Simon Williams, otherwise known as Wonder Man, sits with his head in his hands aboard a train traveling from Manhattan to New Jersey. He is in a hurry to get where he is going - but the paths these trains take are uncertain even on the best of days - and this is not the best of days. ‘Oh, for crying out loud!’ the handsome actor exclaims as the lights go off in the train. A man sitting beside him lights a cigarette and remarks that they have stalled in the tunnel, and that there is no use complaining, for it happens everyday. A train conductor enters the carriage and apologizes for the delay, before asking if everything is all right.
Simon stands up and explains that he has a friend in hospital, so he cannot sit here all day. The conductor tells him that there is nothing he can do until they get the train started. Simon forces the train doors open and remarks ‘There’s nothing you can do, conductor, but then you’re not me!’ The conductor and the smoking man are in shock at how Simon forced the doors open - not to mention how he just jumps out onto the tracks! Simon proves why he is called Wonder Man as he grabs onto a cable at the front of the train and begins pulling it along behind him. The train will arrive at its destination on time!
Soon, a taxi pulls up outside the General Hospital in New Jersey and the taxi driver informs Simon that there has been some trouble here lately. ‘So I’ve heard’ replies Simon as he pays his fare, and after a brief security check, he passes through to a cordoned-off wing of the hospital where he finds familiar faces waiting to greet him - the Avengers!
Entering the room, Captain America greets Wonder Man, while Iron Man thanks him for coming. Thor remarks that they have awaited for his arrival most eagerly. Wonder Man informs everyone that he came as soon as he received the Avengers emergency call, before asking ‘Where is he? How is he?’ Janet Van Dyne a.k.a. the Wasp motions to a window which shows into another room and tells Simon to take a look for himself. Wonder Man does so, and he sees his friend lying senseless on an operating table. ‘Vision!’ Simon exclaims in shock, before asking what happened to the Vision’s arm.
(Shown with flashback images)
Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the mighty Scarlet Witch stands up from her seat and Wonder Man puts a comforting hand on her shoulder, as she, the Vision’s wife, begins to tell the tale. Wanda explains that they were helping Robert Frank a.k.a. the Whizzer to reclaim custody of his son, Nuklo the Nuclear Man, but the fiend who was responsible for Nuklo’s having been born a malformed mutant years ago was in charge of Nuklo’s “therapy” - his name was Isbisa, and he was using his cover as a psychologist to steal Nuklo’s nuclear power, and with it, he slew the Whizzer.
Wanda continues, revealing that she and the Vision fought Isbisa in an effort to disrupt the villain, and her husband thrust an intangible arm into Isbisa. But it was like an atomic core at Isbisa’s heart, and the Vision’s synthetic arm melted. ‘His pain must have been unbearable!’ Wanda exclaims, before explaining that the battle still raged, so the Vision cauterized his wound by amputating his arm with his own solar eyebeams, then, together, he and Nuklo defeated Isbisa.
(Present / Reality)
Captain America concludes Wanda’s story by informing Simon that the Vision collapsed as soon as the fight was won, and Thor remarks that it appeared to be a state of shock. A doctor enters the waiting area and agrees with Thor’s diagnosis, before Wanda asks him how her husband is. ‘As I was saying, Ms - err - Scarlet Witch, the Vision is suffering from shock associated with trauma steaming from the loss of his arm’. The doctor adds that, in addition, a strange energy depletion - similar to what a normal human would suffer after losing massive amounts of blood - has induced a coma.
Thor quietly tells Captain America and Iron Man that, in his mortal identity as Dr. Donald Blake, the same would have been his evaluation. Iron Man remarks that it is so hard to say, what with the Vision not being human, but a synthezoid. Captain America points out that Hank Pym understood the Vision’s physiology better than any of them, when suddenly, Wanda tells them to stop standing around discussing her husband as if he were some kind of scientific curiosity!
‘He’s not! He’s a man - as much a man as any of you - and he may be dying!’ Wanda exclaims. Captain America apologizes, and Jennifer Walter’s a.k.a. the She-Hulk puts her arms around Wanda as Wonder Man tells Wanda that they will do all in their power to help the Vision. The doctor suddenly exclaims that it isn’t the might of the Avengers that is needed to save the Vision right now, only the power of Simon Williams - the power of Wonder Man!
(In the Vision’s Mind)
The dream has gone on now for what seems like an eternity. The Vision does not wish to awaken from the dream, for waking means returning to the pain - the dream is soothing, the dream is safe. But suddenly, the dream is interrupted, as a light shines in the darkness. The Vision doesn’t wish to leave the dark which enfolds him, but somehow, in a way that does not fathom, the light compels him. He drifts towards the light like a moth being drawn to a flame.
