In the comic book thread, we decided to start a monthly comic book club. For the rest of this month, we’ll be reading and discussing Vision Volume 1 by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta.
It can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Comixology. (It looks like it’s currently on sale on Comixology for 4.99!)
Of course, you could also go buy it from your Local Comic Shop. If you don’t know where you closest shop is, this tool is great for finding one near you.
Vision is widely hailed as one of the best superhero comics of the last few years. If you aren’t a comic reader or if you’re not usually interested in superhero comics, this book is a great one to take a chance on. Tom King’s take on suburban, existential unease is a fascinating re-introduction to Marvel’s android Avenger and Walta’s art is some of the best in industry.
So, grab a copy, read along, and join us for a spoiler-filled discussion below.
Let’s break the discussion down by issue. So please hold any comments, for now, to events and themes in issue one. If you want to tie things from the first issue to later events, please put the later events in Spoiler blurs.
These issues are also up on Marvel Unlimited, for people who want to dip into more than just these issues/go with a Marvel subscription (Netflix-style) service. They’ve been slowly rebuilding the apps to not be terrible and it’s basically anything not mature-rated from Marvel from 6 months ago going back decades (as they slowly add more digitising the older archives).
I don’t think there’s an offer on right now but if you keep an eye out then there’s often free months with promo codes around movie releases.
Ah yes Disney’s Marvel Comics’ The Vision. A comic book where nothing ever goes wrong and nothing bad happens to any of the characters NOPE.
I went into this series blind, and man, the finale of issue one REALLY set the “this is fine dot jpg” tone of the book.
Ah, sad metaphors about emptiness. This is exactly the wacky robot family hijinks I signed up for.
So, the first thing I am struck by is Walta’s art and Jordie Bellaire’s colors. They effectively set the tone for the book right out of the gate. I especially like this image from the first page.
The floating mailbox in the picturesque suburbia is a nice touch that lets the reader know that something different and fantastic is masquerading as mundane. Walta’s art and Bellaire’s colors open the door to that masquerade being uneasy.
I also have a question about the narrator. In the post-Watchmen/post-Batman: Year One world we used to see a lot of narration. I feel as if we see it a lot less now. Personally, I think it’s very effective in Vision. What do y’all think?
I love this book so much and I am excited to see people read it. The narration is excellent, dripping with ominous portent and dread from issue one. It’s a great technique, really well executed.
I’ve been reading on Unlimited as the issues come up and it has been torturous waiting. I would guess issue 12 is up on Unlimited now, so I should read that and then reread the first 6 to talk about it here. It’s an unbelievably good series.
Just chiming in here after reading the issue 1. I agree with you on Bellaire’s art. Been a fan of her since Ellis’ Moon Knight.
Was really struck by the narration, and the kind of personality that it intoned. It walks a line between the Visions’ own logic and a wry, sad understanding.
Coming into this rather fresh, I was impressed with the Vision’s and Virginia’s first conversation about “nice” vs. “kind.” It was a typical domestic disagreement elevated to the level of the synthezoid’s own issues, and points to King for not shying from the linguistic/behavioral explanation. Really sets the tone for that household, or at least the couple.
Also, while it’s completely for shock value too, I think it’s notable that the Grim Reaper’s scythe emerges from the house itself. Works so well thematically.
(Also, as a DC resident, I feel like I gotta chime in that Cherrydale is really < 3 miles from DC, and pretty Metro-accessible, not a distant burb 15 miles out. But I love the idea of a comic taking place in Arlington so much that I’ll allow it. Fits the theme.)
A couple thoughts this set off in my mind:
There’s a really good interview on the Oh, Comics! podcast (Rest in peace, Panels.net) with King where he talks about the influence that Watchmen had on him and this series in particular. See also: the abundance of 9 panel grids and his issues of The Button on Batman RN.
So I don’t quite remember where volume 1 ends at, and since this thread is only a few days old I won’t spoil much, but this comic got me thinking a lot about narration in comics just because of the great twists with who is narrating. Because you’re totally right that it isn’t as much a thing anymore, and it is a thing I love. I had/have trouble getting into comics from before say… 1985 for a long time, and what finally got me to appreciate old comics more was that good good Archie Goodwin narration. Homie could do a whole story with no dialog, just narration and I’d be happy. But I digress. I just love love love how King handles narration in the series–and how it is lettered TBH–and I think it is an interesting new take on a style that was so prevalent and now so un-prevalent. I think if that narration didn’t work as well as it does, the series wouldn’t work
edit: This doesn’t warrant another post, but I just saw @a_sapien 's thing in spoiler tags in the post above mine and it blew my got dam mind. Holee shit.
Hah, thanks! Thought that was pretty smart of them.
Ahh I’m glad that to hear he was channeling the Watchmen-esque nine-panel page. I was kind of getting that vibe a lot. The many small panels broken up by splash pages give it a really cool - and heartbreaking/shocking - rhythm.
This is the first trade I’m really reading electronically, and the Comixology app makes me take note of the size and shape of the panels.
This conversation has stayed with me since I first read Vision Volume 1 back in December.
“To assert as truth that which has no meaning is the core mission of humanity.”
The dynamic of Vision and Virginia in this story is fascinating. He’s so cold and she’s so obviously troubled. It’s fascinating to see him assert authority over what makes something human when, even just in the first issue, she is clearly the one experiencing a closer facsimile to human emotions than he is. In many ways she is living a more human life than he is because she’s troubled in a way he cannot understand.
Does that make sense? Am I rambling? haha.
@a_sapien That’s amazing imagery you picked up on. I didn’t notice that.
My favourite superhero comics are not about superheroics.
(Though this is admittedly vastly different in tone to ‘she-hulk convinces a judge to let a ghost testify at his murderer’s trial’.)
I like that, despite having the narration throughout, the exposition/set-up (‘the vision built himself a robot family’) is delivered through dialogue.
I like character intros that include irrelevant facts (‘George orders his hot wings too spicy’).
I like the vase metaphor. That’s what sold me on this comic. The end of issue one, and, yeah alright, I’m in.
Some observations when reading Issue #1.
The use of the 9 panel grid fits with King’s use of the grid elsewhere - Omega Men, Sheriff of Babylon and his most recent issue of Batman. This recent article on Polygon goes some way to explain why the 9 panel grid is so popular. In this instance I believe it’s a combination of two things
The rhythmn is familiar. There is a notion of unity and cohesion with a 9 panel grid. I think that fits with the way The Vision sees the world as well as a reflection of the monotony(?) of his current job.
Something that Miller used in Dark Knight Returns is the 12 panel grid. It was most effective when showing some of the introspective scenes with Bruce Wayne. The grid gave the impression of Bruce being trapped, the grid acting as bars. The grid could be seen to be serving a similar function here. Vision is trapped by his current existence.
I often find that opening pages of comics serve as an opening contract, telling the reader what the story is about at its core. The first page tells us of the residents of Cherrydale and how their ideals lead to them becoming ‘trapped’ in suburbia. This is essentially Vision’s conflict and it’s summed up beautifully in the caption of the last panel:
“They made the compromises that are necessary to raise a family.”
The central question is, can Vision do the same? The last scene with the Reaper also plays into the idea even if we create our own, we cannot choose our family.
The Reaper is the black sheep and the skeleton in the closet.
Me too! I know Tom King lived in/near DC at some point, so the series has a real sense of familiarity with the area that, as someone from said area, I really enjoyed and thought was neat. It’s mentioned that the school Vision’s kids go to, “Alexander Hamilton High School”, is a magnet school you have to test to get into. This is a pretty obvious allusion to the real school that you have to test into in the area, Thomas Jefferson High.
It was a nice extra detail to consider, because TJ is known for being an extremely high pressure environment, which plays in to how the Vision family is forcing themselves to meet impossible expectations, if that makes sense.
Small first note, about the captions: I love how very Claremontian the deep dive on George and Nora goes. It’s like a classic Claremont riff that he only ever goes/went deep on narration for characters that were gonna immediately get written off or killed, and no doubt, you immediately get told that they’ll be gone by the end of this somehow.
Also, there’s a lot to be said between Walta and Bellaire for expressing the subtlety of what King’s trying to express. Obviously, there’s a lot of good work being done in the narration and dialogue to set up the subtlety of the story, but particularly, from the fact that Walta is able to work with these tight grid pages and is so good at expressive faces and Bellaire has a very subdued pallette on the book, you get a sense that this isn’t a book with bombast but one with a quiet sense of unease. And of course, when the final events come around, Bellaire starts splashing solid reds and such, and Walta is more than capable of pulling the violent dynamism, but it really comes as a strong contrast to the fact that together they’re very strong at just drawing a “peaceful” quiet setting and characters.
I hate to keep beating this drum but Vision is a clear example of writer and artists working in perfect tandem. There are so many wrong ways to do the below panel and they knock it out of the park. It’s so perfectly uncomfortable.
Shall we open up the discussion to Issue 2?
So! Vision Issue 2. The shit really hits the fan.
The recounting of the twins discussion about the difference between synthezoids and humans is really interesting. The difference comes down to the difference in their biological imperatives and the similarities in their design.
Do you agree with Principal Waxman about the Vision kids essentially being weapons? Is his argument more compelling than if, say, he knew a mutant was attending the school and he was making the same case?
Also, when I first read the ending of this issue in December I literally said “OH NO!” out loud when I got to the ending.
(sorry for the delayed post, work has been busy)
It’s June now and this is beyond the reach of volume 1, but I just wanted to shout into a void:
I just finished issue 12 of Vision and this whole series is just incredible. Just unbelievably good.
Been waiting on a sale to pick up Volume 2 of this and…
LO AND BEHOLD, it’s $2.20 on Amazon right now. Digging into this tonight - excited and a bit terrified.