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Superhero Academy 101: Secret Societies—AIM and MODOK

Chris Peruzzi is a comic book superhero historian who is passionate about how today's comic book heroes are the new mythology for America.

MODOK and AIM

MODOK and AIM

Where would the Marvel Universe be without its seedy underbelly of evil scientists bent on world domination?

For every Reed Richards, there is a Doctor Doom. For every Hank Pym, there is an Elias “Egghead” Starr. For every Doctor Robert Bruce Banner, there is a Samuel “The Leader” Sterns. You cannot swing an ultimate nullifier without hitting a group of mad scientists dedicated to making a collective group of laughing do-gooders rue the day they were born.

These bent geniuses are men on a mission. After all, Justin Hammer has spent a huge chunk of his industry’s budget to making superpowered minions with the express purpose of giving Tony Stark an iron atomic wedgie. It is all in their mission statement under “oppress the masses” and “make them all pay.”

Today, we are going to focus on a specific group of criminal scientists: Advanced Idea Mechanics are also known as A.I.M.

Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM)

To what will appear to the untrained comic book reader as a bunch of armed madmen dressed in yellow beekeeper outfits, we have the troops of Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM).

AIM began its life as far back as World War II as the scientific arm to the terrorist group known as Hydra and was the brainchild of Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker. While Hydra has had its ups and downs, AIM as a subversive organization has grown well in the darkness.

Kind of like mushrooms.

AIM - Advanced Idea Mechanics

AIM - Advanced Idea Mechanics

AIM has made significant advances in the fields of bioengineering, robotics, bionics, and physics. Indeed, the organization’s public face is more in line with them being an international cartel dealing with the development and marketing of technical products. It has gained its reputation as being a supplier to the U.S. government for hardware and weapons to governmental and quasi-governmental agencies.

In any event, these geniuses are primarily the foil for Iron Man, Captain America, and S.H.I.E.L.D. (sigh . . . The Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division or Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage and Law-Enforcement Division or Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate—your mileage may vary). Whoever they face should know that the encounter will involve a lot of armed guys dressed in bright yellow uniforms wearing funny hats.

Three Things That AIM Created

What you really need to know about AIM is that they are responsible for three major creations. The first and most powerful is the reality-warping device known as the cosmic cube. While AIM did not create the cosmic energy that powers the cube, they did create the containment device to make it basically an Aladdin's lamp to any demented sicko to hold it in their hand.

Demented sickos include the Red Skull and Thanos.

Its power can make you a god with just the wish to be so. So long as a person holds the Cosmic Cube, they are invincible. Luckily, the energies that make a cosmic cube eventually evolve into a higher galactically powerful reality-changing entity. The self-named Shaper of Worlds began its existence as a cosmic cube until it fell into the hands of the Skrull Empire.

The Red Skull holding the Cosmic Cube

The Red Skull holding the Cosmic Cube

The original cube that AIM constructed evolved into a being called Kubik. Another cube was constructed with the energy of the vastly powerful Beyonder and the near-limitless power of the Fantastic Four antagonist, The Molecule Man, to become the cosmic entity, Kosmos.

The second great creation of AIM’s was the Super Adaptoid. The Adaptoid is an android constructed with a shard of a cosmic cube. This shard allows the android to duplicate the powers, abilities, and paraphernalia of any combatant it faces. Its body is constructed from unstable molecules allowing it to adapt. And, not only can it duplicate the abilities of any of its combatants, it can combine up to eight of those combatants' powers into itself.

The Super Adaptoid

The Super Adaptoid

Apparently, there is no other limit as to what kind of abilities it can replicate. All the Adaptoid needs to do is scan an opponent with its eyes, and within seconds, it can duplicate his or her powers and abilities.

The thing about the Super Adaptoid that can be surmised is that AIM would be stupid to not create another as it is such a powerful weapon. That being the case, we can gather that either the process of its creation was accidental or too costly to replicate. As it stands, the Super Adaptoid is the only one of its kind.

The third great creation of AIM’s is MODOK.

Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing (M.O.D.O.K)

Mental Organism Design Only for Killing (MODOK)

Mental Organism Design Only for Killing (MODOK)

The super scientists over at Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM), back when they did nothing but wear hooded masked yellow jumpsuits, decided the best way to be led was by creating a new leader of their group. Lyle Getz, who was in charge at the time as the “Scientist Supreme,” thought it would be a great idea to take low-level employee, George Tarleton, and scientifically transform him from being a normal human being to essentially a giant head with arms and legs.

Initially, AIM, an organization that clearly loves its acronyms, wanted Tarleton to be like an organic computer. Considering that the human brain is one of the best processors on the planet and better than most computers, AIM wanted someone to do some organic computing. So the first thing they did after transforming Tarleton was giving him the acronym: MODOC—Mental Organism Designed Only for Computing.

Nice, huh?

MODOK's first appearance in Tales of Suspense

MODOK's first appearance in Tales of Suspense

Only there was an itty bitty problem—Tarleton never wanted to be a hideous giant head in a hover chair that did nothing but think of ways to examine their new cosmic cube discovery. He was more than a little pissed. Tarleton used his vast psionic mind beam powers to kill the scientist supreme and took over AIM as their new leader. When he did, he changed his acronym from MODOC to MODOK—Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing.

MODOK has been in charge of AIM (on and off) since Tales of Suspense #93. Like most things in the Marvel Universe, he was a creation of both Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. He made his first appearance fighting Captain America.

Outside of being an oversized brain that can calculate the hell out of any problem and generate lethal telekinetic force beams from his forehead, he has some limited telepathic powers. It’s nothing on a Professor Xavier level but enough to read the state of mind of any individual.

Carol Danvers (Ms. Marvel) mentally seduced by MODOK - Mental Organism Designed Only for Kissing, I guess.

Carol Danvers (Ms. Marvel) mentally seduced by MODOK - Mental Organism Designed Only for Kissing, I guess.

The thing about MODOK is that aside from being a giant floating head, he's still a man under all of this. While we can say that he has amazing mental powers, there is part of him that realizes he has been turned into this horrible monstrosity.

He has used his great mental powers to create a mental illusion in Carol Danver's mind to seduce her. Imagine being mentally manipulated into thinking that this giant floating head is somehow a god-like adonis. That is a new level of morning regret and a walk of shame that would involve psychiatric therapy.

Carol Danvers wasn't the only woman he tried this with. In Incredible Hulk #167, Betty Ross, who was mentally shattered after the apparent death of her second husband Glenn Talbot, was manipulated by MODOK to be a pawn of AIM. Psychically drawing Ross to him, he lured her into being the gamma-powered nightmare known as Harpy.

A new low

A new low

© 2021 Christopher Peruzzi

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