A flame is an apt analogy, for the being before him blazes like the embers of a dying fire. The Vision recognizes him - it is the original Human Torch! He wonders how that is possible, for he is the original Human Torch - or rather, it was into the Torch’s synthezoid body that the Vision’s mind patterns were placed. He wonders how the two of them can exist in the same place at the same time, when suddenly, ‘Anything’s possible, son - when you’re dead!’ exclaims a lab-coat wearing man as he approaches the Vision and the original Human Torch. The Vision knows it is Professor Phineas Horton, the creator of the Torch, the Vision’s “father” is it could be said he has one. He wonders of Horton is correct - is he dreaming a dream from which there can be no awakening?
Wonder Man lays down on a operating table beside the Vision, and some contraption sits above them. Wanda stands beside her husband, while Cap, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Wasp and She-Hulk stand around the edge. Captain America asks the doctor what he is doing, to which the doctor explains that he is placing the transfuser between the Vision and Wonder Man, but that he is having a little trouble - even with this compressed-air hypodermic - in [piercing Wonder Man’s near-invulnerable flesh.
‘I never did like getting injections, doc’ jokes Simon, before the She-Hulk exclaims that she doesn’t understand any of this. The Wasp informs her that, years ago, Simon Williams was transformed into Wonder Man by an old enemy of theirs - and he died trying to help them. ‘Died!?’ exclaims Jennifer. The Wasp replies that he did, but that his brain patterns were preserved and passed into the Vision’s synthezoid shell, animating it with intelligence. Then, years later, Simon Williams himself was revived, for the drug that they thought had killed him actually only rendered him dormant - until he rose again - as something other than human!
Thor steps forward, and raising his hammer high, he tells the doctor that he can help him with the hypodermic. ‘Oh, swell!’ mumbles Simon. ‘Thus, in a way, the Vision and Wonder Man are so alike, they could be…brothers!’ concludes the Wasp. Thor informs the doctor that he can insert the energy transfusion tube into Wonder Man’s arm now, and the doctor does so. Janet goes over to her good friend Wanda and informs her that the process of transferring some of Wonder Man’s life energies to the Vision is underway, and asks if she would like them all to stay.
Wanda replies that there is nothing the Avengers can do now, for her husband’s salvation lies in the hands of…Wonder Man! When Wanda and the Avengers leave the operating room, Simon looks over at his “brother” and assures him that they are going to make it. ‘If I could come back, you can!’
(In the Vision’s Mind)
The Vision does not like the way his dream has turned, for Professor Horton was one of his creators, one of his “fathers” - so if he is here, then can his other “father” be far behind? On cue, Horton screams, and the Vision calls to him, addressing him as “father” when Horton is struck down - by Ultron-5! Ultron-5 shakes his fist at the Vision and remarks that it is so like his wayward “son” to swear false fealty to a human, when it was he who truly created him. ‘I who gave your inanimate android flesh intelligence! I - ULTRON-5!’ Ultron-5 tells the Vision that he has never proven worthy of the life he gave him, always siding with the weak, human cattle, instead of with him.
The Vision replies that he is not inhuman, for he thinks, feels and loves. ‘Silence! You are a mockery of man, unworthy of existence!’ shouts Ultron-5, urging the Vision to end that existence by merging with the body from which he sprang. ‘Merge with the Human Torch?’ thinks the Vision. He stands before the Human Torch, reaching out a hand, he resists - but is compelled at the same time. But reaching out for the Human Torch, the Vision feels the heat and the pain. ‘Weakling!’ exclaims Ultron-5, and seeing his hand being burnt, the Vision screams in agony.
The Vision screams, and hearing him, Wanda slams her hands up on the window separating the waiting room and the operating theatre. The doctor exclaims that it is a good sign, to which Wonder Man points out that it sounded like the Vision’s soul was being ripped from his body. The doctor replies that it indicates that the Vision is alive, something he was unable to tell, before asking Simon how he is feeling. Wonder Man replies that he is a little freaked. The doctor tells him that he can expect to feel worse, for what seems to be happening is that the transfusion of his strange life energies is drawing the Vision out of his coma and back into consciousness, and they have to have the Vision back before they can work on his amputated arm.
As Simon’s strength drains into the Vision, he lies back on the table, while the Scarlet Witch sits on the arm of the sofa in the waiting room and keeps a vigil watch. Wanda thinks to herself that Wonder Man’s energy seems limitless, and while he will be depleted, he will essentially be unharmed, while the Vision will live. ‘Live! Please live!’ she prays, unaware, that as she observes the Vision, she is being observed by someone standing in the doorway behind her.
(In the Vision’s Mind)
The light has gone, the flame of the Human Torch has gone out - but this darkness does not ease the Vision’s pain. Ultron-5 lifts the Vision up with one hand and the Human Torch up with the other, and tells Vision to cease his whimpering, as it does not become one who is evidence of his handiwork. ‘But then, you were always a disappointment to me!’ Ultron-5 exclaims that he must recreate the Vision and orders him to become intangible. The Vision obeys - he seems to have no choice in the matter - and suddenly, he is merged with the original Human Torch.
Pleased with his handiwork thus far, Ultron-5 exclaims ‘There! A perfect fit! Back to basics!’, before pointing out that it is a shame there is no brain - something he will have to rectify. A pencil-thin beam of laser light suddenly sheers the Vision’s skull, cutting the top of his head off. ‘This is one void we shall have to fill!’ Ultron-5 exclaims, holding up a brain in his hand, while the Vision can no longer think.
Wonder Man informs the doctor that for some reason he cannot think straight and that he is feeling a little drowsy. The doctor explains to him that his energy levels down, while the Vision’s has gone up, and tells him he can sleep if he wants, for he doesn’t think there is any danger.
But that is where the doctor is wrong. The door into the waiting room opens, and Wanda senses someone behind her. ‘Who -?’ she begins, only to find a cloth of chloroform put to her face. ‘Sweet dreams, Scarlet Witch!’ remarks an eerie caped figure with a scythe for a hand as he walks over Wanda’s body, and smashes his way into the operating room. ‘And you, too, doctor!’ he exclaims, firing a beam of energy at the doctor. The mysterious being looks at the contraption which keeps the Vision alive, and exclaims that all it will take is one swift slice of his razor-edged scythe, and both pretenders to the name of Simon Williams - both the Vision and Wonder Man - will die! ‘And the Grim Reaper shall at last avenge his brother!’
(In the Vision’s Mind)
Suddenly, the Vision has an ally in this reality - ‘That’s my brain you’re manhandling, robot!’ exclaims Wonder Man as he smashes over Ultron-5 before he can place his brain into the Vision. This is the original Wonder Man who died where the Vision was born - he whose brain patterns gave the Vision intelligence. Wonder Man remarks that it hurts, doesn’t it, not that the Vision would ever let on, for that would hopelessly ruin the “unfeeling android” image he has fostered for so long. ‘Need a brain?’ he asks ‘Here, have mine - I won’t be needing it for a while’, Wonder Man exclaims as he puts his brain into the Vision and replaces the top of his head.
‘Cause I’ll be dead!’ Wonder Man exclaims, before screaming as Ultron-5 strikes him down. The Vision catches Wonder Man’s scorched body in his arms, and has the awareness of having been slain himself, while Simon Williams becomes ashes in his arms. The Vision turns his attention back to Ultron and calls him a murderer, but Ultron simply replies that he gives life and takes it away.
Something tells the Vision that he must wake. The Grim Reaper a.k.a. Eric Williams mutters that he had a brother once - Simon Williams - but he died. He reveals that for a time, he hoped that by some miracle, he had been preserved, in the body of either the android Vision or Wonder Man, but on a previous occasion, he learned that hope was an illusion. Although Simon’s brain patterns survived in both begins, the real Simon, the being who was his brother, was dead. The Grim Reaper exclaims that his brother deserves to rest in peace, not go on, a living mockery, one mind shared by two inhuman bodies.
Suddenly, the Vision sits up and grabs the Grim Reaper’s scythe hand and tries to push him away. The Grim Reaper thinks that the Vision is not awake, but somnambulant - a sleep walker resisting death instinctively. The Grim Reaper boasts that, awake or asleep, he has ample power to obliterate any android, and fires his energy powers at the Vision. Getting to his feet, the Vision wonders what is the virtue of dreams if they offer not surcease from suffering - no release from the pain? Perhaps, he was never dreaming - never asleep at all - that means that his pain and his peril are both real!
The Grim Reaper remarks that the Vision isn’t awake enough to be aware that he is in agony. So “asleep”, the Vision keeps coming back for more, but the Grim Reaper knows that if he cannot halt the Vision, then he can at least sever the source of his strength, and using his scythe, he slashes at the transfuser. The Grim Reaper exclaims that now the life-energy of both pretenders to his brother’s persona will drain away into the ether until they both lie lifeless!
