I don’t know if you guys know this but I read a lot of comic books. Whoa that revelation must be so shocking. If I wasn’t so tired I’d give you guys a moment to process it but I’m afraid if I stop typing I’m going to pass out on my keyboard which means you’ll have to process this on your own time. My apologies. I actually think that in 2016 I became an even greater fan of comic books. I don’t know if it was because the access is just so great with Comixology (dear god I love their sales) or if it’s the content of books being so high but whatever it is I found myself reading a tremendous amount of comic books this year. I would often have days where I would sit in my chair with Hudson the Cat and just have binge reading sessions. Those were always some of my favorite days of the year.
When I’m not reading comics though, I’m on the interwebs reading about them. How else am I going to know what to read next (my pull list is full)? Yes, I follow certain authors (I’ll read anything Brian K. Vaughn puts out) but word of mouth is still the best way to find out about anything. I’m the same way with the books I read. I follow authors but if I read something on the interwebs and it grabs my interst then chances are that book is going to end up in my Amazon wishlist as I wait to devour it with my eyes. Word of mouth helps to open new doors to new stories you might have otherwise missed. It’s the same way with comics. These interwebs travels lead me to Tom King’s miniseries The Vision based on the famous Avenger character and the number nine spot on our Best of 2016 list.
What initially drew me in about this series were the covers. I know, I know you’re never supposed to judge a book by it’s cover but with The Vision I found that there was something lurking behind the art work. There was this portrayal that things were being presented as one way while something lurked underneath which instantly made me interested. The best way I can compare it is the itch underneath your skin that you can’t see but can feel. What were these covers lying about? And by lying I mean within the context of the stories, I’m not suggesting the covers were lying about the contents of the story. The lie was apart of it. I dug that. As I started reading the series the art continued to add layers and context to the story. The pages were beautiful and haunting and eerie and added so much depth to the story Tom King was telling. I could have filled my Instagram with images from this book and there were days that I would.
Essentially The Vision is a comic about what it means to belong, family, the perceptions of society, and the definition of the word normal (which is a relative term at the very least). What happens is Vision creates a family for himself, a wife and two children, and he moves them to the suburbs of Washington D.C. so they can live happy suburban lives like every day (normal) people. The premise sounds basic enough and might even raise a question of how this could be an interesting comic, but it’s enthralling. When you consider that everyone in Vision’s family has been created (they are synthesized humans who are more or less living computers) and the way they perceive things is with logic and not emotion it adds an interesting dynamic. Humans react on emotion and allow situations to dictate the way they respond. The Visions see things in a more black and white way but still try to act in a way that society deems acceptable. For long stretches of the book they aren’t trying to be themselves but what society thinks they should be. It’s a fascinating character study to say the least.
The book is dark and spirals quickly out of control. The neighbors feel uneasy with the Vision’s living in the neighborhood. There’s a feeling of distrust and unease. Obviously what we don’t know we instantly distrust, and no one really knows what the Visions are other then androids pretending to be human. This causes the Vision’s to react in ways they don’t understand as the logic they’re programmed to have starts to get clouded by emotion or the idea of perceived emotion. Should I feel this way because so and so acts this way? Why would I act this way? Why does so and so feel this way? What is life? What is normal? How do I belong? All of which are pretty heavy concepts and ideas to be tackling within a comic and not a philosophy text book.
To his credit Tom King crafts a brilliant, tight, suspenseful narrative. There is a Breaking Bad quality to this story as things go from bad to worse to what the eff just happened to dear god no. While The Vision exists in the Marvel universe it often feels like an indie/creator owned series. The fact that Marvel characters pop up here and there are like easter eggs but this comic is different then anything else that was out on the shelves. The methods of story telling were unconventional and unorthodox while the content and the questions it raised was intense. This book covers murder, betrayal, loss, insanity, love, and most importantly family. Family is clearly the underlining theme through out the pages and how far one would go to protect theirs even if they know they’re in the wrong.
I consumed this series and was sad when I heard Tom King signed a DC exclusive deal meaning he wouldn’t be able to write more The Vision. Thankfully he was able to complete his twelve issue run and tell his full story. It would have been a crime for someone else to take over this book. You know within the first few pages that you’re reading something special and unique that asks questions that makes you feel. Sometimes just the fact that the book is asking questions is enough. The main characters in this story may not be human but if you find yourself not feeling any emotion then maybe you need to ask yourself if you’re an android or not. I completely resonated with this series and can’t recommend it enough. This is comic book story telling at it’s highest form, and it would make one hell of a Netflix series. It would melt faces.
For me Y the Last Man is the best comic series I’ve ever read after that it’s a list that’s constantly rotating. The Watchmen, Long Halloween, Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye are all ranked very highly. I would have zero problem adding Tom King’s The Vision to that list. I think it belongs there. I’m very much looking forward to reading it again and seeing what new things I take away from it.