The West Coast Avengers Palos Verdes Compound, California, where the newest team member has arrived. Look closely at his face - it is the face of the handsome John Walker, better known as USAgent, formerly Super Patriot. It is also the face of the man who, for a while at least, wore the uniform of this nation’s greatest champion - Captain America. It is a face hewn to heroic proportions: Proud. True. Rock hard. And yet - perhaps those proportions are a trifle too much in the idealized mold. The jaw is perhaps a fraction too square, the iron sinewed neck a bit too thick. And, in the fervor, the fierce pride of place and patriotism which burns in the piercing eyes, might we not detect a hint of…madness?
In the sprawling living room of the Compound, at 9.47 A.M., four of the current West Coast Avengers have gathered along with one of their former teammates: Clint “Hawkeye” Barton, Simon Williams a.k.a. Wonder Man, Doctor Hank Pym, Janet Van Dyne a.k.a. the Wasp, and former member Barbara Morse-Barton better known as Mockingbird. ‘Who is this guy?!’ Hawkeye exclaims, motioning to USAgent who has his back turned to everyone else and stares out the window. Clint adds that the new arrival hasn’t said more than two words since he cruised in here this morning and declared himself a new member.
Wonder Man isn’t as uppity about the situation as his friend, and tells Hawkeye to be fair, as that is not quite how it happened. Hank agrees, and reminds Clint that USAgent arrived with instructions from their government liaison, Raymond Sikorski, and didn’t just turn up and declare himself a new member. ‘Yeah, well, it amounts to the same thing, doesn’t it, Doc? I get the old “golden toe”!’ Hawkeye replies, adding that the way things have been going around here for the past few days, it seems like everyone is forgetting his is supposed to be the West Coast Avengers chairman.
Suddenly, Mockingbird speaks up and tells Hawkeye that no one has forgotten anything, except for him perhaps, reminding him that the Avengers can only operate because the government sanctions it. Bobbi adds that if the bosses in Washington want USAgent to be their new member, then all they can do is go along with it. Clint points at his estranged wife accusingly, ‘”We” Avengers? “Our” new member? Well excuse me, lady, but since when did you think you come back into this little family!?’ Hawkeye shouts angrily. Clint declares that Mockingbird quit the Avengers, but it seems like a hundred and fifty percent of the nastiness that has gone down around here in the past three days has been because of her.
The Wasp flies over and tells Hawkeye that he is letting his emotional involvement with Mockingbird muddy his thinking, and reminds him that Bobbi was duped into helping the covert international operation kidnap the Vision, and as soon as she realized what was happening she came to warn them. ‘Yeah…conveniently too late for us to do anything’ Clint replies, adding that so now, on top of the Vision lying on a slab with his guts rearranged, they have to put up with the USAgent.
Hands folded behind his back, USAgent tells Hawkeye that he is missing the point, ’But then, I hear that’s one of the things you do best’ Agent adds, before turning to his new colleagues and stating that Mockingbird is correct, they aren’t being asked to decide anything. ’I’m an Avenger now. Period!’.
Hawkeye lunges USAgent, ’Why you arrogant, son of a -’ Clint begins as he throws a punch, which USAgent easily blocks, and grabs Hawkeye’s hand, ’Hey, let go!’ Clint exclaims while Walker grasps his hand tightly. ’Understand this, Hawkeye’ USAgent exclaims, gripping tighter. Both men begin to grimace, while Walker declares that he is here because the United States government wants him to be, adding that it is not a situation which involves debate. ’Got that, mister?’ Walker adds as he uses his enhanced strength to toss Hawkeye across the room, knocking over a table and lamp in the process.
Bobbi rushes over to Hawkeye, asking him if he is okay, Clint mumbles that he is, before realizing that it is Bobbi who is concerned about him, and leaping to his feet, he tells her to get away from him as he strides across the living room, muttering that this is all he needs - getting his butt kicked by the president of the “Clint Eastwood fan club”, and having the first person come to his aid be the woman he is supposed to be divorcing.
Wonder Man tells Hawkeye that Mockingbird is just trying to help, and suggests to his friend that he needn’t be such a dope about it, before turning to USAgent, and adds that speaking of kicking butts, ’Maybe you’d like to try those moves with someone more in your league?’ Simon asks Walker. ’Any time you want!’ USAgent replies, until the two are interrupted by the Wasp, who flies over telling them to stop, exclaiming that this is ridiculous, and adding that squabbling amongst themselves never solves anything.
