The fate of two worlds may be at stake in the Avengers/Champions crossover “Worlds Collide,” but for Viv Vision, a more personal, yet no less seismic event is taking place. Avengers #673 finds the young Champion captured on Counter-Earth by the High Evolutionary, who’s all about experimenting on humans, animals and anything else he can get his hands on. (After all, his name has “evolution” in it.) Unfortunately for Viv, we get to see what happens when a synthezoid is evolved to a higher lifeform.
The end result is a fundamental change for Viv, and how fans will likely perceive her in the future. As the High Evolutionary explains, “I have transmogrified your synthezoid body into flesh and blood. You are fully human now.”
That’s right folks, Viv is now a living, breathing human. However, there is another, even more significant outcome of her new transformation: Rather than being depicted as a white girl, as you might expect given similar sci-fi and comic book twists of the past, Viv appears to be a woman of color.
While it’s not directly referenced in the story, this is a monumental status quo change not only for Viv, but for readers as well. Mark Waid, Humberto Ramos and the rest of the Champions creative team could have taken the path of least resistance with Viv’s racial identity, but instead they made the decision to further diversify Marvel’s existing superhero community. As a synthezoid (Marvel's name for an android with a synthetic body), Viv was already an outsider to the world at large, judged by the way she looks and talks. These themes will continue in her new state, where along with adapting to life as a human, she will now have to wrestle with the everyday discriminations that come with being a minority.
One question we have to ask is, did the High Evolutionary intentionally make Viv a black or Latina character during his experimentation, or was this a natural result of his actions? If it’s the latter, then it puts Tom King and Gabriel Walta’s critically-acclaimed The Vision in a whole new light. The 12-issue series took a unique approach to the Vision, introducing a suburban setting for the Avenger, along with a new family life consisting of his wife Virginia and teenagers Vin and Viv. The Visions stood out amongst their neighbors, an apparent study of what happens when celebrity lived in a the suburbs, but a situation that now reads with more racial overtones.
The Vision and his family were treated as outsiders and never accepted by their (predominately white) neighbors, which is what happens to minorities 365 days a year. Think back to news headlines reporting black children being gunned down for walking with a hoodie on, or playing with a toy gun in a public park. These are the same dangers Viv will face once “Worlds Collides” ends, especially since she’s apparently lost the "immortality" that comes with being a synthezoid. For that matter, does Viv still have any powers? Gone is the yellow pendant on her forehead, so that could be the first clue that she is now a completely powerless mortal.
Back to the Vision family for a second: does Viv’s revelation also extend to her parents, sibling and extended family? The Vision was the first creation of the classic Avengers villain Ultron, who himself went on to create a family for himself. If the High Evolutionary were to get his hands on the Vision and transform him the same as he did Viv, would Vision have brown skin also? There are two more Ultron creations to consider -- his wife Jocasta and cyborg son Victor Mancha. The name “Jocasta,” while being of Greek origin, has a Hispanic-sounding ring to it, while Victor’s mother is a Hispanic woman named Marianella Mancha.
It would be great if Marvel capitalized on Viv’s new status quo with a miniseries chronicling her journey, seeking advice through the Marvel Universe. One thing the publisher has done a fine job of doing over the last several years is adding more diverse heroes to its ranks, characters that reflect its expanded readership. A Viv Vision miniseries could guest-star a different hero in each issue to help attract new readers. For example, Viv can look to her Champions teammate Ms. Marvel for words of wisdom on how to navigate the streets as a woman of color. Lunella Lafayette, aka Moon Girl, is rather young, but has the distinction of being the smartest person in the Marvel Universe, who also happens to be Black. The possibilities are endless.
We’re holding out hope Marvel has long-term plans for Viv’s recent development. A subset of the fanbase will look up to her as a role model, and that’s a good thing. For now, however, we’ll just have to wait and see if she survives the Avengers/Champions crossover in one piece.