20/20: A Look at Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s “Vision”

Vision #1-3

Tom King (Script), Gabriel Hernandez Walta (Penciler), Jordie Bellaire (Colors), VC’S Crayon Cowles (Letters), Mike Del Mundo (Covers)
Marvel Comics
Nov. 2015 – Present

Hi my name is Meg and I don’t read Marvel comics.

There, I said it. It’s out in the open now. I haven’t read a Marvel comic since around the end of the Fear Itself event. No particular reason or anything. I don’t feel any particularly bad blood for Marvel, I just kind of lost interest. You know how it is. I’ve always been a DC girl at heart. It’s actually Tom King’s work on Grayson that sparked my interest in this book at all.

I’m putting all this out in the open so that you can really grasp the magnitude of what I’m about to say. It’s kind of a big deal for me, you guys. Here goes:

Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s Vision is amazing. Maybe even more than amazing. With apologies for sounding wildly hyperbolic, issue #1 might actually represent my favorite first issue of a comic book series.

vision - a pleasureVision is a “clean slate” approach to a character with an incredibly storied history (he’s been around since 1940). It’s not so much a reimagining as it is a deconstruction. The setup for the book is explained in an incredibly brief notation on the first page that explains Vision has basically reset his hard drive, for lack of a better analogy. He has “purged the emotions” associated with his memories, meaning he knows who he is, he’s still an Avenger, he knows all of his friends and his history, but the knowledge has been rendered essentially clinical. It’s a part of him that’s very much separate from himself.

Now, with his emotional baggage removed, Vision finds himself laser focused on the idea of “normalcy” as a way to establish a new baseline for himself. He’s acting as the Avenger’s liaison to the President, so he’s moved to the suburbs of Washington DC, and he’s created his best approximation of a nuclear family (a wife, Virginia, and two kids, Viv and Vin) to live out his version of the antiquated American Dream. This is his normal.

It’s important that you have that context for this next part.

Vision is a horror comic.

…Kind of.

I don’t mean horror in the sense of a ghosts and monsters, I mean horror in the same way that certain episodes of The Twilight Zone are horror stories or that a movie like Mulholland Dr. is a horror movie. There is an incredibly pervasive sense of unease to every panel of this comic. There is something uncanny and deeply unsettling about the Vision family and their patchwork, academic understanding of humanity, coupled with the feeling of almost desperate precariousness. Everything is one tiny misstep from going totally south. Everything is about a split second away from disaster.

vision - what else

This is where Vision really finds its strength. On an extremely basic level, it’s not an unfamiliar narrative. It’s the story of an outsider desperately trying to belong, but it lacks the trite simplification of a resolution like, “and it turns out, being different is what made him a hero all along!”

There’s both a tension and an honesty here. The Vision family’s differences from humans may well be what gives them the potential to act as heroes, but they’re not heroes in this story. They don’t want to be heroes. They want to be “normal.” So where does that leave them?

Lost, a little confused, and deeply uncertain among other things.

vision - cry

On a purely technical level, the book is gorgeous. Walta’s art coupled with Bellaire’s colors captures the almost Pleasantville uncanniness of the world and King’s use of omnipotent narration adds a thick veneer of disquiet onto even the most innocent looking panels.

It’s a book that feels very accessible, but still very much joined into a larger narrative. Like I said at the start of this review, I’m not a Marvel person. I have very little context for recent Marvel events, but I didn’t find myself stumbling, lost, or lacking at any point in the three issues that are available right now. However, I don’t doubt that if I were more conscious of my Marvel (and Vision related) character trivia, there would have been even more being offered to me as far as references are concerned.

As someone who’s a big of a continuity and consistency stickler, that’s comforting to me. I’m pretty far removed from hard “re-imaginings” of classic characters that completely remove them from their own pasts. If you are a Vision fan and were worried about this new direction for him, hopefully that assuages your anxieties a little bit.

All this is to say, Marvel fan or no, Vision has me absolutely hooked.

Mason Downey

Mason Downey

Mason is a midwestern transplant to Los Angeles but he feels most at home in Gotham City. He loves Robins (of the sidekick variety), robots (of the "in disguise" variety), and spending too much money on his pull list every week.

One thought on “20/20: A Look at Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s “Vision”

  1. Huh. Well, okay then. I’ve got a lot on my plate as is, so I’m not going for back issues just yet, but once the TPB comes out, I’ll give it a look. Thanks for the rec.

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