Hank agrees with his ex-wife and declares that as much as they all hate the idea of having a new team member foisted upon them like this - and a stranger to boot - their charter requires them to go along with this at least until the USAgent is proven incapable or unworthy of membership. ’Until that happens there’s nothing else we can do’ Hank adds. But suddenly, Clint declares that there is something he can do right now, ’I quit!’ he shouts as he walks out the door, slamming it loudly behind him.
Mockingbird calls out to Hawkeye, of course she gets no response. USAgent goes over to her and tells her to let him go, remarking that if Hawkeye is not prepared to play by the rules, then there is no place for him in this group. Angrily, Mockingbird points at Walker and replies ’No place? Buster, if it wasn’t for him, there wouldn’t even be a West Coast branch of the Avengers, he founded this group!’.
USAgent tells Barbara that she is wrong, and declares that the Vision founded this group, as he was the one who conceived of the idea and appointed Hawkeye as chairman. Walker adds that it is the same Vision who subsequently attempted to take over the world and whose return to active status as an Avenger is the main reason why he is here. ’Oh go swallow your shield, big man!’ Barbara snaps back, before turning and leaving the living area, announcing that she is going after Hawkeye - ’And it’s gonna take more than a two-bit imitation of Captain America to stop me!’ she adds.
‘Well…all this excitement and it’s not even ten o’clock yet!’ the Wasp remarks to Hank, joking that it is business as usual then, before telling Hank that she is going to check on Wanda and asks if he wants to come. Hank tells Janet to go on ahead, as it is time for him to get back to working on the repairs for the Vision.
Shortly, Hank and Wonder Man stand over the Vision’s motionless and strange body. Simon asks is his “brother” can really be fixed, adding that if he is turned back on, what is going to stop him from attacking them like he did earlier this morning. Hank gets to work, assuring Simon that he doesn’t anticipate a recurrence of that unfortunate incident, and reminds Simon that as he said at the time, it only happened because the Vision was in an automatic defensive-mode when he reactivated his systems.
Hank informs Wonder Man that while they have been dealing with the arrival of their new leader, he has had the computers reprogramming the Vision’s memory banks with all the pertinent data about the Avengers, so when he wakes next, the Vision will know they are his friends. Hank remarks that his primary concern now is what to do with the Vision’s bio-synthetic skin, for when it was removed, it’s circulatory system was badly traumatized. Looking into the tank of fluid where the Vision’s new skin floats, Simon remarks that he wonders what Wanda is going to think of her husband’s new hue.
Speaking of Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch, and six hours later, the mighty mutant is interviewing a new nanny for her twin children. Hair pulled back, Wanda smiles as she tells Mrs Hunter that her references are superb, adding that she cannot remember when she has seen a more impressive resume. The middle-aged woman thanks Wanda and remarks that she has made it her life’s work looking after children, adding that she has never had a dissatisfied customer.
Wanda replies that’s good before asking Mrs Hunter if she understands that the situation here will be markedly different from any place she has worked before, adding that Thomas and William are far from ordinary babies. Mrs Hunter smiles and replies that all parents think their children are extra special, and remarks that she has been governess for everything from normal, average babies to child prodigies, and the one thing she has learned is that, under it all, kids are still kids!
Wanda replies that she is sure that it quite true in most cases, and explains that she does not speak merely from parental pride. ‘As the offspring of a mutant and an android, William and Thomas are quite unique in human experience’ Wanda exclaims, before asking Mrs Hunter if she would like to meet them now. Mrs Hunter replies that would be nice, when suddenly a call over the communications system comes into the bungalow. Wanda excuses herself and receives the video-call, greeting Hank and asking him what is going on. Hank asks Wanda to come down to the med-lab, and that she does so wearing her costume.
Moments later, Wanda is dressed in her stunning costume, she adjusts her headpiece and asks Mrs Hunter to forgive her for running off like this, explaining that since Doctor Pym is calling from the med-lab, she assumes that it can only concern her husband. Mrs Hunter smiles and replies that she understands, before remarking that she can introduce herself to the twins. Wanda thanks Mrs Hunter and strides out of the bungalow, calling back that they are asleep in the nursery at the top of the stairs.
Mrs Hunter replies that she is sure she will have no trouble finding it, and tells Wanda to take care, before she starts up the stairs, calling out to the twins, she exclaims ‘Here comes old Mrs Hunter to see her new…babies?’ Mrs Hunter looks around, confused, as the nursery is empty - the twins are nowhere in sight!
