Avengers (1st series) #367

Issue Date: 
October 1993
Story Title: 
Voyeuristic Visions

Bob Harras (writer), Jim Hall (penciler), Don Hudson (inker), Bill Oakley & Jonathan Babcock (letterers), Chris Matthys (colorist), Pat Garrahy (assistant editor), Ralph Macchio (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

The Vision flies through the night sky on his own, contemplating how he no longer has emotions or feelings. He remembers Crystal telling him how she loves the Black Knight, which is for some reason plaguing his mind. He phases into Avengers Mansion, right into the workout room, where Captain America and the Black Widow are training. The Vision thinks about Cap and the Widow, deciding they are friends, but when they worry something is wrong with them, he assures them that he is fine. He phases back outside where he finds Hercules and Taylor Madison on the Mansion grounds. Hercules asks Taylor why she has taken so long to see him again. Taylor explains that the feels she has for Hercules are too intense, and that as her life is so short, she cannot see him again. Hercules is devastated as Taylor walks away. The Vision knows he should go to his teammate, but decides that goes against his programming, so leaves. He arrives in the med-lab where he finds Magdalene, continuing to monitor the Swordsman who has been placed in a stasis chamber. The Vision tries to understand why Magdalene spends all her time with the Swordsman even though he is not likely to recover. Magdalene tells the Vision that he must know nothing of love. When the Vision checks the Swordsman's vitals, he discovers there has been an improvement. Magdalene is encouraged, and when she calls out to the Swordsman, he wakes. The Vision leaves the two and notes the joy they are feeling. The Vision finds Giant Man and informs him of the change in the Swordsman's status. Giant Man wants to check this out, but  the Vision instead wants to speak about the fact the two of them are closely linked due to Giant Man creating Ultron, who in turn created the Vision. The Vision asks Giant Man how he feels about his ex-wife, and how he deals with those feelings. Giant Man asks the Vision if this has anything to do with his feelings for his own ex-wife, but the Vision claims it doesn't. Giant Man leaves him, needing to check on the Swordsman, he assures the Vision they will talk later. The Vision goes to Crystal, who is putting Luna to bed, and reminds her about how she told him that she loves the Black Knight. Crystal tells the Vision that her feelings for the Black Knight are confusing, that she looks at Luna and thinks of what could have been for her and Quicksilver. The Vision is reminded of his own sons, which worries Crystal, but he assures her he has no feelings for his sons. Crystal tells the Vision that he deserves happiness, and that one day he will have it again. The Vision finds Deathcry out in the gardens. Deathcry tells him about how synthetics were used for entertainment back in Shi'ar, and kisses the Vision – but she gets no response from him, so tells him that he is a coward, and that she pities him. Deathcry leaves, and the Vision releases his anger, punching a brick wall. He realizes that his behavior is unacceptable and plans to run a systems-wide diagnostic. Back in the nursery, Luna is kidnapped by a mysterious foe.

Full Summary: 

'I love you' the android Avenger known as the Vision remarks as he flies through the night sky across the city of New York, which is lit up by the glow of lights from the many skyscrappers in the city. 'Odd' the Vision thinks to himself as he holds his cape, flowing behind him. 'Once in my existence, I said those words with meaning. With passion. But that was a long, long, time ago. Now, these words are a puzzle to me... a riddle whose solution befuddles me. You see, I no longer have the capability to feel emotions' the Vision contemplates to himself. He drops down onto the roof of Avengers HQ, and thinks that he is a sentient being made of plastic flesh and a computerized mind – a mind, it seems, that is not free of that very human complaint – the nagging thought. He supposes that should comfort him, for any semblance to human behavior is something he would theoretically seek with interest – but it does not.

The Vision remembers how two days ago, his fellow Avengers, Crystal, told him that she believed she loved their teammate, the Black Knight. The Vision is unable to forget her words, and they play themselves endlessly though his mind. He has performed a systems-wide diagnostic, seeking to discover if this irksome problem has some physical cause, after all, this is a new body, and his electric thought pulses are traveling through a different synaptic network. He wonders if this memory bit is caught in a neural loop as he phases through the roof of Avengers HQ, deciding that another diagnostic is called for – when suddenly, he sees several missiles blasting towards him. 'Vision, look out!' a voice exclaims.

