After experiencing a highly dramatic, highly passionate relationship for several years, the synthezoid Vision and the mutant Scarlet Witch decided to go ahead and get hitched in Giant-Size Avengers #4. This kicked off some good times and a whole lot of bad times. Let's face it, when The Dread Dormammu plays a pivotal role in your proposal, it foreshadows a chaotic union. We're not knocking it — in comics and film, Vision and Scarlet Witch remain one of our most beloved dysfunctional couples. We're just saying, there were signs.
It's common knowledge that Vision and Scarlet Witch's marriage just didn't go great, but to be fair, the cards were stacked against them. In their baffling wedding issue, we saw them vow their love to one another, but there was a whole lot of other things that happened in that issue that, looking back, could be taken as ill omens of the future for one of comics' strangest love stories.
Superhero weddings have a longstanding tradition of being baffling messes, and weddings with the Avengers are no exception. Still, Giant-Size Avengers is a strong contender for the strangest marriage issue of them all. To begin with, their wedding story is actually that of a double wedding. Sometimes-Avenger Mantis also gets married in this issue, though to whom... takes a moment to explain.
Though Wanda and Vision had been dating for a few years, they were each individually plagued by identity issues. These questions of origin didn't seem to have answers and stood in the way of them developing a deeper understanding of themselves as people. The Vision was created by the maniacal Ultron to infiltrate the Avengers and that Vision quickly turned on his creator in favor of his friendship with the Avengers, but he struggled to understand that an evil entity had given him life. Meanwhile, Wanda had (and still has) uncertain parentage, but the focus of her life at that point revolved mostly around her training with Agatha Harkness so that she might become a witch in practice as well as name. They cared about each other deeply, but they were both going through some stuff.
On top of that, some of the other Avengers had initially been somewhat thrown off by the coupling of a synthezoid and a mutant. Talk about alternative lifestyles! Wanda's brother Pietro was a furious opponent to their relationship, chastising Wanda for dating who he believed to be a dangerous partner. By this time, however, the Avengers had gotten over it, and Pietro had his own doomed marriage to the Inhuman Crystal to worry about.
Celestial Madonnas, Tree-Corpse Husbands, and a Double-Wedding
The story opens on Vision pondering his past, lost in questions about his creation. Here, while attempting to save Wanda from the Dread Dormammu and his sister Umar, he reflects on his origins. The Vision was infused with the sometimes-deceased Wonder Man's consciousness to create a thinking, feeling synthezoid. The Vision's most recent discovery was that Ultron had not created him so much as he'd rebooted the original Human Torch (not the Fantastic Four Torch, but the WWII-era synthezoid who fought Namor a whole lot of times). Thereby, rather than accepting the evil Ultron as his father, Vision was able to claim the kindly old mad scientist that had created the original Human Torch as his pops. Yes, there is still an original Human Torch. Yes, this is because he and The Vision were split into two separate bodies by the time-traveling Immortus in hopes of preventing the Scarlet Witch from having children. Please try and keep up.
Besides all that, the creative team attempts to reconcile Mantis' departure from the Avengers and her growth into the role of Celestial Madonna here, so this already complicated story spends a lot of its time completely off the rails, tying up various loose ends from the last couple of years of Avengers stories. Mantis had been introduced by Steve Englehart and artist Don Heck in order to shake up the Avengers lineup by flirting with all the men. There are a host of weird elements in her creation, but listen, none of those things are her fault. Mantis is great. You just might not know it from reading this story.
Here, we discover the secrets of both Moondragon and Mantis' past as we are told that they were both contenders for the title of Celestial Madonna, meaning they are perfect humans who rise to a cosmic position of power due to their perfection. Naturally, what initially stood in the way of Mantis' perfection was her interest in men — most notably, men outside her apparently monogamous relationship with her ne'er-do-well boyfriend The Swordsman, an alcoholic sometimes-villain who died early in his run. Once The Swordsman was gone, Mantis missed him and felt remorse for his death. Here, the plant-like species known as the Cotati merge with the Swordsman's corpse, and in order to become the Celestial Madonna, Mantis must marry said tree corpse.
For this level of set-up, it might be a bit surprising that this essentially just ends with the double wedding that we saw on the cover of the comic. Dormammu mind-controls Wanda into attacking Vision, but their love saves them, and Vision proposes. Wanda enthusiastically accepts. Mantis is slightly less enthusiastic about her pairing but seems happy. Kang shows up kind of out of nowhere to kidnap and “mate” with Mantis (Yikes! Yikes! Yikes!) but his future self Immortus thinks this is a terrible idea and simply stops the kidnapping.
As noted, this is an incredibly weird issue, and it takes a few reads to make sure that you picked up everything, even for a long-time comic fan like oneself. Mantis becomes a better character, but unfortunately is no longer an Avenger and thus gets way less time on the panel after this. Her tree/corpse husband eventually... well, let's just say it doesn't work out. Wanda and Vision are happy for a few years, then Vision Quest happens and everything goes to heck. Still, those are stories for another day. If you stop reading at the end of this issue and don't read anymore Marvel comics after this, it's actually kind of a happy ending.