Marvel Pick Of The Week – March 9, 2016 [SPOILERS]


Pick Of The Week:

The Vision 5, by Tom King, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, and Jordie Bellaire

The Vision has been one of the best books in Marvel’s line since the close of Secret Wars, and each of the four previous issues has claimed Pick Of The Week when it’s come out. Despite stiff competition, this issue continues the streak by taking the steady build of horror and using it to split open a very human crack in the Vision’s cool android exterior.

This series has been about the Vision’s attempt to set up a family of his own in a suburb of DC after shutting off his emotions. In earlier issues, old enemy Grim Reaper attacked the house while the Vision was out, and wife Virginia killed him to protect her children. Last issue, she was able to confront the neighbor who had blackmailed her with video footage of her burying the body, and in that confrontation a charming, innocent classmate of the children’s was killed by a bullet that has phased through Mrs. Vision.

Using a Shakespeare passage to frame the action is often a tired trope that falsely elevates the new writer’s material, but Tom King is so much better – he frames the first half of the book with the Merchant Of Venice‘s “If you prick us, do we not bleed?” speech. He starts well before most of us recognize the source material, and he pointedly separates the discussion of anti-Semitism and fear over panels that shout the comparisons without insulting the reader. Yes, anti-robot violence is a metaphor in this book. But it’s a metaphor we haven’t learned since Shakespeare’s time. The parts of the speech about “We’re just like you” and laid over the child’s death certificate, while the threats of revenge color pictures of the Vision fighting humanity’s enemies with casual violence. I haven’t read Merchant since high school, but the extended quoted passage summons the wonderful complexity of the text and adds to the icy foreshadow of the rest of the narration.

In this issue, the Vision answers a few questions at the police station. He stays polite, but in his head, he is listing out thirty-seven times he has saved the entire planet (five of those are Ultron, but they each count). It’s a perfectly understandable narcissism, a “Don’t you know who I am?” moment, but it sets him up for tragedy when the detective finally asks him if he can vouch for his wife’s whereabouts at the time of the killing. King’s narration chills: “This small moment when he crossed to the other side, when he entered into the madness that was soon to come. This small moment. This small lie.” It’s tiny – he provides a false alibi. It feels insignificant given the cosmic threats he tackles on a daily basis, and yes, can’t people just give him a break, humans have been vandalizing his house, we owe him… but we don’t. So many of the mounting tragedies have been understandable – killing the Reaper was accidental and in self-defense, hiding the body was an act of fear, the shooting of the child was absolutely not his wife’s fault. But the town is building an environment of hostility, and the Visions are scared to tell the truth, and it’s the secrecy that is killing them. This is a series about foreshadowing, a series where the narrator’s predictions of doom saturate the text as beautifully as Bellaire’s colors do the visual storytelling.

The Vision is teaching us so much about how to build an amazing comic book, but it’s also challenging our little moral compromises and our inaction in the face of social injustice. This is a book to give to friends. This is a book to read over and over. Tom King’s exclusive contract to DC is Marvel’s loss, but the fact that he’s allowed to finish the twelve-issue masterpiece here is a gift to all of us.

Honorable Mentions:

Doctor Strange 6, because in the midst of a very scary, very grim issue, an avatar of Earth’s magical resources advances on the enemy yelling, “Abracadabra, you son of a bitch!” And that is going to win me every time.

Mockingbird 1, because 1) why would Tony Stark steal from righteously combative Mockingbird and 2) why would Tony Stark steal QUINOA?

Ms. Marvel 5, because G. Willow Wilson has already shown mastery at depicting one Muslim family, and now she has to go and show how well she gets the ways Christian families fight when the teen son gets into anarcho-atheism. Wilson refuses to be pigeon-holed. Nobody puts her in a corner.

Uncanny Avengers 7, because Deadpool’s irrational fear of Connecticut, including a golf course camouflage for the team’s rescue mission to Pleasant Hill, is one of his funniest gags so far.

Weirdworld 4, for this gorgeous combination of Mike Del Mundo’s incomparable art and Sam Humphries’s deeply truthful words. May we all be sad warriors together today.

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Check out previous Picks here!