The Vision watches the three vibranium-tipped explosive projectiles, and accessing his memory banks, he learns that they are Avenger-standard issue, and are Wakandan-made. The Vision remains in his intangible state and allows the missiles to pass through him, neutralizing any threat they might present to him, the Vision realizes that he has been quite careless and turns to his teammates Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America and Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. Black Widow. As some destroyed equipment lays scattered on the floor, Cap asks the Vision what the matter is, as he knows no one is supposed to enter the workout room when anyone is in training. Vision reminds himself that he has known Captain America most of his sentient life, and that the Black Widow is their team leader. He classifies both as friends, and wonders if he should tell them of his concerns – for if he remembers correctly, that is what friends do.

But the Vision decides against it, fearing that would be an imposition. He instead apologizes to his teammates and claims that he was distracted. The Black Widow suggests that they go down to the kitchen and relax. Cap tells her that soounds good to him, and asks the Vision to join them, but the Vision tells him that he thinks not, and thanks them. He watches as the two friends leave, arms around each other, he notes that their body language clearly conveys the comfort that the two humans feel toward one another – such closeness, such an openness with another fascinates him. The Vision knows that he could mimic the tilt of a hip, the slope of a shoulder, but the subtext of the act is denied to him. He reminds himself that before his original body was re-programmed by zealous government agents, he would have easily understood this – and once, he even loved a woman – the Scarlet Witch. He remembers the events quite clearly, and even accesses the memories from time to time, curious. He recalls how he and Wanda married and had a family – twin sons, but they vanished as completely as his feelings and mean nothing to him.

As he phases through Avengers HQ and arrives outside, on the HQ grounds, the Vision thinks that he doesn't mean to be cold, but that is merely a statement of fact – such connective feelings were removed from him. He sees one of his teammates, the Mighty Hercules, and his companion, Taylor Madison, sitting on a bench. Hercules asks Taylor why she has taken so long to agree to see him again, and the Vision realizes that this is a private moment, so he should leave. He finds it disturbing, though, that he cannot bring himself to depart. Instead, he listens as Hercules smiles and tells Taylor that mayhaps his reputation upsets her. He admits that he has known many women, as he appreciates their intelligence and beauty. He tells Taylor that no woman has affected him in the way that she has – he cannot explain why, and perhaps hes should not question the fates, but he feels that they are destined for one another.

Taylor informs Hercules that she doesn't believe in fate, as life is too capricious for that. She tells him that her heart skipped a dozen beats the day she met him at the children's hospital, she had never felt that way before – and it frightened her. 'I...I know' Hercules responds. He tells Taylor that if they ran away from everything that frightened them in life, life would be a dull, pale thing. Taylor reminds Hercules that he once asked her why she worked with the terminally ill children, and tells him that besides the joy it gives her, because those kids are more remarkable, more courageous than any Avenger, they share something in common. 'Life can be dull, my dear, sweet Hercules, and life can be wondrous beyond belief...but for some of us... it can be oh so brief' Taylor utters.

Taylor stands up and puts her hands on Hercules' head, reminding him that he is an immortal, while she is anything but. 'Taylor -' Hercules begins. The Vision watches as Taylor tells Hercules that it is kind of funny in a way – she finds the man she has been dreaming about all her life, and it is too late. She kisses Hercules, then turns away, announcing that is why she cannot see him. Tears stream down her face as Taylor exclaims that it may be melodramatic, insane – but she doesn't want him to call her again. 'Taylor!' Hercules shouts as he stands up, bewildered, he watches Taylor walk away. He calls out to her again, but gets no response.

The Vision watches Hercules and thinks that Hercules has ever been the most ebullient of Avengers – his good nature and vivaciousness has had an intoxicating effect on their fellow members – but they would not  recognize him now. The Vision decides that Hercules' facial characteristics indicate shock and grief. He wonders if he should comfort Hercules, but he doesn't know how – and to do so would reveal his inexplicable behavior. The Vision frowns, and phases back inside Avengers HQ as he accesses the memory of an emotion called shame.

