The Vision has often felt like a second-rate superhero. Similar to Martian Manhunter on the Justice League, Vision gives off a cold, calculating demeanor that hides a tortured soul. The potential for stories surrounding Vision feel limitless, but more often than not creators have done the same kind of machine verses man stories with him, relegating him to just another figurehead on the Avengers. A solo book featuring the synthezoid seemed always doomed to fail.
Yet the new Vision solo series, by writer Tom King and artist Gabriel Hernandez Walta, brings a new spin to the character, giving him something that he has been lacking for years – a family. As the first issue begins, readers are introduced to The Visions, consisting of the titular character, his wife Virginia, and their two children Viv and Vin. Despite the palpable feelings of nervousness and anger from their neighbors, the Visions find happiness in their new life in the suburbs outside Washington, D.C. Yet their ideal family life is slowly dissolved as Virginia and the children reckon with threats both within and outside their family and Vision tries to protect the life he and his family now have.
What’s so striking about this series is the intimate nature of the story. While there are moments when Vision’s life as a member of the Avengers is shown, the majority of the series takes place in their new neighborhood of Cherrydale. Instead of dealing with interdimensional monsters or space aliens threatening to take over the world, the book looks at the dangers that can lie around every corner and the nightmares that can ensue from the lies we keep from one another. Small acts of self-preservation snowball and become insurmountable odds for these characters to deal with. From the arrival of a mysterious cell phone to a vase that holds no flowers, the series makes the reader feel every foreshadowed danger coming.
The series almost feels like the novel-turned-film Revolutionary Road in certain aspects. King manages to look at the perfect “nuclear family” and how the secrets kept begin to tear them apart. Even from the beginning of the series King seeds in dangers through the spellbinding narration the series carries. When the first hint of future chaos is mentioned, it feels almost as shocking as an attack that comes at the conclusion of the first issue. Beyond the narration, the voices of each character feel unique and compelling. Spending equal amounts of time with both the children and adults of the family, King slowly brings new layers to the typical “machine verses man” stories that have been told with The Vision.
A large theme that arises from these pages is the idea of parents doing anything to protect their family. Virginia quickly becomes one of the most fascinating characters of the book after she covers up a crime she is forced to commit. She does whatever she can to keep her children safe and husband in the dark about the things she has done, all the while suffering from feelings of isolation and inadequacy. The Vision himself is also given a great deal of characterization here through the way he begins to act against those who would threaten his “normal” life. One scene in particular, involving a police detective interrogating Vision, turns tragic as Vision recounts the many times he saved the world to himself, using this to justify lying to protect his family.
Walta also helps the atmosphere of the book tremendously. While King’s narrative is impactful on its own (and can even feel like a novel at times), Walta renders these scenes in a uncannily everyday design. Scenes of changing leaves and high schoolers walking to class are juxtaposed with magical plants and people phasing through walls. All of it feels like the everyday world we live in. Even the smallest scenes, featuring characters just talking to one another, have weight and emotion through the body language and background detail given by Walta. Jordie Bellaire adds even more texture to these pages, mixing vibrant colors with muted shadows to add to the feeling of the macabre just beneath the happy surface of The Vision’s life.
If all you know The Vision from is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you owe it to yourself to go read this series. Designed to only be twelve issues, the book is beginning to wind down, and will soon be over. Yet it’s worth reading as a monthly series just to experience the tension that comes with each passing issue ticking down towards the ending. The art and writing fuse to make this one of the best books Marvel currently publishes.