(a) Andre Lima Araujo
It doesn’t happen often, but when a book’s art is the main reason I continue to read it, that’s a big deal. As an English major, I tend to focus on the story more than the visual aspect of comic books, which I understand makes my reviews less impactful as they could be. So when I realized I wanted to pick up Avengers A.I. #2 mostly for Andre Lima Araujo’s amazing artwork, I knew I had to write about it.
My biggest trepidation about the first issue of this series was how odd Hank Pym was written. For years and years, Pym’s been conveyed as a tortured soul who obsesses over his work. His years in Avengers Academy helped lighten him up a bit, but Sam Humphries’ over-the-top, optimistic attitude for Hank Pym was very off-putting. Fortunately, the other characters in Avengers A.I. were compelling enough to make me want to complete the first issue. As a Runaways fan, I’ll always have a soft spot for Victor Mancha, and Doombot is one of the best new characters to grace Marvel comics in quite a long time. But by the end of the first issue, I realized that it was Araujo’s artwork that truly made me keep turning the pages. Even when I was frustrated by Pym’s energetic and happy demeanor, I wanted to keep reading to see how Araujo would draw the next page, then the next. Similar to Frank Quitely or Chris Burnham, Araujo has a style that’s minimal and complex at the same time. Facial expressions are the name of the game for Araujo, and the wide range of emotions being presented in Avengers A.I. #2 lets Araujo work wonders. There isn’t much in the way of panel layout or stylizing pacing, but the two panels featuring 8-bit style explanations of the attack pattern were just brilliant (I’m still upset I didn’t get the 8-bit variant cover for Avengers A.I. #1).
As I mentioned before, Doombot is one of my favorite new Marvel characters. After Age of Ultron, Hank Pym felt bad about keeping artificial intelligence locked up and/or imprisoned in some way. With a newfound sense of conditional freedom — he does possess the mental framework of Doctor Doom, including his prerogative to bring the Earth to it’s knees — Doombot rushes in where others plan, punches where others outwit. It’s funny because Doom himself is quite the tactician, but Doombot seems intent on getting into the middle of any firefight, usually to his detriment. He still had all of Doom’s bravado, but much less of Doom’s sensibility.
On the storyline, I was again impressed with how much i enjoyed the story. Before the series debuted, there wasn’t a lot you could have told me to make me believe this series would be a success. Well, I stand corrected as Humphries actually found a fantastic plot that makes sense in correlation with the greater Marvel universe. Artificial intelligence has been around for a long time in the Marvel U, and there have been countless instances when that A.I. has risen up to fight against it’s oppressive human masters. Avengers A.I. is the natural progression of this concept, bringing social equality to the billions upon billions of machines in the world that do everything for us humans with absolutely no thanks or recognition. This is when the robots say “No more!” Of course, Pym’s A.I. Avengers are there to make sure biological and artificial beings can coexist peacefully.
Avengers A.I. #2 is another great issue from Humphries and Araujo that pushes the storyline forward without feeling forced. What started as a concept that a lot of people doubted would be effective has turned into one of the most poignant series Marvel currently produces. I know that’s a big claim for a series will only two issues under it’s belt, but it’s justified when you actually see what Humphries and Araujo deliver.