- not Kang, or Ultron, or the Masters of Evil -- had been able to do: She defeated the Avengers. Amongst the rubble was her former husband, the Vision, torn apart by the enraged She-Hulk, as both were manipulated by the Scarlet Witch.
As with most Marvel superheroes, everyone got better eventually. The Vision's recovery was easier, being a repair rather than an out and out resurrection. Early events in Avengers Vs. X-Men have the Vision and the Scarlet Witch confronting each other for the first since the events of "Disassembled," a moment Avengers readers had been waiting for for years.
What happens next is anyone's guess, but I hope that the Vision returns to his status of greatness among the Avengers. Time will tell…