It can safely be said that the Vision is one of the most important Avengers, and never has he had a higher profile than right now, with his movie debut in Avengers: Age of Ultron. There have been plenty of great moments when Marvel’s supreme A.I. has taken center stage.
These are some of the biggest in the “life” the most heroic android in the Marvel Universe.
The First Appearance and One Fateful Tear
In Avengers #57 (1968), Roy Thomas along with artist John Buscema and editor Stan Lee created the Vision, a red faced, yellow clad, ethereal being who would take Marvel fandom by storm. The Vision first appeared as a dangerous adversary of the Avengers, one connected to the team in many ways. The familial connections between the Avengers and the Vision began almost right away as the Vision was built by Ultron and sent to destroy Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. If you consider Ultron Hank Pym’s son, then the Vision is Hank Pym’s (or Tony Stark, if you just want to stick with the movie interpretation of things) grandson as it was Ultron who gave the Vision sentience.
The Avengers soon convinced this mysterious new being to turn on Ultron and with his amazing power set (flight, energy blasts, great strength, the power to turn himself diamond hard or ethereal), the Vision assisted the Avengers in taking down Pym’s vile robotic creation. But that amazing battle wasn’t the most memorable part of the Vision’s first appearance.
After the battle, the Avengers voted the Vision in as their latest member. So moved by this acceptance, the Vision did the impossible; he shed a tear, showing his new teammates that he was way more than just his programming, circuitry, or wires. That one tear solidified the Vision as one of the Avengers’ most beloved members. It was also revealed that the Vision’s thought patterns were duplicated from the than fallen hero Wonder Man, so the family connections between the Vision and his fellow Avengers go beyond Pym.
In Avengers #75-76 by Thomas and Buscema, the Scarlet Witch first met the Vision. The two would soon become the most unusual couple in Marvel history proving time and again that love is truly blind. The two didn’t romantically connect in their first meeting, but these issues were the first stop on the long road to love between the mutant spellcaster and the android Avenger.
The relationship between robot and mutant was a central aspect of the Avengers title for several decades and the two unlikely lovers even had two children (more on that in a bit).
The Golden Age Connection
So we established the connection between Vision with Ultron, Hank Pym, and Wonder Man, but this one connected him to the dawn of the Marvel Universe. In The Avengers #135 (1975) writer Steve Englehart and artist George Tuska revealed that Ultron suppressed the Golden Age Human Torch’s personality (he was a robot, y’see) and used the Golden Age hero’s body to create the Vision. What this revelation really did was connect the Vision to the great past of the Marvel Universe.
Along with Sub-Mariner, the android Human Torch was Marvel’s first super hero, making the Vision, in part at least, a piece of the heroic foundations of the Marvel Universe. All this has been retconned six million ways to Sunday and we won’t try to hurt your brain by explaining.
It’s a Nice Day for a Scarlet Wedding
The most unusual love story in comics culminated in Giant-Size Avengers #4 by Steve Englehart and Don Heck. After a prolonged courtship, Vision and Wanda Maximoff tied the knot but it wasn’t an easy road to marital bliss.
First, Vision and Scarlet Witch had to face tons of prejudice as many, including Wanda’s own brother, thought the couple’s romantic union was unnatural. As if all that wasn’t enough, the Vision had to journey to the Dark Dimension to rescue Wanda from the clutches of Dormammu and Umar. After Vision took down Doctor Strange’s greatest foe, he proposed to his mutant bride to be.
A whirlwind marriage was arranged and the couple was to take part in a double wedding with Mantis and Swordsman. Of course, no super hero wedding (much less two) goes off without a hitch, so Kang showed up to claim Mantis as his own. Battles were fought, vows were exchanged, and off we go to…
The ‘Burbs and the Twins
In 1982 and 1986, Marvel presented two miniseries (the first by Bill Mantlo and Rick Leonardi and the second by Steve Englehart and Richard Howell) that presented the tales of Marvel’s most unusual couple trying to find a normal life in suburban America. By the end of the second series, Wanda gave birth to twin sons.
