Perfect 10: Vision

Perfect 10 is a series of essential recommendations that fully encapsulate a comic character – 10 desert island picks of runs, single issues, arcs, etc – curated by Comfort Food Comics.

  1. Vision Vol. 2: By Tom King, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Jordie Bellaire & Clayton Cowles. Let me preface this by saying I am not as enamored with this one as everyone else seems to be. As a Vision story in the eternally ongoing, living, breathing Marvel Universe it fails spectacularly. It does nothing NEW with the character, in fact I’d go as far to say it’s as reductive and harmful as Byrne’s abysmal West Coast Avengers (OK, no it’s not THAT bad). It is yet ANOTHER Vision isn’t a human so he tries yet again to somehow reconcile that fact and become more. But there is where the lightbulb comes on. Taken out of continuity, read in a vacuum, this story becomes something more. To me personally, this one connects as a story centered around a man, the Vision, who is filled with trauma and unresolved issues like a failed marriage, broken families, destroyed self identity and more, just like so many of us. So does he go to therapy, does he try something new? No, he does what so many of us also do. He stubbornly just crawls further into himself and literally creates a new family. I can’t tell you the amount of people I know who were completely unable to love themselves or deal with their own issues before they got married and started a family due to society’s pressures thinking this was the answer to their problems. I know some people today who have floated the idea of having a baby with partners they are scared or disgusted to be in the same room with. It’s all too common. When you yourself are filled with this negativity, with these issues, it only expands further to consume your partner and your kids and everyone around you. Rather than make a happy home, you pass your trauma on to your children, you dunk your partner into it head first. In this series, Vision’s rash decision to just try it all over again expecting something different explodes in his face. His new family, whether Vision knows it or not, are profoundly affected by his own failures and mistakes. Death, betrayal, cover-ups, superhero battles and more ensue. Chaos only breeds more chaos. There is no happy ending here. There is just everyday life. Soldiering on with the mistakes we’ve made as the people we love have to pay for it and deal with it. Is it a great Marvel Universe continuity superhero comic? Not at all. Is it one of the best texts on dealing with your own issues before you dare bring someone into your orbit? Absolutely.

2. Avengers #133-135, Giant Size Avengers #4: By Steve Englehart, Sal Buscema, George Tuska, Don Heck and many more. Big Steve is, more than any other creator, THE Vision guy in my opinion. He really develops the character so much, first through his relationship with the Scarlet Witch, to then laying out his history for the first time in this story. There’s a little bit too much of Big Steve’s Mantis love in these issues, but for the most part this is a Vision traveling through time to discover who he is and for the first time, truly live. It’s unsubtle and whacks you over the head with it, like ALL of Big Steve’s writing, but it’s also charming as hell. The grand finale of the story is the Vision finally embracing love and marrying Wanda in a truly bizarre ceremony that fits Big Steve’s California hippie lifestyle perfectly. I really like this one because I think it contains a lot of heart. You can’t help but enjoy Vision basically shouting “YOU’RE NOT MY DAD!!” to Ultron and giving him the ol left and right to his dumb robot face so he can get back home and kiss his lovely brunette partner. Something we all can identify with!

3. Marvel Team-Up #41-44: By Bill Mantlo, Sal Buscema, Mike Esposito, Dave Hunt & more. The greatest Marvel Team-Up story of alltime! Spider-Man and the Scarlet Witch get whisked back in time to the Salem Witch Trials and Vision must give chase to rescue them! Along the way the mysterious Dark Rider, a cosmic sorcerer who looks like a huge demon pilgrim, reveals himself as the big bad. His evil plan involves the sacrifice of the Scarlet Witch and the draining of all magical power from Dr. Doom. Along the way Moondragon is also dragged to the past. Spidey, Vizh, Wanda, Doom and Moondragon must team up to banish the old sorcerer in an insane amazing tale that will never fail to delight.

4. The Vision and the Scarlet Witch Vol. 2 (#1, West Coast Avengers Vol 2 #2, #2-12):: By Steve Englehart, Richard Howell and many more. I’ve written about this one for the Perfect 10: Scarlet Witch piece and I find it to be one of the essential works for both characters. Big Steve, as I said, THE Vision guy, uses this series to fully humanize the Vision. No longer is he a synthezoid, or the original Human Torch’s body, he is in this, his own man, the virile, madly in love husband to Wanda. Too often Big Steve tries to connect every Marvel Universe strand that exists to these characters into a chaotic long form plot that bores more often than not, but the novel idea to tie most issues to a Holiday is quite charming. This series’ true strength in opposition to the boring superhero fights and tangled continuity, are the quiet slice of life moments for the couple as they soon expect a baby. This whole series is worth it for all the casual clothes scenes the Vizh gets from zippy t-shirt/hat ensembles to loosely closed bathrobes. A rollercoaster of quality, but a fun delight throughout. ( We also did a podcast episode all about this series.)

