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Casual Comics Primer – Who is the Vision?

For those casual comic fans out there, I thought I’d start a series of posts with the basics on some characters that are about to get a lot more exposure.

With the explosion of Marvel in the media, there have got to be a few people wondering, “who the heck is Iron Fist and why is he getting a Netflix series?” If that’s you… sorry, you’ll have to wait for a future post. Because I’m starting with one half of my favorite comics couple in history. The Vision.

Ever since they announced that The Vision will be in Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, I’ve been super-pumped. And, I’ve been planning to explain why for a while now.

I’ve been awaiting my muse on this post for months. Now, thanks to Capital Comics in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, inspiration has struck.

Over the holidays, I bought the definitive tome on all these characters. I’m speaking, of course, of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. At half price, the 12-issue series only cost me $10.

Marvel U 1

And, as you can see, my favorite synthozoid is even on the cover of issue #12.

Marvel U 2

So, let’s start there. I’m about to crack the seal on this set and we’ll take a trip down memory lane, rediscovering these characters again through the lens of the official Marvel canon, as published in 1983 by the mighty House of Ideas.

Since he appears on the cover of #12, let’s go ahead and start with The Vision.

Here’s his mug shot from the issue:

vision

Well – first off, let me apologize to my main man. According to the title of his section, he’s not “The Vision”, he’s simply “Vision”. Perhaps Mister Vision, if you’re nasty.

Let’s get the hardcore details out of the way first. According to the book, here are his relevant details of his biography:

Real Name: Vision

So, not “The Vision”. Sorry again, pal.

Occupation: Adventurer

I wasn’t aware that was an option when I picked a major, but I wish I had known.

Identity: Publicly known

Legal Status: Unknown

Apparently synthozoid rights hadn’t been hammered out in 1983. If I recall it correctly, the government deactivated Vision and/or held him prisoner at some point. I hope they decided on his civil rights at that time.

Former Aliases: Human Torch, Jim Hammond

Human Torch, yes. Jim Hammond? No idea…

Place of Creation: Brooklyn, NY

Marital Status: Married

Base of Operations: Leonia, NJ

First Appearance: (as Human Torch I) Fantastic Four Annual #4, (as Vision) Avengers #57

But when was the first appearance of Jim Hammond. Dang you, Marvel. I know I can probably look it up on the internet, but what were readers in 1983 supposed to do?

OK – I just looked it up. Apparently, Jim Hammond was the original Human Torch’s secret identity. But, I think he was a robot, too. I don’t know what’s going on here. All casual fans can feel free to disregard Jim Hammond – it’s only going to make your head hurt.

headache

This is how the Jim Hammond investigation made me feel.

How to Identify Vision – a Spotter’s Guide

With that out of the way, let me fill you in on Vision. He’s easily identifiable because of these unique characteristics.

If you’re looking at a guy with a red face, a green head, and a yellow corset, chances are you’ve found Vision.

The-Vision (1)

Also, he cries a lot more than a robot should. He’s got a fully synthetic body. What’s leaking from his eyes?

He also has a diamond on his head that we’ll discuss in a second when we talk about his powers.

And, don’t forget the black and soulless eyes that some artists put sparklies in.

Is Vision a robot or a human?

Well, he’s a synthozoid. In one of the Vision and Scarlet Witch mini-series, he is described as having a human mind in a fully synthetic body – including the brain. But he’s gone back and forth between being more robotic vs. fully human.

It’s important to know where he’s at on the human/robot spectrum. Mainly because the robot Vision is way more likely to go on a rampage, get taken over by other evil A.I.s, or become a massive destructive jerk for a wide variety of reasons.

There’s one key to knowing whether he’s more human or robot at any given time. Look at the speech bubbles. They are drawn blockier when he’s more of a robot.

vision3

Robot Vision

They’re drawn normally when he’s more of a human.

vsw human

Human Vision… driving a station wagon for some reason.

Just remember the saying (that I just made up)…Round and white, he’s alright. Square and yellow means a robot fellow.

