It’s been a long, weird road with the Visions, and in issue #8, you’ll never guess who turns up at the family’s door. The next chapter in Tom King’s The Vision introduces a new player into the strange game of suburban normalcy that our synthezoid Avenger is playing, and with him comes a host of difficulties that are far more of man than machine.
Enter Victor Mancha: synthezoid, Runaway, one-time Avenger, and …half-brother of the Vision. Created with the assistance of a decapitated Ultron (comic books, ammiright?) to be a sleeper agent within the Avengers, Victor Mancha is, from a certain point of view, the younger sibling of the Vision. And, like the Vision, he too overcame his original, more nefarious programming to fight for the side of good. The Vision values his relationship with Victor, and loves him as he would a brother of flesh and blood. It’s for this reason that the Avengers have tasked Victor with the mission of spying upon the Visions, and extracting any information regarding Virginia’s misdeeds that he is able.
Not having been familiar with the character of Victor Mancha, or Victory, as he is codenamed, I took an immediate shine to his relationship with his brother. As a fanatic of the NES Mega Man series from the early 90’s, I picked up on some real Mega Man/Proto Man vibes, and I was digging it all the way down to the last page! There was something, too, in the way that the Vision regards Victor with such acceptance and warmth that moved me, and the representation of their sibling dynamic felt genuine.
Issue #8 is an interesting one in that it feels much like the first episode of a new season of television. Time has passed, as indicated by the winter weather and warmer dress, and we’re slowly re-introduced to the main cast of characters as they’re revealed panel by panel. After the last issue’s tonal palette cleansing, issue #8 brings plenty of room to begin the closing arc of the series. We’re given a sense of hope for the Vision family, a belief that they may be able to put all of their tragedies behind them, and move forward. If you’ve been paying any kind of attention at all to this series, though, you know that the build up of the sweet will only make the bitter that much more devastating, and King excels at pulling the rug out from beneath you despite the fact that you’ve learned to expect it.
While the 8th issue spends more time developing the backstory of Victor Mancha, it’s issue #9 that provides the full-on, trainwreck outcome of the events in the preceding issue. While Mike Delmundo’s cover art isn’t always an illustrated summary of the goings on beneath it, the cover of this entry is not only macabre, but incredibly telling. In it we see the mangled remains of Vic, heaped into a metal trash bin, seemingly without care or ceremony. His broken body is enmeshed within a snarl of damaged circuit boards and wire, and his leering mechanical skull appears to grin above a hanging placard that reads “HERE LIES A VISION – MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON ITS SOUL.”
This is not my least favorite cover, but it is the one that I find the most disturbing. It speaks of a frailty that we all possess, and yet so many of us take our human durability for granted. We believe that, somehow, these bodies were built to last – impervious! – and we must be smarter than our peers who’ve erred in such a way as to bring about untimely ruin or decay.
Darkness is a pervading theme in this issue, both in terms of color palette and subject matter. While events occurring in the present take place in night time interiors, both Jordie Bellaire and Gabriel Hernandez Walta rely on the coolest pole of the spectrum in flashbacks. In these we see detailed Victor’s struggle with vibranium addiction in pale blues and shades of gray, and they’re not shy with the use of blackened, negative space. Even Virginia is far more dark in dress and demeanor, and it created in me a tremendous swell of sympathy for her plight. I don’t think there’s much that frightens me more than the potential consequences of action taken to defend my family – there will be, inevitably, those who fail to see savagery of any kind as justified.
In terms of Victor’s inner darkness, I found it intriguing that King chose to introduce the concept of substance abuse and dependency. Thus far we’ve seen an array of human emotions experienced and displayed by synthezoids, so the idea of that type of flaw in an android is simultaneously interesting and unsettling. From my own experience I’ve found that addiction spoils even the purest, most noble of intentions, and granting that trait to an artificial person moves them, perhaps unknowingly, that much closer to genuine humanity. It’s that unforeseen development, that ghost in the machine – if you’ll pardon the pun – that serves to provide the key to both the Avengers’ and the Vision’s undoing.
The Avengers sought to discover what could make the Vision destroy the world around him, and they knew a confrontation could provide the trigger. Their deception proved to be the cause of the Vision’s desire for vengeance, however, and now the world owes a debt that it did not knowingly accrue. It’s for this reason that Victor, child of Ultron and brother to the Vision, failed to see the error in his benign duplicity, and how – ultimately – it’s often a manic desperation to prevent a certain future that brings it, quietly, into heartbreaking manifestation.
A human trait – if there ever was one.