Tag Archives: Tom King

Today’s Super Comic — The Vision #12 (2016)

vision-12Among what I’ve read, The Vision is the best comic book series of 2016, and it absolutely sticks the landing in its final issue, #12.

Similar to what he did with Omega Men, writer Tom King creates a complete story over the course of 12 issues. You can read from #1 through #12 and feel totally satisfied (though he does leave room for sequels). Then you can reread and admire the details and careful thought that went into the plotting and characters, who all come alive with greater depth than the typical comic affords. The main difference between the two series, however, is that Vision makes ample use of previous continuity to enrich the story…and it manages to do so without ever becoming inaccessible.

The series marks a true evolution for its protagonist, both in terms of the character himself (itself?) and the dramatic possibilities of his artificial existence.

At its core, it’s a series about the Vision wanting more in life. While things certainly don’t go as planned, the Avengers’ artificial member has never looked more like a three-dimensional human being…albeit an incredibly odd one.

Read it all from #1.

Writer: Tom King

Artist: Gabriel Hernandez Walta

Cover: Michael Del Mundo

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Comixology; included in The Vision vol. 2: Little Better Than a Beast (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 14 and up

Today’s Super Comic — The Vision #7 (2016)

vision-7The Vision takes a break from the present by delving into his past—specifically, his romance with the Scarlet Witch.

Their history is long, convoluted, and messy (it includes imaginary children, for example). But writer Tom King condenses it into the most relevant points, showing us the general shape of the relationship’s rise and fall through a handful of meaningful moments, including some directly inspired by past Avengers comics (including one I reviewed over the summer).

But this comic isn’t rehashing the past for nostalgic reasons; the past informs the present. The life Vision strove for with the Scarlet Witch is pretty much what he’s trying to accomplish with his current artificial family. Things didn’t work out with Wanda, so Vision’s analytical mind learned from the experience and attempted to correct the variables that proved unworkable.

And it all comes together in a final page that’s either incredibly creepy or kind of touching. I’m leaning toward creepy, and I’ll definitely keep reading.

Writer: Tom King

Penciler: Michael Walsh

Cover: Michael Del Mundo

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology

Appropriate For: ages 14 and up

Today’s Super Comic — The Omega Men #12 (2016)

omega_men12You have to admire a comic that aims high.

I finished reading Tom King and Barnaby Bagenda’s Omega Men, and I remain impressed. The series tackles complex themes about war, freedom, and heroism, and it crafts compelling characters. While there’s always room for a sequel, #12 brings the book to a satisfying conclusion. If these twelve issues were the only Omega Men comics there ever were, it would feel complete.

That’s not a criticism of any previous iterations of the comic (which, again, I’ve barely even sampled). DC and Marvel both have many lesser-known properties that have ample potential but simply never caught on, for whatever reason, leaving them ripe for talented creators to come in, take some risks, and produce something special that only they can produce. In that way, The Omega Men reminds me of the Battlestar Galactica reboot from the previous decade.

The book also features the best use of Kyle Rayner in a long time. He was introduced as a replacement Green Lantern when Hal Jordan went crazy and dismantled the entire GL Corps. But after Hal made his shocking but inevitable return and the GL Corps became whole, Kyle languished in the background of the DC Universe as a superfluous Lantern. Here, however, he feels purposeful again, and his established backstory informs his actions. He’s the only Green Lantern ever chosen at random, rather than due to worthiness, and he’s always had much to prove.

So yes, I highly recommend the whole series. (But it’s not for kids.)

Writer: Tom King

Artist: Barnaby Bagenda

Cover: Trevor Hutchison

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Comixology; included in The Omega Men: The End Is Here (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 16 and up

Today’s Super Comic — The Omega Men #3 (2015)

omega-men-3I never bothered much with the Omega Men, outside the rare guest appearance that barely made an impression one way or the other. Being set in a region of space that not even the Green Lantern Corps was allowed to enter, they had little opportunity to become an integral part of the DC Universe.

But then I stumbled across the trade paperback of the Omega Men’s latest incarnation. The art by Barnaby Bagenda made it look like something special and different, and I saw the writer was Tom King, who’s been doing phenomenal work on The Vision. So I took a chance. I’m not finished yet, but so far my impulse buy is justified.

Admittedly, it took me a couple of issues to get into it, but everything clicked as of #3. We meet Princess Kalista as the Omega Men kidnap her and lock her up with their other captive, Kyle Rayner, the former Green Lantern who’s now apparently the White Lantern (whatever that means…I can’t keep up with everything).

