The end has come. Twelve issues later, the story of Marvel's premier android avenger and his quest to make the perfect family has come to a close. The final issue, out this week, gave the Vision and his family closure: It was tragic, it was hopeful and, as ever with this series, it was all immaculately delivered.
Those expecting an explosive climax to this series in the wake of last issue's superheroic pile-on might be a bit surprised at just how quiet and personal The Vision #12 is. But it's just another mirror to examine the series' true core — it's never really been about Agatha Harkness' portent of doom that Vision would raze the world to keep his family safe, but the breakdown of the Vision and his family. The final issue brings all of the drama back to where it started, the Visions' quiet surburban home, and even if it isn't a battlefield strewn with the bodies of fallen Avengers, it's still an incredibly emotionally charged setting for the series' final moments.
This home is where Tom King goes right for your heart — paired as ever with the frankly magical work of Walta and Bellaire, who infuse the final issue with some absolutely gorgeous panels. We discover the recollection of the series' events being told to us at the start of the issue is a confession the Vision's "wife" Virginia is giving to the police, about her murder of Victor Mancha (in retaliation for killing their "son" Vin) and the Grim Reaper (long story) and her part in the death of one of "daughter" Viv's schoolfriends (longer story).
The matter-of-fact manner with which Virginia recalls these events is meant to be seen as cold and distant, far removed from the emotions they should invoke, another example of the stark difference between human and synthezoid. But in actuality Virginia saves her emotion for what happens after her confession — the moment she decides to take her life, drinking from a water fountain and allowing it to slowly corrode her internal systems.
Why she does that, as she tearfully explains to the Vision, goes back to the crux of the argument Vision made to Viv in the last issue of the series. Virginia decided to defy the programming her husband had made for her, to murder Vision's fellow Ultron creation Victor Mancha and avenge their son — but she really did it in to save her husband from doing it himself. To keep Vision from murdering his "brother", and crossing a line that he could never uncross; to prevent him from committing an unthinkable act that would have allowed him the justification to kill anyone in defence of his family — or everyone. Virginia's sacrifice kept her husband from becoming a monster. And so she saved the world.
But what has the Vision himself learned from the events of this series? In the issue's epilogue, set back at the Visions' home, the Avenger tells his daughter he wishes he could have done better for her — provide her a sense of normalcy and humanity — but Viv is already happy enough to no longer desire either. There's a sense of regret that the Vision clearly feels, even if his daughter does not.
And yet, in the book's final moments, we see that maybe Vision hasn't learned all that much. In secret, he's building a new synthezoid — a replacement for his fallen wife or son we're left to imagine for ourselves.
It's a bit of a chilling note to end the issue and the series on, a dark moment in an issue that was otherwise almost uncharacteristically hopeful. Is the Vision doomed to repeat his mistakes again and again, a tragically unbreakable cycle in his quest for humanity — a cycle his daughter has seemingly broken herself by accepting the fact she is not normal? Will the Vision's desire for humanity, through the creation of his own family, always be doomed to bring the character to his darkest moments?
Or is there something more hopeful and inspirational in Vision's attempt to try and try again, to always chase the dream of being a part of the world he defends? It is ultimately left for us to decide, but it's one hell of a discussion — one that leaves us to examine the Vision in a light that feels both respectful of the character's 40-plus year history, and unlike anything ever considered for him before.
It's hard to quite articulate just how an incredible experience The Vision has been. When this series was first announced, it was difficult to not just assume it would be a series optioned to capitalise on the popularity of the character following his movie debut in Avengers: Age of Ultron. But Tom King, Gabriel Hernandez Walta and Jordie Bellaire defied expectations to deliver a series unlike any comic Marvel has made in decades. Together they have broken down the Vision and rebuilt him into one of the most damaged, deep and compelling heroes in Marvel's entire roster.
Whatever comes from this series going forward — both in terms of how it impacts Vision as a character and what comes of Viv's own path to heroism as she goes on to appear in Champions — there'll never be another Marvel comic quite like this.