Wednesday, January 29, 2014

BAB Classic: Three Cows Shot Me Down! Avengers #96


NOTE:  This post was originally published on 21 November 2011.

Avengers #96 (February 1972)
"The Andromeda Swarm!"
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Neal Adams
Inkers: Adams, Tom Palmer, and Alan Weiss

Karen: First off: that has to be one of the most
memorable Avengers covers ever!

Doug: Funny you should mention that -- not too long ago I was checking out some of the Link-Within posts of days past when I came across the very first Do-It-Yourself Open Forum. The question of that day was on favorite Bronze Age covers and you picked this very one!

Karen: At least I'm consistent! You thought you'd seen some spectacular scenes in the previous issues of this extravaganza, didn't you? Well, the best is yet to come! Our mighty team goes space-bound to save not only their own team mates, but every man, woman, and child on Earth!

Karen: Our story opens with our five free Avengers landing at a colossal orbitting space station. Once there, Nick Fury offers them up a spaceship, telling them to hurry before H. Warren Craddock manages to intercede. The team boards the craft, and powered by Thor's hammer, blasts off spectacularly into space.

Doug: Allow me to be SHIELD-ignorant -- can you or anyone else tell me when or where this was used before? Shoot, since would be nice, too! I was not a regular Strange Tales or Nick Fury reader. There is some nice characterization on the flight deck, and the thought that Mjolnir could power the ship just added another layer to the legend of the Asgardians.

Karen: I'm not sure if it was seen before, as I only have a handful of SHIELD or Strange Tales comics. I thought maybe it was Starcore, but I think that shows up in a few issues. So anyone out there no about this space station? After exiting hyperspace the Avengers come out to find the vast Skrull armada ahead! Luckily for them, the Skrulls assume that their presence is some sort of trick and come to a dead halt in space. The Skrulls only detect one vessel with their space-radar, but visually they see a fleet. The Skrull commander, by order of the Emperor, takes his flagship to investigate while the other ships hang back. Here's a question: who made that image of the fleet? It doesn't seem like the Avengers did it. Was it the Supreme Intelligence? This left me puzzled.

Doug: The emergence of the Avengers' ship in the midst of that armada was right out of Star Wars! Or, Star Wars was right out of this, rather. I don't really know who was behind the illusion -- as I was reading it, I just assumed that it was some sort of cloaking device in the ship's defenses. However, as we'll see toward the bottom of this review, it most possibly could have been the Supreme Intelligence.

Karen: Our heroes figure if they c
an defeat the commander maybe the other ships will take off. That seems like a stretch. They launch in four smaller ships (Iron Man is his own ship basically) and are fired upon by a missile, which Thor destroys. As the Armored Avenger draws fire, Thor and the Vision fly up to the Skrull ship, and using their bare hands, tear back the hull! Inside they are attacked by gun-wielding, space-suited Skrulls. Cap sends his small ship crashing through the hole his comrades have made, ejecting just in time. Goliath stays outside, patrolling in his ship in case any of the other ships come to the flagship's aid.

Doug: While the visual of Thor and the Vision ripping into that Skrull ship was awesome, did you have any problems believing Iron Man's armor could withstand the vacuum of space? Thor -- I guess not. But the Vision, too... I just wasn't sure that his body shouldn't have ended up inside-out. Oh, heck, long as I'm nit-picking: Cap and Clint just had on the ol' fishbowl spaceman helmets. At least the Legion wore those paper-thin "trans-suits".

Karen: Some spacesuits might have been nice for Cap and Goliath. I could buy Shellhead surviving for a short time though. The Avengers make their way through the ship towards the command center. Thor rips off the huge door and throws it across the room, making quite the dramatic entrance. He warns the Skrulls that they are "but the meekest harbingers of those who follow" and tells them to turn back. The commander is not so easily fooled though; he knows most Earth people do not have such powers. Suddenly the enormous view screen behind him comes alive and the Skrull Emperor tells the Avengers to give up -and shows them the captured Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. he also shows them Captain Marvel, and describes how he is building an omni-wave device for them! The Avengers wonder if Marvel would really do this -well they quickly learn the answer. he's used the omni-wave to make an illusion of himself, so that he could surprise his Skrull guards! After knocking them out he frees the two imprisoned Avengers and turns on the Emperor, who has a force shield to protect him. So it's game on again!

