“The Vision” #1 is a comic that, under most people’s hands, simply wouldn’t work. The idea of the Vision forming a family with three other synthezoids and moving into Arlington, Virginia (a suburb of Washington, DC) sounds about as uninteresting and naval-gazing as possible on the surface. Yet, under the hands of Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez, it’s both fascinating and decidedly creepy.
King and Walta present the Vision family as being a half-step off from the rest of the world; going through the motions without the proper emotional attachment creates an alien experience both for the characters in question and those around them, and we’re given that in spades. We see this right off the bat with the arrival of neighbors Nora and George, as they meet Vision, Virginia, Viv and Vin. The tour of the house feels a little cold and eerie, even as all parties involved are clearly trying to act like this is a perfectly normal experience. Then, as the duo leave, King drops a little bombshell on us as readers. Having gotten to know this well-meaning couple, we’re warned that one of the members of the Vision family will set Nora and George’s house on fire, and that both will die in the flames. As their final thoughts are detailed, it’s hard to keep from getting a bit of a chill down your spine. This experiment will end badly, and that specter proceeds to hover over the rest of the issue.
Attempts to integrate with schools and locals, fighting off a supervillain with a connection to the Vision and much more follows, all while that cold, distant feeling persists. It’s a fine line to walk, but King manages to make this story engaging even while maintaining this off-kilter world. We’re given details about why the floating water vases of Zenn-La are always empty as well as how social media is getting quite a few photos of the new members of the family. We hear about the attitudes of living so close to the city and yet still being distant from it, in a perfect parallel to how the Vision and his family are so close and yet still so far from humanity. It’s the proverbial slow motion disaster for the characters involved, where you can’t take your eyes off of it even as you see doom just hanging overhead.
Part of the eerie nature comes from Walta, who was a perfect choice to draw the book. His characters have a deliberately slight distance from the rest of the world; he gives the Visions a certain stiffness even as they’re lifting pianos or sticking an arm through the side of a house. Best of all is Viv and Vin’s artificial, plastic smiles as they interact with the neighbors and classmates. There’s a certain insincerity to it — as if they’re smiling because they’ve been programmed to know it’s somehow more welcoming — which lets the characters fall perfectly into the realm of the uncanny valley where they are unnerving to those around them.
Walta also nails the fight excellently; the initial moment of impact is startling not only because of its surprise nature, but because of how well the blade plunging through both wall and victim is shown to have such a strong mark. The expression on the victim’s face is of perfect surprise, even as the insides begin to eject themselves from the torso. It’s creepy and yet somehow cold because of the clean, almost perfect nature of what’s happening. Walta understands the nature of King’s script and accentuates it beautifully.
“The Vision” #1 is a pleasant surprise that delivers an intriguing take on humanity, superheroism and life in suburbia. King and Walta have created an instant classic with “The Vision” #1, the sort of thoughtful comic that is all-too-rare these days. In the glut of new comics, don’t let this one sneak past you. It’s a winner.