Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ultimate Vision: Marvel Avengers, Stern era, 1984

But, hint by hint, what have we been watching actually happen during the Vision’s stint as chairman? Spoiler alert: I’m telling you below.



First, there is an internal struggle within him, as man, as machine, as the conglomeration of former identities that make up who he is, as chronicled in my August posts of the Englehart era.


The Vision uses computers to take over the defense systems and missile silos of the world’s super-powers, the Soviet Union, the United States, and the other nuclear powers such as China, India, and France. (This is all before SUPERMAN IV, which I’ll probably never bother to watch, and is a much better realized story.) He plans to abandon his physical body and become a “cloud data” intelligence.

In the process, he discovers the Thinker’s old experiment in artificial intelligence, Quasimodo, hidden as a cyber presence, in one of the earliest comic book depictions of the Internet, which had not become a fully-realized entity such as we know today. Their powers and combat inside the world’s defense computers makes for one of the more interesting battles of 1980’s comics.



The Avengers, however, can’t go along with Vision’s plans. Furthermore, even his eventual surrender will not erase the suspicion engendered in defense departments world-wide; even then, they are not told the full story, which doubtlessly would’ve led to Vision’s destruction in the name of national defense---a much darker storyline, of the sort that would become dominant in the world of superhero comics.


I think the Vision gets off with a relative slap on the wrist here, resigning his chair, relinquished again to the Wasp. Still, in the closing years of the Cold War, the desire to end all threat of nuclear annihilation from the arms race is understandable. Philosophically as well as practically, enormous defense budgets have created a fantastic drain on public monetary reserves, belaying needed infrastructure building and energy research, as well as contributing to debt---which, in the end, helped eliminate the Soviet Union, which became unbalanced by defense spending. It’s one of Stern’s deepest story ideas in his run. It’s intriguing that the decade-popular West Coast Avengers began as part of Vision’s ideas on benevolent world domination! The present proliferation of Academies in today’s Marvel dates back to this storyline.

Alas, while the character’s concept has been resurrected in a new form, today’s Marvel Universe has no Vision as we once knew.


(A friend and I, however, have some very definite ideas about that. That’s the practical side of my agenda to revisit these stories, along with enjoying them as paragons of Bronze Age Comics. I can relate to Vision’s hidden agenda, in a way!)

Next:
3. Savage Land / Skrulls, Space / Secret Wars II Period) 1985



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