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Superhero Academy 101: The Artificial Lives of the Marvel Universe

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

The Vision is a tin man with a heart

The Vision is a tin man with a heart

To Yearn for a Heart

When we think about the population of the Marvel Universe, there's a silent minority that remains unsung. I'm not talking about mouth-less aliens like Xemu. I'm talking about the mechanical lives that are generally treated like walking talking appliances while in the presence of Iron Man.

But let's be sensitive to these artificial beings. Many of them, like Pinocchio, want to be real live people. Who are we, in our arrogance as flesh and blood sentient beings, to judge these beings for not coming forth into this world through a womb to claim the title of "living being"?

For some of these characters, it is their raison d'etre.

Other robots don't care.

Or, more accurately, they have no interest in changing their ways. They'd prefer to follow a sophisticated set of programming instructions instead. They may not even be aware they're independent thinkers or, more ironically, they may think they are, but in reality, are not.

There are many artificial lives in the MU. For the sake of space, I'm excluding cyborgs from this discussion. After all, what is a cybernetic organism but the physical marriage between humans and machine. Heck, with every dental filling I get, I become more and more cybernetic myself.

Should Sony or Apple find a way to graft my mobile phone to my head, I'd only be a few steps away from spouting, "Resistance is futile".

No, this article is limited to machines. So let's talk about...

The Ultron Family of Really Smart Androids

This title isn't quite right, because the first member of the Ultron family came before Ultron's self-awareness. The original android father of artificial life and intelligence in the modern/golden age (on Earth) was Phineas T. Horton.

Horton's "claim to fame" was his artificial "synthezoid", the original Human Torch. That amazing creation was perfect in practically every way with the exception of its solar powered receptor cells. That imperfection made it go on fire every time it was exposed to oxygen. While his creation was widely condemned at the time (forcing Horton to seal the Torch in a vacuum container under a concrete bunker) it did not stop Horton from programming it using educational tapes.

The Torch eventually escaped its confinement when his concrete bunker cracked and leaked air into its vacuum tube. After being exposed to a high amount of nitrogen, the android learned to control his flame.

Horton's Human Torch - Just add air

Horton's Human Torch - Just add air

Horton's design to create independent thinking with a functioning personality worked well enough on the Human Torch, and horrifically enough on his Adam II creation. The Adam II went evil and was not only planning the assassination of Senator John F. Kennedy but also successfully killed The Spirit of 76 (the second man to take the mantle of Captain America).

Adam II - Killer Synthezoid

Adam II - Killer Synthezoid

In practically every respect, the original Human Torch seemed quite human, demonstrating independent thinking and developing a human personality. With his acclimation to being human "Jim Hammond", it's no surprise that his time-split version of himself as the Vision worked so well.

The Vision was presumed to be the deactivated version of the Human Torch when its powers overloaded and it went critical over a desert. While that statement is factually accurate, it is incomplete as The Vision and The Original Human Torch are both the same entity split in two by the time lord, Immortus.

Androids, they grow up so fast

Androids, they grow up so fast

Before I go into The Vision, it is only right that I mention the artificial life form and terrorist to all organic life, Ultron. Ultron was inadvertently created when Hank Pym was working on his own solution to artificial intelligence from Dragon Man. Pym went wrong when he based Ultron's mind on his own brain pattern. With that, it rapidly created an Oedipus complex within the robot's mind. This gave Ultron an irrational hatred of Pym as well as an attraction for Janet Van Dyne (the Wasp). To protect itself, the android quickly created an artificial body coated with adamantium based on Horton's synthezoid designs and it's been improving upon them ever since.

Ultron decided he needed a new servant and found an impoverished Phineas T. Horton and forced him to repair and improve his Human Torch creation. Horton, now in possession of a solar crystal, could power his new synthezoid with it. He gave it a method of firing the solar/microwave energy for offensive use as well as a method to shunt some of his matter into another dimension, allowing him to control his density levels. The Vision is not made of metal, rather he is made from synthetic biological materials that process better than a human's. From that point, the Vision is every inch a human being. His mind, however, was based on the brain patterns of Simon Williams - aka Wonder Man.

Hank Pym was a terrible android dad to Ultron

Hank Pym was a terrible android dad to Ultron

Part of what makes an Oedipus complex is an uncontrollable love for a "mother figure". As Ultron wanted a mate, he wanted one that would be just like his mother, The Wasp - except, you know, mechanical. Ultron created Jocasta - a metal android in the form of a woman. To bring this android to life, he not only based the android's mind on the Wasp's brain pattern, but also animated it with her life force. While everything was eventually resolved, Jocasta, existed with a copy of the Wasp's mind.

These androids were created with human biology used as a model. The organs functioned as humans do. Their minds work the same as a human's. These androids supposedly feel emotions as their minds are using human engrams to process information. For the most part, they are literally artificial humans.

Sucking the soul from a human to program an android is extreme programming.  Wasp to Jocasta

Sucking the soul from a human to program an android is extreme programming. Wasp to Jocasta

Alien Constructed Androids

Who said that Earthlings should have all the fun? There are lots of alien robots in the Marvel Universe. Whether they come from Galactus or whether they were a byproduct of an entire population dying out, robots are still "your plastic pal who's fun to be with."

For example, the alien race known as The Mekkans are literally a planet full of robots who were left over servants when the flora and fauna of a planet had gone all dead as they inadvertently destroyed their source of oxygen. The organic life forms died out, leaving all their robots behind. The surviving robots tend to the planet and run things as a democracy.

Mekkans... When all the organic life dies out and all that are left are the robots

Mekkans... When all the organic life dies out and all that are left are the robots

Galactus has made use of sophisticated robots and androids in the past. During the first "Secret Wars", Galactus decided that the battle world they were on was just yummy enough to eat. While Galactus can eat a planet without anything but a fork and a knife, he finds that using equipment makes the process more efficient. The superhero community sentenced to fight on "Battleworld" didn't like this, so they decided to fight Galactus directly. For the big purple planet eater, the idea of fighting human heroes directly is like getting rid of maggots from a garbage can. Why soil his hands when a robot can do it for him? He dispatched a robot from his ship. It specialized in "superhero ass-kicking".

When Galactus views superheroes as mice, he sends the cat.

When Galactus views superheroes as mice, he sends the cat.

Did it have an amazing verbal repertoire? No. Did it do anything other than fight? No. What it did was kick ass and take names.

Galactus is not one to put many bells and whistles into his robotic creations, but he does when he wants to. For example, the Air Walker automation, who was the herald successor to the Silver Surfer, seemed to quip with somewhat intelligent repartee. After all, his the robot's existence and personality were firmly rooted in Gabriel Lan from Xandar.

In addition to that, in an effort to help him increase his survivability, the robot had a sophisticated self-repair system. This repair system would conveniently (or inconveniently) start after being jostled by carelessly thrown enchanted battle hammers.

However, as good as the automation was, he seemed to lack the "je ne sais quoi" that Lan had. There was no sense of adventure or passion in his work. Therefore, it was no mystery that the robot was sent to Earth to try to recruit the Silver Surfer in taking back his old job as planet scout. The robot may or may not have had self-awareness, but in the end, he just didn't have enough of the original Gabriel to pass muster with Galactus.

The Gabriel Lan v 2.0 - complete with self repair systems

The Gabriel Lan v 2.0 - complete with self repair systems

For the most part, god-like beings look at robots or sophisticated mechanical intelligence as cheap labor. When Alars, aka Mentor (Thanos's dad), was busy rebuilding Saturn's moon of Titan, he took the time to create a moon-sized computer, ISAAC (Integral Synaptic Anti-Anionic Computer). ISAAC occupies the entire interior of Titan. Technically, he's not a robot, whenever he appears to humans or Titans, it's in holographic form - although, on occasion he takes an android form. Much like the Supreme Intelligence (without the disembodied Kree brains in its matrix), ISAAC is self-aware and controls pretty much everything on Titan. Outside of computer viruses made by Thanos to cause chaos, he's a benevolent entity that often will help anyone who asks it.

ISAAC is an open computer system free to use on Titan

ISAAC is an open computer system free to use on Titan

Some aliens are completely passive in their robot construction. The Rigellians decided all on their own to create robotic life forms called "Recorders". The 500 or so Recorders do exactly what you think they do. They record significant events as witnesses. For example, a recorder was present with Uatu the Watcher when Jean Grey died as The Dark Phoenix (the first time). Another works for the Living Tribunal (and its staff - like She-Hulk). They are the ultimate in "observe and report". The only downside to be a Recorder is having to periodically have all your memories and experiences completely erased and uploaded to wherever the Rigellians keep their data.

Just like a tape.

Recorders - Are they alive or are they Memorex?

Recorders - Are they alive or are they Memorex?

The one Recorder the Rigellians allowed to keep his memories was Recorder #211 whose role in witnessing Thor's exploits against Ego, the Living Planet, as well as Mangog. It gained sentience and was taken by the High Evolutionary, reprogrammed and dubbed "The Analyzer".

Skrull and Kree Constructs

We can see how a cosmic level entity like Galactus would use robots for simple, if not direct, tasks. However, both the Kree and the Skrull have used robots for their necessary tasks. While the Skrulls use for such things really comes more in the category of human resource issues - especially when we look at Skrull-X, a Skrull robot that had all the powers of the Super Skrull that almost beat the Fantastic Four all by himself. The sophistication of Skrull-X's programming seemed to fool most people like Johnny Storm, the Human Torch. Ironically, when it came to recognizing robots from the real deal, the Human Torch wasn't the brightest match in the box. An age-ravaged Mister Fantastic essentially said it was obvious that Skrull-X was a robot. The Torch only found out when he melted the alien robot to a pile of slagg.

However, as a fighting machine, Skrull-X could almost match the Torch blow for blow and hide in plain sight as a mainframe computer in the Baxter Building, lying in wait like an assassin.

Robots like Skrull-X shouldn't out torch the Human Torch if they don't want to be slag.

Robots like Skrull-X shouldn't out torch the Human Torch if they don't want to be slag.

The Kree had a more pragmatic approach to robots. They saw robots, like their Sentry series, as a strategic investment which was preferable to keeping an occupied force at one of their outposts. Sentries, with various ID numbers, would act like sleepers - only activating when some thoughtless local native (or other invading force) trespassed on that area. Sentries came in different sizes and power levels from slightly-larger-than-human to towering behemoths. They are always hard to defeat and require the best effort of any wannabe hero looking to prove his worth.

"Sentry" in the Kree language translates to "Do not disturb".

"Sentry" in the Kree language translates to "Do not disturb".

Mad Scientists Run Amok

Sometimes off-balanced scientists create artificial life so well, the things rebel against their creators.

Let's take the collective group of scientists known at The Enclave. At a facility only known as "The Beehive", three mad geniuses said to themselves, "In just seven days, we can make us a man."

I'm kidding, of course.

These guys decided that since God wasn't doing anything significant, they could improve upon His work and make an artificial human. When they did, it didn't go well. While they made a physically perfect specimen, the being (dubbed "Him" by the group because scientists suck at naming things) turned against them and in an explosive rush left to fight Thor, the thunder god.

Him (aka "Adam Warlock") born

Him (aka "Adam Warlock") born

After Him got his ass handed to him by Thor, he wove a cocoon around himself to heal and evolve. His cocoon was found by the self-proclaimed High Evolutionary. The H.E., shortly after playing God for seven days straight by making "Counter-Earth" (a copy of Earth that was placed on the other side of the sun), renamed Him to be "Adam Warlock" and charged him to fix his counter-Earth from the corruption of the Man-Beast. Warlock has spent his existence trying to make sense of the universe and even became God once he got ahold of the Infinity Gauntlet.

Getting back to The Enclave, these scientific geniuses were stupid enough to not learn their lesson after the first go around and decided to try again. This time they made an artifical woman. They called her "Paragon" which lasted about a New York minute when she renamed herself "Her" (after "Him") and then she named herself Kismet. In any event, Her also rebelled and left the Enclave, blowing things up on the way out the door. Later, Her searched for Him to be its cosmic mate.

Her (aka Kismet)

Her (aka Kismet)

Having used most of the pronouns they had, the Enclave stopped making artificial beings. They left things to organizations like THEM to ponder how IT - THE LIVING COLOSSUS came alive.

