Tuesday Q&A

Tuesday Q&A: Sam Humphries

The multifaceted writer prepares to launch Avengers A.I. and give the spotlight to Fantomex in Uncanny X-Force!

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Avengers A.I. #1 preview art by Andre Araujo

By Jim Beard

Scheduled for immediate assimilation into your comic collection on July 3, the all-new ongoing AVENGERS A.I. series features the most fascinating artificial intelligences in the Marvel Universe, including Vision, Victor Mancha, Doombot, Monica Chang and others, all overseen by big brain Hank Pym.

We approached writer Sam Humphries to fill us in on what went into the creation of the series and its storylines. In addition, we spoke with Humphries about his other ongoing assignment, UNCANNY X-FORCE, which heats up this summer.

Marvel.com: Sam, Marvel's got a rich history of androids that are often more human than humans themselves; who among your AVENGERS A.I. cast would you say is the most human—and which one has the greatest capacity to become more so?

Avengers A.I. #1 preview art by Andre Araujo

Sam Humphries: Hmm, good questions. Victor might be the most obvious answer for "most human" as he was raised half his life as a human before he discovered he was artificial. However, strange as it might seem, because of that discovery, he may end up feeling more alien from his human heritage than some of his teammates.

I think Doombot has the greatest capacity to become more human, because his A.I. is patterned after the personality of Victor Von Doom. He's all ego and ambition and bluster, and what's more human than that?

Marvel.com: Good answer! Hank Pym's own history of mental imbalance has brought him much infamy; can he ever truly find solid ground with this team?

Sam Humphries: For Hank, as with most people with chronic conditions, there is no cure, there is no endpoint, there is no day on the horizon where you can say, "I beat this thing!" Instead, you focus on managing your condition, living as normally as possible, and understanding that your self-care, by necessity, may be more intense and elaborate than it is for the people around you. As an epileptic, I can certainly sympathize. I'll never be "cured" of epilepsy, I can just work to make each day better than the day before.

Avengers A.I. #1 preview art by Andre Araujo

As for the new team, it's just a blast of excitement and nerves for Hank. Remember, Hank was there on day one of the Avengers, and he was a member of West Coast Avengers as well. I think the opportunity to assemble—sorry—a new team is like another chance to get it right, another chance to be a force for good in the world. It's like that first day of school feeling: everything could go right, and everything could go wrong. Hank is also coming off of an emotional double edge sword from the climax of Age of Ultron, which saw Hank [redacted] his [redacted] in the face of [redacted] [redacted].

Marvel.com: What will this team's mission statement be, if any? Are they Avengers as much as any other of the various teams?

Sam Humphries: This team's mission statement is to protect life on Earth from robot, synthetic, and artificial threats. These guys are 100% fully deputized Earth's Mightiest Heroes. In the eyes of Cap, Tony, and Thor, this team is true blue. But due to circumstances in the first couple issues, the general public could become divided over whether or not they're "normal" Avengers, due to their status as artificial heroes.

Avengers A.I. #1 cover by Dustin Weaver

Marvel.com: What's it like working with artist Andre Araũjo? What's he bringing to this book?

Sam Humphries: The guy is amazing. He's bringing a totally dynamite visual sensibility to AVENGERS A.I., and it's only getting better. We have a lot of back and forth over e-mail. Not just over scripts, but we'll send each other layouts, just to talk about what works and what doesn't; everything from Akira to MASTER OF KUNG FU. It's so much fun. We're building a level of commonality and understanding that is resulting in a more dynamic book. Andre found this awesome old Moebius page that directly inspired a page in AVENGERS A.I. #2. No Prize to the reader who can identify the original Moebius layout first!

Marvel.com: Do you feel there's any connective tissue thematically between AVENGERS A.I and your UNCANNY X-FORCE? If so, is that a conscious thing?

Avengers A.I. #1 8-Bit variant cover

Sam Humphries: Hmm—not really. [Laughs] But you never know. There's probably something there. Maybe the readers can identify the subconscious connections before I can!

Marvel.com: How do you feel about the issues to-date of UNCANNY X-FORCE? What are you most proud of so far?

Sam Humphries: Man, I'm always most proud of the issue I just wrote. I do feel really good about bringing back a couple of rad X-Men "villains" from very different eras. One becomes obvious in issue #6, if you haven't guessed already. The other won't become obvious for a few issues. But many hints are around the corner, and we've already seen their machinations first-hand.

Marvel.com: What's it like working with a character like Fantomex? He's become such a force in the X-Universe of late—what makes him so?

Sam Humphries: Everyone loves a scoundrel. But, as we will see in UNCANNY X-FORCE, being a scoundrel can really mess up your life.

Uncanny X-Force #6 cover

Marvel.com, Finally, what can readers look forward to in the next few issues that you're really excited about?

Sam Humphries: Adrian Alphona, Dexter Soy, and Christina Strain on art! What else do you need?

We've got a three issue arc starting in UNCANNY X-FORCE #7 that I'm really psyched on. Betsy has to come to terms with her relationship with Fantomex. Part of the story takes place in the present day, in Madripoor, where our heroes come face to face with Weapon XIII. Part takes place in flashbacks, in Paris, examining exactly what went so wrong between Betsy and Fantomex before issue #1. And things went really, really wrong. It's a lot of action, drama, and thievery with Psylocke, Fantomex, Cluster, the mysterious Weapon XIII, and all the sticky complications between them.

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