Before the term “Cinematic Universe” was coined and popularized, before the comics industry crippled itself by releasing variant foil covers in an already oversaturated market, before Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Captain Marvel, the Vision made his comic book debut. But this mysterious hero is far different than the one seen in the Avengers’ films and Disney+’s upcoming series, WandaVision.
The Vision from the Golden Age merely inspired the one that we’re familiar with, today, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth knowing where everyone’s favorite android Avenger got his start.
Created by writer Joe Simon and artist Jack Kirby, the Vision—an other-dimensional do-gooder from “Smokeworld” named Aarkus—made his first appearance in the short story, “The Vision,” that was featured in Marvel Mystery Comics #13. Since Marvel Mystery Comics was an ongoing anthology series, the Vision’s origin story is a short one, coming in at just eight pages in length. This issue also featured stories with Human Torch, the Angel, and Sub-Mariner.
In “The Vision,” Professor Enoch Mason has developed a device named the “Dimensional Smasher”; he intends to use this machine to smash through our dimensional barrier and, in doing so, reveal that the beings we human think to be ghosts are actually visitors from another dimension. Despite his research proving fruitful, and his hard work paying off, Mason made the mistake of financing his operation with dirty cash loaned to him from crime boss, “Brains Borelli,” and because of this mistake, his life’s work is jeopardized when Borrelli’s men come to collect.
Before Borrelli’s thuggish associates can destroy Mason’s machine, the professor activates it and opens a gateway to another dimension in the…wait for it…smoke from a cigar that one of the thug’s is smoking. And thus, the Vision emerges and makes short work out of both criminals. When the police arrive, the Vision takes a human form and comes up with plausible stories that explain both “accidental” deaths.
Shortly thereafter, “Brains” Borrelli has Aarkus (still in human form), Professor Mason, and his daughter Sheila Mason, kidnapped. In a brief standoff, Brains makes the mistake of giving Aarkus one last cigarette before he is killed. As soon as the cigarette is lit and smoke begins to bellow, the Vision emerges and, yet again, makes short work of the bad guys. Once his work is done, the Vision disappears, leaving Mason wondering if the Vision is gone for good. Of course, he wasn’t gone for good; the Vision stuck around through to Marvel Mystery Comics #28 where, after hurling a soul-stealing mad scientist, Dr. Korbeau, through a window, he returns to his land of eternal smoke. Just prior to leaving, the Vision promises to return should the good people of Earth need him.
Fun fact: the last story in Marvel Mystery Comics #28 features the Angel laying waste to a slew of the undead being led by a Nazi zombie. It’s worth a read.
While the Vision that we see making his debut in the pages of Marvel Mystery Comics is a far cry from the Vision that we know, today, in his earliest form, the Vision was still a powerful and mysterious hero draped green and yellow. The red was there, too, but it wasn’t yet on his face. If you’re interested in learning more about Vision and his first appearance as a red-faced android, stick around for my article on Avengers (1968) #57.