And then, this one time, The Vision literally took over the world. Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Avengers #254 awaits!
Writer: Roger Stern
Penciler: Bob Hall
Inker: Jose Delbeato & Josef Rubinstein
Colorist: Christie Scheele
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Editor: Mark Gruenwald
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: 65 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $4.00
Release Date: December 18, 1984
Previously in The Avengers: After being accidentally deactivated by the machinations of Annihilus, The Vision spent an extensive period of time as a disembodied mind in the Avengers’ computer. When Starfox (the younger brother of Thanos) connected him to Titan’s super-computer, ISAAC, The Vision began showing the desire for more control and authority. When the majority of the Avengers disappeared thanks to the Beyonder, Vision filled the power vacuum and became the team’s chairman, successfully lobbying/manipulating the Reagan Administration into giving him more resources with less oversight. Upgrading the team’s computers, Vision and ISAAC linked their minds into every computer in the world. announcing to his teammates that he had successfully gained control of The Pentagon, SHIELD, the USSR’s spy satellites and the entirety of the world’s nuclear arsenal.
Captain America realizes that something is very wrong with Vision, quickly deducing that the other Avengers are just holograms and presses an attack. The Vision is likewise nothing more than an illusion, forcing the Avengers team to split up. He and the Scarlet Witch take the upper floors of Avengers Mansion, while Starfox and Hercules check out the lower levels. At the same time, the West Coast Avengers send their strongest member through the underwater entrance to the mansion… a member who has a particular emotional connection to their rogue synthezoid.
Breaking into the mansion, Wonder Man discovers a Vision hologram wearing a polo shirt, who greets him as a brother. Captain America meets a Vision whose cloak makes him look like an odd ghost, while The Scarlet Witch finds her beloved husband in a full-on Hugh Hefner dressing gown.
Artist Bob Hall provides truly inspired designs for each version of The Vision, and it’s interesting to see him providing alternate self-images for each facet of his personality: A warm, sexy self for Wanda, a casual Izod-and-golf-pants bro for Simon, and a ghostly apparition for Captain America. Oh, and the best moment in The Vision’s publishing history, as he confronts the powerhouses from Titan and Olympus.
I give you DISCO BONDAGE VISION!
The multiple Visions then begin to explain themselves, telling the team that they’ve taken control of the world’s weapons not to control the people, but the free them from fear, with himself in benevolent control of a utopian world, but his friends remind him of all the reasons that it won’t work. Wanda tells him that he’s just causing more fear, Wonder Man is concerned that he’s not up to the task, and even Starfox makes the valid point that ISAAC, the Titanian super-computer Vision is trying to emulate, only has to keep a few thousand Eternals in line. Vision finds himself spread too thin with so many selves operating at once, an shuts down, allowing Wanda to use her powers to free him from the network. But he’s not out of the woods just yet.
Vision realizes that his erratic behavior is due to the control crystal in his head that allowed Ultron to override his brain, a crystal which was damaged by Annihilus’ force field all those months ago, and so he literally rips it out of his head. Sharp-eyed readers will notice that his square “robot voice” balloons go with it, and The Vision is free to live his life as a more human synthezoid, free of the commands of Ultron or ISAAC or anyone else.
That is, until a couple of years later, when the government dismantles him and creates the ghostly white variant recently reference in WandaVision, but that’s another Retro Review entirely. As for this story, Avengers #254 is a very good example of the kind of twisty emotional battles full of psychological perspectives that Roger Stern excels at, with Bob Hall providing some hilarious and touching alternate Visions and making Hercules look really good in a big green coverall, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. This is an overlooked era of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, but it was also my introduction to the team as a teen, and if you want the truth? This issue is worth is for Disco Bondage Vision, in all his Mister T splendor, all by itself.
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Six Visions, no waiting!