The Vision phases through floors and walls inside Avengers HQ and thinks that, theoretically, like Hercules, he too is almost immortal, as his life-functions, if left unimpaired, should operate without systems failure for several thousand years. He realizes that he has never given this fact much thought. As he phases through a large painting of Captain America, the Vision wonders how it feels that he will outlive all his allies, all his friends – but that brings him back to the root question – how does it feel?

The Vision finds himself in a medical chamber, where he finds the inter-dimensional Magdalene, leaning against a stasis chamber where her reality's Swordsman, Philip Javert, lies naked inside the stasis chamber. The Vision calls out to Magdalene, who gasps 'Who -' as she turns around and sees the Vision rising up through the floor. 'By the rings, android! Why can't you enter through a door like normal people?' Magdalene asks. The Vision points out that he does not have to, and asks Magdalene why she is here. 'Because I want to be near Phillip' Magdalene replies. Magdalene informs the Vision that she has been here almost every minute since they defeated the Kree, talking with him, giving him her strength, her love – all her love.

The Vision points out that the Swordsman has been in a coma for several weeks, and tells Magdalene that unless she possess some type of telepathic power that she has not heretofore revealed, such a behavior is illogical. 'Then you know nothing of love, do you, robot?' Magdalene responds as she looks down at the Swordsman. The Vision realizes that Magdalene's words affect him oddly – for a nanosecond, something flashes through his mind – a retort? An angry retort? But he decides that is an absurd thought, and as he turns to a monitor announces that he is here to check on the Swordsman's life signs, and that he shall only be a minute. 'Fascinating' the Vision remarks as he notices something. 'What?' Magdalene asks. Surprised, the Vision reveals that the Swordsman's life signs show a marked improvement. 'Improvement, Vision?' Magdalene gasps.

The Vision tells Magdalene that he must alert Dr Pym immediately, as Magdalene grabs him by the shoulder: 'Then he's going to be all right? Tell me!' she exclaims. The Vision looks at her – he knows that she is a woman of considerable strength, and in battle, as an enemy of the Avengers, has stunned even he, but as she grabs his arm, he feels something else – her anxiety, her concern and her love for the Swordsman. Suddenly, 'Maggie...? Is that you?' the Swordsman utters as he sits slightly upwards in the stasis chamber 'Philip!' Magdalene gasps, rushing over to her lover, tears in her eyes, she thanks the rings. 'Hey now... don't cry... I'm back, Maggie, I'm back...' the Swordsman utters.

The Vision watches the refugees from another Earth weep – tears mixed with laughter, and joy coupled with relief. He admits that he would long to feel one emotion, and watches them with detachment as several flow together, before announcing that he must inform Dr Pym. He starts to phase through the wall, and wonders as he leaves them, oblivious to his departure, whether he shall know such intensity of feeling again. He wonders, for the first time, if one cannot feel, whether one can truly be?

The Vision then phases up into the lab where Dr Henry Pym a.k.a. Giant Man is working, and reports that the Swordsman has revived, and his life readings register within normal parameters. 'What? Vision, that's incredible!' Pym exclaims. The Vision thinks to himself that Pym is a world-renowned bio-chemist and one of the founding Avengers, who has recently returned to active duty. Pym is in his Giant-Man state as he tinkers with some machinery, but quickly shifts to his regular form and announces that he has to go check on the Swordsman and make sure he is all right. As he reaches for a lab coat, the Vision assures Hank that the Swordsman is in no immediate danger, and remarks that he was hoping to have a word with him.

Pym turns to the Vision, who tells him that in many ways, he finds that they are closely linked. 'Vision, I don't know if now's the time...' Hank starts to reply, as the Vision reminds him that he created Ultron, the primitive robotic lifeform that gained nascent sentience and who regards Hank as his “father” - this being the same Ultron who later became involved in the Vision's own origination. The Vision points out that in human terms, one could see theirs as a familial relationship, and reminds Hank that he even journeyed through his body as Ant-Man to repair damage that would have ceased all of his life functions. 'In many human cultures, such an act create an unbreakable blond between the two individuals' the Vision remarks. 'Vision, I'd love to talk, really, but the Swordsman needs -' Hank begins as he tries to leave.

