Vision and the Scarlet Witch #12
Issue(s): Vision and the Scarlet Witch #12
At these happy events (i mean the births, not paying extra money for a 1980s Steve Englehart comic) there's always one family member you don't really like that shows up to spoil things. And so we have Nekra reviving the Grim Reaper...
...who is Wonder Man's brother and therefore technically the Vision's as well. It turns out that the Reaper actually died in the fall shown in his last appearance, but Nekra has learned a few tricks from the Black Talon and is able to revive him as a zombie. But Nekra has some additional knowledge that allows the Grim Reaper to be a special zombie. Nekra's zombies can think and act just like their real living selves, so long as they don't find out that they are really zombies. It's unclear if finding out that you are a zombie actually breaks the spell or just, understandably, causes you to freak out. Either way, i wonder if the spell also preserves your body or if you'd continue to rot away while living out what you think is your normal life. Sitting there eating breakfast and your teeth start falling into your cereal.
Oh, is that too gross for you? Well now you know why the Comics Code Authority resisted approving zombies for so long.
In addition to the Grim Reaper, Nekra also revives the Simon Williams lookalike corpse that the Reaper intended to transfer Wonder Man's mind into to "restore" his brother in his earlier appearance. And the corpse turns out to be Rambo.
They set out to cause trouble at the hospital, but they are stopped by Wonder Man and Magneto.
Magneto uses his powers to cause the Reaper to cut himself...
...and when no blood comes out it confirms that he's a zombie. The Reaper therefore turns on Nekra, who is weakened because she is powered by hate and (for whatever reason!) the Grim Reaper is someone that she actually loves.
During the fight it comes out that Magneto's powers are disrupted by Wonder Man's ionic energy.
The fight is really a sideshow that takes place while Wanda's giving birth.
Doctor Strange, just back from a fight with the one-off netherspawn Colabrun...
...arrives to help with the birth alongside Wanda's obstetrician. And after the first baby is delivered...
...it's discovered that there is a second one, which had not been detected by any instruments or Strange's spells (Strange even explicitly confirmed last issue that Wanda wasn't having twins).
While it wasn't deliberate, adding anything weird to the birth of the Vision and Scarlet Witch's kids opened the door for the later revelations that the babies weren't real. Again, that wasn't the intention, but Englehart's goal here was to treat the entire marriage and pregnancy as a perfectly normal thing besides the one moment where the Scarlet Witch used the Salem Seven witches' powers to make herself pregnant. So adding this element where one of the kids is totally not detectable, even to Doctor Strange, in retrospect looks like a clue for the Master Pandemonium revelation. Englehart really just wanted to keep the fact that there were twins a surprise and also establish that the kids would have superpowers (of course!).
The Vision thinks of the second kid (William) as "my son" although he quickly amends that to say that they are both his.
We end with the book's support cast and some of Vision and Scarlet Witch's extended family gathered around the babies.
What's interesting considering this is the last issue is that Englehart takes the time to check in with Crystal and Norm Webster. And they are shown to be truly in love with each other, in contrast to just about everyone else's opinion of them shown in this series.
Per Englehart, this wasn't just a lusty fling, and it therefore makes the Scarlet Witch's insistence in the past two issues that Quicksilver just forgive Crystal and take her back absurd. And therefore seems to justify Quicksilver's crack-up. But Englehart doesn't confront anyone else in the book with this information. So it's an intriguing choice for him to include this scene.
It had been suggested in the lettercol that if there was enough interest the series might have been turned into an ongoing, and of course Englehart still had West Coast Avengers to develop things further (and in actuality will soon be taking over the Fantastic Four where he'll be using Crystal), but for this book we're left with this, and i'm not sure even Englehart understood the implications (as i interpret it!).
This is the last appearance of Holly Ladonna, the teenage girl that Scarlet Witch was training in the ways of magic. It's not clear how much aptitude for magic she really had or how much she learned from Wanda, and she was a bland, uninteresting character.
She still had some potential as a Sabrina the Teenage Witch type character, though, and so i'm surprised she never appeared in a New Warriors story or in Witches or something.
As for the twins, i had a couple of choices regarding listing them in the Characters Appearing section. The first was whether to list them at all, since it will turn out they are actually portions of Master Pandemonium's/Mephisto's soul. And the second was whether to list them as the Young Avengers Asgardian and Speed since it seems to be increasingly the case that the souls will somehow be recycled/reincarnated/infused into them (i don't pretend to understand it yet). I've decided to list them but keep them separate from the Young Avengers characters. Note that Scarlet Witch took the Vision's last name when they married, and the Vision doesn't have a last name, so the babies are similarly surnameless. The baby William is named for Simon Williams as a way to carry that part of the extended family name forward. And that decision gives Magneto a sad.
