Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My Brother's Keeper


After the Grim Reaper's failed attempt to destroy the Avengers along with his deadly partners in the Lethal Legion, almost two years (in reader-time) go by before he reappears to scheme anew. Obviously this is a man who knows how to bide his time; but we'll just assume that he's been in prison until now, and went right back to planning his revenge after his release. Apparently two years making license plates doesn't quench one's thirst for vengeance, because the Reaper is as single-minded as ever:



But just who is he talking to? He's using the word "sibling," but obviously he can't be chatting with his deceased brother, Wonder Man. (Or if he is, it's a very one-sided conversation.) Yet while it's technically true that it's not his brother, the Reaper is indeed speaking with someone he feels is his brother for all intents and purposes:



Yes, the Vision, whom the Reaper learned possessed his brother's brain patterns.  The Reaper has subsequently become somewhat fixated on the Avenger--even using the Vision's name and the word "brother" interchangeably during this secret meeting he's arranged with him. Yet the Reaper didn't call this meeting just to have a bizarre family reunion. He still wants to destroy the Avengers, yes--but he now implies that the Vision will help him in doing so. And it's then that the Reaper makes his startling proposal to the android:



The offer is mad--insane--and though we're 99.9% sure of what the Vision's answer is going to be, the Vision still ponders the situation if only on the barest level. Because there is another element involved, which the Reaper isn't aware of. For the Vision has grown very close to the Scarlet Witch, and she to him--and though Thor, for one, has assured him that he's as human as anyone except in appearance, the Vision sees his existence as an android as an impediment to having any sort of future with Wanda:



And so, seeing the Vision's hesitation, the Reaper sweetens the offer. With the result we expected:



And the Vision departs, with the Reaper yelling after him that he'll eventually change his mind. In a later issue, though, we see that the Reaper hasn't been entirely forthcoming with the Vision; in point of fact, he's involved himself in an alliance with the Space Phantom, who's used the resources of Hydra to capture a group of Avengers. And with the Phantom's plans coming to a head, the Reaper again meets with the Vision and implores him to accept his offer:



It's only with the Vision's second refusal that the Reaper feels compelled to reveal the full details of his plan for the Vision. And that plan involves not Wonder Man, but an Avenger whom the Phantom has painstakingly monitored and manipulated in order to fulfill his bargain with the Reaper:




It's probably time we heard from the Space Phantom himself, who revealed his plans to Captain America when he first set them in motion:



And finally, when we know everything there is to know, the Vision unexpectedly gives the Reaper the answer he's been waiting for:



Which leaves the Reaper elated:



But the Space Phantom is no slouch at planning himself--and when the Vision frees the other Avengers, and subsequently reveals that he's been working behind the scenes with Captain America to play along with the machinations of both the Reaper and the Space Phantom, the Phantom appears in force and reneges on his deal with the Reaper. And the Reaper makes his choice of who to back in this fight--not the Avengers, whom he still despises, but the man he believes more than ever is his brother personified:



I'm sure you can guess what happens next. All hell breaks loose, with the Avengers cleaning house and taking down the Phantom, his Hydra forces, and the Reaper--with an assist from, of all people, Captain Marvel. When it's all over, the Space Phantom is trapped in limbo, Hydra is in no shape to hail anyone, and the Reaper realizes that it's back to cranking out license plates for him.

A nice final touch to the issue is that, in front of everyone, the Vision for the first time makes his feelings for Wanda known to all, and Wanda reciprocates. I suppose it's debatable whether that initiative--and need--come wholly from the Vision or emanate from the part of him that's Simon Williams. I prefer to think that the Vision has come into his own, and that these recent events have made him come to accept and assert his own identity. When the Grim Reaper next appears and finally confronts the two distinct sides of his lost brother, we'll see if the Vision can make his case for his humanity.


4 comments:

Rusty said...

Great post - and a nice follow-up to your last article about the Grim Reaper! A very interesting history here, but I especially enjoyed the scene above where Vision is looking out the window and thinking of "crushing" Wanda in his arms and wishing that "androids did not dream." Ha - excellent stuff!

Comicsfan said...

Roy Thomas has always done right by the Vision, in my opinion, and this issue in particular spotlights him very nicely and builds his feelings for Wanda (and vice versa) into something more substantial--no easy task when you're dealing with an android who's much more human than he's willing to admit.

Jon H said...

What the heck is meant by "valerian"?

Comicsfan said...

That's a good question, Jon. We can assume the Phantom isn't referring to the medicinal herb, since the Reaper would hardly take offense at that--so he may be referring to its Latin usage, referring to a single-minded person who's sometimes stubborn and impatient. (One thing I'll say about comics--they often have you reaching for a dictionary.)

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