The mass exodus of big name writers from Marvel and DC (as I like to see it) leaves a gap that needs filling. It has left a great opportunity for many creators, one which has been grasped firmly by Tom King. His inventive storytelling has wowed us on Grayson and now he takes on a character that has very little actual depth in recent times. That being said, his showcase in the latest Avengers movie will garner some motivation to pick this solo title from the shelves. As a creation of Ultron, The Vision has decided to pursue the exact opposite of his raison d’etre, he has created an artificial, synthezoid nuclear family. His wife is Virginia with daughter Viv and son Vin, and in the first issue they were ferociously attacked by an assailant called Grim Reaper.
The foundation to this story is all-important because The Vision has created an artificial intelligence family. They did not start young and mature together, they have just come into existence and are learning how to interact within themselves and with the human folk that live around them. This instantly conjures up dilemmas in almost every social situation and the classic fear of the unknown angle often encountered with android stories. Tom King is exceptionally clever in how he handles this comic as it is not really about The Vision, it is about his wife. The patriarch is the keystone that holds the rest of the book in perspective, as he has successfully managed to be an Avenger and engages relatively normally with the human population. We turn to him as an example of the objective as much as his family does, in what to expect and how to act. The narrative is delivered via the father but the story is all about the mother and her struggles. There is a blend of first person monologue through The Vision with fly on the wall observation of Vivian. It is not always a natural transition and you find yourself having to actively switch from empathising with the thoughts of The Vision to watching Virginia lie to her husband. This is where it gets a little tricky.
There aren’t just scenes of Virginia following her maternal instincts but also the difficult circumstances their children find themselves in. The image of a mutilated Viv in a medical bay, repetitively asking for her mother is harrowing. Walta utilises his thick line and simple expressiveness to tilt her head, keep her mouth aghast and bring fear to the whitened relatively unemotive eyes of The Visions. Almost simultaneously we see a letterbox panelling affect of a school corridor which moves along seamlessly as Vin slowly disappears into the ground. The proverbial wanting the floor to open up and swallow you whole could not be more an apt description. In fact his interaction with a schoolboy who asks about his sister, is a perfect example of the assimilation turmoil this family faces. Vin questions his own existence whilst being pestered by Viv’s lab partner and loses his temper. Not only is his verbal retort actually quite amusing but his physical response of comparing the standby button of a machine to pressing on the carotid artery to stop blood flow to the brain is really quite clever. Walta is phenomenal at contrasting the simple robotic expression of a synthezoid and the increased skin creases terror of a human. Bellaire uses the bright pink and almost luminous green colours of Vision to bring an illuminating quality to the book that is almost completely incongruous to the story. But that is the beauty of it because the happy family theme of the book is completely falling apart.
Though they are a synthezoid family, they are anything but. The notions of being an artificial intelligence and having a purpose outside of survival and reproduction are touched upon lightly here. There is an air of superiority developing, especially with Vin because these simple synthezoids are capable of so much more than humans. Virginia struggles with this concept more than most, as the prejudice and patronisation she encounters from the school principle angers her so very easily. It also upsets The Vision too but he handles it appropriately with dignity, and if you removed the synthezoid aspect out of the equation, you would think these were normal parents acting with genuine courtesy and concern. This very scene hints to where the story may be really heading.
The Vision often speaks to his wife in a very polite and educating manner, but there is some emotion there. Virginia feels a longing for him and in his support of her during the encounter with the principal, feels such a strong attachment that she tells him she loves him. Walta is key to making this believable as she emotes, often more so than The Vision does. In fact her pain, anger and fear are manifested in her posture so much more so than in her husbands. Perhaps this is the reason why she lied to him. Her grasp of emotions is almost more sincere and has yet to be constrained for the people around her. The Vision has undergone self-subjugation in order to be part of the community when in fact he has more power and knowledge than everyone around. His emotional control is key to his assimilation and quite clearly Vin and Virginia’s have not. When those feeling become uncontrollable, the reactions would be more fierce and consequential than humans because the synthezoids are so much stronger. This is exactly what happened when the mother killed Grim Reaper in order to protect her children, and hid it from her husband because she was scared and guilty of letting her husband down.
King, Walta and Bellaire have combined fantastically to bring a story about being normal and fitting in with those around you. Though they are a synthetic family, the writing, colouring and art are anything but. What The Vision hasn’t realised is that his manufactured family are as normal as anyone else on the planet. And in dampening down their ability to use their powers and controlling their emotions is only going to lead to disaster, especially when they are threatened. It is only a matter of time when this family is going to break, as those around them push them further and further. And It will be up to The Vision how he decides to handle the people he loves most.
“A synthezoid was not designed to merely survive and replicate. A synthezoid has a purpose”