Retro Review: The Vision & The Scarlet Witch (Vol. 2) #1-12 By Englehart, Howell, Springer & Others For Marvel Comics! Just In Time For WandaVision!

The Vision and The Scarlet Witch Vol. 2 #1-12 (October 1985 – September 1986)

Written by Steve Englehart

Pencilled by Richard Howell

Inked by Andy Mushynsky( #1-2), Jim Mooney (#3-4), Jack Abel (#5), Mike Esposito (#5), Frank Springer (#6-12)

Colour by Janet Jackson (#1-4), Adam Philips (#1, 5-10), George Roussos (#11), Petra Scotese (#12)

Spoilers (from thirty-four to thirty-five years ago)

The first Vision and the Scarlet Witch miniseries concerned itself, mostly, with Wanda Maximoff’s parentage, ultimately revealing that she and her brother (at least at the time) were the children of Magneto.  Weirdly, it left that right there.  Eventually, the duo rejoined the Avengers, Vision became the team leader, got influenced by the Titanian supercomputer ISAAC, went mad, and tried to take over the world.  

It was probably an odd time to bring the couple back in a twelve-issue series, but writer Steve Englehart had just taken on the West Coast Avengers, and decided to connect the two books for each of their first two issues.  It makes sense, what with Wonder Man, the Vision’s “brother” being on that team.  

I remember that this series focused a lot on Vision’s “family” – Ultron, Hank Pym, and Wonder Man – at the beginning, and that it was in this book that Wanda got pregnant in a storyline that still reverberates through the modern Marvel Universe at times.

I remember really liking these stories, but also hating the art of Richard Howell, whose work reminded me too much of older romance comics.  I wonder if my opinion of that will have changed now, with age and maturity.  Let’s see…

Let’s track who turned up in the title:

Villains

  • Black Talon (#1-2)
  • Nekra (#1-2, 12)
  • Grim Reaper (#1-2, 12)
  • Ultron 12 (#2)
  • Man-Ape (#2)
  • Goliath (#2)
  • Vertigo (Salem’s Seven; #3, 5)
  • Reptilla (Salem’s Seven; #3, 5)
  • Thornn (Salem’s Seven; #3, 5)
  • Hydron (Salem’s Seven; #3, 5)
  • Vakume (Salem’s Seven; #3, 5)
  • Brutacus (Salem’s Seven; #3, 5)
  • Mr. Spector (Leonia NJ bigot; #4)
  • Samhain (#5)
  • Dark Phoenix (#5)
  • Korvac (#5)
  • Dracula (#5)
  • Baron Zemo (#5)
  • Egghead (#5)
  • The Toad-King (#6-7, 11)
  • High Priest of Zor (#8)
  • Enchantress (#9)
  • Brady Kent (#12)
  • Colabrun (#12)

Guest Stars

  • Guardsman (#1, 7)
  • Hawkeye (Clint Barton, West Coast Avengers; #1-2)
  • Tigra (Greer Grant, West Coast Avengers; #1-2)
  • Wasp (Janet Van Dyne, Avengers; #1, 6)
  • Iron Man (Tony Stark, West Coast Avengers; #1-2)
  • Starfox (Eros, Avengers; #1)
  • Mockingbird (Bobbi Morse, West Coast Avengers; #1-2)
  • Hank Pym (fka Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket; #2)
  • Wonder Man (Simon Williams, West Coast Avengers; #2, 12)
  • Agatha Harkness (#3-5)
  • Gazelle (Salem’s Seven; #3)
  • Doctor Strange (#4, 6, 11-12)
  • Quicksilver (Pietro Maximoff; #5-6, 8, 10-11)
  • The Whizzer (#5)
  • Miss America (#5)
  • Crystal (Inhumans; #6-10, 12)
  • Luna (daughter of Quicksilver and Crystal; #6, 8, 10)
  • Namor (Avengers; #6-7)
  • Captain America (Steve Rogers, Avengers; #6-7)
  • Magneto (#6, 12)
  • Power Man (Luke Cage; #8)
  • Medusa (Inhumans; #10)
  • Black Bolt (Inhumans; #10)
  • Cuidador (Inhumans; #10)
  • Gorgon (Inhumans; #10)
  • Karnak (Inhumans; #10)
  • Spider-Man (Peter Parker; #11)
  • Wong (#12)

Supporting Characters

  • Raymond Sikorsky (#1, 7)
  • Henry Peter Gyrich (#1)
  • Norm Webster (Leonia real estate agent; #1, 4, 6-12)
  • Glamor (Glynis Zarkov; #4-6, 9, 11-12)
  • Illusion (Ilya Zarkov; #4-6, 9, 11-12)
  • Holly Ladonna (#4-8, 11-12)
  • Magda (Wanda’s dead mother; #5)
  • Martha Williams (Vision’s “mother”; #6, 12)
  • Edwin Jarvis (#7-8)

Let’s take a look at what happened in these books, with some commentary as we go:

  • Vision is being examined by Henry Peter Gyrich at Project Pegasus.  Ray Sikorsky is there to assist him, and the Scarlet Witch is not too happy about how long it’s all taking.  Gyrich says some insulting things, and that irritates Vision, who goes into a lot of detail, explaining how he was once the original Human Torch, but that Ultron-5 got his original creator, Phineas Horton, to rebuild him into his current form.  Ultron put Simon Williams’s brain patterns into Vision, and he ended up rejecting his “father” for a life among the Avengers.  He explains how he was corrupted by Isaac, the Titanian supercomputer, but explains that he’s in full control now, and has decided to accept a more human approach to things, hence his more human and natural methods of speech.  He explains that he is basically a human mind with a synthozoid prosthetic body.  While this conversation continues, Wanda loses patience, and uses her hex powers to trick or evade security devices, to disable the Guardsman, and enter the room where her husband is being held.  She threatens Gyrich, and when he cites his role as having oversight of the Avengers, she quits the team on behalf of herself and her husband.  They make out as they leave.  Next, they return to Leonia, New Jersey, where their first home was recently burned down.  They want to return there, even if it means facing prejudice, and go to a real estate agency where a guy named Norm Webster takes them to the perfect house.  In LA, Hawkeye tries to get a hold of Vision, to warn him that Ultron attacked the West Coast Avengers and kidnapped Wonder Man.  He can’t find him, and is reluctant to call in the East Coast team.  Norm leaves the happy couple to look around the home they are buying, and they are almost immediately beset upon by zombies.  They start to fight them, but when Vision tries to put his hand through a zombie, the magic involved creates a painful feedback loop for him.  A zombie knocks Wanda out when she is looking at her husband.  Hawkeye ends up calling the Wasp, looking for Vision, and learns that she doesn’t know where he is.  She sends Starfox to look for him.  We see that Vision is stuck in a loop where his systems turn on, experience the pain of the zombie’s arm being stuck in his head, and then he shuts off again.  Iron Man tells Hawkeye and Tigra that he can’t find Ultron; Clint admits that he didn’t tell the Wasp that Hank Pym was also taken by Ultron.  Wanda is brought by the zombies to two villains – Black Talon and Nekra, who were tasked with capturing Vision.  Vision, meanwhile, manages to break through the cycle of pain and shut down, and realizes that the zombie he was stuck to can speak.  It sort of explains what it was doing, and Vision begins to follow it.  Nekra is also looking for Vision, but as it starts to rain, she can’t find him.  We see that Starfox is flying around looking for him too.  Black Talon monologues as he ties up Wanda so she can’t use her hex powers.  He’s got another job in addition to capturing Vision, and it involves something in a tent in the abandoned church they are using as a base.  Wanda frees her finger, but Black Talon gases her so she’ll sleep.  Wanda is determined to not lose consciousness, and so runs through her complicated history, which can be summarized as being abandoned with a cow woman, told she’s the child of WWII superheroes, but gets raised by a stereotypical Roma family before being chased by villagers and joining the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, working for her actual dad without knowing it, before becoming an Avengers, meeting Vision, and dealing with her brother’s prejudices.  Nekra returns empty-handed and is upset with Black Talon for putting her down.  As Wanda frees another finger, Black Talon and Nekra head into the cemetery to summon more zombies from the ground.  With their forces replenished, they are visited by the ally/boss, the Grim Reaper, who is in a relationship with Nekra.  He’s not happy that the Vision isn’t captured, and Black Talon points out that the thing in the tent is safe.  Just then, Wanda jumps up from the table just as Vision emerges from one of the zombie’s clothes.  They start fighting, and once Vision is surrounded by more zombies, he’s too worried about pain to phase.  Wanda tries to clear a path to him, and uses her powers to disrupt Black Talon’s control over the zombies.  Grim Reaper blasts Wanda in the back, and the Vision, phasing through some zombies despite the pain, heads for the tent in the corner, where he discovers the breathing body of Simon Williams, as he looked before he was turned into Wonder Man.  Vision is surprised, and threatens to kill the Williams body if Wanda is hurt.  Grim Reaper drops her, and the villains all leave, leaving the zombies behind.  Vision tries to follow them, but they have a flying vessel and are gone.  Vision calls the West Coast Avengers, and Hawkeye explains what’s happened.  This story continues in WCA #2.
  • Picking up from WCA, Vision, Wanda, Hawkeye, Iron Man, and Tigra are flying in an Avengers quinjet that has been attacked by Ultron-12 and his robotic army.  Tony engages Ultron in battle while Wanda uses a hex to fill a hole in the fuselage.  Vision starts fighting Ultron while Tony heads outside to fight off the robots that are tearing the quinjet to shreds, while Clint tries to keep piloting.  Tigra, realizing she’s not much good against Ultron, also goes outside to knock a robot off the wing.  With Wanda’s help, Vision is able to tear Ultron’s arm off, and Clint fires an arrow into the exposed joint.  Ultron jumps through the wall Wanda patched and flies off.  He turns to attack again, but Tony tackles him mid-air, sending him flying into the quinjet.  At this point, Clint loses control, but manages to land the ship in a controlled crash.  Ultron lands nearby, and realizing that all the Avengers are unconscious, calls the Grim Reaper to come and pick them up (although we know they just crashed into the Rockies, and that the Reaper is somewhere in New Jersey).  Later, we see that the Avengers have been added to the energy spheres that already hold Wonder Man and Hank Pym prisoner.  Grim Reaper’s squad, consisting of Ultron-12, Nekra, Black Talon, Man-Ape, and Goliath, stand all around them.  The Reaper talks about his plan, to put the true essence of Simon Williams, distilled from Vision and Wonder Man’s brains, into the zombie Simon that Black Talon procured for him.  Vision claims that he is Simon Williams, and tells the Reaper that he’s met their mother, which gives Simon pause, as he examines his immediate jealousy, and then decides that he and Vision are really twins.  Everyone thinks about what’s going on, until the Reaper is ready to get started.  Ultron wants to scan Simon’s brain first, and when he gets out of the energy shell, he gives a little speech about how he is happy that Vision met his mom, and then he decks the Reaper.  The Reaper calls for help, but is instead kicked in the face by Mockingbird, who swings in out of nowhere (she frees the others, and explains that she was able to track them from the downed quinjet, since she was on the phone with Clint when it crashed).  The team is ready to fight their foes, but Black Talon and Man-Ape just leave, after learning what the Grim Reaper really thinks of black people.  Ultron, Goliath, and Nekra are all still threats, and the heroes begin fighting them.  Nekra and Grim Reaper slip away, and Vision insists that it’s he and Simon that go after them.  As they walk through the tunnels that make up Grim Reaper’s cave base, the Williams brothers talk.  Simon apologizes for taking so long to act, and they embrace.  They also talk about how the Vision feels things.  Grim Reaper splits away from Nekra, and walks across a narrow path over a chasm.  He hears Simon approaching, but is surprised when Vision phases through the wall ahead of him.  Once they have him trapped between them, Grim Reaper starts to talk about how he wants to kill them.  Simon insists that the truth come out – it turns out that Simon really did steal money from his company.  The Reaper insists he stole it (despite the fact that Simon was convicted for it), and Simon insists that he stop putting him on a pedestal.  Simon keeps talking about his choices, and how recognizing that Vision is his better twin has helped him accept responsibility for his choices, and finally Eric (the Reaper) realizes that Simon actually is Simon.  Eric is wracked with guilt, because he realizes that had he gone through with his plan, he would have actually killed Simon himself.  He starts to run, slips, and falls into the chasm.  A little later, we see that the rest of the Avengers have captured Goliath, although Nekra and Ultron have escaped.  They also couldn’t find any trace of Eric’s body.  Vision and Wanda leave the caves, and Vision surprises her by saying he’d like to have a baby with her.
