Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Viewing Vision #5

Or an attempt to articulate what it is exactly I find so engaging about Vision #5
by Tom King, Gabriel Walta, Jordie Bellaire, and Clayton Cowles; Marvel Comics

The Vision is the most pleasant surprise in my current comic rotation. When I first tried the comic, King and Walta were largely unknown creators for me and the Vision is a character that I had zero real interest or affinity for. Honestly, the only reason I even picked up Vision #1 was that Jordie Bellaire was the colourist: she has such a track record of excellence and for participating in great comics that her name on a comic warrants a look. And once again, the Bellaire-gambit was worth it: Vision is a really, really engrossing comic.

But with Vision #6, I think I might be able to explain why.

There will be *SPOILERS* for Vision #6 below.

The Vision is also a comic that I have been having trouble articulating just what it is that makes it so compelling. At the end of the day, I think the Vision is a comic hat benefits from a lot of subtle aspects working together to create a remarkable reading experience. The story that places a family of androids in suburban America and contends with prejudice manages to be timeless and somehow extremely pertinent. Structured scripts set up a point, (like the Merchants of Venice narration in Vision #6) and gradually unfold and payoff a lesson creating a series of quasi-parables. The grinding, deliberate pace of the story and the use of an omniscient narrator grants the comic an overall relentless, ominous feeling. Fleeting moments of happiness burst in to provide key moments of contrast. The not-quite-human designed Vision family, with their uncanny value pink skin and green hair, manage to look sympathetic and alien at once. Their slightly stilted speech and their slightly stiff body language and acting makes them seem even more robotic and inhuman. Combined it's a disquieting read that is absolutely engrossing.

Vision #6 also provides a really great example of what I think is my favourite aspect of the comic There is a wonderfully written sequence in Vision #6 that systematically builds up his exploits as a hero, noting every time he personally saved the Earth, so that when he tells a very human, very understandable lie, the comic can deploy a wonderfully dramatic and visceral bit of judgement and foreshadowing. Throughout this sequence are references to Vision saving the Earth from robotic menaces: the sentinels, Jocasta, and Ultron over and over again. Of the 37 times Vision claims to have saved the world, 9 of those times were related to thinking machines and 7 of them were Ultron. This choice reminds us just how dangerous AI's are in the Marvel Universe. What's more, Vision himself was created by Ultron and is closely related to Jocasta (another Ultron creation), which highlights that Vision's very own nature is dangerous, that the Vision family is dangerous. And this is, I think, the awful engine of Vision: that as sympathetic as the Vision family is they are fundamentally inhuman and legitimately dangerous. They are not a misunderstood minority, they are superpowered androids that can do tremendous damage and exist outside the rules of human behaviour. Which creates this exquisite story tension: Vision is caught between a parable about coexistence and a horror story about the dangers of AI, it's a story about empathy where the bigots are not entirely wrong to be afraid. And it's this uncomfortable fact that I find so ghastly and compelling. 

Vision is really a fantastic comic book.

No comments:

Post a Comment