Tag Archives: Gabriel Hernandez Walta

A Review of The Vision #12 – Having Your Cake and Eating it Too

Vision #12 cover, 2016, Mike Del MundoTITLE: The Vision #12
AUTHOR: Tom King
PENCILLER: Gabriel Hernandez Walta. Cover by Mike Del Mundo.
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: October 26, 2016

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Hey, Tom King? Gabriel Hernandez Walta? Jordie Bellaire? Everybody involved with The Vision? Meet me in the second ‘graph, please…

Well done. Seriously. This series is a masterpiece. A perfect masterpiece? Maybe. That depends on a lot of things, not the least of which is the reader’s personal taste. But you’d have to do a lot to convince me this isn’t a master class in comic book storytelling, and a high point in the Vision’s near 50 year history.

(And yes, I stole a Jon Stewart bit. He’s not on TV right now. I miss him. Sue me.)

This final issue of The Vision sees our titular character finally face the reality of what his wife Virginia has done, and what his dream of having a family has become. We also get a look at how these events shape Vision, and what remains of that family, going forward.

vision-12-silentWhat has fueled this whole story has been Vision’s motivation to be human. As he flat out said to Scarlet Witch last issue, “I want to be like everyone else.” Therein is the underlying tragedy of this whole thing. He wants it so badly, but he can never truly have it.

That’s why there’s such a a morbid irony what Vision does when he finds out his wife has, for all intents and purposes, poisoned herself. He tells Virginia to use her powers to phase the substance out of her, and that he’ll use his status as an Avenger to correct the murder confession she gave to the authorities. He wants to reap the benefits of his family’s super powers, and his status as an Avenger to save this illusion of normalcy he’s created for himself.

He’s trying to have his cake and eat it too. That’s what he’s been trying to do this whole time. And of course, life doesn’t allow for that. But Virginia sacrifices herself to save Vision out of love for their family. And as we see in the flashbacks, she modified his memories to protect him. As tragic as it all is, it illustrates that Vision was able to create a loving family for himself, only to have it taken away from him.

I imagine this is part of the reason why this series has resonated so well with readers. These characters aren’t looking for something so firmly planted in the realm of fantasy, or even overtly selfish. They’re looking for love and acceptance, as well all are.

We see/hear Virginia’s confession to the police over the course of three pages, which Jordie Bellaire colors in a blaze of yellows, oranges, and reds (shown below). It’s a cool effect, though I’m happy we only see it for a limited time. It’s tough on the eyes after awhile. Bellaire may be the unsung hero of this book. The muted palette she’s used for this series has worked wonders.

vision-12-neon-gabriel-hernandez-waltaI had seen Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s work prior to The Vision. He did some fine work on Magneto, and I have a miniseries he did for IDW called The Suicide Forest. But The Vision made him a star. At least in my book. His rendering of the family is very human and familiar, but at the same time distinctly and hauntingly different. In this final issue, he’s at his strongest during Vision and Virginia’s final scene together. Some of it’s in the very subtle nuances of a facial expression. At other points its more blatant, i.e. the panel where we see tears on Vision’s face. It’s a scene that grabs you and doesn’t let go, even after you’ve closed the issue.

The lone element in this series that left me unsatisfied was the role Scarlet Witch played. In issue #7, we see that she incited all of this. Not just by giving Vision her brainwave patterns, but her relationship to Vision as a whole. I had hoped to see a bigger emotional pay off between Wanda and Vision. She has a scene with Viv in this issue, where we see there’s something of a motherly bond between the two. That’s another ball of wax entirely.

I have mixed feelings about Viv’s survival, and her continued appearances in books like Champions. Especially with Tom King not at Marvel anymore. What he, Walta, and this team created is so unique, with a vibe and tone unlike anything else at Marvel right now. I almost wish we could let this remain a crystalized masterpiece for awhile before thrusting Viv into the Marvel Universe at large.

But of course, that’s not how mainstream superhero comics work.  In the end, everyone at The Vision has done something few creators at DC and Marvel get to do. They opened a new door for storytelling that other creators can now walk through and explore. In the process, they added a new dimension to a long-standing, yet often under appreciated piece of the Marvel lore.

So I’ll say it again: Well done, folks. You made great comics.