  • Two months before the rest of this issue, Salem’s Seven, the group of standard-villain looking witches that are all the grandchildren of Agatha Harkness got together to burn her at the stake.  There was some dissent – Gazelle argued with their leader, Vertigo, about the substance of Agatha’s threats before she died, and Vertigo felt confident that someone like the Scarlet Witch could never harm them.  Now, Vision and Wanda walk through the woods at the foot of the Rocky Mountains together, having left the West Coast Avengers and their battle with the Grim Reaper behind.  They talk about Vision’s new extended family, and his joy in them, while Wanda reflects on the troubles her biological father and brother have brought her.  They talk about Vision’s suggestion that they have a baby, and how Wanda doesn’t think it would be physically possible (what with Vision being made of plastic).  Vision wonders if Wanda’s powers might help them, but is then distracted by the appearance of a village that wasn’t on the map he’s following.  As they approach the village, they are attacked by some of the Salem’s Seven; it seems that New Salem is in the Rocky Mountains, and happens to be right near where the quinjet went down.  Six of the Salem’s Seven attack, and after Vertigo uses her powers to knock Wanda out, Vision has his energy drained by Vakume, and collapses.  When Wanda wakes up, she and Vision are in a cell together, and Vision is still out.  She talks to Vertigo, who offers her a place in New Salem, and the chance to fully learn magic.  She explains that it’s the night of the Feast of Lammas, and that in the morning, they are going to sacrifice Gazelle, who disagreed with Vertigo that Wanda’s coming to them is a sign, and tried to protect Wanda from them.  When Gazelle mentions Agatha Harkness, her former teacher, Vertigo enjoys telling her that the old woman is dead.  Vertigo and the others leave, and Wanda turns her attention to Vision, who is still drained.  Because of spells placed on her cell, Wanda can’t use her hex power.  She talks to Gazelle, who is fine with being sacrificed since it will help the village.  Wanda starts to talk to the shut-down Vision, explaining how she’s always admired his strength, and how she also wants to have a baby with him.  He quietly reveals that he’s awake, and playing possum, but since Gazelle has great hearing, she hears him.  Gazelle admits that listening to Wanda has made her realize what love is, and she decides that she’s not going to stop Wanda from escaping.  The next morning, the Seven come and get Gazelle, and lead her outside.  A little later, they come back for Wanda, carrying her and Vision outside, and tying them to stakes next to the still-smoking one where Gazelle was burned.  Vision reveals that he’s awake and frees himself.  Vakume’s powers don’t work on him in the bright sunlight, since he can replace the power the witch drains from him.  Vision attacks Vertigo, breaking her control over the energy she’s summoned.  It runs wild, but Wanda steps in to try to channel it and send it into a nearby mountain.  The energy is too much for her, so Vision holds her up.  Agatha Harkness appears to Wanda, telling her to “use” the power.  She fires it into the mountain, and when things calm down, it is clear that all the witches of New Salem are gone.  Vision didn’t see Agatha, leaving Wanda to wonder about her presence.  As they get ready to leave, Wanda wonders if she used the power the way she thinks she did (she holds her stomach, suggesting something important has happened in her womb).
  • Wanda has gone to see Doctor Strange, who informs her that she is going to be a mother.  She figures that it was the magic she channeled during the fight in New Salem that allowed it to happen, and worries about what might happen to the baby, but Stephen reassures her that everything is going to be fine.  In Leonia, real estate agent Norm Webster meets with a local guy named Mister Spector and his friends about some condo development, but then Spector pushes Norm to delay or keep Wanda and Vision from moving into their community.  Norm refuses, causing Spector and the boys to leave.  Norm suggests that they may have had something to do with the fire at the family’s last place, and tells them that he’s installed a security system in their new home.  A couple dressed like stage magicians watch this scene from behind a tree.  Vision, dressed as a school boy, waits for Wanda outside their new house.  She tells him her news, and he literally falls down in shock.  They head into their home, with neighbours waving and honking encouragement (that scene feels forced).  At the Spector house, Spec barbecues and complains about having mutants and robots in the neighbourhood.  They decide to do something about it, and intend to use Spec’s connection at the electric company to help out.  The two oddly dressed folk stand and watch this too – the woman teleports away.  Wanda and Vision hang out in their house in robes, and talk about being parents.  Spector meets with the electric company guy in a remote utility shed, and he pays him $500 to turn off the electricity to the town for five minutes.  At the Magic Mansion, in New York, we learn that the usual stage act of Glamor and Illusion has been replaced for the evening.  That’s the name of the two musicians, who watch Spector and his friends drive off from the utility shed.  Vision decides to get some air, but is really heading out to patrol the town to make sure no one is going to attack them.  Spector and his friends meet in the woods near the house, each with a can of gas they intend to light and throw after the power goes out (I’m not sure why they need a security system to be shut off to do this), when the trees and rocks around them attack them.  They all run off in fear.  We learn that Illusion did this.  Wanda has finished unpacking and decides it’s time to go for a walk herself.  She thinks about the baby, and heads to the library to get some baby rearing books.  There, she is visited by the image of Agatha Harkness, who tells her that while she really is dead, on Hallowe’en something is going to happen, and that Wanda should prepare.  Vision spots Glamor and Illusion outside his house, and attacks them.  They use their powers (Glamor can turn intangible, and Illusion has mental control over things he touches for one minute) to fight back.  After pinning him with a tree, they explain that they were there to help keep watch because they worry that the people of the town might turn on them as well.  They offer friendship to Vision, who accepts.  Spector and his friends grab Wanda as she walks down the street, but find she’s not so easy a target.  She hexes them into the trees, and then explains that like them, she is a parent now and that she wants a peaceful place to raise her family, the same as them.  They agree to leave her alone.  Vision arrives, and they are both happy.
  • It’s Hallowe’en, and Vision has accepted an invitation from Ilya and Glynis (Illusion and Glamor, respectively) to attend their stage show in Manhattan.  It seems they’ve all become good friends in the last month.  Wanda’s stayed home, preparing to try to contact Agatha Harkness, but decides she should first call her brother to tell her about her pregnancy.  Quicksilver is on the moon, and at first he doesn’t like that Wanda calls him baby brother, but once he slows down and listens to her, he’s very happy for her.  He asks if she is going to tell their father, Magneto, but she hasn’t decided yet.  She invites Pietro and his family for Thanksgiving next month.  Wanda prepares for her ritual, and immediately makes contact with Harkness, although it fades away as she warns her to beware.  Wanda tries to boost her contact with a hex, but a very dead looking Thornn comes through the portal she opens.  At the magic show, Vision suffers a pain in his head, and then sees a vision of Harkness, telling him to destroy the Druid Tome.  He explains to Glamor that the book she means was already destroyed.  Thornn drags Wanda through her portal into the land of the dead, where he is joined by the other members of Salem’s Seven, who want to use the life energy in her child to cross back to life.  As she flees them, we see a slightly familiar figure watching all this.  Vision returns home with Glamor and Illusion, and they take some time to discuss what’s going on.  They decide that the ashes of the Druid Tome (the book Wanda burned in the first issue of the first mini) must still exist.  Ilya figures if Vision can find even one particle, he can use his powers to summon the rest of the book.  He heads out to look for it, thinking that if he can find the girl he was fighting above the house, and she still has the sheet she wore that night, and it hasn’t been cleaned in two years, he can find some of the book on it.  