So yeah, these Omega Men don’t act the least bit heroic. At this point, I’d consider them terrorists, and I’m eagerly waiting for Kyle to reclaim his lost power ring and pummel them senseless. But it’s also clear that not everything is as it seems. Kyle’s the only character in this book that I “know”—he’s my entry point into this star system, the only one I trust to do the right thing (even if I don’t know the difference between a Green Lantern and a White one). Everyone and everything else is a slowly unraveling mystery.

And Bagenda deserves all the extra credit for his skill with a nine-panel grid. His staging of the kidnapping is fantastic—I just wanted to slow down and admire the choreography.

Now to see if the quality continues. I’m optimistic.

Writer: Tom King

Artist: Barnaby Bagenda

Cover: Trevor Hutchison

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Comixology; included in The Omega Men: The End Is Here (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 15 and up

Today’s Super Comic — The Vision #6 (2016)

vision-6Lots of good books added to Marvel Unlimited this week, and here’s another.

The Vision keeps getting creepier and more compelling with each issue. In your standard superhero book, you know the good guys will ultimately prevail—it’s just a question of how and after what sequence of setbacks. But there’s no good vs. evil here, and the series can go in any number of directions.

Artist Gabriel Hernandez Walta nails the two-page splash panel in #6, and it’s a perfect moment to go big. Not because of quantity of content—it consists of just a few key components—but because of the importance of the moment. And writer Tom King makes a dramatically satisfying move by fast-forwarding a bit immediately after that panel, leaving the reader with various puzzle pieces to assemble as we try to figure out what happened. Ambiguity serves the book well.

How far will an artificial man go to preserve his artificial family? The answer’s not clear, and the uncertainty is a treat.

Writer: Tom King

Artist: Gabriel Hernandez Walta

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in The Vision vol. 1: Little Worse Than a Man (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 14 and up

Today’s Super Comic — The Vision #5 (2016)

vision-5Never underestimate the importance of a story being told in exactly the correct medium. And The Vision, a series that takes the Avengers’ longtime android member and turns him into the patriarch of his own android family, can only be properly told as a comic book.

Sequential comic book art can most effectively convey how eerie and alien this family is, and the excellent artwork of Gabriel Hernandez Walta does just that. The Visions appear cold and stiff, almost wooden, but still very much alive. In a live-action movie, the characters might look silly or cartoonish, whereas in comic book art they exist on the same plane as the rest their environment. No need to add or polish them during post-production.

Animation? Maybe, but animation wouldn’t be able to match writer Tom King’s effective use of caption narration. Issue #5 juxtaposes an officer interrogating Vision and a list of the 37 times the Vision has saved the world—something that would be extraordinarily difficult to pull off on the screen or in a novel.

This comic is something different and special, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.

Writer: Tom King

Artist: Gabriel Hernandez Walta

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in The Vision vol. 1: Little Worse Than a Man (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 14 and up

Today’s Super Comic — The Vision #4 (2016)

The-Vision-4-coverMany Avengers are capable of carrying their own series, but Vision never struck me as a strong candidate for a solo outing. A cold, emotionally detached android works much better in supporting roles.

An entire family of androids, however…

It feels obvious once you see it, but the Vision has always been a family man. Naturally, a Vision comic should focus on family…and a highly unsettling family at that.

Vision is just trying to live a normal life in an Arlington suburb, with his wife Virginia and teenage kids Vin and Viv. He created all three himself, of course, which is already far from normal. An old enemy’s visit in #1 causes Virginia to go all Walter White, and the consequences continue to compound in #4. (I’m half-expecting her to proclaim, “Everything I did, I did for this family!”)

Writer Tom King has achieved an impressive feat with this series so far (based on what’s available on Marvel Unlimited). This is hardly even a superhero book. It’s almost a horror book with androids, but it also features heart and humor. The kids perform a fun twist on Charlie Brown’s football woes at the beginning of The Vision #4, and Viv’s interaction with a classmate shows the humanity beneath the artificial exterior. But then that ending…will not be spoiled here.

Okay, I’m sold on a Vision series. Not a solo superhero book, but Vision as the head of an unusual household? Yes, that apparently works.

Writer: Tom King

Artist: Gabriel Hernandez Walta

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Vision vol. 1: Little Worse Than a Man (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 14 and up