A mangled mess of wires and circuits stares up from where it lies sprawled out on a table. Once, part of if it was a face. A face that spoke, and smiled, and sometimes laughed. Once, even shed a happy tear. Once, the eyes looked out into the world with gentle compassion and sometimes cold steel rage. He was called the Vision. He is no longer aware of that. He is no longer aware of anything - least of all the identity of the woman who is his wife: the mighty Scarlet Witch, long serving member of the Avengers, Wanda Maximoff gasps ‘Vision!? Vision no! That can’t be you! It can’t!’ Wanda exclaims while.
Former West Coast Avenger Barbara Morse-Barton a.k.a. Mockingbird stands at Wanda’s side as several scientists who have been working in the room watch the Scarlet Witch, realizing who she is, they wonder what she is doing there. ‘I thought the Avengers were going to be kept busy while we…’ one of the men remarks, before realizing what he was about to reveal and shutting up. ‘While you WHAT!?’ screams the Scarlet Witch, before rushing over to one of the scientists and grabbing him by the collar of his jacket, asking him what he has done to the Vision.
Mockingbird approaches Wanda and informs her that they have erased the Vision, ‘Erased?’ Wanda asks. ‘Yes…’ Bobbi replies, explaining that is what this whole kidnap scheme was about, and reminds Wanda that the Vision once tapped into every computer system on Earth, took control of them, and the people who tricked her into helping plan the Vision’s kidnapping said it was all a contingency plan in case he ever tried to do it again.
Bobbi points out that it turns out this wasn’t a contingency plan, before remaking that she thinks their motive was the same - to strip the Vision of all the data he might have picked up from the security networks. Wanda reminds Bobbi that she said this was a KGB operation, and asks why the Soviets would erase the Vision’s memory banks, as Hank said the Vision would be more use to them with his memory intact.
Suddenly, Simon “Wonder Man” Williams enters the room, declaring ‘He would - if this was really a KGB job!’ Carrying Cameron Brock under one of his arms, Simon reveals that this isn’t a KGB job, well, not entirely anyway. Wanda turns to her brother-in-law and asks who he is carrying. Mockingbird answers this question by pointing a finger at Brock and explaining to Wanda that this is the guy she told the West Coast Avengers that was in charge of this operation. Wonder Man informs the ladies that he found Brock in the control room of this bogus SHIELD operation.
Wonder Man orders Brock to tell Wanda and Bobbi what he told him earlier, and Brock obliges, boasting that now they have accomplished the goal of this operation, there is no need to maintain the security screen. Brock reveals that this is not a KGB operation like Mockingbird deduced, explaining that the KGB is simply in charge of the detention cells where she was held until her escape in the morning. Brock points out that security and detention are what the KGB does best after all, to which Mockingbird replies ‘You could say that’ before asking Brock if he is not KGB then why he is so chummy with them. ‘Who are you, Brock?’.
Brock announces that he is actually a field operative of the Canadian Secret Service, which shocks the Scarlet Witch, while Wonder Man remarks ‘Ain’t that a kick in the head? Canadian spies! We’ll be having to worry about the Australian’s next! Killer koalas!’ ‘Since you mention it…’ Brock begins, announcing that his deputy chief happens to be Australian, before informing the Scarlet Witch that this operation is a worldwide venture, that virtually every security network on Earth sent one or more representatives to protect their interests in this project - the American CIA, British MI-7, the French Deuxieme Bureau, the Russian KGB…everyone.
Calmly, Wanda asks why, pointing out that the Vision wasn’t hurting any of them, as he was completely cured of the madness that made him try to seize global power. Brock tells Wanda that the Avengers had said this, and he told Mockingbird that was acceptable - provided the Vision remained outside of the Avengers, and reminding Wanda that she and her husband recently rejoined the Avengers, and therefore the Vision once again had access to their super-sophisticated computers.
Brock motions to the Vision’s dismantled body and explains that the various agencies decided to set aside their individual differences - for a while at least - and deal with this potential problem - before it realized its potential. Brock adds that it is ironic, the Vision’s intent when he seized control of all the computers, was to unite the nations of the world, and now, at least temporarily, he has done that.
