Today, Ryan and Drew are discussing Vision 8, originally released June 8, 2016.
Ryan: An extended family member, someone who knows and loves you but doesn’t see you everyday, is in a unique position offer insight and help. Growing up, my Uncles’ advice and counsel always seemed better than my parents. It was probably because my parents were there all the time with a bunch of rules and expectations and time with my Uncles was more like a vacation. In Vision 8, Uncle Victor spends one-on-one time with each of the Vision family and is able to support them and connect to them in a way that their immediate family cannot.
The structure and pacing bring a rhythm and symmetry to the issue. It opens with the Vision family dispersed around the house, each in their own world. Victor arrives and the family comes together to order a meal they cannot eat. After connecting with the family individually, Vin discovers that Victor is a spy for the Avengers. The twist is subtly telegraphed and provides a second reading to each of Victor’s interactions which, at first read, feel like authentic Uncle moments.
Because Victor has some more human qualities than his brother’s family, he often acts as the reader surrogate. He wants the Visions to go to the restaurant, not for quality family time, but because he would enjoy the awkwardness of eating out as a family that doesn’t eat. Victor curses, has floppy hair. But, even before we find out that he is spying, we know that there is more going on for him beneath the surface. The narration of Victor’s origin is a bit expository, but it adds a weight to his more playful attitude. He knows that he is capable of destroying the world as Victorious, and so his choice to embrace the absurd and silly feels life-affirming rather than shallow. For heaven’s sake, he and Vin have an extended conversation about over-indulgence in Shakespeare that is non-metaphorical allegory for masturbation.
During the basketball game, Gabriel Hernandez Walta maintains the duality of a grounded conversation and the extraordinary abilities of the players. The perspective changes from one of them to the other, so the reader never feels like an outsider to the conversation. Also, Walta keeps the ball in frame all the way through the sequence until the final panel. As Victor encourages Vin to consider life as a hero, Vin’s body language is no longer that of a teen shooting hoops. He looks like his father.
The basketball scene is a strong contrast to the final page of the issue, which shows Victor attacking his nephew and ends with Vin’s scream.
For the first time, Victor’s easy attitude slips. Rather than the kindness and empathy of the previous scenes, he radiates agitation and his face contorts with fear. His hand in the second to last panel comes from off the page like an attacking zombie. The rising tension of the scene dovetails with the narration of Victor’s demise. The story of Victor’s origin and death bookend the issue. After an entire issue watching Victor bond with Vision’s family, knowing that it ends with him dead at his brother’s hand feels both heartbreaking and inevitable.
Drew, what did you think of the issue? How effective did you find the layering of the story of Victor’s visit with that of his origin and death? Also, this was quite a “talky” issue with a measured pace. Did King and Walta offer enough surprise to keep the story engaging? What significance, if any, is there to mine in the repetition of phrases both spoken and in the narration? Or is this a situation where “follow the bouncing ball” is just “follow the bouncing ball”?
Drew: Oh, man, the narration. I realize we never really dug into issue 6’s big reveal confirming that Agatha Harkness is the narrator of this series, apparently relaying her vision of the future to the Avengers. In that way, the repetition of “follow the bouncing ball” isn’t just foreshadowing Agatha’s wish that Vin follow the ball that bounces off the door rather than follow the dog that went through it; it’s also subtly reminding us that Agatha already knows that that event is going to happen. She’s already seen how this story ends, so she feels a twinge of emotions when she first introduces that ball, in much the same way we might feel that twinge upon seeing that damn sled during a second viewing of Citizen Kane.
Curiously, even with the knowledge that the Avengers were now worried about the Vision and with the mentions of the Avengers in Victor’s introduction, I somehow didn’t anticipate Victor’s true motives. Or, rather, I didn’t anticipate this specific route towards those motives. This issue makes crystal clear how desperately Victor wants to avoid becoming Victorious, but the reveal that he’s working with the Avenger’s complicates that aversion. On the one hand, he seems to be helping save the Avengers, rather than kill them, but on the other, joining the Avengers is the first step in fulfilling his destiny.
The phrase “He will raze the world” further complicates Victor’s involvement, because Agatha used that same phrase to describe the Vision’s fate, as well. Is setting Victor on the path to razing the world a meaningful way to combat the Vision doing the same? I suppose this all presupposes that any of these prophecies can be avoided. Is any of this actually working to avoid the Vision razing the world, or is that an inevitability? The fact that Victor was sent to spy/intercede suggests a belief that the future can be changed, but Agatha’s impotence in making Vin “follow the bouncing ball” suggests otherwise.
Ultimately, I’m not that interested in the rules of Agatha’s premonitions — it seems unlikely that Vision will kill all of the Avengers — but I would like to posit that what we know about the premonition is too ambiguous to condemn Vision with, anyway. We know that he will be covered in the blood of his friends who lay at his feet, and we know that Victor “will be all that stands between Vision and the destruction of the world,” but that’s it. Personally, I’m inclined to think that these facts leave room for Victor’s own destiny — that is, that Victor causes the death and destruction in these prophecies, and that Vision ultimately defeats him.
I tend to avoid making predictions, but I make the exception here to focus on the implications of that reading — specifically, Victor’s line about not being Victorious. In setting up Victorious as a failure, he’s created an intriguing double meaning to “victorious,” such that he’s victorious if he doesn’t become Victorious, but if he’s Victorious, he doesn’t become victorious. It’s a bit more obvious when I can capitalize the name, but his exact meaning in that line is obscured by the standard upper-case lettering — we’re not sure if he’s saying he won’t be victorious, or if he won’t be Victorious. That tension becomes all the more tragic if we consider that that battle may only come to pass because of actions taken specifically to avoid it — actions which put Victor on the Avengers in the first place.
Sorry. It should be criminal to spend so much time advancing a fan theory when there’s so much good stuff on the page to talk about. Ryan already expertly highlighted the Shakespeare-as-masturbation scene (though I might amend that summary to the slightly more incriminating meta-commentary of “Shakespeare-quotes-as-masturbation”), so instead, I’ll turn to Victor’s heartbreaking scene with Virginia.
Here, I’ll echo Patrick’s frustrations at attempting to comment on the themes and symbols in a series that articulates them so much more coherently than I ever could, but “I have simply become the piano” is an absolutely beautiful sentiment. It perfectly expresses the dehumanizing nature of creating art without personality, though somehow within the confines of a comic that comes as close to “perfect” as any I’ve read in a long time. Obviously, “perfect” and “personality” are not mutually exclusive, but I can certainly understand how creators in this industry might feel more like the piano than the pianist.
Geez, this series is obscenely good. Virtually every aspect, from the density of its themes to the way it balances satisfying episodes within a larger serialized narrative, is humming along like a well-made synthezoid. Of course, that means we’ve only barely scratched the surface of what made this issue so effective, but I’m hoping we can dig even deeper in the comments.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?