The Vision asks Pym for one moment, and tells him that another example of their closeness is their parallel histories that intrigues him – the failure of their respective marriages. 'Oh. All right, Vision. I see you're concerned about something. I'm all ears' Hank frowns. The Vision reveals that tonight he has engaged in behavior that he finds most disturbng, revealing that he has become a voyeur of sorts, studying thje interactions of his fellow Avengers in ways that go beyond propriety. The Vision explains that he has seen examples of friendship, grief and joy, and has found them interesting. 'There is no empathy, for one can only empathize if one understands, and I cannot' the Vision points out. 'You did once' Hank reminds him. 'Indeed' the Vision agrees, before asking Hank if he still misses his ex-wife. 'Jan? Every minute of every day, Vision. The days of my marriage were the happiest of my life' Hank replies, before asking the Vision if he misses Wanda – in any way.

The Vision remains silent, before stating 'No'. Hank stands up and tells Vision that they will talk soon. He points out that the Vision's basic programming hasn't changed, and that his personality core is intact.  Hank puts a hand on the Vision's shoulder and tells him that he felt emotions once, so maybe they can figure out a way he can again. Hank then tells the Vision that he has to go check on the Swordsman, and leaves. The Vision finds himself along – again, and hangs his head. He decides that he finds such solitude undesirable, and realizes he needs to talk further – with a friend.

'Crystal – good evening' the Vision remarks as he phases into Crystal's quarters. 'Wha -' Crystal begins, looking up at the Vision while holding her young daughter, Luna, in her arms. Crystal tells her teammate that he startled her. Crystal remarks that this is not like the Vision, showing up uninvited into her quarters, and asks him if he is all right, if anything is wrong. The Vision announces that he has something to tell her, and reminds her that she confided in him recently, saying that she had developed feelings for the Black Knight. 'You came to me as a friend' the Vision adds, admitting that he did not act in kind, explaining that he used her confidentiality as an excuse to access memories of a time he was able to love, to feel. He informs Crystal that he fears his fixation on the topic may even have contributed to his miscalculation regarding the Nega-Bomb's detonation. 'Such behavior is inexcusable. And I apologize for using your friendship in such a selfish way' the Vision confesses, before turning to leave.

'Vision' Crystal calls out, before looking down at her daughter and telling the Vision that being selfish from time to time is part of being human. 'You wish you could feel... and sometimes I wish I didn't' Crystal explains. She walks over to the Vision and admits that she has feelings for Dane, the Black Knight – confusing feelings – but that when she looks at Luna, she remembers the wonderful times she had with Quicksilver, and mourns the possibilities that the two of them both lost. The Vision looks down at Luna and puts a hand on his head, remarking that he had sons, once. 'I know, Vision. Luna's cousins' Crystal replies. The Vision phases one of his hands through the other and tells Crystal that in the end, they became as ethereal as his feelings – creatures who never truly existed but were rather bizarre manifestations of Wanda's mutant power.

The Vision informs Crystal that, if she liked, he could duplicate down to the smallest nuance the infliction of their first words, or their laughter. Crystal places Luna in her crib and tells the Vision not to do this to himself, but the Vision assures her that this is causing him no pain. He adds that it is interesting – he can remember their voices, but cannot recall what he felt when he heard them – was it joy? Pride? It is all so distant. Crystal tells the Vision that of all the people she knows, no one deserves happiness more than him, that he is a good man. Crystal puts a hand on the Vision's face and tells him that if he wants to feel again, then one day, he will.

Crystal then tells the Vision that there is one thing he should know – that feelings have a habit of sneaking up on them when they least expect them, and it is only when they search for them that they prove most elusive. Crystal kisses the Vision on his face, before telling him to believe her, as she knows. She opens the door to find Lockjaw waiting for her She bids the Vision goodnight and tells him that they will talk in the morning.