‘I suppose you think that’s very funny, Mr Brock!’ Wanda snaps, before telling him that he is forgetting one very important detail - the very thing which allowed him to do this to the Vision in the first place - the fact that he is an android means they can restore him! ‘You took him apart, Brock, but we can put him back together again!’.
Suddenly though, Dr. Hank Pym announces that he is afraid it is not that simple. Wonder Man turns and asks his friend how long he has been standing there, to which Dr. Pym replies ‘Long enough to know we’ve got ourselves a serious problem here!’ Puzzled, Wanda asks Hank why that is, reminding him that he is an expert in the fields of biology and robotics. ‘You can put the Vision back together again, can’t you?’ she asks. ‘Maybe’ Hank replies, admitting that he is reasonably familiar with the Vision’s systems, reminding Wanda that he even took a stroll through the Vision’s inside once, during his Ant Man days.
Hank holds up a part of the dismantled Vision and tells Wanda that is not the part that really worries him - what worries him is what they will do if the Vision has been totally erased as Mockingbird seems to think. ‘Quite frankly, I don’t know how we’ll deal with that!’ But the Scarlet Witch doesn’t see how that could be a problem, reminding Hank that the Vision’s brain patterns were copied from Wonder Man’s and declares that they only have to repeat that process. Wonder Man watches the Scarlet Witch intently as Hank tells her that he wishes it were that easy.
Hank explains that would only recreate the matrix on which the Vision’s mind was formed, without the accumulated data that comprised the Vision’s particular memory, that matrix would be like a blank canvas, ‘And we have nothing to paint on it with!’. A desperate Wanda tells Hank that the Vision kept a back-up memory file stored in the Avengers’ computers, which would be complete up to the last update. Her voice trails off when she remembers what Hank is about to say - that Brocks’ team planted a tape worm in the Avengers’ computers, and all programs dealing with the Vision - including that one - have been expunged, and from every computer system the Avengers time-share with.
‘Hank…no…please, tell me you’re not saying…’ a trembling Wanda asks. Hank puts his hands on Wanda’s shoulders, telling her that he doesn’t want to get any false hopes up, and suggests they deal with putting him back together first, adding that he still has no idea how easy that will be, reminding her that the Vision did used to be the original Human Torch. Hank adds that even though he was built fifty years ago, the old Human Torch was the most sophisticated android ever created.
Suddenly, ‘That sounds like a cue for me to make my dramatic entrance…’ a voice exclaims. Hank turns to see his estranged wife turned lover and teammate Janet Van Dyne a.k.a. the Wasp, with a man who is standing in the shadows. The Wasp remarks that she found him in one of the KGB style cells. ‘See if you’re as surprised as I was…’ Jan adds as the man steps out of the shadows. ‘Great Scott! He’s far older than any photo I’ve ever seen of him…but I’d still know that face anywhere - Professor Horton!’ Hank exclaims. ‘You got it, lover. The creator of the original Human Torch!’ the Wasp remarks.
The Scarlet Witch announces that, according to the Vision’s story of his beginnings, Professor Phineas Horton is dead, in fact he died in the Vision’s arms. Cameron Brock remarks that is what they heard too, and goes over to the frail old man, remarking that as they knew the Vision was supposed to have been created out of the inert body of the original Human Torch, they thought it might be a good idea if they found someone familiar with the Torch’s functions, and after running a global records search, looking for former associates of Professor Horton, relatives and others, to their surprise, they found that Horton himself, not exactly hale and hearty, was alive.
Hank remarks that the Vision could have been mistaken about Horton’s death, after all it would have been the first time the Vision had experienced someone’s death. ‘In any case’ Hank exclaims ‘If you are the real Professor Horton, you’re a godsend at this moment!’. Brock remarks that is what he and his colleagues thought too, before declaring that, as it turns out, Horton being alive was not the only bomb shell they were going to uncover. Brock urges Horton to tell the Avengers what he told him earlier.
