Thursday, December 10, 2009

1982 - Vison and the Scarlet Witch

Vison and the Scarlet Witch
Written by Bill Mantlo
Illustrated by Rick Leonardi (penciler) and Ian Akin/Brian Garvey (inkers)

Bill Mantlo deals with a lot of subplots which were not getting the coverage they deserved within the pages of the Avengers. His script and plot are well done, particularly the non-linearity of issue #2. Rick Leonardi’s pencils are sketchy and I’m not normally fond of them. However, Akin and Garvey’s inks add a softness and texture to the penciled art which I really enjoyed. The colorist, Bob Sharen, also does a wonderful job. And all-around good and consistent production for all four issues.

In issue #1, “Trick or Treat”, The Vision and the Scarlet Witch have stepped down from their duties as Avengers and move into their new home in Leonia, New Jersey. Jarvis gives the Scarlet Witch an ancient spell-book (recovered by Captain America #256), and unfortunately, as it is Halloween, Samhain, the eternal embodiment of all Hallows Eve attempts to free himself from the book. The Vision is kept busy battling some transformed trick-or-treaters, while the Scarlet Witch destroys the book ending Samhain’s threat.

Issue #2, “Faith of our Fathers”, has Robert (Whizzer) Frank asks the Scarlet Witch, who he believes is his daughter (see Avengers #185-187 where we learnt he wasn’t), to help him obtain custody of his son, the mutant-powerhouse Nuklo. The Vision accompanies them to the lab where Nuklo’s powers are regulated and they meet the scientist who is attempting to cure Nuklo. The scientist, however, turns out to be one of the Whizzer’s old enemies, Isbisa, and attacks them using powers that have been siphoned from Nuklo. With Nuklo’s help, they defeat Isbisa, but Robert Frank suffers a fatal heart attack.

Wonder Man guest-stars in issue #3, “Blood Brothers!”, to provide Vision with an energy transfusion to pull him out of a coma caused by the injuries he sustained last issue. Mantlo’s coma sequences are wonderful pulling in the Vision’s past, which included Ultron and the original Human Torch (whose body the Vision now occupies with brain patterns based on Wonder Man). The Grim Reaper (Wonder Man’s brother, and therefore the Vision’s as well) attacks eager to kill both the Vision and Wonder Man to satisfy his crazed lust for revenge. Wonder Man helps the Vision out of his coma and they defeat the Grim Reaper.

Magneto discovers, in issue #4 “Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself...!”, that he is the father of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Magneto tracks his children to the moon, where the Scarlet Witch and the Vision are visiting Quicksilver and Crystal, who have just had their first child Luna. During the battle, Magneto reveals himself as their father and the battle comes to an end when it begins to threaten his granddaughter. Mantlo does a good job handling these characters considering they all are strong, distinguishable characters, such as Magneto, a powerful mutant striking back against humanity for their ill-treatment of him, or Quicksilver, the hot-tempered misunderstood mutant who has to settle into the role of father.

Mantlo demonstrates his strengths as a writer in this limited series. Perhaps most famous for his long run on the Incredible Hulk, Mantlo works each character effortless and lets them tell their story.


  1. I really enjoyed this series, particularly all the themes about family that ran throughout issues 2-4. Plus big moments like the death of Whizzer felt touching and memorable.

    Hope you cover the 12-issue Engelhart version a few years later. I also enjoyed it and its family themes, although it had a very different feel.

    Thanks for the enjoyable review.

  2. Thanks for the comment. The 12 issue mini is in the queue. :)

  3. Interestingly, I just read in Amazing Heroes #3 that Bill Sienkiewicz had originally slated to draw this miniseries.

  4. Although Bill Mantlo was already a fave writer for me, he really did an awesome job with this four-issue limited series! Bill balanced the backgrounds of both characters and things really changed for them in a big way (like Wanda (and Pietro) finally finding out that Magneto is their father)!! It was also filled with tragedy however... and it was all about families, both natural and chosen.

    The death of the Whizzer was memorable AND sad... Time had NOT been very kind to many of Marvel's Golden Agers... (witness the histories of the big three: Captain America (and Bucky), the Human Torch (and Toro) and the Sub-Mariner (and Namora)... and then there's the Whizzer and Miss America...!!

    The Whizzer (Robert Frank) had lost his wife (and unknown to him, a second child, for which evolved cow-woman Bova had attempted to substitute orphaned twins Wanda and Pietro when Miss America dies in childbirth). All of this happens after Robert and Madeline Frank had lost their son "Nuklo" (Robert Jr.) to suspended animation due to his out of control radiation powers (see GIANT-SIZE AVENGERS #1 and AVENGERS ANNUAL #6).

    The Whizzer had sadly become depressed and alcoholic after the loss of his family, but when needed, his heroic nature came through - as he faced the more powerful Count Nefaria (who had already beaten the tar out of the Avengers) in AVENGERS #165, saving a young hostage and inadvertently convincing Nefaria to face the mighty Thor (and meet defeat in #166).

    The final blow is that Isbisa makes good on his long-held desire for revenge on the Whizzer - and KILLS him! (OMG!)

    Isbisa was to blame for all three deaths (Miss America, the Whizzer and their second kid) - as seen in VISION & SCARLET WITCH Vol.1 #2 - and to top it off, even MELTS the Vision's forearm!

    Isbisa's first Golden Age appearance was in ALL-WINNERS COMICS #19 (Fall 1946), which was reprinted in FANTASY MASTERPIECES Vol.1 #10 (Aug. 1967), the one-shot reprint TIMELY COMICS PRESENTS: ALL-WINNERS COMICS (Dec. 1999) and MARVEL MASTERWORKS: GOLDEN AGE ALL-WINNERS COMICS Vol.4 (2011).

    After Isbisa was arrested in V&SW Vol.1, he escapes AGAIN and turns up in SENSATIONAL SHE-HULK #29-30 (July-Aug. 1991). A truly evil villain, his only good deed was unintentionally curing Nuklo of his radiation-based powers (in V&SW Vol.1 #2). Robert Frank Jr. later appears in CAPTAIN AMERICA ANNUAL #8 (1986).

    After fighting the She-Hulk and the former Blonde Phantom, Isbisa escapes yet AGAIN...!! I certainly hope that Isbisa will eventually meet with the justice that he has earned for his crimes... Anyone got the Punisher's phone number? (or, where's the Scourge of the Underworld when you really need him?)

    A macabre post script to the Whizzer's death is his appearance as a spirit/clone/alternate reality temporal and even (*ick*) zombie counterpart in VISION & SCARLET WITCH Vol.2 #5 (Feb. 1986) [Miss America also ghost-appeared], INCREDIBLE HULK Vol.2 #440 (April 1996), Deadpool #0 (1998) and MARVEL ZOMBIES 3 #3 (Feb. 2009).

    Maybe Robert Frank needs to haunt Isbisa and drive him over the edge to his just "reward" (one shutters to think what DC's Spectre would do with Isbisa)!

  5. Wow DenBear, that's an awesome post. Thanks for sharing!



Related Posts with Thumbnails