Tuesday, 3 January 2017

The Vision: Little Better Than a Beast

Tom King & Gabriel Hernandez Walta
The Vision: Little Better Than a Beast (2016)

Here's the second half of the story for which the first half was collected as Little Worse Than a Man, and which I suggested might be the best thing Marvel have ever published. Little Worse Than a Man seems to be the story of a family of robots settling down and attempting to blend in with regular folks, except with a very different tone to how that may sound and somehow managing to turn those chuckles and overly logical misunderstandings into something both poignant and chilling. Little Better Than a Beast completes the title quotation from The Merchant of Venice, presenting a conclusion which seems initially shaky in how it relates to what has gone before, until you realise that it's simply because all humour has been stripped from the increasingly harrowing psychological drama. It's not that the jokes aren't there, but you'd have to be lacking something fairly basic to keep on finding them funny - which, by the way, is probably deliberate. The dynamic of the story derives from the relentless and guileless optimism of inherently flawed people, or at least beings. That which makes them human in turn destroys and debases their humanity.

As you might gather from the above, it's quite easy to forget that this is still essentially a superhero book, and we're reminded when various Avengers appear - notably an Iron Man these days looking one hell of a lot like Robert Downey Jr. I'm not entirely sure whether it's down to the beautifully understated art, the narrative depth, or a combination of the two, but when the capes start flapping it's actually kind of shocking, almost frightening in the same way that The Dark Knight Returns was frightening back when it first hit the stands; and we are reminded that, realistically speaking, superheroes would be fucking terrifying if they were real.

Thankfully though, superheroes are hardly the point of the story. The point might be simplified as the gulf between that which we would like to be and that which we cannot help being, although by the same token Hamlet is probably just a play about a bloke who sees a ghost. You really need to read this one to appreciate it. For a book full of flying guys with capes, this story feels at least as dark as anything written by Michael Gira for a Swans album, and there are a few moments which I found just plain horrible and yet unfortunately necessary; so fuck it: like I said before, this is probably the best thing Marvel have ever published.

No comments:

Post a Comment