You think being a mutant in the Marvel U is bad? Imagine being an artificial intelligence. With the looming shadow of Ultron cast on every robot, machine or A.I. in comics, that one big robotic apple has spoiled the bunch for others like the Vision, despite their altruistic tendencies. And in the recently launched series Avengers A.I., Hank Pym and a host of misfit machines are fighting for a place in their world and fighting against their rogue robotic brethren.
In September’s Avengers A.I., readers witnessed a computer virus come to life as Dimitrios, a digital terrorist who’s akin to Ultron 2.0. Pym and his A.I. team are between a rock and a hard place, trying to deflect S.H.I.E.L.D.’s belief that the rise of artificial intelligence would be bad for mankind and then trying to stop the bad egg that is Dimitrios. Fighting wars on two fronts, all Pym has to rely on is the Vision, a rogue Doombat, the son of Ultron, and a stray S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who’s partial to their cause.
With Avengers A.I. double-shipping this month beginning with next week’s #4, Newsarama spoke to Humphries about robots’ rights, Pym’s role in the Marvel U, and the growing threat of Dimitrios.
Newsarama: In Avengers A.I. #3, we saw Hank Pym’s army of A.I. to thwart the rise of a computer virus that’s gain sentience as Dimitrios. How would you classify Pym’s success rate so far, Sam?
Sam Humphries: Pym is one hundred percent successful at understanding the true nature of this situation: the A.I. are a new life form on planet Earth. You can't put the genie back in the bottle. To exterminate them or kick them off the planet would be genocide.
Nrama: So what would someone wanting to put this genie back in the bottle be up against?
Humphries: Anyone misunderstanding that threat will find themselves in some very dangerous situations.
Nrama: Hank Pym has a lot to live down, from being a sometimes thorn in the Avengers’ side to also mistakenly creating Ultron. But in Avengers A.I. you have him here as fighting back against that and making up for it. How would you describe Pym’s drive here in this series?
Humphries: Hank has achieved a major scientific breakthrough: the singularity. A.I.s are now multiplying at an astonishing rate. But just like humans, mutants, or Inhumans, they don't all want peace.
Nrama: How does Hank see this “new world of A.I.s,” as you put it?
Humphries: Hank believes this new world of A.I.s have something valuable to offer the world -- and the world shouldn't judge them all based on a few bad apples.
Nrama: This month you’re pulling a double whammy, with both Avengers A.I. #4 and #5 coming out. What can you tell us about those issues?
Humphries: We've got two of the most compelling artists in superhero comics drawing them: André Lima Araújo and Valerio Schiti! You don't want to miss these issues.
Nrama: You’ve got a great team here, from Pym to the Vision, Runaways’ Victor Mancha, a scene-stealing Doombot, as well as Alexis and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Monica Chang. But there’s more robots out there in the Marvel U – any chance for some upgrades to the cast down the road?
Humphries: The breadth and width of the robotic, artificial, and synthetic Marvel Universe is on the table for this book. The longer we go, the more we'll be able to explore! One major A.I. will be making their entrance in Avengers A.I. #7 -- our Inhumanity tie-in.
Nrama: Mutants have always been a persecuted human species in Marvel, but in this you’ve really brought the plight of robots and artificial intelligence to the fore as an under-valued and under-appreciated new race. What would you say about the state of things if you’re a sentient robot of some type in the Marvel U?
Humphries: This is the most amazing and terrifying time to be an A.I. in the Marvel U. On the one hand, the number of your brothers and sisters just skyrocketed to one trillion. You're welcome in an amazing virtual homeland called the Diamond. And there's finally enough of you to start carving out your own identity on Earth -- your own destiny.
On the other hand, humanity is scared to death of you -- and some of them would like to exterminate you.