I am not a fan of the Vision. I never disliked him, but he wasn’t a hero I grew up on, nor one I related to in terms of story or arc, and I always found his costume off-putting. But he is an essential Avenger, and with his introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes a corresponding push to spotlight the character in the comics. Which leads us to the 12-issue 2016 series The Vision, by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta.
Unexpectedly, I found myself entranced the second I caught a glimpse of the “Leave it to Beaver” style covers or came across one of the (uniformly gushing) reviews. So when The Vision appeared on my Marvel Unlimited app, I started reading issue 1 – and almost immediately stopped. This was a book to be savored in full size. I bought both volumes as soon as I could get my hands on them, infatuated for the first time with the Vision, his arc, and even his stupid fucking costume. In no understated terms, I loved (almost) every single bit of this comic.
The Vision stars the titular superhero as he and his family adjust to life in the suburbs of Virginia. And by family, I mean the wife and kids that he built for himself in an attempt to achieve a human definition of normalcy. His wife Virginia (how weird, the same name as where he moved… I’m sure that’s not subtext or anything) is based off of another Avenger’s brain waves, and her CPU combines with the Vision’s to create two kids, Viv and Vin. In spite of their origins, all three have their own personalities, desires, and questions, particularly about humanity and their unique place in it. As the story progresses, it peels back the “perfect family” veneer and explores the damage done to and because of them in their pursuit of family, love, and acceptance in the face of a lot of… let’s just call it fucked up shit.
There is a bravery to this book and what it allows Tom King to do, though less so than “Truth: Red, White, and Black”. What’s good about new characters like Virginia and the kids is that they are a blank slate, and as disposable as one, allowing them to become flawed beyond redemption. But though the Vision himself indulges in his own share of badness, it never cuts deep enough to hurt Marvel’s brand. The Marvel master plan has its hooks embedded deep in The Vision, which unfortunately prevents the series from getting as dark as the surprising first few issues promise. For instance, when the Vision experiences a terrible loss, there’s a natural pain and anger you’d expect to follow. We see some of that, but the progression of his character is hampered by forced framing and unnecessary plot points that seem to have been squeezed in just to keep the character properly heroic for his next movie. Now, I’m not of the opinion that stories have to be dark to be good. I’m saying this book clearly wants to be dark and is being held back – and that’s a shame. Because when it doesn’t hold back…
It’s entrancingly dark. Especially Virginia, the Vision’s wife, who we see slowly unravel as the problems mount, unable to fix what appears broken, developing a “speech impediment” indicating her somewhat fractured state. It was also heartbreaking to see Victor again. Victor was a core member of The Runaways, one of my favorite comics from way back when. Another child of Ultron, the book acknowledges him and the Vision as brothers, bringing him in as the cool Uncle until his unfortunate fall from grace.
The writing in this series is so spot on. Tom King deserves extra credit for capturing the subtleties of a conversation between a husband and wife, while still applying the filter of synthesized human. The art is also beautiful, the red skin of the Vision and co. highlighted against more subdued colors and backgrounds. Both words and art paint a portrait of beings that stand out from the world, unable to be normal, too different to belong. This is a story that captures something much more intimate and profound than a Marvel book usually does. And it does it so well that I went from complete indifference toward the Vision to rooting for him and his family to succeed. It takes a powerful story to make someone as stubborn as me do such a 180.
I can’t recommend this book enough. Go read it.
Because next time, spoilers be damned, we’re gonna talk about it in greater detail.