Doug: Thor's line was great -- a bluff, yet full of bravado. Mar-Vell was a hero to the end. After reading the graphic novel we reviewed last week, I am becoming more and more inclined to pick up the first Essentials of his adventures. Roy is really amping up the Vision/Wanda tension. Even that old warhorse Captain America is catching the vibes of love. Then he says "nah...". Did you think it was intentional that both he and Thor at different times referred to the Vision as an android? Was Roy creating some sort of "racial" tension? That sort of thing would certainly have been taboo in 1972.

Karen: There was the possibility of that, but all of the Avengers, with the exception of Quicksilver, pretty much accepted the relationship between Wanda and the Vision. Despite the Avengers' threats, the Emperor is crafty. He orders the commander to carry out Plan Delta. The order is given before the Avengers can act. The Vision grabs the commander and demands he tell them what Plan Delta is. He also demands to know the location of "the girl -and the others!" Shockingly, the android delivers a savage beating to the alien; he might possibly have killed him if Thor and Iron Man had not intervened. The panel showing the Skrull's battered face is burned into my mind. The commander reveals the truth of Plan Delta, as he says it is too late to stop. A small ship has left the flagship, headed for Earth, with a cargo of "a nuclear warhead to dwarf all your daydreams of destruction." In another very memorable sequence, Cap radios Goliath and tells him to stop the ship "at any cost -including your life! Do you read me?" A grim faced Clint simply says, "I read ya Cap." I still get goosebumps from that. Clint manages to maneuver on top of the Skrull ship and somehow blast his way inside. He finds himself staring at four Skrulls and wondering why oh why he threw his growth serum away.

Doug: You have to love a bunch of uglies that complain about how backwards a planet is, and then go and use an alphabet from its most classical civilizations. Hawk was great, wasn't he? We all know he idolized Cap. I've been thinking through this entire storyline how well Roy has been writing Clint. It's been a nice and seemingly natural evolution from his obnoxious days under Stan's pen.

Karen: Of all the secondary Avengers, I always thought Hawkeye had the best story arc, and best progression as a character. He did a lot of growing up, although he never lost his smart-ass nature. Far away from this action, we turn to Rick Jones, boy captive, and the Kree ruler, Ronan. Sadly, Ronan will be miscolored as a "pink Kree" the rest of our tale. I know nit-picky, but it bothers me. Ronan is highly displeased to find that although he requested that the Inhumans be brought back to Kree-Lar to help fight the Skrulls, all he has in hand is Rick. Rick pulls an incredibly lame-brained stunt and whacks Ronan with a staff, which obviously does nothing but cheese him off. He smacks the kid, but has a grudging respect for his bravado, and decides to make him his 'body-slave' (Oh my...shades of Spartacus!). He's in a generous mood, as he shows Rick the great Kree fleet that is taking off to go battle the Skrulls for Earth. Rick tries to run off but is easily stopped by Ronan, who tires of him and throws him in a room...with the Supreme Intelligence? Kind of a strange move. The S.I. (not Sports Illustrated) tells Rick that he's been manipulating events behind the scenes, such as stirring up H. Warren Craddock, causing Rick to have his prophetic dream of Mar-Vell, and keeping Mar-Vell from realizing 'Carol' was actually the Super-Skrull. He also caused the Kree solider to kidnap Rick last issue. But why? That'll have to wait, as S.I. has one more stunt: he zaps Rick in to the Negative Zone -right next to Annihilus!

Doug: In time... but I didn't get the Negative Zone deal. Good excuse to end this with Annihilus, though. After all, we started this whole mess with him, didn't we?

Karen: There's just no let up in this issue. Wall to wall action, but every bit of it was entertaining. And those visuals! Adams does an amazing job with the space scenes. It re
ally transported me. This was certainly the most spectacular comic I had read at this point. He and Thomas really drive home that sense of extreme heroism here. As I said before, I think this is when the Avengers truly became big leaguers.

Doug: One of the complaints I had earlier in the series was Neal's long and lithe figurework not being wholly appropriate for Thor. No problems here, as the God of Thunder has been appropriately bulked up. Adams draws movement so well, doesn't he? And big leaguers? Wasn't it Kurt Busiek who once characterized the Avengers as the varsity? There can be no doubt in this storyline.


33 comments:

david_b said...

Wow, so MANY things to comment on here.. So I'll just mention a few..:

1) Yes, one of the stellar covers, I'd put it in the 'top teens' of Avenger covers, not sure the top 10. Striking, nevertheless.

2) Still gorgeous art, especially the beat-up Skrull and Clint's accepting of 'his mission'.. Now, true to my earlier comments, I still ponder having Adams chosen to do the opus of this saga, over say Buscema, but nevertheless, it is breathtaking art, for in retrospect, probably the grandest (and longest, pre-Korvac) of Avengers storylines ever, gently pushing the FF aside as frontiersmen of galactic adventure, Marvel style.

3) Totally agreeing on Clint's maturity here. I typically think of either Hank or Vish's development (both good and bad) as the cool thread weaving throughout the decades, but Clint really ascends as the one to watch. When he was featured, he was always handled much better than the others.

Edo Bosnar said...

Don't have much to add to your review here - you pretty much underlined all of the cool aspects, i.e. the continuation of non-stop action coupled with Adams' gorgeous visuals. I just have to note, I was amused by the fact that Thomas found a way to have Rick Jones referred to as both a 'whelp' (twice!) and a 'stripling' in this issue (and I did wince a bit at that 'body-slave' reference...)

dbutler16 said...

That panel showing Thor and the Vision tearing the ship’s hull apart together is extremely cool!
I can definitely buy Iron Man surviving in space – that’s never been a problem for me. Still, the Legion’s trans-suits are the best. Who wants to see superheroes in clunky suits and fishbowl helmets?

I like Thor’s attempt at trickery, too, even though it didn’t work. Hey, it’s worth a shot.

Also, yes the "I read ya Cap." Sequence was stirring. I also loved the way Hawkeye used to ride Cap, but Cap eventually earned his respect, though I’m sure much of that was just Clint’s maturation.

I’m sure Ronan was even more displeased than you, Karen, to be miscolored pink, considering the racial tensions between the pink and blue Kree.

By the way, Rick Jones has some serious cajones. If it was me, I’d be lickin’ Ronan’s little green booties!

Anonymous said...

Seriously wonderful perspectives from Adams here. The only thing I didn’t like at the time was the Vision’s big fist as he whacks the Skrull through the air, but having seen the preliminary sketches and read Adams notes when he did something very similar with the Beast* I really like that pic now.

Karen – regarding SHIELD, well, a big part of it, certainly when Stan was writing it, was that it was entirely driven by technology. In fact, when Fury was kidnapped by the Fixer & Mentallo, Tony Stark rather than anyone else actually took over. One of the things I like about Stan’s imagination was the amount of stuff that actually became real afterwards. He seemed to have a knack for looking at stuff that already existed and working out what else it could be used for e.g. Fury had a suit made of a fine steel mesh long before Kevlar...which existed at that point as a material but was used for racing tyres. Likewise the airbag, which had been patented, but no one had built a car with one. Except Tony Stark, who had them as standard 30 years before anyone else. All round airbags, too.

I’m therefore not surprised to see an orbital space station, which, let’s face it, is less of an ask than the helicarrier or flying cars. When Stark went into space to disarm Hydra’s Betatron bomb (where do they get these names?), he piloted a ship called the Brainosaur (seriously, where?) which launched from Earth, not an orbital space station, but then he was under a lot of time pressure that day.

Richard

*this is in Schumer’s Silver Age of Comic Book Art.

Steve Does Comics said...

Doug, I don't know when that space station was first used but it turned up again in X-Men #99-100, with the Sentinels using it as their base.

Come to think of it, isn't the space station shown as being under construction in that Avengers tale? If you look at that splash page you posted, you can see that, towards the rear of the station, building work is still underway on one of its shuttles. In which case that issue might have been the first time the base was seen.