On the other side of the sprawling Compound, sits another bungalow, identical to the Scarlet Witch’s, though it is profoundly different in content, and houses Greer Grant Nelson, better known as Tigra, who is on her knees besides the refrigerator. ‘So…hungry…’ Tigra exclaims in a strange voice. Furniture lies scattered around the dinning room, one of the chairs has all the stuffing pulled out of its seat. Tigra’s eyes are wide and her appearance slightly distorted, the strange voice sounds again as Greer exclaims that it has been nearly three days since she has had anything to eat - but there is nothing in the house that she wants.
Tigra knows that she dare not go out of her bungalow looking like this - but instinct gets the better of her, as she needs something to eat. Suddenly, she hears a chirping sound outside her window. ’Bird…food…’ she growls, only to keel over, ’No! No! Stop it! Stop it! I’m not an animal!’ Greer tells herself. ’No! No!…YES!’ she screams as she leaps out of her window….
Meanwhile, Wanda arrives in the med-lab and asks Hank and the Wasp if everything is all right, ’Why did you want me in my costume?’ she adds. Hank apologizes and supposes that he should have explained, assuring Wanda that there is nothing to get upset about, well, no more upset than she already is anyway. ’Then…what?’ Wanda asks, puzzled. Hank informs Wanda that he has completed the reprogramming of the Vision’s memory banks, and points out that as most of their data tapes concerning various battles they have all been in, he thought it mire be less confusing for the Vision for Wanda to be in her costume when the two are reintroduced.
Puzzled, Wanda asks ’”Reintroduced”?’ and admits that she doesn’t understand. Hank tells Wanda that she knows all their data about the Vision himself was eradicated by a sophisticated computer virus that the people who kidnapped the Vision introduced into their system, and all the systems they interface with. Wanda turns away, ‘Are you saying…he doesn’t remember me? That he won’t know who I am?’ she asks. Hank replies that the Vision knows all of them, but that his perceptions may have been altered. ‘It’s difficult to explain in human terms’ Hank tells Wanda.
Suddenly, ‘Perhaps it would be better if I did the explaining, Doctor Pym’ a cold voice exclaims. A shocked Wanda turns, and is taken aback by the being standing before her - it’s the Vision! Gone are his red skin and green and yellow costuming, the Vision is now completely ghostly-white. ‘Is there a problem, Wanda?’ a stoic Vision asks. ‘Vision? Oh…Vision!’ Wanda exclaims as she rushes over and embraces her husband. The Vision does not follow Wanda’s emotion, and his arms remain motionless at his sides. ‘Vision?’ Wanda asks, pulling away.
The Vision asks Wanda if there is some significance to this action, to which Wanda looks nervously to Hank, who replies that this is what he was talking about. Hank explains that the Vision has all the information they can supply, but that his emotional connection to the information is non-existent. ‘But…why?’ the Scarlet Witch asks, reminding Hank that he said none of the Vision’s parts had been damaged when he was disassembled, that only his programming was erased. ‘If you’ve restored the data that formed that programming…’ Wanda begins, but Hank interrupts, explaining that it is nowhere near that simple. ‘There’s still one vital element missing…’ Hank reveals.
Soon, Wanda approaches Simon who is sitting on the beach beneath the Compound cliffs. Wanda calls out to Simon, who solemnly remarks that he thought she would come looking for him sooner or later. Calmly, Wanda tells Simon that Hank said he cannot complete the Vision’s restoration without Simon’s brain patterns, ‘But he says you’ve refused to help cooperate…?’ Wanda asks. ‘Yes…I guess I have’ Simon replies. Wanda sits down on the sand next to Simon and asks him why, as she thought he was her friend, the Vision’s friend. ‘I am, Wanda. I always will be!’ Simon assures her, before remarking that perhaps Wanda doesn’t understand what it is she is asking of him. Simon reminds Wanda that he hasn’t always been a super hero, and that once he was a normal man, a pawn in a scheme to destroy the Avengers….
(Shown with flashback images)
Simon tells Wanda of how Baron Zemo called him penniless, accused and an embezzler, all because of Tony Stark and his bodyguard Iron Man. Baron Zemo then offered Simon Williams wealth and power beyond imagining. The Enchantress and the Executioner were also present for this, but of course Zemo’s accusations were just so much hot air, for Stark’s only involvement in his downfall had been creating inventions that were better than Simon’s. Simon admits though, that it was pleasant enough to hear someone else being blamed for his own shortcomings, so he proceeded to let Zemo bombard him with his ionic ray.