I did not love this series at all, but i think it was an interesting experiment in that it was a book that was primarily about relationships and family. It wasn't really intended to be a superhero book. And i think there is room in the Marvel universe for books like that. I just think Englehart, even though he clearly has so much history with and love for these characters, wasn't the right person to pull it off. His writing style, and especially his scripting, isn't suited for a purely character driven book. And Englehart (or Editor Jim Salicrup) didn't trust himself enough so we wind up with a lot of half-hearted super-heroics anyway. Repeated battles with the Toad, and the Nekra/Grim Reaper distraction here (what was the point of bringing back the corpse of the Simon Williams lookalike?). There's also the fact that Richard Howell's art has a weirdness to it. His smiling, happy people terrify me, i really don't like his interpretation of Wanda, and his Nekra has devolved into a witchy hag.
I don't say all this to bash the creators. I say it because it's become a truism in the industry that married couples are uninteresting and that books like this don't sell. But i really don't think the relative lack of success of this series proves that; i think that a lot of the failure here is due to execution.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place after the Vision and Scarlet Witch's appearance in Hulk #323. Dr. Strange appears here before his cloak is damaged in Doctor Strange #77. Wonder Man appears in his new costume, placing this after West Coast Avengers #12-13. Avengers annual #15 takes place after this.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (10): show
Magneto may be sad, but it'll be years before he even HAS a last name (that we know about). As I recall, at this time, he is still just "Magnus".
Posted by: Erik Robbins | January 3, 2014 4:34 PM
The logic that Magento and Wonder Man used to figure out Wanda was in danger was ridiculous- "There's an electromagnetic disturbance in the Mole Man's tunnels, therefore Wanda must be in danger." If Simon and Magneto are that paranoid, it's amazing they let the poor woman cross the street unescorted.
Posted by: Michael | January 3, 2014 8:50 PM
This is the (temporary) end of the Grim Reaper. Great name, good costume (the second one anyway), and probably the worst power set of any villain - he has an unwieldy blade on his hand that sometimes does stuff. He has all the pathos that great villains have, yet couldn't be anything more than mediocore.
Married couples can be fun, entertaining heroes. It worked for Nick and Nora Charles, but I agree in superhero books they've just been awful. I blame the hacks.
Posted by: Chris | January 3, 2014 9:45 PM
In this series, Wanda doesn't use the name Maximoff, but she is called Wanda Maximoff from this point onward.
Dr. Strange totally fails Wanda by failing to detect the unreality of her children.
Posted by: Steven Printz | January 4, 2014 8:33 AM
"And the corpse turns out to be Rambo".
Rambo died in the original novel First Blood by David Morrell, so that stands as appropriate.
Morrell later wrote a Captain America project.
Posted by: PB210 | January 4, 2014 9:28 AM
Steven, I don't think you can hold Dr Strange accountable. He was powerless in the face of a John Byrne retcon.
While I often like Byrne's writing, what he did to Wanda's kids was pretty rotten. I've got kids of my own and the idea to make hers non-existent is cruel. All just so he could break up her marriage and have her shack up with Wonderman, something no one but Byrne thought was a good idea. but I'm ahead of myself.
Posted by: kveto from prague | January 4, 2014 11:44 AM
I don't think Vision means it in the way you suggested, in that the one baby is his son and he instantly realizes they both are; he is just focusing his attention on that PARTICULAR son, being that he was able to evade detection for that long.
Posted by: That Inhuman Butt Fiend | March 3, 2014 4:40 AM
So, did anything ever happen with Glamour and Illusion? Not that they were compelling characters or anything, but Englehart worked on WCA for several issues and never brought them back. Does anyone know if he had plans for them that were abandoned, or did he just get bored with them?
Posted by: mikrolik | May 3, 2015 11:50 AM
I don't think Vision's emphasis is how you took it, fnord. He's not singling out that child in spite of the other one; he's *responding* to a comment about that child's specific ability to be undetected. So it's kind of a response to a statement; if you were famous for, let's say, holding your breath for an incredible amount of time and then one day someone told you one of your children did the same thing, you might be like "well yeah, that's MY child"- it's just in relation to that specific action.
Posted by: Wis | October 26, 2017 2:20 AM
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