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Friday, August 8, 2014

X-amining X-Factor #38...

...will appear on Monday, due to unforeseen technical difficulties.


Vision thanks you for your patience.

34 comments:

  1. Will not a mutant from an important genetic line ever be allowed to have a happy marriage with a person who has a hazy connection to someone once close to the element of fire and a villain in a central part in the backstory!? Damn you, Marvel, damn youuu!!

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  2. Byrne really did a number on that title. As did Gruenwald on Avengers. They really fcuked up those titles horribly.

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  3. I was creeped out by both the Wanda and Maddie stories when I was a kid and not in a good way. Within the space of two years, we had two gentle mothers getting turned into slutty bad girls with a lust for their husbands' brothers. Unfortunate Impications.

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  4. Within the space of two years, we had two gentle mothers getting turned into slutty bad girls with a lust for their husbands' brothers.

    By those two hacks, Claremont and Byrne!

    But let's not forget there was also the related matter of a loving father being dismantled into pieces never to recover. And something happening to Vision, too.

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  5. I think the whole run of Avengers from the end of Roger Stern's run (counting the Super Adaptoid story finished by Ralph Macchio) until the beginning of the Harras/Epting/Palmer run is pretty weak. Avengers #291-300 are my least favorite Walt Simonson written comics by far.

    I've never read the contemporaneous issues of West Coast Avengers, but from what I've heard I don't think I've missed anything.

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  6. Wow, I didn't realize Byrne's AVENGERS WEST COAST was so hated. I love those issues, if only for finally getting to see Magneto as a villain again. ;-)

    I place blame on subsequent writers for keeping Byrne's Vision as the status quo for way too long. I'm sure Byrne would've had him green again sooner or later, had he not gone into prima donna mode and quit the title over disagreements with Tom DeFalco. And the whole Scarlet Witch thing had its roots in some seventies Avengers stories, also by Byrne, with Mark Gruenwald and David Michelinie as writers. So it's not like it was a new development. Bendis is the one who took it way too far.

    I've never read Byrne's contemporaneous AVENGERS issues where he wrote for Paul Ryan, I think, as penciler, though -- outside of the "Acts of Vengeance" installments.

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  7. Matt: And the whole Scarlet Witch thing had its roots in some seventies Avengers stories, also by Byrne, with Mark Gruenwald and David Michelinie as writers. So it's not like it was a new development.

    The classic Yesterday Quest? That was Chthon doing some evil mojo, hardly related to AWC in any way.

    Not surprised to see it being specifically Byrne turn Magneto back to villainy, though. ;)

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  8. The thing is though Byrne completely destroyed the idea of Vision as a real person in many fans' minds. He established that Vision didn't have a penis, he made it seem like Vision's mind was just a duplicate of Simon's, he had most of the Avengers ignore the fact that Vision's mind was erased. And he made Wanda look crazy.

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  9. Teemu -- "That was Chthon doing some evil mojo, hardly related to AWC in any way."

    Yeah, I meant more with respect to the fact that this isn't the first time Wanda has "gone bad". The circumstances were different, but the result was the same.

    Anonymous -- "The thing is though Byrne completely destroyed the idea of Vision as a real person in many fans' minds."

    True enough, and I forgot about the penis thing. But in most serialized fiction featuring robots (or androids or synthezoids), I tend not to mind much when an artificial character has terrible things done to him, because, simply by virtue of what he is, he can be restored to normal some way or another, pretty easily.

    But then, I was heartbroken as a kid when Hasbro/Sunbow killed off Optimus Prime (and Prowl, Ironhide, Ratchet, Wheeljack, and several more) in TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE (and then acted like everything was A-okay when they later brought Prime alone back, as if he was the only one fans actually cared about), so maybe I just wasn't attached enough to Vision. I haven't read many classic stories featuring him, and it's entirely possible I might've reacted differently if I had. My primary exposure to the Vision is the occasional random seventies issue, this storyline, some Bob Harras issues, and the Kurt Busiek run.

    I did read the original VISION AND THE SCARLET WITCH at some point too, though, and I have to admit that I found the idea of those characters living in the suburbs with their kids to be extremely silly.

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  10. "Yeah, I meant more with respect to the fact that this isn't the first time Wanda has "gone bad". The circumstances were different, but the result was the same."
    But the difference is that last time, Wanda was mind controlled. So there's nothing inherently wrong with her- it's the kind of thing that happens to heroes. So everything goes back to normal, and we never mention it again. In Byrne's story, Wanda was just crazy. That open the door for a later writer (Bendis) to destroy her character.

