The Vision #8

Throughout "The Vision's" first story arc, Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta focused on Viz's wife and children and ruminated on the costs of creating the perfect, happy family. In "The Vision" #8, which kicks off the second arc of the series, they expand the cast to include Victor Mancha -- erstwhile Runaway and "brother" of the Vision -- as he comes to the house for a visit. As in past issues of this book, though, not everything with his visit is as it appears.

So far in the series, King's narrative has created a sense of dread whenever anything appears to go well; the longer things run smoothly, the more that dread grows. It means the turn -- and there always a turn -- will be even bigger and more wrenching. Introducing Mancha to the plot is a great addition by a writer who has always known how to make all the pieces of a character's past work to his advantage. King wields him as the cool uncle from out of town, which creates a distraction from inner turmoil for some and an outlet for grief for others. Watching Vision's apprehension about the visit melt away is nice to watch; Victor acts an outlet for the character, whose rage is beginning to seep in from the panel gutters page by page. He helps Viv process the grief the experienced over the death of CK and has a great double entendre conversation with Vin about how much Shakespeare alone in one's room is too much.

It's great family dynamics and trust-building work, which makes the ending so much more painful -- and it is painful on a whole new level for this book. It's also in character for this family, whose superpower of emotional suppression erodes more and more with each chapter.

The hardest character to watch go through this is Virginia, who tries so hard to bury the trauma of killing Grim Reaper and injuring CK's dad that she stutters and malfunctions. The most awful of deeds can have the noblest intentions and also the direst of consequences. She's a Dostoevsky character in synthetic casing, pulling herself apart from the inside. King must think the Vision is truly the noblest soul of the Avengers, because he certainly is piling on the hurt for him and his family.

Walta is back this month after last issue's guest stint from Michael Walsh, and his work is refreshed and even tighter. He is a master of emotional storytelling and wrings so much out of these characters, especially Vin and Viv. The splash reveal of Vin discovering what his uncle is up to is full of enough tension to fill several pages. Check out the corners of panels whenever the family is in public, as well as the reactions of the background characters. They aren't the main focus of the action, but they subtly enhance and inform the environment and world surrounding the main family. Even Sparky, the newly-Christened family dog, has plenty of personality in his Irish terrier eyes. Walta's pacing also runs at the perfect speed, building the narrative and drawing in readers with every flick of the page. Jordie Bellaire's washed-out color palette gives an eerie cooling effect to the work; even her warmer tones are flat, enhancing the dulled feeling that comes from suburban life. Altogether, it's really impressive stuff.

This book is about hard choices, what you are willing to sacrifice for the greater vision you have and how the consequences of those actions alter your life. It's about how fighting against where you come from only makes you more likely to become the thing you hate. It's about what's not said and how it will eventually find a way of expressing itself whether you like it or not. King and Walta continue to deliver the most gripping, explosive story inside the Marvel Universe in "The Vision" #8, and it all revolves around a two-story suburban home. Forget "Civil War II"; the real high stakes action this summer is a suburban synthetic family drama.

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