Something I haven’t done in a long time is read a comic on a monthly basis. There are several reasons for this. One reason is the expanded storytelling of modern comics. When I was growing up comic book stories used to be a one-and-done narrative. Occasionally you’d get the two or three-parter but for the most part it was a complete story each month.

Nowadays comics have become increasingly deconstructed to the point where each month is only a very small part of the story and the narrative is stretched out into individual chapters in a longer story arc that just so happens to fit nicely into a trade paperback. Writing for the trade its called. This is neither a good or a bad thing and I don’t want to go into the pros and cons of this type of approach; suffice to say I usually have just waited for the paperback and didn’t bother with month-to-month issues.

But if I were to be completely honest the real reason I haven’t read monthly comics is because I’m unbelievably cheap. A monthly comic costs along the lines of $3.99 or more an issue and that can be prohibitive if you notoriously do not want to spend money on anything other than food and beer.

All that being said with the launch of Marvel’s “All-New, All-Different” campaign several titles piqued my interest and I have decided to put aside my penny-pinching ways and give them a try. And one title in particular has surprised me because I wasn’t expecting it to be as unsettling as it has turned out to be.

The Vision was one of my favorite characters as a kid. He was brightly colored and had great powers like phasing through walls and shooting power beams from his forehead and he was a android. All this was ridiculously cool for an 8 year old boy. But he worked best as a supporting character, I think even back then I knew that. He works better as a member of a team rather than a lead and as such he’s never really had a title all his own other than a few one-shots or mini-series over the years.

Until now of course and I’ve no doubt that this decision was made in no small part because of his popularity in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. But if you picked up this book and expected to see Paul Bethany’s version you will be disappointed. If however you are open to something just a little dark and unnerving you will be rewarded.

Minor Spoilers Ahead (if you care about such things)

Sam has left SHIELD and decided to take a political stand on issues rather than just playing the role of the silent symbol. This has not sit well with a lot of folks and some animosity has been directed his way. Because of this the cliffhanger confrontation seems somewhat inevitable. But is it handled well and still manages to be satisfying despite being expected.

As for the politics in this issue, there is not exactly any ambiguity. As far as what side of the political spectrum writer Nick Spencer falls there really is no doubt. His contempt for anti-immigration is on full display as is his disrespect for most “conservative” issues. He does fall short of a total diatribe on the policies of the right, but its there. In fact so much so his version of the character was dubbed “Captain Socialism” by some and while pissing off Fox & Friends does make me smile some subtlety would have been appreciated.

Tom King: story
Gabriel Hernandez Walta: art
Jordie Bellaire: colors
Clayton Cowles: letters

The story is a simple one. The Vision, a synthezoid, has had all his emotions and super-hero memories purged so now he is just a blank slate. He decides he will create for himself a family (a wife, Virginia, and twin children, Viv and Vin) and settle down in the suburbs to live a “human” life. Its the classic fish-out-of-water scenario. The look and act human but just don’t quite understand the social norms and pleasantries that “normal” people do and hilarity ensues. Well, that is until it suddenly turns ominous and weird.

The is an overtone of melancholy as the Visions outwardly seem void and blank but struggle with feelings of loneliness and alienation that they are not quite sure are theirs or something left over in their programming.

There is an unease throughout the story made even more tense by a narration that makes everything cold and distant the culminates, after a visit from the neighbors, to a foreshadowing of a dark future. The tension continues to build to a sudden, unexpected ending leaving the reader with a violent and bloody cliffhanger.

This is not a super-hero story. This is suburban horror. And it is fantastic.

I was not familiar with Tom King’s writing before this. He is able to convey a sense of terror from the mundane and a simple throwaway line can turn suddenly ominous. This is highlighted by the art. Walta’s art is stark; detailed but without warmth that adds an eeriness and surreal quality. All this is given a muted pastel haze by Jordie Bellaire’s color palette. It all seems like the 1950s suburban ideal but off, not quite right.

If I have a complaint it is that this isn’t really a “Vision” comic. What we as longtime readers have come to recognize as the character of Vision is simply not here. There is no trace of the over-powered, brightly colored Avenger who could cry; it is a new character in the Vision’s shell.

But to be honest that’s not really a problem. The story is too good and too well crafted to to worry about past iterations or continuity. I hate saying things like “must-read” – but this is a must-read comic and well worth the monthly investment. Even for cheapskates like me.

I was surprised by this book. I like being surprised.



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