A Batman, Vol 11: The Fall and the Fallen Deep Dive – Too Much Canvas

TITLE: Batman, Vol. 11: The Fall and the Fallen
AUTHORS:
Tom King, Andy Kubert, Collin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing, Mairghread Scott, Steve Orlando, Tim Seeley
ARTISTS:
Mikel Janin, Jorge Fornes, Amancay Nahuelpan, Carlos D’Anda, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith (Inker). Eduardo Risso, Patrick Gleason. Cover by Kubert.
COLORIST:
Jordie Bellaire, Trish Mulvihill, Luis Guerrero, Tomeu Morey, Dave Stewart, John Kalisz
LETTERER:
Clayton Cowles, Steve Wands, Andworld Design, Tom Workman, Tom Napolitano
COLLECTS:
Batman #7074, Batman: Secret Files #2
PUBLISHER:
DC Comics
PRICE:
$24.99
RELEASED:
December 18, 2019

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

As a whole, City of Bane, which essentially starts here, is Tom King’s version of The Dark Knight Rises. Or if you want to go back further, the Knightfall storyline from the ’90s.

It’s also where the wheels come off King’s Batman run. I take no joy in saying that. But the proof is in the pudding, kids. So let’s dip our spoons in…

1. Daddy’s back.
The Fall and the Fallen is when we finally see Bane and Flashpoint Batman, a.k.a. Thomas Wayne from an alternate universe, team up to break our hero once and for all.

Yes friends, Thomas Wayne, one of Bruce Wayne’s parents, is here. You know about Bruce Wayne’s parents, right? They were murdered in front of their young son. It was that heinous act of violence that inspired Bruce’s vow to wage war on criminals for the rest of his life, and ultimately the creation of Batman. We saw these two come face-to-face in The Button, and it was a tremendously emotional experience for Bruce. One can only imagine what would go through his head if his father, even an alt-universe version, masterminded some kind of plot against him…

So tell me something: Why is Bane our big bad in this story? Why bring him into this when Bruce’s father shakes his son’s world to its core simply because he exists? Add the fact that this version of Thomas Wayne is his universe’s Batman, and Bane becomes redundant by comparison.

Batman #72 takes us back through the events of the series and outlines Bane’s plan, which all centers around the Bruce/Selina marriage. In the end, Thomas proposes a partnership.

But picture this, Thomas Wayne somehow survives the destruction of the Flashpoint universe and winds up in the DC Universe proper. He initially wants to seek out his “son,” but this alternate world intrigues him. So he opts to lay low, observe, and learn.

Remember, in The Button, Thomas pleaded with Bruce to stop being Batman and simply live his life. Devastated that Bruce hasn’t heeded his words, he decides he’s the only one that can stop his “son.” So he opts to do what must be done, by any means necessary.

In the end, it comes down to Batman against Batman. Father against son. It can be on the rooftops of Gotham, the Batcave, or anywhere really. All we need is the emotional impact of that showdown.

In the end, Catwoman shoots and kills Thomas in an act of desperation. Bruce then has to decide if he can forgive her or not. This would pay off the revelation from The War of Jokes and Riddles.

Not bad, huh? But no, instead we got another big fight with Bane. Yippee…

2. Father/Son Time
And what of what we actually get from father and son? They journey through the desert to get to a Lazarus Pit, occasionally stopping to fight members of Ra’s al Ghul’s personal guard. They take turns riding a horse, which is dragging a casket behind it. I won’t say who’s in it. But if you consider who we have in this scene and where they’re going it’s not too hard to figure out. There’s a really nice subtle reference to Batman: Knight of Vengeance, which is low key one of the best Batman stories of the last decade.

Old timey music has been a theme during Tom King’s run. In issue #73, he has Flashpoint Batman singing “Home, Home on the Range” to himself. Fun fact: It’s really weird to read that scene while playing Bing Crosby’s version of the song in the background…

Issue #74 is where things finally boil over between our Batmen. Thomas’ motivation, as always, is to get Bruce to surrender his life as Batman and live a normal life. That’s a hell of a premise for an issue. The trouble is, King spends far too much time harping on a story about a bedtime story Thomas told Bruce as a child about a bunch of animals eating each other in a pit. If I’m not mistaken, it’s an actual story written by Alexander Afanasyev, who’s widely considered to be the Russian counterpart to the Brothers Grimm. Father and son talk about the horror of it all, and why Bruce supposedly liked the story. They eventually get to the real meat of their conflict. But by the time they do, you feel frustrated because they’ve spent so much time talking about that damn story. Even during their inevitable battle in the pit, King uses the story as a narrative backdrop.