Speaking of THEM, aka A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics), they had some good luck creating an artificial life form. In what was one of their three biggest achievements (the first being MODOC or MODOK - Mental Organism Designed Only for Computing (Killing), the second being the reality altering Cosmic Cube), they created the Adaptoid. The Adaptoid, who renamed himself The Super-Adaptoid shortly after impersonating Captain America, was an independently thinking robot with the ability to mimic any being or super-being it comes near. It is unknown whether its powers and independent thinking are linked to the fact that a shard of the Cosmic Cube is part of its matrix. Nevertheless, this artificial life has shown genuine negative emotions and has been troublesome on earth and abroad. The one thing that usually foils the Super-Adaptoid is that while it can mimic most superpowers, it cannot mimic the practiced experience in using those powers. So, in the case of Captain America, while it could mimic Cap's superior fighting style, it could not beat Cap as Cap had years of forging his own fighting style and used them best.

The Super Adaptoid mimicking Captain America and Hawkeye

The Super Adaptoid mimicking Captain America and Hawkeye

What I really want to address when writing about mad scientists is perhaps the pinnacle of insane geniuses - The Mad Thinker. For those of you who don't know "The Thinker" he is an insanely brilliant maniac whose power in predicting probability and outcome is uncanny. Among his many talents is his expertise in robotics. He is best known for two of his creations: Quasimodo and The Awesome Android (known as "Andy" to his friends).

The Awesome Android, who is essentially an incredibly strong gray android with a large rectangular block of malleable material as its head, is made from a marriage of unstable molecules and the DNA of a gorilla. This combination makes the android adaptable where it can absorb and mimic other things with a touch. Its only weakness is a set of nerve ganglia under its arm that if hit will shut it down. It has been assumed by many that "Andy" was a mindless minion enforcer for the Thinker, but in actuality, it is a gentle soul. Andy worked for the same law firm as the She-Hulk as an administrative assistant. The one thing the Thinker forgot to give Andy was a voice. It communicates through either hand gestures or by a chalk board on its chest.

The Awesome Android is best known to his friends as "Andy".

The Awesome Android is best known to his friends as "Andy".

The Thinker's other robotic creation, Quasimodo or "Quasi-Motivational Destruct Organ", started as a computer but later was made into a cybernetic organism by The Silver Surfer. Bent by an inferiority complex, this psychologically maladjusted artificial being resembles the hunchback of his namesake and loathes all other life forms. The thing that makes Quasimodo so maladjusted was an eternity of being tortured by the Thinker with his discipline ray. Thus, this sentient computer was inadvertently programmed to be evil through psychological malfeasance. What motivates this thing is a thirst for power. Ultimately, Tony Stark trapped the computer in a VR world where it had an idealized body in a perfect prison world. The lesson learned in all of this is programming counts and when your creation goes out of control because you were a mean bastard, it's your fault.

This Quasimodo has no bell tower

This Quasimodo has no bell tower

Sometimes, it isn't really the scientist's fault when things go awry.

Let's look at the fiasco of what engineer Professor Gregson Gilbert did with Mister Fantastic. In what most people in the Marvel Universe would term "tempting fate" and "what were you thinking?", the two of them decided to create an android in the shape of a man/dragon hybrid with the goal of bringing it to life. They had even given the construct a pair of Kirby "short shorts". After several weeks of fruitless labors to bring the robot to life, nothing happened. Which when you think about it is a win-win scenario. Bringing such a creature to life with no Plan-B about "turning it off", is just asking for trouble.

Dragon Man - Some people are just asking for trouble

Dragon Man - Some people are just asking for trouble

As you would guess, trouble found the scientists in the form of the criminal alchemist, Diablo.

In the same manner a visiting cook in a restaurant would go to a signature dish and say, "We'll just add a dash of paprika", Diablo added one of his bring-life-to-ridiculously-large-destructive-android powders to the Dragon Man android and chaos ensued.

It's one thing to create a robot on a scale of twenty feet tall, it's quite another to purposely build a flame-thrower-like-fire-breath-device in its mouth. The practical working leather wings on its back don't help the situation either. Making it super-humanly strong, so that it will casually wreck standing buildings was also a bad idea.

It was only through the machinations of Valeria Richards that Dragon Man gained intelligence and sentience. The lesson here is scientists should really think ahead before they spend millions of dollars creating a creature that could cause billions of dollars in damages.

Doom Creates Minions

Whenever anyone has anything to say about Doctor Doom, they should be prepared to say a lot about it.

Victor Von Doom is a troubled scientist with the perfect mix of out of control ego, genius on a grand scale, mono-maniacal power lust, obsessive hatred, and effective leadership skills (he is, after all, the monarch of Latveria). Like many people who have a lot to do and a huge human resource problems, he created robots.

Why? Because it takes more effort to send out employment ads for a demanding task list than to just create artificial minions that he can just program.

Doom created "Doombots".

Now, I can hear some of you saying, "So what?"

Doombots - Rebel all you want; He'll make more.

Doombots - Rebel all you want; He'll make more.

Well, I'll tell you there is an ingenious thread to Doom's design and programming.

Almost all of Doom's Doombots are programmed to think they are the real Doctor Doom UNLESS they are in the presence of another Doombot or, more importantly, Doom himself. This solves two problems, especially when dealing with a limited population like Latveria.

The first problem it resolves is dominating the local populace. It's easy to get low level foot soldiers and secret police in your kingdom, but when it comes to 1) overseeing them to keep them on the edge of paranoia and 2) giving the illusion of walking about the populace safely, it can't be beat. In this way, no would be assassin, can effectively find the right Doctor Doom.

Secondly, Doom won't be vulnerable to the cliché of "having his robots turn against their master" when he can blow them up at will. Should the Doombots detect the real deal they will instantly submit to him. However, up until that point, they will issue orders and continue plans just as Doom would.

The Prime Mover or "Playmate for Geniuses"

The Prime Mover or "Playmate for Geniuses"

But what's obsessive world domination and smiting your enemies if you can't kick back and have some fun messing with other people's lives for enjoyment?

All work and no play make Doom a one-dimensional sociopath.

To test some of his plans, Doom created The Prime Mover. I've mentioned the Prime Mover in other articles, but it bears mentioning again. The Prime Mover to Doom is like anyone else playing a game of chess with anyone else. Much like the Mad Thinker does his best to plan against the random X-factor, Doom competes against his robot, the Prime Mover.

This machine makes robotic constructs of key antagonists that think they are the real deal... until the end of the game or their discovery. Famously, a game involving Nick Fury against The Yellow Claw revealed itself as a scenario constructed by Doom and the Prime Mover when the Yellow Claw robot was destroyed in front of Fury.

Plus, Doom doesn't readily throw a tantrum after he loses. It is easier for Doom to admit defeat to a construct he created to another human being - like Reed Richards.

Robots Can Work for the Government, Too

A few of the basic elements of any S.H.I.E.L.D. story with Nick Fury (senior or junior) rely on the use and function of a vital construct like an L.M.D. - short of Life Model Decoy.

In the premier issue of "Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.", the first three pages introduce Life Model Decoys.

What do LMDs do? Exactly what you'd think. They're decoys.

It's easier to trick Hydra with eight extra Nick Fury non-living doubles than to send the real one out with just one bodyguard. Until what was known as "The Deltite Affair" as chronicled in "Nick Fury versus S.H.I.E.L.D.", LMDs were used all the time. Ever since a rogue independent artificial intelligence present at the creation of S.H.I.E.L.D. decided it wanted real organic immortal life, which required the painful extraction of Fury, Sr.'s infinity formula from Fury himself, S.H.I.E.L.D. has been cautious in using them.

Much like Horton's synthezoids, the LMDs are made of realistic synthetic materials and can act independently or through remote control.

One of the last times Fury, Sr. used one was at the end of his secret war with Latervia against Lucia Von Bardas. Fury used one while transmitting directly to it as a liaison.

LMDs mean never having to say "Sorry, I'm dead."

LMDs mean never having to say "Sorry, I'm dead."

Not to be outdone by S.H.I.E.L.D., Hydra has their mechanoids, too.

Woe be it to any S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who finds himself in the cross-hairs of any Hydra Dreadnought.

These lethal robots are targeted to kill - period. They are fast, strong, and tough. Back during the days when Fury, Sr. was going against Wolfgang Von Strucker, Von Strucker secreted one of these aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D. hele-carrier to assassinate Fury. Hele-carriers, by definition, are designed to be very high off the ground and Hydra did not have the foresight to make a Dreadnought flight-worthy when thrown out a porthole.

Nevertheless, characters should do their very best to not be targeted by one.

Don't mess with Dreadnaughts

Don't mess with Dreadnaughts

Then again, the problem with being targeted by artificial life forms can be quite problematic as the X-men often find themselves on the wrong end of a government sponsored extinction program fueled by Sentinels.

Sentinels are giant mutant-hunting robots designed to quickly adapt to any mutant they're hunting.

Originally designed by Bolivar Trask and later improved by this son, Larry, these robots can sense mutants and come to them armed. Somehow, they get the scent of a specific mutant and will relentlessly chase that man, woman, or child until it is captured or killed. Sentinels have been constructed by a master robot called The Master Mold - a much larger version of a Sentinel dedicated to making more smaller ones and much harder to destroy.

Some models are specific to their prey. Non-ferrous versions have been sent to capture Magneto - not that they were successful, but it's the thought that counts. Ultimately, the Sentinels will evolve their Nimrod line of hunters who are virtually indestructible. These will evolve in the future, beginning with Nimrod the Lesser (90 years in the future) to Nimrod the Greater (990 years in the future).

These things are your tax dollars at work.

Sentinels - They're big. They're bad.  They're hunting mutants.

Sentinels - They're big. They're bad. They're hunting mutants.

Receptacles for Intelligence

Sometimes robots are just like cars. They are machines just waiting for a human or human-consciousness to drive them.

Much like the way the Nick Fury drove his remote-controlled LMD, the Spider-slayer that J. Jonah Jameson had Spencer Smythe make was like a remote-controlled Sentinel specifically designed to hunt and capture Spider-man.

Despite having a whole array of things that made this robot practically unstoppable, the first spider-slayer had a televised picture of Jameson on its head used to taunt the wallcrawler.

Robots like this are pre-programmed death dealers only looking for a semi-awake pilot to drive through a computer or, sometimes, a laptop.

Spider-slayers, for the most part, operate themselves. They sense their prey. They pursue. They react through their own defense programs. Their offensive capability comes through their relentlessness. It is only when the machine is powered down (through accident or the unplugging of a control module) that Spider-man can escape.

J. Jonah Jameson gets his revenge with a spider-slayer

J. Jonah Jameson gets his revenge with a spider-slayer

The creation, development, and maintenance of Spider-slayers is dangerous work.

The radioactivity of the robot's materials cost Spencer Smythe his life and his son, Alistair, his sanity and humanity. Spider-slayers have been upgraded through multiple generations. The later models have been implemented within Alistair Smythe himself.

What you really need to know about most of the robots that are piloted by human intelligence is that they are made through human integration.

While they are not cybernetic organisms, they are the "ghosts in a machine".

The entity known as The Machinesmith is the integration of Samuel "Star" Saxon within its operational matrix. Saxon's mental integration into machine bodies is practically seamless.

His mind and personality have been preserved within an artificial intelligence which gives him several advantages as a villain. He can use his AI to populate several machines at once, instantly becoming an army of robots - should the situation merit it.

He can live indefinitely provided that a copy of his consciousness is preserved someplace. His latest plan involves nanites to carry and preserve his essence should the need require.

Dragon Man barges into Machinesmith (looking very human) and disrupts things

Dragon Man barges into Machinesmith (looking very human) and disrupts things

If the plot line of the Machinesmith story sounds vaguely familiar, you should know that it was also the plan of Paul Norbert Ebersol, aka The Fixer, while he was working with the Thunderbolts. The Fixer, who had been using the guise of "Techno" for the team and had always worked in making unconventional inventions, used his talent with robotics to create an android body as a backup plan to house his consciousness after his neck was broken.

Once again, some robots are like cars for the ghost in the machine.

In what we can file as a "what were you thinking" department, we have the case for Nazi, Lyle Dekker. As a Nazi spy, Dekker was barely competent and the recipient of the Red Skull's abuse. After voluntarily transferring his consciousness into a twelve-foot android version of Captain America, he came to realize there was really no place in this world as a gigantic freak. Ameridroid has the powers and abilities of a twelve-foot version of Captain America with the same reaction time and fighting prowess of Cap. What he doesn't have now is "a normal life". This is yet another situation where someone really didn't think things through.

Ameridroid - When you don't quite think of the ramifications of turning yourself into a twelve-foot android freak.

