Book Review - The Vision, Volume 2: Little Better than a Beast

The Vision, Volume 2: Little Better than a BeastThe Vision, Volume 2: Little Better than a Beast by Tom King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Somehow, I figured that the second half of this mesmerising series would not live up to the expectations of the first. There is, however, a grand joy in reading a series so succinctly put together, and so enchanting. Not a panel feels amiss and the magical quality of Tom King's writing is arresting throughout.

Volume 2 follows the Visions as they scramble to keep their heads above water. It starts off with a melancholy reflection of Vision's tumultuous relationship with the Scarlet Witch. We fast forward through the highlights and low lights of their life together, eerily beginning and ending issue #7 with mirrored panels of Vision and his 'wife' - first Wanda and now Virginia. If that's not a forewarning for how Vision's new life is going to turn out, then I don't know what is.

Things go sideways (more so than expected) soon after, when it is foreseen that Vision will raze the world. The Avengers get involved, and as is usually the case, when Tony Stark comes up with a plan things usually go south because of it.

Vision's brother Victor turns up and lives with the Visions. All is well but when Victor's secret is found out, the Vision family are torn apart, never to be brought together again. A heart-wrenching few panels drive home this point - who knew a bunch of synthezoids could provoke such emotions in us.

You'd think a comic book about a synthezoid family trying to live in a quiet suburb would be unoriginal and silly, but if anything the two volumes of The Vision have taught us, it is that anything written well can be absorbing, good and real. While art has always questioned how human machines can be, The Vision series is one of the more beautiful renditions of an attempted answer to that question. I am so glad that I decided to randomly pick up this series because it helped me put a little faith in comics, even if it is temporary.

The one place the creators go wrong is the ending. Endings are hard, and when you've built up this melancholic world of sorrow, death and destruction, you can want to get out of it all and find the rainbow. But that's where The Vision's ending doesn't fit. It is far too rushed and abrupt. The sunniness of the last few panels is at odds with the dark drama that came before. Despite it's perfection, the happy ending is undeserving of the darkness that came before; it feels tacked on and contrived. It's those final few panels that lets the whole of Volume 2 down. It's hard to make a perfect ending, but this one feels like it fizzles out. A more ponderous, thoughtful and philosophical ending would have better befitted this sublime series.

This is, however, a surreal 12 issue series; one which, I hope, will take on the mantle of a modern classic comic book. This one is for the ages. Read it for the art, the writing, the melancholy and the relevance.

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