The Vision finds himself walking alone again, but the night is his and he has his thoughts, so decides that he is content – truly. But as he walks across the Avengers HQ grounds, he discovers that his solitude is at an end. 'Good evening Deathcry' the Vision calls out to the alien warrior who is sitting on a brick fence. Gazing upwards, Deathcry tells the Vision that the night sky is a sorry thing here, as she cannot see her home stars. The Vision tells Deathcry that he believes she will find it impossible to see the star systems of the Shi'ar Empire with the unaided eye, and suggests that perhaps a visit to the Fantastic Four's astro-lab could be arranged. Deathcry laughs and tells the Vision that he is a funny one. 'I made no attempt at humor, Deathcry' the Vision responds. 'My point exactly! What a buttoned-up creature you are!' Deathcry remarks.

Deathcry leaps off the fence and tells the Vision that in the Shi'ar, they once made creatures like him – synthetics, built for entertainment, for pleasure, but Lilandra put a stop to that, spouting nonsense about sentient civil rights and all. Deathcry informs the Vision that he is a lot like them, and that she read his file, and knows how he was once different. 'Mantis, Jocasta, Wanda. Such a range of women' Deathcry points out. The Vision tells her that was the past. 'Was it?' Deathcry asks, leaning into the Vision. 'Was it indeed?' she asks him, before wraping her arms and one leg around him and placing her lips on his – they kiss for some time – but then Deathcry pulls away, unimpressed she exclaims 'A servo-droid on Chandilar could have done better than that!' The Vision simple tells Deathcry that he is incapable of the response she desired.

Deathcry points at the Vision and tells him that he is a coward, that he feels afraid to feel as they do, that he is terrified of it because he is afraid he will be hurt again. Deathcry doesn't know what he thinks he will be hurt of, but declares that his fear is easy to see. Deathcry turns and walks away while telling the Vision that he poses and hides behind his plastic face because it is safer – and she pities him. The Vision tells himself that Deathcry is incorrect. 'I felt nothing. I felt nothing. I felt -' the Vision thinks, before angrily turning and smashing his fist into the brick fence, shattering it. 'No!' the Vision tells himself, looking at his fist, he realizes that this behavior is unacceptable, that it exceeds personality parameters. He looks at the shattered wall and knows that such a response is totally inappropriate.

The Vision knows that he was under no attack, yet his adrenaline levels have increased significantly. He files all thought processes of the last two point six minutes for a total persona scan, as such a behavioral anomaly must be thoroughly examined. The Vision tells himself that such aberrant behavior could present a danger to his fellow Avengers, and that cannot be allowed. He realizes that a systems-wide diagnostic is clearly called for. He decides that he must also make a damage report in the morning and cross-file it with the usual waiver of his weekly stipend. 'Everything must proceed smoothly' the Vision tells himself.

Back in the nursery, a voice calls out 'Lunaaa... my sweet Lunaaa...' and the infant wakes, looking up, she sees two figures standing over her, a blinding light behind them. 'There you are my sweet!' a man with large shoulder pads exclaims. 'How beautiful you are, my sweet! But then yours is an attractive family. And your family is pivotal to my survival, little Luna... and you are the key'. The mysterious figure tells Luna to come, that they should fly straight on to morning, to a land far away – the light suddenly engulfs Luna, and there is no time for her to scream....

Characters Involved: 

Black Widow, Captain America, Crystal, Giant Man, Hercules, Vision (all Avengers)
Deathcry, Magdalene, Swordsman II (all Honorary Avengers)
Taylor Madison
Luna Maximoff

Fabian Cortez
Unnamed mutate

In Vision's memory:
Scarlet Witch
Hank Pym

Story Notes: 

This issue comes with a bonus pin-up of Crystal and Quicksilver.

The Vision refers to having a new body after being body-swapped with the Anti-Vision in Avengers (1st series) #360. His original body was re-programmed and re-built in the classic West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #42-45.

The Vision and Scarlet Witch were married in the classic Giant-Sized Avengers #4. Wanda gave birth to their sons in the Vision & Scarlet Witch (2nd series) #12, but the twins mysteriously vanished after having been revealed as figments of Wanda's magical power combined with two of the missing souls of Mephisto in Avengers West Coast #51-52.

The Vision was created by Ultron-5 in Avengers (1st series) #57.

As Ant-Man, Hank Pym went inside the Vision's android form to repair damage in Avengers (1st series)  #92-93.

Written By: