Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Comics Weekly Review: Issue 02

In this installment of CWR I will be picking up where we left off last week by reviewing issue 2 in the 4 part crossover between West Coast Avengers and the Vision and the Scarlet Witch limited series.  I am talking about Vision and the Scarlet Witch issue 01.  I would like to point out how this issue advertises both "Lovers and Zombies" on the cover to make the point that zombies were indeed popular in 1985 (although they are more mainstream today).  This issue was written by Steve Englehart and Richard Howell, drawn by Andy Mushynsky and inked by L. Lois Buhalis.

All images Copyright of Marvel Entertainment, LLC 1985.

This issue starts off with Scarlet Witch waiting impatiently while the Vision is being examined in Project Pegasus (somewhere in Upstate New York).  A little back story for those who are just being introduced to these characters but Scarlet Witch is a mutant (daughter of Magneto) and Vision is an android.  They are married.  Vision is being checked out by Gyrich (who I believe is the inventor of the sentinels in X-Men but I'm can't confirm that).  Vision is
actually a synthozoid as he corrects Gyrich during the investigation.  Aparently in Avengers #254 Vision tried
to take over the world, but he was being controlled by and alien computer.  Gyrich works for the American government and is the agent in charge of investigating the Avengers (and mutants).

Apparently Vision was originally called the Human Torch and fought alongside Captain America  from 1939-1955 until he went Nova.  He was eventually remade and fell into the clutches of Ultron-5 (interesting) who reprogrammed him with a new voice and personality using Wonderman's brain patterns as a model.  [All of this is new information to me as I only had West Coast Avengers issues as a child.]

After waiting 15 hours for tests Wanda (the Scarlet Witch) breaks into Project Pegasus to get Vision out using her hex-powers.  Wanda gives an empowered speech about mutant and synthoziod rights and then both Vision and Scarlet Witch quit the Avengers.  They vow to live as private citizens.  The story continues with Wanda and Vision trying to buy a house in Leonia, New Jersey.  Then they are attacked by zombies.

I want to take a moment to flash back to the end of West Coast Avengers issue 01 with this panel.  In this panel Hawkeye has just figured out how Goliath, Man-Ape and Ultron are connected.  In the second to last panel (which I showed last week) Hawkeye is piecing it together.  This panel is when he figures it out.  I didn't include this panel because it spoils who the real enemy here is.  I was planning it as a "tune in next week to find out who the West Coast Avengers are up against" sort of cliff hanger.  The dude with the funny looking, blue head-gear is Grim reaper.  You can also see smaller head-shots of Ultron, Man-Ape and Goliath around him.

The zombies that attacked Vision and Scarlet Witch are being controlled by Black Talon and Nekra, who are both working for Grim Reaper.  The zombies manage to neutralize Vision and capture Scarlet Witch.  When reading this issue of VatSW I was starting to think that they were not connected until halfway through the issue there is a page where Hawkeye is trying to contact Vision.  Then it flashes to Vision and Wanda being attacked by zombies.

So Grim Reaper is the mastermind behind this plan.  He had Ultron capture Wonderman in California and he also ordered Black Talon capture Vision.  Black Talon was not successful in capturing Vision, but instead takes Scarlet Witch as bait assuming that Vision will come after her.  This plan seems a little complicated but there is a reveal at the end of the issue that clears things up a bit.

The panel to the right shows Grim Reaper and Nekra in the upper right.  The panel on the lower left shows Grim Reaper scolding Black Talon.  And the lower right panel is Black Talon defending his job of protecting something that is hidden under the tent (what is hidden under the green tent is this week's cliff hanger).  What is hidden under the tent finishes the connection between the happenings in New Jersey to Wanda and Vision with what happened in California to Wonderman and Hank Pym.

As you might expect, Vision foils the plan and rescues Scarlet Witch.  He then contacts Hawkeye, or Hawkeye finally get a hold of him (it's not very clear) and Hawkeye begins to summarize what happened in WCA #1.  I assume that this is leading up to them all teaming up to take on Grim Reaper and his groupies.

I wanted to include this panel to show the stinger at the end of this issue which tells you that the story continues in West Coast Avengers #2.  The editor's use of 'Nuff Said!' is classy and really brings me back to my childhood in the 80's.  You don't really get to see stingers like this much in comics these days and believe me the editors have a heavy hand making sure you catch all the references in these comics with many little yellow boxes explaining what is going on.  I guess back then there was not other way to get that information to readers since is was before the internet or Wikipedia was around for people to look this information up on their own.

What I liked:  I enjoyed how the writer tried to humanize Vision and make the reader feel for what Wanda and Vision were going through in New Jersey.  At some point in recent history, their neighbors formed a riot and burned down their old house.  Then Vision tried to take over the world so he has the government breathing down their necks.  Wanda and Vision are just trying to settle down and they are questioned by the government and shunned by their neighbors in New Jersey.  Those are real feelings that the reader can relate to.

What I didn't like:  That is took so long for the story to be connected to the events of West Coast Avengers #1.  I was not even sure why this issue was important until it was revealed later in the issue.  I was excited to see Hawkeye and the group rush out and save Wonderman and Pym, instead I got 15 pages of history on Vision and Scarlet Witch.  All of this information is proving vital to the plot so I suppose I understand why it is included, but I could have used a little more action interspersed.

Also, what was up with the zombies in this issue.  They are being mind controlled by Balck Talon, but they are nothing like the zombies of today.  The could talk, and expressed feelings and one of them was able to communicate with Vision and reveal the location of Black Talon's hideout so he could rescue Scarlet Witch.

Looking Forward:  I'm excited to see the two stories collide in West Coast Avengers #2.  When what's left of the West Coast Avengers help to uncover why Vision and Scarlet Witch were attacked and try to save Wonderman.

I'm also looking forward to when Hawkeye has to face the Wasp and come clean that her ex-husband, Hank Pym, has been captured.  I thought it was hilarious how Hawkeye was casually talking to Tigra about Pym's abduction and how he was afraid of telling the Wasp, not afraid for Pym's life.  Cheers!

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