I’m usually not keen on flashbacks, though I have been known to make exceptions. It’s all about context and execution (no mid-story backpedaling, please), and Tom King was able to appease my fickle taste with the framing used in I Too Shall Be Saved By Love, the 7th issue of The Vision. In this instance, it is important to know just “how it came to this.” The Vision has a somewhat complex and, in true-to-form comics fashion, convoluted history, especially in regard to his past relationship with Scarlet Witch. This issue smartly and concisely elaborates on those details, and informs the story well enough without spoiling the source material.
Given the gut-punch received at the end of the last issue, it’s perhaps wise to pump the brakes; however, King gives us little respite. We’ve received a physical reprieve, sure, but this issue is a full-on emotional assault. Even the title page is not subtle – we see a warmly lit Vision and Wanda Maximoff sitting up in bed, disheveled, with random pieces of their uniforms strewn about the crumpled bedding. The Vision is clearly shook, and Wanda stares out of frame, uncertain. Neither knows what to say, though The Vision eventually eases the quiet with a joke. Both laugh, and any remaining awkward feelings about their first time together are banished.
Sexually suggestive imagery is nothing new to comics, especially these days, but the scene here demonstrates a realness that we don’t often see in the pages of comic books. The way that King is able to convey the emotional vulnerability following the Avenger couple’s intimacy feels sincere. Taking us back to when everything was “new and different,” we’re shown the blossoming love between the two characters as they span time, shirk duties to share kisses, and begin building a life with one another. It is important to know – the Vision is capable of love and has loved.
He continues to do so.
With the sweet comes the inevitable sour, and no sensitivity is spared in this arena. Trust falters and affections chill through a slideshow presentation of a failed relationship, and it’s here that guest artist, Michael Walsh, does shine. His line work is reminiscent of EC horror comics of yesteryear, and there’s a passing hint of Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein. It’s perhaps unfair to compare the artists, as Walsh’s style is unique in its own right but, given the subject of the Vision, it’s fair to speculate that it is by design. The play of light and dark between Wanda and the Vision is masterful, and it enhances the fractured couple’s disparity in a profound way.
It is this aspect of the story that left me aching with familiarity, as any of us unfortunate enough (or fortunate, depending on your point of view) to experience this type of schism can identify with the couple’s pain. It is a wonder that anyone can survive it, much less come out of it a better, happier person, as we see in the case of Scarlet Witch and the Vision. But have they, though? It’s one of life’s greatest cruelties, how mature acts of loving kindness may sometimes sew the seeds of future calamity.
At the end of the issue, we’re teased by a glimmer of hope for the Vision, but the aforementioned framing device robs us of any joy – the last page mirrors the first, though with absolutely none of the warmth. The page practically emanates gloom, and it’s nigh impossible to imagine a happy ending for our hero. It’s disconcerting, especially considering how the end of the previous issue conveyed such a sense of completion and togetherness for the Visions – even if it meant the end of the world.
That apparent dissonance is my only gripe with the story thus far, but in a series that’s been nothing short of a revelation for me, I’m willing to put my trust in the creative team to carry us to a conclusion that is in accord with the strength of this story. I have hope for the Vision, but the encroaching realities of his circumstances preys upon those hopes like circling carrion birds.
I tremble to think where this is headed.