Then, when Zemo was done, Simon Williams was reborn as Wonder Man - except there is a catch, and Zemo revealed that the radiation will kill Wonder Man in one week. ‘But I have the antidote - so will you be my slave, Simon Williams - or will you die?’ Zemo asked. Wonder Man had no choice but to go along with Zemo, the Enchantress and the Executioner, and proceeded to kidnap the Wasp and lure the other Avengers into battle. However, part of Zemo’s scheme involved tricking the Avengers into accepting him as a new member - and during the time Simon was with them, he learned to respect their selflessness and nobility, and decided he could not let Zemo kill them. Wonder Man turned on his “masters”, and died for it….
And while that would have been the end for anyone else’s story, it was barely the beginning for Wonder Man. The Avengers knew they could do nothing to save Simon’s body from death, so they hurried back to Hank Pym’s lab and there, a recording was made of his brainwave patterns - those same patterns which were subsequently used by Ultron-5 to create a matrix for the mind of the Vision!
However, even after a portion of Simon’s personality found new life in the Scarlet Witch’s future husband, the fates were not done with Simon, and his mad brother, Eric, called upon the voodoo houngan known as the Black Talon, for Eric wanted Simon restored to life - except what was resurrected was a mindless zombie! Simon was once again a helpless slave of one who sought to destroy the Avengers - only this time, he would not be able to change his mind, having no mind to change - or so it would have seemed, but for a miracle, as slowly, almost painfully, Simon’s mind grew active again, and Simon remembered the man he had been, and therefore, lived again!….
Wanda looks remarkably upset, while Simon adds that to shorten a long story which Wanda already knows, pretty soon it was discovered that Simon hadn’t actually died in the first place, and Zemo’s ionic ray had begun a mutagenic change in his cell structure, so what seemed to be death was really a kind of chrysalis stage, like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. Wanda rests on her knees and declares that she does know all of this, and that knowing it does not help her understand why he will not let Hank re-copy his brain patterns into the Vision. Simon glances away from Wanda as he remarks that it is kind of hard to comprehend, as no human has ever experienced what he has gone through - seeming to die and then waking up to find out that another man has a piece of your brain.
Wonder Man tells Wanda that the Vision was like a part of him, his basic nature was Simons, his feelings, his emotions….Simon’s voice trails off as both he and Wanda get to their feet, with Wanda remarking that Simon has even called the Vision a brother, but now he is just a human-shaped robot who happens to bear a resemblance to the man she married. Wanda urges Simon that it does not have to be that way. ‘It would only take a word from you to give him back his soul!’ she pleads.
‘I know…’ Simon replies, glancing away, he assures Wanda that he wished he could, that he wished it was all so simple that he could walk into the lab and let Hank do whatever he has to do. Simon asks Wanda to try and understand him. He assures her that he knows how awful and traumatic the past few days have been for her, and adds that in his own way, he has shared her suffering. ‘I had no choice in the transfer of my soul into the Vision the first time…now…I have a choice!’ Simon points out.
‘And…you choose not to allow it?’ the Scarlet Witch asks. ‘Even knowing that without your help the man I love can never be whole again?’ she adds. ‘Yes…forgive me, Wanda, but…’ Simon begins, only to be interrupted by a furious Scarlet Witch who screams ‘Forgive you? I HATE YOU!’ and slaps him hard across the face. Of course through his impenetrable skin, Simon barely feels the Scarlet Witch’s slap - but that doesn’t stop the fact of it brining tears to his eyes. Wanda strides across the beach, with Simon rushing behind her, asking her to wait, to listen to him. ‘I have listened quite enough!’ Wanda replies, moving her hand slightly, she continues her stride, while Simon stands alone.
Around Simon, circling birds cease their constant calling, and Simon feels a shudder rise through his spine, for he knows the power he has unwittingly unleashed. High above him, the ancient cliff moans, a strangely human sound. It has stood thus for uncounted years, shrugging off even the worst of California’s earthquakes. But, it will stand no longer…and the huge cliff-face tumbles down upon Wonder Man in a spectacular, amazing display. Eventually, a large mound of earth and dirt is lifted up, and Wonder Man emerges, fists clenched, his face displaying unmeasurable amount of pain from inside his soul.
