Filed under: Exquisite Reviews | Tags: Age of Ultron, Alasdair Stuart, Avengers, Avengers A.I., Dimitrios, Hank Pym, Honestly, Marvel, Monica Chang, this does feel like Leverage with added cyborgs and drone punching. And let's face it the only thing that could have made Leverage even more awesome was cyborgs and drone punching., Ultron, Victor Mancha, Victor Savage, Victor Von Doom
‘Bigger Better Faster Stranger’
Written by Sam Humphries
Art by Andre Lima Araujo
Colour Artist Frank D’armata
Letters by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover by Dustin Weaver & Marte Garcia
Published by Marvel
The post Age of Ultron dance is under way and, whilst some of the aftermath books look like a hard sell (‘Hey Ultimate Universe fans! Come watch Galactus eat the universe you love!’ seems especially tough), this first arrival is one of the most fun books Marvel have put out in ages.
As hinted at in Age of Ultron 10 A.I., Hank Pym is back in the superhero game. This unfortunately also means that Hank has sent his modesty on vacation again. And then moved. And not sent it a Change of Address card
It also means that when the SHIELD Drone fleet is hijacked by a rogue AI named Dimitrios that evolved from Pym’s anti-Ultron virus, he’s hauled in for questioning. Pym not being the most stable person in the room, even when he’s by himself, it doesn’t go well. Refreshingly, it goes worse for him than anyone else as SHIELD Agent Monica Chang cuts him down to size. Reluctantly onboard, Pym agrees to bring together a team to battle the A.I. or, at least, try and understand it.
That’s the set up and it’s as simple as it is fun; Avengers A.I. are an anti-cybernetic lifeform task force largely made up of cybernetic lifeforms. The Vision is reintroduced and literally rebooted in one of the book’s most impressive sequences, and is joined by Ultron’s son Victor Mancha, Hank himself and a Doombot. Yes, a Doombot. Who is about as happy as being there as everyone else is to be standing next to him. Together they take on Dimitrios and, of course, discover just how much trouble they’re’in.
This is a light, breezy, fun book that makes a statement with its design long before the story kicks in. Opening with an attack by the drones and then ‘cutting’ to a title page gives it the feel of a TV show and in turn quietly sets it apart from its peers. This is a book with the energy and wit of a good action TV show and that’s reflected in the pace, the ideas and most importantly, the characters. For example, an early moment where we follow Monica Change psyching herself up through to interrogating Pym is a particularly nice touch and gives the SHIELD agent a human edge that’s even sharper in a book like this. That edge runs through the rich vein of humour in the book too, whether it’s Pym being forcibly shrunk or Victor trying out different superhero names, each more awful than the last. Most endearingly, the Doombot utterly, utterly hates its team members, it’s work and what it’s doing and is completely happy telling everyone that.
The end result is a little like shoving Strax from the recent seasons of Doctor Who in a set of Doom armour and telling him he can’t kill anybody. Doombot looks set to be the breakout character from the series and, if what I suspect is right, and he’s actually got Ultron coding too, then he’s going to be vital to what’s coming. As an aside, NextWAVE fans will either find much to love in Doombot, or bemoan the loss of their beloved Aaron Stack even more.
This is an unusual, oddball team that manages to hark back to the definitive oddball superhero run, the Dematteis/Giffen run on Justice League, whilst still defining its own identity. It’s interesting, too that whilst there are real echoes of NextWAVE to the book, it harks back most to the mission statement in Warren Ellis’ Planetary; It’s a strange world, let’s keep it that way.
Helping immensely in that quest is Araujo’s brawny art. The characters have a very real, grounded solidity to them, Hank especially, that really helps establish the tone of the book. Araujo’s action work is just as impressive, with the Drone fight that closes the book a fast, slick ideas heavy sequence that tells us about the characters at the same time as delivering a pacey, fun scene. D’Armata’s colour work also deserves special praise, especially on the stunning page reintroducing the Vision. The whole art style grounds the book, giving it a far more science fictional feel than it’s compatriots and in doing so, helping it stand out from the crowd
Avengers A.I. is an Avengers book that does the near impossible, staying close to its source material whilst ensuring it has a voice all of its own. Humphries’ script is incident, character and joke heavy and the art team takes every beat in the script and knocks it out of the park. This is the perfect book for readers unsure of where to start with the Avengers-go-round of titles and the perfect book for anyone wanting a little fun (And a lot of guys called Victor) in their science fiction.
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