Easy plan, right?  Wanda continues to run aimlessly in the land of the dead, and comes across various dead villains, including Dark Phoenix, Korvac, Dracula, the first Baron Zemo, and most terrifyingly of all, Egghead.  She also finds her mother, Magda, and her false parents, the Whizzer and Miss America.  Finally, she comes across Agatha Harkness, tied to a stake and burning still, and the architect of all of this, Samhain.  Vision, flying around Leonia, happens to find the girl from two years ago, as she leaves the library.  She takes him to her attic, where she finds the same sheet, and let’s Vision leave with it.  As he leaves, she tells him her name is Holly.  He brings the sheet to Ilya, who uses his powers to bring the other bits of anything he can find on it, while Samhain explains to Wanda that he’s going to finish a spell and then exist on the living plane.  With the book reconstructed, Vision gathers power into his forehead, and as Wanda tries to fight Samhain, Vision vaporizes the book, leaving Samhain in a pure energy form.  Agatha frees herself and faces off against Samhain.  He finishes his spell, and begins to transfer his energy, but Agatha blocks it from going into Wanda’s fetus, instead sending it into the six evil members of the Salem’s Seven, trapping him in a split and diminished form.  Agatha explains she has to stay with her grandchildren.  Wanda returns home, and tells Vision that their baby is fine.
  • Quicksilver, Crystal, and their infant daughter Luna arrive at Vision and Wanda’s house for Thanksgiving.  Entering the place, they see the other guests – Captain America, Namor, the Wasp, Doctor Strange, Glamor, Illusion, Vision’s ‘mother’ Martha Williams, and Norm Webster, the real estate agent.  Introductions are made, and then a knock at the door reveals that Wanda invited Magneto.  The room becomes tense, despite Magneto’s efforts to be polite to his son and daughter-in-law.  Pietro pulls Wanda into the kitchen, and tells her that he’s upset to have not been given the heads-up that their father would be there.  Cap points out to Namor and Vision that the three of them together is basically an Invaders reunion, although Vision has no memories from when his body belonged to the original Human Torch.  Mrs. Williams is amused to talk to the Wasp, while Norm learns about living on the moon from Crystal.  Magneto fails at small talk with Glamor and Illusion, and then regrets having come.  Wanda serves dinner, and there’s a strange Last Supper homage.  The others all think about the fact that Magneto is sitting among them through dinner.  When it’s finished, the three Avengers leave, but not before Namor tells Wanda he used to be into her.  Some of the women are preparing to help Wanda clean up, but Magneto asks if he can speak with her alone first.  He tries to apologize for how he treated her when she was in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, but she tells him that she can’t accept that from him.  She tells him that he is going to have to do more than just talk about regret, but that she will also give him his “rights” as a grandparent.  He calls her hysterical (which doesn’t make any sense), and then their conversation is interrupted by a knock on the door leading outside.  A young woman named Holly Ladonna, who we’ve seen twice at the library and who gave Vision her ghost costume, is there to talk to Wanda.  She tells her that her conversation with Magneto has ended.  Magneto walks through the house and leaves, but as he flies away, he spies something on the ground and returns.  Vision is talking with Martha when Magneto asks if he could speak to him outside.  He takes Pietro too, and tells them that they are about to be attacked.  It is the original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants – Magneto, Quicksilver, Toad, and Mastermind, in their original costumes, who come out of the woods and attack.  Pietro begins to fight his double, while Magneto starts to fight his.  The new Quicksilver goes after Vision, who evades him and then sends him flying, while Pietro tries to take on Mastermind.  He is quickly lost in his illusion, which extends to include Magneto as well.  The illusions don’t affect Vision, who figures out that Toad might be the key to all of this.  He grabs him, and has Magneto mess with the blood in his head.  When that happens, the other Brotherhood members all collapse.  Vision explains that the Toad stole some equipment from The Stranger.  Toad recovers, and explains that he is there because he’s upset that Wanda, who he loves, is about to have a baby.  The Toad summons a ship to cover him in a shield (the ship has no magnetic parts).  Toad explains that he is now called Toad-King, and that he used the Stranger’s devices to build the synthetic Brotherhood, which he summons to him.  What he doesn’t know is that Pietro changed into his classic costume, and he punches Toad out.  Magneto insists that Wanda not learn about what happened, because he’s worried she’ll think he orchestrated this whole event to earn her acceptance.  Magento flies away, and it looks like they just leave Toad lying in the yard, with his dangerous vessel floating above.  Vision and Pietro return to the house, where Wanda explains that she is going to tutor Holly in witchcraft as a way to maintain her own skills.
  • Vision pops in on Captain America and Namor as they train at Avenger Mansion.  His presence distracts Namor, who gets hit by a tentacle thing and then gets angry.  After Cap shuts down the sequence, Vision lectures Namor on getting distracted in battle.  He explains that he’s there to talk with them and learn more about the original Human Torch, and what kind of android he was.  Vision is surprised to learn that he ate food and had a girlfriend at one point.  Wanda sits with Holly in Leonia, explaining the tradition of the yule log (it’s Christmas).  She is surprised when Crystal comes to her door, having decided to come from the moon to visit, and explains that they are about to start a ritual that’s for witches only.  Crystal says she’ll go for a walk and leaves.  Vision arrives at Project Pegasus, where King Toad and his robots are being held.  Vision gets Sikorsky to let him see the Mastermind robot (the rest have already been dismantled).  He wants to talk to it alone, and convinces Sikorsky to allow this.  Vision tries to understand its intelligence, but it appears to have none.  The robot manages to free itself, and undergo a transformation into a much larger size.  When Vision plunges his left hand into it, the anti-matter energy that powers the robot destroys his hand, leaving him with a stump.  Vision breaks the robot apart in a rage, but its lower half, which can talk, manages to dive into an air vent and escape, heading to free King Toad.  Vision alerts Sikorsky and the Guardsman, and they tell him that he can’t possibly phase through the walls to pursue it, as Project Pegasus is a maze and he’d not be able to go through some of its rooms (I don’t know why he couldn’t just follow the trail of the air vent, but that’s beside the point).  They arrive at King Toad’s cell just as the legs do, and see the legs sacrifice themselves by diving into the energy bars on the cell (I’m not sure why Toad couldn’t have just gotten out through the same air vent, but that’s also beside the point).  With King Toad free, the shield effect from last issue appears and pulls him up through the whole facility to his spaceship (I feel like that could have happened at any time, too).  Vision just manages to catch ahold of the ship and phase inside.  Wanda and Holly continue to talk about the solstice and the yule log, but then Wanda begins to worry that neither Vision nor Crystal have returned home.  Vision has passed out in Toad’s ship, but comes to and finds him monologuing about being ugly and using the things he stole from the Stranger to get even.  Vision surprises him, and he pushes a button that creates a large body-like shape around him with that same shield effect.  He starts beating on Vision while expressing his anger that Wanda loves Vision and not him.  Vision becomes more dense and is able to withstand the Toad’s tech.  Fearing that he’s going to be beaten, the Toad uses the shield effect to transport Vision out of the ship.  Vision fires his solar blast into the tunnel the effect causes, and does a lot of damage to the ship.  It spins off, and Vision realizes that he’s very far from Earth (it’s not clear where the Toad was going).  He uses his solar beam to provide push, and starts floating backwards towards home.  He enters the atmosphere, and regulating his density, keeps from burning up as he returns to the ground.  He arrives home just as Holly is leaving.  The married couple cuddle as Vision tells her that he was lost in his head for a while, and that’s why he’s late.  No mention is made of his missing hand, or his adventure with the Toad.  As Holly walks through a snowfall in Leonia, she decides to head through the woods.  She goes to cut through Norm Webster’s yard, and sees Crystal leaving his house.  The two kiss, and Holly worries about how Wanda is going to take it.