His screams - torn from his heart and soul - as he flies upwards. The scream encapsulates in one out-pouring…all the anger, pain, rage and frustration he has known since his resurrection, bursting out of him like a thing alive, growing, swelling, surging like the tide before a hurricane. As far away as San Francisco, people pause - they open doors and windows, they tip their heads as a dog might, straining to catch the distant sound. Closer, glass rattles and ornaments fall from the shelves. Then, the sound is gone, faded on the breeze like some ghost of memory. As it has been said, and there is truth in it….that in space, no one can hear you scream…and Wonder Man soars through space itself!
Later, back at the Compound, USAgent is lecturing the Vision: ‘You heard me, robot. As long as I’m on this team we’ll have some decency around here. Get some clothes on! NOW!’ Walker bellows. The Vision replies that USAgent’s position is not logical, and points out that humans wear clothes for any combination of three reasons - protection, modesty or vanity. ‘None of these applies to me’. Wanda approaches the two, concentrating on the Vision, she does not hear his words, only their tone. The Vision’s voice has become once more the perfectly modulated monotone she heard when he first spoke to her what now seems like a hundred lifetimes ago. Each word is a separate entity, held distinct from those around it by the mechanical precision of the Vision’s speech. Monotonous…mechanical…not at all human….
The Wasp enters and tells USAgent and the Vision to break it up as she hands the Vision some cloth, all that was left of his costume after the bad guys cut it off him, she assures him that it is as much a part of him as his skin. ‘Maybe you can do something with it?’ Janet asks. The Vision replies that he is sure he can, as his ability to manipulate the molecular structure of his body extends to this cloth, he then thanks Janet. Adjusting the cloth, the Vision announces that Doctor Pym has reprogrammed his memory banks with all the details he could remember of his past existence, therefore he is quite aware of his role as a “super hero” and the significance of flamboyant costuming in that vocation.
Placing the adjusted clothing on his form, the Vision remarks that he believes in this instance he would prefer to evoke the traditional super hero costume, rather than duplicate the form precisely. ‘Of course, I make the necessary concession to our leader’s sensibilities’. The Vision has put his new costuming on, which basically consists of some togs, and a shoulder piece which extends into a cape, he asks if this will suffice. ‘That’ll do, I guess. At least you look like you’ve got clothes on’ Walker mutters, while the Scarlet Witch asks the Vision why he has bleached out all the color. The Vision replies that if that is to be his name, “the Vision”, then it is logical for him to look the part, spectral and unearthly.
Hank Pym announces that as long as they are all here together, he has another bomb-shell to drop on everyone, and remarks that they have known for years now that they believed the Vision was rebuilt out of the android body of the original Human Torch, but just the other day they Torch’s creator, Professor Horton, stated that the Vision was not his work. Hank reminds Wanda that her first reaction was to assume that Horton was lying for some reason, and reveals that is not the case. Hank explains that he did a detailed analysis of every part of the Vision when he was re-assembling him, ‘And there’s no way he could ever have been the Torch!’.
Later, Hank walks down a corridor, with the Wasp flying at his side, Hank explains that he just said what he felt needed to be said, and did not mean to upset Wanda all over again. Jan tells Hank that he did a pretty good job, as Wanda is in a real mess. Janet begins to say something else, when they pass a room and hear a voice inside exclaiming ‘No, no, I can make it work, I know I can!’. The Wasp asks who is in there, to which Hank replies it must be the USAgent, as he said he didn’t need much and was going to set up quarters in one of the spare rooms.
‘They’re all kind of wild and undisciplined…but I think I can whip ‘em into shape!’ the Wasp wonders who Walker is talking to, so hovers besides the keyhole, only to discover that Walker has blocked it up with tape or something. ‘They’re good people at heart. Strong people, you’ll like them’ USAgent remarks. Hank tells Jan not to snoop, to which the Wasp supposes that even a jerk deserves his privacy, and the two continue down the hallway as the USAgent remarks that it is too bad about the Scarlet Witch. Hank asks Janet if he can buy her dinner, to which Jan replies that it is her treat, as she is the one with the big bucks, before asking Hank when they installed a telephone in that spare room.
Inside the USAgent’s new, sparse quarters, Walker sits on the end of the single bed, his shield rests against a dresser, which has two photo frames on top of it - containing photos of his parents, Caleb and Emily Walker. John looks at the photos and remarks that the Scarlet Witch is easily one of the most powerful members of the team so he does not understand her reaction to all of this. ‘Yeah, I know, Ma. It’s like you and Pa always said…there’s no real understanding the human heart…or the human mind…’.