Anthony said...

Here's a little more on the space station in the comments section of this link.

http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/weatherm.htm

Blabby said...

Some more great stuff there from Adams. It's just a shame he couldn't stick around after this to finish off the story. I remember being really disappointed at the time when I got the next issue and it was drawn by John Buscema. Not that Buscema's stuff was bad, just that it suffered in comparison to Adams; where Buscema seemed to settle for the old familiar poses, Adams seemed to come up with something bold and exciting.

Fred W. Hill said...

Definitely an iconic cover featuring the Vision, breaking out of his Mr. Spock persona and displaying he could be all too human! This issue in particular was a clear inspiration for the space operas to come from Starlin as well as Claremont & Cockrum or Byrne, and if I recall right there'd be more mention of the space station in ish 102 with some pre-pro input from Claremont. All this and significant character development in Vision and Clint (not-quite-yet Hawkeye again). Thomas was really firing on all engines during his last year on the Avengers.

Murray said...

Another unavoidable comment from the future. Sorry.

While reading the lively thoughts and commentary, I'm nagged by one question: Do you guys READ the comics?

Earlier head-scratching about the transfer of Super Skrull's captives from tabletops to upright tubes. What we're then shown is a vastly different, and even without comparison scale, bigger ship than the saucer Goliath tried to punch. It even has a crew! And, the telling point, the narration box calls it the Skrull MOTHER SHIP. Obviously, the saucer rendezvoused somewhere in the Sol System and on they went.

The fleet mirage? I've never thought of it as other than a gizmo built into the SHIELD ship, because of Clint remarking: "Thought we had 'em spooked for a second there." That, and the Avengers reactions, show no cosmic manipulations or sorcerous mystery.

My last explanation is not so obvious, I grant you. But the reason Clint gave up on Goliath (to my great disappointment as well) was that he almost never accomplished anything as Goliath. So much so, that in Avengers #86, when Goliath saves the day on the Squadron Supreme Earth, his fellow Avengers tease him about "finally pulling his weight." Clint even sort of agrees, saying "...Cap always said I'd amount to something one day."

I like me giant characters very much. Archery characters are pretty goofy. But, the writers of the Avengers never let Clint-Goliath do much more than provide dynamic background. As Hawkeye, they let him win a few times.

Onwards and upwards! You have a new fan of BAB!

Matt Celis said...

Haven't read this in forever, but some of those images above are prime examples of why I say Neal Adams is a poor storyteller. What bad panel choices. Can't tell what the heck is going on in that space battle without the captions. Vision vs. skrull: very confusing thanks to constantly moving "camera angles." Yikes, give me a Buscema! Any Buscema!

david_b said...

Actually Matt, despite my initial post here a few years back, I agree with you on Adams.

I absolutely LOVE his cover art and occasionally I bing on eBay to track down his awesome covers for Superboy, WF, JLA, GL/GA and others.

That being said, the internal 'breathtaking' art (as I initially referred to it as..), is a bit of a chore to gaze on, with all due honestly.

While his facial expressions are unmatched, I'd agree his panel progression, while hip and progressive for that period, are somewhat laborous to get through now. His cinematic quality doesn't lend itself to the comfortable quality of better story-tellers, as you mentioned.

'Give me either Buscema anyday', INDEED.

Doug said...

Nope. Don't see the issue at hand. The art makes perfect sense to me.

Doug

Edo Bosnar said...

I agree with Doug on the art, in this issue and in general: I've never had problems following Adams' art. I think his sequential storytelling is perfectly clear. In fact, he drew this one Batman story in particular (can't remember which issue off the top of my head; I think the Groovy Agent posted it on his blog a few years ago) which doesn't need any dialogue or narration - you pretty much get all the information you need from his art.

Anonymous said...

As some others here have pointed out, the Vision at this point is starting to become a real nasty piece of work, low fuse, just threatening to murder anybody who crosses him.
I wonder how that happened. My first introduction to him was when he was duking it out with Wonderman.
Why did Thomas, Shooter, and others portray him as such a homicidal lunatic, instead of a robot?
What's the deal? Bad programming?

Karen said...

"Why did Thomas, Shooter, and others portray him as such a homicidal lunatic, instead of a robot?"

Maybe you're trying to be funny and I'm just not getting it. The Vision and his mishandling post-Byrne is a sore spot for me, I'll admit. Clearly the Vision was initially portrayed as a synthetic man capable of having emotions and struggling with them. Why else would he practically lead the Avengers into a hopeless space battle all for the sake of a woman?

It's a lot like Mr. Spock from Star Trek -he had emotions, he just didn't let them out all that often. But when he did -look out.

I feel like I have to defend poor Vizh's basic humanity all the time, and I guess I get a little grouchy about it. But I don't want people to forget who the character really was.He was never meant to be a toaster, regardless of what John Byrne might say.

Garett said...

Nice action scenes by Adams!

Edo Bosnar said...

Thomas and Shooter portrayed Vision as a "homicidal lunatic?" News to me...

And yes, Karen's comparison to Spock pretty much hits the nail on the head. From his very introduction, Vision was never supposed to be just a machine.

david_b said...

Ooops, sorry, I meant to say 'I binge on eBay' on occasion for spectacular Adams covers, as I've done for Steranko, Trimpe's Hulk, Cardy's Titans and Aquaman, and other covers.

As mentioned, foolish as it might sound with my disposible income, when I hunt for those exquisite covers, I strive to spend more for the best quality I can afford.

Greg said...

"He was never meant to be a toaster, regardless of what John Byrne might say."
"From his very introduction, Vision was never supposed to be just a machine."

Thank you, Karen and Edo. I still get annoyed when I see what they've done to the Vision. All the build- up, establishing his emotions, even having him get married for cryin out loud- then Byrne comes along. Bye bye Vision. Such a waste.

david_b said...

Ok, ok... let's look at the Byrne Vision debacle another way for a moment.

Just to throw this out, how was the pointless dismantling (basically killing) of Vish different than the death and return of Gwen Stacy..?

Aside from Conway stating that her sustained life would have led to marriage, essentially "betray everything that Spider-Man was about" (his words..), how was the Clone Saga better/worse than the rebuilding Vish story arc..?

Gwen was Peter's girlfriend but Vish was Wanda's husband.

I actually don't recall any huge outcry of Vision's demise on the level of Gwen.., perhaps it was indeed the timing just after the pleasantville of Silver Age stories that made it resonate so much more. But indeed Vish was a pretty visible in the Marvel Universe, being a major character for a few decades, much longer than Gwen's supporting role.

This of course was before Superman's death, Captain America's apparent death, etc..

Go for it.

Matt Celis said...

I dig the Vision and consider him integral to the Avengers. If I were the writer, he'd be a key player. However, Vision & Scarlet Witch's relationship actually being consummated I always found CREEPY. He may be lifelike but he's still a machine. Scarlet Witch is b*tsh*t CRAZY. And having them married: legal? I think not. But worse, it resulted in Vision being written out of the Avengers and he never really recovered from that even before Byrne wrecked him. Bad Byrne storyline, but to be fair any subsequent writer could have restored Vision if editorial would allow it. How many decades have we been without "classic" Vision now? Pretty lame use of a character who verged on the A-list for quite a long time. Dude was the face of the Avengers as far as corner boxes go!

Anonymous said...

As I'm trying to remember what I was going to post I just wanted to tell Karen that I listened to Girlfriend and Lust for Life at work. Finding Iggy's Lust for Life also led me to his Preliminaries and TV Eye Live. Had a pretty good time at work listening to music, but, as I've said before, that's not why I called....

Some of the sub-plots, or the one sub-plot, that I've been enjoying is Thomas' handling of Clint Barton. The scene he included in the quinjet of Goliath contemplating his ending of his life as a superhero gets continued in Clint deciding to stop taking the growth formula. Okay, there is the point of why would he go into this battle without at least bringing his bow and arrow? Though it does give us the great scene of the only thing standing between us and total annihilation is Goliath and his questionable wits!!!! Even the atheists bending a knee indeed. In fact, Thomas used either Clint or Rick as the focal point in wrapping up several of the chapters.

