Friday, December 21, 2012

My Brother, The Zombie


Quite a lot has happened since the Grim Reaper conducted his bizarre little trial to determine in which of two men--Wonder Man or the Vision--the identity of his brother resides. Some 90 issues have gone by, a little over seven years in real time. A new team of Avengers has been established on the U.S. west coast, with Wonder Man one of their charter members. The Vision, due to a complication from a control crystal implanted into his head by Ultron, has attempted a world takeover by infiltrating the planet's computers. And when that situation was resolved, he and the Scarlet Witch left the Avengers to start a life for themselves.

But let's get back to the Vision for a moment, because that nasty control crystal (or rather its deactivation) plays a part in this brotherly triangle with the Grim Reaper and his "two" brothers. As the Vision describes the function of the crystal, we learn that it's also actually inhibited his emotional growth:



And so, at the first opportunity, the Vision renders one of his hands intantigible and reaches into his head to remove the crystal, forever. Once that's done, we have a far more human Vision just ripe for the mini-series The Vision and the Scarlet Witch which writer Steve Englehart has on tap. A Vision who's ready to bottom-line his status:



And who better to put that to the test than the Grim Reaper, who has dogged and mocked the Vision's humanity for awhile now? Because as much as the Vision is at peace with himself since coming into his own, the Reaper is far from being at ease with either the Vision or Wonder Man. When last we left the Reaper, he was ready to execute the Vision because he was convinced that Wonder Man was his brother, Simon--yet, in some cruel jest, not his brother, since the process that made him Wonder Man had mutated him into another form of life. And the Reaper, who has proven to be a bigot, insists on a wholly human brother or nothing.

And so, insane as the Reaper's plans have been thus far, he's about to make another irrational decision in order to return his brother to his side. To that end, he's assembled a motley crew of fellow villains to give him the muscle he needs to capture both the Vision and Wonder Man:

    and, believe it or not, 
  • Ultron-12, who has his own beef with the Vision

Oh, and the Black Talon's zombie army. And get this, they're not called "zuvembies" anymore--finally Marvel gets with the program. Who knows, maybe the "Maggia" will finally be known as the Mafia. A guy can hope.

We learn of the Reaper's operation in stages, since it's revealed in a crossover story occurring in both The Vision and the Scarlet Witch and West Coast Avengers (as it's both the Vision and Wonder Man who are being targeted). And it's the Vision who learns the first part of that plan when the time comes for his capture, by pulling back a tent flap to reveal the key to the Reaper's entire plan:




Eventually, though, we learn all the gruesome details:




Unfortunately, just as the Reaper is about to proceed, he realizes his mistake in capturing the rest of the Avengers along with Simon and the Vision--because when they break free of their confinement (as you knew they would), the Reaper, the Talon, and Nekra are all forced to eventually flee. But the Vision and Simon realize the two of them have to settle this matter once and for all, and so follow the Reaper into the dark caverns where they've been holed up. But before they confront the Reaper, they have some moments to assess recent events--as well as their own relationship as "brothers," made that much stronger by the Vision's freedom from his control crystal. And, well, I guess this is what you would call a meeting of minds:



But we don't want to linger on the mushy stuff. It's time for these two to catch up with the Reaper:



But this scene isn't as predictable as we might think, because we learn an important fact about Simon's and Eric's relationship. Back when Simon owned an electronics company, and Eric worked alongside him, Eric admitted to embezzling money from the company and thereby ultimately ruining the company in court. But we learn it was actually Simon who stole the funds, and remained silent while the blame fell on Eric. And as Eric realizes that only his real brother would have knowledge of those events, he finds his actions toward Simon and the Vision unable to bear:



With stalagmites lining the cavern ground below, make no mistake--Eric Williams, the Grim Reaper, is DEAD.

Just how do you think he's going to feel about that next time?


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