Sam Humphries and Andre Araujo bring the funbots out for this much-needed dose of humour in the wake of Age of Ultron.
One of the best things to come out of the inconsistent and disappointing Age of Ultron was the renewed focus on Hank Pym. As we saw in Mark Waid’s excellent epilogue issue Age of Ultron #10 A.I., the often downtrodden and neglected character is one of the smartest cookies in the Marvel Universe, despite almost destroying it with the creation of an artificial intelligence. Waid presented Hank Pym as a flawed but ultimately hopeful person, giving him the humanity that is needed to sell an ongoing series focusing on the impact of his creations. Sam Humphries picks up that mantle and follows his predecessor with a surprisingly light-hearted approach to Marvel’s next big chapter.
Following the defeat of Ultron, Pym’s newfound confidence in his own abilities is simultaneously deflated and enhanced when S.H.I.E.L.D. operative Monica Chang interrogates him about a new threat to civilisation. The same self-replicating technology that brought down Ultron is now aggressively multiplying, and the clever Chang has calculated that it can’t lead anywhere good. Pulling together a team of technologically advanced humanoids, Pym’s metal men and women aim to stop it.
Humphries follows a familiar but confident team-building formula for this first issue, as we are introduced to each character individually. He finally follows up on Brian Michael Bendis’s loose thread of the Vision (who left us hanging at the end of Age of Ultron #4), showcasing this recently neglected Avenger. Even more pleasing is the addition of Victor Mancha to the team, last seen in the one-shot Age of Ultron tie-in Ultron #1AU. While this might discount a new Runaways book any time soon, he is exactly the youthful exuberance and ‘audience’ voice that a book like this needs to find a reader base. Humphries is not adverse to getting a little political as well, with Captain America stepping in to stop the forceful interrogation of Pym, and rogue drones are a major plot device.
What is most surprising about the first issue of Avengers A.I. is just how funny it is. This permeates the title, but some fun is had with the introduction of Doombot, a “robot with the A.I. of history’s greatest monster”. Introduced as nothing but a head and torso held aloft by harnesses, Pym’s jovial coversation is rebuffed instantly by the robot. “My most fervent wish,” he growls “is to crush your pathetic freedoms beneath my boots”. Earlier in the issue, Pym’s attempts to turn into a giant are comically slapped down by a thousand volts of quantum positrons.
Artist Andre Araujo and colourist Frank D’Armata are once again on art duties, bringing the same clean and joyful look to this book that they did with Age of Ultron #10 A.I. Pym is cheeky, cocky and expressive, the kind of guy would be a great pal if he wasn’t so self-involved. D’Armata’s vivid colours are the perfect complement to Araujo’s art, using simple but eye-catching shades to make the images pop. This isn’t a case of light and shadows, it’s as though the contrast has been turned all the way up. It exactly matches the lighthearted adventure tone of the Humphries script, and we stand by our comments that the ” art will undoubtedly be one of the major reasons to pick up Avengers A.I. monthly.”
Avengers A.I. arrives as a breath of fresh air after the often stale salesmanship of the event that got us here. The Age of Ultron is over. The Age of A.I. is now. So far, things are looking up for this new age.
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