“So can you understand?
Why I want a daughter while I’m still young
I wanna hold her hand
And show her some beauty
Before all this damage is done
But if it’s too much to ask, it’s too much to ask
Then send me a son”
The Suburbs – Arcade Fire
With Marvel’s synthezoid playing a large part in this years Avengers: Age of Ultron and presumably figuring into the future of the MCU, you’d be forgiven for expecting his new solo title to be a more straightforward rock ’em sock ’em, capes and tights affair. Recent years have seen aspects of characters form Tony Stark to the Guardians of the Galaxy tweaked to resemble their on-screen counterparts and give cinema goers who might brave a comic shop a more familiar experience. Instead this eerie sci-fi tale opens with Vision having quit the Avengers, purged himself of all emotions and relocated to the leafy, idyllic suburbs of Virginia with his recently created family. Chalk one up for creative and fearless storytelling over corporate synergy on this one.
An almost overwhelming sense of disquiet pervades King and Walta’s first issue and works it’s way through every panel from the very first page as we are introduced to the new life Vision is creating for himself in the Suburbs with it’s curious neighbours, morning commute and freshly mown lawns. While recent books like Avengers AI explored Marvels artificial intelligences celebrating their distinct nature as AI’s, this book is the polar opposite. King takes the characters core idea, his desire to be human regular and ordinary, his search for his humanity and takes it to the next extremely logical step.
“She was fascinated by how often she found something that made her cry,” reads the narration as Virginia sits silently on the couch lost in the past. Someones past at least. In the wake of the missing eight months since the resetting of the universe, one of the intriguing mysteries set up in this issue is whose brainwaves Vision’s bride is based on. Like many of the questions raised,the fact our hero wakes up in the middle of the night plagued by doubt, hints that the answer is bound to be shocking. Just who is the emotionally distant and seemingly omniscient narrator foreshadowing the events the book?
Walta’s art style compliments King’s script perfectly, further adding to the sense of unease in how he depicts Vision and his new family. Already an unusual design even in the Marvel universe, Walton’s synthoids stand out even further against the mundane suburban environments. Around humans their faces are plastered with synthetic smiles and wide welcoming eyes. Away from them, the act is dropped and their faces became vacant, robotic and almost mournful. “It felt like a sandwich bag” comments a neighbour on shaking Visions hand and the art reinforces this with the families glossy, almost 50’s atomica style artificiality. His subtle yet clever designs for Marvels newest family shouldn’t be overlooked and again in small ways works hand in hand with King’s story. Tiny details like the reoccurring diamond motif from Vision’s costume crop up on clothing and jewellery with the rest of his family and give them an unsettling uniform appearance. Whilst giving them a distinct look it also reinforces the Visions desire to present a strong, unified family unit to the world in his own exaggerated way.
Walta and King have crafted a comic so far removed from Marvels usual output, jettisoning the super heroics for a smart existential meditation on what it means to be human. A creepy, bold and gripping first issue that hints of something darker yet to come.