Saturday, January 4, 2014

And To The Lab Table I Return

It's the year 2032--and when a team of Avengers arrives back at their mansion after a mission, the passing of decades has naturally brought changes to its membership:

Thor, the Vision, and Jocasta are of course immune to the passing of time--as is Arthur Dearborn, a/k/a Sunturion. Tony Stark, the original Iron Man, died of heart failure--and when James Rhodes suffered a stroke, the mantle of Iron Man was passed to Michael Rhodes, his son. But there is one other mortal resident of Avengers Mansion, living out her last days among her friends.  And, in this reality, she remains:

Yes, "this reality"--an alternate reality tale written by David Michelinie, where the Scarlet Witch is coming to the end of her life. And we find that time has healed one old wound in particular:

At this point in time, in "our" reality, the Vision and Wanda are still married, though they've temporarily placed themselves on the Avengers' inactive list; so in hindsight, I suppose you could look at this story as a portent of things to come as far as the difficulties in and eventual dissolution of their marriage. But in this story, we look back on a rift between them that didn't yet exist, nor had we any reason to think it would. The revelation had practically no impact for us, since no details were given about it--it seemed more like a quirk of the writer than anything substantive. But given everything that's happened to both of these characters since, you have to crack a smile and wonder if Michelinie was onto something.

We quickly move on from there, where we come to have no doubt of the bond of absolute love that exists between these two. However, during these fleeting moments between Wanda and the Vision, we see that the heartfelt exchanges between them have a witness:

And so, when Wanda has another attack and she's lying at death's door, the Vision is stunned to find that Jocasta has relocated her to the lab. Or, rather, what now resembles Jocasta:

"The Leaving" is one of the few stories pencilled for Marvel by artist Paty--otherwise known as Paty Cockrum, wife of the late Dave Cockrum and who worked mainly in production. My first exposure to Paty was not as a penciller or colorist, but as one of the letter writers who would later be hired at Marvel:

"YE GODS! Has a girl no privacy? Holy Everybody-Raid-Wanda's-Bedroom-scene! Do all the Avengers (Wanda excepted) sleep in their colorful long-johns? Or was there an all-knight poker game going on downstairs? OOO-AHH-Holy Pun!"

The scene Paty describes in her letter happened when Wanda awoke with a start after having a nightmare about the Black Knight falling to his death:

Paty, a self-admitted "dyed-in-the-wool witch," went on to take issue with other magic-related aspects of that story--though her high-spirited letters obviously endeared her to the Marvel staff, and a colorist/production career was born (with the occasional penciller credit in addition). Here, she comes full circle with Wanda and the Vision, a couple she'd been rooting for ever since they'd shown signs of interest in each other while captives of Van Lunt.


Edo Bosnar said...

I was never the biggest fan of the Wanda & Vision marriage (mainly because it seemed to make each of them less interesting characters for some reason). That said, I remember when I read this story the first time all those years ago - that ending really put a lump in my throat. Very, very nice job by Mr. Michelinie and Mrs. Cockrum.

Comicsfan said...

One thing I think might have helped with the tendency to see Wanda and the Vision always as a couple instead of their separate selves would have been to give them separate working environments--or, failing that, to have only one of them be a super-hero. It's the same with Reed and Sue Richards, who we always saw as "Reed and Sue" once they were married--or Johnny Storm and his girlfriend, Frankie Raye, both super-powered torches and both FF members. Peter Parker and Mary Jane worked so well because only one person lived the kind of life that Spider-Man did, while the other very much had an identity of her own. You could probably say the same for Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, even if their super-powered roles were reversed. (As it is, it's more of a case of Jessica choosing not to use her abilities.) With Wanda and the Vision, however, they're both super-powered--they're both Avengers--and as the Vision once made clear during a membership drive, "[we] stay or go as one." All of which makes seeing them as anything but joined at the hip nearly impossible.