Vision #12: “Spring”
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Gabriel Hernandez Walta
Color Artist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer & Production: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Review by: Nate Mondschein (@33andMoonshine)
(All kinds of Vision-ey SPOILERS below)
“Eventually, they met someone and fell in love and had children…they made the compromises that are necessary to raise a family.”
It isn’t until seven pages into The Vision #12, as Tom King echoes back the opening narration of his and Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s brilliant series, that we come to recognize the full scope of their significance. What once read as an even-tempered yet playfully taunting narrator, dangling hints of intrigue amidst the exposition, now returns to us in an elegant refraction, colored by the weight of more loss than any of us could have predicted: Vin, luminescent with his uncle’s brutal electricity; Victor with artificial life spilling from his chest in anti-prophetic resistance; Virginia spooning handfuls of forbidden water as she spins a story to liberate her daughter and husband from a less forgiving end. The sacrifices made to allow the family to continue forward. The inevitable conclusion, sitting unnoticed beside us all along.
This is the genius that King and Walta share: the ability and foresight to always tell the story even when we don’t realize there is a story to be told. Across twelve issues, the duo have woven an intricate patchwork of subtle narrative threads, and in The Vision #12, as we are finally afforded the opportunity to see the full picture, it is those small moments that truly shine: An inconsequential gesture by Virginia as she toys with the Zenn-La Water Vase in issue #8 returns, now heavy with consequence; a forgettable conversation between spouses is replayed, and comes to define their final moments together. As even the most minute details are brought into a new focus, we the readers come to feel as though we are an active participant in connecting their dots. And there is no greater gift a creative team can give their audience.
From its tense opening chapter, The Vision has been a master class in restraint, wasting nothing in service of the story. Art from Walta and Jordie Bellaire always offers just enough for each moment to swell with emotion beneath a deliberately muted exterior, a perfect analogue to our protagonists’ not-quite-so-robotic nature. The Vision #12 brings this visual tone to the forefront during the story’s unsurprisingly quiet climax: four short creases dance across Vision’s brow, pleading with his wife to save herself from her own decision to die. Virginia’s empty eyes turn down against the hint of a smile when she tells him she will not. There is a guarded intimacy to these moments, uncomfortably exposed, yet always with an air of distance; a reminder of both the undeniable humanity of these characters as well as the inescapable, heartbreaking divide separating them from the rest of us. We are watching the death of a family through the window. We cannot look away.
As has been the case throughout the series, King’s economy of language in The Vision #12 crafts a measured tone that at once nods to the inevitability of every ending, as well as the unremarkability of even those moments in which our characters seem to have escaped their fate. This overriding sentiment rings out in most profoundly in what is arguably the series’ most heartwrenching page, a splash of a weeping Vision cradling his wife as the corrosive water inside her completes its destructive course. “Virginia did the right thing,” our narrator tells us. “Or she did the wrong thing. Or she just did what everyone does—she saved what she could. And when she was done…she was done.”
Despite her heroism (of a sort) and sacrifice, it is the lack of fanfare in the aftermath that captures the true tragedy of the moment, of any moment like this. We are here until we aren’t. We live and we fight and we win and we lose and then we are over, and that is just another moment. We turn the page.
It is springtime, and there is no more trace of the shadows that had enveloped Virginia’s final moments. Wanda, now revealed to be our Everbloom-enlightened narrator for the series’ second half, walks with Viv along the National Mall, explaining to the young synthezoid the benevolent intentions behind her mother’s decisions. Then another turn, and Vision is once again sending his daughter on her way to school. But here, there is a newfound reservation in his demeanor, a hesitance to let her leave that plays against her the similarly novel self-assuredness in Viv as she kisses him on the cheek and turns to leave. Nothing is the way it was. But life is moving on.
And then, just as every indication seems to point towards King twisting his treatise on family into a story of single fatherhood, there is a post-script: Vision, hunched in his workshop, whispering a lullaby as he toils over a new creation. There is a decidedly haunting tone even before we see the final reveal: a new synthezoid in the process of construction, as Vision hums softly, “Merrily. Merrily. Merrily. Merrily. Life is but a dream.”
It’s a quiet callback that is easy to loose track of amongst the forest of Everbloom petals and floating water vases and vibranium lighters King and Walta have populated throughout their narrative. But if we allow ourselves to follow the trail back, we can trace a path to The Vision #8, where, in the living room of the once-whole Vision household, we watch a troubled Virginia attempt to explain her connection to the piano (“a gift from The Panther”) to a newly arrived Victor Mancha:
“I told this to Vision. But I do not think he understood” Virginia begins, turning away from her brother-in-law. “Or maybe he did not want to hear. When when I simply access the notes and play play play them well…I seem to feel that I am not playing them.” Her hand breaks the center of the water vase that will ultimately corrode her circuitry. It hangs unsteady as she continues. “I have…simply…become the piano. I am perfect perfect perfect. I am the piano. I am I am I am I am.”
Virginia, desperate for solace as she reckons with the echoes of a life that was not always her own, turns to the one escape she can find that can offer her a sense of completion, albeit of a temporary kind. It is her awareness of this impermanence that sends her weeping into the arms of the man she will murder five issues down the line.
By the time we arrive in the final moments of Vision #12, Fall has turned to Winter has turned to Spring. Viv has turned into the beginnings of a new hero. Victor, from brother to murderer. Virginia, from lost mind to martyr. But Vision, reckoning with the loss of half a family and the failure of his grand experiment, simply returns to what he knows. Vision accesses the notes and plays them well. Vision becomes his family. Vision is his family. Vision is perfect perfect perfect. Vision is…
Verdict: Do I think you should read one of the most emotionally evocative comics of the year, and one of the strongest series Marvel has released in recent memory? Yes. Yes I do. And if it’s possible, it may even read better in trade…but until that comes, BUY this and any of the back issues you might have missed.