Just when you think your heart can't get any heavier due to the sheer weight of this book's story, Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta go ahead and throw on some more: Vision #9 is a painful read, but in such a good, good way.
This story starts off where the last ended off, with Victor being caught reporting back to the Avengers by Vision's son Vin. This is unbeknownst to the rest of the Vision family, and mother Virginia is trying to locate her son by any channel available to her, even bugging her teenage daughter Viv.
That was about the last remotely light-hearted exchange in the book, and it's two pages in. What follows is an examination of Victor Mancha, much like how King took a look at Vision himself and the Scarlet Witch's relationship with Vision in previous issues. We learn about his past, his time with the Runaways, his time with Avengers AI, and how his emotional state wavered with each new phase. King weaves a story that intersperses bits of the present with bits of the past - and it's so well done that it's heart-breaking.
The star of this issue is Walta, however. There is pain and anguish in this issue, such that the reader squirms in its presence. Virginia, not knowing where her son is, has a nearly palpable worry that hangs around her neck. When Victor is uncomfortable or emotionally overwrought, we can see his face twist enough to give you a heartache. And Vin. Oh, lord, how Walta can convey such horror in a synthetic child, I'll never know.
There is fear, confusion, and hurt resonating in these panels. Vin is just a child here, and he's caught up in powers that neither he nor Victor can understand, and as a reader I was audibly begging for it all to just stop.
And what Jordie Bellaire does with colors pulls the heart strings out of your chest during Victor's story. Dark blues and deep hues cast a past filled with teenage angs, his memories littered with agony. Even the bright spots, seldom as they are in Victor's past, reflect that blue.
This issue is a tour de force of emotional discomfort: I was uneasy flipping pages and watching what was happening, unable to help. But isn't that the hallmark of a great book? Engaging the reader so forcefully that he or she is compelled to do something?