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Even An Android Can Cry…But What If He’s Not An Android?

by  in Comics Comment
Even An Android Can Cry…But What If He’s Not An Android?

In every installment of Abandoned Love we will be examining comic book stories, plots and ideas that were abandoned by a later writer without actively retconnng away the previous story. Feel free to e-mail me at brianc@cbr.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Today, we look at the history of the most famous android who can cry…who isn’t really an android at all (we’re making an exception by this time featuring a writer abandoning their own story, but enough time passed between stories that I think it still counts).

Our story begins in 1939’s “Marvel Tales” #1, with the introduction of The Human Torch, by Carl Burgos.

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You’ll notice that without using the specific term “android,” that is what the Human Torch is described as, an artificial man. An android is a being who is every bit a human as a human, except that his/her organs and skin and everything are artificially made. That was the deal with the Human Torch. It’s worth noting, of course, that since there is no such thing as an actual android in real life just yet (or at least that’s what the Germans want you to believe), these specific terms are a bit nebulous, which is to say that if there is some quibbling here and there on the specifics of what an android is or is not, we should cut everyone a little slack. That said, the general idea is that an android is a humanoid whose only true distinction is that their organs and body parts are artificially made.

Years later, Roy Thomas, John Buscema and George Klein introduced a new character in 1968’s “Avengers” #57, the Vision. Thomas invents a new term, “synthezoid,” but notice how the term is defined by Hank Pym…

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See? Again, without using the specific term “android,” that’s what we’re talking about – an android.

This is made clearer in the following issue, when the Vision joined the Avengers. In one of the most famous moments in Marvel Comics history, the Vision celebrates his addition to the team by crying, with the classic final page (John Buscema really killed it on that final splash page) saying the famous line “Even an Android Can Cry…”

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However, this was abandoned over thirty issues later, when Ant-Man went into the Vision’s body in “Avengers” #93 by Roy Thomas, Neal Adams and Tom Palmer. As you can see, the insides of the Vision’s body is that of a machine…

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Therefore, the Vision clearly ISN’T an android. Or, if you want to somehow stretch the term “synthezoid” out so that it covers a guy who has machinery in him like this, it still counts as abandoning the initial view, as expressed by Hank Pym himself, that the Vision is just an artificial human being.

Then, though, we get into weirder stuff when this discovery of the machinery inside of the Vision leads the Avengers to eventually conclude that the Vision was made from the body of the original Human Torch. As we established before, that doesn’t make sense on its face, as the Human Torch was specifically an android. Therefore, if the Vision is NOT an android, then he can’t have been the Human Torch! That was part of John Byrne’s reasoning for making the Vision and the Human Torch two separate beings.

Anyhow, mostly this is just interesting because of the fact that the “Android” at the heart of the famous “Even an android can cry” was not, in fact, an android.

That’s it for this installment of Abandoned Love! If you have a suggestion for a future one, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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