Ongoing comics are a strange game, constantly getting cancelled, renewed, and rebooted. Until I began working at London’s Orbital comics, I’d had a tough time reading anything in single issue format. Then, one fateful afternoon, I picked up The Vision #1. This book (by creative team Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta, with Jordie Bellaire on colours and letters by VC’s Clayton Cowles) blew me away. A perfectly balanced, beautifully nuanced, strange, and wonderful comic. For the first time in years I found myself waiting for NCBD, desperate to know what would happen to this odd and thoroughly original family unit.
For those unlucky enough to have not yet picked the title up, the story is based around Marvel’s favourite synthezoid, who was recently brought to the forefront of pop culture with Marvel Studios’ less-than-loved Age Of Ultron. The story focuses on Vision’s attempt at a normal life in the suburbs complete with a wife, two kids, and the family dog. What could have easily been a hit-and-miss attempt at a fish out of water comedy soon revealed itself to be one of the most bleak and beautiful books out there.
From the last page of the first book I was hooked, and I fell deeper and deeper in love as I read each issue. It’s an elegantly subdued narrative that navigates a world much like our own, with only the most subtle and haunting differences. Tom King crafts sentences that stick with you for long after you read the book. The moment that really struck me in the first issue was the introduction of the at-first innocuous “Flying water vase of Zenn-La,” a gift from the Silver Surfer to the Vision family.
“The floating water vases of Zenn-La are always empty, The mathanic sulfite that causes the water to levitate is poisonous to all known species of flowers. The mystery is then not why the vases are always empty, but why anyone would make such a vase in the first place?”
For me, The Vision is a masterclass in collaboration in its most literal sense. Every part of the creative team enhances your enjoyment of the story and leaves their own personal mark as they create a cohesive and wonderful thing to behold.
The book traverses the mundanity of suburban life with the confidence of the greatest slice of life comic, whilst treating the science fiction elements with a sincerity and reverence that’s rarely seen. Walta and Bellaire create a world that is beautiful and cold in equal measure. The letters of Clayton Cowles express our characters effortlessly alongside King’s writing and craft a truly distinct look with some of the most beautifully designed word balloons and impactful placements that I’ve ever seen.
Though I am a big fan, like most releases from the Big Two, the book has it’s own problems, specifically a heavy handed and misguided usage of a racial slur as an analogy for our synthetic protagonists. The creators were clearly meant to be using the real-world racist and controversial name of a sports team to create a dialogue around a character’s obvious bigotry, but the use of a racial slur as a story device and visual pun is unsalvageable — especially with the lack of indigenous people either creatively employed at Marvel Comics or appearing in The Vision.
However, there is still much to love about The Vision, and to talk too much about the topics covered by this book would spoil it. But to give you a brief feel, the first arc covers the Vision family’s personal struggles with not only finding their place the human world, but also with the cataclysmic event that ends the first issue. It often feels more like a creator-owned book than something from the Big Two. It’s only with the last issue of the first arc that we finally come face to face with some of Marvel’s biggest and best known characters, brought together to fight a new and terrifying force: our protagonist.
The last issue of The Vision is due in October. Though the single issues are now scarce, a collection of the first six issues is available now, and it’s the perfect time to catch up on this unmissable book before the second collection and eventual complete edition make their appearances.