There have only been four issues of "Avengers A.I." released so far, but it's already established itself as one of the more unconventional books within Marvel's publishing line. Led by Hank Pym -- one of the founding Avengers -- the team consists of artificial intelligences including Avengers mainstay The Vision, former Runaway Victor Mancha, a rogue Doombot and new character Alexis, plus Monica Chang, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent imported from the Ultimate Universe.
Starting in January, the looming threat of Dimitrios -- a considerably less user-friendly A.I. than the book's main cast -- will start to escalate in a big, extinction-level way. The story, announced Friday at New York Comic Con, falls under the "All-New Marvel NOW!" umbrella with the release of "Avengers A.I." #8.NOW and takes the book all the way to the 130th century, taking with it both the Uncanny Avengers and a new division of S.H.I.E.L.D. called the "Robot Hunter Squad," with a mystery android member yet to be revealed.
CBR News spoke with series writer Sam Humphries about what he and artist Andre Araujo have planned for the (very far) future of "Avengers A.I." and whether or not Hank Pym will return to his original superhero identity.
CBR News: Sam, the storyline that starts in "Avengers A.I." #8.NOW looks to be a major escalation of the Dimitrios threat that's been looming since the start of the series -- scale-wise, how big do are you looking for things to get in this story?
Sam Humphries: We're talking about the extinction of the human race, and a story that spans 10 thousand years, so -- yeah! Pretty big.
The Uncanny Avengers play a role in this story -- as some of the biggest guns of the Marvel Universe, what's their perspective of the decidedly more unconventional A.I. team?
The realm of artificial intelligence is pretty exotic to the members of Uncanny Avengers -- Hank, Vision and crew are taking them into a new world, the virtual homeland of A.I.: the Diamond.
S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Robot Hunter Squad is also coming to the book. What can you say at this point about this group's mission, and the unnamed android among their ranks?
Due to political pressure, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s approach to the artificial intelligence of the Marvel Universe has to become more... aggressive. The mystery member will be unveiled in issue #7.
Intriguingly, the story is said to go really, really, really (really) far into the future, specifically the 130th century. What's it like for you and Andre Lima Araujo to bring such an abstract thing to life?
Um, it's frickin' amazing! André is the perfect partner for depicting the Marvel Universe 10 thousand years from now. All of humanity is extinct. So what is the Avengers Empire? Dimitrios' plans reach all the way to the year 12,000AD -- and it's perhaps the most ambitious scheme ever hatched in the history of the Marvel Universe.
Artificial Intelligence never die -- they just grow smarter.
Coming up first in December is a guest appearance from Daredevil, which is probably among the least expected characters to show up in "Avengers A.I.," especially this early. What can you say about the role he has to play in your story, and what motivated his inclusion?
Wait and see.
Well, here's another question regarding that same issue: The solicitation to "Avengers A.I." #7.INH mentions "Ant-Man" specifically -- not Hank Pym -- and that sure looks like an Ant-Man helmet on the cover as well. Is Hank returning to his Ant-Man guise in "Avengers A.I."?
As everyone knows, Hank's had many guises over the years. He's in the unique position to pick and choose the right heroic identity for the job.
And "Inhumanity" presents a very pressing, and very important job to the members of "Avengers A.I." Because when big changes hit the Marvel Universe, it doesn't matter if you're New or Mighty or A.I. or West Coast -- when Avengers are called, Avengers step up to the plate.