  • Luke Cage, who is still going by Power Man in this era, is attacked by a very generic looking demon in New York.  It turns out that Luke and his partner, Iron Fist, fought these demons alongside Vision and Wanda some time before, and Wanda kept their mystical idol.  The demon, the high priest of Zor, wants the idols back.  Luke figures that he needs to warn Wanda and Vision (apparently Iron Fist is taking the day to meditate).  Wanda is teaching Holly to manipulate the falling snow and is surprised to feel her baby move.  They go inside to tell Vision, and Wanda is surprised to see that Quicksilver, Pietro, and Luna are there.  Holly worries about the fact that she saw Crystal kissing Norm the month before.  Pietro is there to do some military research in New York while Crystal shops; Wanda is set to babysit Luna.  Just then, Luke Cage comes flying through the window, fighting off more of the demons.  Wanda blasts them with a hex, and then the priest teleports them all away again.  Vision mentions that he’s just gotten his hand fixed, and Luke mentions that this day was supposed to be his day off, because it’s Martin Luther King Day.  Pietro makes some awkward comments about how some of the best Inhumans have “dusky” skin, but he doesn’t think a hero like Luke should get a day off.  Wanda asks Crystal to come learn the house’s security system, so she can watch over it while the rest of the heroes go to retrieve the Idols of Zor and destroy them.  They fly Pietro’s ship into New York, and land on the roof of Avengers Mansion, surprising Jarvis.  The plan is to walk downtown to retrieve the idols from where Wanda hid them, but the demons turn reality around, making Central Park into an enchanted forest that attacks them.  Pietro takes down a group of demons that attack, but a few that move as swiftly as hunter missiles grab him and knock him down.  Wanda blasts them, and the heroes make their way into Midtown, which now looks like a medieval fortress.  Pietro blames Iron Fist for his getting caught, since he’s not there, and when Luke is about to tell him off, Vision asks him to not say anything, so Wanda doesn’t have to deal with her brother’s attitude.  They head into the now mystical-looking subway, where they are attacked by more demons.  Vision uses his powers to knock them out, and the heroes arrive outside the World Trade Center, where Wanda has hidden the idols.  The twin towers have also been changed, so Luke helps Wanda and Pietro into an elevator, while Vision flies to the top of the shaft, and making himself dense, acts as the counter-weight that brings them to the top.  On the roof, the Priest and the other demons appear, ready to fight, but Wanda hexes up a huge wind and blows them away.  The priest is the only one still on the roof, but he realizes that the idols aren’t there.  Back in New Jersey, Crystal has the idols, and uses her powers to destroy them.  Afterwards, she is joined by Norm Webster, while Holly watches from behind a tree again.  Luke is surprised to learn that Wanda deceived them, but she explains that she figured a distraction was a better way to handle this situation.  Pietro is upset that he didn’t know what was going on, and thinks Crystal should have been quicker to destroy the idols.  Vision apologizes to Luke for not getting to enjoy MLK Day, but Luke explains that that holiday (which I guess was still new at this point) is what makes “blacks” equal to everyone else, so by working together with the others, he did celebrate it.
  • Wanda and Vision are with Glamor and Illusion in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, continuing the holiday theme, and enjoying being able to walk around in public without attracting any attention.  At the same time, Crystal is in Leonia again, spending the weekend with Norm, who would like her to leave Quicksilver for him.  Crystal explains that it’s complicated, but that she likes being able to come to Earth to be with him, especially when she doesn’t have to hide from Wanda and Vision.  Our main couple is watching Glamor and Illusion prepare the stage for their annual Mardi Gras show.  They decide to head back out to the street, but promise to be in the front row for the performance.  When Wanda turns around, though, Vision is missing.  The clerk at the hotel where the performance is happening says he saw him walking off with a beautiful blonde woman.  We see that he’s happily following the Asgardian villain The Enchantress, who he is now madly in love with.  Wanda keeps searching, and using her hex powers, finds someone who saw Vision.  She starts to follow his trail.  Later on, Ilya and Glynis start their performance, despite the fact that their friends aren’t there to watch it.  Glamor gets put into a straight jacket then many layers of chains, bags, water-filled boxes, and other things, and is left in the box to drown, while Illusion continues the stage show.  Really, Glamor sneaks out of the trap using her powers, and disguising herself, slips into the hotel and enters a hotel room.  From the wall safe, she steals “The Eye of Rajpur”, a massive piece of jewellery, before slipping back into the tank to finish the magic trick.  Vision goes to the same hotel room, because the Enchantress sent him, and is shocked to find the Eye, which he is there to steal, is gone.  The dissonance between reality and what he’s supposed to do shocks him out of the influence of the spell, and he realizes what he was going to do.  He happens to find Wanda just outside the hotel room.  Enchantress waits for Vision to return with her jewels, but instead, Wanda makes a wave wash over her.  Enchantress is unable to mount an attack on Wanda, who uses her hex to knock her down.  Amora explains that she’s been struggling with the fact that her sister has been stealing her thunder lately (in Thor’s book – I need to do a column on the Simonson run some day), and she feels a little put off that she couldn’t keep Vision enthralled.  He tells her that he found her seductive, and Amora teleports away.  Wanda’s not totally happy that Vision enjoyed being seduced, but he explains that it’s further proof that he’s only human, and they end up kissing.  Vision does wonder what happened to the jewellery he was supposed to steal.  Crystal starts to feel unwell, and drinks more of the anti-pollution potion she has to drink before coming to Earth, but she appears to OD on the stuff, collapsing in Norm’s arms.  He doesn’t know how to save her.
  • It’s been a month, and Crystal has spent that time trapped somewhere between life and death, lying in a bed in Attilan.  Wanda and Vision have come to visit, and have brought Norm Webster with them to help explain what happened, since no one can really figure out how to help her.  Pietro is upset, of course, as it’s believed that the anti-pollution serum the Inhumans take to survive in Earth’s atmosphere is what made her ill.  Norm explains to Medusa that he found Crystal lying on the ground outside Wanda’s house, and took her to the doctor until Vision and Wanda returned from New Orleans and contacted the Inhumans.  Pietro questions why she was there, given that she knew that Wanda was out of town.  Black Bolt seems suspicious.  Wanda tries to calm Pietro down, but instead he goes for a run.  Norm asks Vision to show him around Attilan, while the royal family heads home, and Wanda stays with Crystal and Cuidador, her doctor.  Vision makes it clear that he thinks Norm wasn’t telling the truth, but Norm denies this.  Cuidador and Wanda talk about her pregnancy, which has only two months remaining.  Pietro shows up, and appeals to Crystal to talk to him; she thinks he’s Norm and says something about having to keep their affair a secret.  He runs off, and attacks Norm.  Vision tries to stop him, blasting him with his solar energy.  Gorgon and the rest of the royal family arrive, and tell Pietro to calm down.  Instead, he runs off to gather his militia, telling them to grab Norm.  The militia refuses, because Norm is under the protection of the Royal Family.  Pietro gets more angry, and yells a few “to blazes” directed at the Royal Family and at Wanda, before running off again.  Medusa puts together a small team (her, Vision, Gorgon, and Black Bolt) to go after him, onto the moon’s surface (they need breathing apparatus, but Pietro doesn’t).  Wanda confronts Norm for his actions, and doesn’t like it when he comments that Wanda is basically the only person who likes Pietro.  