Ameridroid - When you don't quite think of the ramifications of turning yourself into a twelve-foot android freak.

Another variant to this is the Asgardian robotic engine of destruction known as the Destroyer. The Destroyer robot constructed of uru (pronounced oo-roo) was made by the all father, Odin. Odin constructed the Destroyer to be a defense system against alien intruders and enemies of Asgard. Technically, it's armor. However, as there is no body internally driving this armor, it is a animated thing that leads to mindless destruction. Left without a powerful soul to guide it, the automation will remain inactive. However, once activated by an ordinary soul, it will rain destruction anywhere it's placed. Hence, the name. Once the soul has been removed from the armor it deactivates. The Destroyer is immensely strong and practically invincible. It is also armed with a dis-integrator beam that it fires from its visor.

The Destroyer has been activated many times - sometimes for good, sometimes for horrible, horrible evil - but the one thing everyone can agree on, once its been started, it's hard to stop it.

The Asgardian Destroyer - All it takes is one soul for activation

The Asgardian Destroyer - All it takes is one soul for activation

Forces for Good

The Vision and the original Human Torch aren't the only artificial life forms not bent on destroying humanity. Human experimentation has created mechanical individuals who are like normal people.

The case of Aaron Stack, aka X-51, aka Machine Man, is an example is successfully implemented and psychologically stable AI implementation. He is the product of robotic programmer, Abel Stack, who rationalized after most of the fifty other robots of the independent intelligence robots had severe psychotic breakdowns, that if a robot was to think like a man, he should be treated like one. In an exercise of truly thinking outside the box, Abel Stack raised the robot as his own son for the length of the experiment. Tragedy came when the X-50 program was terminated. "Termination" was done by activating an explosive device within each of the robots. The bomb went off just as Abel Stack was removing it from his son.

Machine Man - If you want a machine to be like a man, treat him like one.

Machine Man - If you want a machine to be like a man, treat him like one.

Dubbing himself "Machine Man" and using a synthetic human face, Aaron Stack has made a life for himself, making friends and earning a living. He works in the hero community and is a part-time member of the Avengers.

Reed Richards, aka Mister Fantastic, has created several artificial intelligent machines for simple tasks.

The receptionist for Fantastic Four, Inc. in Four Freedom Plaza is Roberta. Roberta is limited in how far she can travel as the bottom half of her is confined to wheels around the reception desk.

Roberta was created and programmed by Reed Richards to do simple tasks and small talk. She is sophisticated enough to date another robot that Reed shrunk to human sized, Elektro.

Elektro was trained by Fantastic Four mailman, Willie Lumpkin, to do postal duties within the headquarters.

Roberta - The Fantastic Four's robot receptionist

Roberta - The Fantastic Four's robot receptionist

For other duties, Reed has created H.E.R.B.I.E.

This stands for Humanoid Experimental Robot B-Type Integrated Electronics. Created by Mister Fantastic and an Xandarian scientist to locate Galactus. The first version of this robot was possessed by the villain Doctor Sun before it destroyed itself.

Other versions of H.E.R.B.I.E. have been created to assist with general tasks around the FF headquarters.

H.E.R.B.I.E. - Not just a Saturday Morning cartoon

H.E.R.B.I.E. - Not just a Saturday Morning cartoon

Final Words

Anyone who has seen the Simon Pegg film The World's End knows the running gag that robot means servant.

While the term is meant to be an insult to the intelligent mechanical constructs in that movie, it is quite applicable to the Marvel Universe.

For the most part, the robots within Marvel and labor-saving devices used by more powerful, sophisticated beings to do tasks they want nothing to do with. Whether the task is to clean up after an entire planet of organic beings, dispose of trespassers, fight those meddling heroes who are looking to interrupt your planetary lunch, or just deliver the mail, robots do the crappy work.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy's Marvin

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy's Marvin

This is in stark contrast to Douglas Adams’s work with artificial life forms with GPPs (Genuine People Personalities).

Characters like Marvin, the paranoid android, who has a brain the size of a planet and has worked out the question and answer to the meaning of life, can only dwell on an unfathomable level of depression.

“Life… Don’t talk to me about ‘life’.”

The V'ger Probe - Which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars in special effects to implement.

The V'ger Probe - Which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars in special effects to implement.

Artificial intelligence with the potential for near-infinite knowledge can produce horrible neuroses to the poor machine life whose programming isn’t prepared for it.

The lessons learned came with the advent of both the Star Trek episode “Changeling” and the franchise’s first motion picture with V’ger.

While Star Trek’s solution came with the physical merging of the Enterprise’s Executive Officer and V’ger’s android probe in the form of his dead girlfriend (along with hundreds of thousands of dollars in special effects), Marvel’s approach to this was far simpler with the heuristic programming of X-51, Machine Man.

I, Robot - Three Laws Compliant

I, Robot - Three Laws Compliant

Machines gone mad is a common theme in science fiction.

This is why Isaac Asimov came up with the three laws of robotics (from I, Robot). It’s one thing for a man to go insane, but for a robot to do so, people die.

Asimov’s three laws are perfect safeguard for protecting those of us who’d manage these machines.

Asimov’s Three Laws:

  1. First Law - A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. Second Law - A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. Third Law - A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
Immortality can be as simple as a brain in a "robot box".

Immortality can be as simple as a brain in a "robot box".

In other cases, robots serve as a repository for characters to stretch their limited mortal lives.

Why stay in an aging organic form when an ageless artificial one can remain healthy, strong, and immortal for the ages?

Your humanity? You'll hardly miss it.

A human intelligence will define pain and pleasure as biochemical stimuli. Should a human being define itself as a brain in a box, provided that an electronic brain offers pleasure or painful stimuli matching that of its former human existence, being a warm synthetic android might be the way to go.

I can hear the baby makers out there whining.

Some people have this ridiculous need to procreate.

In a world where humans can have a perfect android body, why would you want to have an organic baby that you will definitely outlive? Parents will see their children born, age, and die along with their children and grandchildren.

Why have that kind of heartache? Immortality has a price and no vampire, robot, or god wants to talk about it. The payoff, against the monotony, is life.

You can enjoy every single pico-second of existence and outside of swapping out broken parts, you'll have practically all of eternity to enjoy everything the universe has to offer.

A solution for some folks

A solution for some folks

Outside of immortality for some people, robots have a lot to offer. When considering them as labor saving devices, what we do not consider is an opportunity to learn from their experience.

Robots, androids, and computers learn from their mistakes.

The entire science of real artificial intelligence is based on trial and error. They keep doing things until they do them wrong. Then after they've learned the right answer, the next generation of AI has implemented the fix within its matrix. Aside from that, AI and sophisticated computer-android-machines are a whole library repository of useful information and skills for exploitation and learning.

Think I'm kidding?

How many of you need to know something and immediately go to the internet? The convenience of information at your finger tips come from a repository that resides within a web server that we address through a keyboard. The only difference now with an AI robot is that the internet comes to you.

What will we learn through artificial intelligence?

What will we learn through artificial intelligence?

Ask Jeeves, he'll tell you.

When we begin to emulate God by creating beings in our own image, we may be shocked at what looks back at us from the abyss. Humans are imperfect despite our best intentions. Androids make a mistake, learn the solution, incorporate it, and keep going until they need to learn from their next mistake.

Androids don't have our frailties nor do they have the temptations to voluntarily deviate from their programming. The question we really need to know is whether they will ever lie in judgement of us.

Are they better for not having our imperfections? Or are they not because they don't have the desire to embrace their own self-destructive failures - which in parlance to their own evolution will only make them better?

Androids look just like us.

Those of us who understand the difference between robots and androids also know the difference between a vacuum cleaner and a mannequin. Androids were designed to look human while robots not so much.

Who cares about the difference? Anyone on the market for an artificially made android sex toy. If it were a robot, sales would be a lot lower.

If you put a wig on a chipper-shredder, trust me, it would not be a good sex toy.

© 2019 Christopher Peruzzi


Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on September 01, 2019:


I saw this article hit 6500 words. There were a few others I thought of after the fact but there was no more room.

Thanks for writing in.

Nathan Kiehn on August 31, 2019:

I'm gonna be honest: clicking on this article, I legitimately wondered if you'd added Elektro. I dunno why, but his "Marvel Monsters" appearance where he gets shrunk down and trained as a mailman just popped into my head. I'm really glad it made the list. That issue is hilarious.