5. Marvel Team-Up #129-130: By J.M. DeMatteis, Kerry Gammill, Sal Buscema, Mike Esposito, Bob Sharen & Diana Albers. A really zany pair of one and done issues connected by Spidey and the married pair of Vision and Scarlet Witch. The first one is a poignant story about a group of impoverished and abandoned androids that resemble historical figures like Mark Twain and Confucius who reach out to Vision to find out what it really means to live. Coincidentally in the same town, Peter Parker is on assignment and gets wrapped up in a local law enforcement investigation of recent murders. What follows is a bonkers convergence of the two plot threads that turns into a psychological rumination on what humanity really means. It shouldn’t work, but it’s DeMatteis, this is his bread and butter, so it naturally rules and it rules hard. The next issue picks up with Scarlet Witch and the threat of old Defenders foe, Necrodamus taking over the Vision’s body in exchange for not harming Wanda. Spidey and the Witch take the fight to the now possessed Vizh but the android’s soul rings true in a heroic moment. Again the story deals with peak Vision content, the question of what makes him human or does he have a soul and does it in such good fashion, nothing more ever really needs to be done on the subject. (Narrator: Much more was said about the subject. Poorly)

6. “Rosie” from Marvel Fanfare #32: By Roger McKenzie, Paul Smith, Petra Scotese & Jim Novak. I’ve always had a soft spot for this Paul Smith art showcase. This story revolves around a murderer slaying various homeless people in New York City. One night he takes the life of Rosie, a homeless woman who would give out flowers that Vision and Scarlet Witch would encounter frequently. Sympathizing greatly with Rosie, due to their shared loneliness and divide from society and the greater human race, Vision makes it his personal mission to track down the murderer. Teaming up with Ben Urich they hit the beat and try to solve the case. Smith’s art is incredible here, inked by himself in a far scratchier version of his usually clean art. This one story, more than any other, shows the Vision’s power set in such a unique and captivating way from using the beam on his head to light Urich’s smokes, to reaching within a vending machine to jar loose a stuck soda can, to effortlessly walking through walls and doorways as he keeps a conversation going. It’s not an artistic thing you see a lot of with him and it’s done to stunning effect by Smith here.

7. Avengers Vol. 3 #23: By Kurt Busiek, George Perez, Al Vey, Tom Smith & Richard Starkings & Comicraft. I find this issue to be the best Vision spotlight of the highly celebrated Busiek/Perez Avengers run. Set years after John Byrne dismantled and ruined the character and his relationship with Wanda for almost a decade, this issue finds Vision disgruntled with the fact that his ex-wife is now in a relationship with the man his brain patterns are based on, Wonder Man. The brothers have it out with the usually “emotionless” android being quite hurt and vindictive towards Wonder Man. The issue pretty neatly lays out their whole histories in a compact, easy to understand way and juxtaposes both of their experiences and lots in life against each other. It turns out both “brothers” are envious of each other. It’s a really relatable and touching heart to heart they end up having. At the end Vision leaves the team for awhile which finally allows him to try to move on from Wanda and all the usual angst that plagues him for a fresh start.

8. Avengers A.I. #1-12: By Sam Humphries, André Lima Araújo, Frank D’Armata, Clayton Cowles & more. This is a severely underrated series brimming with creative, additive ideas that was such fun to read as it was coming out. Spinning out of the dreadful Age of Ultron event and a prelude story featuring Hank Pym after he unleashed a computer virus to destroy Ultron, this series picks up on the consequences of said action. New A.I.’s are evolving and breeding and growing faster than humans can keep up so a team of Avengers is tasked to deal with these new developments and threats that come along with it. Wisely, Humphries pushes Hank Pym to a support role and gives Vision the head honcho role here in a way he’s never really had before. As the leader, he gets exciting and refreshing development beyond the usual tropes of him questioning his humanity. Juxtaposed against a whole new population of A.I.’s, their very real existence is no longer a question, it’s a fundamental truth that Vision and the series really lean into. The ideas in here are so much broader than just “Is a team of robots like real people?” That being said, the plot can meander off a bit in the middle, losing focus and touching on tie in events around the Marvel U until sadly the long term plans are clearly abandoned in favor of a two part conclusion when the book was shuttered and needed to wrap up. The end is extremely satisfying and the strongest part of the book’s plot however, which is nice. Read this one when you want Vision to have exciting new nanite powers, full confidence in who he is and his life, a new focused mission, and charming characterization.

9. Absolute Vision (Avengers #238-254): By Roger Stern, Bob Hall, Al Milgrom & many more. Roger Stern’s run on Avengers is the best run ever for that franchise and Absolute Vision is one of the larger subplots that explodes into one major story in Avengers #251-254. If you want a more truncated experience just dip into those issues. For me though, I enjoy the long running subplot that Stern seeds throughout a very long round of successive unrelated stories here. Starting with an Eternals plot, Vision is hooked into ISAAC, the Eternal’s super computer A.I. that runs the Saturn Moon colony on Titan. The combined mental partnership unlocks parts of Vision’s mind he never thought he had and he becomes a high stressed, ultra focused planner, constantly being nudged on by ISAAC to essentially take over the world in a secret bid to create an Eternals paradise disguised as the only means to realize world peace. The Vision establishes a government cabinet position, the West Coast Avengers branch, and much more to handle any and all emergencies worldwide. Along the way he alienates everyone and eventually take over every computer network in the world and nearly brings Earth to the brink of nuclear war. It’s a masterclass in long running subplots that adds so much to the Marvel Universe while also telling a grand story that provides a big, satisfying conclusion and spins off so many intriguing plot points.

10. Avengers Origins: Vision: By Kyle Higgins, Alec Seigel, Stephane Perger & Dave Lanphear. I really enjoy Vision’s first appearance origin as some spooky wraith that descends upon the Avengers as a morbid hitman in Avengers #57. The problem with it is that you don’t really get a personal angle from his perspective. That’s where this updated reinterpretation of that issue comes in. I think it gives a very focused , relatable view of the Vision figuring out his existence from the point of Ultron creating him to being sicced on the team he’ll eventually join. You get a real sense for his wavering, newborn identity and motivation here that isn’t as present in the original. The Avengers team is also done far more realistic here and the Wasp especially is given some great character moments. The art by Perger is moody and evocative fitting the dour tone, but the (I assume) painted work is just so gorgeous to look at and so different from the usual house style stuff. A lot of these Avengers Origins one-shots fail to impress but I think this one is a standout that effectively does what they were supposed to, update & replace the original stories.

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