Clutching his cane, Horton mutters that he is still very confused by all this. ‘You told me that this robot was supposed to be my poor, lost Torch…’ Horton motions to the Vision’s scattered remains and exclaims ‘But I have never seen this construct before…this is not my work!’….
‘Now ain’t this interesting!?’ Clint “Hawkeye” Barton thinks to himself as he explores the complex, discovering that some of this place is real, but most of it is just a mock-up, like a movie set. He supposes that the people in charge didn’t want to spend any more than was necessary to fool Mockingbird and get their job done - whatever that might happen to be. ‘Something to do with Vizh, Bobbi said. Wonder how they were able to put the grab on him in the -’ Clint thinks to himself, before getting distracted as he hears a growling noise.
Hawkeye rushes off in the direction of the noise, deciding that it sounds like Tigra, and that she doesn’t sound too happy. Hawkeye readies his bow and arrow as he supposes that Tigra must have got herself in some kind of trouble - only to enter a room and see that Tigra isn’t the one in trouble - she has some of the staff backed into a corner. One of them tries to keep her at bay with some kind of wooden beam, then sees Hawkeye, ‘Help us!’ he calls out. ‘For God’s sake…stop her!’ another person shouts.
Clint calls out to Tigra, who turns at the sound of his voice, ‘Uh-oh’ Greer Grant Nelson thinks to herself, while Hawkeye tells her to take it easy. ‘What’s got into you, kitty?’ he asks, only for Tigra to lunge at him, roaring!
Meanwhile…miles away, at the campus of Absolom College, near Saunders, Texas. Inside an office, ‘Very well, ladies and gentlemen - let us begin, shall we?’ one of the people seated around a boardroom table remarks, pointing out that if they are to proceed beyond this point, then they must finalize their selection of a suitable subject. Another person declares that they have compiled a listing of some prospects, each of whom have the desired attributes. The first one appears on a large monitor, Archangel, and someone remarks that they would vote no on this one. ‘Agreed’ someone else adds, before the group begin working their way through the list:
Apocalypse: ‘Too powerful’
Banshee: ‘Too weak’
Beast: ‘Too unstable’
Black Tom Cassidy: ‘Too weak’
Cloak: ‘Too unstable’
Dagger: ‘Too unstable’
Legion: ‘Too unstable’
Multiple Man: ‘No’
Magik: ‘No longer viable’
Magneto: ‘Too powerful’
Marvel Girl: ‘No’
Phoenix: ‘Too powerful’
Quicksilver: ‘Too unstable’
Suddenly, the Scarlet Witch appears on the monitor - ‘YES!’ someone shouts.
Back in L.A., one hour later, the West Coast Avengers watch as paramedics take Professor Horton away. Hank tells Wanda not to worry, assuring her that they will take good care of him. ‘If that is truly who he is’ Wanda remarks, before asking Hank if that really is Horton, why he said that the Vision was not “his work”. ‘Why would he lie like that?’. Hank replies that he doesn’t know, when suddenly a police officer approaches him, ‘You seem to be in charge of all this…what do you want us to do with these guys you captured?’ he asks.
Hank tells the officer that there is not a whole lot they can do, ‘I’m sure you’ll find this operation has government approval’. Hank adds that even if it doesn’t, no doubt Cameron Brock and the rest of the foreign nationals will claim diplomatic immunity. ‘Very astute, Doctor Pym’ Brock boasts. Janet, in wasp-form flies over to Hank, and asks him if there is nothing they can do? ‘They kidnap one of us…disassemble him…’ her voice trails off, to which Hank adds that they get to stand around with egg on their faces, before pointing out that they can register a complaint with their government liaison, Raymond Sikorsky. ‘For all the good that will do!’ Brock boasts.
