*This article will contain spoilers for The Vision*
The Vision, written by Tom King, with art by Gabriel H. Walta, colors from Jordie Bellaire, and letters by Clayton Cowles, is many things—it’s heartbreaking, beautiful, triumphant, shocking, existential, methodical, and so much more. Above all, though, I think it’s inherently human, which is ironic given that the titular character and his family are notably not. This non-human perspective shapes the story and the world around it, and offers a lens for us to peer through and examine the society we live in and how we attempt to navigate through life. At the beginning of this story you might not notice any obvious similarities between yourself and The Visions, but by the end you realize they’re dealing with many of the same things you do every day (albeit with a superhero backdrop).
The story begins with Vision and his newly created family having just moved into a new house in the suburbs of Arlington, VA, about 15 miles west of Washington, D.C. Vision relocated his family here in the hopes of leading a normal life. Vision is working as an unpaid associate to the President, informing and helping with Avengers-related events. Vin and Viv, Vision’s son and daughter respectively, attend high school, and Virginia, Vision’s wife, has yet to decide what she will do for a career.
The Vision is so meticulously and methodically crafted. Every detail, from the piano gifted to Vision by the Black Panther, to the lighter Captain America used in World War II (also a gift), has a role to play in the story to come. We are introduced to the Visions through the eyes of their new neighbors, George and Nora, and at the end of this interaction, an ominous (seemingly all-knowing) narrator informs us that near the end of this story George and Nora will die in flames. This chilling and foreboding assertion is just the beginning of unsettling events that unfold throughout the narrative. Vision’s quest for normalcy and unrelenting desire to be human creates the chaos that drives the narrative forward. There are several themes running throughout the story of Vision, and by zeroing in on them we can see just how similar we are to Vision and his synthezoid family.
Who (what) am I? What is my purpose?
We often wonder who we are, and what our purpose is. This is exceedingly true for Vision and his family. Vin and Viv, in particular, have debates about what separates them from humans. Vin argues that synthezoids are made with a specific purpose, whereas humans are designed to increase lifespan up to the point of reproduction, making them different. He becomes obsessed with the Shakespearean story “The Merchant in Venice,” and in particular, the monologue in which the Jewish character Shylock, who is on trial, argues that Jews are both physically and emotionally similar to Christians. “If you prick us, do we not bleed?” Shylock argues.
Near the halfway point of the story, Vision turned himself over to police for questioning and his family is left with their own thoughts. Virginia has a literal breakdown due to her actions being responsible for their current situation. After Virginia smashes their dinner table, and Viv phases through the ceiling to go to her room, Vin turns to his mother and simply asks, “Mother, if you prick me, do I bleed?” This innocent and wondering inquiry is a haunting display at the Vin’s uncertainty of his own existence.
Throughout the story we are told of the different reasons Vision, his family, and later his synthezoid brother, Victor Mancha, were created. We are told of their purpose, and how they chose to rebel against the desires of their creators. This stands as an example of free will, and how each synthezoid is in control of their own destiny in the same way that humans are.
Most everyone has struggled with trying to fit in at one point or another in their life—whether it be in school, at a public gathering, or even on the first day at a new job. The desire to feel that you belong wherever you are is something many can relate to. Vin and Viv struggle with this as they attempt to navigate through high-school, and they have the added challenge of not even being human in the first place.
Viv is assigned a lab partner in chemistry class, a boy named Chris Kinzky, or C.K. Early on in the story, Vin gets into an altercation with C.K. after C.K. offensively asks where Viv, who has been absent from school for a number of days due to almost being murdered, has been and how he can contact her. Whenever Viv finally return to school, C.K. goes to her to talk and walk with her to class. “I got to work with you, right? And it was cool, I think. Right? I just mean, whatever they say, y’know. I think you’re cool,” C.K. tells her. In quiet moments, Viv would proceed to call up this conversation into her active memory and play it on repeat. She fit in, at least to C.K., and that mattered.
The Quest For Normalcy
Vision created his family and moved to the suburbs to lead a normal life. Similarly, many of us are trying to lead a normal life. To find a career, perhaps start a family, and surround ourselves with loved ones is something I feel safe in saying we all wish to achieve. Sure, maybe some of us want to become famous movie stars (I mean, who doesn’t want to be rich and famous), but most of us don’t exactly go searching for craziness. We’ll settle for normal.
Vision dreams of living an average life with a normal family. He wishes to have his kids go to school, and for his wife and him to go to work. To maybe have a dog to play fetch with, and maybe take trips to the museum in town on the weekends. Vision and his family are however remarkably not normal. They are synthezoids who can phase through walls and fly through the atmosphere. This quest against what he and his family inherently are is what creates the conflict of the story, and his wish for his family to understand his goal is a struggle he deals with throughout the tale.
What are you willing to do for your loved ones?
Perhaps the strongest theme running throughout The Vision is what we are willing to do for those we care about. If someone you love is in danger, you’ll do anything in your power to protect them. This is no different for Vision and his family—even stronger than his desire for normalcy is Vision’s desire to protect his family. In the early chapters of the story, Vision is working with Iron Man to repair damages done to his daughter Viv after a heinous attack by the Grim Reaper (super villain, not the guy with the cloak and scythe). To complete the procedure, Vision has to phase into his daughter’s chest and signal the damaged nerves to solidify and rejoin the rest of her body. The process would require a tremendous amount of energy that has to surge through Vision. Iron Man advises Vision to turn off his pain sensors but Vision responds saying those nerves must remain functional in order for the procedure to work, and so they begin.
As the incredible amount of energy surges through Vision, his daughter is unresponsive at first. The energy is killing Vision and Tony pleads with him to stop and goes to flip the switch himself. In response, Vision says to Iron Man, “…you are my colleague. You are a fellow Avenger. You are my oldest friend. But if you touch that button… I will kill you.” Vision will do whatever it takes to save and protect his family, even if it means his own death or the murder of his closest friends.
Halfway through the story we discover that the ominous narration boxes belong to the witch Agatha Harkness, who is telling the tale to a room full of the Avengers. She concludes by saying that Vision will do anything in his attempt to find happiness for his wife and children. “He will kill you. He will kill your families. He will raze the world.” And wouldn’t you do all you could to protect those you love? Maybe razing the world is (thankfully) an exaggeration for us, but it’s easily within Vision’s power.
Agatha Harkness also speaks of P vs NP. The solvable problem vs the unsolvable, and whether NP is simply waiting for a solution to be found. It may or may not be, but when faced with the unsolvable do we simply retreat? No, I don’t think so. Over the course of the story we see how impossible it is for Vision to be human, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t the same. Like Vision and his family, we do what we can for ourselves, our loved ones, and to better our lives. At some point The Vision becomes a book about us, more so than the characters in it that are more like us. Being human is enduring pain, bloodshed, uncertainty, and continuing in the face of the unsolvable problem.