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  11. Anonymous -- "In Byrne's story, Wanda was just crazy."

    I could be misremembering; it's been a while -- but I thought her descent into madness in WCA was that she was corrupted by That Which Endures...? I'll have to double-check in the near future.

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  12. Matt: Yeah, I meant more with respect to the fact that this isn't the first time Wanda has "gone bad". The circumstances were different, but the result was the same.

    Mmmhhm. I have lots of love for the Wundagore story even if the great revelations of the story were basic facts to be known already when my local publisher run the story in an Avengers special in early 90's. The Chthon connection and its fundamental meaning to Wanda's character made it a big deal to me, to completely another level than her subsequent evil lapses were (which I haven't even read though).

    My primary exposure to the Vision is the occasional random seventies issue, this storyline, some Bob Harras issues, and the Kurt Busiek run.

    Barring some little cameos my first was the classic 60's Avengers Ultron story where Vision first appeared. That means that 1) even androids can cry and 2) Vision is still living in the 'burbs with Wanda raising their kids and Marvel should damn well watch where they allow stupid people publish their crappy fan fiction stories lest people confuse themselves and take them for real.

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  13. I just have to say that I absolutely love that a placeholder post I threw up just to tread water until the X-Factor post was done, which featured an image I selected just because it was the first thing I thought of when I asked myself "what's an image of Marvel character experiencing technical difficulties?", has inspired a discussion on the relative merits of Byrne's Avengers West Coast run and the ongoing characterization of Vision and Scarlet Witch.

    Seriously you guys, I love it. Kudos.

    I was originally just planning on deleting this post once the actual X-Factor post was done, but I certainly won't do that now. :)

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  14. Teebore: "what's an image of Marvel character experiencing technical difficulties?"

    Mine would have been Logan and Kurt fixing Tony Stark's generator machine on Arkon's planet in Uncanny X-Men Annual 3. :)

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  15. Byrne had Immortus pop up and say that Wanda's madness was all part of his plan, but he quit the book before he could reveal what the plan was. But as he's explained it, Immortus was trying to drive her mad in order to take control of her probability-altering powers and use them to finalize his increase over time (since if you control probability, you control history).

    I don't know if the writer who replaced Byrne, Roy Thomas, was privy to this, but his explanation was similar: Immortus had been manipulating her for years (including encouraging her marriage with the Vision, which he presided over) because her probability powers made her some kind of "nexus being," whatever that was. Of course Wanda broke out of her madness, threw off the extra power and turned good again, and then Thomas had to spend much of the rest of his run trying to clean up Byrne's mess, but it didn't take.

    Part of why it didn't take is that because of Byrne's popularity, many people bought his West Coast Avengers who hadn't bought an Avengers book in years (after Roger Stern was fired, the Avengers spent about 10 years in a funk as the irrelevant book in an increasingly X-dominated Marvel universe). So to a lot of people who read comics around that time, Emotionless Toaster Vision and Madwoman Wanda are the only versions they know, and they didn't stick around to read the ending after Byrne left. (Bendis actually said he hated the ending where she suddenly became good again, not realizing or not caring that Byrne would have done the same thing if he'd stayed on.)

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  16. @anonymous: after Roger Stern was fired, the Avengers spent about 10 years in a funk as the irrelevant book in an increasingly X-dominated Marvel universe

    I can't exactly argue with that, but I feel compelled to stick up for the Harras/Epting run, which was my first Avengers run and probably still my favorite after Stern's.

    But I also admit a lot of that is because they were explicitly trying to make the book more like the X-Men.

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  17. Oh horrid realization! The next Avengers flick will circulating be partially around these themes.

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  18. I enjoy Harras's run, especially for Epting's art. (And it's not surprising he made it more like the X-Men: he was the editor of the X-Men books at the time, back when it was more common for editors to write on the side.) But no one was really paying attention to it.

    I think what dragged it down was Marvel's insistence on maintaining West Coast Avengers as a separate title (until 1994 when it became Force Works). The Avengers were spread too thin, and Harras's cast seemed second-rate - more so then than it does now, actually, since the Black Widow being the leader makes more sense now than it did then. If they could have shut down WCA and brought back the Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye and other mainstays to the main team, it wouldn't have felt like such a B-list thing.

