This review previously ran on the (sadly now defunct) website InfiniteComix.com, where I freelanced as a comic reviewer and opinions writer.
It’s quite possible that The Vision could be Marvel’s Breaking Bad, artfully crafted, as concerned with its thematic significance as it is with its impeccably maintained plot structure. In fact, the series so far has had more in common structurally with the first season television masterpiece than it does with a typical comic book ongoing series. Tom King is crafting a slow burning flame, lining the narrative with a palpable sense of foreboding while keeping us rooted in the increasingly weird present. The events unfold with the same symmetry that made Breaking Bad so mesmerizing, presenting its ideas and then accenting them with brief and powerful flashes of violence, and The Vision #4 might be the best display of this symmetry so far.
Somehow King manages to both build out his long con and give the frame of each issue a sense of finality. King is a master of manipulating information, giving us just enough to tease the oncoming craziness without giving away the comic’s beats too early. Much of the series so far has been thought heavy, focusing on the possible implications of Vision family in the real world. The Vision #4 offers a delivery on those consequences, escalating the problem begun by the shocking death in issue 1.
It’s a testament to King’s world building that the series’ pre-established character is maybe the least compelling of the family. If the Vision’s actions have put him on the path to ruin as the series promises, it’s Virginia’s actions that continue to escalate that conflict. The Vision #4 is Virginia’s show, but we get to spend some wonderful scenes witnessing the family’s increasingly odd dynamic. The family is familiar yet alien, hyper-logical yet still driven by their emotions. King has laid out a fascinating study of what makes us human by giving us examples of archetypal familial interactions and twisting them. The opening football scene clearly evokes Charlie Brown and Lucy, but overlaid with an eerie coldness that is present in every interaction the Visions have. Each moment of the series begs the question of whether the Visions flawed humans or malfunctioning robots. King has crafted characters who expertly walk this line, giving us just enough evidence on both sides to make for a truly gripping read.
I can’t talk about the issue’s strengths without touching on Gabriel Hernandez Walta and Jordie Bellaire’s wonderfully cohesive art. While King builds the drama, Walta and Bellaire provide a grounded, beautiful book to support it. The watercolor style does wonders to complement the grim undercurrents of darkness in this issue. Bellaire’s runny colors deliver maybe the most beautiful issue of the series yet, including a standout scene constructed of long, streaking stains of raindrops. Although often the watercolors function more as accents than as dominating pieces of the visual aesthetic, the book is its most striking during scenes that depict actual liquid—either rain or, ultimately, blood.
The Vision #4 is both beautiful and thrilling, building upon its excellent precursors to provide a perfect middle issue for the arc. This is easily one of the best, most surprising things to come out of Marvel’s ANAD initiative, and as its weirdness transitions to full on craziness I’m fully on board for what comes next. Score: 10/10