Here we are, friends, mere moments away from the first new MCU television show, WandaVision, premiering today on Disney Plus! In fact, by the time you read this, it’s incredibly likely that we’ll be well into our first episodes!
It’s been a long, weird road with The Vision, though this retrospective has been rewarding in ways I can’t begin to recount. The truth is, I’m actually saddened that we’ve come to the last issue, but, as my good friend Nick Cave would say, “all things move toward their end.”
Before we begin to discuss the final issue of Tom King’s The Vision – a work of extraordinary art made possible with the talents of Gabriel Hernandez Walta (pencils and covers), Jordie Bellaire (colors), Clayton Cowles (letterer), and Wil Moss (editor) – it’s going to be of paramount importance that I explain how I came to this book, and exactly what it is that endeared me to The Vision, and his ongoing struggle to stake a claim upon his humanity in a world that sees him as having no right.
Once upon a bye, I’d had “Hollywood” Steve Spratling, of the Dead and Lovely horror movie podcast, on my show to discuss the first issue of The Walking Dead. In our conversation he introduced me to a concept he referred to as “unlife,” and he went on to elaborate that in traditional undeath, we see the line between the living and the dead blurred; however, with unlife, we find a strange border separating life and an animated being that had never once drawn breath. In so doing, he offered The Vision as a prime example, and within me an immense fascination was born.
The concept of undeath is existentially maddening in its own right, but unlife? This Universe is one of constant duality, therefore, “unlife” must naturally exist as the opposite side of this bizarre coin. And, if this is so, it begs the question – if the Vision of the Avengers is a consciousness born outside the traditional paradigms of human experience, does this exclude him from humanity?
That question is one that has driven this story forward since the first issue, all the way to the final pages of the twelfth and final entry, “Spring.” Within it, we experience the aftermath of the Vision’s fateful battle against his fellow Avengers, his final moment with his brother, and an unexpected encounter from his wife, Virginia, at the unstaunched end of it all.
Issue 12 is another wherein little occurs in the way of action or scene changes; however, through the clever use of color and repetition of seemingly minute actions, we’re pummeled with the emotional gravity of all the preceding events. After reconvening within their home, Virginia recounts to her husband a sequence of moments wherein she’s chosen to seek absolution for her family by embracing a particularly heroic fate. Inside these panels, the vibrant yellows, reds, and oranges of previous palettes employed to demonstrate the Vision “at work” are used, thereby framing Virginia as the saviour in this narrative. It’s a stunning role reversal contained within a brilliant and heartbreaking group of panels. At the end, it is poignantly demonstrated the depth to which hope and sacrifice are not only intrinsic to heroism, but also to the bonds of love.
The ending of The Vision likely runs counter to what a lot of us hope for in a finale – questions answered, good guys “winning” and antagonists getting their comeuppance, etc. Those things will not be found at the end of this series, though it’s the issue’s title, “Spring,” that clues us into the most vital aspect of what this story is trying to tell us. Looking back through the entirety of the run, it’s clear that we began in one season, and came full circle to where we started. Throughout the book, phrases and actions are repeated, songs and rhymes recounted (Virginia’s haunting Row Row Row Your Boat comes to mind). Not only are we shown that, on a base level, we as humans are creatures of habit, and tend to find comfort in the repetitive, but it’s also demonstrated that all things in nature are cyclical. Light, dark. On, off. 1’s and 0’s. We’re all bound to the duality of the Universe and the cycles and rhythms of nature.
We are bound to this, as is the Vision, who has saved the world 37 times over.
So, what does this mean? It’s clear that Tom King has decided for himself an answer as to whether or not the Vision is worthy of calling himself human. It also means that, when considering the clairvoyant effects of the Everbloom, we always have the ability to make a different choice, despite the tread of our path seeming to go on and on, cyclic and unchanging. If undeath is a realm wherein the dead linger, then unlife must be a place where from vitality is waiting to emerge.
In his struggle to reclaim a humanity that was never his own, the Vision also knows this – he knows, on the final page, as he occupies himself with the goings on of a hidden compartment within his home, singing softly to himself. He sings, and tinkers with a vaguely humanoid, metallic shape.
“…merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream…”