The four heroes find Pietro, who tries to fight them on the moon, in a bit of a tantrum.  Eventually, Black Bolt says something, and the force of his voice knocks everyone down.  Vision grabs Pietro’s hand, and makes his arm very heavy so he can’t escape.  Wanda tells Cuidador that she wants to try to reach Crystal’s mind through the spirit realm, figuring that their elemental connection will help her find her.  They make contact in a pretty generic looking fairy realm, and Wanda learns that Crystal fears that everyone will hate her if she comes back to life.  She explains that Pietro paid no attention to her or Luna, and that’s what sent her into Norm’s arms.  Pietro explains to Vision how Crystal nursed him back to health when they first met, and that’s how he fell in love with her.  Crystal talks to Wanda about how she was always interested in the human world, and thought that Pietro was a link to that existence, but then discovered that he only cared about himself.  Pietro complains to Vision that Crystal would never leave him alone, and we see that he simply sees himself as having been wronged by her affair with Norm.  Crystal wakes up, just as Vision returns with Pietro.  They are left to talk, but a while later, Pietro storms out, angry at having been betrayed.  Wanda tells him he should take her back, and he gets angry that she has also betrayed him, and he runs off.
  • It’s tax season this month (I guess some months, you really need to stretch to connect to that holiday theme), and Spider-Man is heading to Leonia New Jersey to make some money.  Doctor Strange is checking in on Wanda, and wants her to spend the next month, the last of her pregnancy, taking it easy and keeping quiet.  Wanda’s not impressed, but Vision thinks about how Sue Richards lost her second child, and agrees.  Wanda thinks about how protective Vision has become, and how upset she is with her brother, who has been missing for the last month.  Peter Parker arrives at the house – he’s there to photograph it for J. Jonah Jameson’s Now Magazine.  He’s surprised by how humble and ordinary the house is, but Vision explains that they are trying to make a regular life for themselves.  They both talk about paying their taxes.  Some scientist type is leading a dog team somewhere in Antarctica, where he is attacked by a very manic Quicksilver.  Pietro demands to know if the man has a wife somewhere, waiting for him, and then rants about how pure he is, and then runs off.  Holly shows up at the house, and accompanies Peter as he heads upstairs to photograph Wanda.  His job done, Vision walks Peter to the bus.  Along the way, they run into Glynis and Ilya, who have just returned from Hong Kong decked out in expensive clothes (Ilya thinks about how he has to keep his thieving secret from Vision).  Next, they run across Norm, but Vision gives him the cold shoulder.  Peter’s bus is arriving, and Vision walks home alone, when he is suddenly attacked by the Toad-King, who is now wearing a big exo-suit.  The Toad is there to claim Wanda again.  Spider-Man (it’s the black suit era) swings in, having heard the ruckus from the bus stop.  He’s confused, because when he last saw the Toad, he had to save him from committing suicide.  Later, the Toad tried to be his side-kick, and instead, he hooked him up with Frog-Man and Spider-Kid.  The Toad has teleported away, so Vision and Spidey run around looking for him, as Vision explains that the Toad has been using the tech he stole from the Stranger to be a thorn in their sides.  The Toad King attacks again, and now he’s angry with Spidey for not being his friend.  He blames him for pushing him to become the Toad-King, and then shoots some poison gas at Spidey, making him collapse.  He tries the same gas on Vision, but it doesn’t work.  Instead, the Toad just keeps teleporting around Vision, until he’s able to grab his head and send electricity through him, shutting him down.  Wanda senses that something is wrong, just as the Toad King approaches the house.  Holly tries to stop him, but can’t do much.  Vision and Spidey recover and head towards the house.  The Toad King busts into Wanda’s bedroom, and is disgusted by how large she’s become in her pregnancy.  His disgust angers Wanda, who blasts him with a hex just as the other heroes get there.  Spidey starts wrapping up the suit, but he still manages to teleport away.
  • Wanda and Vision are hanging out at Glamor and Illusion’s place, when Wanda gets a sensation or insight that her baby is going to be born today.  Elsewhere, Nekra dances around a fire in a cave, and we see that she is resurrecting the Grim Reaper.  She kisses his corpse, and narrates the story of how she found his body in the tunnels after the battle in the second issue of this book, and then spent the last nine months learning the spells and rituals needed to bring him back.  As she talks about the purity of her albino body, he reverts from looking like a zombie to looking normal again.  Vision and Wanda return home, just as Wonder Man turns up for a visit, wearing his super ugly green and red costume.  Wanda lets him know that it’s time to go to the hospital.  Grim Reaper figures out what’s going on, but isn’t clear on the moments before his death.  Nekra reveals that she has the body they’d intended to use to recreate Simon Williams, and she performs another ritual to bring him back too, as his original personality, Brady Kent, an assassin.  She explains that the zombies she makes are smart, so long as no one tells them they are zombies.  Brady comes back too.  Vision, Wanda, and Simon go to the hospital in the very old-school two seater car they apparently own.  They are taken staring to the maternity floor, but Wanda worries about the fact that Holly was coming over for a lesson.  Simon flies off to let her know, despite not knowing her, and thinks about how much his life has improved.  Doctor Strange is in a strange realm, fighting off a villain called Colabrun.  Once he returns home, Wong lets him know that Wanda’s giving birth.  The Reaper, Nekra, and Brady go to a gun store to get Brady some weapons. When it’s clear they aren’t paying, the shopkeeper shoots both the Grim Reaper and Nekra in the back.  Nekra, who is basically invulnerable because of the depth of her hate for everything, kills him.  Norm Webster stands outside Vision and Wanda’s house, thinking about how their friendship is over.  Crystal turns up – she’s able to make short visits to Earth without getting sick, and she tells Norm that since Quicksilver is still missing, the royal family of Inhumans might grant her a divorce.  She wants to make sure that Norm is willing to wait for her, and they embrace.  Wanda is taken to the alternative birth center, which looks like a hotel room, and settles in.  Doctor Strange arrives, and Vision looks excited.  Simon talks to Holly and her mom, and Holly asks if she can go to the hospital.  Simon finds Magneto standing outside Wanda’s house, and they spar briefly before Simon decides to give him the benefit of the doubt, based on his recent good deeds.  Magneto explains that he felt a disturbance in the magnetic field that led him to the cave that Nekra was in, and since it was close to Wanda’s, he figured he should check on her.  They fly to the hospital.  Wanda goes into labor.  Simon and Magneto find The Grim Reaper and his little crew approaching the hospital (how they’d have known to go there is not clear).  They attack.  Wanda gives birth to a baby boy, and the nurse points out that there’s another one coming.  The fight outside continues, until Simon notices that there’s a bullet hole in his brother’s back and deduces he’s a zombie.  Strange is confused because the second child doesn’t appear on any monitors, but he can see it coming.  Nekra tries to convince the Reaper that he’s not a zombie, and attacks Simon.  Magneto forces Eric to cut himself with his own scythe, and he can see that he isn’t bleeding.  Nekra’s hate makes her as strong as Simon, but then Eric grabs her, and kissing her one more time, accepts that he’s dead and collapses.  Having no hate for Eric, Nekra can’t lift his body off of herself.  Wanda’s second child is born, another boy.  Vision explains that he couldn’t be detected because he’s “his son”, but then quickly makes clear that he likes them both.  The nurse finally notices that there’s a battle happening outside, because Brady starts shooting, but Strange has her keep quiet about it.  Magneto and Simon take care of Brady too.  Three days later, everyone is at the house, including Glamor, Illusion, and Martha, Simon’s mom, admiring the babies, Thomas and William.  Everyone is happy, although Magneto is a little salty that neither of the kids’ names honor his side of the family; at the same time, he’s happy to be allowed to visit.  The book ends with a scene of both boys crying in their parents’ arms.

This is an odd series, in that it is rarely exciting or suspenseful, but it kept me interested through the whole run, and tried some new things.  I’m not sure that any comic before this tried to marry the romance genre with superheroes, at least for such a sustained amount of time.  Vision and Wanda never do any crimefighting in this run, instead only dealing with threats to their family as they came up.

I like that Steve Englehart took the real-time approach to this book, making each issue after the first few take place a month after the one before, even when that stretched some credulity (such as in the case of Crystal’s coma).  I’d forgotten that this book used monthly holidays as a theme for each issue.  I’d always thought that the Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale Batman series, The Long Hallowe’en, was the first to do that, but it was actually this book.  Has any other comic celebrated tax season, ever?  Clearly, Englehart was breaking ground here.

The family is such a central theme to this comic, and it’s interesting that two characters with some of the most complicated family histories would end up exemplifying domestic normalcy.  Wanda’s confusing parentage was the main feature of the first miniseries, and then this one continued to examine her family relationships.  Quicksilver was established as a villain here, at least for a while (that got picked up in Englehart’s West Coast Avengers later), while Magneto took a few more steps towards his general redemption as a complicated hero (and one of the best characters in the Marvel Universe, then and now).  

Vision gained a family in this run, as he embraced being “twins” with Simon Williams, and even managed to get a mother out of the deal (who seemed to take the weirdness of the situation surprisingly well).  This ran parallel with Englehart having Hank Pym work out some of his issues with Ultron in WCA.  Beyond that, Englehart really took time to explore the new ‘human’ Vision.  I like the idea of him being a human mind in a prosthetic body, as it did a lot to help explain the depths of Wanda’s love for him.  Prior to this series, I couldn’t ever quite buy their relationship as being real.

