In the Marvel Comic Universe, Advanced Idea Mechanics (or A.I.M.) was an evil organization devoted to world domination through scientific and technological means. An offshoot of Marvel’s other evil organization, A.I.M. was Hydra’s science division until it split from Hydra over political reasons in the 1960’s. Over the decades since, the minions of A.I.M. have frequently donned their yellow protective suits and caused all sorts of pseudo-science related problems for our heroes, from mind control experiments on Mockingbird to the creation of both the Cosmic Cube and M.O.D.O.K. (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing – listen, these guys just love acronyms). While viewers of the MCU may recognize A.I.M. from Iron Man 3, where it was the organization founded by Aldrich Killian that developed Extremis, the new face of A.I.M. will surprise movie viewers and comic readers alike: with a new name and new stated purpose, A.I.M. has become the foundation for the New Avengers. Spoilers for New Avengers #8 begin after the jump.
A good recap page will welcome the uninitiated reader with a quick report on the characters and plot points involved in a story, but a great recap page can take it one step further, making the uninitiated reader aware that they’re stepping into a story in progress while simultaneously providing a solid jumping off point. The recap page for New Avengers undoubtedly qualifies as the latter. There’s the clear introduction of the team, which provides a profile picture for each of the nine members along with their names, but doesn’t attempt to overload the reader with a plethora of character details. Beside these portraits, there’s a clearly labeled map of Avengers Island – an inclusion which details a large amount of information about the New Avengers team and how they live, providing the narrative with verisimilitude and lending plenty of texture right out of the gate. Finally, there are the more conventional few paragraphs summarizing the premise of the series and the story so far.
The uninitiated reader quickly learns that Roberto Da Costa purchased the super-villainous A.I.M. and reworked it into Avengers Idea Mechanics, dedicating the organization to using science and technology to rescue the world rather than enslave it. With an emphasis on the support of scientists and engineers, the New Avengers are an organization dedicated to protecting the Earth, regardless of the disapproval of the United States government, or their status as unsanctioned Avengers. It’s an intriguing and idealistic premise – a villainous organization gone “good,” but still operating outside the law – and one that is immediately compatible with the morality versus government theme already well established by the Avengers Standoff narrative.
The Ubiquitous Cell Phone Telephone
As intimated by their mission statement – to use science and technology to protect the Earth – there is a strong emphasis on the technology used by the New Avengers team. This is clear from the outset, when De Costa plays a distress message from Rick Jones and then asks the team to use a voting app on their phones to weigh in on whether or not to align themselves against S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s an interesting scene that provides a lot to discuss.
There’s the fact that the new A.I.M. is so devoted to the idea of actual democracy that all two hundred plus people on the island vote to weigh in on whether or not to go against S.H.I.E.L.D. There’s the use of actually available technology to achieve that idealistic goal. Then there’s the exceptionally well-designed page showing each member of the New Avengers (along with a few scientists and engineers who comprise the support team): color-coded to show how they voted, the page allows each of them a chance to justify their opinion, while providing an extended glimpse into each character’s profile – and on top of all this, the layout is very aesthetically pleasing. It’s a standout page in a book that has several snazzy pages.
Although at first the inclusion of the cell phone telephone app as a tool to facilitate the team’s decision making seems a bit “fellow kids,” it’s difficult to argue with the multifaceted success of the cell phone-voting scene, as it provides development to both the plot and characters while simultaneously offering engaging exposition and, to top it all off, it looks cool.
As discussed in the review for All-New, All-Different Avengers #8, it can be difficult for associated tie-in issues to create tension when they are effectively catching up to a plot point already reached by the reader. In this case, we know from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #3 that the New Avengers would be bursting into Coulson’s Battlecarrier. This issue sidesteps narrative fatigue by succeeding on three fronts.
First, it allows the narrative to “catch up” with itself halfway through the issue. By allowing the characters to reach the scene the reader has already witnessed at the halfway point of the issue, rather than delaying that narrative synchronization until the end of the issue, the story can have its cake and eat it too – not only do you get the expository backstory explaining why the Avengers arrived to rescue Rick Jones, you also get the benefit of not knowing how the conflict might play out.
Next, the fight between Coulson’s team and the New Avengers is exceedingly well done. The action is interesting and unique, allowing for interaction between the different heroes’ powers and further developing their skills. In addition to great action, he dialogue is funny and engaging, with each character speaking in their own voice (even given Deathlok’s categorization of a Family Matters allusion as “very dated”).
Finally, the method in which the New Avengers team was split up – with the three members that voted “no” on opposing S.H.I.E.L.D. being dumped unceremoniously in the desert – creates some internal friction for the team, giving more weight to the increasingly convoluted fractions that make up the ongoing Avengers Standoff conflict.
While the hip references and heavy emphasis on cell phone telephones suggest I’ve aged out of the target demographic for the New Avengers series, I nevertheless thoroughly enjoyed this issue. While some of the elements of the narrative seemed overly idealistic, it made up for this by allowing for some old-fashioned comic book fun. I can’t say I’ll look into following this series regularly, but it’s a solid entry into the Avengers Standoff story, and I’m definitely looking forward to picking up the next issue and finding out what all this ridiculous American Kaiju business is about.
Next up: It’s time to follow a strange alternate path to Pleasant Hill with Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. #6!