1986 was a busy year in the personal lives of Marvel’s vast stable of heroes, seeing everything from the birth of Cable to Scott Summers and Madelyne Pryor to the wedding of Bruce Banner and Betsy Ross. That same year Avengers alumni Scarlet Witch and Vision have their twin sons, Billy and Tommy, in the finale of The Vision and The Scarlet Witch limited series. This seeming domestic bliss, however, wouldn’t last, leading to events that would have lasting consequences in the Marvel Universe for decades to come.
As we later come to find out, Vision’s marriage to Scarlet Witch was part of Immortus’ plan to prevent Scarlet Witch from ever having children. A mutant of devastating magical ability, Wanda Maximoff is a nexus being with the power to shape her universe, and her children could very well warp the foundations of reality itself. Unaware of this plot, Wanda’s desire to have a family with her husband would cause her to unknowingly draw on dark magical forces from the demon Mephisto to have Tommy and Billy. The demon would eventually reabsorb them, snuffing them from existence, and cause a chain of events that would lead to Wanda’s madness and the cataclysms of House of M and M-Day. In this issue, however, which concludes the arc of Wanda’s pregnancy, none of that is on the horizon. Written by Steve Englehart with artwork by Richard Howell, this unique limited series ran from 1985 to 1986, and was the second series to feature this prominent couple’s extracurricular adventures.
As the title suggests, this double-sized issue follows the day of the birth, as Vision and Wanda excitedly prepare for the arrival of their first child, a boy they plan to name him Thomas. Going into labor six days earlier than anticipated, Wanda is quickly whisked off to the hospital for much of the issue while danger looms outside. Guest appearances include Wonder Man, Magneto and Doctor Strange as supernatural complications arise in the form of Nekra, Grim Reaper and Brady Kent in a subplot centered around Nekra’s raising the dead. Both sides of the extended Vision-Maximoff family brawl outside of the hospital to stop Nekra’s plot while Strange delivers Thomas, only to realize that Wanda’s having twins in a pleasant surprise for the new parents. They name their boys Billy and Tommy, and conclude on a joyful note surrounded by friends and loved ones as the young family settles in to begin their new lives.
A highly nostalgic read, this is a story that certainly shows its age. Englehart’s script is very dated, with the kind of cheesy dialogue and over-the-top plotline you would expect from a mid-‘80s title. That said, it’s an endearing kind of cheese, appropriate for all-age readers and free of the edge and attitude that later came to consume superhero comics in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Seeing an entire limited series about the personal lives of heroes is also interesting and worth a look, if only for the kitsch factor. I’ve always been a fan of family-oriented storylines, and for that reason this series doesn’t disappoint. As far as the artwork is concerned, Howell’s pencils reflect a pretty predictable ‘80s aesthetic. While fairly average, he does offer a few visually interesting panels here and there, especially in the scenes with Doctor Strange’s solo adventure before arriving to deliver the twins.
While having read a lot of the reborn Billy and Tommy, all grown up as the heroes Wiccan and Speedster in the pages of Young Avengers, I wasn’t too familiar with the source material surrounding their origins. Going back to read this series, and especially this issue, sheds some light on their backstories and makes for a fun reading experience. While a cute and enjoyable little story, it does ring a little melancholy in retrospect, knowing how their not-births and not-deaths drive Wanda to a madness that nearly destroys reality in the future. Still, it’s an amusing read with a unique premise and lots of nostalgia value. If you’re looking for a light read and some nice backstory on this impact moment of Marvel history, The Vision and The Scarlet Witch limited series is worth digging up.