In my personal project of trying to scan some of my comics, I noticed in the issues 93-97, there are only three double page splash pages. There is some much story to tell and art to tell it with! Compare it to a more 90s comic from say, Image, where there's double splash pages three times in one issue.

Two final points: There is nothing I can really add to the Vision debate other than I think he stretches what it means to be "human". Iron Man, other than the Mandroid battle, was there a crucial story point where he suddenly was dangerously low on power?

The Prowler (charging his iPod and ready for a new day).

Greg said...

"How many decades have we been without "classic" Vision now?"

Yeah it's been a while hasn't it? Surprised it still irritates me. It does though, I always dug that character. You got a good point though, about the marriage. I was always for it, they were married when I came in, but thinking it through as an older person... maybe that was Byrne's issue. Couldn't get over the weirdness of that...

Now that I think about it, I guess Harras and Busiek later returned him to his more or less former self, although I was hit or miss with comics at that point and haven't read everything. So maybe he was restored, just not as prominent? Thinking back to his heavy hitter status though, it's still baffling to me that he's been so neglected.

As to David's point, that's a good question. I've never read the Gwen Stacy story, was never a Spiderman fan, so I can't really say, other than the simple answer that Spidey was the face of Marvel and so that event would resonate a lot more. That and the fact that Gwen was human and a civilian. Also I think many of us (or maybe just me) assumed Byrne's changing the Vision was temporary- after all the "real" Vizh would come back, right? Well, maybe...

Karen said...

Prowler: glad you are enjoying some Iggy. If you ever have a chance to get your hands on the live King Biscuit Flower Hour CD, do it, it's Iggy in fine form. Actually we'll have more about that in a couple of weeks.

I think the Vision's stock started to go down after he and Wanda got married. It just sort of took the edge off of the character. Then when Byrne dehumanized him, it really made him less important -he was no more significant than the quinjet really.

He's apparently back in the books now -the real him, not that Young Avengers wanna-be. But what's galling is how long it took and that apparently it was explained away as all his "parts" were stuffed away in a crate in a warehouse somewhere until Tony Stark decided to tinker around and put him back together. This just exemplifies how modern creators don't get the characters and their relationships. The Avengers I knew would have immediately marshaled their efforts and tried to find a way to revive their friend -or failing that, given his remains a proper resting place. The very thought of it just makes me sick.

Fred W. Hill said...

I wonder if people would be as freaked out by Jim Hammond -- aka the original Human Torch and Marvel's first android super-hero -- were to have gotten married to a human woman. Or would his more typical human appearance make it more palatible than Wanda's relationship with the more inhuman appearing Vision, who never adopted any other name? The implications of their romance never bothered me, maybe because I just accepted as part of the way out fantasy of comics in which geniuses could build a human-like automaton in their lab without any apparent outside help and a random dose of radiation gave you superpowers rather than deadly cancer. Also count me among those who never had a problem following the story flow of Adams' artwork. The sort of artistic experiments with layouts, etc., that Adams and several of the other more wayout artists employed didn't always work out well, but I enjoyed them more often than not.
Back to the Vision, his "losing it" in this issue, IMO, fits the slow build-up Thomas has provided -- from the classic, "Even an Android Can Cry" to the scene of a couple of issues previously when Ronan laughed as the Vision turned his head away from Wanda after nearly kissing her, we've been seeing Vizh's confusion and frustration grow, trying to make sense of his feelings. All of which I'm sure many adolescents with awakening romantic yearnings could easily identify with.

Edo Bosnar said...

I had no problem with Vision being married to Scarlet Witch, the whole android thing never bothered me then or now. Remember, one of the most classic superhero romances/couples, Superman and Lois, involves a human woman and an alien - doesn't matter that he looks like a handsome human male, he's still a different species, and that's no more or less creepy than Vision/Wanda. As Fred noted, superhero comics are fantasy, you just kind of roll with these things.
All that said, Karen, I thought their marriage made Vision (and Wanda for that matter) less interesting. So I had no problem with it ending, but what Byrne did it was serious overkill. Couldn't they have just filed for divorce (because, say, Wanda found out Vision was having an affair - with Mantis)? ;)

Matt Celis said...

