The Vision, Volume 1: Little Worse Than A Man by Tom King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is one of the best graphic novels I have read this year. I'm not going to write a separate review of the second volume, Little Better Than a Beast, as the two tell one complete story and should be taken together.
This is the story of the Vision, the "synthezoid" (Marvel's version of an android) created by the villain Ultron, and his attempts to live a normal human life with a family. Needless to say, this does not work out. I'm tempted to compare his journey to the story of Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation, but this is a far darker tale, with extensive quotations (and volume titles) from The Merchant of Venice to drive home the point that this is, and will be, a Shakespearean tragedy. I realized this about halfway through Vol. 1, but that didn't stop me from reading. This may be a tragedy, but it is a fantastic one, with explorations of what it means to be human, whether an artificial being can ever reach such heights, and whether, in the end, any of it matters.
The structure is a little different in that there is an omniscient narrator, the identity of which is revealed at the end of the first volume. The Avengers don't come off too well in this story, (well, we know Tony Stark is an asshole, but here he's rather more assholish than usual), and were I the Vision, I would tell them to leave me the fuck alone from here on out. Which is the beauty of this story, in Volume 1 and (especially) Volume 2: even though the Vision ends up doing some terrible things, the reader understands perfectly why he does them; and this reader, at least, considered whether or not she might do the exact same thing in the given circumstances.
The art, by Gabriel Hernandez Walta and Jordan Bellaire, is very good, perfectly complementing the story. On the last page of Volume 2, there is a bit of (gasp) shall we say hope? for the future, a small glow of light in contrast to this story's darkness. This is a thoroughly adult graphic novel, and should not be missed.
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