In "Avengers A.I." #8, written by Sam Humphries with art by André Lima Araújo, Henry Pym leads the charge from the physical world into the Diamond, the virtual homeland of artificial intelligence. The journey itself is not unlike Alice's trip through the looking glass, but falls short of being anywhere near as entertaining.
Perhaps Humphries is giving away too much from his virtual-mustache-twirling bad guy or perhaps I'm not drinking enough caffeine to fully appreciate the scope of the grandeur contained in "Avengers A.I." #8. The ground covered -- and the meandering path to get there -- in this issue is equivalent to the wanderings of young Billy in Bil Keane's "Family Circus" as Billy takes the longest, most-involved path between two points. Humphries reveals the connection between the recent attacks from artificial intelligence and A.I.'s biggest proponent, but in between he delivers some scenes that drag out beyond the chuckle or connection necessary to keep the story afloat. The Doombot provides the most humor in this series, with a declaration of superiority over laptops and a minor quibble with Rogue, but even Doombot isn't enough to hook me into a book that falls short of delivering on its grand concept. Hank Pym in this comic cannot possibly be the same Pym Mark Waid writes in "Daredevil" as this Pym is less distracted by science and more interested in defying the logic around him.
On the visual side of things, André Lima Araújo's art is detailed and clean. His figures are stylistically unique with strong expressions and his landscapes are filled with minutiae that demand to be studied. Where Araújo loses me, however, is in his depiction of the Diamond. As landscapes for artificial intelligences go, the Diamond is the most organic setting I have ever seen in comics. Sure, this is probably an intentional decision to go against the preconceived notion for such a location, but it's just a little too far. Clayton Cowles keeps the virtual world in check through a wide array of similar, yet individualized, word balloons for the denizens of the Diamond and the artificial intelligence-powered beings in the material world.
I keep waiting for this title to get Avenger-y only to be continuously disappointed. "Avengers A.I." #8 is the most Avengerful issue of the series to date, with appearances by Unity Squad members Rogue and Captain America and a slight cameo from Cannonball in addition to regular cast members Vision and Hank Pym. Instead of Avengers-powered adventures, this comic routinely reads like a metaphysical meditation of an inside joke between network admins with paper dolls of Avengers on hand for appearance. After Jocasta's appearance to close out the previous issue, I was holding out hope for this book to finally earn its Avengers stripes, but once again, "Avengers A.I." #8 just disappoints.