Comics, and the broader Science Fiction and Fantasy genres, are often best when they present a story that is more than just the surface action. The top level story can be enjoyed but there is a satire element that is underneath for those that are able to understand. The X-Men have frequently have underlying themes of race and social exclusion. It is almost clichÃ© at this point for superhero stories to really be about what it means to want to fit in.
Vision is not a character I am familiar with. I never got around to seeing Age of Ultron, so I did not see his movie introduction. And I have not previous read any of his comics. But I poked around a little bit for enough background to understand. Vision (as I understand it) was created by Ultron to be a synthetic human. Vision turned on his creator and jointed the Avengers. But like many synthetic creatures in sci fi history, we as human assume that the perfect physical being really wants to be like us, a limited human.
In Little Worse Than a Man, Vision has created a family. Vision, and the members of his family are synthetic humans, but required the brainwaves of a particular human to give them personality and emotion. Vision’s brainwaves were taken by Ultron from a human (and that human’s brother became The Grim Reaper in order to kill off Vision to avenge his brother.) Where the brainwaves for Virginia (wife), Viv (daughter) and Vin (son) came from is not revealed in this book.
The family moves to the Washington DC suburbs so that Vision can be the Avenger’s lesion to the President. The kids enter school, are ostracized because they are different, and one area of conflict for the story is created. Vision, has a dream of how he wants the family to be, which is another area of conflict. A third area of conflict for the story is the fact that Vision is not being supported by the Avengers on this project, so he doesn’t have a salary and knows that eventually he will run out of money and have to figure out some sort of job (or that Virginia will have to go to work and support the family).
When an event happens, while Vision is away with the Avengers, the kids lives are put in danger, Virginia solves the problem, but creates a new one and then lies to Vision about her solution, creating the ultimate problem for the story arc.
This is really not a superhero story. This is a suburban, do what it takes to make life work story. One review that I read suggested that it was somewhat like American Beauty. I think the suburban life is like that, but this is more like a 1950s literary fiction story about the wife wanting to please the husband but not being the actual wifely persona that both he and she thinks that the wife should be. The idea of racial exclusion is running through the book. There is an excellent overlay of the kids learning Shakespeare’s Othello and the Shylock speech during one of the conflict scenes.
I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands,
organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same
food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases,
heal’d by the same means, warm’d and cool’d by the same winter
and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If
you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?
And if you wrong us, do we not revenge? If we are like you in the
rest, we will resemble you in that.
In the end, Vision sees the weakness of what he has wrought. But he loves his family and there is the hint of the end of that family at the end. The story is not finish at the end of the book. There is the hint of how the next arc will work. But that next arc is not out yet.
I don’t want to Jesus Juke the story, but one of the problems with the conception of humanity revealed here is where sin fits in. Vision’s family is endangered by the sin of another. Virginia’s sin, and her additional sin of lying about the first sin, have consequences. That part fits in a broader Christian conception of reality. But the goal is off. Christianity knows that humanity by design is limited and flawed. Only God is perfect. Vision in his attempt to be God and create the perfect family does not fully comprehend how the imperfection will work. And instead of sacrificing himself to redeem the sin, he sacrifices another.
Vision (Vol 1): Little Worse Than a Man by Thom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition