Arcamax published another of Andrew Smith’s sugary Captain Comics columns, this talking about WandaVision on Disney+, the history of how Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver came about, and the comics that the new show may have drawn from. As expected, all without making any distinctions between what was written well or poorly. At the start, the untalented columnist even says:
Take the Vision. Unlike most superheroes, you can’t sum up his origin with a single phrase. He wasn’t rocketed to Earth from a doomed planet, for example, or bitten by a radioactive spider. His origins are weirder and, moreover, refuse to remain static.
Here’s the problem. It’s not that they “refuse to remain static”, but it’s that assigned writers and editors refuse to stick with a firm origin. And it never occurs to anyone that could be a problem, right? Nor does anybody consider that, if changes were made in the past, some of the more valid reasons were because of times changing, the WW2 era becoming more distant, and the need for certain alterations becoming more necessary. This was also apparently the reason why Sha-Shan, the girl Flash Thompson met in Vietnam and almost married was dropped from the Spider-Man cast 14 years after her debut, because the era of the ‘Nam was getting farther away, making her origin dated. I honestly think it was a mistake to go about Sha-Shan’s situation by writing her out of the recurring cast, because all they had to do at the time was modify her origins to being citizen of a fictional Asian country, and if memory serves, Marvel recently did change use of Vietnam to that of a fictionalized country, just like Wakanda and Latveria.
Now back to the issue of the Vision, as Smith goes along talking about Wanda and Pietro’s origins, he also has the gall to insult 2 protagonists from the Golden Age:
In 1974, the 1940s yellow-clad superhero The Whizzer (stop laughing) shows up — and claims that he and 1940s superheroine Miss America (I mean it, stop) were the parents of Wanda and Pietro. It made sense after a fashion, given that he was a super-speedster, even after he told them a wild story of the birth taking place on Wundagore Mountain in Transia, which was the home base of the High Evolutionary, a long-running supervillain whose hobby is evolving animals into people. The midwife, for example, was a cow-woman named Bova. (OK, now you can laugh.)
I don’t find his implying past writers had nothing but stupid names (and shapes) to give to their creations amusing, that’s for sure. At worst, he’s disrespecting the veterans. I can’t see propagandists like these arguing that names given to characters in these modern times are even close to being silly and laughable, though that’s still nothing compared to the lack of writing and art quality. And that’s why these putdowns of the stories reaching the turn of the century are reprehensible, because they run the gauntlet of making only the past look sloppy, while ignoring capabilities in the present of going the same route.
Later, when discussing the 2010s, and alterations made for the movies, Smith says:
But by then, Marvel was making movies and didn’t have the rights to mutants and/or X-Men, which belonged to Fox. And Marvel wanted to use longtime Avengers Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch — whom the perceptive reader will note were never in the X-Men – so they had to stop being mutants.
And suddenly they were not.
And predictably, this goes without even minor critique or lamentation of political correctness dictating what must be done with the comics, here in coordination with the movies, and no creative liberties can be taken, which insults the audience’s intellect by assuming they expect almost everything in a movie to be reflected verbatim in the comics, and are thoroughly incapable of accepting differences between the two mediums and how they’re created. There’s tons of novels whose silver screen adaptations differed to some degree from the source, yet comics for some reason must follow films to the letter, yet never vice versa. How does that help any?
In 2015, the Avengers took on the High Evolutionary again, who ‘fessed up that he had kidnapped Wanda and Pietro in Serbia, tinkered with their genes, didn’t like how they turned out and then gave them to Django and Marya to raise. They weren’t mutants at all! How convenient for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Then in 2016, Wanda found out that, while Django and Marya weren’t her birth parents, Marya was still alive — and identified her sister Natalya as Wanda’s real birth mother. This was awesome, because it finally introduced a woman in all these stories whose name didn’t start with “M.” But also because it established that Natalya was also a prototype superhero … named Scarlet Witch.
So Wanda is not only a non-mutant sorcerer, but she’s also the latest in a long line of heroic witches. That doesn’t really explain her brother, but nobody cares, because he’s a jerk.
Because in the mindless minds of propagandists like Smith, Pietro is a real-life person, not a fictional character, and changes for the better are not allowed, nor accepted. We’ve come a long way since Chris Chris Claremont and John Byrne were permitted the flexibility needed to smooth over any rough spots in Len Wein’s initial Wolverine characterization, and now, we have a whole atmosphere and culture where, make one mistake you’re unentitled to making, and a creation that could receive improvements in personality will be damned till the end of time. This was why Jason Todd went down in Batman, and Danny Chase in Titans may have had it worse.
Smith continues with a list of past storylines, delivering all sans objectivity, such as this part about Tom King’s Vision miniseries:
• Vision once built a family of androids — wife Virginia, son Vin, daughter Viv, unnamed green dog — and lived happily in the Georgetown suburbs. (Well, until dead bodies started turning up.)
• When Wanda “lost” her children, she went nuts. She changed the whole world to “House of M,” where Magneto was essentially king of everything and mutants were top dogs. (It didn’t last.)
And no complaints about how atrocious Brian Bendis’ dismal tale was. Or how sad it is that a story centered on people dying is put to huge emphasis. Though he does, say, amazingly enough:
• Another time Wanda went nuts, she whispered “no more mutants,” and more than 90 percent of the world’s mutant population lost their powers (and no more were born). That turned out to be a bad idea, especially for mutants who were flying at the time. (It’s since been fixed.)
But all delivered in such superficial, non-committal terms, unfortunately. In other words, Bendis gets off the hook. And then, he says:
• Another time Wanda went nuts, she murdered Vision, Ant-Man II, Hawkeye and a few others while destroying Avengers Mansion. (They all got better, but seriously, get this woman some help.)
Why not get the assigned writers some help? They clearly have some alarmingly unhealthy obsessions with how to characterize the casts, don’t they? I blame the Phoenix Saga, since in the long run, it led to a lot of embarrassingly bad “inspirations” for later stories that did not have to be (Emerald Twilight, anyone?). All sorts of hack writers kept boomeranging back to referencing such a ludicrous, death-laced tale in the most irritating, aggravating ways possible, and nobody comments whether this is a healthy way to script entertainment, nor whether it’s time for such junk to be left in the past. At the column’s end, it states:
The other thing to keep in mind, if indeed any of these stories are the inspiration for “WandaVision,” is this: none of them ever end well.
And that’s not a problem? Much as I do like character drama, there comes a time when you have to consider whether specific directions are bound to cause disaster in the long run. Sometimes, it pays not to make such a fuss whether a character’s got personality or not. That kind of thinking has probably ruined some video games, since, instead of ensuring they’ll retain action themes as the prime challenge, the producers go out of their way to add in dramatic scenes that can take away from overall themes the games were meant to be all about.
I think I’ll also take a look at this Time article from a few weeks ago, since I don’t think I had before, as this too has some annoying stuff about it. For example:
The series appears tailor-made for TV buffs. But beware: the MCU-averse should not enter WandaVision cold. At its heart, WandaVision is actually a mystery. The first episodes beg many questions: How did Wanda create this world? Is someone forcing her to do it? What are the real-world ramifications of Wanda escaping into a dreamland, and possibly taking real-world characters with her? As Wanda’s delusion begins to crack, hints of the outside world begin to sneak in, a la The Truman Show.
So if I’m reading the first line correctly, it’s not made for comic buffs, or, the producers don’t give a damn if the couch potatoes have no interest in looking for and reading the best of past Marvel. Well that sure is confirming how much contempt they have for the source material they allegedly draw from. Ditto the magazine, which offers up the following inaccuracy:
Vision is an android created by Tony Stark (Iron Man). He can pass through walls, which is more unsettling than useful. He can fly. He can shoot energy from a gem in his head (more on that gem later). He kind of has precognition: he uses super-logic to determine what will happen in the future.
That may have been a premise in the movies, but in the comics, it was Ultron who built the Vision in 1967, attempting to use him to lure the Avengers into a trap. Just to show how disinterested Time’s writers obviously are in getting their facts straight. Ah, and then, here’s the money paragraph again:
The influential 2008 comic event series House of M revisits a similar plot. This time, Wanda accidentally kills several Avengers. In her grief, she toys with the fabric of reality to bring back her husband Vision and create non-existent children for them. The effects of Wanda’s delusions reverberate into the real world. Wanda’s powers are so strong that when, at the end of the series, she wishes there were no more mutants, tens of thousands of mutants, including some X-Men, lose their powers.
Another comic series, 2016’s The Vision, riff on the theme of superheroes trying to blend in. In that comic, Vision creates an android wife and two kids for himself and moves them all to the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Their white picket fence lifestyle ends in tragedy when a Vision’s android wife kills a human viciously trying to attack the couple’s android daughter.
So, yeah, all of this points to the likelihood that WandaVision won’t end with a pretty little bow on it.
As asked before, surely that isn’t a problem? I can’t stand that “influential” line they use either. Though how amazing they say she “accidentally” killed several team members. Even though the way it was written made it look like anything but, and it’s not an excuse. Just like the claim of self-defense in the Vision mini doesn’t alleviate how bad the whole premise really is. What’s sad is the emphasis put on bleakness and tragedy, to say nothing of trauma, a sadly repetitive theme in much of King’s work. If a sad ending is what they have in mind for WandaVision, they’ll only be perpetuating negative themes that have become the norm for years, rather than optimism and joy. That’s why so many superhero comics in the mainstream became unbearable. And why the smart viewer should change the channel, and not be fooled by the hype.
Update: to end on a more positive note, I’m relieved to discover that pretty much all the stories recommended by Nerdist are older ones from pre-2000. If only most MSM sources would take the same approach as they did, we’d have a much better, more informed landscape for comics history.
Originally published here.