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Avengers #135: Review

May 1975
Steve Englehart, George Tuska

Story Name:

The torch is passed

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers #135 Review by (January 29, 2014)
Phineas Horton created the android Human Torch in Marvel Comics #1. Torch went his own way after that issue. Horton claims in this issue that he never saw HT again. But he actually popped up again in the Golden Age HT#8. And several comics written later in the Marvel Age will have him meeting HT before and after that. The origin of the Vision described here will be called into question in issues of West Coast Avengers where the android HT will be found and revived - continuing to exist in the Marvel U this day. In the same series Phineas Horton will be found, and will claim that he doesn't recognise Vision's insides, and had no hand in his construction. But in Avengers Forever Immortus will rescue the situation by explaining that he split HT into 2 duplicate beings, 1 of which became the Vision. And the Horton who denied this was 1 of Immortus' Space Phantom minions in disguise. (Read AvF for the complicated justification for all this. Or my synopses and comments thereof in the Captain America Library, which will probably take you longer!) We'll learn in Giant-Size Av#4 that the voice Jarvis heard in Scarlet Witch's room was that of Dormammu.

The cover promises that'll we'll learn the secret of Mantis, but once again it's put off until another comic. Jim Starlin pencilled the cover, but John Romita added the floating heads. George Tuska takes over from Sal Buscema/Joe Staton as penciller for a short run (ignoring next issue which is a reprint). Quasimodo was introduced as a living computer in Fantastic Four Annual #4. He got his wish to be transformed into a living robot by Silver Surfer in a backup story in FF An#5, and carried on as a stock baddie into the current century. Thinker was strongly associated with androids. He was accompanied by his 'awesome android' in half of his earlier appearances, including his 1st (FF#15). This issue's flashback mentions his then-current plan against the FF (FF#68-70) which featured a new set of androids. The only different element in Moondragon's origin from that in Captain Marvel #32 is that this time Mentor personally rescued Heather Douglas.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #135 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The synchro-staff of Immortus has been allowing Vision to view the highlights of the life of the original WWII Human Torch, whose android body Vision knows will be made into his own - but as yet he doesn't know how. Last issue he watched as HT's body was found and revived by the Mad Thinker in Fantastic Four Annual #4, only to die again at the end. Then sometime later Vision's creator Ultron-5 burst in upon HT's 'corpse'.

Ultron also found the sentient computer Quasimodo that Thinker also abandoned in the lab. And for the usual inexplicable reasons Ultron related his own history to the computer. It started with a rehash of the origin from #58. Henry Pym had been working on a robot when Dragon Man wrecked his lab (in #41). This robot had now gained consciousness, and tried to kill its father. But instead  hypnotised Goliath to abandon the lab, leaving Ultron to improve himself.

The tale continued with Ultron creating ever better versions of his body until he reached Ultron-5. Then he decided to acquire an android, and went to acknowledged expert the Thinker. Thinker avoided being hypnotised into submission because of hypno-lenses he'd been using in FF#68. But he told the robot where to find HT's body. Which brings us to where we started this issue.

Ultron now told Quasimodo that he wanted an android as a son, to murder his 'grandfather' Pym. Quasi begged Ultron to take him instead. But Ultron heard someone approaching, took HT's body and hypnotised the computer to forget what just happened. The someone who arrived after that was Silver Surfer, as seen in FF An#5.

Now I'll deal with the only parts of this issue involving the other Avengers.

Hawkeye, Iron Man and Thor have been travelling through time with Mantis and another synchro-staff, supposedly to learn the true origin of Mantis. But in the last 2 issues they've only watched the history of the Kree and the plant-people Cotati. And at the end of last issue they were brought back to the present, to the garden of the temple of the (Kree) Priests of Pama in Viet Nam where they buried Mantis' love Swordsman. Only to be greeted by Mantis' supposed-father Libra and what looks like the green ghost of Swordsman. And to recognise some of the trees in the garden as Cotati.

Mantis demands to know what's going on, but they are interrupted by the arrival of the spacecraft of Moondragon. She doesn't really know why she came here, but the 'ghost' was expecting her and asks her to relate her own origin. So that's what we get this issue instead of that of Mantis.

What follows is a retelling of the version of her origin from Captain Marvel #32. She was born on Earth as Heather Douglas. Thanos of Titan killed her parents in a car crash but young Heather survived. She was rescued by Thanos' father Mentor and taken to Titan where she was brought up in the Shao-Lom monastery and trained to perfection in body and mind. Mantis comments how much that is like what Libra claims was her own early life with the Priests.

But then there's another interruption as Immortus pops up carrying a mysterious object.

Meanwhile in Avengers Mansion Jarvis is worried about Scarlet Witch after she attacked Moondragon last issue. He uses the pretence of taking food to the room where Agatha Harkness is teaching her witchcraft. He hears an evil male voice inside. But when he bursts in he finds the room empty.

Now back to the main business of this issue.

After 6 months Ultron still hadn't succeeded in reviving the android Human Torch. So he took 2 months to find the original inventor Phineas Horton, who was now a drunken TV repairman, and forced him to help. More weeks passed as Horton repaired his creation. And Ultron made him fashion a new look and new powers. Finally the Vision was born.

But he still remembered who he was. Horton had secretly refused to wipe his memory. Ultron blasted the inventor, and Vision/HT held his true 'father' as he died. The android then chased after Ultron. They fought, but HT was unaware of his new powers and the robot was able to shut down his mind.

Ultron then used a brain recording he'd found in Pym's lab (that we know was that of Wonder Man Simon Willians) to overwrite Torch's mind. The Vision that reawoke didn't remember any past, and was initially a willing pawn of Ultron. He was sent against the Avengers in #57, but turned against his master and joined them.

The synchro-staff now says they'll return to Immortus. But instead Vision finds himself alone (without even the staff) floating in a void.

This story concludes in GIANT-SIZE AVENGERS #4.

George Tuska
Frank Chiaramonte
George Roussos
Jim Starlin (Cover Penciler)
John Romita (Cover Penciler)
John Romita (Cover Inker)
Al Milgrom (Cover Inker)
Letterer: John Costanza.
Editor: Len Wein.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Edwin Jarvis)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)
Silver Surfer
Silver Surfer

(Norrin Radd)


Plus: Immortus, Libra, Quasimodo.

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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