(In the Vision’s mind)
‘NO!’ shouts the Vision as he blasts his solar eye beams at Ultron-5, who realizes that the Vision has found a reason to fight back. The Vision engages Ultron-5 in physical combat, yes, he has found a reason to fight back - reason which has been taken from Simon Williams. The Vision thinks that, in time, he made Simon’s mind his own, becoming awake, aware and volitional - his own being. With self-awareness, came truth - the truth that it was not Ultron who gave him the gift of reason, but Simon Williams - Wonder Man!
Wonder Man, whose fate was tied to the Vision’s, by bonds thicker than blood, stronger than any ties forged had they been real siblings. ‘Hi, brother - I’m back! Glad to see me?’ asks Simon as his ashes return to a real living body. The Vision is glad, overjoyed - looking at Wonder Man is like looking at himself.
The Vision thinks that if Wonder Man can rise from seeming death, and transcend the ultimate pain, then by all logic so can he! Suddenly, ‘Need some help, Eric?’ asks Wonder Man as he sits upon the bench. ‘Wonder Man - awake?’ ‘Awake and angry!’ Simon exclaims, when the Grim Reaper exclaims that as much as he hates the android mockery of his brother, he hates Wonder Man even more, and slashes at him with his scythe. Blasting Wonder Man with his weapon, the Grim Reaper remarks that at least the Vision appears artificial, but Wonder Man talks, looks and acts exactly as his brother, the real Simon Williams did.
The Grim Reaper stands over the weakened Wonder Man and tells him that stealing the soul of Simon Williams so completely is the crime of which he is guilty. ‘The crime for which you can never be forgiven - the crime for which you must now be punished!’ The Vision comes up behind the Grim Reaper and thinks to himself that he has embraced the dream up until now because he dreaded the return of the pain he knew would follow upon awakening - but after all, pain is a part of being human.
The Grim Reaper tells Wonder Man that he is going to die, that he will not defile his brother’s memory any longer. For a long time, the Vision thinks to himself, he believed that he was not human, but experience within the Avengers, marriage to Wanda and the revival of Simon Williams disabused him of that notion. The Vision truly believes that he is human, or so near as to be indistinguishable. The Vision knows that he is to bear the pain if he is to save the one who is both as inhuman and as human as he is - Simon Williams…his brother!
Suddenly, the Grim Reaper finds the Vision’s hand phasing into his body, and after the Vision solidifies his hand, the Grim Reaper falls to the ground. The Vision calls to Simon, who makes no response, while telling himself that there is so much pain emanating from his severed arm, that his mind has resisted awakening to it. But he knows that he must wake, for the pain that his brother suffers is equally as great.
While the Vision tends to Wonder Man, the Grim Reaper gets to his feet, thinking to himself that a cold hand clutches his heart - like death. He looks over at the Vision and thinks that the android did it to him, while they look like such a filial scene - brotherly love! ‘I had a brother too, once - until they stole his mind!’ Suddenly, through a haze of pain, Wonder Man opens his eyes, while the Vision tells him to rest as he will take care of him. The Vision senses that Simon seems to be trying to tell him something - to cry out a warning.
(In the Vision’s mind)
The Vision realizes that he is not well, that he has been grievously injured - so slender is his grasp on reality that as pain washes over him, he slips back into a waking sleep - back into this dream.
The Vision has fallen asleep over the weakened Wonder Man, while the Grim Reaper stands over them. ‘You’ve gotta wake up, Vizh!’ Simon exclaims, warning him that there is danger.
(In the Vision’s mind)
Yes, there is danger both in dreaming - thankfully the Vision is able to blast Ultron-5.
- And in waking from the dream. ‘Yaarghh!’ screams the Grim Reaper as the Vision turns and blasts him.
(In the Vision’s mind)
Life is fraught with danger. If one would live, one must accept that. The Vision admits that he denied for too long that he lived, would live now. As he and Wonder Man both punch Ultron-5, the Vision confirms that he would fight for the sweet breath of life with every fiber of his being. He would grasp on to life and the living with all his synthezoid strength - and God help any who would steal either from him.
‘Oh my head - throbbing! I must have been drugged!’ exclaims Wanda as she gets to her feet, before noticing the gaping hole in the wall, and walking through it she calls out to her husband. Wanda sees the Vision helping Wonder Man and goes over to him. The Vision thinks Wanda is an angel in scarlet, and he knows he is awake, for no dream could be so divine. The Vision decides that it is good to be alive - good to be loved. As a man loves and is loved by his wife, and his brother.