The newest Marvel Comics spinoff envisions a future world in which artificial intelligences take on a life of their own—and are able to spawn new, more powerful and complex AIs without human intervention.
That’s the world of Avengers A.I., a spinoff of Brian Michael Bendis’s Age of Ultron that will launch in July with the creative team of writer Sam Humphries (Ultimate Comics: Ultimates, Our Love Is Real) and artist Andre Lima Araujo.
“It’s a Pandora’s Box situation – once you fire that bullet out of the gun, you can never put it back,” Humphries told USA Today’s Brian Truitt. “The Marvel Universe within the blink of an eye is being colonized by A.I.s who may or may not have positive feelings about the way humanity has been treating them for the past 100 years.”
Regardless of how the A.I.s feel, they must be dealt with and so a new team forms, headed up by The Vision, an android created by the robot Ultron who has been through a number of transformations and is able to form real bonds with humans (he was once married to fellow Avenger Scarlet Witch). Other A.I.s on the team include Victor Mancha (the son of Ultron), a Doombot, and a new character, Alexis, who has one of the most advanced robot bodies on Earth” as well as extraordinarily high intelligence, Humphries says, but whose place on the team and in this new world of humans and A.I.s remains murky. The humans on the team include Hank Pym, the scientist/superhero who created Ultron, and Monica Chang, who comes over from Ultimate Comics: Ultimates as an artificial intelligence specialist from S.H.I.E.L.D.
The key to the story is that the humans can’t overcome the artificial intelligences, so the human/A.I. team must find ways for both groups to coexist. Otherwise, says Marvel executive editor Tom Brevoort, “ultimately the A.I. are going to wipe us out and we’re going to be very sad Cro-Magnons in a very short period of time.”
That gives Humphries plenty of scope to tell some interesting stories, which will exploit both the tension between humans and A.I.s and the potential of this strange new form of being. “Artificial intelligences are a product of human ingenuity, and although they are going to be going down their new path, they will remain a mirror to humanity,” he told USA Today. “Understanding that and exploring that in ways that are going to be funny and touching and endearing are definitely going to be parts of this book.”