After a crazily fast-paced opening storyline, Sam Humphries slows down a little, and we get a very enjoyable issue that starts to delve into who these characters are, and also develop the ongoing Human/A.I. conflict.
Let’s start with the character on the cover of this issue, the mysterious Alexis. She and Vision head to New York to try and stop an angry protest at the banks, caused by what Dimitrios did a few issues ago, where he randomly redistributed money from one person’s account to another. Of course, because these problems were caused by A.I. the appearance of these two, even though they are Avengers, only makes things worse. To add to that, Alexis starts freaking out again, seeing visions (no pun intended) or weird alternate versions of herself, and also little glimpses of the future, like what Vision is about to say next. She bursts off, and people think she’s gone crazy, but she’s actually inside her own head, fighting a giant version of Dimitrios that is ‘The Encryption’ that’s blocking her memories. She defeats The Encryption after a fun fight, and is on her way back to being restored. She doesn’t have her memories yet, but they will come, and she now knows that she is one of The Diamond’s ‘Original 6’ and is ‘The Protector’, not just of A.I., but of all life. I like that Humphries hasn’t gone all the way here, and that there’s still a lot of things that can be revealed in the future. Alexis then uses her precognitive powers to see which protestor is going to blow himself in the near future, and throws him into the air, saving everyone, which is of course, a good thing.
Hank Pym meanwhile, is in kind of a funk after the death of Victor Mancha, and has locked himself in his lab. After some very funny scenes with Doombot (I don’t think Doombot will ever not be hilarious to me) and Monica Chang, Monica gets into Pym’s lab, and finds him… playing video games. It turns out that Pym is trying to create an ‘Infinite Game’ (isn’t that just Animal Crossing?) but really, it’s all a way for him to cope with his being bi-polar. I’m not sure if Marvel have ever actually come out and outright said Pym is bi-polar before now, but it makes sense for his character, and I love that he’s mapping his entire brain and trying to hack himself so he’ll stop being depressed. Monica tries to get Hank to snap out of it and realise that Victor’s death isn’t on him, but it’s not working just yet.
Of course, Hank’s depression is kind of all for nothing, as it turns out that Victor isn’t actually dead! Tumblr, stop your weeping now! Yes, Victor is still alive inside The Diamond and the conflict with Dimitrios is far from over. This was a very strong issue of this book, and as I said, after the hyper feel of the first 4, a bit of a slow-down was necessary. I know feel like Humphries has a better handle on these characters, especially Pym and Alexis, than before, and he still managed to cram in some great moments of humour and mad ideas.
Valerio Schiti stepped in on the art with this issue, and I was once again very impressed by him, it’s not quite as perfect for an A.I. world as Araujo, but it was very good superhero stuff, and the facial expressions were fantastic, which is paramount for a book with this level of humour and weirdness.
I think this issue marks the way this book should be going forward, with Humphries leavening the craziness with a bit more focus. But hell, I love the craziness too.