Written by: Tom King
Art by: Gabriel Hernandez Walta
This was an unexpected surprise. The Vision is a series that completely flew under my radar, I didn’t even realize it was a thing until I saw it on the shelf at my local comic store. When I looked and saw it was written by Tom King (writer of the criminally underrated The Omega Men) I knew this would be worth checking out. After reading it, I’m both delighted that King brings the same clever writing to this title as his DC one, but also rather annoyed that this seems almost doomed to the same fate. The Vision #1 is a smartly written, creepy and unnerving comic that feels very different from the recent Marvel style and seems almost destined to be a cult hit.
Like a few other All-New, All-Different books there’s a bit of initial confusion about the character’s new status quo (what’s this about the Vision working in the White House?) but the book should be very user friendly, even if you have no familiarity with the character. The central premise revolves around the Vision attempting to become more human, which has motivated him to create a wife and two children to raise in the suburbs. While on paper this might sound like the set-up for sitcom-esque adventures involving the Vision inviting two girls to the same dance or a night of misfortune the night his boss is coming over for dinner (which honestly giving Marvel’s more comedic approach is something I could see happening) it’s all played with a unnerving air of the uncanny valley. It feels a bit like a Twilight Zone episode set in the Marvel universe, Vision’s family have a definite uneasy air about them, you’re constantly waiting for someone to snap.
Walta’s art really brings this creepy vibe to the page, there’s something about the way he draws the Vision in a normal setting that makes you realize how bizarre a character design he actually has. What makes it even better (or worse depending on your angle) is the terrifying emotions he gives to the whole family. It would’ve been easy to give them all blank expressions, they are synthetic life forms after all, but Walta goes in the opposite direction by giving them highly expressive and happy faces when it’s clear they are not feeling these emotions. It’s the cold, white eyes of each character, it feels as if they’re looking right at you without really feeling anything. It causes you to squirm and makes it impossible to gauge what any of the characters are actually feeling, if they are feeling anything at all. It’s such a clever way to present the cast and it’s amazing to see Walta go the extra mile in order to show how little these characters understand regular emotions.
When it comes to King’s script, he’s at the top of his game. With so many Marvel books trying to match the MCU style of snarky, modern antics, it’s incredibly refreshing to see King upend everything we assume about Marvel books to really get under your skin. The Visions talk in such an over explanatory and clear cut manner that expressly shows how inhuman they are. An extended conversation between using the phrases “they seem kind” and “they seem nice” feels incredibly tense for example. The script is very sharp and clever, there’s definitely an almost sad feeling of the outsider in the book, especially when the kids go to school and one of them starts questioning whether or not they’re normal. There’s a constant bubbling tension in the book, you just know something will go wrong, all the ingredients are too imperfect, all the character feel the wrong way, it’s not a case of if but when it’ll all go off. While the ending of the book comes off as a bit abrupt after the slow build, it’s definitely shocking and only further increases the tension to come in future issues. I also feel at times the book may be a little too wordy. I enjoyed the narration and thought it posed some clever questions, but with the art being as strong as it is at capturing the tone the comic is going for, I felt it could be a bit distracting. Some silent scenes of just the Visions going about their “normal” life and seeing the reactions of their neighbors would have been just as effective in my opinion, if not more so.
Overall though, The Vision #1 is a very different sort of Marvel comic, one that I really hope catches on. It feels quite niche and the type of book that’ll have dedicated fans, (much like King’s Omega Men) but I’m more hoping that it’ll be a surprise sleeper hit. The Omega Men proved how creative and clever a writer King is, and The Vision shows he has many more ideas up his sleeve. Don’t let this book meet the same fate, I highly recommend it to any one looking for something a little different from Marvel’s line-up and hope it can capture the amount of success it deserves.