And then there are the children, who at least at this point, appeared to be normal kids, despite the fact that one of them couldn’t be detected by machines or magic.  

In addition to the Wanda Vision family, we saw an extended cast that was also kind of interesting, and helped provide a “chosen family” for the oddball couple.  Glamor and Illusion were interesting, and I wanted to see more of them, and what would happen when their friends discovered that they were really thieves.  Holly, as Wanda’s witching apprentice, didn’t add much to the series, and I’m left wondering if there was a larger plan in place for her.

In a lot of ways, it feels like this was meant to be a springboard to an ongoing series, especially since many of the subplots that were started around these secondary characters, including Pietro and Crystal, weren’t entirely resolved here.  I’m not sure if sales didn’t warrant a third miniseries, or if plans just changed, but the ending, while naturally wrapping up the pregnancy, and the Grim Reaper plots, did feel a little abrupt.

Englehart did a fine job writing this book, and each issue was pretty packed with plot, guest characters (was there even a single issue where it was just the two of them?), and continuity stuff going way back.  This wasn’t a particularly feminist comic, but it did give more space to Wanda than she had received before.

If I had anything to complain about, it’s that the art is pretty boxy and underwhelming.  Each panel is fine, but the overall effect of Richard Howell’s art, especially once Frank Springer came on as inker, was pretty deadening.  It seemed like he was more interested in designing Wanda’s maternity clothes than he was in telling a dynamic story.  The book has a very old school vibe to it, calling back to an earlier era in a way I didn’t always appreciate.  

As an aside, that I thought about a lot while reading this run, I hate the way Wanda always has a curl caught under her headdress on each side of her head.  It’s made me crazy since I first noticed it, some time before I started reading this run.  

Knowing what comes after this book, with Wanda headed for madness first under John Byrne, and then under Brian Michael Bendis, and then being perhaps forever ruined as a character, and Vision heading towards being made unfeeling again by Byrne, before Tom King really does a number on him, it’s nice to see the happiness that they share, and the unbridled optimism that comes with the birth of children.  

In terms of timing, this book teetered on the edge of the grim and gritty era of comics to come, and while that made it a throwback at the time, it also makes the book a little bit special, providing readers with the sense that heroes can have happy endings.

I started reading these issues in concert with the West Coast Avengers, where Englehart had a longer run that we are going to be looking at in the my next column. 

If you’d like to see the archives of all of my retro review columns, click here.

If you’d like to read this story, it’s available here:
Avengers: Vision & the Scarlet Witch – A Year in the Life

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