Fan Retrospectives: Vision: Part 9: They Will Die in The Flames

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.

"They Will Die in the Flames"

Writer: Tom King

Artist: Gabrielle Hernandez Walta

Color Artist: Jordie Bellaire

Letterer: VC's Clayton Cowles

Review by Eric Lee

After Vin discovers Victor Mancha is secretly spying on the Vision family for the Avengers, Victor lashes out violently. The entire issue takes place probably over the course of like 1-2 minutes. But writer Tom King chose to stretch the time and seriously decompressed the entire scene to emphasize the agonizing  pain that Vin is in.

While Vin continuously screams, "Mother!" He then cries out, "Mommy", as if he becomes less formal and more human in his final cries.

We're also treated with a humorous scene where Virginia questions Viv on where her brother is. But Viv is offended that her mother just walked through her room wall complaining, "Mother we agreed! I am coded to be 16!"

To which Virginia responds, "I am coded to be an adult!"

This is obviously a take off of the typical teenager-parent interactions, but King inserted humor by having them claim that they are "Coded " to be a certain role. You can also interpret the scene as another example of the Vision family going through the motions of what their familial roles as another effort to be "normal".

"His Life is Not His Life"

There is a flashback sequence that shows us the events in Victor's life that led up the moment he enters the Vision's home. King highlights the tragedy of Victor thinking he was a typical teenager until he discovered that Ultron created him to be a sleeper agent against the Avengers. His love for the Avengers was a program that Ultron inserted into Victor so he become more easily acclimated into the superhero community.

King repeated variations of the phrase: "Victor Mancha's life was not his life" It shows how Victor has a bit of an identity crisis since he learned that everything he thought he knew about his life was a lie. Since then, then he has been a bit aimless: bouncing from his original team to then the Avengers, and then just sitting around alone in an apartment.

There are multiple meanings behind the phrase "His life is not his life". It refers to how he was original created by Ultron to be a weapon. It also refers to how the Avengers are somewhat exploiting his familial connections with the Visions so he can spy on them. So all of his tender family connections he made in the previous issue were under false pretenses to try to get information out of them. 

"His life is not his life" 

The flashbacks also reveal probably the most controversial part of the story. It turns out throughout all of his adventures with the Runaways and the Avengers, Victor became addicted to Vibranium as if it they were pain killers. That casts an even dark implication over his actions.


I am personally not a fan of this revelation. It reduces Victor to a bit of a junkie who is willing to sell his soul for the next fix. It also makes the Avengers  unintentional drug enablers when they approached Victor to spy, because as it turns out the Visions have a Vibranium piano from Wakanda. We witness a brief glimpse of Victor pilfering the piano for it's metal substance. 

You can also argue that "His life is not his life" also refers to Victor's drug addiction. He feels that he cannot control himself and his decision-making is based on where can he get his next high. It's no longer his life to decide, it is wherever his addictions take him.

"They Will Die in the Flames"

In a panic, Victor shoots Vin with his electro-magnetic powers. However, Vin also tries to fight back with his forehead beam. Unfortunately, Vin is writhing in pain, which causes him to misfire and shoot the Knowles house- setting it ablaze. Thus it fulfills the Agatha's prediction from way back in issue one that the Visions' neighbors George and Nora Knowles will die in a fire.


It turns out that Victor's overuse of Vibranium also had another side-effect of disrupting his powers. It caused him to miscalculate how powerful of an electro-magnetic blast to shoot Vin with, thus killing him.

Vision and Virginia both find Vin's now-inert body on the floor. Victor is in the corner of the room crying, "I don't know... I don't know... I don't know..."


You can read Victor's cries "I don't know" in two ways. One is that he literally didn't know what to do, so he panicked and accidentally killed Vin in his panic. Alternatively, you can read it as that he doesn't know what to do in life, because he has a low sense of identity, since Ultron took it away from him. That is why Victor is especially susceptible to the Avengers' influence because he is overly dependent on their approval, which led to this tragedy.

The title of the issue "They Will Die in the Flames" literally refers to the neighbors being killed when their house was set afire. However, you can make the connection that Vision's trust in the Avengers has also gone up in flames and now he is pissed.

Conclusion

Vision continues to be a very tragic and ominous story. It is dense and layered with meanings and allegories. The moments are shocking as the Vision continues down a dark path.

 For the previous chapter's analysis, click here.

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