WEST COAST AVENGERS #42-45: VISIONQUEST

Issues #38-41 floundered without a regular creative team, as Steve Englehart left his 3+ year run with #37.

John Byrne signs on with issue #42, and we’re getting some solid stories. 

“Vision Quest” starts with Scarlet Witch waking up (she wears her costume around the house?) to find Vision is missing.  She goes looking for him on the compound, but instead finds Hawkeye and…Ultron!

He gets defeated in a very, very cool way.  Hank Pym shrinks Wonder Man down, has him jump literally down the robot’s throat, and then expand back to normal size.

There should be no other way Ultron loses in the future.  That’s just awesome.

Turns out, it wasn’t the real Ultron.  And in investigating who sent the imposter, Hank learns that all computer evidence of Vision ever existing has been wiped out of every known database. 

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Then, Hawkeye’s ex shows up.

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But she’s sad.

Mockingbird had been tricked by fake SHIELD agents–who were really KGB–into installing protocols to prevent Vision from every taking over the world again, like he did in Avengers #252-254.

(Note that this actually ties nicely, albeit apparently unintentionally, with the Russian’s Soviet Super Soldier scandal in the issues of Captain America that came out the same time as these issues.)

Actually, they’re not just KGB: They’re a union of many national defense agencies like CIA, MI-6, etc., all of whom are afraid of the world-domination potential Vision represents.

All this is very believable.  Nick Fury is often Marvel’s “Batman” in the way he plans for everything, and how his plans often backfire.  Mockingbird figured out they were fakes, and they took her captive to prevent her from alerting the West Coast team.  Then, they used the information they got from her to also kidnap Vision.

So, the WCA plus Mockingbird go after the bad guys.  What they find is Vision completely dismantled, and what’s next is an exploration into the children of Vision and Wanda.  It’s heavily suggested that Vision is incapable of procreation, and we see the twins literally vanish while their nanny is bathing them.

There’s tension between Hawkeye (who was never a great leader) and the team’s newest member—and Avengers founder—Wasp.  Check out this classic Byrne interaction…

IMG_9221Yeah, that “Get Smart” kind of humor was pretty typical Byrne.  Funny, cute, charming…And corny.  Byrne was also known for weaving in ongoing subplots, which he does here with a few scenes of Tigra becoming, gradually, feral, and Vision and Scarlet Witch’s twin boys disappearing—for just a moment—and the reappearing as if nothing had happened.  These threads will become part of the rich tapestry of his run, no doubt.

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When it becomes clear that “erasing” Vision is having effects on the kids as well, the team seeks out Professor Horton, who created the original Human Torch, whose android body was being used by Vision.  Horton, when he sees Vision up close, says that Vision is not in fact the body of the original Torch.

 And it wasn’t just the original Human Torch…If we’re talking tributes to the classics, check out the cover to #45…

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And gradually it is becoming clear that Wanda’s reality-warping powers are what created her twin children and now, with Vision being erased, her emotions are creating ripple effects.

At the end of the story, the U.S. Government tells the WCA that in order to avoid the consortium of international intelligence agencies messing with them, they’ve got to take on a new handler.  And it’s USAgent.

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Hawkeye doesn’t like his leadership being usurped, but USAgent promptly kicks Hawkeye’s ass.  Nice.

In the end, Vision is rebuilt, but he doesn’t remember loving Scarlet Witch. Wanda asks Wonder Man to imprint his memories on Vision again (remember, he did so—involuntarily—when Vision was first created) and Wonder Man refuses because this arc shows that that had not necessarily been the right thing to do.  Plus, Wonder Man kind of has a thing for Wanda and why create competition?

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It will indeed.  It is more than sufficient.  For the first time since it was created, WCA appears to becoming…Great.  Vision first appears nekkid.  USAgent doesn’t like that.

So, after Byrne signs on, Vision and Wanda aren’t a thing anymore, their kids are gone, and USAgent is leading the team.  I’m tagging this as a “death”, but there’s a real question whether kids created by a hex power ever really existed at all.

These four issues are better than the entire Steve Englehart run put together.

John Byrne’s run on West Coast Avengers is fairly well known.  For some of us, it’s legendary.  For others, it’s notorious.  It starts with “Vision Quest,” which is basically a long review of the character’s history and an attempt to bring together all of the various threads in his past.  Byrne recreates seminal moments in Vision’s history, does a little retconning, and mostly just tries to reconcile the many lingering issues that have never really been resolved in an attempt to create a true “vision” of Vision.

Creator: John Byrne
Grade: B

For the complete history of the MU, year by year, go here.
And see my Ratings of Runs on comics here.

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