Hawkeye and Tigra arrive and Hank asks them if they are all right. ‘We were beginning to wonder where you’d both got to’ he adds. Clint replies that they are fine, and that Tigra got a bit carried away, but she is fine now. ‘Thanks Clint’ Tigra whispers. Hank announces that they best get back to the Compound and see what can be done about the Vision. He turns to Wanda and asks her if she is coming, to which the Scarlet Witch replies that she will be right with him, as soon as she is done here:
Wanda points at the complex which housed the dismantling of her husband, and around her body, reality begins to shift and flow. To calculate the odds against every bit of building material in a structure - every board and nail, every beam and rivet - every pane of glass, every hinge, staple, spot of glue…all reaching their point of maximum fatigue at precisely the same moment…to calculate the odds against this would require the manipulation of numbers so huge there is not a computer on Earth up to the task. The Scarlet Witch does not know this though, her knowledge of science has been but little enhanced since the villainous Magneto brought her out of her Balkan home. She knows only that she wishes this terrible place expunged. Dead. And suddenly, the building dies, collapsing in upon itself in a glorious display of power from the mighty Scarlet Witch.
Less than ten minutes later, newly installed holographic imaging devices turn off automatically at the approach of the Avengers’ Quinjet, revealing the cliff-face hangar door beneath the West Coast Avengers Compound. Wanda declares that she still doesn’t understand why they could not do more about this, to which Hank replies that he sympathizes with Wanda’s feelings, but that this is one of those rare occasions where even the Avengers are helpless. Pym reminds Wanda that this attack on her husband was approved by virtually every government on Earth, including the United States, so the best they can hope now is to restore what they can of the Vision.
‘How can they have done this, Hank? After all the times the Vision has fought for them - risked his life for them?!’ Wanda asks. Hank replies that “life” is not exactly an issue as far as these people are concerned, the Vision is just a machine and not truly alive. Hank is about to say something else, but tells Wonder Man, who is carrying a whole lot of tanks and equipment, to be careful, as the tanks contain the Vision’s pseudo-organic parts and cannot be duplicated.
‘Don’t worry, Doc, I won’t…’ Wonder Man begins, when he notices some flashing lights on the monitor behind Hank, he asks what that means. Hank explains that is the internal distress signal from the guest house, meaning someone there must have pushed the panic button. ‘Panic button?’ Wanda remarks. ‘Miss Bach! Thomas! William! My babies!’ she screams, ‘No! No! No! Those monsters can’t have come for my children too!’ Wanda screams as she rushes through the connecting tunnels beneath the Compound, followed by her teammates, Wanda is surprisingly faster than them, propelled by images so horrible only a mother could comprehend them.
Fifty-three seconds after seeing the alarm light, Wanda emerges in the guest house. ‘Miss Bach! Helen!’ she exclaims, asking what has happened. The nanny turns to the Scarlet Witch, shaking, she stutters ‘Tommy…Billy…I was giving them their morning bath…I only looked away for a second…and when I looked back they were gone! They were just…gone!’ the middle-aged woman exclaims.
‘GONE?!’ shouts Wanda, before storming into the bathroom, only to see her twin children playing in the bath. She goes over and hugs them, ‘You’re here! You’re all right!’ she gasps, while Miss Bach exclaims that the children were gone, that she searched everywhere. The Wasp enters and tells Miss Bach to calm down, before asking what is going on here. Wanda scowls as she replies that is for Miss Bach to explain, and declares that when she interviewed Miss Bach for this position she should have asked her if she had a sick sense of humor.
Wanda holds her children as she rushes from the bathroom, informing Miss Bach that she can pack her things and leave, as her “services” are no longer required. ‘But…but…’ Miss Bach begins to reply, before turning to the Wasp and asking her to please listen to her when she says the babies were gone, that they just vanished without a trace. Janet thinks to herself that Miss Bach sounds like she really means it, but from what she saw, the children didn’t seem affected at all by this. The Wasp asks Helen to calm down, and explains to her that this is out of her hands as she is no longer the Avengers chairman, adding that even if she were, she couldn’t do any more than offer advice in the Scarlet Witch’s private life. Janet assures Miss Bach that she will make sure she gets the proper severance pay however, to which Miss Bach thanks her.
