My Marvel Life Presents: A-Z of Comic Stuff Part 22: V

V is for Vision

First appearing in Avengers #57, the Vision was a method of repurposing a character’s name to retain an IP, much as Captain America and the Human Torch had been years earlier. Roy Thomas (the writer of the title) was a fan of the golden age characters and would have been happy to use the golden age’s interdimensional alien Vision, but the word from on high was robot.

In universe he was created by Ultron, the creation of embattled Avenger Henry Pym, at that point calling himself Goliath. He arrived ready to kill the Avengers, but rebelled against his programming and joined them against Ultron, proving his worth and loyalty to the Avengers, who offered him membership. Through his association with the Avengers he grew as a person, met and then fell in love with Wanda ‘Scarlet Witch’ Maximoff and after learning his origins as a the body of the original human torch and the brain patterns of Wonder Man (both considered dead at this point) married her.

As a character only appearing in the Avengers, stuff was allowed to happen to him and he developed over the years, being destroyed and rebuilt, losing his mind, his memory and even his family and you followed it all along with interest. Also he was a classic ‘other’ character that teaches us about ourselves from the outside. As a Trek fan, I enjoyed Data and 7 of 9 and all that, but Vision was there first and still in many respects. he did it best.

V is for V for Vendetta

One of the most influential voices in comics in the bronze age was Alan Moore. He was responsible for the revitalisation of DC’s Swamp Thing, wrote some amazing one off stories such as For the Man Who has Everything and also some limited series that changed what was believed comics could do. One of those epoch making stories was V for Vendetta. Originally a serialised story in the pages of an anthology called Warrier, it was collected into a trade paper back and has become one of those stories that every serious comic fan has read, or owns.

V for Vendetta is a dystopian sci-fi story set in an England of the near future. Massive social changes have occurred and there is now a fascist authoritarian government in power. Gone are anyone from a different country, race or sexual orientation that differs from the accepted norms. Concentration camps and culls on a scale of the holocaust have left a cold and grey England were everyone does as they are told. Well almost everyone. An unknown malcontent/terrorist wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and identifying himself as V has been launching attacks on the government and several members of it as part of a more personal vendetta.

This is a spartan story, with much of the tropes of comics removed. Captions and expository material are limited, there are no sound effects, splash pages or even thought balloons and it’s a stark contrast to other bronze age comics, but this makes the world of V for Vendetta more real and the stakes somehow seem higher as a result. As much as I enjoyed the film that was adapted from it, this is the better iteration. I say that as the best bit of the film is the one that most closely followed this story.

V is for Valiant

Valiant was something of a success story of the early 90’s. The brainchild of Jim Shooter the divisive former EIC at Marvel during their late 70’s and early 80’s domination of the comics industry. Shooter along with others tried to create a shared comics universe from the very beginning with a more sci-fi than super hero perspective. Now if this sounds familiar, it’s because 5 years earlier he tried the same thing at his old job with the New Universe. Here though, he had greater success adding fresh new characters to imported Gold Key characters Dr. Solar, Turuk: Son of Stone and Magnus-Robot Fighter. These series added together to form a tapestry of titles that create a lived in universe of interconnectivity that were at that time quite unique.

Sadly for Jim Shooter, he was ousted from here as well as Marvel with all the prerequisite boardroom cloak and dagger and within a few years Valiant faded away. There was a revival in the late 90s and then a relaunch in the last few years that sees no sign of slowing down. Image may have stolen the thunder as the bright new comic company, but Valiant were something to watch at the time and looking back, some of the concepts and ideas that came from it have lasted the test of time longer than a lot of Images.

V if for Volstagg

Posted in A-Z

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