What are Vision’s powers?

The main one is that he can alter his body’s density. When he’s less dense, he can fly and walk through walls.

When he’s more dense, he can absorb huge blows and deal massive damage. The one unique thing you’ll see from Vision is that he can make his limbs less dense, phase them into another being, and become slightly more dense, causing massive amount of pain.

Vision Phase

Sure looks like it hurts.

Through his head diamond, he can also shoot solar beams at his enemies.

Solar Beam

He also has eye lasers, but that seems pretty repetitive with the solar head beam.

Lastly, he’s married to the Scarlet Witch. That may not be a “super power”, but if a synthozoid can convince Wanda to marry him, it’s still notable.

kiss

The rest of the team seems pretty impressed with this power.

So, in a nutshell, that’s Vision. If you want to know more about him, you should check out the Vision and Scarlet Witch mini-series.

I’ll be back soon with another primer – this time for The Scarlet Witch. (I sure hope it’s “The Scarlet Witch” and not just “Scarlet Witch”).

Until then, here’s wishing you peace, love, and great comics.

– CCG

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Casual Comic Guy Picks: Hot Comic Books of the Week (March 12, 2014)

Hello fellow comic fans. The big news this week is the opening of general registration for San Diego Comic Con. If you’re like me (and I know I am), you’ll be online waiting for the registration to open for about four hours on the coming Saturday.

Aside from listening to the awesome live video feed from SDCC Blog for constant updates on whether or not you’ll actually be able to get tickets, you might need some comic books to keep you company. Here’s what I’ll be reading. Join me, won’t you?

Ghost #2

Ghost #2. By: Kelly Sue DeConnick, Chris Sebela, Ryan Sook. Dark Horse

Here’s one that I’m checking out based on… well, I’m not sure exactly. I’ve been hearing a ton of good things about Kelly Sue DeConnick from all different sources. Her name has cropped up at least a dozen times over the last month, but I’ve never read any of her work. So, when I came across Ghost #2, I figured this is the title where I’ll put the rumors of her brilliance to the test.

Garth Ennis Red Team #7

Garth Ennis Red Team. By: Garth Ennis, Craig Cermak, Howard Chaykin. Dynamite Entertainment.

I’ve been having a ton of fun with Rover Red Charlie, and here’s another Garth Ennis title that I ran across. As I’ve previously documented, Ennis can go off the rails in spectacularly horrifying ways. However, there’s an adrenaline rush that comes with not knowing when the next stomach-turning moment is coming.

 

X-Files Conspiracy Crow #1

X-Files Conspiracy Crow #1. By: Denton J. Tipton, Vic Malhotra, Miran Kim. IDW Publishing

Aaaaand, regardless of what I just said about not being a fan of TV adaptations, how can you resist the premise of this book. The Lone Gunmen from the X-Files series investigating The Crow. Maybe they can track down the truth behind this supernatural force and how/why it forces teens to be so gloomy all the time.

Avengers TPB Vol. 02 Absolute Vision

This one’s just for me.

I love the Vision. Even more when he’s with the Scarlet Witch. And here’s what dirty deeds he was up to when most of the Marvel heroes were called away to the Secret War. 80s Vision = cheesy sci-fi/adventure. Irresistable (unless you already have the individual issues in a longbox somewhere). Enjoy the goodness that is…

The Vision takes command! As many of Earth’s Mightiest are whisked away to fight in the Secret Wars, the newly assertive synthezoid seizes the chair. He has changes in store when the heroes return, not least his idea for a new team of Avengers on the West Coast. But there are Dire Wraiths and demons to deal with back East, not to mention an army of Hulks and Thanos’ monstrous minions the Blood Brothers! Hercules and Black Knight return to the fold, while Starfox discovers an uncanny connection to the Eternals just in time to face the menace of Maelstrom. But as Vision’s true plan unfolds, are even two teams of Avengers enough to handle one of their own? Collecting AVENGERS (1963) #242-254 and ANNUAL #13. 