The twins would soon be tragically revealed as a manifestation of Wanda’s hex powers and were lost (it’s a really long story), but the Vision’s brief time as a father humanized him even further.
In 1989, writer/artist John Byrne presented a story arc in West Coast Avengers #42-45 called “Vision Quest,” and Marvel’s resident synthetic human would never be the same. Manipulated by Immortus, rogue members of the US government abduct and dismantle the Vision. The story featured a stunning two page spread of a dismantled Vision that forced readers to see the hero not as the robot with a human soul he was portrayed as for so many years but as a cold, clockwork machine.
Hank Pym was able to reassemble the Vision but this time, Wonder Man refused to give the machine his thought patterns. The new Vision that Byrne presented was an albino, soulless automaton who was robbed of all sentience. Vision never quite returned to his old form of humanity and heroism. This arc also ended the romantic connection between the Vision and the Scarlet Witch, marking the beginning of an age of tragedy and confusion for the once vulnerable, human, and noble android.
Yesterday and Tomorrow and Geoff Johns
In 2002, Geoff Johns (who these days is primarily known for his work writing DC Comics and TV shows) took a rare foray into the Marvel Universe and presented Avengers Icons: The Vision. This series dealt with many of the dangling plot threads left by John Byrne’s deconstruction of the Vision and ended with a new status quo for the android Avenger.
Here, the Vision met the granddaughter of Phineas T. Horton, the brilliant scientist that created the original Human Torch and took on the villainous Gremlin. Much of the Vision’s lost humanity was restored and a new era was about to begin for the synthoid. This series was a road almost traveled for the Vision as Johns signed exclusively with DC and was forced to abandon his Marvel work leaving the Vision creatively rudderless for the next few years.
The second time the Vision was destroyed, the rest of the Avengers went with him. During the events of Avengers Disassembled, an out of control Scarlet Witch used her chaos powers to create horrific changes in many Avengers. The Vision lost control of his body thanks to Wanda’s hex manipulations and attacked his teammates only to be torn apart by a likewise manipulated She-Hulk. This seemed to be the death of the Vision, ironically at the spell weaving hands of his greatest love.
When the Vision was to return, it would once again be in a dramatically altered form…
I Was a Teenage Synthoid
In the pages of Young Avengers by Allan Heinberg and Jimmy Cheung as a very different Vision arrived. This Vision (deep breath, this get confusing!) was formed when Iron Lad’s (who was really Kang) armor fused with the old Vision’s personality matrix creating a youthful looking version of the fallen Avenger. This latest Vision was cut from the same altruistic cloth as the original hero; he was more Data than Dalek, a robot trying to learn the meaning of sentience and becoming a mentor of sorts to his fellow young heroes.
The original Vision developed a deep affection for Scarlet Witch of course, but this Vision developed a romantic connection with Cassie Lang, the daughter of the second Ant-Man (and soon to be film star) Scott Lang. Teenage Vision remained with the Young Avengers throughout the team’s run until he was destroyed by Doctor Doom in the same conflict that also killed Cassie (ummm…she got better). Instead of rebuilding the Vision to have him learn that his beloved Cassie was dead, the Young Avengers let their Vision rest.
Tony Stark was able to rebuild the Vision. The newly revived Vision’s initial mission was to confront and deal with those that wronged him in the past. He made peace with She-Hulk (because remember, She-Hulk ripped him to pieces during Avengers Disassembled), confronts Magneto about the whereabouts of the Scarlet Witch, and finally, reunites with his ex-wife.
The Scarlet Witch was at a low point in her life after destroying the Avengers and needed her ex-husband’s acceptance. But the Vision couldn’t look past the Witch’s use of his body to attack his teammates and rejected Wanda. As Scarlet Witch left, devastated by her soul mate’s words, the Vision shed his second tear, bookending a heroic career of glorious triumph and overwhelming tragedy.