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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Some thoughts on Avengers A.I.

I wrote a little thing on Avengers A.I. #3 for the dudes at Comics Bulletin, but it was a short thing, about 400 words, and I think I may have some more things to say about that series, because I'm liking it and I'm rooting for it.

I like Sam Humphries.  I was pretty big into Our Love Is Real, but for whatever reason his Marvel output so far hasn't really impressed me.  Avengers A.I. on the other hand is pretty entertaining, and I think it looks like he's having some fun with this book.  It feels really weird and offbeat, like something Marvel would have published during the Bill Jemas era of books.  The problem with these sorts of books is that they tend to be a little bit under the radar, and in this era of the Disney-Marvel Corporation, being under the radar is something less acceptable and it could almost certainly mean cancellation.  Here's the usual course for these sorts of books: fly under the radar, start tying-in to every crossover event, creative team switches, desperate letter writing campaign, pray that the TPBs sell.  I hope that this isn't the path that Avengers A.I. takes because I think has the potential to be a genuinely different monthly superhero offering, and it deserves better.

I like these characters.  I like Hank Pym's weird recasting as a bumbling sitcom dad who is also a brilliant jock-scientist.  I like Monica Chang as the straight-shooting over-achiever.  I like Victor Mancha as a shitty teenager, trying too hard to look cool.  I like the Doom-Bot.  Doom-Bots are always a nice source of comedy in the Marvel Universe.  I like The Vision as the straight man to this team of goofs, and I like his new nano-robot powers.  I don't know if I like Alexis.  I think we're supposed to think she's a traitor, but I think she's going to redeem herself or something.  Whatever.  I think all these dudes work well together and I'm glad they keep finding excuses to talk to each other.

I hate everybody's ugly-ass jackets.

The Diamond is a pretty cool idea.  I like this A.I. Utopia, but I have reservations about what Humphries is trying to get at with the idea that these A.I. are a new life form, deserving of personhood.  I mean, I get it.  I understand the gray area that this presents, I get that this is pretty similar to the whole mutants and humans conflict, but the A.I. that live in the diamond, regardless of how peaceful they are, are set up as the bad guys simply by not being on the same team as the Avengers.  Also they're being led by an A.I. named Dimitrios who is inhabiting Iron Man's most evil looking armor (and wearing a shitty blazer on top of that!), so definitely not scoring any points there.  Here's another thought about The Diamond: Is anyone else getting "For The Man Who Has Everything" vibes from The Vision's experience in The Diamond?  We've only known Dimitrios for a couple of issues, but it seems like something he'd do.

Maybe I'm just anti-robot.  Maybe this comic book is holding up this dark mirror to my black soul, riddled with heretofore unacknowledged technological bigotry.  Maybe I'm the asshole.

I think it would be cool if the A.I. were actually cool new life forms deserving of personhood.  I think it would be cool if the Avengers were the assholes here.  Like, if this team of Avengers ended up destroying an entire civilization of new life forms, or if we were tricked into rooting for genocide, how great would that be?  I mean not great that we were rooting for genocide, but I mean that this team would have to live with the consequences and the guilt?  I dunno, that's definitely not going to happen in this book.

Maybe I just so desperately want this book to be the new X-Force/X-Statix.  Constantly fucking with its readership, making jokes, killing central characters just to prove that no one is safe and that life is cheap.  It's not going to be that book, though.  Sam Humphries isn't Peter Milligan (nor should he ever need to be), and a lower-tier Avengers spin-off title in 2013 is a far different thing from a lower-tier X-Men family book in 2001.  Having a set of blockbuster movie franchises will change things like that.
I just want every superhero book to be X-Force/X-Statix.  I know that's wrong to want something so impossible.

Anyway, all I want is for this book to do well and to be able to develop its own original voice in a sea of on-message branding.  It probably won't happen I don't know comics are good at finding a way to be terrible usually.

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