Fan Retrospectives: Vision: Part 5: The Villainy You Teach Me
Writer Tom King and artist Gabriel Hernandez Walta created a strange premise for the old-school Avenger Vision. They gave him a family. On paper, Vision with family hijinks sounds ridiculous and cheesy, but instead, it turned out to be a haunting, character-defining master class on comic storytelling. Let's break down 2015's Vision series.
"The Villainy You Teach Me"
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Gabriel Hernandez Walta
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: VC's Clayton Cowles
Review by Eric Lee
Tensions are getting amped up for Vision and his family. Particularly, Virginia is in a lot of hot water. Her intervention in the previous chapter resulted in an innocent child being killed and a father in a coma.
The story's title is borrowed from Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice". It is famously used when the story's main antagonist Shylock was put on trial and he had a sympathetic speech about how his Jewish nature became targeted by everybody, leading to him to become cruel and evil towards the protagonist Antonio:
He’s insulted me and cost me half a million ducats. He’s laughed at my losses, made fun of my earnings, humiliated my race, thwarted my deals, turned my friends against me, riled up my enemies - and why? Because I’m a Jew. Doesn’t a Jew have eyes? Doesn’t a Jew have hands, bodily organs, a human shape, five senses, feelings, and passions? Doesn’t a Jew eat the same food, get hurt with the same weapons, get sick with the same diseases, get healed by the same medicine, and warm up in summer and cool off in winter just like a Christian? If you prick us with a pin, don’t we bleed? If you tickle us, don’t we laugh? If you poison us, don’t we die? And if you treat us badly, won’t we try to get revenge? If we’re like you in everything else, we’ll resemble you in that respect. If a Jew offends a Christian, what’s the Christian’s kind and gentle reaction? Revenge. If a Christian offends a Jew, what punishment will he come up with if he follows the Christian example? Of course, the same thing—revenge! I’ll treat you as badly as you Christians taught me to—and you’ll be lucky if I don’t outdo my teachers.
In the play, Shylock becomes more embittered due to the constant prejudice that he endures. This sympathetic nature of Shylock led many to wonder if he can even be classified as a villain. Interestingly, writer Tom King creates a lot of parallels between Shylock and the Visions.
Just like Shylock, the Visions are being pushed more and more with both micro and macro-aggression for being synthezoids. Does that make the Vision family villains? It seems like they're on the path to villainy.
This entire soliloquy is overlayed with scenes of all the different Visions reacting to the death of CK and his father's coma. Virginia is ominously floating above CK's father's hospital bed.
The Vision is fighting the U-Foes with the Avengers. Viv finds CK's picture in a yearbook and tears it out to keep. Finally, Vin is in class, completely engrossed by his teacher's dramatic reading of the monologue.
It's unclear why Vin's so interested in the "Merchant of Venice". It's possible that he also relates to the character of Shylock. Perhaps the idea of Shylock just wanting to feel accepted really speaks to Vin?
Eventually a police detective asks Vision to come to the station for questioning related to CK's death.
"Everything is normal"
After seeing Vision get taken by the police, a visibly-shaken Virginia returns to the kids to continue their "normal" family routine of recounting their day. Virginia assures the kids that everything is "normal" when everything is falling apart in her eyes. Vision is taken by the police to be interrogated for a murder and assault that she was responsible for. But Virginia tries to cover it up with going through a normal family tradition. The harder she tries to make the family "normal" the harder life seems to push back.
And Virginia is terrible at hiding her frustration. She snaps and breaks the dining table in half.
Viv snaps back as the only character who seems to be self-aware of how messed up the Vision household is. She yells how it's about love and runs off.
The whole point of why families exist is simple: love. However the Vision family never understood that. This is emphasized by Vin's question "If you prick me, do I bleed?"It's an allusion to Shylock's monologue about being the same as others, but Vin asks it as a genuine question about his humanity.
Meanwhile, the Vision is interrogated by the police about his whereabouts during CK's death. But Vision is not interested in the questioning. Mentally, he is recounting all of the times he helped save the planet with the Avengers.
Vision is growing frustrated with increasingly trivial human things. He saved the world personally 37 times, but he's still feels like that will never be enough to convince the humans of his allegiances and intentions. At best, he feels inconvenienced, at worse he's being persecuted.It's not hard to make connection between Vision's thoughts and how immigrants and minorities who build up lives and careers feel. Minorities often build themselves up to be paragons of their communities, only to still be taken down by a racist action or remark.
All of this leads to the detective asking if his Vision can recount if his whole family was with him on the Tuesday of CK's murder. Despite all of his heroic contributions, Vision tells a white lie and says that his whole family was with him that night. King shows Vision's growing resentment towards humanity turning him to lie to protect his family.Vision returns home and finds Virginia sitting in front of a broken dining table. She repeatedly says that she does not know how to fix it. Of course, she's not just referring to the dining table, but also the mess she made with their family's lives.
This is probably the turning point for Vision's character arc. Initially, he was ignorant of the devastating actions of his family. Now he's made a choice that is clouded in self-interest that makes him complicit. It's a wonderful character turn to see a more insidious Vision. Meanwhile, we see the family grow further and further apart as they are developing their own paths and personal perspectives.
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