Secret Avengers #1

Secret Avengers #1. By: Ales Kot, Michael Walsh, Tradd Moore. Marvel Comics

I’ve been sucked in too many times with Avengers titles over the last year. But I’ll be first in line for Secret Avengers… just in case. So who’s in the Secret Avengers now? Looks like Fury, Hawkeye, the Black Widow, Spider Woman. Could be a cool espionage tale. Is that M.O.D.O.K. back there with Coulson? What’s that all about? Guess we’ll all find out together on New Comic Book Day.

Fantastic Four #2

Fantastic Four #2. By: James Robinson, Leonard Kirk. Marvel Comics

Fantastic Four #1 was one of the best titles I’ve read from Marvel in a loooooong time. I’m looking forward to seeing if they can keep up the energy, wonder, and awe that the first issue delivered. This is the first Fantastic Four title that reminds me of the comic I grew up with.

There’s only one thing standing in the way of the FF being my hot pick of the week, and that’s…

Six Million Dollar Man Season 6 #1

I’m not a huge fan of properties moving from TV to the comics, but I’ll give Steve Austin a shot. Vandroid was a blast from the past, so I’m in the mood to see if they capture the essence of the 70s with this new comic series based off one of my favorite shows from my youth.

They’re off to a good start by putting Maskatron on the cover. Remember him?

Sounds like he’s going to be an integral part of this story. Check out the description:

For The Six Millions Dollar Man’s 40th anniversary comes the direct continuation of the classic television series with Season 6! Better. Stronger. Faster. The original Six Million Dollar Man, Steve Austin was a man barely alive until the OSI turned him into the world’s first Bionic Man. Now he and Oscar Goldman are the most effective team in National Security. But a rogue faction in the OSI is making a power play for that position with a new type of infiltration agent – one that is completely obedient and robotic. Can a soulless machine that wears Steve Austin’s very face make the Six Million Dollar Man obsolete? For the 1st Time EVER! Fan favorite toy-line character Maskatron makes his Six Million Dollar Man debut and becomes a part of the classic television series mythology with a violent and terrifying purpose. And as Steve’s world is threatened from within, his very actions unknowingly release an alien menace upon an unsuspecting world…

This cheese-tastic description drove The Six Million Dollar Man Season 6 #1 to the top of my must-buy list for the week. So, Steve Austin, Oscar Goldman, and the OSI team are the stars of the official Casual Comics Hot Pick of the Week.

Until next time, remember to support your local comic book shop.

Cheers!

– CCG

Casual Comics Rewind Review: Vision and the Scarlet Witch Volume 1, Number 4

Here we are, at the end of the line for this wonderful Marvel mini-series from the 80s, starring my all time favorite married couple – Vision and the Scarlet Witch. And, it’s been a heck of a ride. Let’s check in on my favorite Marvel sweethearts and see what kind of family drama awaits the duo into this month.

“Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself…!” opens with a mystery. A figure clad entirely in white climbs Mount Wundagore. The narrator is content to call him the “White Pilgrim” at the outset.

Vision and Scarlet Witch; Vol 1 #4.

And, you know what? Snark about the stories all you like, haters. But there’s no denying one thing – that’s a gorgeous splash page. Read the rest of this entry

Casual Comics Rewind Review: Vision and the Scarlet Witch Volume 1, Number 3

Issues #1 and #2 of Vision and the Scarlet Witch are in the bag – review-wise. And, I’m loving them as much as I did the first (through 30th) time I read them. Even though it’s been about two decades since the last time I read this series, I’m still madly in love with the craziness of Marvel mini-series from the 80’s.

Behold! Vision and the Scarlet Witch Volume 1, Number 3. Written by: Bill Mantlo

Coming into the third issue of this four-issue miniseries, we’ve come to expect a pretty even split of action and family drama from the Vision and the Scarlet Witch mini-series. “Blood Brothers” doesn’t disappoint. Read the rest of this entry

Dragon’s Lair’s Picks: Hot Comics of the Week (January 15, 2014)

Ahhh… The new year is upon us and so are the new comics. Here are the picks for the best of the best bets for new comics this week. Rounding out the list is my pick for best comic reissue of the decade.

As always, weekly picks are provided by our friends over at Dragon’s Lair and uneducated commentary is mine and mine alone. 

Monsters! and Other Stories Trade Paperback Read the rest of this entry

Casual Comics Rewind Review: Vision and the Scarlet Witch #2

Vision and Scarlet Witch #2 – “Faith of our Fathers” delves further into the complicated back story of the Scarlet Witch and her “father” Robert Frank. Turns out he’s not really their father, but Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver have been keeping that on the down low.

Four awesome things about this issue:

  1. The super couple just hangs out around the house in their full-on superhero gear. (To the delight of teenage boys because… Wanda in costume? Hubba, hubba…)
  2. They have a huge supercomputer with a teleconnection to the moon in the living room of an otherwise nondescript home in the suburbs. In fact, it’s quite near the covered porch where Jarvis is enjoying a spot of tea after the altercation in the last issue.

    No danger, just my dad at the door. Better be sure I’m wearing the full costume, though, while I talk to my brother who is ON THE MOON!

  3. Robert Frank still actually thinks he’s the father of Wanda and Pietro.  Quicksilver’s power is super speed. So was Frank’s when he was a hero in the 50s known as… wait for it… “The Whizzer”. Wanda and Pietro have never told Frank he’s not really their father. But face it, I couldn’t bear to bring heartache to an old man who still goes by “The Whizzer” either.
  4. Wanda and the Vision get around town via taxicab – even though one can fly and the other can teleport.

The issue starts out, wonderfully, in media res. The splash page shows the Vision, arm melted into a twisted slag. The guy can turn hard as a diamond or completely intangible. The sight of the Vision – in pain, arm smoldering brings immediate intensity to this issue.

Who knew this was even a thing that could happen?

Via flashback, the readers come to see just how Vision got into this mess. And, delightfully, it involves more family drama.

Robert Frank has another son, Nuklo, a 32 year-old nuclear beast with the mind of a child. Frank wants the Vision and Scarlet Witch to help him take back custody of his abandoned child from the research facility where he is being kept.

Once again, the art is wonderfully ahead of its time for a comic of this era – minimalist, yet striking use of lines and shading. And, the non-linear storytelling really works – helping parcel out more complex backstory and the emotional trauma while maintaining tension.

You all know that Vision and the Scarlet Witch have a special place in my heart. Rereading the stories convince me that the Marvel miniseries I knew and loved still hold up today.

–          CCG

Thanksgiving Comic Rewind – The Best Thanksgiving Comic Book Issue Ever Published

When I got the (admittedly last minute) idea to write about the best Thanksgiving issue of any comic book in the history of time and space, there was no contest. That would be issue #4 of “Into the Void”.

But, since that hasn’t been written yet, here’s the VERY close second-place issue, Vision and the Scarlet Witch #6, “No Strings Attached” (per the splash page in the book).

Since it’s Thanksgiving, I’m going to give thanks for my ADHD and allow myself to tackle things a bit “stream of consciousness”. Or “wibbly-wobbly”, whichever you prefer. Read the rest of this entry

Casual Comics Rewind Review –Vision and the Scarlet Witch #1

So, as followers of the blog may remember, I still harbor massive affection for the Marvel characters, Vision and the Scarlet Witch, based on their classic adventures from the 80s. With Scarlet Witch confirmed for Joss Wheedon’s “Avengers 2”, I thought it might be a good time to revisit the classic mini-series that cemented my love for these two.

(For those not in the know, Elizabeth Olsen has been confirmed as the Scarlet Witch in the upcoming Avengers 2 film)

Elizabeth Olsen? OK, I buy it.

I picked up the original 4-issue mini-series (along with the follow-up 12-issue series) when I was at San Diego Comic Con this past July. How did the series hold up against my memories after all these years?

It’s simultaneously more corny, yet more fun than I recall.

Issue#1: “Trick or Treat”

Before we get started, I should give a shout out (more commonly known as “listing credits”) to the creative staff:

Scripter: Bill Mantlo

Penciler: Rick Leonardi

Inkers: Ian Akin & Brian Garvey

Colorist: Bob Sharen

And, of course… Editor in Chief: Jim Shooter

Page one, a splash page, illustrates everything I love about this series. Vision is wearing dungarees and a windbreaker that bears his trademark high collar. Scarlet Witch is dressed in a pantsuit, but still has her iconic cape and headdress. They’re just chilling and having a stroll on Halloween night in front of a giant mansion in a New Jersey suburb, while a kid in a Spiderman mask is the only one to notice they look out of place.

At the outset of the issue, it’s clear that the couple has quit the Avengers in order to settle down and have a “normal” life. So why are they still wearing at least 33.33% of their normal costumes. A worse disguise even Clark Kent couldn’t wrangle.

But I love the clunky romance and awkward exposition that informs the reader just who this Marvel Universe power-couple is. Good old Jarvis even shows up. Why would the butler employed by the Avengers drive hours to help straighten out the newly purchased home of a couple of quitters? Did Stark pay him time-and-a-half?

Or maybe he sent Jarvis to their house in a moment where he wasn’t thinking straight.

The issue mostly serves to inform casual readers of the time exactly who Vision and Scarlet Witch are. For the uninformed, here you go:

Scarlet Witch – Wanda Maximoff started as a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants with her brother, Quicksilver. Both were revealed to be the children of Magneto. They quit the Brotherhood and were asked to join the Avengers. Eventually, Wanda learned to harness her mutant probability powers by Agatha Harkness, a real witch.

That synopsis comes from the actual comic. If you’re like me, you might be surprised that they joined the Avengers, not the X-men, and that there’s no mention of Professor X in her education.

 

 

Vision – He’s a synthozoid. So apparently that’s a thing. His body was created by Ultron and his mind was created from the mental patterns of Simon Williams (aka Wonder Man). Also… his body was mostly made of the original Human Torch (who was an android, not Johnny Storm).

Put it all together and you have two characters with convoluted backstories – both the “children” of two of the biggest baddies in the Marvel Universe.

Confusing? Sure. But, who wouldn’t root for these crazy kids to make it?

Each issue in the series features a small crisis that actually serves as a springboard to dive more into the history of each character.

In this issue, the couple is attacked by trick-or-treaters that have been transformed into real-life ghouls. The bulk of the issue is spent introducing (reintroducing?) the Vision and Scarlet Witch, their life and family situation and a gloss-over on their origins. There’s a very interesting bit where Vision tries to phase through a ghost. The effect on each of them is unexpected, to say the least.

In retrospect, much of the dialog may seem a bit trite, but the story is well-told. Artistically, the book still holds up very well. Several sequences are epically innovative, twisting supernatural planes and a hero who can become intangible into a visual treat.

Overall, Vision and Scarlet Witch #1 lives up to my recollection and, in fact, clued me back into many parts of the Scarlet Witch’s back story I had previously forgotten.

And, since it’s not really that “in demand”, I got it for a buck. You could find way worse ways to spend a dollar.

This comic is certified “Casually Awesome”!

–          CCG

Coming soon… Casual Comics Rewind of Vision and Scarlet Witch #2-4

SDCC Artists: Albert Morales

On we go with more cool artists I met at SDCC. I asked Albert if he would do an original piece of the Vision and Scarlet Witch. These are two of my favorite characters, as I have mentioned over and over. Read the rest of this entry

Casual Comics Love… Vision and Scarlet Witch

I’ve always had a weak spot for this duo. I have no clue what is going on in the Marvel Universe today, but the Vision and the Scarlet Witch are my all-time favorite characters. Both are outsiders Read the rest of this entry