Avengers #251-252 (January-February 1985)

This post and the next together bring the “Absolute Vision” storyline to a finish. Quick recap: As we saw in issue #233, Vision was knocked unconscious, only to be revived later by Starfox and ISAAC, the computer that runs his home planet of Titan. ISAAC’s corrupting influence, combined with a malfunctioning “control crystal” implanted by his creator, Ultron, and a frustration with humanity’s resisting his attempts to help it, led Vision become more domineering, manipulating his fellow Avengers and expanding his control over the computer systems of the world. In these issues, the Vision’s megalomania approaches its zenith, but not until he discusses his issues with Captain America and, beside his wife the Scarlet Witch, encounters a very personal incident of hatred and prejudice that only stiffens his resolve.

Cap had concerns about the Vision’s behavior last time he saw him, but he has been absent from the team for much of this story, busy with the Red Skull and Mother Superior for the last few months in his own book in a story that drastically aged him, until his youth was restored in this month’s Captain America #301, at which point he officially rejoined the team. As Avengers #251 opens, Cap seems to be fighting for his life in a mechanized chamber…

…which is hardly proving a challenge, and Cap starts to wonder why.

Cap executes some tricky moves to escape his foe…

…only to meet five more outside, but I don’t think any of them are in a mood to face him!

Below, the Vision explains what we just saw, and the “robot” reveals his true identity (after Cap inadvertently insulted his intelligence) and welcomes his old friend back to the team.

Cap doesn’t want to take anything for granted—what with rules and regulations and all—but Vision reassures him of his importance to the team (or perhaps to his own plans… who can be sure?).

I don’t know what this “lunch date” is… perhaps a date with his fiancée Bernie, or with his drawing table, as we see at the beginning of this month’s Marvel Fanfare #18 (also written by this issue’s writer, Roger Stern)? You wouldn’t think they’d drop a detail like this and not follow it up.

Before he can get to it, though, Captain Marvel stops him to express her concerns with the Vision, which Cap shares, displaying a nuanced understanding regarding his friend’s unique mental state and an equally balanced plan should things go south.

We don’t see Cap for the rest of the issue—some lunch date, I guess—and when he returns in issue #252, he’s sketching while lending a ear to his longtime teammate the Scarlet Witch, whose issues are important not just to her but to the story as a whole.

Wow, he draws just like Bob Hall! (Seriously, though, it’s great to see his artistic side shown outside his main title.)

Wanda continues to express concerns about her husband, which are echoed by Starfox…

…so Cap decides to have a word with him. Given the heavy issues the Vision is struggling with, balancing humanity’s failures with his own uncertain willingness to intervene, he may need Cap’s ear as much as Wanda did.

Cap speaks to the Vision as one leader to another, acknowledging the incredible pressures of the job—indeed, as a university department chair, I know these enormous burdens all too well—and recommends he seek solace in his marriage (which is fitting, because Cap has just recently begun to open up with his own problems to his own fiancée).

Vision accepts this advice but then poses a question to Cap that he is particularly well-suited to answer, given his own heroic mission, his long track record dealing with moral dilemmas, and his experience with would-be benevolent dictators.

Of course, he does know, because this is his life, working tirelessly to give others a chance at a peaceful quiet life that he will never enjoy himself, at least not as much. But he knows Vision is talking about something much more drastic, so he expresses reservations more practical than ethical.

It’s interesting that Vision thought that last question to himself, not ready to reveal too much just yet… and we’ll never know if he would have, because Wanda bursts in to tell their house has been burnt down.

After the three of them land in New Jersey—if I’d known they were coming, I would have put out a plate!—Wanda and Vision shift through the ashes while Cap talks to the local authorities and learns the hateful motives behind the fire.

Wanda’s thoughts above—brilliantly scripted by Stern—are similar to those of groups who endure fear and prejudice in the real world, but cannot express their anger for fear of confirming those fears.

As the three Avengers return to the quinjet, Cap also silently fumes about the tragedy of the situation…

…when he overhears two shameless bigots and confronts them with a concise speech in the third panel below that just about says it all.

Cap expressed much the same sentiment in last month’s Marvel Fanfare #18, also written (as noted earlier) by Stern, and also involving arson motivated by hatred and resentment.

We see above that this incident confirmed the Vision’s path, so a day later, he goes about sending the others away so he can work undisturbed. (The writer in me is sure he wouldn’t know anything about that.)

Note Cap’s throwaway comment about favoring a strong defense but within limits, as well as Vision’s assigning Cap to be team leader and his claim about the West Coast Avengers being busy—the last one will be important in the next post.

After four of the Avengers arrive in Arizona (with Captain Marvel dispatched to outer space), they get a tour of Thanos’s winter home, and Cap makes a crack about the foolish presumption of military supremacy upon every new discovery of more powerful technology.

The two hapless scientists above accidentally trigger a transporter that brings the Blood Brothers, two monstrous creatures on Thanos’s payroll, whom the Avengers fight for several pages until Hercules deals the final blow… but at what cost?!

Oops!

That crisis averted, Cap turns to the colonel and upbraids him for the army’s clumsy security, the last bit overheard by Dane Whitman, the Black Knight, who tried to visit Avengers Mansion but was captured by the Vision, who is very busy at the moment Dane.

We’ll see how Cap and the U.S. Army resolve their differences—and, you know, the whole thing with Vision taking over the world and all—in the next post.


ISSUE DETAILS

Avengers (vol. 1) #251, January 1985: Roger Stern (writer), Bob Hall (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks), Christie Schiele (colors), Jim Novak (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Avengers (vol. 1) #252, February 1985: Roger Stern (writer), Bob Hall (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks), Christie Schiele (colors), Jim Novak (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Collected in: Avengers: Absolute Vision Book Two.


PREVIOUS ISSUES: Avengers #244-245 (June-July 1984)

ALSO THESE MONTHS: Captain America #301 (January 1985), Marvel Fanfare #18 (January 1985), Captain America #302 and Uncanny X-Men #190 (February 1985), and Secret Wars #9-10 (January-February 1985)

NEXT ISSUES: Avengers #253-254 (March-April 1985)

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