And all the while, I can’t help but think…Thomas Wayne, Batman’s dad, is standing right there. And this was the best they could do?

3. Dump the Duster
Okay DC, we get it. Batman v Superman was a thing. You guys liked the image of Batman in a duster and goggles, so you decided to use it. Fair enough.

But these issues came out in 2019. The movie came out in 2017. There was no need whatsoever to put the Flashpoint Batman in a duster and goggles just like the ones his “son” happened to wear several issues earlier in The Rules of Engagement.

If it looked cool, that would be one thing. But it doesn’t. Plus, it’s impractical and redundant even by superhero standards, and therefore silly.

What’s done is done. But let’s make this right. If you want to have Batman wearing his costume in the desert, that’s fine. Heck, if you want to have Bruce Wayne wear a duster and goggles, that’s fine. But you can’t have Batman wearing his costume in the desert with a duster and goggles. The two ideas are mutually exclusive. That’s got to be a rule in writing Batman from now on.

4. Batman Gone Batty?
Issues #70 and #71 focus on a needless, and at times silly plot point about people thinking Batman is losing it, and Jim Gordon severing ties with him.

When we open the book, our Caped Crusader is punching his way through Arkham Asylum, facing off with most of the supervillains you’d expect to see. It’s a great opportunity for Mikel Janin and Jorge Fornes to draw virtually all of the iconic rogues gallery.

The trouble is, King once again supplies us with bad Batman dialogue. Not the least of which is: “You challenge me with…nightmares? I live the nightmare! Bane! Why can’t you understand! I’m Batman! I am the nightmare.”

Shut up, already.

Given how convinced Batman is that Bane is faking insanity to remain in Arkham, and how intense and violent he is in his pursuit of the truth, Gordon becomes convinced that the Dark Knight has gone off the deep end. In issue #71 he tries to kick him off the roof of police headquarters (shown above).

That skepticism spreads to his extended family of superheroes, who are convinced Bruce is still grieving over his broken engagement to Selina Kyle. The situation is punctuated when he punches Tim Drake in the face.

There’s no worthwhile payoff to any of this. It all comes off like padding. Because it is padding. You can revolve an entire story arc around either of those moments. But instead they just come and go. That’s particularly a shame when it comes to the Gordon story, as there could have been some real substance to that.

5. Where’s Wesker?
This trade also contains Batman: Secret Files #2, which in theory is supposed to spotlight all “the villains who broke the Bat.” Okay, sure.

For what I think is the first time since Batman #23.1, Andy Kubert gets to write a Batman/Joker story. Things fare much better this time, largely because he goes the comedic route. Also, Amancay Nahuelpan draws a hell of a Clown Prince of Crime.

Colin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing put together a so-so story about the Psycho-Pirate leading a cult. Artist Carlos D’Anda overachieves on this one, which I did not expect.

Mairghread Scott and Giuseppe Camuncoli turn in a Riddler story that holds up pretty well. More amusing to me is the fact that “Sideburns Riddler” is still a thing.

Steve Orlando and Eduardo Risso steal the show with a Hugo Strange tale featuring multiple Batman “specimens.” Given he’s a mad doctor, I’ll let you jump to your own conclusions on what that story is about…

Tim Seeley teams with one of my personal favorites, Patrick Gleason, for a story late in Bane’s pre-Gotham days. I’m used to Gleason working with a much brighter color palette than John Kalisz provides here. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just different.

My big problem with this issue? No story about Arnold Wesker, a.k.a. the Ventriloquist. He’s on the cover, and plays one of the more interesting roles in Bane’s big scheme, as sort of Bane’s counterpart to Alfred. It’s a little disturbing, considering what happens to Alfred in the next volume.

6. Consistence and Versatility
The Secret Files issue notwithstanding, our drawing duties are split between Mikel Janin and Jorge Fornes. While The Fall and the Fallen may have its share of story problems, I can’t find much to complain about artistically. Both these men are awesome Batman artists very much in their element.

Mikel Janin was a star coming into this series. But he’s a superstar coming out of it. Speaking for myself, Janin’s art can now sell a book on its own. His line work is always super clean, his figure work consistent, and his character acting on point. I now look forward to specifically seeing his versions of Batman, the Joker, and even less flashy characters like Alfred and the Penguin. The fact that he’s got colorist extraordinaire Jordie Bellaire backing him up in this book does nothing but help, of course. But Janin’s style on its own is versatile enough to handle any story. Whether we’re on the streets of Gotham, the Source Wall at the edge of the universe, or anywhere in between.

Objectively, Janin’s best work in this book is probably issue #74, as that’s where the book hits its emotional crescendo and is really firing on all cylinders. But selfishly, I’m partial to issue #70 because Janin gets to draw some of the more obscure Batman villains. Calendar Man, Doctor Phosphorus, the Cavalier, etc.

It’s difficult to look at Jorge Fornes’ work without thinking of what David Mazzucchelli did with Batman: Year One. The figure rendering is similar, the texture is similar. Bellaire’s coloring doesn’t have the same faded palette that Richmond Lewis’ did. But it’s still reminiscent.

I can’t bring myself to complain about the similarities, because Year One is obviously one of the all-time greats. But that means Fornes is better in environments that are a little more mundane, and can have that noir-ish spin put on them. Street level scenes, Wayne Manor and Batcave scenes, etc. It’s no accident that a hero like Daredevil is also on his resume. But something tells me that, like Janin, he’s got a versatilty to him. One that isn’t necessarily apparent here. I’m anxious to see what he does next.

7. Too Much Canvas
When someone mentions Tom King the first thing that comes to mind, at least for me, is his 12-issue run on Vision. That was such a masterclass in comic book storytelling. It’s frustrating to think that someone who wove such a classic at Marvel could make these kind of mistakes on Batman.

What it all comes down to is too much canvas. Give an artist too much canvas to work on, and suddenly the focus of the art wavers. If any story has ever had too much canvas it’s City of Bane.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Alex Ross Spotlight: Living with Mistakes

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Every creative person lives with mistakes, or work they don’t necessarily look back on fondly. To an extent it seems counter-intuitive to think of Alex Ross in such a light, as he’s in such a league of his own among comic book and superhero artists. But indeed, the man is vulnerable to the same things any artist is. Case in point, in Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross, he’s very critical of the lithography pictured at right. Gorgeous though it may be, Ross is quick to critique his rendering of Superman’s head.

In the latest video from his YouTube channel, Ross talks about living with certain insufficiencies and failures in his work. I’ve juxtaposed it with a video from two years ago, in which he talks about the importance of completing work. As a former journalist, I can very much identify with turning in work you’re not 100% satisfied with. But a deadline is a deadline, and sometimes the bullet simply has to be bitten.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Alex Ross Spotlight: Marvels and History

By Rob Siebert
The 5th Turtle

It’s easy to compare Marvels to another seminal Alex Ross work at DC years later, Kingdom Come. The stories themselves aren’t that similar. But the main character in both is essentially an average Joe seeing all this colorful superhero stuff from the ground level.

The Norman McCay we meet in Kingdom Come is an old man. But in Marvels, we follow Phil Sheldon the late ’30s into the mid-’70s. So we see the majority of his life play out alongside the evolution of the world of Marvels.

Ross elabrorates…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Toy Chest Theater: RIP Stan Lee

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

With the passing of Stan Lee, fans from across the globe are paying tribute to the iconic creator in their own unique ways.

I found this image from Nicholas Belmont to be particularly touching. Since the news broke yesterday, I’ve seen a lot of “grieving” images from toy photographers. Many of which depict an emotional Spider-Man being comforted by other Marvel heroes. That’s perfectly natural, I think. There’s nothing wrong with that. People process grief in a lot of different ways.

But for yours truly, in times like these scenes of love resonate so much more than scenes of grief or sadness. That’s what we get here. The love and respect we all feel for Stan Lee, personified by the characters he helped create.

Rest in peace, Mr. Lee. Thank you for inspiring so many.

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A Batman: I Am Gotham Review – What Did You Expect?

Batman, Vol. 1: I Am Gotham, coverTITLE: Batman, Vol. 1: I Am Gotham
AUTHOR: Tom King
PENCILLER: David Finch, Ivan Reis
COLLECTS: Batman #16
FORMAT: Paperback
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $16.99
RELEASE DATE:
January 11, 2017

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

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The announcement of Tom King taking over Batman was a big deal. At the time his phenomenal run on The Vision was still in progress, and critics (myself included) were buzzing about him. In addition, he’d already worked on some of the Gotham City characters in Grayson. So hopes were high for him. But coming off the commercially, and often critically acclaimed run that Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo had just completed, expectations may have been even higher.

What King, David Finch, and this new Batman team give us is fine. At times it’s even good. But the waters are muddier than we’ve seen from previous Batman runs. We spend a little too much time hyping a future story and there’s a connection to the Suicide Squad that often feels forced. But if you’re patient, there’s some good character work in here, with both established characters and the ones we’re meeting for the first time.

I Am Gotham introduces us to the super-powered brother-sister duo of Gotham and Gotham Girl. Inspired by Batman, they make their debut saving the Dark Knight from a plane crash. Batman takes them under his wing, but soon learns they have demons that will result in blood being shed in Gotham City. All the while, sinister plans are in motion to spill even more blood…

Batman #2, Gotham, Gotham Girl, David FinchLike many of Batman’s supporting characters, allies and enemies alike, Gotham and Gotham Girl are almost skewed versions of Batman himself. After young Hank Clover and his parents are saved from a mugging in Crime Ally by Batman, he and his sister Claire become obsessed with bettering themselves so that they can help others. We later learn they’re connected to Amanda Waller, and she’s using the Hugo Strange and Psycho-Pirate to keep them under control. That connection works out fine, but it’s ultimately unnecessary. All we need is Psycho-Pirate, Hugo Strange, and Strange’s accomplice, who we learn about in the closing pages. So why have Waller in there at all? It’s obvious, isn’t it…?

Suicide Squad is a big priority at DC right now, and rightfully so. Case in point, the upcoming Justice League vs. Suicide Squad crossover. These issues started coming out in August, the same month the movie was released. So Waller was obviously dropped in here for that reason. It’s fine, but disappointing when you look at it from that angle. What’s more, DC is still pushing Suicide Squad via Batman, with the Dark Knight forming his own version of the team. The story is even called “I Am Suicide.” We get it, guys. We get it.

The story also starts hyping “Night of the Monster Men” far too early for my taste. That arc doesn’t start until issue #7. This book starts hyping it in issue #2. I’m all for long form storytelling. But not at the expense of your current story. It feels more like padding than anything else.

One of the themes I Am Gotham touches on is the nature of Gotham City, almost personifying it as a character in the story. What it is, what it does to people, etc. Snyder and Capullo also did that, with more success than King and Finch have here. But in all fairness, they had 50 issues. This team has six. So it pales in comparison. King also doesn’t say much of substance about the city. At least he hasn’t thus far in his Batman run. In the pages of I Am Gotham, the theme essentially goes no where.

Batman #1, 2016, David Finch, upside downI’ve been a critic of David Finch’s for awhile now, and I make no apologies for that. I think all his renderings of women look the same, and absolutely everything he does has that dark and gritty feel to it, even when dark and gritty isn’t what the story calls for. As such, he’s been put on a number of books in which his work often feels terribly mismatched. Wonder Woman and Justice League of America come to mind.

But that’s not to say Finch doesn’t have his place, and it’s on stories like this. The Gotham City he brings us, along with inkers Sandra Hope, Matt Banning, Scott Hanna, and colorist Jordie Bellaire is fittingly dark, illuminated by the glow of city lights and flames. Characters like Batman, Jim Gordon, and even Alfred, have a fittingly grizzled texture. He even pulls off a nice gag, as we get to see Alfred don the Batsuit.

I was justifiably concerned about how Finch would draw Gotham Girl. She’s basically a skinny blonde in a tennis skirt, after all. Thankfully, during the second half of the story when the masks comes off, Finch is much better at drawing Claire. Once we can see her eyes, Finch gives her a very nice vulnerability and we start to care about her.

Things get more expressive in issue #6 when Ivan Reis tags in on pencils. The issue largely focuses on Claire, and how she’s coping with the events of issue #5. It’s about how you’d expect, especially considering what she’s gone through with Psycho-Pirate. But facially, Reis conveys her emotional highs and lows very nicely. There’s a particularly great image of her toward the end of the issue, as she’s tucked into Batman’s chest. Guest colorist Marcelo Maiolo offers some nice consistency with Bellaire’s work, while still making the issue his own. As such, things are a little brighter. But we still see shades of Bellaire’s color palette. Most notably in the sky, and some of the city lights.

Batman #6, Ivan Reis, Gotham GirlI Am Gotham is an okay read. But it’s clearly a first chapter. Based on subsequent issues of Batman, it’s tough to tell where the story is going. Considering the role she played in this book, one might think Gotham Girl would be center stage going forward. That’s not necessarily the case. She’s in “Night of the Monster Men.” But the story isn’t about her, per se. She serves as Batman’s motivation for the current “I Am Suicide” story, but that’s the only role she plays. Solicitations for upcoming issues have a lot of talk about Bane and Catwoman. Granted, the current issues with Mikel Janin are better than what we got here. But I get the sense that King is going for a natural progression, where the events of one story naturally flow into the next. Instead, this all feels somewhat disjointed. That’s disappointing. Thus far, King’s Batman run has been interesting. But coming off the hype and momentum that Snyder and Capullo’s run had, and especially when you consider what a masterpiece King’s run on The Vision was, this feels like a step down.

Email Rob at at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

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.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition/

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.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition/

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.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition.