If you thought that all the stories deconstructing superheroes were done and dusted in the 80s and 90s, The Vision is going to come as something of a surprise. Originally published as an Eisner Award-winning 12-issue series back in 2016, it’s now made it into a single volume hardback collectors edition that’s brimming with extra features.
As the title suggests, the story revolves around The Vision, the red-skinned android superhero who joins The Avengers. Like Watchmen’s Dr Manhattan, he’s a little aloof and awkward in human society thanks to his vast intellect and robot ways. Unlike Dr Manhattan, however, he’s desperate to fit in and prepared to go to extraordinary lengths in his attempt to do so. As a result, he creates a family, building himself a wife and two teenage children, and moves into the suburbs of Washington DC to live like a normal suburban family.
Despite their pretences (sitting down at the dinner table every night despite the fact they don’t eat and sending the kids to high school despite their superior intellects) the Visions don’t fit in. From the levitating mailbox to flying and passing through solid objects, the neighbours are suspicious, and high school is a cruel place even before you’re born as a teenage android. We won’t go into the details of the plot because most of the entertainment in the book is tied to how the powder-keg collapses and what happens in the aftermath.
The art is beautifully done, using subtle, muted tones of red and green to bring out the Visions’ colouring. There’s a bit of superheroics in the book (“No… No… Wife, I am listening. It’s just that I am also fighting Giganto”) but this is really a domestic drama and Hernandez’s gentle style is perfect. He brings character to the android family, revelling in its stiffness but also creating a subtle depth to the characters despite their manufactured nature.
If anything there’s a slight feeling of derivation here — The Vision feels like it could have been written at the height of the superhero deconstruction period and wears its influences well. This is a compliment to its style and its intelligence, putting it up there on the same level as Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns in substance if not in originality.