While "Avengers A.I." #3 is in the Avengers family of titles and features two fan-favorite Avengers in Hank Pym and Vision, it just doesn't come together as an Avengers book as writer Sam Humphries investigates the legacy of Hank Pym and the evolution of artificial intelligence in the wake of "Age of Ultron."
Humphries has assembled a collection of artificial life forms as protagonists and foes, woven the loose-knit team into the adventures of S.H.I.E.L.D. and built a world around the concept of artificial intelligence as a new species. While every A.I. based character could simply be a mechanical drone or slight variant of the others, Humphries does imbue each with a distinct voice to address the new world evolving around them. That world is different and strange, shifting and changing throughout "Avengers A.I." #3. While I appreciate the innovation and Humphries' daringness to forge into new directions with familiar characters, this comic book feels like a whole new set of characters with minimal connection to the standard concept of the Avengers. The extreme measures taken in innovation render the characters less-than-familiar and more like skins placed over new concepts that new readers will have a hard time getting invested in. I understand Hank Pym having a new outlook, but fail to see it as character evolution. Vision, meanwhile, has walked this path before or one very similar to it. A.I. is at war with humans and Vision serves as the key player.
Where "Avengers A.I." #3 falls apart is the art. Andre Lima AraÃºjo is very competent in his work. His drawings are whimsical and animated. The artwork has plenty of details. AraÃºjo's characters have a fantastic range of emotion and body language, but the page construction and panel layouts don't match the innovation Humphries pushes through in the story. Part of that is exacerbated by the hand-drawn sound effects. Again, they are fun and lively and would certainly work in another story, but in a comic book where all of the characters are artificial intelligence, it simply feels incomplete.
"Avengers A.I.," like the characters it features, has promise as a concept. It is farming virgin soil in the Marvel Universe, but isn't giving us characters with pathos. Hank Pym is a whiner on an ego trip and Vision is as conflicted as he's ever been. There isn't much to cheer for here and there isn't much to hook into. "Avengers A.I." #3 seems like a last gasp for me -- not for lack of technical execution, just for lack of soul, a concept that almost seems funny considering the struggles some of these characters face or wrestle with themselves.