Like ours, the Marvel Universe is home to a multitude of life forms. However, unlike ours, not all of them are organic. Thanks to the efforts of scientists like Hank Pym, Reed Richards, Doctor Doom and the Mad Thinker, a number of robotic life forms have populated the world.
In the aftermath of the “Age of Ultron,” where Pym used a computer virus to destroy his villainous creation in order to save all of mankind, writer Sam Humphries and artist Andre Araujo have illustrated the way in which Pym’s virus inadvertently led to the creation of a new form of robotic life in the pages of “Avengers A.I.” Additionally, an A.I. Named Dimitrios has surfaced, an entity who sees himself as a revolutionary, determined to end humanity’s dominion over machines. Pym and the head of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s A.I. Division, Monica Chang, have responded to this threat by forming a new team of robot Avengers. We spoke with Humphries about how his initial storyline is progressing and his plans for the series once it wraps.
CBR News: In the first two issues, you detailed the background and arrival of Dimitrios, the A.I that gained sentience due to the way Hank Pym saved the world at the end of “Age of Ultron,” thus creating another artificial intelligence that’s hostile toward humanity. In issues #1-2 Pym seemed rather well adjusted to the situation and was even making jokes. What’s Hank’s state of mind though going into “Avengers A.I.” #3 now that Dimitrios has announced his intentions to the world?
Sam Humphries: Because he’s a genius, Hank takes the long view. He has intuited what we’re about to see in issue #3. What he released into the world at the end of “Age of Ultron” is far, far bigger than just Dimitrios. But, fair enough — Dimitrios is a fairly ambitious and dramatic aspect of all that. He tends to stand out.
That said, Hank’s emotional life has always been the focus of contention, consternation and consequences. We’ll be diving deeper into Hank’s “issues” in a big way before this arc is out.
Ultron wanted to replace humanity with machine life forms, but he also was fixated upon his creator. However, it doesn’t feel like Dimitrios has the same sort of Oedipal issues. He appears to be more of a revolutionary figure, almost an A.I. version of Magneto. Does Dimitrios see himself as a being fighting to bring down tyrannical oppressors?
Dimitrios has positioned himself as a freedom fighter, a crusader for A.I. rights. But it is not a given that every artificial intelligence backs his methods. And it’s not a given that Dimitrios’ goals stop there. He has a vision for Earth itself, and Earth’s position in the greater scheme of things. He’s a program, running on computer servers — he can think very fast. He has projected his to-do list for the next ten thousand years. And it is very, very ambitious.
We don’t know much about the mysterious character named Alexis right now except she’s somehow connected to Dimitrios and he either wants her back or wants to destroy her. Will the mystery of Alexis be revealed before this initial arc has wrapped, or will it deepen?
Yes, and yes — the mystery of Alexis will be revealed and deepen before this arc is up. We’re setting her up now to have a supercharged role in the second arc. Dimitrios would see Alexis as family — someone you don’t agree with, someone who runs counter to you, someone you may even hate. But at the end of the day, you are bound by an inescapable connection for life.
The Avengers A.I. squad was assembled to thwart Dimitrios’ plans under the leadership of the Vision, who went through some interesting evolution in your first issue. He now appears to be more powerful and more self-assured, but just how powerful is he now? And what can you tell us about his state of mind? Is he as comfortable and confident as he appears?
Vision has always been powerful, but now he’s definitely a major heavy-hitter in the Marvel Universe. His “body” is composed of a swarm of nanites controlled by his A.I. This upgrade gives him a world of possibilities — as well as a world of possible weaknesses. And let’s not forget, this upgrade was initiated by the Ultron Imperative — a survival “instinct” buried deep in his programming.
The Vision is feeling good — he’s got a new suit, he’s got new powers and he’s finally moving forward from all the seriously traumatic events that have plagued him for the last ten years or so. Or, his whole life, I guess. And — he’s got a new team of Avengers! He is feeling large and in charge. But the events of “Age of Ultron” have spawned a sea change in the Marvel Universe, that will lead the Vision to seeing himself in a new role; a role that has the potential to undermine this hard-won confidence.
While Vision is more confident, his “brother” Victor Mancha is worried that he might betray his fellow Avengers because of a warning he received from a possible future back when he was with the Runaways. His “grandfather,” Hank Pym, has reassured him that he’ll be fine, and so far, it seems to have worked. What does it mean for Victor to be part of a super team? And what does it mean for him to on a team with two members of his “family?”
Some kids just need a little direction in life. A sense of place, a calling in this world. Some mentors and inspirational figures to show a little interest in them — and throw them into cutthroat, life or death situations. What could possibly go wrong for young Victor?
Victor and his fellow A.I. Avengers work with Monica Chang, the Head of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s A.I. division. Based on her interactions with S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Captain Nelson in issue #2, I get the sense that the rest of the organization doesn’t take the A.I. division seriously —
The A.I. division was chump change inside S.H.I.E.L.D. This is an organization that tackles epic-scope, world-threatening events, but the A.I. Division were desk jockeys fighting in chat windows. After the events of issue #2, it is safe to say S.H.I.E.L.D. is no longer laughing at A.I. The entire US government is about to take the world of A.I. much more seriously. They’ll make some moves that will have direct consequences for Monica, Pym and the whole “Avengers A.I.” cast.
The A.I. squad’s battle with Dimitrios’ Killgore Sentinel ended with the Vision being shot by an energy beam and disappearing. Where has he gone?
The Vision has gone to the Diamond — Dimitrios’ homeland. This is not a place the Vision, or any other Avenger, would choose to go alone.
What can readers expect from artist Andre Araujo for the second half of this initial arc? From what you’ve said about the Vision’s predicament, it sound like he’ll really be able to run wild with his imagination in Issue #3
Hold on to your butts. Andre is about to define a whole new realm of the Marvel Universe in issue #3. Once you catch a glimpse of the Diamond through his eyes, you may want to renounce your humanity and join the world of machines. He’s an amazing creative partner — we keep daring each other to do rip-shit crazy things in this book. It’s great to write a future-forward focused comic with him on art, because I know he’ll take anything I write and kick it into a higher gear.
With issues 5, we have the amazing Valerio Schiti stepping in for two issues. His work on “Journey Into Mystery” is fantastic and he’s been nailing it on “Avengers A.I.” — especially a big scene for Hank Pym in issue 5. Then we have Andre back with issue 7 — a very special issue — and for the foreseeable future.
Finally, what can you tell us about your plans for “Avengers A.I.” after this first arc? Is this a book primarily about investigating and interacting with new forms of Artificial Intelligence, or will we see your A.I. heroes tackle traditional Avengers style threats from time to time as well?
“Avengers A.I.” has an electrifying, wide-open focus: the robot, synthetic, and artificial aspects of the Marvel U. And while the team will tackle threats both A.I.-based and Avengers-traditional — “Avengers A.I.” will always show you things, and take you places, and blow your wig off in a way that no other book will. It takes place firmly within the Marvel Universe, and that will be even more clear in the second arc. We’ll see them meet and occasionally bruise other characters of the Marvel Universe — including a certain red-clad citizen of New York City. We’ll see them be a part of big events in the Marvel Universe — including an event you’ve heard a lot about recently. We’ll see them tangle with the future of the Marvel Universe — even the deep, deep future. The Avengers’ future. (I think I said too much.)