“And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth's mightiest heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat. On that day, the Avengers were born—to fight the foes no single super hero could withstand!”
Each Friday Marvel.com will present a different column focusing on the one and only Avengers. From line-ups to costumes to villains to classic stories and beyond, we’ve got you covered on the history of Marvel’s most prolific team of heroes!
So let the call go out: Avengers Assemble!
By Jim Beard
As Wanda Maximoff, the alluring Scarlet Witch, struggles to recover her memories and place in the Marvel Universe in AVENGERS: THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE, fans may be reminded of another time of terrible tribulation in her life. The hex-throwing heroine’s past stands dotted with challenges, but perhaps none so personally arduous as the story called “Visionquest,” witnessed in WEST COAST AVENGERS #42-45.
Wanda’s life to that point stood as anything but calm; the daughter of the villainous Magneto, she won her spot on the Avengers by honing her wild, mutant powers through many trials. Her love affair and eventual marriage to a synthetic man known as The Vision only added to her roller coaster of an existence, but when she used her “hexes” to manipulate probabilities and conceive twins, Wanda thought perhaps she’d finally won a calm, blessed future for her and her new family.
Then, in the opening pages of WEST COAST AVENGERS #42, she woke up one sunny morning to find her husband gone. Completely, utterly gone.
Searching the grounds of the West Coast Avengers’ California compound, The Scarlet Witch found not her spouse, but intruding danger in the form of the team’s old robotic enemy, Ultron. The entire line-up— Hank Pym, Wonder Man, Hawkeye and Tigra—rushed in to fight their foe alongside Wanda, only to discover a faux-Ultron used as a wily diversion. Someone, perhaps even an Avenger, sent the mock menace to turn the heroes’ attentions elsewhere. But who? And why?
Enter Mockingbird, former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and Hawkeye’s estranged wife.
As WEST COAST AVENGERS #43 opened, Mockingbird explained that she’d been “had.” A group purporting to be an arm of S.H.I.E.L.D. used her to gain information and access to The Vision—and to effectively shut him down. Some time before, the synthezoid went rogue and took control of the entire world’s computer defense systems, before ultimately relinquishing said control and “fixing” his errant programming. “S.H.I.E.L.D.” declared him still a threat and moved in to take him out, for the supposed protection of the people of the world.
With a duped and ashamed Mockingbird’s help, the West Coast Avengers raided the base to discover the Scarlet Witch’s worst nightmare: The Vision completely disassembled and apparently deactivated forever.
The team further uncovered answers to the synthezoid’s abduction in WEST COAST AVENGERS #44. The so-called S.H.I.E.L.D. group behind the heinous act represented not American law-enforcement, but a consortium of security details from almost every country on the planet. Their mission? Ensure that The Vision would never ever rise up against the Earth again. Shocked, the Avengers gathered up the multiple components of their friend’s “remains” and returned to their own compound. While Wanda’s emotions waxed and waned, Hank Pym set about rebuilding her husband.
Then, more problems presented themselves: Tigra’s slow de-evolution into a feral animal, the mystery of Wanda’s disappearing twin babies, a partially-rebuilt and berserk Vision and the arrival of the American government’s new member for the team: USAgent.
But, in the midst of the chaos there came a small sliver of light. WEST COAST AVENGERS #45 reintroduced the Avengers—and The Scarlet Witch—to The Vision. Cold, emotionless and pale as the name given him by The Wasp so long before, the new Vision lost the vital and warm connection he once held with his teammates and, most importantly, his wife. Hank Pym told Wanda this condition existed due to one vital element missing from his new cerebral matrix: the brain patterns of one Simon Williams, known as the hero Wonder Man.
The Scarlet Witch begged Simon to once again lend those patterns to reconstituting the old Vision, but, as he explained, his thoughts on the matter remained murky. Originally, his brain patterns became those of the Vision’s through the manipulations of the synthezoid’s creator Ultron, but now, in the present, it came down to a conscious choice for Simon. And, citing inner conflicts, he chose to withhold them. The Scarlet Witch grew crimson with fury and brought down an entire cliff face on Wonder Man’s head.
The quest for The Vision ended with what stood as, essentially, two new Avengers: the cantankerous USAgent and the near-soulless, ghostly new Vision. And the team muddled on, into an uncertain future.