Superman & Lois Lane are both living sentient beings. Vision is not a life form. Big difference.

I guess you think fake plastic trees are the same as ones that sprout from seeds and nuts?

Karen said...

A plastic Christmas tree doesn't fall in love.

I think the thing that makes the Vision interesting is the whole question of what is sentience? What makes something 'alive'? As we become more and more technologically advanced and develop computers that begin to reason, these are questions we may have to face. If something has awareness of self, can reason, and has wants, what is it? I would not feel comfortable treating such a creature as a servant or a machine.

It's like that episode of Star Trek The Next Generation, The Measure of A Man -where they are trying to determine if Data is the property of Starfleet. In the end, no one is sure exactly how to define consciousness, and therefore they have to give him his freedom.

The day may come where we have multiple categories of sentient being -those of biological and non-biological origin. It's hard to comprehend, but it may happen. And what of people who have their biological parts replaced with non-biological ones? What if, at some point, they become more machine than organic? Are they no longer human? Where does humanity reside -in our birth? Our construction? Our consciousness?

The Vision, to me, was always a human soul stuck inside of a synthetic body. He proved himself 'human' again and again. That's why his relationship with Wanda never bothered me, any more than a woman in love with a man with prosthetic limbs would bother me.

Edo Bosnar said...

Hmmm, in my second paragraph above, it should read "like Karen," i.e. I was not arguing a point with Karen since we seem agreed on this.
Otherwise, she gave a nice long (and better) answer to Matt's point, but here's a shorter one: Vision was indeed a sentient being as portrayed in comics. And more to the point I made about fantasy, Superman and Vision are both comic book characters - so no difference, really.

Greg said...

This discussion of the Vision has put me in mind of the new movie HER, with Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson. Scarlett plays an AI who Joaquin apparently falls for, sounds like it explores exactly the themes Karen is talking about. Seems to be good buzz about it.

Vision was often called a robot and android as well as a synthezoid, but I always preferred that latter term as I think it more accurately reflected where Thomas and others were going with him. Clearly he was intended to be a synthetic man, not a walking toaster.

Interesting that Mantis dug him too. It seems like there was someone else attracted to him too, later, but I can't recall who. Apparently Wanda wasn't the only one who was "interested."

Matt Celis said...

Whatever you wanna call Vision, "alive" isn't part of it. "Lifelike," as I said before. Thus it's creepy as heck.

humanbelly said...

Except, MattC, your rather final and unyielding appraisal of the character is directly contrary to what the actual creators of the character himself intended-- there's no question of that. A "lifelike" being does not need to take a moment in private to shed real tears because it is overcome by emotion. The final panel of issue #58 needs to be hanging above the desk/drawing board of any creator who ever works with the Vision. It's an outstandingly eloquent portrayal of everything one needs to know about what makes Vizh- a complex, troubled, conflicted person in an entirely prosthetic body- tick. In subsequent years he may have been handled well and handled poorly. . . but he was indeed obviously considered to be a living being until Byrne (who also found him creepy) got hold of him.
What is "alive"? Where is the dividing line? The issue's been a staple of SF writing, TV, and film for pretty much ever. Mostly because it serves as a solid proxy for issues concerning race, mental disability, and individual rights & free will. It's a solid way to make a cautionary point about the dangers of declaring who is and isn't fully a "person" under any circumstances. There are, of course, always people who are going to be stubbornly "creeped out" by inter-racial marriage, or gay marriage, or marriages w/ wide age differences, or people w/ physical and/or developmental disabilities getting married (man, think about how recently in our history that eugenics still had a toe-hold), but society on the whole finds a way to eventually get past all that once it becomes familiar enough, and they see that, of course, no harm comes from it whatsoever. Vision/Wanda's an extreme example, yes-- which is sort of what the whole point's supposed to be, right?

Golly, I'm unusually preachy. At yet another dance competition, with WAAAAAY too many lyrical duets going on. . .

HB

Anonymous said...

And other things! Rick would be an awesome body slave...

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