Saturday, December 15, 2012

Justice By Scythe

We've been taking a step-by-step look at the Grim Reaper's vendetta against the Avengers due to the apparent death of his brother, Wonder Man--a story which now involves the Vision, whom the Reaper learns has been the recipient of his dead brother's brain patterns. Yet, as a result of events set in motion by the Reaper himself, Eric Williams finds himself dealing with a third factor--in the form of Simon Williams, Eric's not-so-deceased brother and the catalyst for his dealings with the Avengers thus far. As for whether or not Eric is happy to see his brother back among the living, the jury's still out:

With the reference to a "jury" appropriate here--since the Reaper has broken into Avengers Mansion to put both the Vision and Wonder Man through the proceedings of a trial, the result of which will determine which of them will live and which will die. But--wouldn't that be moot at this point? The Reaper has his real brother back, right? What would be the point of further hostilities? A conclusion which is brought to the Reaper's attention, once the Panther and the Vision bring us up to speed on his machinations to date:

The Reaper then incapacitates the Avengers, fitting them with energy wrist bands which can cause extreme pain if they resist further. And he proceeds with his plan to get to the bottom of this situation in his own bizarre way:

And the Reaper's stated goal for these proceedings says much about his state of mind that's existed ever since he concluded that his brother was still "alive" in the form of the Vision: "Two men cannot share my brother's identity! One of them must die!" A rash conclusion, taking the form of a trial rather than an investigation; as is perhaps fitting for a man whose weapon is a scythe, the Reaper seeks to quickly cut through the chaff of this complicated relationship between Wonder Man and the Vision and simply dispose of the one who isn't "real" to him. His modus operandi is much the same as it was when he simply had a mission of vengeance against the Avengers--to destroy those responsible for taking his brother's life. And being as yet unsure about the circumstances of Simon's resurrection, the Reaper insists on being convinced that one of these men indeed has the mind of Simon Williams.

To better understand the assertions made during the giving of "testimony" here, it's helpful to examine "evidence" that the Reaper isn't privy to--the prior knock-down drag-out between Wonder Man and the Vision, which if nothing else allowed the Vision to vent about his lack of humanity by confronting the fact that the actual human who formed the basis for his own thoughts was now among the living again. It brings perspective to this long story--and to the Vision, in particular--for then, Wonder Man's presence effectively rendered the Vision's status to being that of an artificial Simon Williams, made no easier to bear by the guilt the Vision felt at having Wanda bound to him by marriage. So the Reaper's motives notwithstanding, these proceedings give the Vision a chance to come to terms with the connection between himself and Simon objectively.

As for the Reaper, in the course of the trial he discovers two very important pieces of information which cut to the heart of his "case." First, he reminds the Vision of the android's agreement to the Reaper's offer to place his mind in the body of Captain America--finally giving him humanity, as well as effectively giving the Reaper a living, breathing brother again (at least in the Reaper's mind). That decision, as well as the Vision's later shielding of the Reaper from a Hydra weapon's discharge, demonstrated the actions of a "true brother" to the Reaper, and thereby now raise doubts as to the resurrected Wonder Man's identity. But the Vision reveals to the Reaper for the first time that his acquiescence was simply a ploy by himself and Captain America in order to later trap the Reaper and the Space Phantom.

Secondly, Wonder Man himself dismantles the Reaper's reason for vengeance against the Avengers:

It's only when Wonder Man describes his steady return to sentience that the Reaper finally comes to the conclusion that his real brother has indeed returned to him. But complications to the "verdict" now come to light. First, the Panther, who has been involved in the Reaper's insane vendetta from the beginning, makes a startling revelation which Wonder Man himself confirms:

And then, the Vision asserts his right to exist as an individual, finally putting to bed in his own mind the notion that he has any less a claim on the right to life than Wonder Man:

But for the Reaper, who has no such enlightened regard for the Vision, the android's life is "superfluous." Yet as the villain prepares to execute him, Wonder Man intervenes and engages the Reaper in battle. And while we see in the Reaper a still-consumed man making the argument that the ends justify the means as he staves off his brother's attack, we see in Wonder Man the makings of a future Avenger:

Now, you might think that matters have been resolved--particularly for the Vision and Wonder Man, who have put their differences to rest and formed a closer bond as a result. And each man is now ready for his life to move forward: the Vision, to further explore his humanity, and Wonder Man his second chance at life.

But did the Grim Reaper seem like he was in the frame of mind to just let the matter drop?

As we'll see next time, he could be ready to cut his losses with both of these men.

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