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A Review of The Vision #11 – The Burden of Being Different

vision #11, 2016TITLE: The Vision #11
AUTHOR: Tom King
PENCILLER: Gabriel Hernandez Walta. Cover by Mike del Mundo.
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: September 21, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

As amazing as this series has been, and as much of a landmark as its been for the Vision, ending it next month is the right move. This story feels like it has a distinct beginning, middle, and end. Better they not try to forcibly extend it, especially now that Tom King is exclusive to DC.

With his son dead, Vision is over the edge. He’s set to kill his son’s murderer, and his own
“brother,” Victor Mancha. But Iron Man, Thor, Spider-Man, and a litany of other Marvel heroes are standing in his way. Now it’s one against many, as Vision fights for revenge. But he’s not the only one in the family out for blood…

The Vision has an appreciation for the character’s history that does tremendous things for this story’s depth. Case in point, the caption boxes in this issue take us back to Vision’s origin, plucking actual dialogue written by Roy Thomas in 1968. We’re reminded of how he came to be, and that ironically his original purpose was to kill the Avengers. We read Utrom’s first words to him, and later his first words to his wife Viv, reminding us he’s come full circle. King is working with Vision’s history, and using it to support his story. Writers don’t always take that route, and I credit King for doing his homework.

The Vision #11, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, cooperation

The series has been building to this fight with the heroes since issue #1, and it doesn’t disappoint. It gives our heroes a painful reminder: If the Vision goes bad, they’re in big trouble. He disposes of some of Marvel’s big guns with unsettling ease. It’s not epic or event-comic worthy, but Walta and colorist Jordie Bellaire give us something satisfying that still fits with the tone they’ve set. Also, seeing Bellaire color all these flamboyantly dressed heroes is a thrill, considering we’re used to seeing a more subdued  palette from this book.

There’s also a certain gritty texture to Walta’s art that accentuates the grim undercurrent in this series. It’s especially powerful in quiet scenes, like the one we see here with Virginia and Viv. There’s a heart-wrenching scene where the Vision family dog exits the series that’s almost too good. Human-on-animal violence is risky territory, even if the subjects in question are robots.

Another moment the series has built to is Vision’s reunion with Scarlet Witch. This felt like it should have been a fight. Vision tries to burn the world to the ground, and the only one standing in his way is the woman that inspired him to create a family in the first place. Instead, Wanda just says some stuff about understanding him, and how he won’t be able to come back from this. That’s all well and good. But that’s it? I’m hopeful this was just an appetizer, and a more physical confrontation will come next issue.

Though to his credit, Vision’s last words to Wanda in this scene are poignant, and even insightful: “I’m so sorry, Wanda. I do not think that you understand That you ever understood. I want to be like everyone else.”

Vision #11, 2016, Scarlet WitchOf all things, this reminds me of the talk show scene in Edward Scissorhands. Edward makes a comment about wanting to meet a corrective surgeon, and a pair of ladies in the audience can’t understand why he wouldn’t want to be “special” anymore. The whole “burden of being different” thing obviously works for this book.

King, Walta, and everyone on The Vision have done something great with this book. They’ve brought out the best in a B-list character, elevating him in the process. Just because it’s right to end it next month, doesn’t mean I”m glad to see it go…

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A Review of The Vision #7 – The Scarlet Witch Issue

The Vision #7, 2016, Mike Del MundoTITLE: The Vision #7
AUTHOR: Tom King
PENCILLERS: Michael Walsh. Cover by Mike Del Mundo.
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: May 11, 2016

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Tom King, author of The Vision, said not long ago that the title character’s relationship with Scarlet Witch has haunted this whole series so far. To me, she’s as big a character in this as anyone in the family…” In this issue we finally find out why that is.

In a development that shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise to those familiar with Vision’s history, issue #7 lets us know that he created his robotic wife Virginia using the brain patterns of Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a. Scarlet Witch. We also look back at some of the pivotal moments in their romance, and how Vision came to be in possession of Wanda’s brainwave patterns. It’s actually surprising how simple it turns out to be.

The Vision #7 (2016), title pageWe knew Wanda was going to play a role in this series at some point. When they revealed how Vision created his wife and family, there was really no other option, was there? It had to be her. Who else could it have been? Her appearance was inevitable.

Thankfully, it doesn’t disappoint. We spend virtually the entire issue going over select moments in Vision and Wanda’s history. We see part of their first night in bed together (left), we see them at home, we see them argue, we see their family life, and we see the awful consequences of Vision losing his memory in Vision QuestToward the end, we also see what seems to be a reconciliation, and just how pivotal Wanda was to Vision’s attempt at the American Dream. There’s some great plot symmetry with how King involves Wonder Man in all of this. This issue is a prime example of how continuity can be used to bring depth to a story, so long as one doesn’t rely too heavily on it. In King’s case, he uses it as Vision’s motive. It also adds a hell of a lot of depth to the eventual confrontation between the two.

Gabriel Hernandez Walta has the issue off, and he’s definitely missed. To be fair, his style isn’t that different from what guest artist Michael Walsh gives us here. The main difference is Walsh is a bit smudgier than Walta. But it’s not a drastic change. The biggest complaint I can throw at this issue from an artistic stand point is there’s a word balloon with its tail going the wrong way. Colorist Jordan Bellaire is back on this issue, and definitely helps ease the transition. Thankfully, Walta will be back next month.

The Vision #7, 2016, Michael WalshThe only moment in this issue that stands out as awkward is when we peek in on a past battle between The Avengers and Count Nefaria. They’re literally making out behind a tree during the fight (shown right). I”m not sure I would have framed the scene this way. At one point, we literally see a car thrown against the side of a building. It seems like it’d be more logical to see one tending to another, using a strewn about vehicle for cover. At the very least, I’d have made that tree a bit bigger. It’s like…HEY! We see you! EVERYBODY can see you!

Awkward make-out spots aside, from a story perspective The Vision is the best superhero title either of the big two companies are putting out right now. It’s a fantastic blend of super-powered fantasy, mixed with suburban paranoia, and a really thick sense of looming tragedy. From the start, we’ve had this sense that something really, really bad is about to happen. At it keeps getting closer…

Images from author’s collection.

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A Review of The Vision #6 – The Jig is Up!

The Vision #6, 2016TITLE: The Vision #6
AUTHOR: Tom King
PENCILLER: Gabriel Hernandez Walta. Cover by Marco D’Alfonso.
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: April 6, 2016

***Miss last issue? Boom. Or head back to the beginning with issue #1.***

***WARNING: Minor spoilers ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This series needs to get cancelled…in seven months.

Tom King has signed an exclusive deal with DC, and will succeed Scott Snyder as the writer on Batman. But we’ll be seeing his handprints on The Vision through issue #12. That should really be the end of this series, as you’re not going to find anyone who’s going to top this, or even maintain the current quality. Plus, let’s be honest. This is Marvel. If there’s enough demand, another Vision series will be part of their next big relaunch.

The jig is up for The Vision’s wife, Viv. Her husband has learned her secrets. Vision literally discovers Grim Reaper’s body buried in the back yard. The question now is, what happens going forward? Does The Vision maintain this classic American facade he’s created? Or is it all for naught now that the bodies are piling up?

The Vision #6, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, headshotKing and Gabriel Hernandez Walta aren’t going to earn any points with the PETA crowd on this issue, as Grim Reaper’s body is discovered by a small dog, which is subsequently killed. It’s a jarring image, but that’s part of this book’s M.O. isn’t it?

Speaking of which, how about this headshot? It’s not even the blood. That’s just the garnish on the dish. It’s the eyes, the color of the “skin,” and the way the shadow frames his face. This page puts you inside the issue, and face to face with The Vision. As such, it puts you in the shoes of all the citizens who interact with he and his family.

And yet, it’s not as though Vision is cast as this awful horror comic villain. In some ways, he’s very sympathetic here. He wants to be normal. He wants a family, and he’s willing to go to drastic measures to make that a reality. But of course, he was doomed to fail from the start. And if anyone finds out about those drastic measures, his entire existence is ruined.

It looks like next issue we’re officially acknowledging the elephant that’s been in the room this whole time: Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a. Scarlet Witch. We’ve had a good six issues to dive into Vision’s new status quo, and now is a good time to peek behind the curtain and see just how we got here. Wanda had some sort of role, most likely unknowing, in the creation of this family. I’m curious to see if that role is as unsettling, or perhaps as horrific, as what has subsequently unfolded.

Image from author’s collection.

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A Review of The Vision #5 – A Fall From Grace?

The Vision #5, 2016TITLE: The Vision #5
AUTHOR: Tom King
PENCILLER: Gabriel Hernandez Walta. Cover by Marco D’Alfonso.
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: March 9, 2016

***Need to catch up? Head back to the beginning with The Vision #1

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I was bummed to hear Tom King signed an exclusive deal with DC. Yes, he’ll be staying on through issue #12, and allegedly finishing the story he began. And I suppose there’s something to be said for not overstaying your welcome. But The Vision is arguably the best book being put out between Marvel and DC right now.