Two days later, outside the Avengers’ med-lab, the Scarlet Witch holds herself, her cloak lying beside her on a seat when Wonder Man enters, telling his sister-in-law that perhaps she should get some sleep. Wanda turns to Wonder Man and remarks that she didn’t hear him come in, before asking what time it is. Simon replies that it is nearly three in the morning and asks if Hank is still working on reassembling the Vision. Wanda replies that he is, and that apparently it is not as hard as Hank feared it might be. ‘Hank says it’s rather like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece has only one place it can properly go’.
Unfortunately, as Wanda reveals to Simon, there are literally hundreds of thousands of pieces, and no guide, no “blueprint”. ‘If only there was some way we could have contacted the real Professor Horton’ Wanda laments. Simon asks her if she still doesn’t believe that the old man Janet found was the real Horton, to which Wanda asks how she possibly could, as Professor Horton is dead, he died in the Vision’s arms shortly after the Vision was “born”. ‘The Vision told us so, when he learned all the details of his origin!’ Wanda reminds Simon, adding that if that central fact was not to become untrue, everything they think they know about the Vision would become equally suspect.
Wonder Man points out that he was not an Avenger when all that was going on, ‘In fact, I wasn’t much of anything, seeing as how I was in a regenerative state that had everyone thinking I was dead - including me!’ he remarks, before revealing to Wanda that he has always been a bit bothered by the fact that the Vision learned all the missing details of his origin from Immortus. ‘I mean he’s pretty much a lying -’ Simon’s sentence is interrupted by a loud sound coming from inside the lab proper.
The two heroes get to their feet and Wanda explains that Hank sealed himself in the lab to reduce the risk of contaminating the Vision, before calling out to Hank, asking him if he can hear her, she asks what is happening. The only response the Scarlet Witch receives is more thuds, crashes and clangs. Wonder Man declares that it sounds like there is a fight going on out there, before warning Wanda to look out, pointing out that if Hank sealed the lab it will take at least three minutes for the airlock doors to cycle and open.
But using his incredible strength, Wonder Man shoves the doors apart, and steam begins to billow out into the waiting area - then Wonder Man is suddenly confronted by a hand covering his face - a hand mixed of some kinds of metal and perhaps flesh. ‘What in the name of…?’ exclaims Simon, thrown to the floor as he looks up at the strange being standing over him. ‘Vision!?” gasps Wanda, the word trembling and nearly dying in her throat. However, Wanda requires no answer to have her dread confirmation - this is her husband.
The Vision places a hand around one of Wanda’s wrists, while Simon urges Wanda to keep back, as he doesn’t think the Vision recognizes her. But Wanda turns to the Vision, ‘Vision! Say you know me…please!’ she exclaims in panic. But the only trace of emotion on the synthezoid’s fleshless face is a skull’s sepulchral grin - even when he picks Wanda up and tosses her aside. Wanda cries out while Simon calls to her. Still on the ground, Wanda is unable to believe the bizarre behavior of the being she calls her husband. As she did not properly protect herself, Wanda is somewhat stunned, and remains on the cold floor as the Vision, almost sensing her helplessness, moves forward - looming over her for the kill.
‘Oh no you don’t!’ cries Wonder Man as he comes to Wanda’s defense, ‘Time you took a nice long nap until we figure out what’s wrong with you!’ but as Wonder Man tries to restrain the Vision, and although Simon is powerful, he hesitates to use his strength against one whose shared mind patterns once made him very much a brother, enabling the Vision simply shift his body and toss Wonder Man over his shoulder, causing Simon to smack hard into a steel wall.
Meanwhile, directly above the med-lab, in the living room of the Compound, Hawkeye is relaxing and thinks to himself that was some weird moment with Tigra the other day, knowing that if he hadn’t managed to subdue her with a quick whiff from his gas arrow, then she might have ripped his throat out. Clint admits that he is not sure why he promised he wouldn’t tell the others about it, before realizing that it seems like Tigra has been hiding out in her bungalow since they returned. Hawkeye then hears a loud noise….
…and forty seconds later, he emerges in the med-lab area, where the Vision holds Wonder Man high above his head, Clint realizes that it must be the Vision on a rampage, so fires his constrictor arrow at the Vision, which wraps itself around him, but with the faint whirr of servomotors usually muted by a layer of artificial flesh, the Vision snaps the steel cables like they were nothing, shocking Hawkeye.
