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The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – The Vision is the Human Torch?

All throughout December, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Today we look at the connection between the Human Torch and the Vision…

Enjoy!

For a few years, there were a couple of hints that the Vision might have some connection to the Human Torch.

From the “ghost” of the Human Torch recognizing the Vision in Giant Size Avengers #3…

to a Sentinel making an interesting comment about the Vision in Avengers #102…

Finally, in Avengers #133-135, it is revealed that the Vision’s body was that of the original Human Torch!

During John Byrne’s time on Avengers West Coast, though, this is called into doubt and finally in #50, they debunk this theory…

The Torch is revived and he becomes a superhero again.

Years later, in Avengers Forever, Kurt Busiek explains it all thusly…

28 Comments

Now get to work, my decadent Gepetto!

In between Englehart’s story and Byrne’s mangled mess, Roy Thomas, in What If? #4 (Aug. 1977), planted the suggestion that the Vision was actually made from a second android created by Horton, named Adam II.

Making the Vision the Human Torch was probably one of the dumber ideas in 70s Marvel. It resulted in an absurdly complicated story to tie him to all the golden Age Human Torch’s loose ends. The golden age Torch fought Johnny Storm just a few years earlier. It might have made sense if the Vision had flame powers, but he was so different from the Torch that it makes no sense. Having the Vision simply be an Android created by Ultron is the best explanation for his origin. There’s no need to to tie him up in Marvel’s past continuity.

Wasn’t the first hint dropped by Roy Thomas during the Kree-Skrull War when Ant-Man toured the Vision’s insides? It was a pretty cryptic “What’s This?” followed by a caption that it was a mystery we might learn more of in the future.

Roy intended it as another adroid, but not the Human Torch.

Englehart revealed it after Roy was off the title.

Roy obviously intended Adam II hence What If #4.

Greg Geren: Yes, it was. And a few issues later the Golden Age Vision was among the simulacra that Rick Jones summoned to fight the Kree. And then there is the wording of that Sentinel’s analysis.

Odds are good that Vision was meant to be a refurbished Aarkus.

Myself, I always liked Torch-as-Vision. It actually changed very little, but gave a proper sense of prestige to the Torch.

Byrne’s retcons, by contrast, were as pointless as they were unentertaining.

Are there any good examples of something in Avengers Forever itself getting abandoned an forsaked? Because at this point a bit of turnabout would be fair play…

Jeff R. — I think the Peter David’s Captain Marvel series basically rewrote Rick Jones’ future as shown in Avengers Forever. I don’t remember all the details. I was a bit confused by it actually. Time travel….

Byrne’s retcons, by contrast, were as pointless as they were unentertaining.

All of these stories seem pretty pointless and unentertaining. Byrne’s doesn’t seem any worse than the others.

Not for nothing, but I think Byrne’s retcon had the best point out of all of them – his made the original Human Torch available for other writers to use, and John Ostrander, in particular, later made good use out of him in Heroes for Hire.

Sorry, maybe because I remember those in house ads for Englehart’s first story in West Coast Avengers which showed how the roots of that story extended all the way back to Marvel Comics #1, but I liked the idea of Torch-as-Vision. Giving him this past career as a completely different superhero then seeing this (initially) more inhuman version that barely resembled the original made the Vision seem more like a ghost than just having him become all white like Byrne did.

I haven’t read any Jim Hammond appearances other than Byrne’s revival in WCA so I’ll grant maybe his revival was worth it, but even once you count Heroes for Hire, he seems to me woefully underused compared to the other two members of the Golden Age Big Three,

I knew we’d get to this conundrum eventually.

I didn’t mind the Vision as the Torch, but I minded all the complications that ensued. In retrospect, his being Horton’s second android would’ve tied him to Marvel history without the big mess.

Frankly, I never understood the whole Human Torch – Vision – Wonder Man triad, and I can only imagine how many permutations it has undergone since I changed my comic reading from heavy user to occasional observer.

But at least now I know one thing…

“Yep, he’s a Virgo.”

Not for nothing, but I think Byrne’s retcon had the best point out of all of them – his made the original Human Torch available for other writers to use, and John Ostrander, in particular, later made good use out of him in Heroes for Hire.

I agree. Plus, I could understand the benefit of making Vision and the original Torch the same person if you were going to milk a good status quo out of it. But they really never touched on it much. Vision didn’t share the same personality, never had the same memories and never accessed the same powers. There was nothing in Vision’s personality traits, power set or stories told that couldn’t be done without that retcon.

Re: Peter David’s “Captain Marvel”: As memory serves, he actually turned Rick Jones into the one-armed bearded Superman-cape-wearing old man seen in “Avengers Forever” before starting to put him back together. But during Rick’s time as an old man, he got teleported back through time to be in “Avengers Forever,” then returns and says something to the effect of, “People forget that when you see your future self, at some point in the future you have to go back in time.”

I actually liked his approach better than my hopeless waiting for Genis-Vell and Songbird to become Avengers members.

If I remember correctly, Byrne also showed the government disassembling the Vision even though he doesn’t have parts (living synthetic being). I enjoyed Englehart’s Vision/Torch revelation–maybe just because that kind of convoluted continuity was still novel back then–but Byrne’s tenure on Avengers was a mess.

always liked the original torch as the basis for ultron creating the vision till marvel kept changing it to be doings from imortus then two versions of the human torch plus also the vision was suppose to have wonder mans brain patterns which if marvel had stuck with the human torch would not have happen.

Am I the only one who thinks “Decadent Geppetto” is a great band name?

I liked Byrne’s Avengers West Coast. However, I never really read the Avengers before then, so it was entertaining to me to learn about these characters. I think I have to reread my Avengers Forever books again. I don’t remember that.

I think the Vision series that Geoff Jonhs wrote around 2003 also addresses this topic. From what I remember that series had the vision origin being more in line with the Adam II concept. The idea there was that Horton also made the solar gem.

Steven R. Stahl

January 4, 2012 at 6:10 am

During John Byrne’s time on Avengers West Coast, though, this is called into doubt and finally in #50, they debunk this theory…

Sorry, but you used the word “debunk” incorrectly. How can a lie “debunk” anything? Didn’t Byrne’s ousting from AVENGERS WEST COAST and Thomas’s attempt to end the storyline result in Byrne’s storyline and, by extension, Byrne’s debunking being debunked? This material demonstrates that a fictional reality is only as real as a writer’s skills, and the readers’ recognition of those skills, enable it to be.

SRS

@SRS – Byrne ‘debunks’ the theory that the Vision is the Torch.

However, I agree that ‘debunk’ is probably the wrong word. He shows that the Torch still exists and by implication the Vision does not include the Torch’s body, but Busiek allowed both to be true.

This was back when Byrne was still great.

Am I the only one who realizes what show Professor Horton was watcging on television when Ultron busted in?

The Avengers. But I missed it originally.

“If I remember correctly, Byrne also showed the government disassembling the Vision even though he doesn’t have parts (living synthetic being).”

Sorry, but one of the best stories from the Kree-Skrull war shows Hank Pym voyage inside Vision. There were plaenty of things for disassembly there. Credits for Roy Thomas and Neal Adams.

Byrne’s retcon originated from a minor mess because Englehart had overlooked an issue of Sub-Mariner which had featured a funeral for the Torch after the encounter with the FF. (It was also the issue in which Toro died after having been captured and brainwashed by the Thinker into believing he was the original Torch, then fighting the Sub-Mariner.) Instead the Englehart story shows the Torch’s body was still in the Mad Thinker’s desert lab. So there were already two versions of what happened to the Torch’s body around.

Tim – Englehart does not overlook or forget things – he’s not that kind of writer.

He cited that Sub-Marinter issue in Avengers 134. The Vision is informed that, despite the FF leaving the Torch’s body in the lab, a memorial service was still held for the Torch, at which Toro was kidnapped by the Thinker.

Re: the show that was on when Ultron-5 burst in on Horton:

I was 10 when I first read that, and of course, it went over my head by quite a few feet. Did a quick Google search tonight. Too funny. Englehart was one of the field’s best writers in the first half of the 1970s! And his material benefits from a second look with older eyes!

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