Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Avengers A.I #4

by Sam Humphries (Writer) AndrLima Araujo (Artist), Frank D'Armata (Colorist)

The Story: Vision tries to calm the people of the Diamond from Dimitrios while the rest of the team try their best to pick up this A.I. city.

THE REVIEW: Better be ambitious than be dull. From my perspective, it's always more entertaining to see an author try to infuse some newer or expansive elements rather than play it safe. It's not always the safest way to write a solid issue in terms of plot and characterization, but comics have a particular potential for craziness, especially cape comics.

It is why it's especially disappointing to read this issue of Avengers A.I., as Sam Humphries barely use many of the interesting additions he created for his series. While he does try to add some twists to the conflicts of the book and to some characters, it either doesn't go far enough or simply never connect in a relevant way to the issue as a whole.

The first place where Humphries seems to go astray is with the Diamond, the strongest concept of the series so far. Full of potential and with some of the better concepts already in place thanks to the previous issue, the advancements and some of the good ideas seems to be dropped in favour of the plot, with Dimitrios and Vision being put to the forefront instead of any development of this decidedly great idea. It's a shame that the Diamond is delegated to the background, both literally and figuratively to put super heroics to the forefront, diminishing in the process what could have separated this title from the more regular cape fare.

The second place seems to rush some of the events in the comics, such as the confrontation and the character development, as Humphries doesn't give enough room for his plot to breathe. Victor Mancha gets a scene where he questions the motives of a group, leading to a scene where his doubts are all but replaced by unbelievably powerful motivation, the Diamond is thrown away in favour of Dimitrios, Alexis saves the day while still being unexplained to the readers and so forth. The expediency of the plot is kind of remarkable considering the written-for-the-trade decompression that is found in a lot of book these days, yet it's never a good thing when it eschew potential character interaction and the development of the themes and ideas that permeate the book.

The book isn't all bad, of course, as there are some developments that could very well play in the book's future as well as some small ideas that gives some nice touches here and there. The idea that Monica Chang is a muslim and opens the issue while praying is a nice character touch, even though it doesn't really play into the issue at all. The action is fun at places, with a good mixture of humor courtesy of Doombot. It's nothing big, but there are brighter spots in everything, no matter how dark they may seem at first glance.

One of those bright spots is AndrLima Araujo, who provides some pretty good art like always. One of the things he is great at drawing are the backgrounds, as he is able to render architecture, structure and a believable sense of depths in his panels, which is always useful when dealing with action or contrasting imagery. This can be seen in the oil-rig and the Diamond scenes, as he seems to be able to show normal and abnormal landscapes quite well in the same issue without hurting the general vibes of the issue. His characters are also apt with their poses and in their anatomy, even though some of them looks comically chubby on the page. The expressions are usually solid as well, though there are some emotions that are perhaps a tad too exaggerated, like rage. In some panels, it seems like characters that should be angry or a bit stressed are undergoing a berserker trance, which makes them look a bit silly in the process. Still as it may, Araujo is one of the strongest aspects of this book.

Another strong aspect is Frank D'Armata, who seems to be able to work quite well with the dual aesthetics brought by Araujo, combining the surreal with the realistic in his colorization. The abundance of garish and cold colors clash very well with the colorization of characters like Dimitrios and Vision, creating a neat sense of focus on the characters without hurting the scenery. The same effect is also reproduced in the real world scene, albeit in reverse as the traditional and duller coloring bring out the rather outlandish colors of characters like Alexis or Doombot more easily. Despite the heavy use of this technique, there is still a good diversity in terms of palette, which do help the issue visually as well.

THE CONCLUSION: A strong artistic direction from Araujo and D'Armata cannot save a book that doesn't go far enough in its themes and rush along with the development in favour of its plot. Despite some nice elements, this book simply isn't doing it for me. Dropped.

Grade: C

Hugo Robberts Larivi re

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