Wonder Man shakes Wanda, telling her that she has to do something, as brute force is not going to stop him, she needs to use her powers. ‘NO!’ Wanda replies as she stands idly watching the Vision grab Hawkeye and hold him upside down, causing his arrows to all fall out, while Wanda declares that she cannot use her powers against the Vision. Wanda points out that she doesn’t have precise enough control over the effects of her hexes. ‘What if I make him explode?’ she asks, ‘What if I damage him beyond repair?’.
Wonder Man goes over to help Hawkeye, telling Wanda that she must take that chance, and to trust that her power will not permanently damage someone she loves. ‘But do it now! Before he kills Hawkeye - or me!’ Simon urges. Trembling, and her eyes filled with hot tears, the Scarlet Witch raises her hands - then quickly retracts them, covering her face with her hands and sobbing, she asks her friends to forgive her, as she cannot do it.
‘That’s all right, Wanda…you don’t have to do anything. I can handle this!’ Hank announces as he emerges from the med-lab holding a device which he aims at the Vision, causing the Vision to drop Hawkeye and fall to the ground. Wonder Man asks Hank what it is, and while Wanda drops to her knees beside the Vision, Hank explains that it is the neutralizer that Brock’s people used on the Vision so they could kidnap him in the first place. Hank explains that he would have used it sooner but that he was unconscious. Hank adds that he failed to consider when he reactivated the Vision that in his mindless state his first reaction might be defensive.
Wonder Man tells Hank that it is lucky he regained consciousness when he did, to which Hawkeye exclaims that lucks has nothing to do with it, and asks what time it is in Washington right now, declaring that they have a call to make.
Shortly, the men are talking to Raymond Sikorski, the Avenger’s government liaison over a computer monitor. Clint tells Sikorski that he doesn’t care if he woke him from his death bed, and demands to know what the paper-pushes are going to do about the Vision. ‘Do?’ Sikorski asks. ‘You seem to be missing the point, archer’ Raymond remarks, before announcing that they have already done it - the Vision has been rendered harmless and he presents no further threat to the security of this nation, or any other for that matter.
Raymond informs the Avengers that they are now at liberty to re-program the Vision to suit whatever function they wish. ‘Re-program?’ Hank asks, telling Sikorski that it is not as easy as that. ‘Your people destroyed all trace of his former personality - for all intents and purposes, he’s dead!’ Hank adds that they don’t know how long it will take for Wanda to recover, explaining that they have got her downstairs under sedation at the moment. ‘Yes…I do regret this traumatic experience for the Scarlet Witch’ Raymond replies rather coldly.
Raymond then announces that, while they are on the subject of major interruptions, he has another one for them. Sikorski informs Clint, Hank and Simon that, if they wish to avoid further government intervention in their actions, then they must now accept the new team member which they have assigned to the West Coast Avengers. ‘WHAT?’ Hawkeye shouts. Raymond claims that he is sorry to be so blunt about this, but that he just realized what time it is in California, and since their new team member took the red eye out of Dullies, the new member - in fact new leader - should be arriving at the Compound right about now.
‘He’s someone who will make sure a proper eye is kept on the Vision from now on!’ The men hear a motorcycle arrive at the Compound and race to the main door, ‘”Proper eye…”?’ Clint remarks, repeating Raymond’s words. The men see a figure approach the door carrying a shield. Assuming it to be Captain America, Hawkeye exclaims that it cannot be him, as he has just been appointed chairman of the East Coast team. ‘Apparently not’ Hank remarks, while Simon smiles, pointing out that if they have to accept a new member on the team, it could have been a lot - ‘Worse?’ Simon’s word catches in his throat as their new leader enters, and the three men stand in shock. ‘Oh no!’ Hawkeye exclaims, while the new leader smirks and declares ‘Oh yes. Face it boys…this little jamboree just joined the major leagues!’…it’s everyone’s least favorite super hero: USAgent!