The Vision’s “normal” status quo with his robotic wife Virginia, and robotic children Vin and Viv, is on the verge of coming apart. Chris Kinzky, a classmate of Vin and Viv, is dead, accidentally shot during a confrontation between his father and Virginia.  Now Vision has is being questioned as part of the investigation. The children are also starting to ask questions, and Virginia may be unraveling…

The Vision #5, Vision questioning, Gabriel Hernandez WaltaThere’s an interesting parallel in this issue between the Vision and politicians/celebrities who’ve had a public fall from grace. Earlier in the series, Vision had a line about saving the world 37 times. There’s a great sequence in this issue where he recounts each one of them, knowing that no matter how many times he’s saved the Earth, being associated with this murder would still leave him irredeemable. I read that, and I immediately thought of people like Richard Nixon, John Edwards, Elliot Spitzer, etc. Granted none of them saved the world, but they were all public servants who fell from grace. So in that sense, King provides us with a bit of insight into modern society.

Not many superhero comics start off quoting Shakespeare. But King does it here with a passage from The Merchant of Venice. It’s Shylock’s famous “If you prick us, do we not bleed?” speech about Jewish people. It’s…a choice. It’s a bit of an uncomfortable one at first, but I suppose that’s part of what he’s going for. And it works, so it’s fair enough.

King and Walta up the creep factor in the scene where the police detective approaches the house (below). Vision, in a suit no less, simply phases through the door, having seen his visitor approaching. Moments later, Virginia pokes her upper body through the door to check on them. It’s something so simple, but it’s a striking reminder that this family is so very different from the humans they interact with.

The Vision #5, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, cop entrance

Also, the way Vision simply refers to Virginia as “wife” is unsettling. Gents, don’t try that at home.

On that subject, one question remains unanswered in all of this. Early in the series it was established that Vision used someone’s brainwaves to create Virginia. Whose brainwaves did he use? Interestingly enough, King addresses this in this issue’s letters column, responding into someone hoping it would be Vision’s former love interest Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a the Scarlet Witch. In King’s own words: “…Wanda’s relationship with Vision has haunted this whole series so far. To me, she’s as big a character in this as anyone in the family…” Very interesting…

The wheels continue gradually come off Vision’s attempt at a normal family life. Guilt continues to peck away at Virginia’s cybernetic psyche, and the teens are being hit with a variety of emotions. And as the cover for next issue has their house ablaze, I’d say things are going to get worse before they get better.

Images from author’s collection.

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A Review of The Vision #4 – From Bad to Worse

The Vision #4 (2016)TITLE: The Vision #4
AUTHOR: Tom King
PENCILLER: Gabriel Hernandez Walta
PUBLISHER: 
Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: February 3, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

When I looked at the first issue of The Vision a few months back, I talked about an ominous, unsettling vibe that something very bad was going to happen. And make no mistake about it, bad things have happened, and it only seems to be getting worse.

The Vision’s children are sent back to school following Vin’s violent incident with another student. Thus, it’s all the more unlikely when Viv shares a sweet moment with that same student. But what isn’t so sweet is what’s happening with Virginia, and the mysterious voyeur who captured her burying Grim Reaper’s corpse mere minutes after she killed him. Before this issue ends, blood is shed once again.

The Vision #4, football sceneAs usual, King and Walta give us the Vision family’s warped version of suburban life. That creepy, bizarre, Twilight Zone-ish spin on things is a huge part of what’s made this series such a creative success. We open the issue with Vin and Viv playing with a football, and Vision joins them moments later. It’s a nice Rockwellian scenario that’s perfect for what King and Walta have created for us. We even get a Peanuts homage with a bait-and-switch about kicking the ball. But what makes it a great Vision scene is the way the characters talk to each other. They’re trying to be a family, but they talk like the machines they are.

Let’s look at some dialogue from Vin and Viv…

– “That was entirely unfair! The ball was thrown by father for me!”

– “Now brother, fairness is a simple mathematically determined balance, the lowest form of justice. Preeminence, however, is the assertion of complex covenants over instinctual norms. The highest form of justice.” 

Who talks like this? No one human, that’s for sure. This scene is also a great illustration of the inherent element of tragedy in this book. We know no matter how hard this family tries, they’ll never truly achieve the normalcy they’re striving for. But they keep trying…

The Vision #4, Viv and Chris, Gabriel Hernandez WaltzKing seems to tease a romance between Viv and Chris, the boy Vin had a conflict with. Yet again, it’s painfully obvious just how robotic Viv is. Chris is obviously trying to connect with her, and the narration indicates she’s receptive to it. But it’s a delightfully awkward exchange, which leads me to hope Vin and Viv are around long enough to take a crack at high school romance. It’ll be doomed to fail, of course. But I’d still love to see it.

The drama in this issue comes from Virgina’s plot thread. For the sake of staying spoiler-free, I can’t say much about it. But to say the least, it succeeds in upping the tension. Virginia won’t be able to keep her secrets much longer…

On the lighter side of things, toward the middle of the issue husband and wife have a marriage-by-the-books conversation about scheduling as Vision and The Avengers are facing Giganto. And it’s done with the same robotic dialogue we saw from Vision and his kids. What’s more, we briefly get to see Walta draw Iron Man and Captain America. It’s a nice little interlude, as we haven’t seen any Avengers-scale stuff in this book yet.

The Vision continues to be one of the most compelling books Marvel has on the stands right now. Things are going from bad to worse. I suspect those of us who love great comic books will want to be here when it all falls apart for the Vision family.

Images from author’s collection.

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A Review of The Vision #1 – Family Matters

The Vision #1, 2015TITLE: The Vision #1
AUTHOR: Tom King
PENCILLER: Gabriel Hernandez Walta. Cover by Mike Del Mundo.
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: November 4, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Well this isn’t creepy at all…

Marvel’s “All New, All Different” take on The Vision sees our human-ish robot hero living an entirely different life than he’s ever known. Having recently erased his “emotional memories,” Vision is now working as a liason between The Avengers and the United States Government. What’s more, he’s created a family for himself. He now has a wife named Virgina, and two teenaged children named Vin and Viv. But what Vision has done, both to himself and with the creation of his bizarre family, will come with repercussions. And he will face them much sooner than he thinks.

There’s a very ominous, unsettling vibe about this issue. As the pages go by, you feel something very bad lingering under the surface. Granted, our narrator (whose identity is unknown) flat out tells you something bad happens later. But it goes beyond that. The issue has that same tension that comes with a lot of scary suburbia stories where the house, the family, and the kids are an illusion for something dark and mysterious. We know Vision isn’t evil, but bad things happen when you play God. And to an extent, that’s what he’s done with his family.

The Vision #1, title pageVirginia, Vin, and Viv are starting to get existential. Bad things tend to happen when robots do that. We get some really nice visuals during Vin and Viv’s first day at high school. One of which has the students looking up and see these two mysterious pink and green teenagers hovering in the sky. But it’s topped on the next page, as a girl asks Vin via her lap top screen: “R U NORMAL?” There’s a great irony there, as she’s asking him via a computer (shown below).

Much of the creepy, Twilight Zone-ish sci-fi vibe that comes with this book can be attributed to how Gabriel Hernandez Walta draws the Visions. You wouldn’t necessarily expect his more scratchy style to fit with a story like this. But what he puts on the page very much delivers on the sort of twisted Leave it to Beaver concept that makes this book intriguing. The simple white circles for the eyeballs go a long way in that respect. Jordie Bellaire’s colors compliment Walta’s figures very well, as the bright pink skin and green hair are very eerie. It’s almost as if someone took one of the supporting characters from Nickelodeon’s Doug and transplanted them into the real world. They look great in the flamboyant and colorful world they come from. But in the real world it’s a different story.

I won’t spoil the how or why of it, but Grim Reaper shows up in this issue. I was sadly ignorant of Grim Reaper’s history before I picked up this issue. So what happens with him doesn’t make much sense until you type his name into Google. It makes a lot of sense, then. But my only major critique with this issue is that we don’t get any kind of context with him. With it, the end would have been much more meaningful.

The Vision #1, R U Normal?Supposedly, Vision’s new family will have a big impact on the Marvel Universe in the near future. If this issue is any indication, that’s a good thing. There’s a good amount of meat to this concept. And in a way it makes sense. Ultron created Vision. Now Vision is creating “life” in the same way he was created.

Either way, I recommend a visit with the Visions.

Images courtesy of newsarama.com.

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