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  19. I should also note that Byrne has said that he had a plan for a story where Immortus used Wanda's probability powers to alter all of reality, with a couple of people fighting to set things right again. He never got around to it and yet Busiek used this exact idea for his first Avengers story (Morgan Le Fey uses Wanda as a power battery to alter reality) and Bendis then used it for House of M. Poor Wanda. For someone who usually can't even teleport, you get used to alter all of existence more than you probably thought.

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  20. ... and Ultron programmed on Tony Stark's personality. Probably be more Narcissus than Oedipus this time. Probably good call too, because "Avengers Incestiave" is a joke just waiting to happen.

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  21. @Anonymous: . If they could have shut down WCA and brought back the Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye and other mainstays to the main team, it wouldn't have felt like such a B-list thing.

    I agree that would have helped in terms of making the book feel more A-list, but I also know one of the things I liked about that run was the mix of characters, from A-List to C-List to new creations or takes.

    For me, my preferred Avengers linesup involve a couple A-Listers (one or two of the Big Three, maybe a Hawkeye or Vision or Scarlet Witch), a couple B-Listers (Black Widow back in the day, She-Hulk, Hercules, Black Panther, one or two of the Pyms) and a couple of C-listers rescued from obscurity (Black Night, Crystal) and/or a new or relatively new character over which the writer can have mostly free reign (like Captain Marvel during Stern's run, or Deathcry during Harras'. Except Deathcry was awful).

    That's pretty much how the Harras lineup is constructed (with, granted, an edge toward the B/C listers), and it's also how a lot of Stern's lineups were constructed as well (certainly, the "Under Siege" era Avengers was like that).

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  22. In late 90's there was this guy Triathlon coming in to the tune of "Oh you're insanely cool, wanna join the Avengers, the mightiest superheroes in the world? Oh, you gotta! Please!"

    I have to vote against free-handed creators getting to bring in their creations as the new guy because that was at least three times more suck than usual.

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  23. "I have to vote against free-handed creators getting to bring in their creations as the new guy because that was at least three times more suck than usual."
    The Vision was created to join the Avengers, though.

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  24. Teemu & Anonymous -- In fact, in all fairness to Kurt Busiek, George Perez, and Triathlon, I recall an Avengers panel at a con at the time, where Busiek said that he and Perez were encouraged by EiC Bob Harras to develop a character specifically to join the team, in the tradition of past creators -- Roy Thomas with the Vision, Roger Stern with Captain Marvel, and of course Harras with the beloved Deathcry, among others. It was from that suggestion that Triathlon (and, for that matter, Silverclaw), was born.

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  25. P.S.: Teebore, I'm with you on the A-B-C Avengers lineup. Even though I've read very little of it, I love the Harras AVENGERS run precisely because of Black Knight, Hercules, Sersi, and Crystal as prominent members.

    That said, I also love the subsequent Busiek run, which restored a fully A-list roster, at least at the start.

    Random thought: Given that the Avengers are currently at the height of their populatiry, and Marvel publishes about a dozen Avengers titles regularly, why haven't they revived WEST COAST AVENGERS? Seems like a no-brainer idea to me.

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  26. Yeah, but Vision, despite being an awesome character, joined in the sixties (Silver Age story!) to not so long ago formed team and there was certain humility in his demeanor. That's totally different league to 90's people coming out of nowhere and running circles around Avengers. The thing not working to me is exactly the obviousness of the character being brought in, combined to the instant promotion into Avengers without any sort of dues being not paid. And being a 90's creation explicitly meant to wow and eclipse people without having anything to wow or eclipse with.

    It's like the year in the 90's when every creator was tasked to bring in a lasting new cool character in the Annuals linewide. Awesome characters, and I quote, "not stupid like Squirrel Girl". That went well.

    About bringing AWC back, not going to happen. Curse of Pym, my brothers and sisters. You did notice the bit about Tony Stark -created Ultron, right? ;)

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  27. Also, Triathlon was specifically portrayed as a jerk who was forced on to the team despite belonging to a creepy cult. We weren't even supposed to like him (unfortunately, he was so bound up with the big overarching storyline that he had to stick around for the entire run). Silverclaw is a bigger problem. And don't get me started on Mantis. Steve Englehart quit West Coast Avengers because he insisted on using Mantis again and Marvel had had enough of her.

    I have to say I don't care if the "big 3" are on the Avengers (well, maybe except Cap, who just seems a more important part of the group than Thor or Iron Man). Whether they're on the team or not, the stories are always about the characters who don't have their own books, whether it's Vision/Wanda/Justice/Firestar in Busiek's run or Luke Cage in Bendis's. Even Mantis, annoying as she was, improved Englehart's run by giving him a new character to write and new character dynamics to play.

