Saturday, July 11, 2015

1980: The Jocasta's On You part II: No Really, I'm Still Here*

By Jef Willemsen (

Starting out as "the bride of Ultron" in the mid 70s, the sentient robot Jocasta quickly sided with the Avengers against her creator and lover. She moved into the mansion, aided them on numerous missions and proved capable, tough and a true heroine in spite of her origins. You'd think that by the 1980s, Earth's mightiest would have gotten the hint. Yeah. Think again...

Your name is Jocasta, you are a living mechanoid. You're superstrong, tough, capable of firing destructive energy beams and erecting forcefields. Your cybernetic senses not only make you supremely intelligent, you are also able to sense just about anything out of the ordinary... And the only people in your life treat you like a doorstop.

Even though Jocasta had been a part of the team since the Korvac crisis, even living at the mansion full time, the Avengers didn't seem to notice her. It's not that they were particularly unfriendly to her or felt awkward around the wife of one of their greatest enemies. None of that, they simply overlooked her.

"For she feels a longing, a desire to join in the casual banter, and yet..."

Feeling uneasy in social situations became a bit of a theme with Jocasta. She wanted to belong, but felt out of place, mainly because of her robotic nature. Clearly suffering from a bit of an inferiority complex and desperate to connect with someone she could relate to, she continuously reached out to Vision. On paper, it would seem they have a lot in common... But the synthezoid Avenger felt otherwise.

"I just thought you might to, well, talk."

What's prevalent in all their interactions is the way Vision (not too) subtly tries to keep her at arm's length. Jocasta simply wants to bond with him, but he's not having any of it. 

"How can a machine worry?"

Vision has never been accused of being the most emotionally sensitive person in the room. And yes... even though he's preoccupied by the fact his wife took off without him... That very emotion disproves his whole "how can a machine worry?" line that was indirectly also insulting to Jocasta. You'd think he'd learn his lesson and improved on his behavior. This was not the case, as we saw in Avengers I#194 when they had another little chat.

"The other Avengers seem to have forgotten that I even exist (...) I can't help feeling... lonely"
"Machines do not get lonely, Jocasta"

Ow Vision... You insensitive prick. And to make matters worse, when Jocasta complimented him on his almost poetic way of describing the emptiness he experienced without Wanda, he became so angry he wrecked the entire training room. 

Man, even with all that classic PĂ©rez art scenes like these are tough to stomach. It's clear Vision was so overwhelmed by his own emotions that he tried to deny them by embracing the robotic, unfeeling side of his nature... Which is exactly what Jocasta did not need from her fellow Avenger. Her sense of alienation from the team grew and grew, even though she continued to fight at their side. More often than not, she proved crucial in winning the day. For instance in #196, when the Avengers first fought the Taskmaster only to find the villain's photographic reflexes made him more than a match for them. But he hadn't counted on Jocasta (heck, if even the villains don't bother noticing you... worry).

"Huh? A metal woman?"

The Taskmaster, overconfident after having just given the likes of Iron Man and Captain America a run for their money, attacked Jocasta... And found out she was more than a match for him.

"That's fine by me, bimbo!"

Go, go, Jocasta, go!

"And that's because Jocasta's delaying tactics bought us some time"

... "Delaying tactics"? Really Cap, is that what you're calling it? Looks to me like she was well on her way to single handedly kick the crud out of the Taskmaster before you showed up. But hey, that's hardly the last time the Avengers downplayed her contributions. In #198, the team faced the threat of Red Ronin. The giant robot was hijacked by an insane professor who no longer wanted to wait for what he thought was an unavoidable nuclear conflict with Soviet Russia. He decided to use the killer robot to attack the USSR and get World War III started. The Avengers assembled to stop him, but no one ever listened to Jocasta...

"Wonder Man, wait! My cyber-senses indicate that the doorway is..."

Of course, Jocasta herself is more than capable of dealing with Red Ronin's security systems. She managed to get herself and Beast on board the big robot (that red pylon Wondy tried to enter was actually his leg). And over the course of two issues, they worked their way up to Ronin's control booth where they were crucial in nipping nuclear armageddon in the bud. 

Oh, Jocasta also got to participate in the much maligned Avengers I#200, in which Ms. Marvel gave birth to her own rapist. Well, at the very least, she was able to add "midwife" and "nurse" to her already impressive list of credentials.

" My cybernetic senses confirm your diagnostic readouts, Dr. Blake"

Let's ignore the travesty that followed, instead we'd better focus on the first on panel interaction between Jocasta and the woman Ultron based her mind on: Janet van Dyne. Even though Jocasta allegedly spoke in Jan's voice, it took well over 2.5 years for them to actually have a conversation. And when they did speak, no one mentioned the fact that Wasp was the Wonder Man to her Vision.

"There's still so much about human emotions I don't understand..."

Janet gave Jocasta her usual non-descript answer, in typical early 80s Wasp fashion. To think the two of them could have had an actual, much needed heart-to-heart about their shared feelings. After all, they were essentially the same woman. But where Janet was always gregarious, bubbly and more than a little flighty, Jocasta was soft spoken, considerate and caring. Which were all aspects of the Wasp that would emerge a few years down the road when Roger Stern made her Avengers chairman. For now, though... Wasp was acting oblivious, as seen in #201 when Jocasta surprised her and Hank.

"I hope you like roast beef"

So, a metal woman built by your husband's equally robotic, evil "son" whose brain is a copy of yours packs a picknick lunch for you and the aforementioned hubby and all you can say is "You're a doll! Thanks!"? While that *is* a polite response, one can't help but feel even slightly creeped out. Even poor ol', mentally unstable Hank Pym noticed how awkward it was talking to a robot that sounded just like his wife. And, ever the thoughtful spouse, this is what Jan had to say...

"I know, darling... But don't worry... You've got the original all to yourself!"

Meanwhile, back in Avengers I#200, Jocasta still got a bit more screentime and decided to visit with Vision, who she had been observing from a distance before Wasp showed up. Some fans have suggested Jocasta was harboring a secret crush on the android Avenger who, for all intents and purposes, would be her stepson (proving once again that robotic relationships can get weird). Yours truly didn't quite get that vibe from their interactions, Jocasta simply wanted to belong and connect and decided Vision would be the go-to guy. Guess even cybernetic senses can be off, sometimes.

"Darling, I've... Oh, I'm sorry if I interrupted, Jocasta. I didn't know you were here."

As soon as the Scarlet Witch arrived, Vision's focus shifted completely towards Wanda. Of course, it would make sense for a husband to pay more attention to his wife than another "woman" of sorts (though it's hard to imagine early 80s Wanda getting jealous of a metal female with no genitalia)... But there's dividing one's attention and flat out ignoring someone...

 "Neither she nor the Vision notice when Jocasta turns and, softly, leaves the room. And that, thinks the metalloid would-be Avenger, is the most harshest hurt of all..."

So, why didn't the Avengers even bother to make Jocasta a member? Well, funny story... They did, but then they kind of forgot about it as we'll see in part III of The Jocasta's On You: Membership Drive Away

* With sincere apologies to the late Elaine Stritch and all the other grande dames who performed Sondheim's showstopper.


  1. I have always liked Jocasta. The design that George Perez gave her is amazing. And she is a character with a great deal of potential. I agree, she was underused and underappreciated by writers in the 1980s. I was very happy when in the last several years Dan Slott and Christos Gage once again made her a member of the team and used her in their Avengers stories.

    In 2008 NYC Mech artist Andy MacDonald did a really awesome Jocasta drawing in my Avengers Assemble theme sketchbook...

  2. Nice drawing, Benjamin! Thanks.
    First i guffawed at Vsion being called a prick, and i was at work reading it,
    Second i wonder if they were building Jocasta to be a villain, like being resentful or something like that. I am not sure what they were trying to do with her. It was all so sad, but somehow that made me like her more. Bit of a Pinnocchio complex. Very strange.

  3. Issue 201 I think was the first and only time that Hank Pym spoke to Jocasta until her being rebuilt years later and acted as a surrogate Janet.

  4. Jocasta using Jan's voice didn't persist, either. Judging by the font used for her in Mighty Avengers and the lightning-bolt shaped tail for her word balloons in Avengers Academy, she spoke in a more robotic voice. She could still switch to Jan's voice when she wanted, so why didn't she use it full time? I don't know (or don't remember), but we see in these pages how It made Hank uncomfortable, so maybe that's why.



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