    The thing is, though, that the Avengers can sometimes give off a whiff of being about the heroes who aren't good enough to have their own books. (This is different from the X-Men, who, except for Wolverine, aren't expected to carry their own solo ongoings.) This was an issue with the Harras run and it was also an issue with Geoff Johns' run, which is one of the reasons the book got revamped to add Spider-Man and Wolverine. A really first-rate Avengers run, like Stern's, can take what seems like a B-list cast and make it seem great through the power of characterization, but nothing less than first-rate will do. Which is one of the reasons I think Avengers is a harder franchise to write than X-Men, because the writer constantly has to justify why we're reading about this particular group of people.

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  28. Teemu: Actually I think the Vision got a lot of favoritism from Roy Thomas. There are a crazy number of scenes in his run where someone takes out all the Avengers but then loses to the Vision. Stern did the same with Monica (people are constantly in awe of how powerful she is) and Englehart with Mantis. If anything maybe part of Busiek's problem was that his promotion of the new characters seemed so half-hearted and tentative - maybe because by then we were already into the era when if a writer had an actual good idea for a character, he'd save it for a creator-owned book.

    My point is not that Triathlon doesn't suck, but just that anything can be forgiven if it works. The Vision was a bit of a Mary Sue sometimes for Thomas, but he's a great character, so it's fine.

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  29. Anonymous -- "If anything maybe part of Busiek's problem was that his promotion of the new characters seemed so half-hearted and tentative - maybe because by then we were already into the era when if a writer had an actual good idea for a character, he'd save it for a creator-owned book."

    Be aware that I'm going off of fiteen year-old memories (though my memory of conversations I've had/seen is usually very good), but in that panel I mentioned before, when Busiek spoke of the genesis behind Triathlon, I did get the impression that he wasn't really that into the character. I think he created him simply to acquiese to Bob Harras's suggestion, but it seemed like he would've been just as happy, if not happier, writing only a classic line-up (with Justice and Firestar along for the ride as the newbies, I suppose).

    But, again -- that was a long time ago. It's possible that even if I remember his words correctly, I misinterpreted the meaning behind them.

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  30. I think that's exactly what I find to luring in Vision. The rest are humans, fragile and fallible, even Thor, who due to their human traits occasionally lose. Vision on the other hand is a living computer, free of these quirks and can execute the action as planned to take down the villain when other with their human heroism have failed. Instead, the biggest challenge for Vision is to be a human and his biggest victory hands down is falling mutually in love with Scarlet Witch and have a family with her. That's his heroism, the superpower stuff is just a day job.

    And that is what Byrne stole from us.

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  31. Michelinie's run on Avengers was one of the more definite ones, right? But he did not have a pet character of his own creation, did he? I liked that bit, which to me is the definite Avengers and which made good use of (only) the long existing characters. As we remember originally the Avengers was the pooling up of five previously existing Earth's mightiest superheroes (including Pym!), so out-of-nowhere dudes casually joining clutches a bit with me, especially if made like a half-hearted semi-mandatory creative team change gimmick thing.

    I'm of course biased as hell because only thing they ever published here under the headline of Avengers from the period from ~#200 to Heroes Return was the infamously ruined X-Men vs. Avengers and, ha, Infinity Gauntlet, justified I guess by the heroes hanging out for a while in the Avengers' compound, before them all getting killed just to be saved by the time-reversing cosmic reset button - for doing which Claremont needed only about 43 pages in (focused) totality back in the 80's.

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  32. Also, I have to stress that my problem was with Triathlon, but otherwise I quite liked Busiek run, which from the beginning with Morgan Le Fay seeking out Surtur's sword, the Avengers turning into swords&sorcery era versions of themselves and Tony Stark bouncing around the mansion with drinking-related issues with Carol Danvers in her classic Cockrum costume close by was a veritable something old, something new -treat for a fan of early 80's Marvel... well, something old, at least, because Triathlon and that stupid villain, Pagan was he, I could have done without. ;)

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  33. @Teebore: // Seriously you guys, I love it. Kudos. //

    32 comments. 32!

    Well, 33.

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  34. 34, but it's partly because there are morons who fail to fit what they have to say into one single post. Like me here getting excited about Busiek nicely riffing the early 80's Avengers and completely failing to notice until now that the aftermath of this particular AWC storyline with the love triangle involving Wonder Man also features heavily in his run since the very beginning.

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